Our Pre Oktoberfest Checklist

It is that time of the year again, time to join thousands of travellers from around the world as you descend upon Southern Germany. So you are planning to hit the world’s largest beer festival? The Oktoberfest is almost a rite of passage for many backpackers travelling around Europe. However for many it can also be their downfall. By following our Pre-Oktoberfest checklist you can avoid some of the pitfalls of Munich’s craziest two weeks and ensure you have an awesome time!

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

1. Book Your Accommodation Early!

To be totally honest, if you are reading this and still haven’t got a place to stay you are pretty much too late! Accommodation is at a premium during the ‘Fest’ and even dorm rooms are ridiculously expensive. Camping is an option and Camping Thalkirchen is probably your best bet, but be prepared for masses of organised groups packing out the campsite. If you do camp make sure you are first ones into the shower block after they have been cleaned, you have been warned!

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

Remember, if all else fails do as the locals do and pass out under a tree in the grounds, dozens of locals can’t be wrong can they, oh and don’t forget to pack the beer blanket.

2. Start Drinking Now!

The Bräuhaus’ of Munich brew extra strong beer for Oktoberfest , somewhere between the five and eight percent alcohol mark! Combine that with the fact a stein is one litre, many an unsuspecting traveller have found their day or night coming to an early end because of a lack of ‘beer stamina’. On the bright side Munich brewers abide by the 1516 Beer Purity Laws meaning there are no additives or preservatives added to their beers. According to the Bräu Meisters it is the additives and preservatives that give you a hangover! So technically regardless of your beer drinking capacity you should be able to knock back steins all night and wake up fine in the morning!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Now The Smart Way Round have laid their bodies on the line all in the name of research and we can attest that after downing 10 steins in a night the next morning you don’t feel hungover! Well, you still don’t feel great but your body is expecting to feel worse than you actually do so perhaps the Bräu Meisters are correct. More research must be done on this one we think, but in the mean time start improving you drinking skills.

For some the experience can be all too much

For some the experience can be all too much

3. Bring Loads of Money.

For the first time ever a stein of beer is hitting and in some tents breaking the 10 euro barrier. So a decent session in one of the Oktoberfest beer tents is going to set you back a small fortune (or the price of a dorm bed for a night).

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

At some stage you are going to have to eat. Once the beer goggles are put on every girl in a dirndl selling giant pretzels is going to look like the most beautiful girl you have ever laid eyes on. The likelihood of numerous pretzel purchases is virtually guaranteed.

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

There is also a good chance you are going to walk out of there with an overpriced souviner but by the end of the night you REALLY are going to need that felt hat with a stuffed Bavarian Lion attached to it.

So our suggestion is call home for emergency funds, raise the credit card limit and just accept you literally are going to flush your cash down the loo at Oktoberfest!

Did I really buy that last night?!

Did I really buy that last night?!

4. Buy Lederhosen or a Dirndl.

Hey you are in Bavaria! All the locals will be sporting their traditional costumes so why not you?

I promise you from experience there is nothing more fun than drinking beer wearing leather shorts that are way too tight but strangely comfortable.

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

However be warned, when that emergency bathroom dash happens or when you get caught at the back of the inevitable enormous line to the gents, for the first time wearer lederhosen can be a nightmare to get undone!

Our tip, practice that emergency dash in your hotel or hostel so when the time comes you are a lederhosen undoing pro!

5. Make a copy of your Passport.

Over 1000 passports get lost annually at the Oktoberfest with the majority of them being Australian! In fact things are so bad the Australian Embassy opens a temporary passport replacement service in the British Consulate in Munich.

Of course it will never happen to all of us will it, but just in case have a few photocopies of your passport and a couple of spare passport photos ready, oh and don’t keep them with your passport!

Finally have a great time, you are partaking in a tradition dating back over 200 years, eat, drink (too much) and try and remember for many this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Do you have any hints and tips for the Oktoberfest First Timer? Let’s us know and leave a comment below

Prost!

Most of all enjoy!

Most of all enjoy!

– Dean

Advertisements

Birthdays on the road

For me, celebrating a birthday on the road is always exciting.  It gives you the opportunity to celebrate with old friends and new as well as doing something different.  In 2006 I went out to dive the Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand followed by celebrations at my hostel.  Then in 2010 I was lucky enough to celebrate by bungee jumping off the bridge in Victoria Falls (some would definitely say it was lucky given reports in subsequent years of what happened to one unfortunate jumper who thankfully survived), followed by dinner at a restaurant serving all sorts of different game meat.  Definitely not something I would have done in London!

Jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge

Jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge

For my 30th we spent the day driving down the Florida Keys in a convertible Mustang, so I have been lucky to have done some memorable things to celebrate.

Me and our wheels on my 30th

Me and our wheels on my 30th

January Birthdays in the UK are often met with little enthusiasm.  It’s just after Christmas, its cold, dark (and at the moment very wet) so outdoor parties are a no no.  I personally love having a birthday in January.  For me it’s the best month of the year!  Growing up I had some great swimming, bowling, ice skating, you name it parties so it’s always been a fun day for me and a day I look forward to.  Dean laughs, as for me it is a three day event.  Much like Christmas there is Birthday Eve, actual Birthday and then Birthday Boxing Day.  So this is being posted on Birthday Boxing Day – at the tail end of the celebrations.  The only problem with this Birthday malarkey is the rising age number, but there is not much I can do about that!

Dean feels a little left out, as his Birthday always falls during one of his busiest months of work, so he is often away.  I remind him though that I have tended to come out to see him so it’s not all that bad!!  Arguably his Birthdays are maybe more fun for me than him!

On January 14th 2014 we were in Kathmandu.  It doesn’t take much to work out that this is near Mt Everest.  Even though we had seen the mighty mountain on our drive along the Friendship Highway, we hadn’t flown over it.  The idea of a Mountain Flight had hatched as we drove to the station in London to leave home.  It was an idea that had stuck.  Mum and Dad had said they would treat me as a Birthday pressie so we booked the flight and eagerly awaited it.

We had a bit of a nervous wait as on the morning of the 14th Kathmandu was shrouded in fog…. However at 10.30 we got the nod and we led out onto the tarmac.  From that moment on I was treated like Royalty.  The small 16 seater plane took off with all its passengers having full view into the cockpit – a treat in itself.  Knowing it was my Birthday the cabin attendant spent extra time pointing out mountains to me, and the Captain wished me happy birthday over the speaker system three times!  We took it in turns to go into the cockpit to take pictures.  My turn came just as we approached Everest and made a U-turn.  She was there in full view and was amazing!  After this I tucked into the cake that had been made especially for me.  The Himalayan Mountain range was just incredible.

Mt Everest.  This doesn't do it justice as pictures don't capture how blue the sky was!

Mt Everest. This doesn’t do it justice as pictures don’t capture how blue the sky was!

This one is for you Mum - me and el Capitan!

This one is for you Mum – me and el Capitan!

Birthday cake by Everest

Birthday cake by Everest

Cake really was the theme of the day as we came back to our room to find yet another one there!  Yum!  The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and family (including a FaceTime chat with my friend and her new new baby), a bit of exploration and a special dinner with my husband.

First steak of the trip.  I'm hoping the next one will be in Oz as my Mother-in-Law cooks the best Filet steaks!

First steak of the trip. I’m hoping the next one will be in Oz as my Mother-in-Law cooks a great steak!

It was an amazing day and one I will never forget.  Dean spoilt me with several pressies during the week all in the name of my Birthday.  A coffee table (don’t ask!), trousers, top, CD, prayer wheel, buff, bag to name but a few!

As for Birthday Boxing Day…. we learnt how to make ‘Momo’.  A kind of dumping made all over this part of the World.  It was an excellent cooking course and something a bit different!

Highlights of our cookery course

Highlights of our cookery course

Smart cooking

Smart cooking

Then we headed out to do some more sight-seeing, including seeing the biggest Stupa in the region.  Quite fitting really as it was where all the traders used to stop and pray before making the arduous journey to Lhasa through Tibet.

I really don’t think I can find a way to stretch my Birthday over four days… if anyone has any ideas then let me know!  Thank you to all of you for your messages and comments.

–          Natalie

Start as you mean to go on…

Our plan had been to have a couple of simple meals out and get into the throw on being on the road again before we went hard core cooking for ourselves….  However after a slightly more extravagant night in Warsaw, we decided Vilnius was the night to switch to hostel cooking.

Fortunately I checked out the kitchen facilities before we went off to buy food.  I was met with two VERY scaly kettles, one toaster and two microwaves in various states of (dis)repair.  Hummm – now being here for only one night we didn’t want to do anything fancy or buy anything more than we needed, as space in our backpacks was at a premium.

After looking round the supermarkets we were met with problem number two – lack of funds!  We had arrived into Vilnius quite late, meaning all money changers were closed, and our bank cards were locked away in the safe.  We did have some Euro, but only the very upmarket hotels were willing to take those.  There was nothing for it – time to start on the noodles already!!

So we strolled back to the hostel and chose our provisions carefully.  After some canapés (left over ready salted crisps), I polished off todays cheese, which was a sign things were desperate!!  Dean opted for the two course dinner – Tomato and Veg soup, followed by 19p Morrisons Saver noodles.  We had expected to at least get to the train before we used them, but unlike ready meals we had discovered two-minute noodles were not in short supply in Lithuania!  I went for the one course – noodle only option, and did mine first to make sure our skills were up to the task!

We trotted down to the kitchen armed with our supplies – cups and all and made our feast.  Well the cups worked a treat and the noodles provided us with 250 calories of err goodness!

Gourmet dinner - all with change out of 50p!

Gourmet dinner – all with change out of 50p!

So now we really have started – proper backpackers on the road eating dinner for less than 50p.  My only fear is that we will have peaked too soon on the noodle front and will be fed up of them by the time we get to Russia…

Dinner in a pot!

Dinner in a pot!

– Natalie