Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Well, Oktoberfest as come and gone.  While we might not done everything on the vizen/field, we now know what the hoopla is all about. We went Oktoberfest a few times, walked around. And we looked the part.  We always seeing advertisements for trachen (traditional clothing) here and in fact people seem to wear them all year around. We bought dirndls and lederhosen but nothing else. The kids are already thinking about the improvements to their costumes for next year; the necklaces, the little purses, the shoes and the hats The most significant improvement will be shopping before the crowds in September!
Courtesy of an Oktoberfest tour led by an entertaining German man with a New Zealand accent, I learned a few fun facts about the whole thing. The whole Oktoberfest , ongoing for the past two hundred years, was originally a celebration of the wedding of Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig, who became King Ludwig 1, toPrincess Therese of Saxe-Hidburghausen on October 12, 1810. The people of Munich were invited to the celebration and it became a sixteen day long party, the world's largest fair with over 6 million visitors from all over the world. There are rides, an agricultural show, sometimes a car show and of course the beer tents.

The beer tents are huge, some of which can seat 10,00 people at a time, and each has its own history. The Schottenhamel tent, run by the same family since before 1867, has the honor of starting Oktoberfest. Traditionally, Munich’s mayor opens the festivities in this tent by cracking a barrel and announcing “the barrel is tapped!” Schottenhamel’s other claim to fame is that Albert Einstein worked there as a light bulb changer, assisting his electrician uncle, back in the day.
The kids loved the old time amusements such as the flea circus, the last live animal show on the field and the witches swing, a ride that is essentially a cool optical illusion, that makes you feel as if you are flipping around despite only slightly swinging. Legend has it that witches burst into flames on the swing so long lines of boys are said to take their girlfriends on the ride prior to making a commitment. I rode the ride with Tori. While we both survived, I was surprised when teenagers on the ride said hello to her. Apparently, they were on the same school sports bus with her on a recent trip to Zurich. Though not flaming, teenagers talking to Tori is shocking (to me). Beyond the old time rides, there are tons of modern upside down rides. Royce followed Tori on one ride that rocked back and forth until it flipped them upside down and kept on rocking. Royce got off looking white and then grey. She didn’t ride anymore rides that day but started again on our next visit.

The whole thing was very fun, particularly on warm late summer days. Everyone said the crowds were unbearable and while it was crowded, it was nothing compared to Hong Kong’s Mong Kok. The kids liked the food, sausages and cookies. Prior to the whole thing, the kids had Oktoberfest safety assemblies at school and came home with papers telling them what to do if they saw drunk people (stay away). From all this Adam thought that Oktoberfest would be like the Hong Kong Sevens but without the rugby. He was mostly right. Oktoberfest is a big state fair with lots of great people watching. And if Adam would have come on my Oktoberfest tour he would have heard my tour guide pause at the end and say he now wanted to talk about his passion. My tour group waited a bit unsure at this point but all we heard next was a plea to support German rugby!


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