A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
From time to time it is necessary to take a break from studying and campus life. So you could go hiking or go home and see your grandparents. Sounds good? I had a better idea: I hopped on a train to Rotterdam and took a flight to Munich to enjoy Oktoberfest! Sounds much better, doesn´t it?
As I come from the southern part of Germany and lived in Munich before moving to The Hague, this was kind of an obligatory trip for me. It was like going home, seeing my friends and my brother, walking through the streets I know, going shopping in the nice little shops and get some decent bread and pretzels (no worries, I am going to talk about the beer and parties a bit later). Munich is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany and during Oktoberfest it becomes even more stunning. The streets and metros all over the city are filled with people in traditional clothing, girls in colorful Dirndl dresses and guys in leather trousers that form really sexy butts. Everybody is more happy than usual and even the weather turns nice again before the cold winter comes.which is the traditional beer in one liter mugs.
I had the big advantage of being able to stay at a friend´s place, because Oktoberfest also brings one bad part to the city: it gets crowded as hell. So if you don´t know anybody, make sure you organize a hostel or Couchsurfing place some months in advance to avoid having to sleep at the central station. Many people only come during the weekends, so you should take advantage of being a student and not being obliged to attend lectures. Thus plan your trip during the week. Then, it is much easier to get into a marquee, you have less stress and there is still going to be a good party at Oktoberfest itself as well as countless afterparties throughout the city.
One of the biggest advantages of studying in Europe is the small distance between countries and cities. In other words: if you hurry up a bit you can make it in less than four hours from your last lecture to your first Maß, which is the traditional beer in one liter mugs. The flight takes you about 1,5 hours and you need about two hours to get to the airport and away and for the usual airport procedures.
Another big advantage of Europe is that this trip can even be affordable. If you book in advance and do some research, you can get a return flight for about 100 Euro and for trains and busses tickets are even available for about 50 Euro. How much money you need in total depends then on your beer drinking capabilities.
The Oktoberfest itself is the world´s largest fair with roller coasters, roundabouts and lots of shopping and food stands. For young people however, the marquees are the main attraction. The best party is always in the Hacker Festzelt, but there is music and wingding in other marquees as well. They open at 9 am and close at 11 pm and yes, people start drinking beer in the morning, but most of them don´t make it until the end. Don´t wait in the crowd before the main entrances, but check the side doors (and practice your flirty smile for the bouncers before).
A one liter beer was still 10 Euros this year. This is expensive, but it is also a lot of beer and it is worth the investment as you will then dance on the ale-benches and sing along the German songs although you don´t know them. Still, you should make sure to go to a normal club during your stay as well, either to take a break of Oktoberfest or to carry on the party after the marquees have closed. There you´ll get to know that there is also good electronic, house and hip hop music in Germany. We only listen to the kind of Oktoberfest brass bands during folk festivals and carnival.
Another option is to go to the Cannstatter Wasen, a similar fair in Stuttgart. It is slightly smaller than the Oktoberfest, but also less expensive and not as much overrun by tourists. Or, as you probably stay more than one year at Leiden University, you can check out Munich in your first year, go to Stuttgart in the second year and go back to the one you liked better in your final year. Either way you´re going to have an amazing time, I promise. So, Prost!