London to Munich [for Oktoberfest]

London to Munich [for Oktoberfest] on the Imperial Cities & Danube Cruise tour

Monday, 30th September 2019

I was supposed to fly out to Munich on Tuesday, 1st October and then catch a train down to Passau to collect my group of passengers, but I had another idea.

During the last week of September and the first week of October there is a huge beer festival in Munich called the Oktoberfest. I have never had the opportunity to visit this renowned event – teachers aren’t allowed to drop out of school mid-term to go abroad on a jolly [although I did do precisely that when the Rugby World Cup was on in France]. I have always wanted to go and see what the Oktoberfest is like.

I asked my manager if it would be possible for them to fly me out to Munich a day early and I would source my own hotel. Great Railway Journeys had no issues with that, so I booked a hotel (expensive during Oktoberfest, but free for me as I was paying with accumulated stay points) and off I went.

I arrived at my hotel and dropped off my bag and immediately headed off to the festival. Oktoberfest is about 15 minutes walk from the main Munich railway station and located on a massive asphalt park. It is free to enter and is absolutely HUGE. Each brewery has its own tent with outside seating areas. Interspersed between these are eating stands and a massive fun fair. 

I was there at 18:00 on a Monday evening. Mondays are the quietest time of the festival but there was no space for me to sit inside one of the tents which all had reserved seating only. Not only do you have to reserve a seat in advance but it appeared you were supposed to have booked your hired lederhosen well in advance too.

I was happy to sit outside (unreserved and warm enough) and ordered my one litre steins of Hofbräuhaus beer from the lovely traditionally dressed waitresses. At €11 a litre it wasn’t over priced.

There is an informative notice on the table saying ‘dancing on the tables is not allowed, feel free to dance on the bench though’, which many German couples were. It is a wonderful party atmosphere, with couples of all ages eating, drinking, singing and dancing.

By 20:30 I had had my four glasses of beer and dutifully left while I could still remember were my hotel was. Although when I arrived at the railway station I wasn’t sure in which direction of travel I had to go to get back. Luckily a very nice DB employee helped me out.

I will definitely be back (next year hopefully, in fact I am thinking of arranging a trip for friends, if anyone is interested).

Tuesday, 1st October 2019

The aim of today is to get down to Passau from Munich. I am collecting my passengers, from their river cruise ship, in the morning, and I have a hotel booked for the evening. It is a two hour journey so I have time to kill in Munich.

My first job is to revisit the beer festival to see how big it really is and to look around the stalls, fun fair and tents while it is daylight and relatively quiet.

One of the interesting stalls was one cooking whole fish, on sticks, over charcoal . . .

The fun fair is big and colourful. It seems that it doesn’t matter what age you are it is the place to visit. There are parties of primary school age children walking around as well as guided tour parties of pensioners.

From the Oktoberfest I head into central Munich. I walked down to the Rathaus (town hall). This had been covered in scaffolding the last time that I visited.

A big crowd was gathered outside to watch the Rathaus Glockenspiel chime.

The 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures perform on the hour. It tells the story of the marriage between Duke Wilhelm V and Renata of Lorraine. Duke Wilhelm founded the Hofbräuhaus brewery (I was sitting outside their tent at the Oktoberfest the previous evening) and I was on my way to visit their famous bierkeller. . .

Hofbräuhaus is a brewery that is owned by the Bavarian state government. The brewery owns Hofbräuhaus am Platzi the most famous beer hall in Munich. All the rooms except the historic hall were destroyed during the second world war. It re-opened after restoration in 1958.

Mozart used to frequent this beer hall, but the most notorious regular was Adolf Hitler. To quote Wikipedia “On February 25, 1920 Hitler presented the Nazi Party Twenty Five Point Program in the Hofbräuhaus. On November 4, 1921 the Hofbräuhaus was also the birthplace of the later feared Nazi street fighting organization, the Sturmabteilungen or SA for short. On that day the National Socialist party held a large public meeting at the Hofbräuhaus and after Hitler had spoken for some time the meeting erupted into a melee. There was a massive fight between the Nazi brawlers and their opponents (the Social Democrats – and Communists ). Hitler managed to finish his address, notwithstanding the chaos of smashed tables and chairs and hurled beer mugs all about him”.

It features a lovely courtyard beer garden, and on a warm sunny autumn day there is nothing better than . . .

Enough enjoying myself, there is work to be done. A lovely double decker regional train took me down to Passau. Unfortunately the two hour journey was delayed and ended up taking three.

In Passau, after checking into my hotel, I went for a walk around Passau. More about that in the next blog . . .

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