Oktoberfest is a major beer festival which attracts approximately 7 million visitors every year to experience and enjoy a 16-days event which showcases and guarantees the highest quality Bavarian brews! All beer served comes from the 6 major Bavarian breweries as per the 16th century Bavarian Beer Purity Law which is still enforced. These 6 major breweries are: Augustiner, Paulaner, Spaten, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr and Hofbräu.
This year, six friends and I got organized and planned a visit to the 2015 Oktoberfest during our Eid holiday break back in the Sultanate of Oman. It was such a favorable coincidence and thus we took this opportunity and made it happen.
Qatar Airways was our airline of choice, especially as we flew into Munich on their comfortable Dreamliner; and boy, it was a treat to fly in such spacious comfort.
Great site to start off:
Our Airbnb accommodation:
We stayed at a really stunning flat with a rooftop deck just 10 minutes away from the Oktoberfest fairground. Although we were told that after our departure this apartment would be off the market for an entire year as someone was leasing it for that time, this is the Airbnb listing for your perusal.
Once settled in and ready to make the most of our Oktoberfest experience, we embarked on an early (11 a.m.) visit to ground zero. We followed this decision as we really did not make proper arrangements to book ourselves within any of the major or minor tents.
First stop ...
Nonetheless, we found quite a few empty seats within the Hofbräu Festzelt tent and we just stayed there, listened to the oompah band, ate some wieners, made new friend, locals of course while making sure we stayed away from the rowdy tourists from the U.S.A.
Do note that this tent is the most popular biergarten with foreign tourist so you will find many flocking here at any given time!
For more information on reservations and/or which tent to go to, head back to Oktoberfest.de for beer tent info.
As the fun can't last forever while on free seating, we finally got kicked out at 3p.m. as that was the time that the majority of the patrons who had previously RSVP-ed were scheduled to arrive ... and so, our beer tent hopping started ...
So when at the Munich Oktoberfest, make sure you raise your newly bought Stein while at the largest popular beer festival in the world! ... and do remember, if you are on the Masskrüge bandwagon, do pace yourself as those 1-litter mugs will certainly make your Oktoberfest experience quite memorable.
By mere coincidence, our one-week holiday in September coincided with Oktoberfest and one of our colleagues happened to pick up on that and got us all excited about this trip.
Our choice of airline was by far to fly Qatar Airways as they offer their Dreamliner carrier from Muscat to Münich via Doha; you can't go wrong flying with them or on their Dreamliner!
Once in Münich and it being almost the weekend, we decided to skip the Bavarian capital and head straight to Salzburg to spend the weekend and avoid the craziness that Oktoberfest would be during that weekend. So, we hopped on a train and headed to the land of Mozartkugeln and stayed at the Crown Plaza Salzburg - The Pitter which is located very close to the main train station as well as several nearby attractions near the Old City center.
Our choice of navigating the city was mainly on foot and these were the places we visited:
We stopped to buy our Mozart balls or Mozartkugeln which is a sweet made out of chocolate-covered marzipan and inspired by Salzburg's greatest son, Mozart!
Although this store is from the Reber brand which is actually made in Germany and not so authentic being in Salzburg, it is in the mid-range price below that which you pay at Cafe-Konditorei Fürst (the original but pricier) but pretty good in quality.
... and so we continued our walk toward the ...
Once you enter the fortress, you are treated to several exhibition rooms showcasing all sort of weaponry and military armory. The most striking exhibits were those rooms that showed different metal wardrobes meant to be worn by those that somehow had violated laws such as that of adultery, treason amongst others; but don't worry, all rooms are not just about weaponry and medieval torture, they actually have a room where they showcase puppets and what would be a puppet show for kids!
After taking-in all the views of the city of Salzburg, we made our way back down on the funicular and came across ...
The cemetery itself is considered by many one of the oldest and most beautiful in Europe while the catacombs are carved onto the rock beside the cemetery which are also worth a visit. If you make your way there before 5pm, you can pay to enter one of the catacombs by escalating a few rock-carved stairs that lead to a few altars and some mural paintings on the walls that have seen better days.
To conclude our Day 1 of sightseeing, as suggested by a friend of one of our colleagues, we headed to the ...
... and this one seemed to be a very popular Oktoberfest song:
At the end of Day 2, we splurged and dined at ... This restaurant was also highly recommended to us by the father of one of our colleagues. The St. Peter Stiftskeller is in fact the oldest restaurant in the entire world serving clients since 803 A.D. and you may find it within the complex grounds of the St. Peter's Church.
While in Salzburg, we decided to book a Viator tour called Salzburg Super Saver: Bavarian Mountains with Eagle's Nest and Salt Mines which includes a great full day deal for visiting three places at once.
The meeting point for our early departure was the Mirabellplatz's bus station which was just merely two blocks away from our accommodation at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Salzburg - The Pitter.
As we leave the city of Salzburg behind and made our way to the alps on our A/C-ed coach, we were able to spot thanks to our tour guide the Untersberg Mountain which is featured at the opening and closing scenes of the movie The Sound of Music.
Once we cross the border into Germany, we started our ascend through the road (Germany's highest) that leads to Obersalzberg which is said to be an engineering marvel as it was completed in just 13 months. This zig-zagging road, quite unique in the world, has been blasted into the solid rock. A really good tip here is to be seated on the right side of the bus as you head up so you can enjoy the impressive vistas as well as see how far up and steep the cliffs are.
Our next stop was ...
Afterwards, we continued to ...
Here you go through this underground mine plan which teaches you in a very interactive way about the history of the salt mines in the region and especially within this still in operation salt mine which is 490+ years old.
To begin, you are given a miner's suit to cover/protect your clothing before being taken into the mountain through tunnels via a small mine train for a length of 1,400 m. You then get to see some examples of the impressive "wet mining" process via interactive boards and maps.
For the adrenaline seekers, there are also two slides to go from one upper level to the lower levels which is also a photo occasion, so do smile for the camera as you slide down with your friends. The first slope is 34 m long while the second slope is 40 meters long.
After the second slope, you will be taken into the mirror lake via a boat that will take you from one side to the other while experiencing a light show from above that once it ends, you will notice how the ceiling of that cave is clearly reflected on the water below.
You will then go to the last exhibition, the Reichenbach Pump and then into an elevator which will take you up into the lobby where you started.
No tour is complete without visiting their shop, in this case the salt shop where you can purchase all types of salt-infused souvenirs that range from jewelry, chocolates, books and more.
Next stop ...
You will then be taken to the famous glacial Lake Königssee which is the deepest lake within the Alps surrounded by impressive mountains that rise above the lake. The echoing here is unique and it is a common practice to have someone play a trumpet which sounds would reverberate for up to seven times making those around be awestruck; nonetheless, this is only possible if you are on one of the electric-powered passenger boats.
For us, who did not have enough time to go on the boat ride up to the St. Bartholomä church at the other end, we had to settle for a walk along the lake up to this viewpoint: