MUNICH, GERMANY, September 19, 2015 – It’s time to get your “oompah” on. With the traditional opening words, O’zapt is!, meaning “It’s tapped!” Munich, Germany’s annual beer bonanza known as Oktoberfest is set for two weeks of boisterous celebration for the 182th time during the final days of September and early October.
Fourteen massive beer tents with seating ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 to fill with singing, swaying, stein-raising revelers who celebrate from morning til closing at 10:30 p.m. This is world glass guzzling at its finest.
Colorful blue and white Bavarian flags wave throughout the city as thousands of visitors from all over the world gather to eat pretzels, veal sausages and roasted half chickens while quaffing nearly 15 million pints of beer to wash it all down.
The 16-day festival always begins on a Saturday and concludes on the first Sunday of October. Festivities get underway with thousands of participants parading through the streets of Munich dressed in traditional clothing as they wend their way to the fairgrounds.
Each of Munich’s major breweries joins the meandering parade route with their horse-drawn beer wagons making their way to the permanent Theresienwiese meadow which becomes a city within a city each year. In 2012 some 6.5 million visitors took part in Germany’s tribute to the end of summer and the biergarten season.
Oktoberfest began in 1810 with the betrothal of Princess Theresa to Crown Prince Ludwig, and it has been wildly popular throughout the world ever since. Admission is free, which is a good thing, because a liter stein of beer will cost you between $10 and $13. One important tip, don’t get in the way of the frauleins who carry up to a dozen steins at a time. They have the right of way, and they are serious about making their deliveries.
Hofbrau is the largest, and most popular, venue for tourists with seating for 10,000 people. Dating to the year 1589, when it was opened by William V, Duke of Bavaria, Hofbrauhaus is one of Munich’s best known beer makers and is a popular year-round destination for travelers.
Another famous brewery is Lowenbrau which is believed to have been founded in 1383. Lowenbrau means “lion’s brew” and is today owned by Anheuser Busch.
Though you may not be able to find them, and probably wouldn’t know them anyway, if you want to look for German celebrities and politicians they are usually found at the Kaferzelt.
When dealing with another culture, there are several “rules of the road” which can make Oktoberfest even more enjoyable. Though travelers will hear plenty of English due to the international nature of the festival, using a few basic German words adds to the flavor of the experience.
Servus is used to say “good day” and “goodbye” to friends in Bavaria as well as Austria. When speaking with people you do not know then Gruss Gott is the more formal version.
One word that is a must is prost which means “cheers.” You will hear it and say it often. Another expression sure to win plenty of new friends is I mog di! or “I like you!” If all else fails, just use hand signals and smile, with a heavy emphasis on the smile.
If you don’t like crowds Oktoberfest is not the place for you, but if you immerse yourself in the spirit of the festival it is a joyous experience you will never forget. Just because the beer tents close early doesn’t mean the party stops. The Wiesnzeit at Stiglmaierplatz hosts the “Almdudier After-Oktoberfest Party” nightly beginning at 10 p.m.
Taxis are readily available and plentiful, but it is mandatory to wait in line at designated taxi stops. Taxis can be called, however, at +49 89 21610.
Munich also features an excellent metro system which was built for the Olympics in 1972. There are three subway stations surrounding the Theresienwiese fairgrounds.
Visitors quickly learn that Oktoberfest is no place to be shy. Perhaps the most important tip for guys to know is where a girl wears her apron bow. If it is own the right, that means she is spoken for, but when the bow is on the left, she is available. Which means a lesson in knowing your right from your left can have major advantages in Munich during Oktoberfest.
If you are heading to Bavaria for Oktoberfest, take time to visit Munich and the Bavarian region as well to round out the experience.
If you cannot make it to Germany, Kitchener and Waterloo, Canada have Oktoberfests as does Denver in the United States.
Oktoberfest is “trick or treat” German style.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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