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Although I say it every year that I can’t be bothered with lugging my gear around the Oktoberfest site I do. Why? Well, it is naturally an annual event that you just can’t & shouldn’t miss living in the Munich area. Pretty girls in figure hugging Dirndl are to be seen daily in the underground & almost everywhere else in the town. A week or so before the opening ceremony where the Mayor of Munich hammers the first tap into a beer barrel shouting “O’ zapft is” literally meaning that the first barrel has been tapped one notices how many more people are present in and around Munich. The hotels & hostels are all full & the average price for a room has at least doubled or even tripled.

The layout of the “Wiesn” (Meadow) as the locals call it changes from year to year making the visit each time interesting especially from a photographic point of view. It is always a challenge to get good results due to the sheer mass of people under way. On average around 6 million visitors make the pilgrimage to this beer Mecca on the edge of the Bavarian Alps. The numbers of visitors was less in comparison to last year, around 400,000 less probably due to the higher beer price of  10,20 € for a Mass on average (1 liter glass krug).

Saturday October 3rd was a public holiday celebrating 25 years of German unity & the fall of the Berlin wall between East & West Germany making a visit to the Wiesn for many Germans obligatory. Add to this a perfect warm, sunny Autumn day & you can imagine how crowded it was. I’m glad that I went during the week when it’s a lot less busy.

“O’zapft is’!”

– Though you probably won’t need to say this yourself, this is a very important phrase at Oktoberfest if only because no beer can be drunk before it is announced! It falls upon the Mayor of Munich to open Oktoberfest by tapping a beer keg and shouting “O’ZAPFT IS’!”, thus officially starting the festivities. It literally means “It’s tapped!”

“Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!”

– The Bavarian drinking cry basically translates as “one, two, three, drink!”

“Semml” and “Brez’n”

– bread rolls are such an important part of German life that they have a different name depending on where in the country you are! “Semml” or “Semme” is the word that is used in Bavaria – but you are more likely to come across “Brez’n”, or pretzels, at the Oktoberfest.”

“Die Maß”

– the Bavarian word that refers to a one-litre glass mug of beer. Make sure you order a Maß if you want to drink like a true Bavarian – ordering a normal beer just won’t cut it at Oktoberfest! A Maß is always made of clear glass at Oktoberfest, so you can be sure you are getting your money’s worth. It is also important to refer to the actual beer itself as Oktoberfestbier. Only 6 breweries, all within Munich’s city walls, are allowed to serve at Oktoberfest, so they are very firm that it is no ordinary beer!

“Buam & Madln”

– the Bavarian words for boys (Buam) & girls (Madln) will come in particularly useful when you are trying to work out which is the right toilet after a few beers at the Wies’n.

“Die Bierleichen”

– while not technically a Bavarian word as it can be used in high German as well, this is the affectionate name given to those who have overdone it on the Oktoberfestbier by locals. It literally translates to “beer corpses”. Or, to use a more Bavarian phrase, they are simply “Ogschdocha”, or drunk.

“Pfiat di!”

– make sure you sign off with this classic Bavarian goodbye. It’s a shortened version of “May God protect you”, which you will surely be hoping for after one too many glugs from the Maß…

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Did You Know?

Contrary to popular belief, Oktoberfest or “Wiesn”, to the locals is not a beer festival, but the anniversary celebration of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig & his wife, Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. When they got married in 1810, the royals commemorated the event with a public party where not a single drop of the amber nectar was spilled! It wasn’t until 1819 that the horse races were replaced by beer vendors. Despite their initial prudence, you’ll still find doting monarchists today raising krug in honour of the old lord & lady who made it all possible.

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