Monday, September 21, 2009

Oktoberfest: Part 1

Wikipedia tells us:

"Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September (and running to early October.) It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world's largest fair, with some six million people attending every year, and is an important part of Bavarian culture.

The original "Oktoberfest" occurred in Munich, on October 18, 1810: For the commemoration of their marriage, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (namesake of the Theresienwiese festival grounds) organized a great horse race.
In the year 1812, the Oktoberfest was cancelled since Bavaria was involved in the Napoleonic war. In 1816, carnival booths appeared. The main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewellery. In 1819, the founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility over festival management. It was agreed that the Oktoberfest would be celebrated each and every year without exception. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that the end of September in Bavaria often has very good weather. The high temperature in the first week of Oktoberfest nears 19°C which stimulates the thirst of the visitors. However, today the last week of Oktoberfest is still in October.

To honour the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, a parade took place for the first time in 1835. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people — mostly from Bavaria — in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl."

Oktoberfest has continued every year with the exceptions of war years. I guess next year will be the 200th anniversary! Wow, we better get train tickets early.

In planning our excursion, we decided Sunday would be a good day...not as many people as a Saturday and there is a parade. We were thinking about going to the parade but the weather forecast at the time shows 30% chance of rain. We decided to skip the parade but try to get into a beer tent instead...while everyone else is watching the parade! To get there early, we decided to take the 8:02am train to Munich (about an hour on the ICE (InterCity Express Train) which goes up to 250km/h (at least on the Nuremberg-Munich run).

Oktoberfest seems to have two parts: Inside the beer tents and Outside the Beer tents. One wants to get inside the beer tents as some point as that is an integral part of the experience. However, many tables are reserved, so one has to strategize to get one of the non-reserve tables. There are 14 beer tents (as permanent as they look, they are only up for Oktoberfest).

The largest "tents" hold up to 8500 inside and 3600 outside. The tent below holds almost 6000 people inside.

This tent holds almost 7,000 inside.

We however went into the Hippodrome, which holds about 3200 inside. Wikipedia says: "One of the smaller tents, it's the first tent that many visitors see at the fest. As well as serving normal Wiesn beer, it has a Sekt (sparkling wine) bar and Maß of Weißbier. Considered one of the trendiest tents, and attracts the occasional celebrity. Traditionally in the evening the Oktoberfest band the Münchner Zwietracht plays all the Oktoberfestclassics."

We got to the "Weisn" (the Oktoberfest area) about 9:30am, and the Hippodrom didn't open until about 10:10am. The hubby got in line while I took the girls around looking at Souveniers and such.
Naturally they have beer steins for sale...

and many beer related hats...

...even teddy bears!..

...And of course the ubiquitous Lebkuchen Hearts...decorated gingerbread hearts attached to a string...You might buy these for your sweetheart.


The Hippodrom workers were diligently trying to get people to sit in the beer garden outside (where they could start buying beers) instead of standing in line (where you can't), but we held firm. So we finally get in and it is about 10:30am or so...a bit early for beer!

We decided to try a "Auszog'ne" pastry as well as a tried and true Apple Strudel.

"Auszog'ne" are "Round fried pastries with an edge and a thin skin. They are round, have a diameter of between 12 and 15 cm and an edge about 3 cm high and wide and are wafer-thin in the middle. The colour of the Auszogne ranges from golden brown at the edge to light in the middle. With their soft edge and their crispy middle, Auszogne have a delicate sweet and greasy flavour.Auszogne are often eaten spread with jam or sprinkled with sugar to accompany coffee. The tradition of baking Auszogne for festivals has been maintained in rural Bavarian regions to this day. "

I think there must be a difference between "crispy middle" and "seems like really stale bread"...but a little vanilla sauce stolen from the apple strudel makes anything edible!

After a while we decided it was late enough for beer and we had some while the band started to play. Here are the beer mugs waiting to be filled:
The Münchner Zwietracht band playing traditional songs...

The Table next to us looks on at the band...

Prost! (Cheers!)


mathmom said...

Why the heck does Oktoberfest start in September? We used to celebrate Oktoberfest in Waterloo, ON where I went to University, but it was always in October :)

Blopper said...

They moved it back because it is warmer in September...warmer equals more people thirsty for beer! It does go until the first few days in October though.

Silbermond said...

Why the heck does Oktoberfest start in September? ...
Oktoberfest ends in October! :-)

Do you ands your daughters wear Dirndl as is right and proper?

Beth said...

Auszog'ne,like Hungarian langos.
Is that Rick is Lederhosen? Did Jessie cut her hair?
There is a teenage girl on the wheel that looks a bit like her from a distance.