Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Prost to Oktoberfest 2016


I visited the Oktoberfest ground at Therensienwiese, Munich the venue for the annual biggest beef fest in the world. I went for two days during the second week of the three weeks celebration - one on a Sunday and the other on Monday, only to be stunned by the number of people going in and out of the ground. During my first visit, my friends and I decided to wake up at 4 a.m. in the morning and got there at 7 a.m. only to see the ground is still closed and there were not many people around. At first we were afraid that we're gonna be late and lose any seatings on the tents but it turn out the Sunday crowd is not crazy as the Saturday one was and we were sort of relieved.

8 a.m. and the entrance to Oktoberfest is finally open for public. We decide to look around the big tents which are building that each represent a brand of German beer. Pick a tent, come inside, and order some beer of the same brand name of the tent and enjoy your day. Every tent has its own unique decor and it attracts a different kind of visitor.  As for the food menu, every tent pretty much offers similar items -- but many other foods at available outside the tents for a better price.


The Hacker Festhalle tent is our pick of the day as it was both popular for locals and tourists. Practically there's a queue forming by the second the gate is open. The tent is sponsored by the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery and it is notable for its dreamy decoration with clouds all over the room and beautiful scenery painted on its walls designed by Rolf Zehetbauer, an Oscar-winning set designer that beautifully showcased the Bavarian lifestyle through history. As we arrive early into the tent, the bands have yet to perform but many people were cheering and chanting as they were enjoying their beer - and then singing the hook from Hey Baby (If You'll Be My Girl); even we joined singing after catching up to the lyrics over and over again.

All of the tents offer their beers by the litre. The Hacker-Pschorr beer is sold at the price of EUR 10.60 including all tax and services, but tipping is customary. A good way to calculate it is to round up the money to the nearest whole number. When you get seated, an assigned waiter/waitress will come to your table and let you order things off their menu. They will firstly ask how many beers would you like, serve it, and then you can proceed with your other order. Enjoy your beer by cheering 'Prost!' as you're toasting.

Münchner Weißwurst (EUR 7.20)
We got ourselves a plate of Weißwurst that consist of white sausage of veal meat that is boiled in its encased closing alongside with a pretzel (German: Brezen) with a sprinkle of salt. It is also served with a sweet mustard sauce named Weißwurstsenf. You typically don't eat the sausage case as you suck the meat separately. It is also usually served with a soup but I guess for practicality the serve the links as it is. The dish was delicious and a good breakfast meal -- and the menu is only available until 14.00, per the breakfast tradition!

 There's a non-alcoholic beer option, too in every tent.

Käsespätzle (EUR 12.50)
The Käsespätzle is a dish consisting of pasta-like German noodles served with cheese and fried onion. This cheese spaetzle is served with salad on the side and is sort os a macaroni and cheese dish. This is a good side dish (or even mains, really) as it is salty, cheese and rich but the price is pretty hefty for this one.

At a random split-of-a-moment there might be a person or two who will stand on the benches and try chugging their whole glass of beer in one 'standing' as the crowd cheer for them. If they are successful, they will be cheered by the whole tent (in this particular, a tent of 6900 people or more!) and you get to lead a chant and just made the whole tent more cheery and spirited. But if you fail, prepared to get booed... hard. That's what you get when you go into a tent with a fully spirited crowd.

Candied Apple EUR 3.00 

Candied Apple (White Chocolate) EUR 2.5

Gingerbread Heart Cookies  EUR 3.50 - 7.00

The things that are happening outside the tent is more fun, if not as, than what was happening inside. It was also more family friendly with tons of food sold on the streets and amusement park rides available for the public. I didn't expect Oktoberfest is similar to a fun fair, but turn out it really was -- only with more beer. 

Pretzel (Brezen) EUR 3.50 - 5.50 

You can purchase tickets for every ride individually. We rode the ferris wheel and 1 round goes for about eight spins with a great view across the city. The ticket price per person is EUR 8.00. Not good for the acrophobic.

 Ice Cream Cone EUR 3.00

 Candied Fruits EUR 4.00

As we finish our first day in the early in the afternoon, we have another visit on Monday. Per the suggestion of our Airbnb host, we tried out the AugustinerBrau - Augustiner beer tent that he said to be the best producer of beer in the world. I don't really care much for the beer but we got excited to visit a different tent and see the different vibes. The AugustinerBrau was pretty crowded when we came, at about 1 p.m. in the afternoon. The place is filled with mostly locals who are enjoying beers that are served on their 1-liter glass (or Maß - read 'Maass') right out of the wooden barrel. The order method is pretty much similar to what I've explained before, but the price of the beer is slightly cheaper with EUR 10.40 per glass.

 Apple Cider EUR 4.95

Zitronen Limonade EUR 4.95 

 Mixed Cola EUR 4.95

1/2 Augustiner Wiesn Hendl (EUR 10.70)
This is a classic Oktoberfest dish -- grilled chicken seasoned with simple salt and pepper but is grilled on a rolling stick and resulted in juicy chicken and crispy skin all around. You can buy this similar type of chicken outside the tent for a cheaper price but you won't get the experience of being seated in one of the best crowd, having fun.

1/2 Schweinshinterhaxe mit Rohem Kartoffelknödel (EUR 19.50)
Pork knuckle with a side of kartoffelknödel.

Kartoffelknödel (EUR 5.50)
Kartoffelknödel can be somewhat translated to potato noodle, a mixed of potato and noodle dough formed into a ball  that is boiled until it becomes chewy and cooked through. This one, in particular, is served with gravy-stock sauce.

Kaizerschmann mit Apfelmus, Marillen o. Zwetschge (EUR 6.95)
Kaizerschmann is some sort of German dessert with 'scrambled' pancake that is drizzled with sweet toppings. It is served on a plate of cone 'plate' so that the Kaizerschmann and the serving plate is all edible.

Kaizerschmann mit Eierlikór oder Baileys (EUR 7.95)
Similar to above, this eggy and fluffy pancake bites is served on an edible cone plate but is drizzled with syrup and concentrated Baileys. Sweeter and milkier than the tart Kaizerschmann that was served with apple.

 Chicken Schnitzle (EUR 4.00)

As we were walking around, there are parading horses on the ground - promoting each beer brands and became a crowd attraction. The rest of the grounds were also really fun, you can sight different things all over the corner and you'll see the crowd in traditional costumes either drinking or eating something while enjoying the fun fair. I was really happy for this experience and as I went early in the morning to the afternoon, the crowd had yet to become too crazy and everything was pretty orderly. But be mindful of your expense as everything is so inviting here. A good tip I got off the net is to prepare EUR 50 per day and to always bring cash as it is the only accepted payment around the Theresienwiese ground. The food was nice, the people were fun, the toilets are clean, the company is good, it was all a good experience that is way more than what I was expecting. Prost for an even better adventure in the future!