Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inside the Hofbräu tent at Oktoberfest

"This is incredible," says my Australian visitor Rebecca as we walk into the Hofbräu festival tent at the Oktoberfest grounds in Munich. It is 11am in the morning and there's a raging party going on. People are dancing on the tables, singing along with the band and stumbling along the aisles.

As Hofbräu is probably the most internationally famous of Munich's six main breweries, this tent is generally known to be frequented by international Oktoberfest visitors. My Australian friend feels right at home and I also spot some of my American and British expat friends around - it is not everywhere in Munich where you hear that much English! The Hofbräu tent is also one of the first beer tents on entering the Oktoberfest grounds so getting stuck in there with a Maß (one litre beer mug) or two isn't unlikely, even for the local Bavarians.

While some people are very particular about which tents to go to and book their favourite spots months in advance, we are lucky to get a table at all, at any tent for that matter. The Hofbräu tent can accommodate up to 10 000 people inside and it's pretty crowded. Outside in the beer garden around the tent there's a bit more breathing room and its the perfect spot to sit down for a bite to eat. I am also happy to notice that the food prices here are not inflated for the event and it is possible to find some decent Bavarian food at the same prices as you would at the beer gardens around town.

My Thai friend Pree doesn't really drink alcohol but in the spirit of the Oktoberfest she agrees to try a Radler, a half-half mix of beer and locally made lemonade. In fact, even Rebecca makes big eyes at the Maß and we all decide on an easy start. Radler is also served in a one litre mug and it's the only way really for me to keep up with the beer drinkers.. It goes down well with our shnitzel, which arrives with a hearty serving of Bavarian potato salad and red currant preserve.

Soon the girls are green with dirndl envy. Yes, when you're sitting there in your jeans and everyone else is wearing pretty Bavarian dresses you do feel somewhat out of place. And especially when everyone is having so much fun, it is even more tempting to get into character and jump on that table to dance along with the rest. On a Sunday most shops in Bavaria are closed but for Oktoberfest emergencies such as this, there are a few shops and stalls selling dirndls and lederhosen around the Hauptbahnhof.

What fun seeing them transform into Bavarian goddesses! There's yet another few days of Oktoberfest ahead!

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