Word of the Day: Oktoberfessionals – professional Oktoberfest revellers
In only my third year at the wiesn I cannot claim to be anything close to professional, but there are some things I have learned. Firstly, there are many different ways to approach Oktoberfest; I’m personally familiar with three main options:
Option 1 is to turn up at 6am, queue to get into one of the unreserved seating tents, get twatted, be sick and (if you win) go home in Munich’s answer to an air ambulance:
Most popular with Brits and antipodeans I flirted with this approach in my first year and quickly moved on.
Option 2 is to reserve a table in one of the tents 7-12 months in advance. This is expensive and only permits a few hours of uninterrupted boozing: the more popular tents typically have three sessions a day and kick people out after each one.
Option 3: turn up mid-afternoon, warm up with a few beers on an outdoor bench before working your way inside for optimal late evening positioning when it gets really fun.
Option 3 is preferred by many locals, and is much easier if you are from Munich. I am lucky enough to know some Oktoberfest professionals (Oktoberfessionals?) meaning a relatively easy route into Schutzen, apparently the “most Munich” of the tents. Cool kids, wealthy Bavarians and the occasional appearance from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Oktoberfessional may not be a sufficiently grandiose term to describe David and Fincki: covering two generations they are genuine living legends of the wiesn.
Fincki and I have managed to become friends over 5 years despite him speaking no English and me speaking no German, united by our love of beer gardens and Oktoberfest. He likes to comment on my facebook posts with “du narrischer” which roughly translates to “wanker” but is a word of Fincki’s own invention (there are many). Fincki (apparently ordering one beer in the photo below) has been Oktoberfesting since before I was born and is an Option 2 man, but most likely for all three sessions.
David has spent so much time at Oktoberfest that his hair looks like the frothy part of a beer; his wiesn stamina is unparalleled. The festival lasts between 16-18 days depending on the year and from my research with the locals, 4-6 proper visits is about par. This year I did 4 consecutive days with David, which was heavy going for me, but he had also been on 7 of the previous 12 days. ‘Magic 11’ has been his number for the last three years.
The only way to survive and still enjoy this level of drinking intensity is to respect the rules of the wiesn:
Rule 1: keep eating. My first day at Oktoberfest in 2012 ended with me asleep on the pavement in the foetal position outside my apartment, not knowing how I’d got there. This year, while still fully intoxicated every day, I managed to remember everything, stay out late and not embarrass myself too much, mainly thanks to food. Chicken or pork on arrival, another meal after 3-4 mass (litres) and a snack later on.
Rule 2: trust the beer. On days 3 and 4 this year I sat opposite David and we couldn’t see a route to having a good time. Please, no more. But we drank our beer like good little Bavarian boys, drank some more, and had 2 brilliant days at the festival.
Rule 3: don’t get carried away. Many of you will have seen Pieter the baby white tiger who spent most of Oktoberfest on my shoulder making friends. Pieter is my actual son and was delivered by stork for €16. Five years earlier, after falling in love with two identical twins from Dresden (hi Marie and Anne Sophie) I bought them matching white tigers (obvs). I then got really carried away and bought a whole family of white tigers. It was a lot of fun and fortunately my card maxed out before I was able to acquire the giant one, but the wiesn is expensive enough as it is and spending many, many unnecessary euros on cuddly toys makes the hangover feel so much worse the next day.
Rule 4: jagermeister is the best medicine. Whenever I was feeling really queasy I delved into the lederhosen for one of the many smuggled-in mini jagermeister bottles, downed it and carried on. The healing power of this stuff may not have been scientifically proven but, trust me, it works.
Rule 5: go with the flow. This is not another beer-related comment – many of the memorable moments at Oktoberfest are totally unexpected and just evolve if you are willing to talk to anyone and end up anywhere. A conversation with a couple of old ladies who it turned out had worked with David’s dad 40 years earlier; drinking with ruddy-cheeked Bavarian men with huge moustaches; after-parties and selfie-stick photos with people we had met that day.
With classical German precision, the wiesn is perfectly designed to ensure that everyone gets a good amount of drunk, makes friends and has an amazing time. If you hadn’t yet got the idea, I like Oktoberfest a lot. I will keep going back year after year and would recommend it to everyone.
Thanks to all my brilliant Munich friends for making me feel so welcome yet again, and a special shout out to Lukas who moved into his girlfriend’s apartment for a whole 5 days to give me my own place to stay – amazing ❤
And don’t forget Rule 6: detox. I am writing this a few days after my return and have now recovered from the shakes, have stopped waking up in cold sweats and have not had a sip of alcohol. David always does a dry month after Oktoberfest. Fincki does not.
NEXT STOP: HOME (THEN PARIS)
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More Oktoberfest here: Day Eighteen – Oktoberfest Part I
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