More than a week has passed since Oktoberfest ended and my liver has finally recovered … from the two liters of beer I drank all that weekend.
I know, I know. Believe me, I’ve had a lot of people judge me because I didn’t get completely wasted at Oktoberfest. The worst part is, I didn’t plan on drinking so little either. I thought I had prepared for Oktoberfest, but I didn’t prepare for Oktoberfest to have to start at 9 a.m.
I don’t know if it’s because we were lazy or if it’s because we just told ourselves that it would be impossible to plan activities at a festival where we’d be drinking heavily, but we didn’t really have a set plan for Oktoberfest. We knew we had to get to the site relatively early so we wouldn’t have to wait in line to enter a beer tent. But we didn’t have an exact time of when it started, so we just planned on showing up at 9 and walking around for a while before we would try to enter a beer hall.
We only wandered for a couple minutes before one of the three other girls in my group wanted to follow a crowd of people wearing lederhosen and drindls (traditional Bavarian outfits that are nowhere near as slutty as their American Halloween costume counterparts). Little did we know we were actually in line for the actual king of Oktoberfest beer tents, Hofbräu-Festzelt, and the crowd we were following was actually 10,000 people that would fill the festival’s largest beer tent in ten minutes, according to the friendly Norwegians sitting next to us.
We were also clueless about how much a liter of beer can be, especially first thing in the morning. Let me tell you, the term “breakfast of champions” takes on a whole new meaning when it’s 9:30 a.m. and there’s a liter of strong German beer sitting in front of you.
But once again, that was just us. The Norwegians seated to our right and the Germans and New Zealanders to our left didn’t make any puckered faces. They had no problem yelling “Prost!” and clinking beer glasses when it was closer to 5 a.m. than 5 p.m. And the other 10,00 people were equally ready to wake up and smell the beer.
Within minutes of being served our beer, people started standing on the top of their picnic benches and chugging their entire beer or what was left of it. And the crowd was so into it, cheering the person on and clapping when they finished or, in a worst-case scenario, booing if they couldn’t. This happened about five or six times every hour, for all of the five hours that we spent at the beer hall.
Because it turns out that Oktoberfest is the happiest, most magical grownup place on Earth where it’s weird if you’re NOT day drinking, you DON’T really want to have beer for breakfast, and people will judge you if you CAN’T finish chugging a liter of beer in under thirty seconds or CAN’T drink more than three liters of beer in three hours.
I had two beers in five hours, and two of the other girls I went with only had one beer in the same amount of time. And I don’t know if it’s because we are girls or because we are Americans or what, but that was the perfect amount for me and my wallet—one liter of beer is 11 euros, or more than $14! And keep in mind that the human stomach can only hold about 32 ounces of fluid, which is basically one liter.
The trouble was, though, that in order to keep your seat, you had to keep buying stuff, either food or drink. So we ordered sparkling water and torso-sized German pretzels and even a half of a roasted chicken to split all between us just so we could stay without the scary waitress barking at us in German. I wasn’t even that hungry, but I just wanted to stay.
The Germans next to us very helpfully ordered all of our nutritional demands, though they did tease us for not being able to drink as much beer as them. In all of the five hours that we were there, they didn’t get up to go to the bathroom once. Talk about German efficiency.
They were genuinely distressed that we were leaving and didn’t want to spend all day drinking with them in the tent before going to a club at midnight—and didn’t understand that we would probably die or pass out if we tried to at least catch up halfway to them.
I don’t know what happened to those cute, friendly German guys in lederhosen. All I know is that we went back to our tiny tent and took a four-hour nap. My Oktoberfest might not have been like their Oktoberfest, but it was good enough for me.