Despite some recent excitement about the price of beer in Germany these days, not to mention a Bavarian politician’s provocative remarks yesterday about how German beer drinkers are still fit to drive after putting down two liters (or maybe precisely because of peculiar things like this), it might be about time for you to get prepared for the opening of the 175th Munich Oktoberfest this Saturday. And no, it doesn’t really matter that you probably won’t be traveling to Munich to celebrate this year, being prepared for the Oktoberfest is always a good thing to be, I find. You never know, you know?

First of all, you need to know that this two-week celebration pretty much turns the city of Munich into a state of emergency, with over six million visitors expected to descend upon the beer tents this year. And although international understanding usually automatically begins between visitors after that first Maß (measure, liter) of beer, non-Bavarians can get a bit confused about the strange customs and language used here (Bavarian German).

Yes, the Bavarians are very friendly. And yes, the women really are that beautiful here. But don’t let that, and the beer, go directly to your head. Try and remind yourself that you will have to find your way back to the hotel eventually, as well. And try and remember a few of these Oktoberfest tips while you’re at it.

If possible, avoid partaking in the festivities during the weekend, especially if you haven’t made any reservations. The tents are usually filled up by noon and can often be declared closed for late-comers once this is the case. Go during the week and remember the Oktoberfest Golden Rule: The earlier the better.

No one expects you to wear the traditional Bavarian costume à la Dirndl and Lederhose while visiting the Oktoberfest, although plenty of the genuine Bavarians will be doing so, so don’t. Everyday “street clothes” are just fine.

Try to avoid spending all too much time at one of the countless souvenir stands or taking photographs of colorful passers-by, this will only make your search for a place to sit in one of the crowded beer tents all the more difficult, a search that will only become more desperate as the day progresses.

Once you’ve actually made it inside one of the tents, the difficult part begins. Remember, not just the earlier the better, the smaller your group the better is also the way to go, at least when it comes to finding a coveted place for all of you to sit. Split up among the various rows and keep your eyes peeled for another smaller group that might be on the verge of leaving, should you not have had the good fortune to find a place right off the bat.

And finally, once you and your friends have finally taken your seats, the serious Oktoberfest action begins. The Wiesn-Bier (meadow, Oktoberfest meadow beer) served here is really a phenomenal brew, perhaps the finest beer in the world, but the people selling it to you demand one of the world’s proudest prices; over 8 Euros (roughly $12) this year. But it’s not like you will need or want to drink very many of these. According to one German newspaper, one Maß of Wiesn-Bier has about the same alcohol content as eight Schnaps do (so much for that Bavarian politician’s claim).

And that is why you must remember to learn at least one important German phrase before your visit: Order your beer with “Eine Maß, bitte.” Not even Germans from the north always get this right and the natives will love you for it.

So have a great time, whether you go this year or not. But one last warning, come to think of it: Should you feel the uncontrollable urge to begin dancing with abandon as all the others around you might be doing once the evening progresses, never forget that the laws of gravity are just as valid in Germany as they are everywhere else in the world.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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