Last weekend, we went for a ride at the Oktoberfest in Munich. This annual beer festival lasts two weeks and three weekends between September and October and is very popular. A little more than a month before the date of our departure, we finalize the trip of how to get there, and especially where to sleep. Many locals rent their apartments for one or more days. This is the option we choose.
I can be badly ordered sometimes! At each trip I repeat the same mistake to prepare my bag at the last minute. I could have made the effort to organize myself the day before! Because yes, today I'm not leaving for any trip. I'm leaving for a world tour, a trip without return! This is not an outing in the forest to pick chestnuts!
But now, I preferred to spend my last evening with my best friends in a cafe in Paris, to celebrate my departure. My train for Munich is at 20:10 pm from Gare de l'est and it is already 18h past. I remain calm and take a last look at my checklist to be sure I have not forgotten anything.
Anyway in a few hours I would realize a stupid oversight, I'm sure, it always happens like this. I arrive at Gare de l'est at 19:55, the time to find my train. A mass of mob, as agitated as a swarm of bees released into the wild in search of a new location. On each traveler's face could be read the joy or sadness that accompanied them. I see goodbyes in tears, farewells in laughter, and farewells in kisses.
But there were also travelers like me, alone with their backpacks, looking for the coach that corresponds to the number on the ticket. Before getting into the train I take a last picture of the outside, as if to sign the beginning of the adventure.
Inside the coach most of the passengers were already in their seats. Mine was at the end of this long lined corridor. As my steps approached my cabin, I noticed that this coach was only equipped with armchairs. Each compartment had six row chairs, one facing each other. I will not be able to sleep tonight. Anyway I did not expect better considering the price of the ticket bought on the internet against an individual who could not make the trip!
The other surprise is that my compartment should be the one with the least noise. Two South Asians were already sleeping and a rather grumpy guy, who looked like a Kebab salesman, was reading the newspaper in a foreign language. I comfort myself with the idea of being able to see the route at night because I had the side window seat.
Ten minutes after a young man enters the cabin and sits next to me, followed by a girl with a huge suitcase. She was right in front of me and ceaselessly cackling with her parents on the platform. She was crying, she was laughing, she was crying. It was fascinating.
The train starts. It's the beginning of a long journey without return. I don't really realize the immensity of the thing, I have trouble realizing. Is it too much confidence in me? It may be the habit of travel. Goodbye Paris.
It is 22h. I felt like I was in the middle of a construction site. For the well-being of my ears I decide to go out to see the outside landscape from the window of the train corridor. It was dark here, but I liked the atmosphere that emanated from it. I could also hear laughter from other compartments. It was probably people already celebrating to prepare for the Oktoberfest.
A few minutes later, the young German next to me also came out of the compartment. He had been touring Europe by train for two months now and was traveling solo. Now he was on his way home. In Germany students resume classes usually in mid-October and being a student he had to return. I explain to him that I was just beginning my tour of Northern Europe. The first city after Paris will be Munich but after that I did not prepare my itinerary.
He was quite surprised at my way of traveling. He had not really planned his itinerary either but had a railway pass that allows him to use all trains in Europe for free or at a very low price. His surprise was greater when I told him that I got my ticket cheaper on the internet despite his pass.
Two people come out of the coach next door, the very one from which all the hubbub came. Apparently they are English seeing their accent and so are British. With all my travels and encounters, I had acquired the useless ability to recognize the different accents. They giggle and go to the window to smoke a cigarette. They also invite us for a round of beers if we want.
We exchange an approving glance before following the two English in their cabin. Five other people were already there. Three girls and two guys. The armrests were up so we could settle easily. Indeed all this small world came from the United Kingdom, except one of the girls who was Australian. All went to Munich for the Oktoberfest.
I spent the next three hours exchanging experiences with each person. It was nice to know everyone's story, to share events and tips on the trip. I also learn that they have booked a tent through a website and that they will stay for free in Munich.
Going into contact with others has always brought me joy and this exchange that night confirmed it to me. I had been gone for only a few hours and I had already found a place to stay in case my first plan falls into the water. Beyond finding a good plan I spent a great evening with everyone. I felt really good. With all those English around me, I felt like Harry Potter on the Hogwarts train.
It's 7am. I wake up in my cabin. My friend sitting beside me will come down a stop before me in a city near Munich. He offers me to host me if I don't find accomodation. I take his number and we hug each other. With my bag on my back, I head for the exit and wait for the arrival in Munich. There is no sign of the English. They were drunk the day before. This is a small ring sounding that it is the terminus. One foot in front of the other, I leave the train.
Usually, my very first action when I arrive in a country is to try to reach the city center and take a map from a hotel or hostel. The other solution is to go and talk to the people I meet in the street to find my way. But it was 7:30. I was tired and I resigned myself to the idea of getting in touch with the locals. A great coffee is needed at our arrival where we find another guy who comes from Amsterdam.
I head for the exit of this immense station by following the mass of people who leaves the train. My eyes constantly catch dozens of fellows who unload and refill trunks and bags of travelers. I was quite surprised to hear only English around me. The Oktoberfest attracts many foreigners and I begin to doubt the authentic atmosphere during this holiday.
Outside, I see a hostel on the other side of the street. They must surely have maps of the city they give for free, so I decided to go there. The Germans look very disciplined. As I arrive at the hostel the guy on the other side of the counter yells, FULL!
I told him I'd just like to have a map of the city. He generously offered to me and I want to ask him where will I get the inn I want. I had everything indicated. With the map in hand, I head for the hostel. The further I go, the more I notice people with sophisticated accoutrements. Even more surprising, I notice these same people drinking in one-liter mugs at 8am.
I notice the traditional Bavarian outfits worn by both women and men. For women, it's the dirndl, an apron dress bent at the top and flared at the bottom, all very colorful. For men, it's the Lederhose. It's very folkloric but it puts right in the mood.
I arrived at the hostel. The feeling was very strange because I used to be in quite small and authentic hostels. Here I felt like I was in a big hotel. However the atmosphere that emanated from it remained young and friendly. People in traditional costumes were in the lobby and were already preparing to go to Oktoberfest.
I go to the counter. The manager was friendly. After a few words exchanged he told me that the check-in is not before 14h. I was really tired. I did not really sleep that night and hoped to rest for a few hours. He offers to leave my bag in the reserve and to visit Oktoberfest in the meantime. I leave for there.
I get out of the hostel and notice dozens of people in traditional costumes heading towards the same direction. I call the first person who comes in front of me asking the direction for the Oktoberfest. It's only five minutes on this road! I follow her to be sure not to lose! She tells me that a mug of a liter of beer is very cheap at this time!
I found this system very ingenious because it motivated the servers to be productive! I spend a few minutes talking with her and she invites me to go to the tent where she works, for free beer! I had already made a friend in the first hour in Munich. The accent had to play in my favor.
I continue my walk in the Oktoberfest. There were rides everywhere, I felt like I was at the carnival. I did not expect that at all. The more time passed, the more people there were, mostly families, all in suits. The huge wooden tents were next to each other, with not many people inside. It was still early.
To start we took a good place in the area where the inaugural parade was going to take place based on music bands, carriages pulled by horses decorated with details of a beer house, and all in a great atmosphere. When the parade finished I decide to come back to the hostel after this little visit, because I have no energy.
I meet again the manager and asks if there is really no possibility of having a room right away. He accepts. I go up to my dormitory which was on the 3rd floor and enter the room. Several people were sleeping. I slipped into my bed as silently as a ninja.
It's in those moments that we think back. For my part, I only said shit, I forgot my beard trimmer in the Paris hotel. After a good rest it's time for us to visit the OktoberFest site on Theresienwiese Square. Although the morning started ugly with rain and was chilly, it did not take away the desire to put on our best Bavarian finery and join the party.
We find ourselves at the top of a small hill overlooking Theresienwiese Square, and it's really impressive. The place is literally huge. There are tents (gigantic), attractions of all kinds that make us fly in all directions, and especially many, many people (who do not necessarily walk very straight). It is forbidden to drink outside tents and gardens associated with them.
In the central aisles we find something to eat something in a stand and wait to see if later the queues to enter decreased. Each tent is held by a different brewery. They all have a theme and an orchestra that punctuates the day and the evening. Having arrived only around noon, we did not manage to enter the tents despite many tests. After a few elbows, we still managed to get into a garden. It must be patience but we can finally order our beers and enjoy the moment.
The rain having caught us and having no place in the tents, we fall back on a second plan to go to a brewery held by the Brewers present for the OktoberFest. Each brand of beer has a brewery in the center of Munich. The beers are cheaper and the atmosphere is just as appealing! We end the evening as well, amused and impressed by what surrounds us. We do not feel like we have been projected into another world, where everything is bigger and more raw.
At about 8 we picked up, as the day had started very early and the next day we wanted to be ready in the tents to get a seat.
After a good breakfast at the hotel, we returned to TheresienWiese. It would be like 9:30 in the morning and there was already enough people. We wanted to visit the big tents. So we went into 2 or 3 of them to take some pictures and see the decoration. There were already people sitting, but there were still free places.
After visiting these tents, we still had to see the one in HB, probably the most famous in the whole area. Upon entering about 10:30 in the morning and although we did not wait in line, all the benches were already occupied. We were able to fit in a high table standing right next to where at 11 a band would start playing.
The atmosphere began to heat up, as beer began to roll. At our table we met people from half the world, especially Swiss people with whom we had a great time. The hours passed without realizing. The penalty was, that afternoon we took the plane back, but for the record, at some point we raised the possibility of letting it go without us.