OCTOBERFEST - TOUR AND SIGHTS OF BAVARIA
by Walter Haas
Going to the “real” Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany was on my bucket list for a very long time and doing it through Olidaytours was one of my best travel decisions!
Our tour director Oli Grieb, an authentic Bavarian who moved to America a couple of years ago and now takes his guests to his home state Bavaria, is a big ball of energy, super fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very professional. His energy was infectious and definitely added to the experience.
Since Oli is from the area, he was able to expose us to many local spots and traditions. He was very professional and took care of everything, which basically started more than half a year before the actual tour.
The Oktoberfest attracts more than 6 million visitors every year to Munich, who consume about 6.4 million liters of beer for the last two weeks of September and the first weekend of October. Planning the tour way ahead was therefore essential.
Once we got in contact with Olidaytours through their webpage, we got a phone call straight away, in which Oli, introduced himself to us and tried to find out a little bit more about our interests and motivation of coming to the Oktoberfest with his company. Because of the personal touch of the tour and the small group size, Oli even met up with us and a couple of other guests prior to the tour.
As we used Oli´s ideas in regards to different styles of accommodation that would fit our budget and also with booking the flight we were able to get some advice from the expert.
Time flew by and suddenly it was the date of our departure. Oli met us at Newark Airport and was with us on the same flight – always making sure, we were doing fine. Upon our arrival in Germany, Oli had organized a transfer from Frankfurt to his former home town Würzburg, in the northern part of Bavaria, where we spent the first two days. If we just got here as tourists, we would have had fun, for sure, but with Oli, it was way way more, which is actually hard to describe, if you have never met him. All the sights of Würzburg, the churches, the castle in the vineyards, the Residence, a world heritage building, … were part of our city-walking tour and in addition to that we got to meet real Germans, Oli´s family and friends, and we suddenly felt part of it.
This “feeling part of something“ is probably the biggest benefit of having Oli as your personal tourist guide with you, who is basically available 24/7.
On the trip from Würzburg to Munich, we stopped in Bamberg and Nürnberg, two amazing German cities.
The check-in at our Hotel in Munich went totally smooth and after dinner, at a local restaurant, that you, as a tourist, wouldn’t really find, it was time for us to relax for the big event, our visit to the world biggest beer festival.
“If you haven’t been there, you will not believe it.”
We couldn’t believe it, that we had to leave the hotel at about 9:30 am to catch the subway to the Theresienwiese, the location of the Oktoberfest. Once we got closer to the subway, more people started walking next to us, all in Lederhosen and Dirndl and it felt like we were kind of underdressed with sneakers, jeans and a nice shirt. After a short ride in the U-Bahn, we seemed to know, how cattle must feel, when they are transported in a truck. The doors opened and we just saw people´s heads and heard an announcer directing us and the other guests to the exit. Oli again did a great job, making sure, we were all with him.
The escalator up to the outside was the last little obstacle and suddenly we were surrounded by big beer tents, that already at 10 am had massive lines of people in front of them, waiting to get in. Then there were the rides, some of them pretty historical and others super modern. Oli took us for a walk around the whole fair grounds and had a table organized in a tent, just for us.
We really felt like VIP´s. Everyone tries to get in a tent – and we just got to follow Oli to a table in a really nice beer tent. The “humpta” band was already playing Bavarian, German and English music and people were drinking steins of beer and eating “jummy” German sausages, meat, Sauerkraut, Brezeln, cheese, …. Our waiter saw us coming in and brought us the first round of beer – and there were more coming throughout the day and night. Oli explained us, that we had the table for the entire day, while other guests without a reservation could only be in the tent if they were drinking. So if they stop drinking, someone else gets to take their table. We were safe and enjoyed a part of a long lasting Bavarian tradition.
In the evening, we went for a well needed walk around the fairgrounds, before we took the subway back to the hotel and called it a day.
“Looking back at this day, makes me still smile.“
Throughout the following three days, Oli showed us around Munich, took us to the holy beer mountain of Bavaria, Andechs, as well as to the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein, just outside of Füssen. Bavaria seems to me like an unreal place, very clean, with friendly Germans every where we went, an amazing landscape, beautiful castles, green meadows and nice clean air to take refreshing deep breaths.
On our final day, Oli surprised us with a picture CD of the shots he took through out our tour. I really have to say, that I never expected such a personal trip that would let us really get to know Oli and “his” country. He really made sure to exceed our expectations every single day. I can only recommend to do it – experience Octoberfest with Olidaytours and Oli - www.olidaytours.com