Munich, Where Oktoberfest Happens

After our brief sojourn to Castle Wolfenstein (probably), we continued on our way to Munich. If there's one thing I've learned in Europe, it's that for whatever reason English-speaking countries totally bastardize names for no good reason. For example, Munich is spelled München in Germany, but for whatever reason we anglicize it to nonsense. Why can't we just use the right spelling for things? I can understand if we're talking about a completely different alphabet, like cyrillic, but I don't get it for most words. Anyway, we followed all the München signs to Munich, and got there in the evening. The Airbnb we had reserved was pretty close to Oktoberfest, and driving the van to the address was, well, pretty terrible. So many people everywhere, so much traffic. Didn't help that the area we were in looked... not great. This was Munich? This was the nice city I'd heard so much about?

Jason and I decided to try and return the van that night, instead of having to worry about getting up and returning it in the morning. I'm not sure if it was because of Oktoberfest or because of general construction, but following the GPS was a goddamn nightmare, not helped by the ten thousand people walking around drunkenly. We drove to fill up the van first, then tried to find the Sixt rental return place. I parked super sketchily in a taxi stand, waiting for the police to come arrest me for parking a large van next to a train station, while Jason ran inside and looked for Sixt, which was closed. So we parked it in a parking garage, and then navigated our way back to the Airbnb, stopping on the way in a kebab place where we got was essentially Turkish Taco Bell. It was amazing, and I should have had four of them. Then we got home, and passed out, while everyone else went out to have fun, because screw that.

That night, I researched where BMW headquarters were, and I how I could get there. I also reserved an M4 Coupé for two hours. I woke up, and made my way to BMW headquarters via the German version of the Red Line. Actually went pretty well, despite not being able to read most things! I bought a ticket, and validated it, but as far as I can tell no one actually cares and fares are on the honor system. Arriving at the stop, after about 20 minutes, I emerged into the middle of the BMW campus. I had a half hour until my reservation, so I headed into "BMW World", the big giant showroom that has all the BMWs and Minis and Rolls Royce for you to gaze enviously at. IT WAS AWESOME. It was one of the coolest and happiest experiences I've had in a long, long time. I took so many pictures.

BMW!

I then drove the BMW M4 for a couple hours. Holy cow. I'll admit, the M4 wasn't my first choice, but the M2 was all booked up, so... but it was amazing anyway. I didn't even know BMW had a thing where you could drive literally any M car, or I would have reserved them way in advance! I asked the guy for a route he recommended (we were buds after we talked about how I had a Focus ST, and he was picking one up next week), and he told me to head towards the airport, where there were some speed limit free zones, as well as places to get off on side roads where you could steer the car a bit more.

The drive itself was exhilarating. The configuration was the 7-speed DCT with paddle shifters, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I got the car up to 240 km/hr (149 mph), which isn't quite it's top speed, but is the electronically limited top speed on the car. I've never driven that fast before, and the thing about this car was, it just wanted to go faster. No matter how fast you were going, it wanted more. My only complaint, if you can call it that, was how heavy the car felt. Not what I expected from what is essentially an M3. Still, it was something I'd always wanted to do, and I think I need to come back here to spend a full day. Maybe when I buy a BMW again, I'll do the buyer program and pick it up here!

The rest of the group had already headed to Oktoberfest, where we had a table reserved in one of the tents. I boarded the train back. Turns out I got off at the wrong stop, and had to trek like an hour across the city to get to where Oktoberfest was held. It was OK, though, because I actually got to see Munich! Turns out we're staying in the garbage, Allston-level equivalent part of Munich, and actual Munich is super nice! It's definitely a place I'd like to explore for more than an hour.

When I arrived at Oktoberfest, I made my way through... a carnival? Like seriously, just a big carnival, with all the trappings of a carnival. I thought Oktoberfest was, like, where people wore stupid old clothes, and drank beer, and ate sausages and things? Turns out it's also a giant carnival. Who knew. The tent we had a table at was the Schottenhamel Festhalle, so I walked there, went inside, and was confronted with loud drunk people and a band playing. It was nuts! But also awesome. I walked around the "tent" (it's more like a building), looking for the group, for about a half hour before they waved me down. We'd lost the reservation, but found another table anyway, where people had started to drink liters of beer. It's sold by the liter. It's easy to get drunk. It was about 2pm.

Over the next 2 hours, I downed about 4.5 liters of beer, and got uproariously drunk. I had some goulash, a bratwurst, an entire smoked mackerel, and a pretzel. At one point I lost the group, and walked around from tent to tent trying to find everyone. After about a half an hour, I managed to reunite with everyone, where we continued to drink. During this entire experience, I was wearing a chicken hat, that danced, to the chicken dance. It was awesome, and I was a hit, and let many children wear my hat as I walked around the festival. Quite a few adults, in various languages, also asked me where I got the hat. At some point, Jason and I decided to bail, and headed back towards the Airbnb, grabbing a bag of gingerbread, and then some schwarma, on the way home. We fell asleep around 9pm, probably the earliest I've gone to bed in years.

We didn't have to leave Munich until around 10:30 the next day, so I got to sleep in a little bit, which was awesome. Continuing my pledge to run in every city we stayed in, I left around 9 to go run around Munich. It was nice to see the city again before we left. I saw a really weird statue that was covered in memorials to Michael Jackson, and a couple of cool fountains. I wanted to buy some souvenirs, so I made my way back to an outdoor market that had all sorts of things for sale, mostly fresh, but some souvenirs. I saw a stand that had so many mushrooms, all the mushrooms, I wanted everything at that stand. There was also an awesome stretch of butcher's shops that, had I had the time and equipment, could have supplied me with everything I would need for an amazing dinner.

After I got back and showered, we got back in the van, and left to start the trip to Prague. Munich was awesome, and if I can, I'll be back to spend at least a couple of days here. Totally worth it.

-Chris

Christopher A. DeFlumeri

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Somerville, MA