Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oktoberfest: day one

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Oktoberfest.  Every beer drinker's dream.  Including Mike.

When we were planning this trip, Mike was elated when he realized that we could extend our weekend in Germany to a week and be there for the first weekend of Oktoberfest! It's like Mike's Christmas!

The concierge at the front desk of our hotel told us that we should leave the hotel at 6:00am in order to get there in time. SIX A.M.????  Oh man.  Neither Mike and I were really feeling that, so we decided to leave around 7:00, which was still kind of early in my eyes, but I didn't want to be the one to ruin Christmas, so I was up and ready at 7:00 and we were out the door.  As our friend Mark told Mike, "you've been training for this your whole life.  Don't screw this up!"

The only drawback to our hotel was that it was so far out of the city.  It took almost an hour to get to the park via public transportation, so we got to the entrance a little before eight.
I should have taken a picture of Mike's face when he saw this sign! He was so happy!

When you walk into the park, there are bierhauses on either side of the road.  There are other things, such as carnival rides and games, food vendors, and souvenir shops, but we never made it to those.....We were surprised to see that there were lines in front of most of them and quickly got worried.   We were planning to watch the parade at 10:30 and then go to the bierhauses since they didn't tap the ceremonial keg or start serving beer until noon, but quickly decided that we should pick a bierhaus and get in line.  I left that up to Mike since this was really his weekend and he knows beer a lot better than I do.

He chose to get in line for Hacker-Pschorr, so we joined the crowd of people in line there.  To the left of us was the Hacker-Pschorr biergarten, which was full of people who had gotten in line really early (I heard that those people were there at 6:30.  That's dedication!).  They weren't serving beer or anything, but they did have a place to sit.  The rest of us were just standing outside in a Black-Friday-like line.  We joined the line not really knowing what the protocol was.  There were security guards around, but they didn't speak English and we didn't speak German, so we just kind of hoped that we were in the right line.

Around 8:45, the people in the biergarten started lining up and around 9:00, the doors opened! I kid you not, it was like Black Friday.  People just started charging the doors and little 5 foot 2 me just kind of got shoved along.  I don't even think I really picked up my feet.  As we got close to the door, I looked behind me and grabbed a hand with a blue checkered sleeve like the one that Mike was wearing.  As we got through security and the crowd dispersed, I realized that, in fact, that was not Mike's hand that I was holding!! Luckily, Mike was nearby, but it made for an awkward moment with blue-checkered guy.

Once we were inside, the challenge was finding a table.  It was absolute chaos! There were people standing on tables claiming them for their group and it was amazing how fast people were able to get in and claim a table. I guess if you have a large group, you have to be aggressive and claim a table.   Once again, being only two people really helped us. We walked around and were able to find a table to squeeze into pretty quickly.

The Hacker-Pschorr tent is decorated like Heaven.  Fitting because I'm pretty sure that it was exactly like Mike imagines Heaven looking like

Happy Oktoberfest! Love, The Hogans

The inside of the Hacker-Pschorr tent
Translation: Bavaria is Heaven.  I think I kind of agree :)

After we found a table, the waiting began.  As I said before, they didn't start serving beer until noon, so we had a while until we could get our first alcoholic beverage.  They were serving food, such as pretzels and sausages (very German), as well as sodas and water, but no beer.  We made friends with the people at our table and hung out with them.  Two of them were from Australia and two were from Germany (Frankfurt).  One of the German's had been to Oktoberfest twice before, so he was an expert.  Plus, both him and his brother were able to translate for us throughout the day.  Overall, all four of them were really fun.  The Germans were really funny talking about the United States and Australia.  I had to assure them that most people in America didn't actually want Donald Trump as their president....

Around 11:45, the ceremony began.  The owner? of Hacker came out and gave a little speech and then they did a little ceremony for the tapping of the keg. Them, right at twelve, they began handing out the beer! SO EXCITING!  We had heard that it can take up to an hour and a half to get the first beer since they have so many people asking at once.  I thought Mike was going to die with anticipation. People around us began getting their drinks, but our table seemed to be in between waitresses sections.    It was funny to compare the tables who had beer vs. the tables that didn't.  The tables that had beer all had smiles on their faces, were laughing and just looked happy overall.  The beer-less tables, on the other hand, were sluggish, quiet and looked downright sad.  I wish I had pictures because it looked like a scene out of a movie.  

The master of ceremonies
We got our first beer around 12:30 and the drinking began!!

Merry Christmas!
I imagine that twinkle in his eye is the same twinkle he had as a little kid on Christmas morning

Alicia (an Aussie) and her husband Dane across from her (next to Mike), Phillipp (next to Alicia) and his brother Carsten

Everyone is happy now that we have beer!

Mike was a little over-eager and drank a little too much beer too fast, so we didn't last past four.  Our friends were still going and were taking it a little bit slower than Mike.  We left and went to get an early dinner of Indian food.  I know, a weird choice after a day of drinking, but it was delicious and luckily didn't cause any issues.  

We were both feeling a little refreshed and maybe ready to try drinking a little bit, so we headed back to Marienplatz where we were the previous night.  There was a Lowenbrau house that Mike wanted to try, so we headed there.  They were basically having their own Oktoberfest at this bierhaus, even though they also had one at the actual Oktoberfest site.  There was a man selling tickets outside, so we bought two from him.  What we didn't realize was that we didn't need tickets and these were for his reserved table.  He showed us to his table and we joined a bunch of 55+ German men (continuing the trend of making friends with actual adults on this trip).  They didn't speak English and we didn't speak German, but we managed.  Unfortunately, the day of drinking caught up with us and we didn't stay long. I struggled to get down a rattler and Mike slowly nursed one beer.  We called it a night and were back at the hotel by 9:30, preparing for another day of Oktoberfest.

As we're getting ready for bed, Mike was reliving the day with his friend Brad.  I'll leave you with this conversation....

Mike: I'm dying. Oktoberfest is hard.
Brad: It's okay. You'll make it. Or you'll die and wake up right where you were today.