Oktoberfest – Ein Prosit!

“Der Gemütlichkeit,” perhaps my favorite German phrase, has no direct translation into English from German.  A guide told me once it means “The essence of getting tipsy with your friends while drinking beer in a garden.”  Oktoberfest is the perfect way to capture that essence.  Oktoberfest exceeded any and all of my expectations and ended up being one of the best times I’ve had while traveling.

What shocked me was all of the Germans we met while there.  I’ve always heard Oktoberfest is “touristy” and no Germans go.  That couldn’t be further from the truth – outside of people at the Hofbräu tent, we ran into very few non-Germans.  The carnival atmosphere was also a surprise to us – the beer was only a small portion of what one can do at Oktobfest – plenty of rides and carnival food too!

Where to Stay

Beers at Oktoberfest

Beers at Oktoberfest

Hotels book early – really early.  My friend and I decided to go to Oktoberfest in late October of 2012 and most places had already been booked for 2013!  Plan ahead to get the best possible rooms and hotels before they fill up.  Most places allow cancellation with at least a month notice so there should be no excuse.

Because of the nature of Oktoberfest pre-booking a hostel was out of the question.  Most either have special days they go on sale or only sell rooms the day of.   Therefore we decided to go with a hotel.

We stayed at Hotel Munich Inn and I would advise against staying there. We requested a 4 person room and ended up with a two rooms barely big enough for a double bed.  While the breakfast was nice and the location was perfect (it was only a few blocks from the main entrance), everything else left much to desire.  The room was cramped and hot – and opening the window on the busy street meant a barrage of noise.  It was almost impossible to get any sleep!  If you do end up staying here I’d recommend a high floor that does not face the street.

My friends stayed at the Brunnenhof City Center and seemed to fair much better.  So book early and read reviews!

 Tents at Oktoberfest!

Bräurosl tent at Oktoberfest

Bräurosl tent at Oktoberfest

Tents are where all the action is. The action gets crazy the later in the day as people begin getting tipsy.  The tents provided some of the best people watching I have ever witnessed.

Songs

” Ein Prosit”

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.
OANS ZWOA DREI! G’SUFFA!

Oktoberfest is not only about drinking liters of beers with friends – it’s also about showing them how horrible of a singer you are.  If anything at all learn the lyrics to Ein Prosit.

Ein Prosit is played at least once every 30 or so minutes in every tent.  Even if you are a little off with the pronunciation, most people will be too drunk to notice.

Other songs are played but it depends on what tent you are in. Some tents play more German songs and others play a wide variety of hits. One of the nights I was in the Hofbräu tent they had an amazing AC/DC cover band!

My Favorite Tents

Hofbräu tent at Oktoberfest

Hofbräu tent at Oktoberfest

We sampled a wide variety of tents while we were there.  While a little cliche, Hofbräu was one of my favorite tents.  The band was fun, they had a large standing section in case you can’t find a table, and English was widely spoken.  You should note though waitresses in this tent expect a tip – we saw a table get kicked out for not tipping appropriately!

Augustiner came in a close second.  Augustiner is arguably the best beer at Oktoberfest so you should at least check out one of their tents while there.  We ran into mostly Germans while in this tent so communication was a little difficult at times.

Hippodrom was worth it to listen to the band but unfortunately after 2014 it will no longer be a tent. The Hacker Pschorr Beer Tent was interesting for its ceiling painted with blue skies and white clouds.

Spaten was perhaps my least favorite tent.  We went there the first night and were amused to find the tent full of high school kids.  While the company was entertaining the beer was awful and made for a bad next day.  I’ll probably avoid this one if I ever return to Oktoberfest.

Other Activities

Bumper cars at Oktoberfest

Tipsy bumper cars at Oktoberfest? Sign me up!

There are tons of other activities to do at Oktoberfest.  I was actually surprised how the tents were such a small portion of things to do at Oktoberfest.  There are rides, games, carnival food etc.  The view from the Ferris wheel is a must see and we really enjoyed riding the bumper cars. I mean after a few beers how can you resist?

One section we did not make it to was the “old” section where they still have games and rides from the early 1900s.  One which, according to videos I saw on youtube, looked a lot like a lot of fun.  Called Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel), it’s a rotating platform on which visitors sit or lie while the platform increases its speed. Staying on the Devil’s Wheel gets even more difficult as staff members try to get people off the platform with lassos and other devices. Needless to say it would make for good people watching!

Reservations

While reservations are recommended/required for all tents in the late afternoon, we had no issues finding a spot without reservations.  Some tips to get a spot:

  • Get there early before reservations are required.  The morning/early afternoon has plenty of open spaces and is the perfect time to check out the different tents before things get crazy later on
  • Ask where the no reservation spots are.  Most tent have sections for people without reservations.  When you find it hover around and wait for spot(s) to open up.
    • Sometimes it will take a while for a spot to open up – but it’s worth it!  One night it took us over a hour to find a spot at a particular tent – but that ended up being one of our most favorite nights!
  • Make friends!  At least one time we sat at a reservation table with people who invited us in.  Walk around and if you see a table with open spots ask if you can join.  Some tents kick reservations out if they don’t have enough people so it’s an extra incentive for them to keep their table full.
  • Hofbräu has a standing only section.  Perfect if you can’t find a spot anywhere and just want a beer.  There is always room to squeeze.
  • Don’t forget a lot of tents have outdoor spots so always do a check before going somewhere else.  While inside is more fun – outside can be a nice escape!
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