21 October 2008


Almost a month after the last post I'm back. I would like to blame it on a delayed recovery from the excesses of Oktoberfest but that would be a lie.

I did manage a couple of visits to the Lowenbrau Festhalle. The first was a rather gentle affair in the afternoon, the second a rather more raucous session in the evening.

The biggest challenge in the latter case was getting into the tent. Every one of the tables is reserved well in advance and only those wearing that evening's little blue wristband could get in.

Despite waving my wrist enthusiastically in the air the security guards at door number five were disinclined to let any of us in, including one man with an official invitation from InBev, the owners of Lowenbrau. I had imagined that things would have been better organised, but in the end it took 35 minutes of pushing and shoving to get through the door.

Once inside I fought my way to our table. I did sit down briefly, but before very long those of us sitting were at knee level with most everyone else who were stomping, dancing and swaying on the benches. The band were wearing lederhosen, but the music was far from traditional - Robbie Williams, Abba, The Beatles, Queen.

Imagine a middle-aged well-padded German lady in a pink dirndl standing on her bench swaying rythmically, beer in hand, belting out 'Country Roads Take Me Home' - that's Oktoberfest.

Everything about Oktoberfest is impressive - the size and scale of the tents, the number of people crammed into the tents, the quantities of beer and food consumed, the ability of drunken people to navigate their way to the toilets while remaining upright and to find their way back. (I was a bit concerned to discover that the toilets which could accommodate dozens of people at a time only had two wash basins - which, I would like to assure you, I made use of. Perhaps most people were relying on the alcohol to kill the germs.)

Most impressive of all were the waitresses. On the postcards these are always young attractive blondes in low-cut dirndls. In reality they are usually older women, generally of a somewhat stouter build.

This is of course vital since the willowy blondes wouldn't have a hope of carrying six, seven or eight litres of beer at a time while negotiating their way through crowds of people with drink taken. I saw one waitress who looked to be no more than five feet tall if that. What she lacked in height she made up for in other directions and with a full round of beer in front of her she had the proportions and probably the mass of a rolling barrel.

It's also difficult to imagine the blondes firmly persuading young men to get out of the way. I suspect that they respond much better to someone who looks like their mother than someone who looks like their fantasy.

I have no idea how many tables each waitress is serving but ours kept us supplied with beer and chicken very swiftly and efficiently. Three beers, half a chicken and an unknown number of bad singalongs later it was time to go. It was fun - a lot more fun than I had expected.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I reasoned that beer, chicken grease and electronic equipement were not a good combination. Speigel, as always, to the rescue with their Oktoberfest gallery including a picture of inside of the Lowenbrau tent.

Spiegel also reported on the post - Oktoberfest statistics - I contibuted to those for consumption, but not to those for lost property - and offered an Oktoberfest quiz. I got 11 out of 12.

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