Advice for Oktoberfest/vacation in Germany?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 21, 2010 5:05 PM GMT
    Hey guys,

    Ever since I can remember, my dad has always talked about Germany. Our ancestors are German and he seems to really like to connect with that history (the food, the culture, military history, etc.). I also have 2 brothers (we're 36, 30, and 27 respectively). My dad is 59 now and I think it would be great to plan a "guy" trip to Germany so that we can all spend some time with my dad and do something cool like that together. I think Oktoberfest would be a neat experience. The culture for my dad and the partying for me and my brothers.

    For those of you from Germany, or have been to Germany, especially Oktoberfest, can you give me some advice about a vacation there? Best places to stay, visit (considering my dad's interests)?

  • Ironman4U

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    Nov 21, 2010 10:07 PM GMT
    Germany is beautiful. I would recommend the Black Forest area in southern Germany. Lots of castles and quaint villages.

    As far as Octoberfest. If you are there, you should do it but be forewarned. I was there 4-5 years ago on a trip and it just happened to be during Octoberfest so I was really excited. After waiting in line forever, I got to go into a huge tented building and everyone was drinking and singing.

    The first song I heard was "Take me home, country road...West Virginia..." blaring over the sound system. Not exactly what I expected and a bit disappointing to be honest. The whole thing seemed like a state fair with lots of beer and not quite the ambiance that I had imagined. In retrospect, I would have enjoyed drinking at a quaint pub instead but where else are you going to see thousands of drunk Germans in one place singing John Denver?
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    Nov 22, 2010 12:05 AM GMT
    Germany is a great place, so much history. I've been there numerous times for work and never had a bad trip. Plenty of good beer and the people are friendly and love their beer. Hope you like pork and ham. Plan on packing some poundsicon_lol.gif

    One of the best time was driving along the Rhine River. Lots of things to see and lovely places to stay. Oktoberfest was one wild time. Bring your appetite for beer, singing in the beer tents and have fun.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3462

    Nov 22, 2010 12:20 AM GMT
    Germany, like a lot of Europe, is much easier to travel thanks to trains. You can get around a lot of varied locations by train. If you want to do Oktoberfest, which is really in September, I somewhat agree about what to expect. It's basically a carnival with big tents and drinking, drinking, drinking. But, in general, I didn't experience a lot of unruly drunk people there. The messiest drunks were my brother-in-law and I as we stumbled back to my relatives' homes barely able to put one foot in front of the other.

    Germans like their Oom-Pah-Pah type of music. So, expect accordions. And they love the Chicken Dance. And American songs from the 70s. I didn't hear "Country Road," but I heard "Sweet Home Alabama." Still, it was fun.

    You could easily start a trip in Frankfurt, which has a bit of gay community, or Munich. Munich does have great beer halls, so a nice place to start your beer holiday. I was an amateur when I got there, so I started with .5 liter glasses, so by the time I got to Octoberfest I could handle the 1 liter krugs of beer.

    Berlin is a must-see, given its radical transformation since reunification. Due to all the construction that's happened, it is such a vibrant and happening place. It was the only place I saw gays giving public displays of affection. Berlin also has a great museum of Greek and Roman art.

    I enjoyed the visit to a small town called Weissenberg. They built a museum over a Roman excavation.

    Those are a few ideas.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 22, 2010 2:44 AM GMT
    Good advice. Its making me rethink Oktoberfest. There are probably better things to see that wouldn't involve huge lines, waits, etc.
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    Nov 22, 2010 2:54 AM GMT
    Bring hand sanitizer. Literally, I would have killed for some last year. Im not a germ freak but my hands were gross by the time I wanted food and there was nothing to wash my hands with...
    I used beer icon_lol.gif

    There are also a ton of WW museums and of course the death camps you can visit if he is interested in the WW.
    Or there are some really great art galleries that showcase a lot of famous artists.
    But when I went I mostly drank..
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    Nov 22, 2010 3:17 AM GMT

    i was in Munich in August. I really loved the city. People are very friendly and it is very safe.

    i can recommend the SOFITEL hotel Bayerpost. It was AWESOME. Hotels are much cheaper in summer than in fall due to Oktoberfest. The hotel is located within walkin distance to the shopping area and next to an subway station.

    BMW world and museum was pretty cool as well.... if u like cars.

    also so many different Biergarten (beer gardens) are there and it is very social there. I can reco Augustiner Keller.

    i will definately go back there again... have to admit that after Munich i needed to go back to a strict diet...LOL. But it was soooooo worth it.

    message me if u wanna know more
  • kittar

    Posts: 314

    Nov 27, 2010 4:07 PM GMT
    austrocanadian said
    BMW world and museum was pretty cool as well.... if u like cars.

    That's SO your dad icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 27, 2010 4:21 PM GMT
    EricLA saidThose are a few ideas.

    And good ones. I lived in Germany for 2 years, but long before the Unification, in West Berlin when the city was still divided. It was a great city then, and a greater one now, very sexually liberated and very gay friendly, as you say.

    I think Oktoberfest is best in Bavaria. Oom-pah bands are more common there, with performers doing folk dances, and servers dressed in traditional outfits from the 19th Century. And less non-German music, though youth everywhere wanna hear some of their own contemporary music, so not sure there wouldn't be a mix.
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    Nov 28, 2010 8:30 PM GMT
    Hmm, seems like nobody has stepped up and given you any good solid advice on how to have a good time at Oktoberfest itself. I've been there twice - once with a local, once with American tourists - and had a blast both times.

    First of all, the "real" Oktoberfest is in Munich. There are other celebrations in different parts of Germany, but the Munich Oktoberfest is the big one, and the one with actual historical tradition behind it. The fest is held at Theresienwiese, which isn't quite in the center of town but is easily reachable on the U-Bahn (subway). On my second trip, the touristy one, I stayed at the Hotel Maria Munich (I think), which was very affordable and only a short walk to Theresienwiese. Wherever you decide to stay, I'd recommend booking well in advance.

    One thing you should be aware of - Oktoberfest opens at ten in the morning and closes at eleven at night. If you show up at ten ready to drink beer, there won't be long lines (but there will be plenty of others to drink with). Mid afternoon, it gets pretty crowded. Later in the evening, the lines will be gone.

    There are six local breweries that sponsor the fest - Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner-Thomasbrau, and Spaten-Franzinskaner. Each one has a humungous beer tent. You need to have a seat at one of the big picnic tables in order to buy a beer - there's no bar service, and the waitresses won't serve someone who's standing. On weekends, and especially on the first day of the fest, you might not be able to get a seat unless you show up before the official opening time. But, if you make friends with someone who has a seat, they can order beers for you.

    The Hofbrau tent is the biggest and the most touristy (it's where all the English-speaking people hang out, and where you're likely to hear John Denver music), and the lines can be long, and the beer is probably the least interesting of the six, but it's a very fun place to meet people. If you want a more traditional scene, go to one of the other tents - the smaller the tent, the more authentic it probably is. By the way, the Hofbrauhaus downtown is also a must-see tourist stop - it's where Hitler first organized the Nazis.

    There isn't much in the way of food available in most of the tents, but outside at the fair there's plenty. The roast chickens are maybe the world's best drunk food.

    And - just one more thing. While you're in Munich - whatever time of year you choose to go - you should set aside an afternoon and take Mike's Bike Tour. It's a very fun time, cruising around on clanky old bikes with an English-speaking guide showing you the sights of the city, and stopping at a little beer garden for refreshments. Just show up at Marienplatz (in front of the Glockenspiel) around noon and there will be people to recruit you.

    Have fun.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 08, 2010 6:13 PM GMT
    Ok just to clarify - You're going to hear take me home country roads at every tent almost any night of oktoberfest. You will also hear it during every night at every tent of Canstatter Volksfest, Starkbierfest, Frühlingsfest, etc. You are also going to hear in the traditional alpine ski bars. It is a drinking song for the germans - they love it. They also listen to plenty of german songs too...

    If you want to go to Oktoberfest you need to make a reservation 1 year in advance (like now) and then you won't have to wait in any lines. You will have a guaranteed seat and you will be the envy of everyone at the fest.

    I've partied in the Fischer-Vroni tent (definitely recommended, lots of locals) and the Augustiner tent (lots of angry australians)

    I live in the Black Forest Region now - if you want the Oktoberfest experience the second largest beer festival in the world is the Canstatter Volksfest which is the same deal (belligerently drunk germans wearing lederhosen dancing on tables all day every day for 3 weeks) without the tourists is in Stuttgart starting the week after Oktoberfest begins. Who knows, you could even check out both!

    Germany is awesome, whatever you do would be a great vacation.
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    Dec 08, 2010 6:42 PM GMT
    To really begin that authentic German experience, book your flight on Lufthansa. While in Munich, I highly recommend a lot of the museums, palaces, gardens, and parks. These include Schloss Nymphenburg, Marienplatz, Maximillaneum, Residenz, BMW Headuquarters, Deutches Museum, Englischer Garten, and Olympiapark (home of the 1972 Olympics) among others. In addition, the town of Dachau is just northwest of Munich and definitely deserves a visit by everyone in the family!

    If you do leave Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt are definitely worth a visit. Both are very modern cities and very easy to get to by train. If you have time, I also recommend visits to the former East Germany, Dresden, and the north German coast for its wind-swept beaches. In addition, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel is worth a visit for it's sheer Baroque beauty.
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    Dec 08, 2010 7:29 PM GMT
    Don't drink on an empty stomach, and see Austria if possible!!
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    Dec 08, 2010 9:05 PM GMT
    If you need a tour guide, hit me up. icon_smile.gif I live in Bonn (the former capital) and needless to say, Germany is a lot more than Bavaria, and each state, better yet region still has its own customs and dialect. I've honestly never been to the Munich Oktoberfest as it is way too touristy and crowded for my tastes. If you want to delve into 2000 years of history, I can recommend the touristy places like Rothenburg o.d.T. If that's not your thing, Speyer is a beautiful city, not too crowded, where the Salian emperors of Germany are buried in the cathedral. "Nearby" is Trifels castle, where they keep a copy of the imperial crown, sceptre, and apple. If you come during wine season, be prepared to do some wine tasting at the local wineries. Most of them are still very much family owned small places, and you can get good wines for a great deal. From Speyer you can follow the Rhine by car or better yet, on one of the many ships that run between Mainz and Cologne. There are castles around every corner. Near Bonn we have the Siebengebirge, the northern end of the romantic Rhine, with more castles yet. Cologne of course has the Cathedral, but it's also the gay capital of Germany, despite what Berliners might say. icon_smile.gif Of course while in Cologne, you will have to try Kölsch beer, of which I must say Mühlen is one of the better ones. People in the Rhineland are just more joyous and easy going as the stuck up Prussians in Berlin. Overall, this country is chock full of places to see and things to do. It just depends on what you're into, and you'll find it here. If you are into the sadder bits of history, check out Dachau as another poster suggested. There is also Buchenwald in Thuringia. Both are concentration camp memorials. They will leave you speechless.
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    Dec 17, 2010 7:16 PM GMT
    Thanks guys. This is a big help.
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    Dec 17, 2010 7:26 PM GMT
    Deifinitely go the first weekend. It kicks off in Munich with the traditional parade of all the brewers arriving to the initial and symbolic tapping of the keg. Then find a tent, drink eat and be merry and enjoy the oom pa pa bands. Avoid the really famous tents as they are more touristy. My favorite is the Ochsenbraterai or something like that. Don't bother booking a table as the seats are far away and you want to be near the bands. You can ask peoplemto nudge up and if younask nicely they usually let you join their table. And if you are in small groups and look the part, ie. You are in leiderhosen, you get by easier at sneaking in the tents. Also look for alternative entrances and be patient. Go early. After the Saturday which is shorter, you will probably have enough and can get on with the rest of Germany. I go every year and have some friends in Germany and love it. In essence, just don't try to hard.

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    Dec 17, 2010 7:31 PM GMT
    Ps. Go with the flow with no expectations and just be ready for a few litres of beer and a good old knee slapping time... Even if it is country roads it is still to an oom papa band.
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    Jul 13, 2011 1:43 PM GMT

    I may go this year!!! Will know more next weekend!

    Anyone else?

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    Jul 13, 2011 1:52 PM GMT
    I went last year and going back this year (Sept 17-19). I'm actually thinking of buying some lederhosen! I love the beer, pretzels and bratwurst!