Oct 8th, 2018, 01:04 AM

How I Got Out of Oktoberfest

By Leila Roker
Image Credit: Ethan Hoover/Unsplash
Seriously, what is Oktoberfest?

I decided to go to Oktoberfest my second year of college because nothing screams 'you have to go' like seeing hundreds of your American friends, drunk, dressed in cute dresses with a beer sloshing in their hands, and a "clever" caption, like "let me know when you find the bottom of the glass." So, I decided it was my time to shine with a cringe-worthy caption under my incredibly posed picture. However, I will say my single day at the Munich Festival taught me a lot about Oktoberfest. I think.

I landed in Munich, got in my Uber and drove to meet my friend Riley at a restaurant before we headed to our Airbnb. We sat down at a rustic tavern and ordered our starters and main courses, and a glass of champagne and some wine. A friend of Riley from Munich called. She put it on speaker, "Hello, Riley!" Said the heavily accented-voice, "I hope you are well. I would like to cordially invite you to my table for Oktoberfest. I am not sure if we can bring you and your friend, but I would love to show you the true German Oktoberfest experience."

Image Credit: Unsplash/Todd Diemer

"Thank you so much!" Riley answered, "I think my friend and I will be playing it by ear." Which was Riley's way of saying no. "But let's definitely meet up sometime during the event. What time are you getting there?" She asked.

"We will be arriving at Oktoberfest at 9 a.m.." Riley's and my mouth fell open.

"Okay. We'll text you when we get there!" After the call ended, Riley and I agreed we would not be getting to Oktoberfest at 9 a.m.

When Riley and I got up at 10 a.m, we decided to get some brunch and go get a dirndl. On the way to brunch, I had seen many other girls who had, similarly to me, bought their Oktoberfest costumes on Amazon. But seeing the stark contrast between what I had packed in my suitcase and the authentic wear the other people had on, I decided I would not be that American to show up in the copycat polyester dress.

Image Credit: Flickr/Alessandra Nölting

We tried several different stores before we found a dress that was under 800 Euros, but instead a reasonable 90 Euros. The store was incredibly frantic because it was the only reasonably priced shop for the soon-to-be-drunk and already drunk college students. Dresses were being whisked off the hangers, women screamed at each other in various languages, and the line for the dressing room was a war zone. I quickly grabbed a dress in my size, put it over my head and tried it on top of my clothes. A short man dressed in lederhosen and elf-like shoes ran up to me and said, "You can't do that!" I shimmied the dress off and walked up to the register as he followed me with a scowl.

Riley and I went back to the Airbnb to do our makeup and called a cab to go to Oktoberfest. On the ride over, I realized that I actually had no idea what Oktoberfest was. Was it in a field? Was it ticketed? The cab pulled up to the street and explained in the little English he knew that this was as far as he could take us. We got out and saw all the other traditionally German clad people migrating to the same place, so naturally, we followed. An officer was checking bags and letting everyone in - so not ticketed. When we made our way down, we could see what looked like a fairground, with thousands of people. There were tents, restaurants, roller coasters, and people grabbing the edges of walls while heaving. It was 1 p.m.

Riley suggested we meet up with a group of students from her school. We followed their location and found ourselves at a Biergarten, overflowing with people and chanting. We searched for her friends but were instead spotted by a group of men, sitting on a picnic table. They were squished together and offered us a seat. We exchanged a few words with them before one of her friends came over and brought us to their table.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Quentin-dr

It was a group of eight who were also dressed in their respective German wear. One of them was napping on the other's shoulders and the guy at the end's face was in his mac and cheese. Before we ordered another round of beer, her friends warned us that one Oktoberfest beer was the equivalent of four American beers, and much stronger. By the time the next round of beer came, everyone was awake and the guy at the end had wiped the mac and cheese off his face. We decided to explore a bit and go to another Biergarten and possibly a few rides.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Andre Thomas Weller

Walking was a real obstacle course. Between the one, or apparently four beers, I had, people sitting from extremely intoxicated levels and gleefully linking arms with more sober people, maneuvered through the sea of people. At our next tent, we came up with the game "who can drink the most beer," which obviously was the beginning of the end.

Within the first hour, the group had consumed four Oktoberfest mega beers each, but people started falling off after the fourth. A couple of people had been there since 8 a.m. By the third hour, only three of us remained, and we had found the tequila tents to diversify our alcohol competition. We ordered mixed drinks and were waiting in the competing arena for our drink order. It was nearly 6 p.m., and the crowd was collectively getting much drunker. A drunken European man admired my dirndl and exclaimed, "You're attractive!"

"Thanks," I answered.

"Wanna kiss me?" Before I could open my mouth to answer, I heard a scream.

Riley pushed towards us, saying, "Are you kidding me? No! No no no. Get out of here. She's my friend and she deserves much better."

The guy was drunk but didn't protest. I think they were speaking the same drunken language, "Eh, you're right." He surrendered.

"Disgusting," she said, collecting our drink order.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Christoph Kirschenbaum

It was nearly 8 p.m. and we had ridden the intense rides, all while managing to hold down our bites of mac and cheese and sausage. After our third Aperol Spritz, we decided it was time to go. We began fighting the crowd to get back to the front of the fair, but after twenty minutes of walking, we realized it was no longer an entrance or an exit. We retraced our steps and after the long walk decided we deserved another Aperol Spritz. Then we began to make our way in the opposite direction. We only saw more beer tents, but no exit. We asked multiple people for the exits but only got shrugs or smiles from people that pointed us to another garden. We kept walking and inquiring about the way out.

Finally, we decided to go to another Biergarten with the hopes that a waiter would direct us in the right direction. When a waiter finally came to our table, he explained he knew little English, but pointed us to the terrace. We asked around, but the drunken crowd had little knowledge of the fair's floor plans. We decided to go to the terrace; what other option did we have?

We climbed up the stairs, and saw on the left there was a dance floor, but straight on there were stairs labeled as a service exit. The bouncer was right behind us, so we pretended to dance. After blending in with the drunken crowd, we made a break for the exit, ran through the park, and found ourselves back on the streets of Munich.

We caught a cab back to the tavern we had gone to the first night to get some food in our stomachs and discuss the night. We had been warned that Munich could get dangerous at night. A group of drunken tourists sat at a table across from us and my friend and I chuckled. They demanded the attention of the room with their loud voices. One of the older drunken men walked over to us and placed a large beer down. "For you!" he said. He didn't speak much English.

"Oh! Thank you." We said together.

"Yes!" He answered. He sat down and began looking around. After a few pauses, he turned to us again and said, "I from Chinese."

"Cool!" I said, and my friend practiced the little Mandarin she knew. They exchanged a few sentences. Then he slapped the table, smiled and went back to his table. A few drinks later, our new friend returned, bringing us another beer. 

"Welcome to China!" He said. And placed a kiwi on our table and exited the restaurant. We thanked him and made a toast to a successful Oktoberfest.

So if I can make any suggestion to you, the reader it would be: go into Oktoberfest expecting absolutely nothing except a random night of good memories.

Image Credit: Leila Roker