Huge marquee tents, traditionally dressed Bavarian waitresses, stein glasses of beer as big as your head, Oktoberfest is exactly what I expected but with a little difference. They have rides! Yep big arsed roller coasters, the giant drop, a ferris wheel and heaps more accompanied by multiple food vendors and candy shops at every turn. It really is set up to be exactly what you want when your drunk, you might say a drinkers heaven.
The first thing on my agenda when we got to Munich (or locally Munchen), was to pick up Angela at the airport. She was joining us for the next drunken week and I hadn’t had the delight of her company since the tomato festival in Spain, so it was great to see her again.
The six of us, Mick, Taz, Jag, Sarah, Angela and I all spent a cozy night parked on the side of a busy road in Munich. Mick woke early, he and Taz were leaving us for 2 days, heading south across the border to Vienna, to check in with our executive producer and give him our demo tape.
The rest of us made our way to the camp ground, the place that we would call home for the next week. After we got settled and as the girls did their thing, Jag and I did ours. Walking around the camp ground, camera and microphone in hand, looking and listening out for some English speaking people to talk to about oktoberfest for the show.
Paul and Luke are two beer loving Aussies among a group of people we got to talking to. Armed with a guitar and a good story or two, we came back later and shared a few beers. Jag had found a new mate as he and Luke had a jam session (not with scones but guitars), singing and playing well into the night entertaining us with all types of music covers, even some of their own original songs. Sarah hid her usual exuberance, which was the first sign that she was quite taken by Luke.
The next day it was ‘drinkin’ time, the now eight strong group, with Luke, Paul, two of their friends and the four of us all headed into town. A bus and a train ride later we were there. Still doing our job Jag and I stopped to do some filming just outside the gate, this would prove to be a big mistake. I handed Angela my bag containing my phone and drinking money. Not wanting to be in front of the camera she took cover behind the gate out of the rain with the others. With the huge crowds of drunk people and bad weather it was not long till she had lost sight of us, not wanting to be left alone, she sensibly went with the other group and continued to look for us.
Once Jag and I had done what needed to be done, we turned our minds from work to pleasure, it was time for some beer! Where were the others? Surely they wouldn’t just walk off and leave us! Would they? Looking around for Angela it took us about half an hour till we accepted our fate. My heart sank with the realization that we had no phone, no money, no friends. We were at oktoberfest, sober, broke and alone.
In total that day, we spent ten hours in the biggest beer festival in the world, with no beer! It wasn’t all selfish thoughts of my dry mouth. Knowing how easy it was to get lost in this place my thoughts were with Angela. I hoped that her and Sarah were safe and still in the company of our new found friends. I hoped that they were out of the rain that jag and I were stuck in and enjoying some of the local beer in a warm tent.
With no hope of finding the others and no money for bus or taxi, we had no choice but to sneak onto the last train for the long haul back to the campsite. When we got back to find the others hadn’t returned, I began to think the worst.
It was a few long and cold hours for me until a very drunk pair of girls staggered in and passed out. Now I was angry, it seemed they had no regard for the predicament Jag and I were in, but at least I knew they were safe. The next day it took a while for me to calm down and realise they had done all they could to try and find us. In fact Angela was quite painful in her persistence in wanting to look further. All my stress was unnecessary and today was a new day, without stress and with money and beer.
But the rest of my festival experience was a blur, between loosing Mick, a camera being stolen and my blacking out and waking up in first aid, there is not much more I can say or remember. In the time it took for 6 million people to drink 61,000 hectrelitres of beer Oktoberfest was over. Paul and Luke were continuing on their way and in a snap decision Sarah (who had fallen for Luke in a big way) was leaving with them. Taz and Angela also sadly had to get going and get back to their lives, the Backpackers boys would now be back to three again.
Through semi sober eyes we went in search of what else the city had to offer. Our search ended at The English gardens. In the summer people of all ages both male and female get nude in search of a seamless tan. If that wasn’t good enough, all year round you can surf a consistent, but no so ultimate wave. Not your normal beach shore break, no barrels to be had, in fact Munich isn’t even near the coast. The wave I’m talking about is in the river, it flows under the city streets becoming pressurised and as it comes out forms a powerful three to five foot wave. People have been surfing there for about thirty years, and knowing that our surf crazy mate Benny Bosangson at home would go sick if he was there, we did what he would do. With a broken body board, (which we had found in Spain), we got in line and jumped straight in! Not as successful as we would like but still enough to make our mate proud.
Now that most of the major festivals in Europe were over, for the first time we found ourselves with no real direction. It was decision time, where do we go next? Your guess is as good as mine!