Oktoberfest Tents
What Actually Happens in a Beer Tent?
What is your favorite tent at Oktoberfest? What Actually Happens inside the tents at Oktoberfest? Many dream of visiting Oktoberfest. However, a lot of folks don't understand the deal. There's lot of information about the history, but here's some practical information to help you wrap your mind around what goes on there. Most on this side of the pond picture some kind of "Beer Fest" event with just drinking to excess. That's really not it. Or, if that's your experience, you've missed the point. The grounds are divided into two main sections - one side is all of the carnival-like attractions. The other side are all the various beer tents. However, these "tents" hold some 10,000 people inside. There are 14 main tents: Hippodrom, Armbrustschützenzelt, Hofbräu Festzelt, Hacker-Festzelt, Schottenhamel, Winzerer Fähnd'l, Schützen-Festzelt Käfer's Wies'n Schänke, Weinzelt, Löwenbräu-Festhalle, Bräurosl, Augustiner-Festhalle, Ochsenbraterei, Fischer-Vroni. nce you are in a tent, what goes on there? The atmosphere varies depending on the time of day.When you have reservations, you can either get a lunch reservation (hours vary slightly in each tent) or an evening reservation.
Midday in the Tent
The tents are required to dial it down during midday. If you are in the tent then, you will hear live "Blasmusik" - Oom-pahstyle. This is a great time to sit at a table with a bunch of other folks and have a conversation, enjoy the great beer and food, and sway to the music. My favorite tents during the afternoon are the Augustiner and the Ochsenbraterei. Augustiner is the best beer in Munich and I've always had great friendly servers here (especially in Box 3!) . I like the Ochsenbraterei (Ox tent, for short) for the food. They roast a whole steer on a giant spit and you can order various parts of him - it's really awesome with a liter of Spaten to wash it down. Last year, we sat in the balcony and we had two male waiters who were extremely friendly and efficient - that took great care of us during our afternoon there. All in all, the atmosphere is much less hectic and the servers have more time to take care of you.
Evening - ACT 1 - Scene 1: Sitting down
Most evening reservations start around 4:00 PM. Clean-up for Evening guests For the evening reservations, everyone arrives within a 15 minute window, so things are hectic, to say the least. When I have reserved seats, I spend the first 30 minutes "protecting my seats" - people without reservations see an empty space and I have to chase them away.  I have to enlist the help of my guests to keep telling passersby, "No!" Some people insist on sitting at our tables and I have to sometimes get the waitresses to help me chase the intruders away. Since I can only hold the seats open for a 15 minute grace period, it's important for my guests to be on time!
Evening - ACT 1 - Scene 2: First Beer
First beer in Augustiner As people are sitting down, the waitresses are rushing to get everyone their first round. When they get to your table, all they really want to hear is how many beers your table wants. For everything else, you need to wait. When she gets back with the beer, you have to pay up fast - if you have a coupon, you have give her that plus a euro for service. After the beer is doled out, she will consider taking orders for other beverages like Radler or Soda.
Evening - ACT 1 - Scene 3: Food
Brathendl - Roasted Chicken The next phase after that is to order food. I recommend that people eat early - later you will find it's hard to eat when people are dancing on the table! The first order she takes is for the Brathendl - chicken. That's most every tent's default selection and it's always very good. Again, when she gets to the table, you need to tell her how many chickens - don't try to oder anything else! After the chicken is delivered to her section, she'll consider taking orders for 0ther food items from the menu.
Evening - ACT 2
After the plates are cleared, there's another big push to refill everyone's beer. On the stage, the music is starting to get really fun. The tempo is more rock and roll with a lot of bass to give everyone the beat. The songs are of the sing-a-long variety - there's a ton of tune you know. Everyone is starting to get loosened up and you'll start to see folks grab arms, swaying to the music together and singing - it really is irresistible! There's lots of "prositing" - saying cheers with a hefty clink while looking everyone in the eye!  As this act plays out, people will start to climb up on to the benches and start dancing in place - it actually not allowed to get on top of the tables - try it and you'll meet the security staff!
ACT 3 - Getting Silly
It happens every time. Whenever beer is served, people drink too much and things start to get silly. The worm turns between 8:30 and 9:00 PM. If you don't like being in the mosh pit, it is now time for you to look for the exit. This is when people start sloshing their beer around and falling on tables. Since some of our guests have left by now, we are obligated to give up any free seats we may have. If you've paced yourself, you can still have a lot of fun, but you need to be careful! So, what's the best tent in evening?  I usually take my groups to the Hofbrau Tent - it's known as the foreigners tent and the music is really great - it's really a party tent. But, truthfully, most of the tents are all rocking at this point and there isn't much difference. I've had a great time in all the tents and they are all worth a look. I like the decor of the Hacker Tent and it's fun to watching the shooting competition in the Schuetzen Festzelt. Beer, guns, and roller coasters - what a great time!
10 Golden Oktoberfest Rules
  1. Never bring your passport to Oktoberfest
  2. Don't bring more money than you need for one night
  3. Don't let your wife go to the bathroom by herself
  4. Go on the roller coasters BEFORE you visit the tents
  5. It's a marathon, not a sprint
  6. Respect your server, tip her well, and don't make her angry
  7. At night, just order the damn chicken
  8. Try the Radler
  9. If you hear a whistle, stop what you are doing immediately!
  10. Don't stay to the bitter end!    
How many Tents are there at Oktoberfest?
Marstall: For the "in" crowd. Trendy hip. Debuted in 2014 and is the successor of the famed Hippodrom Tent. Armbrustschützenzelt: The tent for Cross-bowmen. Usually quite traditional Hofbräu Festzelt: The "International" Tent. Wild in the evening. Aloysius statue covered in women's undergarments nightly.
Hacker-Festzelt: Very beautiful - the tent was decorated like a Theatrical stage set - beautiful artwork! Schottenhamel: Where the Mayor kicks off the festivities! Winzerer Fähnd?l: A traditional Paulaner tent with great food and excellent service Schützen-Festzelt: Complete with a shooting gallery. Guns and Beer - not only in the USA! Käfer's Wies'n Schänke: The gourmet's choice at the Wies'n. Famous for their food. Weinzelt: Not just beer, also Wine! Great music in the evening from the Blechblos'n! Löwenbräu-Festhalle: A really fun tent with a cool mechanical lion that roars on cue. Bräurosl: A traditonal, friendly tent serving Hacker-Pschorr beer. Augustiner-Festhalle: My personal favorite and the most sought reservation for the true beer lover. All known as the friendliest tent - the ladies  in Box 3 are awesome - very patient! Ochsenbraterei: Tired of Chicken?Go here and have Ox, roasted on a spit. Phenomenal! Fischer-Vroni: Fish anyone? The other Augustiner Tent
What is this?
"Viehscheid" literally translated means "Cattle Separation."In the Alp countries, it is common for farmers to brand their cattle and send them higher up into the mountains for grazing. It's actually important for the cattle to chew down the grass. If the grass stays too long when the snow hits, the snow clinging to the grass causes the grass to be pulled ou, roots and all, and leads to a great deal of erosion on the mountain-side. Letting the cows keep the grass "mowed" to a short length is a great benefit.At the end of the season - about the middle of September - the cows are lead back down to their farmers. As they come down the mountain, they are separated off to their owners. The owners then "gussy up" the cows--sort of like putting lipstick on a pig--for a parade through the village.After the parade, the cows are led to an auction and people can bid on them. I'm told that the small town of Buching is one of the few that still does the auction.After the auction a keg is tap in the big tent and the party begins.There is a big tent with a huge stage and brass band up front. Some of the town officials gather to tap the first keg. The food in the tent in really good - the favorite in Buching was "Kesselfleisch"A tasty little dish of somewhat fatty beef - goes great with beer.  The people are awesome and more than 90% are wearing "Tracht" - the Bavarian national dress - Lederhosen for the Gents and Dirndls for the girls (Every girl looks better in a Dirndl!!!)The party starts out slowly, as all German Parties. Be patient. It starts with traditional Blasmusik - Oom-pah music. The point here is to talk to your friends, eat some good food and get down a good fatty base in your stomach. Believe me, this is good advice. Once a good layer of fat is lining your stomach, it's a big safer to have a few beers. The beer is served in a Masskrug - a one liter glass - which is about three 12-ounce beers. Plus the German beer is a tad stronger than American beer.Gradually, the music picks up and soon you hear songs you can sing along to.The Viehscheid in the small towns is more rowdy than is allowed at Oktoberfest. Here, dancing on the tables is de rigeur. Having your friends hoist you and the table up in the air is beyond pale. An Asocial stunt like that at Munich's Oktoberfest will land you in the hoosegow - here it gets you cheered like a hero. More drinking, more celebration, more fun. Unfortunately the tent closes at midnight and you are unceremoniously thrust out into the cold - and the mud. But, since you started at 9:00 AM, you probably should go home. Did I mention it's Monday?!!??! (I love Bavarians!)
Beyond Beer at Oktoberfest
Beer is obviously the highlight of Oktoberfest and most tourists think that's the only cool thing going on. How wrong they are! The grounds of the Theresienwiese where Oktoberfest is held, is divided into two major parts: The Beer Tents and the Amusement rides.I'm not sure who had the brilliant idea to combine an amusement park with beer in large quantities. But, this side of Oktoberfest should not be missed. My son convinced me to spend an afternoon enjoying some of the rides at Oktoberfest before I started drinking. We did a log ride and a small roller coaster and both of those went fairly well. Then he convinced me to ride the swings. The Swings are very, very high. It starts out slowly, as the rides are lifted high into the Bavarian sky. Then the spinning begins. The first two revolutions were beautiful - slow and very scenic. From here, you can see all of Munich, the entire grounds of Oktoberfest, and all the way to the Alps. Then, the spinning heats up. Before I knew it, I was stifling a scream. As we spun wildly through the sky, all I could thing of was how thin the four little chains are holding us up in the sky - combined with the gross weight of Spenser and me at about 400-450 pounds. I was eyeing up the Augustiner Tent, think  that if the chain snaps, maybe I'll be projected onto one of the tents. That might be survivable! Spenser laughed at me the entire time, but it really was a scary experience. The Ferris Wheel, "Riesenrad" is another favorite at the Wies'n. These large cabins revolve slowly and offer a specatular view of the Oktoberfest grounds, the city of Munich, and the Alps. This ride is even doable after a few liters of beer, assuming one isn't afraid of heights. A few years ago, the police discovered an Italian film company shooting a porno film inside one of the cabins of the Ferris Wheel - somethings are still verboten!
Not all the attractions are amusement rides. One of the older traditions is the show at "Auf Geht's beim Schichtl" Since 1869, Schichtl has thrilled the crowd with an extremely believable beheading! The barker calls out to the crowd continually and tries to convince the crowd to buy a ticket and see the show inside. Although it's all done in German, you won't need a speck of laguage ability to understand the goings on (or off, in this case!) Der Toboggan has been a favorite for more than 70 years! This is a fun one to watch in the later hours of the evening. The riders buy a ticket and ride up on a regular conveyor belt - this leads to lots of hilarity as most everyone has trouble holding their balance.  The slide itself is all wood and surprisingly quick.
"Die Krinoline" is the oldest ride at Munich's Oktoberfest. It's basically just a carousel. It rotates around a center axis relatively slowly, but it also tips up an down, like a spinning top. The real attraction, however, is the LIVE oom-pah band that is stationed at one end of the ride. Walk on, pick out a car and enjoy the music - one of the workers hops from car to car to collect the fare - that's also fun to watch!
The Devil's Wheel, or "Das Teufelsrad" is always fun. It' s basically a big plate that spins around - sometime people just sit on hit, sometimes they walk or run on it, or sometimes there's even a boxing match on it. 2008 marked it's 100th anniversary of operation at Munich's Oktoberfest!
There are bunches of other rides that will spin, flip, drop, and thrill you in all sorts of ways. There's the Wall of Death, The Power TowerOlympia Looping Roller Coaster, Night Fly, The Munich SlideHaunted CastleFreeFall, the Alpina Bahn, and countless others. Since I'm not big on getting jostled around, particularly when beer drinking is involved, I've developed a few of my own favorites over the years. After my years of dedicated research, I've come across the best ride at Oktoberfest: The Weissbier Carousel. It moves at geriatric pace and a nice man in the middle serves Weissbier. It's the antithesis of an action ride. Relax and enjoy! Another  fun activity after a few drinks is to go into the House of Fun - the "Irrgarten" You walk through a maze and have to use conveyor belts and deal with off-kilter walking walking surfaces. I remember (vaguely) having a lot of trouble in the area of the maze that simply had walls of clear glass. At one point, the girls need to beware of the air blow that sends their skirts up over their head. If your into that, there's lots of video of it on You Tube.
A few of my other favorite things is stopping for coffee and Kaiserschmarrn at Cafe Kaiserschmarrn. In the window on the far right you can watch the Kaiserschmarrn prepared fresh right in front of you. Meanwhile, the have lots of coffee varieties to help pick you up if you're short on sleep. There are a lot of other must things to do. The absolute first thing I do when I arrive on the grounds is buy a Gingerbread Heart for my wife. There are tons of stands selling these hearts with cute little sayings on them.  Next, we buy some roasted nuts - lots of different flavors. At the end of the night I typically stop and buy a giant bratwurst with mustard and Semmel - a small roll. On the way out, the last thing is to purchase a huge dill pickle. The vendor has big wooden barrels filled with pickels soaked in various brines. During our time on the grounds, we enjoy the many shooting galleries, the food stands filled with various sausages, desserts, roasted chicken and duck, nuts, candies, souvenirs, and gingerbread hearts. There are even some specialty vendors like the fellow who sells a bird whistle - it's actually fun to stand and listen to Vogel Jakob perform in his little stand. Oktoberfest is full of small things to be discovered and enjoyed. Even if you aren't a beer drinker, you'll find plenty to enjoy!
Strong Beer Festival
During Lent, Monks, in particular, should be fasting and refraining from solid food. One monk, Salavator, figured that while eating was verboten, drinking was not. Since he knew a thing or two about brewing beer, he brewed a batch of strong beer - "strong" meaning brewed with less water, leaving more grain in it. They say one liter of "starkbier" is like eating 12 pieces of bread. Salvator's brew was quite popular with the brothers, to say the least. However, one of them felt that what they were doing might not be quite "Kosher" and they resolved to send a shipment of the beer to Rome for the Pope to judge for himself. The beer was loaded onto a wagon to begin it's long trek south. It bounced around on the horse-drawn flatbed as it crossed southern Germany and entered the Alps. The altitude increased and the temperature got cold; then warmer as they descended into the Alpine Valleys. Finally Austria was crossed and they arrived into Italy. From there, the temperature got ever warmer, as the shipment neared Rome. Even after the long journey, much time went by before an audience with the Pope was arranged. Salvator told the Pope about his brew and the concern that drinking it was showing the proper penitence which Lent demanded. The Pope decided that he should taste the brew. Since this beer had been exposed to severe temperature changes and had bounced around for weeks on the carriage, the Pope declared it undrinkable. Further, he said, if the Munich Monks can drink this foul brew, then they are the most penitent men in the entire Catholic world. Salvator returned home satisfied with the Pope's blessing and the tradition of Starkbier was born. Henceforth the original is called "Salvator" and is brewed only by the Paulaner Brewery. Every other brewery has deveoped a similar brew and names their product with the -ator suffix in honor of Salvator! Tradition. Authenticity. Gemütlichkeit. The cool ceramic mug holds a liter of rich, dark beer, foam running down the side. Delivered by a beautifully attired woman with hands full of steins, a one liter tall beer mug is placed in front of you. Glancing to your left, your tablemates, attired in Lederhosen and Dirndls look at you expectantly. A fresh Maß awaits. Making eye contact, you raise your stein and offer, "Prost!" Quickly, your table mates respond - mugs lift, ceramic steins clink. Together, you take a healthy gulp of slightly sweet beer. Simultaneously, hefty steins return to the table, causing it to shake. The men use the back of their hands to wipe the froth from their mouths and laughter ensues as you all share a moment together. Conversation ensues, and a temporary friendship is built. For this evening, you drink together, tell stories, eat together, and laugh together. This is Bavaria. These are Bavarians.  
Everyone has heard of Oktoberfest. Starkbierfest is almost unknown. It's like its big cousin, but somehow better. Oompah music mixed with Oldies we all know. Hearty fare complements the beer and attempts to stave off the effects of the 8.1% alcohol beer. Thousands on their feet, dancing on benches, singing along to the music. And laughter, lots of laughter. This is an evening at Paulaner am Nockherherg, the prime location of Bavaria's Starkbierfest. It all began with a monk named, Salvator. Required to refrain from food for 40 days in observance of Jesus' time in the desert, Salvator found a loophole: Eating is denied, but drinking is allowed. Thus was born the Starkbier, the hefty bock. Yes, it is higher in alcohol, but the name derives from its being brewed with less water and, therefore, more grain. A liter, it is said, holds the equivalent of 16 loaves of bread! (www.nockherberg.com
During the days of Lent, all of Bavaria's breweries create a version of Starkbier. Just like the originator, Salvator from the Paulaner Brewery, most varieties end with the ator appendix: Optimator, Triumphator, Maximator, Terminator, and countless others. Even though the weather in Munich is cold, it's hot inside with plenty of fresh beer to be tried. Each weekend, most of the big Beer halls have a special event cooking to celebrate the season. The Augustiner Keller and Löwenbräukeller both have live music going, but smaller venues can be even more interesting. The Augustiner Bräustuben is a small beer hall located next to the Augustiner brewery. Unknown in North American, Augustiner is the clearly the number 1 brewery in Munich. Their Bräustuben is located in where the draft horses used to be housed: Now it's full of all walks to life. Venture in here and you will meet the locals and they will meet you! (www.braeustuben.de
Mid-week, try out the Forschungsbrauerei. This family run business is purposely kept small to ensure quality. The ceramic beer mugs are cooled to an exact temperature to ensure you beer is properly presented. The regular beer is excellent, but the rare "blond bock" is a treat: St. Jakobus Blonder Bock will have you coming back for more. Order the roasted chicken and you'll be advised that you need to wait one hour. It's worth it. (www.forschungsbrauerei.de
Far outside Munich is a small monastery well worth the pilgrimage. If you had only one day to experience Bavaria, Kloster Andechs is the destination. Known to the locals as "the holy mountain" the monks maintain a completely contained life. They have their own gardens, fields, butcher, dairy, distillery, and, of course, brewery. One sip of the monk's Doppelbock Beer and even an atheist will agree it was brewed by someone very close to God.  Order a Maß (one liter) and get in line for lunch. Try the Schweinehaxe, Pig Knuckle. The crunchy outer skin is a delicacy that must be enjoyed with your Doppelbock. Stop off at the cheese counter and order up the Obatzda and some of the Romador cheese with a big pretzel. Share with your tablemates and you'll be sure to make some friends. Visit the Roccoco church between rounds and gaze southward to the Alps. Spend the day here and enjoy the richness Bavaria has to offer. (http://www.andechs.de
Don't like dark beer? Leave your preconceived notions behind and give it an honest try. You simply can't compare the beer we have in North America with the fresh brewed original in Munich. And the rich atmosphere in which to enjoy it doesn't hurt at all either! Also known as Munich's fifth season, the weather is cooler and the tourists are scarce. With lower volumes, airfare and hotels are significantly cheaper - if you're into beer and Bavarian culture, this is the time to be in Munich. Since it is tied to the church calendar, the exact dates of Starkbierfest vary - The largest venue, Paulaner am Nockherberg, takes the lead in setting the dates. The season begins on the third Friday after Ash Wednesday and runs three weeks. 
Maibaum - The May Pole
The Maibaum Experience in Bavaria
The raising of a new Maibaum, or may pole, takes place on May 1 throughout Bavaria. The raising is a wonderful, traditional event and seeing it done in person offers you a unique insight into the Bavarian culture. What is a May Pole? The May Pole is simply a tree that has been prepared and decorated by the local club, typically the Burschenverein. How the pole is decorated depends on the region. In most places in Upper Bavaria, the pole is smoothed down and a spiral patter of white and blue paint is applied, reflecting the official Bavarian colors. A series of signs hang from the pole and these typically denote the various trades and services available in the community. In other places, several branches may be left on the pole or it may be left in its natural color. The History of the May Pole: Written reference to the Maibaum dates back to the 13th Century and there is a lot of debate about the history behind the ritual. Most likely it stems from pagan times and could represent the world axis, Germanic reverence for sacred trees, some kind of Norse cosmological view, or even as a phallic symbol representing nature’s bounty. The Festival: Each winter, the local Maibaum is inspected by officials from the TüV. If it is determined that the Maibum must be replaced, the Bürgermeister is notified and the community starts planning for May 1. For a tourist, it can be quite difficult to figure out which community will be putting up a new May Pole - the only option is to ask around a lot or check out local websites. A key question in choosing to attend the raising ceremony is the technique that will be used to raise the pole. In a traditional ceremony, the local men are dressed in their finest Lederhosen, broken into teams, and strictly commanded by an older gentleman. The various teams work poles underneath the Maibaum to raise it slowly and carefully, inch by inch. This is an engineering feat that passed down through the generations. This process lasts several hours and is supported by a brass band and a beer booth. Sometimes, the local ladies even provide homemade cake and coffee for sale.   After the Maibaum is in position, the party usually continues through the evening. Sadly, some communities opt for mechanical means to raise the Maibaum and this isn’t nearly as interesting! May Pole Thieves: During the preparation of the Maibaum, the community has to guard against theft. In what sounds like a college prank, the neighboring community conspires to hi-jack the pole and carries it off into the mountains where it is hidden. Shortly thereafter, a ransom note is received and negotiations start – the payment is usually made in a liquid form! BayernTrips offers a trip each year that centers on the Maibaum raising ceremony on May 1. The day is a holiday in Bavaria and a small version of Oktoberfest, Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) is in full swing at the  Theresienwiese. For more information on the trip, please the Spring Fest trip listed on our website at www.bayerntrips.com
Weisswurst - The Story
White Sausage
Weisswurst or "White Sausage" is a beloved tradition in Bavaria. It consists of a mixure of veal and pork, plus a few spices. The sausage is simply boiled and served with sweet mustard, a pretzel, and a Weissbier. Weisswurst is never eaten after 12:00 noon. Traditionally, it is a second breakfast served around 10:00 AM. It usually comes to the table in a pot of hot water. Take one sausage at a time and be sure to peel off the skin before eating - or simply bite and suck out the contents. My favorite place to eat Weisswurst is in the small village of Böbing. When I bring my groups there, the whole village seems to turn out and we have a great time filled with Gemütlichkeit. The butcher gets up early that morning and make the sausages fresh for us, his wife boils them, and his kids serve them. His neighbor, Sepp, is a baker - he makes fresh pretzels for us and we all gather in the village's shooting club. Sometimes, we also play games like Bockstecken - kind of like pin the tail on the donkey. Another games is a little like billiards and then, of course, we do some shooing with air rifles in the range next door. It's from the heart and always a memorable experience. Important is, however, that you have everything else that goes with the Weisswurst. The mustard is critical. There is a special style of sweet mustard that is always used in great amounts. The most famous brand is from Händlmaier. There is even a club in Cincinnati, Ohio that meets every month to enjoy this brand of mustard with Weisswurst. You can even see one of our BayernTrips Alumnus in their photo gallery! USA Mustard Fan Club The other thing that belongs to the breakfast are fresh pretzels and, of course, Weissbier. Of course, a little oom-pah music goes well with it all! Sunday mornings at the Weisses Brauhaus in Munich is a slice  bavarian heaven If you need some Händlmaier Mustard, please contact our good friends Pl & Chuck at German Mustard USA. If you need Weisswurst, we recommend Bavaria Sausage in Madison, Wisconsin.
Weisswurst: The Bavarian Delicacy
One of the biggest treats in Bavaria is to be invited to a Weisswurst Frühstück - A white Sausage breakfast. It's not a complicated affair and it usually follows Sunday morning Mass.Many restaurants in Munich also offer a traditional Weisswurst breakfast - the Weisses Brauhaus and Franziskaner to name just two. Weisswurst was "discovered" quite on accident. It was 1857 at the small restaurant, "Zum ewigen Licht, on "Rosenmontag," the Monday before lent. A bunch of the city's father met up there after church (Frühschoppen), started drinking and, of course got hungry. The owner, Sepp Moser, quickly ran out of his normal sausages and had to improvise in order to keep his guests happy. He mixed minced veal and pork together with seasonings such as parsley, lemon peel, mace, onions, ginger and cardamom. He stuffed this into an intestine. Because it was so fragile, he boiled the sausages instead of grilling or frying them. The Weisswurst is always served in a turine filled with the water the sausages where boiled in. Typically, the sausages are ordered in pairs and you remove them one at a time to eat them. Before eating, remove the skin. A fresh one should peel easily without removing any meat. In the countryside or in an informal setting, it's common to bite into the Weisswurst, smear the mustard on it, and then suck out the contents. I'm not making this up!
Weissbier Carousel
Oktoberfest amusement
In addition to the many beer tents at Oktoberfest there are a lot of amusement park rides and activities. You can ride a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, water rides, swings, etc. I did this once with my son, Spenser, and vowed never to do it again. However, there is one ride that I truly enjoy. I have introduced it to many of my guests and friends and I they all agree it is definitely the single best ride at Oktoberfest. It's subtle, it's understated, and yet it's a delight: The Weissbier Karussell! So, how does one ride the Weissbier Karussell? As you approach the attraction, you'll see that it is already spinning counterclockwise. Looking for an opening on the 360 degree bar, time your jump from the asphalt on to the moving Carousel. It is important to get both feet onto the ride at approximately the same time. There are, however, many handrails to ensure your safety. Once on board, I recommend that you first acclimate to the speed before proceeding to step two: Ordering. Once you are ready to order, you must make eye contact with one of the three or four bartenders on board. Simply hold up your finger indicating how many Weissbiers you require. For one, raise your thumb - just like the American thumbs' up signal. For two, it's the thumb plus the index finger; for three, the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger, and so on. The bartender will tap you a fresh one in a real Weissbier glass and then set it in front of you. At this point you need to fork over the dough - the going price is something like 3 Euros, plus a 3 Euro deposit on the glass. Once everyone in your party has been served, it's time to look your buddies in the eye and say "Prost". Gently clink the bottoms of the glasses together with each member of your party and then take your first sip. Ahhh, that first Weissbier of the morning is a special feeling, isn't it? Enjoy your beer without rushing. You're in Germany. In Munich. At Oktoberfest! Enjoy the beer and savor the freshness. Take note of the decor of the Karussell, the ladies in Dirndls (or the lads in Lederhosen, whatever does it for you) . You have the best perch for people watching. One the Karussell that I frequent, the ride is decorated with the images of women from Ludwig I's Schönheitsgalerie. In the days before Playboy Magazine, Ludwig I had portraits of the most beautiful women in Munich painted for him. These portraits were all placed in one room inside of Nymphenburg Castle on the outskirts of Munich. In fact, even Lola Montez is here - the hussy that almost brought down the Bavarian king. Unfortunately everything has an end (only the sausage has two). When you are ready to dismount carefully take your glass in one hand, grab a handrail with the other and ever so carefully dismount the apparatus.  You should have noticed that there is a station set-up next to the ride to take back the glasses and return your deposit. Make your way to the person there with your glass and chit and you'll get your 3 Euros back.
Fun in the hut
f you want to experience Bavaria unchained, you need to find a "Huettengaudi" - this is a fun-filled evening of drinking, playing music, singing and dancing where everyone really lets loose. I've known the Kohler twins for years and they've often asked me to visit them at their small restaurant on the north side of the Forgensee, near Füssen. This year I promised to bring my group by for dinner. As it turned out, everyone agreed this was the highlight of the trip! After a full day of touring the country-side - Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein,Zugspitze and Kloster Ettal we arrived at the Kohlerhof a bit before 7:00 PM.  We filed of the bus and into the small restaurant. We had the distinct feeling that everyone was waiting for us. Michael, Georg, and Karin all welcomed us and explained how the evening would proceed. It was all very serious as he explained they had arranged for a wood keg of beer, his mom had set-up a buffet of Bavarian favorites and about the two musicians. With that, I was asked to come forward and tap the keg of beer. It was set up in the middle of the room. Michael handed me the wooden mallet and told me to whack the tap handle hard and fast. It was my first time and I did it in 4 whacks, though the beer sprayed the poor fellow at a nearby table.  He was a little miffed, but happy when I said I gladly buy him a beer for his troubles. Georg, Michael and I quickly filled glasses for everyone - the first Paulaner Oktoberfest beer of the trip and, boy, was it tasty! We then proceed to the buffet. Karin had soup, Weisswurst, several stypes of pork, sausages, and Cheese Spätzle - the Käsespätzle in particular was awesome! While we ate, Franz, a young accordionist, played some calm dinner music.  Michael and Georg were excellent hosts and kept everyone's beer glass filled and Karin made sure no one went hungry! After dinner, a Baritone joined the accordion and the music got a bit louder and cheery. Next came out the Teufelsgeige, washboard and spoons. Michael distributed the handmade instruments around the room and we all joined in with the music. When the Bavarians discovered that Christina spoke some German, she was plucked from us and absorbed by the Bavarians. Several of the locals polled us as to the german songs we knew and we had a great time singing the Cincinnati special, "Ja, wir wollen noch eins heben." While all this was going on, Michael was behind the bar filling up schnapps glasses. He presented them on a long ski and we all had to take one. It was Karin's birthday and we all drank a toast to her and sang Happy Birthday. At this point, all order had been lost. People were jumping from table to table, some were singing and others were dancing with complete strangers. Michael and Georg had a few more surprises up their sleeves - Michael first made the rounds and got all the ladies to sign the inner flap of his Lederhosen. He followed up on this by making a round with the Schnupftabak Machine this crazy machine is supposed to quickly inject a does of finely ground tobacco quickly into both nostrils. Amazingly, all of our guests gave this a go! Countering all this German fun, one of our guests gave a demonstration of the "Fire dance" with lighted poi. Given the low ceiling, it was hard for her to really get spinning, but everyone was enthralled with the beautiful demonstration. A little more beer went around, a little more singing, and a lot more dancing ensued and all were in good spirits.  Around 11:00 PM, we had emptied the keg and reluctantly decided it was time to head back to Hotel Ruchti in Bad Faulenbach. Everyone followed us out to our bus and Danielle gave us one more demonstration of her poi spinning as the two musicians serenaded us with Bavarian music . We said our good-byes and there were many hugs and even a tear or two - none us us were quite ready to leave.