Oktoberfest: the Sober Experience

Last Monday night I was standing in the rain in Domplatz (Salzburg) watching the loudest fireworks display I’ve ever seen when a thought occurred to me. Not 24 hours ago I had been standing in the main train station in Munich trying on hats. And less than a week before that I was exploring Vienna with some new friends. The thought sent my mind reeling. It’s strange to think that I was able to visit two amazing cities in the space of less than a week. Although, it doesn’t quite feel right to say I went to Munich, because all I really saw was the Oktoberfest. But that’ll change soon enough.

Vienna was just as beautiful as people say it is. I must have looked very touristy, walking around with my mouth hanging open, gawping at every building I saw. To be honest though, I did spend a fair amount of time drooling after the horses that pull the carriages too. What people don’t mention about Vienna however, is just how damn big it is. Walking from the main train station to the city centre took us down an incredible shopping street, which was declared by our Catalan companion to be bigger than Barcelona’s famous La Rambla. We spent a good 7 or so hours in Vienna walking around, exploring what the city has to offer. By the time we decided to leave we were appropriately exhausted. Part of that is my fault though, for believing Google maps when it told me that the place I need to go to was only 20 minutes walking from the train station. It was at least an hour. We took the metro back to the city centre and I have learnt my lesson. Do not trust Google maps.

On the other hand, we managed to see most of the main sights in Vienna, minus Schönbrunn Palace, which we plan to visit next time. Don’t get me wrong, one day is definitely not long enough for Vienna, but it gave us a good orientation and we’ll definitely be going again.

And as for Munich, I saw a church and a little bit of the city around the Hauptbahnhof. The rest of my time in Munich was spent at Oktoberfest. I ended up going twice. Last weekend and this one just been. Not because I thought Oktoberfest was amazing, but because hey, who in their right mind would say no to 8 euro tickets to Munich? Another thing that influenced me to go a second time was the appeal of bumper cars, because, in short, bumper cars are awesome. And, like many other things, cheaper in Europe. In Australia we’d be looking at paying the equivalent of 7 euro a go, at Okotberfest we paid 2. Other things we did at Oktoberfest include eating some incredible hamburgers, going on an roller coaster, eating chocolate coated fruits and honey/cinnamon almonds and waiting in line for half an hour to use the toilet. We ended up using the mens. One man in particular was not pleased about this, but I needed to pee so bad his displeasure was irrelevant.

Something I did not do at Oktoberfest was get drunk. And watching some of the people at the HBF I’m convinced I made the right choice. We met one guy from the UK who was carrying a keg, wearing a skirt and bra, had misplaced his passport and had unintentionally destroyed the piece of paper telling him how to get to his hostel. He said he’d had fun though, so good for him.


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