Imagine going all the way to Paris, and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Or going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids. Or for that matter, going to India and not seeing the Taj Mahal.
That is exactly how it is, if you visit Munich in end September or early October, and do not attend the Oktoberfest.
I was actually going to be one of those minorities if I hadn’t got my senses in order well in time.
When I had initially made my itinerary, I had no where included Munich as I considered myself to so not be a beer loving kind of person. But as I started my trip and kept bumping into people who had just returned from Oktoberfest, I kept getting tempted. Then finally, one day in Vienna I was sitting and chatting with my roommate when it struck me, that this may be once in a lifetime opportunity. I was literally few hours away from the worlds biggest beer festival and I could not just NOT GO.
That is when I decided I must re-plan my trip and somehow manage to fit in Munich.
I realised that my next stop after Vienna, which was Salzburg; was only 2 hours by train from Oktoberfest. Initially I had planned to spend two days in Salzburg and then head to Budapest. But I decided that since I just had to had to go to Oktoberfest, I was willing to sacrifice one day in Salzburg for one day in Munich.
That is how I found myself on a morning train from Salzburg to Munich surrounded with people in traditional skirts and breeches. I was actually feeling a little bad that I hadn’t dressed up for the festival myself.
The plan was to reach the festival by 1 pm and explore the festival top to bottom and then exit around 10 when the festival closes and head straight to the bus terminal and wait for my overnight bus to Budapest. Perfect planner ain’t I ?.
The train journey was comfortable and relaxing and I whiled away the 2 hours reading a book and eating my breakfast.
Once we reached our destination, I went looking for a locker to store my luggage which I would retrieve in the evening on my way back from the fest.
I highly recommend that for leaving your luggage, go for the lockers at the train station instead of the bus station. The reason being that the bus station has very few lockers and most of the time all will be occupied. The distance between the train and the bus station is just around 2 kms and can be easily walked.
I then bought some candies for myself for the walk towards the Oktoberfest grounds and proceeded to follow the ground signs towards the venue. It was going to be easy to find the grounds since the whole of Munich seemed to be heading there as well.
Once at the main entrance, I got the first glimpse of the fest and realised how massive it actually was.
There are no tickets for the same and one can just walk right in. However, for every ride that you want to go on, one has to buy a ticket which would be priced anywhere between 2- 4 Euros.
Apart from the zillion rides, there are food stalls, entertainment zone and obviously the main attractions which are the beer tents.
Most of the beer lovers skip the rides and instead head straight to one of the several tents to enjoy their mugs of beer and sing and dance away. However, I wanted to experience everything. Hence, I started at one end and slowly covered each and every ride. Some of the rides were the scariest that I had ever been to in my entire life and I screamed the entire time. But it was soooo much fun I tell you.
I stopped in between to get some fries with mayonnaise and some hot dog before I hopped again on another breath stopping ride. I easily spent close to 4 hours covering each and every ride of the fest. My favourite was the roller coaster ride which had literally made my heart stop for a bit.
After all the rides, I decided to go into the beer tents and see what the fuss was all about. There were at least 8-10 beer tents and I decided to visit each one and then finally choose the one where I would have my drink.
Each of the tent in the fest is huge with a capacity of at least 500-1000 people. There are tables where one can sit, eat and drink while listening to live bands play. Some of the popular tents though don’t have the space for even standing, forget the sitting part. These tents have loud, drunk but fun people dancing on the tables which singing along with the band. In the end, I decided to find myself a place to sit in one such tent and while enjoying my freshly brewed beer; I had a great time noticing the fun and frolic around me.
I stayed for almost 2 hours before heading out again and looking for something to eat.
I still had some time before I had to head to catch my bus and so I just walked around the grounds with a silly grin on my face while enjoying the ambience to the fullest.
Soon it was time for me to head out, and so I traced my steps back to the train station, collected my bag, then walked till the bus terminal, had a cup of coffee and finally boarded the bus to Budapest.
Bye Bye Oktoberfest. I am so glad I visited. Another check in my bucket list of things-to-do.
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