Time to Get (Oktober)festy
Famed author Charles Bukowski once drunkenly scribbled down a truly interesting piece of writing about society, about God, and about beer. The piece read:
“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer.”
Basically, Bukowski was a drunk, a miscreant, and more than anything, a vivid and direct writer. He wrote what he thought and he had no filter. He hated a lot of things and he’d be damned if you didn’t know about it. One thing about this man though is that his love for alcohol was unconditional. Whether he’d be in bed or at work, at the park or in one of his women’s kitchens, there was always a prevalent theme in his writing, and that was that beer was his source of escape and, at times, his source of happiness.
I’m not saying that alcoholism is a noble thing; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. But there is one time in all of our lives where we should be able to let go and drink beer in Bukowski fashion, and that time occurs when one is in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, from late September to early October to celebrate the wonder that is Oktoberfest.
In its inaugural year, 1810, Oktoberfest was named Theresienwiese (Theres’a Fields) in honour of the marriage of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Since then, 200 years on, the festival has become one of the greatest and most drunkenly attended festivals in the world, perhaps only surpassed by that of Carnival in Brazil. Six million people travel from all around the world each year to celebrate beer in all its glory at Oktoberfest. And why wouldn’t you want to be one of them? Drink a tasty and properly brewed German beer, or 12, and then wake up fresh as a fuckin’ daisy ready to do the whole thing again.
In the time since its inception, only 24 years have been missed, all due to cholera epidemics or war. Every other year, the beer is poured excessively and delivered to you by a beautiful (quite chesty) German lady who can carry more beer in one hand than you can carry expectations in both.
Any wise soul will be aware the greatest beer festival in the entire world will commence in a matter of weeks and any legend will be terrorising (poor word choice?) Sky Scanner to find the least economically-hampering flight to Germany. If you are one of those thinking of doing it, then I would strongly advise you to do what you can to get over there. It is an experience that you will truly never forget. The sheer size of the temporary beer tents is testament to the way the German people drink and respect their beer.
Words of advice: Whilst it is a fairly placid festival, insofar as you’re not going to get king-hit because you looked at someone sideways, or staunched because you talked to someone else’s “Mrs”, you will need to show some level of respect for the tradition. Which is fair. You’re in Germany, drinking German beer, with German people, attempting to integrate into German culture. Be cool.
- Don’t drink excessive amounts of Steins, eat pork Knuckles in abundance, and then jump on one of the disgustingly overpriced rides at the festival. You will vomit all over yourself, or the beautiful Spanish girl sitting next to you (and you probably don’t know well enough to excrete your bodily fluids all over her).
- Don’t get yourself involved in a large group of loud Australians and be obnoxious, because the lovely German people don’t like that shit, and they will let you know. You might even find yourself stepping on some people’s toes that you wouldn’t particularly want to stand on (giant Bavarian security guard who will have no qualms about throwing you out on your face, trust me, I’ve seen it happen.)
- Do not attempt to stand and skull a stein with no previous experience or guarantee that it is in the realms of possibility, because everyone will laugh at you and then you will feel like an idiot.
- Do not take MDMA in front of a security guard, because he will take it and put it in his pocket. (There is no surveillance in the bathrooms.)
- Do not order a spritzer, because the Germans will laugh at you, and so will I.
- Do wear your traditional gear. The Germans appreciate it and will treat you as equals, as long as you do it with respect.
- Do piss yourself. There is nothing like waking up with Lederhosen full of your own urine, especially on the colder mornings.
- Do it with Stoke Travel, they know what they are doing, and you will undoubtedly have a time that you will love, but almost certainly not remember .The cost is 70 Euros a day, which includes unlimited alcohol whenever you are on the campsite that you will be sleeping at. It also includes travel to and from the festival itself, breakfast every morning and a dinner every second night, and a wicked beer-soaked bike tour through Munich, which I broke two of my toes on, and still had an awesome time.
If you do it properly, your body will reject all the good treatment you’ve given it at some point during the festival. Recent studies have proven that there are only two components necessary in this life to keep yourself going: beer and tomato sauce, and Stoke has plenty of both.
For more information on Oktoberfest with Stoke Travel, visit their website, where they not only provide you with all the necessary adjuncts to all of their trips, but also have a little online chat box where they love receiving questions about vegetarian meals and in-tent facilities such as laptops and hair-dryers. If you’re stuck, ask for Lisa or Toby specifically – they really love dealing with petulance and ostentation.