Oktoberfest in Munich

September 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Steve in Germany

First of all an update from an earlier email.  I had sent a photo of the Jewish Memorial next to St. Josef church in Weiden.  My sister Leslie and her family are good friends with a German fellow, Philipp Arlt.  My great thanks to him for this translation.

The memorial reads:

“In memory of the 34 Jewish citizens of Weiden who were killed in the concentration camps during the national socialist reign of terror from 1933-1945, as an eternal warning/dunning against racial fanaticism and intolerance.”

 

Back to my Munich trip…

One thing I noticed while walking about in Munich was many people were dressed in traditional garb.  This must have been in celebration of Oktoberfest.  Easily 10% of the thousands of people we saw that day were dressed this way.  Even non-natives such as American, English, and Asian men & women passing us wore the traditional dresses, pants and laderhousen.

One of the things we saw in the Bahnhof was a sales display of this clothing.  Despite the color I saw no men in this lavender or pink colored shirt.  Most of the men’s check shirts were fire engine red or royal blue.  I should comment that the day we were in Munich very few people wore any type of hat.

Most of the sales ladies in the shops & the waitresses wore this type of dress, all the same yet all different and in all sorts of colors. This made an interesting contrast with the salesmen & waiters none of whom were similarly attired.

By about 2 in the afternoon our group of 5 caught a subway to the Oktoberfest.  The subway runs well over 100 feet below the surface.  A very long escalator takes you down to the train or back up to the surface.  Of course you are confined on the escalator for this distance so the metro authority takes full advantage of this.  On either side of the walls an identical advertising poster was hung every 10 feet or so preaching to the captive audience.

This is the poster on the up side of the escalator in the station we chose.  There must have been at least 30 of them the whole length of the ride.  All of the different posters in the two stations I saw were covered by plastic to avoid being stolen or defaced.

 

The train to Oktoberfest was standing room only.  The amount of people crammed into those cars was very reminiscent to me of the subways and commuter trains of New York City.

At the Oktoberfest subway stop virtually the entire train empties.  For this shot I held the camera above my head and hoped for the best.  There are two escalators going up and one coming down.  All are crowded.

 

The escalator dumps you right into the carnival.  There is no hint of what is about to happen and no ticket line, you suddenly step off the escalator into the melee.

The first thing you see at the entrance/exit are armed policemen so everyone is aware of them.  Oktoberfest has a reputation for being a magnet for thieves and pickpockets, but I didn’t think there were enough police for true crowd control.  The police all wear this green uniform so you really can’t miss them.  They stand at the entrance/exits and roam around in pairs.  They all seemed to be young to early middle age.  There was even one fellow (not this one) who looked so young I would swear he was a cadet, but he carried a 9mm handgun with a double stacked magazine & had an earphone in his ear just like all the rest.

That was the first thing you see when you enter Oktoberfest.  The first thing you hear is the noise of the crowd, the first thing you smell is the smell of a carnival with beer and horse manure thrown into the mix.  Beer because it seems half the buildings there are beer halls.  Horse manure because there are many large draft horses hooked to beer wagons on display.  The horses are in traditional outfits dressed almost as well as the teamsters.  They are such a popular photo attraction that I couldn’t get near enough to one to take any kind of useful photo.

Oktoberfest is really a huge carnival or regional fair.  It seemed almost as large as the LA County Fairgrounds without the parking.  And it was packed with people.  There must have been a few hundred thousand there that afternoon.

Of course every fair has to have a balloon vendor.  This photo is for you Francie.  (The tall building in the background is off site.)

I bought some German postage stamps as a souvenir so they could gather dust and be forgotten along with the postage stamps I’ve bought from my other international travels.  They were self-stick instead of lick and stick, probably the first self stick in my accumulation.

Tourist stands were abundant selling mostly mugs and t-shirts.  Here is one of them.  I bought up a shot glass to go to a good friend if it makes it home in one piece.

25 Euro is about $37.50 US.  All the prices are in Euro.

Almost as abundant as the tourist stands were the eating establishments and the beer halls.  The wait to get into the beer halls was about an hour so we never tried.  Some of the beer halls serve only the beer they brew and have become famous for. If you want to eat or drink on the run there are small vending stands.  Once done people would just pile their trash on the top of the heap.  If it fell off so what.   Trash pick up didn’t seem to be an Oktoberfest strong point, but it was so crowded I’m sure they were just plain overworked.

 

The crowds, as I said were huge.  Many are in traditional costume, others in modern garb.

 

The five of us really appreciated the warm day and the costumes.  The girl watching was excellent.  To say the least, we found their outfits to be culturally uplifting.

 

Of course it is a carnival.   There were lots of thrill rides and a very large Ferris Wheel.  Here are two of the thrill rides.

This thing spun wildly like a top.  Imagine getting on this right after a large beer.

Near the end of the ride this one would drop you like a stone until about 10 feet above the ground where it bounced a bit.  Then you and your rattled nerves were allowed to get off.

After about an hour walking about we felt we had seen enough so it was back to Munich and dinner before our train.

In Munich I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this spiral of balloons for Francie.  It was uniform and very well put together.  I was impressed with the spiral, but unimpressed with the clusters at right.  Perhaps this person will get to Fran’s next balloon convention in Orange County.

 

The last thing is the street cars.  The entire city seems to be about moving people efficiently here and there.  The street cars are part of this equation.

 

By the time I shot this we were making our way back to the Bahnhof (at the left) to look for an earlier train.  We didn’t get one, but appreciated being able to sit down and nap until we could board.  My feet were talking to me by then and I was glad to get them some rest.

 

Steve

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