“O´zapft is!” How to Oktoberfest

What do hostel workers need most after an exhausting summer season? A 16-day beerfest, along with a hostel full of intoxicated guests. NOT, you would think, but we actually still enjoy this.

OK, we could do with less puke in the elevators, but there are the bizarre moments making up for the downsides. Like the guest we only saw wearing a helmet (“to avoid injuries when passing out”) or the guy wearing a zebra costume for breakfast. I asked him where he got that one from, to which he replied, “I don’t remember, I woke up in it.” Or the guy who returned at 3 am with nothing but his underpants (he couldn’t tell how that happened, but we know it). We have seen it all, and whatever you do, we won’t tell your girlfriend. Here’s how to Oktoberfest:

Avoid the weekends.

Especially avoid Saturdays. Especially the Saturday on the second weekend, when FC Bayern has a home match. Do yourself a favour and go on a weekday. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s still the biggest party on earth. It’s easier to find accommodation. You”ll have to line up less than an hour for the rollercoasters, you’ll get inside the tents without lining up for hours and a free spot at a table will be much easier to find as well.

Don’t try to reserve a table

Because they don’t accept table reservations when the tent is likely to be full anyway. You just enter the tent of your choice. Scan it for empty spots and ask the other people on the table “ist hier frei?” – that’s it, and it’s also a good conversation starter.

First eat, then drink!

Oktoberfest beer is stronger than the regular stuff. It can get quite warm in the tents, so you will be thirsty and might drink more than you intended. The salt on the pretzels will do the rest. Start your day with a hearty lunch – I recommend one of the many beer halls. Augustiner Bräustuben (http://www.braeustuben.de/) serves excellent pork knuckle for just €9,20. The alcohol will hit you in a much more enjoyable way when you have some lardy food in your stomach.

Leave your stuff at the hostel

The Oktoberfest throng is a pickpocket’s paradise. You won’t want to be paranoid all the time about the contents of your pockets. Also leave your eyeglasses at home, you know, drunk people sometimes throw around their arms in a somewhat uncontrolled manner…

First rollercoaster, then binge drinking

Have mercy on me. I don’t want the contents of your digestive system raining down on me when I queue up. Please!
Still, if you are not yet completely wasted, sneaking out of the tent after the first Maß and go for a ride on the giant carousel or one of the rollercosters is definitely worth the experience.

Which tent?

There are 14 big ones and 20 small ones altogether with seats for 100,000. The first one you’ll see at the main entrance is the Hippodrom, well known for its champagne bar (WTF?) and the occasional celebrity visitor. Schottenhamel is a large one (it seats 10,000) and the tent where it all starts when the mayor taps the first keg. The biggest one is Paulaner Festzelt (capacity 10,900). The best about it is the large outdoor area on its southern side, so you can enjoy the autumn sun. The locals’ favourite is still Augustiner, the only one left tapping the beer from traditional wooden kegs. The tent where the shit really hits the fan is Hofbräu – like the Hofbräuhaus beer hall it’s very popular with tourists who intend to party hard. Mind that the waitresses will ask you to leave when you have an empty stein in front of you and refuse to replace it with a full one immediately. All the tents come with very cheesy oompah-style brass music playing traditional Bavarian songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Country Roads”. You will certainly hate it until you’ve finished your fifth stein, then you’ll love it.

Don’t go to the wine tent

This is a BEERfest, for chrissake! Don’t be a nerd and drink wine. You just don’t!!!

Try not to pass out

The tents close just before midnight and those who can’t make it on their own legs any more will be brought to the slope under the “Bavaria” statue by the security guys. There are hundreds of “Bierleichen” lined up there every evening and the pickpockets will leave you with nothing but your underpants. You have been warned!

All in all the most important thing is to have fun. Go out and party hard!

How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Vienna

New Year’s Eve is coming our way. If you are in Vienna and still searching for the right place to celebrate the turn of the year, here are some recommendations for you:

Eating out, yummie!
A good diner might be the best thing to start the New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants in Vienna are booked out at 31st December… But don’t give up hope, just contact our reception staff in the hostels! They are happy to help you with your restaurant reservation. Or check this website for restaurants opened on New Year’s Eve.

Watching fireworks

Vienna New Year's Fireworks

Vienna New Year's Fireworks

You just love fireworks? Than the hills and viewpoints around Vienna are your places to be to enjoy awesome panoramas of the city’s skyline and the fireworks in the sky. We recommend the Kahlenberg, the Cobenzl, the Himmelwiese or the Leopoldsberg in Viennas 19th district. All of which can be reached with the 38A bus from the U4 metro terminal station Heiligenstadt (just hop on the U4 metro in front of our wombats “The Naschmarkt”). If you want to stay in the centre of Vienna, we recommend the roof of the public library at the Urban-Loritz-Platz (just some 10 minutes walking from our hostel “The Lounge”).

The biggest Party in Austria
If you want celebrate a “traditional” Viennese New Year in the heart of the city and among masses of people; the “Silvesterpfad” (engl. “New Year Trail”) should be your choice. The whole city centre turns into a massive street party, way more than half a million people celebrating. The program includes various performances, concerts, DJ acts and entertainment at historical sights like Heldenplatz, Stephansplatz, City Hall or the Prater. At midnight you can experience the most traditional Austrian way of stepping from one year to the next in front of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral: while Austria’s largest bell, the “Pummerin”, rings in the new year people are dancing the “Donauwalzer” (engl. The Blue Danube Waltz).

wombats!!!
If you want to celebrate with really cool international people, than our hostels might be the place to be for you. All our houses are booked out, there will be parties with our guests and staff with various specials. Just watch out and ask our staff or other guests to get more information.

Nightclubbing
If you like to party all night long, then get into one of Vienna’s best clubs to rock and dance: In the U4, one of the most legendary discos of Vienna, there are four international New Year celebrations, one each hour from 10 p.m. (Sansibar) till 1 a.m. (London). The Flex provides a 14-hour Silvester-Rave, including many DJ’s from different electronic styles. The Fluc also brings up a great range of different DJ sets without entrance fee (yeah!). And those who prefer minimal and dub step should definitely go to the Pratersauna – they present their “finest national artist showcase”.

Well, what more to say? We wish you a happy New Year! See you in 2012!

[womphotocredits]Photo of fireworks © jeanleo under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.[/womphotocredits]