Saturday, September 24, 2011

Europe's Biggest Party: Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is is arguably Europe's biggest annual party, attracting nearly six million people.  Of course, the biggest draw of Oktoberfest are the fourteen free-to-enter beer tents. Want a seat? Get up and join the crowds as they make a dash for the tents bright and early. The massive Hofbräu Festzelt is considered the biggest beer tent at Oktoberfest with a capacity of nearly 10,000 and is the famous counterpart to the Hofbraeuhaus located in the city of Munich. The tent is packed with picnic tables and benches that fill up quickly and you can expect to see some craziness as "chug, chug, chug" is shouted all around. It is also the only tent at Oktoberfest where you can buy your mug of beer and have a drink without having to sit down.

The beer is traditionally served in one-liter krugs (steins) and beer wenches impressively carry ten at a time. When toasting, make eye contact with your drinking compatriots, raise and clink your glasses together, shouting Prost! (Cheers!), before taking a swig.

Local delicacies like hendl (a half spit-roasted chicken, wurstl (sausages), and Bavarian brezel (soft pretzels) are sold in the tents.

Everyone needs a souvenir of their trip to Oktoberfest. A favorite and easy-to-find souvenir is the Lebkuchen (gingerbread necklace). These gingerbread hearts are decorated with German phrases such as Ich Lieve Dich (I love you) and come strung with a ribbon for wearing home. Tim says I earned mine!

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