“What’s the obsession with Germany?” one of my colleagues asked. I did not quite understand what she meant. “You were just there and then I saw on Facebook that you were back again.” The story is that I have a friend who I met whilst studying in Nanjing, China, who now lives in Munich and our mutual friends from our time in China decided Oktoberfest might be a rather jolly occasion for a reunion. Knowing cultural sights would not be the top priority for this reunion I thought it a good idea to do these on an earlier trip. Having wondered at Neuschwanstein and strolled around the parks, Oktoberfest was then spent doing what is meant to be done, wearing lederhose/dirndl and, well, drinking.
Packing for this trip was a doddle, even “pack for very eventuality” me managed to squeeze everything into a rucksack. The reason for this is that when at Oktoberfest you really only need traditional Bavarian dress and a change of underwear. My buddies had the fortune to arrive in Munich earlier than me so they hit the beer tents straight away, albeit without traditional dress (except for the local Bavarian in our group that is). Of course they had fun swilling their litre tankards of beer but they really felt something was amiss, their clothing. I remember when I was last in Munich how many locals wore traditional dress at the weekend but now everyone was in it. Those not adopting this attire were the odd looking ones. That very day all the boys and girls went shopping for more fitting attire. In this regard, I was the fortunate one. I am a fan of going all out for fancy dress so on my previous visit to Munich I had invested in a traditional Bavarian shirt (€19.99) and dress (€24.99) called a dirndl with this occasion in mind. My companions on the other hand paid up to €175 for theirs because it was peak season! Understandably the boys had to pay this for their leather ensembles but what a hefty sum for the girls. So the trick is, buy your costume off season.
Now, what to wear on your feet. Initially I thought my “beer pumps” – cheap ballet pumps – might be the answer. In fact, I was pleased to have worn my Timberland-style heels on the plane over. The heel gave me a little glamour, whilst the style was in keeping with the rustic nature of the region and my dress. Boys, brogues or casual leather shoes are a good choice. A crossbody bag is perfect for storing cash etc as you will not want it sat on the floor as you are dancing on the beer hall benches. Alternatively, go minimal and purchase one of these garters with a pocket from Pouchkey which you can wear under your dirndl. Come evening it will be chill so guys and girls wrap a jumper/cardigan around your waste. Make-up should remain minimal as the number of mirrors is; anyway, who really is very good at touching up with litres of beer in their stomach?
Mӓnner und mӓdchen (guys and girls) in our group alike were amazed at how comfy their new buys were. Even when not at Oktoberfest World’we continued to wear our Bavarian garb. One of the boys was so enraptured with the flap at the front of his lederhose that he spent the entire weekend ordering “Flaps down boys!” as he unbuttoned his. Thank goodness his dignity was maintained by an additional layer of leather. As the weekend drew to the finale, the question on all our minds was whether we would be looked on curiously if we wore these pieces back in our respective countries (India, Canada, England, Sweden and Spain). Regardless, the Swede amongst us wore her’s the following Friday for a night out.