“You can’t survive Oktoberfest without drinking beer.”
Several people have told me this over the past few days. And they are so right.
Oktoberfest, Munich’s annual celebration of beer, Bavarian-ness and debauchery, started last weekend. I still have to survive it for nine more days.
I say “surviving” somewhat literally. I live a block and a half away from the fest grounds (a.k.a. the Wiesn).
My street is a main thoroughfare for fest-goers. From morning til night (or, rather, very early the next morning), streams of people wearing Dirndl and Lederhosen flow down my street; by about 6pm those streams turn into raging rivers of people…drunk people…slurring, staggering, stumbling, singing, arm-in-arm, drunk-friend-holding-up-drunker-friend, drunk people. Leaving my house is usually an upstream struggle.
But wait, it gets worse.
I also live across the street from a hostel, one that has a tendency to get rowdy even when it’s not Oktoberfest. Its rowdiness caliber has increased at least threefold this week.
It gets worse still.
Next to the hostel is a restaurant that hosts an “after-party” every night of Oktoberfest. So, to fall asleep, I must tune out the din of pulsing dance beats and drunken chatter, and the occasional outbursts of song from drunk men (always men) or ambulance sirens (Munich’s emergency fleet has certainly had their work cut out for them this week).
I am desperately trying to stay in the spirit and hold onto the perspective of “what an interesting cultural experience this is.” But I have accepted I will be sleep deprived for at least another nine days.
And, following locals’ warnings, I have made sure to drink the beer. I mean, I have to survive.
In the next episode of “Survivor: Oktoberfest,” I will offer a glimpse into what it’s like on the Wiesn.