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OKTOBERFEST

The 8 dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind at Oktoberfest

The world's biggest beer festival attracts people from all over the world, meaning it can be expensive and packed. Luckily, Paul Wheatley has done it many times before and knows how to cut through the crowds.

The 8 dos and don'ts you need to keep in mind at Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

The do’s:

1. Plan your visit:

Oktoberfest tents during the evenings are loud, exciting and heavily packed – and once you finally get into a heaving tent, getting a seat is far from easy. It leaves many wondering if there is another way. The answer is that in addition to booking a plane/train and hotel, reserve an Oktoberfest table at the same time.

You’ll need the commitment of a large group of friends (you’ll usually need ten to reserve a table), but once paid for you are guaranteed seating, food and beer, and – if you like – as much dancing on the benches as you want.

Tables go quite quickly, so you need to book many months in advance. If you don’t reserve a table, check out the official Oktoberfest Wiesnbarometer 2019 before your visit. This is a chart that tells you when the festival is likely to be quiet, well-visited, heavily-visited and completely packed.

2. Use the app

The Oktoberfest app really is useful (you can download it here), and most parts of it are available in English. It tells you the opening hours for tents and fairground rides, provides a summary of each tent and gives advice on additional events and security (including what you can bring).

There is also an interactive map of the area, which as well as giving directions from around the city to the festival, visitors can use to easily navigate to meet friends within the grounds (not quite as easy as it sounds amidst the hubbub of a packed festival).

Better still, each tent (under Festival Terrain) on the map shows in percent how full each tent is, meaning visitors no longer have to waste their time queueing to get in when there is no chance.

Photo: DPA

3. Families

Taking your children to the Wiesn is a rite of passage for many Munich (and wider Bavarian) parents, and this is usually done with the whole family kitted out in traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen. Locals know that a visit to the fairground is pretty much fabulous anytime of the day, even late into the evening.

For families wanting to go into one of the main tents, however, it’s best to go during the day, when the crowds are not so large, not so raucous and – simply – not as drunk.

4. Visit the Oide Wiesn

The Oide Wiesn, or Old Oktoberfest, is a highlight for kids, though there are plenty of adults who actually prefer it to the more rumbustious attractions of the main festival. Located at the southern end of the festival grounds, it can be overlooked but warrants a visit or two.

It costs three euros to get in, queues are invariably smaller for everything, and it's packed with old-style fairground rides. A real highlight is the Bavarian folk bands – yes, some typical Bavarian favourites – but there are many modern, much more experimental Bavarian folk bands that are well worth watching.

Photo: DPA

The don’ts:

1. Don’t upset security

This really is one of the most important things to remember, because very quickly you’ll find yourself thrown out. Whether it’s because you are too drunk and annoying other revellers, or because you insist on dancing on tables rather than on the benches, you might find yourself suddenly standing alone outside – and don’t even think about trying to get back in.

2. Don’t upset the waiters and waitresses

This might sound obvious, but upset the person expected to deliver your food and beer at your peril. Firstly, they work damn hard day after day and they’re generally friendly, but – understandably – many don’t suffer fools lightly. Treat them with respect, and you’ll be fine – oh, and tip them well.

If it’s a busy period, ask them where there are spare seats, though don’t expect a group of six to easily find seats together. It’s important to remember that you won’t get served unless you have a seat first.

Photo: DPA

3. Don't bring the kitchen sink

Security has been dramatically stepped up in the past years, most clearly seen with the erection of a huge fence around the perimeter of the festival. Bags are checked and they must not have a capacity larger than three litres – otherwise, you’ll have to put them in the lockers (provided at various locations). The rule of thumb is pretty much not to bring anything more than a small hand-held bag – which makes even more sense if you want to dance away the evening in a beer tent.

4. Don't take the normal transport routes

Getting from the city centre or anywhere else in the city to the Oktoberfest grounds (Theresienwiese) looks easy on the public transport map. But to be honest, the U-Bahn platform at Theresienwiese is a nightmare at this time of year, and it’s much easier to walk – or at least take public transport only to a certain point and get off and walk.

After all, even if you don’t know Munich well, maps on smart phones will easily get you to the festival in a matter of minutes. Instead of the usual U4 or U5 to the festival, a good tip is to take the U3 or U6 from Marienplatz to Poccistraße, and then the festival is a matter of minutes by foot. Or take an S-Bahn to Hackerbrücke, at which point you don’t even need your smart phone – just follow the crowds on the ten-minute trek over the bridge to the festival.

LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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