Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oktoberfest in Simple Terms

Oktoberfest is in full swing in Munich now.  There are several things that an American ought to realize before jumping onto a train or bus, and riding into the 'mess'.

First, the fest around the middle of Munich is chaotic and full of people.  Crowds gather by mid-morning....position themselves in the various tents....and stay for the duration of the day.  The more popular tents are full all day, and if you find might consider yourself a bit lucky.

Second, folks get drunk and do stupid things at Oktoberfest.  The local cops usually look the other way, but in recent years have acted because of safety concerns.  A decade ago....a drunk taking a leak out on the street would have been observed and just allowed to continue his business.  Today?  You might get picked up and toted off by the cops.

Third, nothing is really cheap.  You can figure at least sixty Euro spent easily on one day, and possibly on up to a hundred Euro ($120).  Everyone is out to make a profit.

Fourth, thinking of going and staying at a hotel?  You'd best have made this local reservation back in April.  You won't find anything much in the city open if you go at the last minute.  Traveling by train to a town forty minutes away?  That might be a decent option, but even those are filled to capacity.

Fifth, driving down and back in one day?  Some folks will base themselves out of Stuttgart or such, and just drive down for one day of fest.  I'd strongly advise against it.  Traffic is heavy and stormy weather could really screw up your drive.

Sixth, other fests?  Well....yeah.  Most cities in Bavaria will operate a Oktoberfest as well....with drinks and food.  Less stress and chaos, if you think about it.  Even Wiesbaden will offer a mini-Oktoberfest.

Seventh, the real pitch of Oktoberfest?  Some will say it's the atmosphere.  Some will say the fun and laughs with their friends.  Some will say it's chaos and beer loaded into one afternoon and evening.  A decent description would be a circus operated with minimum flowing in ample portions.....drunks in all directions.....and a day full of music.

Eighth and final.  Years ago, a co-worker of mine made the comment....what happens in Oktoberfest....stays at Oktoberfest.  It was a rewording of the Vegas phrase that people like to think about and remember.  He might be right.  Twenty years crews barely shot any video of daily action.  Today?  There are hours and hours of video shot, with drunks doing stupid things, and it ends up on some nightly newscast.  If you did something really ends up on TV where your boss and friends see you.  Just a warning.

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