Cannstatter Volksfest / Wasen

I seriously took a lot of photos. Close to 1000 possibly. I’ve scratched two thirds of them, and have uploaded about 100 to Google Drive.

The Canstatter Volksfest which takes place in Stuttgart every year is like a mini-Oktoberfest. I say mini in that it’s about half the size, receiving about 3 million visitors a year compared to Munich’s 6+. But it’s a very similar setup. Carnival type atmosphere with roller coasters, games and stalls. Just with the addition of the massive beer tents.

Me and my roommate Wu Di

Much like in Munich, the tents are open to the public all day until 16:00, when people with reserved tables are permitted in. In Munich we were part of the public, whereas in Stuttgart we had reserved tables. Baldur Veit, the Director of the International Office at Reutlingen University had organised with one of the big breweries for semi-sponsored tickets and reserved places on the last day of the event.

Last year there were 1500 students that attended the event, I don’t know the stats this year, but the 2000 tickets made available were sold out, some people bought more than one ticket, and also invited friends form outside the university. This year we had place in the Fürstenberg tent which holds about 2800 people.

We arrived at about 15:00 at the festival and walked around a bit before entering the tent and trading in our coupons. The setup was very similar to the tent in Munich with rows and rows of benches and tables spread out around a central stage. One difference only getting to the tent at 16:00 meant that we had live music being played almost throughout the night, till we left shortly before 22:00. This was opposite to our relatively quiet morning experience in Munich. Security also didn’t seem to have too much of an issue with people standing on benches, as the entire crowd spent most of the evening. The only acceptable reason to do this in Munich was when you were going to down your maß.

The festivals are very similar. It’s difficult to say whether one is better than the other. There are definitely more people in Munich, this could be felt just walking through the grounds. For most of us, Stuttgart was a more enjoyable experience. We only had a 1 hour train trip there and back, and the tent was filled with like minded students. I’d like to experience a reserved place in Munich one day, but if you only get the opportunity to go to one of the festivals, I wouldn’t say you’re missing out on much.

I preferred the Augustinebrau beer to Furstenburg’s, on the other hand it’s only 9 Euro for a Maß in Stuttgart as opposed to 10 in Munich, and the half chickens we got in Stuttgart also came with a breadroll, something that was lacking in Munich.

Member of Joe William’s Band who sang “Give me Hope Jo-anna

It’s difficult to know what else to say. The live music (Joe William’s Band) and hordes of students definitely made the event more enjoyable for us. As we waited at the train station some fireworks lit up the sky. We got home on time and even managed to catch the last bus home. Something we’ve struggled to do in two previous trips.

Next week Saturday the local Erasmus organisation has organised a trip for us to Sigmaringen so I’ll probably spend the day there.

Oktoberfest in München

Photos to be viewed here. I only took my 50mm fixed lens with, so unfortunately no group pictures.

A Maß of Beer. 1 litre, the only way you can buy beer at Oktoberfest

So during the week the group of Brazilians suggested we make a mission to Oktoberfest for the day. Figuring I wouldn’t have a chance to go to Oktoberfest again I decided to join in. We ended up being a group of 23 international students standing at Reutlingen station at 23h30 on Friday night.

Paulaner was the only brewery whose beer I had tried before in SA

We made use of a group ticket which allows us to travel on any regional trains for 27 hours (DB Schönes Wochenende). Only taking regional trains can end up being quite a pain, but the cost savings compared to taking the fast trains can be fairly large. We ended up with a 3 hour layover in Ulm, at 02h30 in the morning though.

View over some of Oktoberfest

We arrived in Munich (München) on an absolutely packed train. People in Lederhosen and Dirndl were everywhere, drinking on the train already. As we got off the train there were even more people. We took an S-Bahn a bit closer to the event and followed the crowds to Oktoberfest.

At the entrance, photo: Evgenii

When we got there none of us really knew what to do. We knew we had to be there early, as tents closed fairly early in the morning, as soon as they became full. But none of the tents were yet open. Small crowds were gathering around the entrances of several of the tents, so we decided to pick one and sit in line.

Half an hour later at 09:00 the the tents opened and we were rushed in and to two tables. It was lucky we were there that early, as by 09:30 pretty much all the tables were full and the tent was being closed. I use the word tent, but the structure is massive. We were in the Augistiner Bräu tent, which I would guess is easily seating 5000 people. Interesting thing I learnt is that the only beer that can be served at Oktoberfest is beer that has been brewed according to the Reinheitsgebod (the same as Windhoek brewery’s beers) and within the Munich city limits.

So we had a table, and we could sit there till about 15h00 when we would get kicked out, so people with reserved tables could take them over. 15h00 was optimistic. The Russians who were with us wanted to do some sight seeing so left us at about 12h30 and myself with three other guys departed the tent shortly after 13h30. Leaving the Brazilians to their own devices.

photo: Evgenii

We had a walk around the rest of the festival, had a look at the other tents, stores and roller coaster rides which were available. We then took a short trip around Munich and up St Paul’s Church’s bell tower.

The original plan was to leave at 20h30 and arrive back in Reutlingen shortly after midnight. We got to the station and saw we can take a 18h30 train and end up home by 22h15. Deciding this was the best idea, we got hold of the Russians and Brazilians and organised to meet up for the train.

missing train

After a bit of confusion we all ended up on the platform together again, waiting for the train. A train which left almost an hour late. Meaning we missed our early connecting train in Ulm, which meant we still only made it home to Reutlingen after midnight. And because that train was late we missed the night bus back to the residence by 5min. So we walked the half hour instead. We weren’t all too happy about Deutsche Bahn by the end of the trip.

Jorge trying to sleep on the train

The trains were also packed! All seats taken, and no where left to stand. We thought this would clear up by the time we got to Plochingen. But we forgot that Stuttgart’s version of Oktoberfest had just started, the Cannstatter Volksfest and the trains all the way home were full of people going home from there. We ended up standing for majority of the way home. A very long trip all in all.

People queueing to get into tents as we left

General crowds at the event

Besides the lack of sleep and not so great train rides, I had a really great time. It was fun, and had good company to enjoy the day. Would I do it again, probably, but not exactly how we did it. I’m glad I went and had the opportunity to go and say I’ve been to Oktoberfest. The beer and food was good too.

Our ‘waiter’ for the day, must make a fortune

In two weeks time we actually have the opportunity to go to the Cannstatter Volksfest with the university. They organised a sponsor, so we have 2000 reserved seats waiting for us 16h00 the one afternoon. It will be a slightly different experience to Oktoberfest, but looking forward to it.

people inside the tent

The French WRC rally (Rally de France) is happening this weekend in Strasbourg, which is less than 200km by car from Reutlingen. I’m going to chat to some people and see if anyone’s interested in going and maybe go watch some stages on Saturday.