5 Kenyan girls and their ginomous backpacks arrived in Munich the evening before Oktoberfest a few years back. By the time the girls made it to their apartment in the lovely town of Starnberg - it was 10pm. They got to the apartment and their lovely and very flamboyantly gay landlord gave them the keys to his apartment and gave them a tour. It was cozy, but very well-furnished. The landlord left and the girls got excited. "Oh gosh, we are here. Tomorrow morning we will actually be at Oktoberfest?" "Feels like we should celebrate." The landlord had stocked the fridge with some beers - "well let's have one before sleeping. What time do we need to be up? 5am! What the hell? Who is at a beer festival at 6am? Ok, Ok. If you insist we won't get seats if we go later, then we may as well get some rest. "
Morning comes - a flurry of activity as 5 women struggle to shower, get dressed, do their makeup and leave the house by 6am..Success.
We took the train - I had assured everyone that we should carry a beer or two each, as it would be a while before we would get into Oktoberfest, and drinking in public in Munich is not only allowed during Oktoberfest (and most other times,) but is actually highly encouraged. These girls didn't trust me - up until we got to the train and they saw all the women in dirndls and the men in lederhosen and many groups traveling with a crate or two of beer, and happily drinking on the train....."Aaaah, so it's true? We can drink?" "Yep, what did I tell you? Welcome to my second home."
The train starts, stops, picks up more revelers, starts, stops, picks up more revelers. Soon the train is full of very many, very excited people. "Last stop! Last stop!" We all get off and follow the throngs of people walking in one direction - to the home of Oktoberfest - der Wiesn. We finally got to the Oktoberfest tents at 7;30am. Those among us who went to public boarding schools would know what is needed to finally get in when the doors begin opening - you are standing in a crowd of thousands and thousands planning to push yourself into the tents before noon - when the opening ceremony begins. You imagined I said you are standing in a line - no I didn't. I said you are standing in a crowd. There is no method to the madness - you just need to stick together, make friends - yes- make friends, but don't get too attached to them. With the next great push, you might find yourself floating above your new friends finding yourself inching closer to the door. Your new friend might elbow you when the crowd starts pushing - nothing personal - this is rugby (ruge), this is real life, this is how any proper human behaves when there are limited resources - only a certain number of people can get into the tent - and you MUST be among that number.
Half of you make it in! Thank God. Oh, now it's time to find a table. "Excuse me, is this table taken?" [As you approach the lonesome girl with a huge empty table] When she responds "Yes it is. [yet you know it's not and she is booking it for her friends who are still stuck outside.] You politely say "Ok" as you secretly pray that her friends get stuck outside and that she drinks too much beer, gets really really pressed and can't access the loo for an hour or so. Karma, oh karma. "Is this one taken?", "Yes, says the really rude 17 year old with the bad acne and the jacked up teeth. For him you don't wish him any future curses. He is clearly paying for karma in advance..
"Ok. I don't think we will find a table, but at least we are in.....and we can see our other people at the door. They will be in soon." "What do we do?" "We hover around a table. You can't be served if you are not on a table." "Then what?" "Then we colonize it?" "Explain....." Ooooooh, don't mind us. We are just on the edge of this little table [village on the border of your country.] Aaaaah, your friend has gone to the loo? Let me just stand here for a while. Psssssst! Come quickly! [Lord Delamere], quick quick! The locals aren't watching. Excuse me? You are saying this is your table? [Looks around] Well I don't see your name on it? Last time I checked you [locals] didn't have any [title deeds.] Aaaaah, that's your beer that you left on the table as proof of your ownership? Interesting - right here I have a document that shows your [chief] signed over all beers [land] on this table [in this country] to me...in exchange for [some salt and guns.] Ha! Life sucks.
So that is how eventually we had our own table. Ok, we perhaps were not as cut-throat as my little tale, but we used a combination of cunning and sweetness to finally get ourselves our very own table - then the fun began....
Too many stories from that first day - you are of course bound to have lots of stories when you start drinking in a train at 6am and then spend all day till 10pm at a beer festival. Some key highlights:
- "The Safety Cord" bit some guy's shoulder [not in a fight or anything - it was all good fun] - it's all fun and games till your rabid friend gets wet
- Lots and lots of beers were drunk
- We met hundreds of people, took pics with them, sang drinking songs in german, made friends in the loos (given how much time we spent on those long lines), kissed men in dresses and promptly forgot all this
- We staggered home - don't really remember the exact circumstances, but we were all fast asleep by 11pm if not earlier - partying is a lot of work