By Alexandra Blanter
From the moment I learned about the Oktoberfest festival in Munich. I had heard the stories and seen the Instagram pictures: I had my heart set on it. This was the year for the infamous festival of beer.
Upon arriving at the festival, my friend and I were instantly in awe at the sheer grandeur of everything. Being the world’s largest beer festival, the grounds were filled with rollercoasters and stalls selling traditional German knickknacks. The air filled with smells of roasting chicken and sausages, baking pretzels, and hot chocolate. It was surreal, standing there and taking in the sights as thousands upon thousands of people dressed in traditional Bavarian dirndls and lederhosen made their way to the traditional beer tents.
Even though I was in Germany embarking in one of the most German traditions possible, the event was simultaneously traditional and incredibly diverse. We decided to spend our day in the Hofbräu tent, a tent with nearly 10,000 seats serving beer from Munich’s most historic brewery. Filled with natural light and large rings of green leaves and a large balloon of a man hanging from the ceiling (for which I have no explanation), we were immediately greeted by loud Bavarian music and the sounds of laughing and singing. People gathered in large groups, sharing beers and food and stories. Some were locals, coming together after a long week of work; others were groups of travelers and university students, meeting each other for the first time and sharing stories of their travels over a beer. It seemed like every other person I met was just like me, a traveler looking to experience the infamous beer tents. I met people from Italy, Amsterdam, the United States, even from my hometown in California. We talked and laughed and drank and sang songs throughout the day and long into the night; from “Sweet Caroline” and Bohemian Rhapsody, to jazz tunes played by a live band, to traditional drinking songs involving clanking our beers together and subsequently sloshing beer all over the tables.