Samantha (center) and her flat mates at Oktoberfest! Image courtesy of Samantha Marangell.
The trip started out as chaotic as it would end, complete with sleeping on floors, missed connections, horrible maneuvering of public transportation, and running out of money. It was crowded and messy and cold, and I absolutely loved it.
Oktoberfest was nothing that I expected, but everything I wanted: dancing on tables with handsome strangers, singing old American rock with Germans, pretending to speak a new language, and engaging in (relatively) harmless debauchery.
As one flat mate put it perfectly, “I’ve never seen so many happy drunks in one place.”
Here are a few of my Oktoberfest tips, the bits that stuck with me most and (hopefully) will help you should you find yourself amidst Oktoberfest festivities:
1. Be prepared to wait in line for at least two hours each day (not including the wait for the toilet).
First you wait in line to get into one of the beer gardens, pushing your way to the front while pretending you were there the whole time. If your flat mates flirt as well as mine, making friends with German guys will help you cross the gate faster. Knowing how to say “three girls” in German couldn’t hurt either.
While you could just order a beer, the real party is inside each beer hall, where dancing, singing, and debauchery take over. It will require another 30-minute wait, but it’s worth it.
After all, It wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without falling off a bench onto a couple making out behind you. Trust me. I still have a bruise on my spine from the stein that caught my fall.
Of course, you could arrive at 9 am to reserve a table. While we couldn’t swing that this time around, we somehow always managed to join a table anyway.
2. Speak only when you’re spoken to.
But smile, look German, and show off your boobs.
In other words, pretend you live in a repressed society and really desperately need to get into the beer garden. Some of the security guards are quite power-hungry and will appreciate when you are the only group who didn’t try to stampede through the barrier.
Attitude gets you kicked out of the dictatorship of Line Ville.
3. Get in line for the restroom before you actually need to pee.
Everyone knows beer goes right through you. One of my flat mates was fortunate enough to witness a young woman pee herself because she had to wait in line for too long. Don’t be that girl.
4. Bring condoms.
Even if you don’t end up needing them, the strangers who are floating from STD to STD will thank you for your donation.
The free, empty tents that someone left at the campsite were equally as appreciated by unanticipated, late-night lovers.
5. Consider camping.
It may have been slightly too cold without a pad underneath my sleeping bag, but the less crowded campsite turned into an excellent alternative to the overcrowded beer tents where I kept losing my friends and falling off benches.
Plus, the campsite was incredibly festive, significantly cheaper than hostels or hotels, and filled with the most beautiful German and Italian men (and one particularly beautiful Brazilian girl).
For a cheaper (more festive) Oktoberfest, consider camping in lieu of hostelling/paying for a hotel. Image courtesy of Samantha Marangell.
6. The key to pretending you speak another language is conviction and gesturing.
There were so many Italians at our campsite that many signs were written only in Italian. As a result, the weekend was a linguistic heaven for me, except that I kept trying to conjugate Romanian words with Italian endings, spoke muffled French to Germans, and kept convincing myself that I spoke Czech. It was delightful.
7. Most importantly, buy a dirndl.
It will make the experience more festive, people will keep asking you to take pictures with them, security guards will let you in more quickly, and you won’t be the party pooper in all of the photos with your dirndl-wearing flat mates.