Essential hangover cures to survive your Oktoberfest experience. WORDS: Trevor Paddenburg.
Germans don’t get hangovers, and it’s hardly surprising why. This is a country where drinking is legal from 14, beer is classed as a ‘beverage’ rather than alcohol to keep it tax-free, and where 20 million litres of the amber ale is brewed every year — a third of it consumed at Oktoberfest, the world’s most renowned piss-up.
The rest of us, though, are likely to wake up in the foetal position (and want to stay that way all day) after downing a dozen-odd steins of Bavarian beer.
So before you jet over to Munich, read on for TNT’s essential guide to getting rid of an Oktoberfest hangover, Bavarian-style.
Hair of the dog
Drinking more booze for brekky to shake a hangover isn’t as crazy as it seems. Bavarian beers are subject to the Purity Act, from 1516, which is still adhered to by the six major breweries. Their lagers can only contain water, hops, barley and yeast, so they’re basically as pure as a mountain stream. An alcoholic mountain stream, that is.
Pick me up, snuff
Snuff is a mix of sugar, mint and caffeine and it comes in white or black powder. You’ll see Germans sniffing a small amount off the back of their hands, or the tourists snorting large lines like cocaine. It does give you a bit of a rush, and is just the thing if your energy levels are plunging.
Surf if you feel seedy
Munich is home to a standing, permanent wave that breaks in an offshoot of the Isar River in the middle of a large park called the English Garden. It’s an amazing spectacle as surfers ride back and forth just metres from spectators. The water is a chilly 10˚C — cold enough to take your mind off a hangover, though you might end up with frostbite or hypothermia instead.
Eat a pork knuckle
More than 62,000 pork knuckles are sold during Oktoberfest, and it’s no secret why. The roasted joint, loaded with meat and served with crackling and potato dumplings, is as tasty as hell, and perfect for putting a dint in even the most solid hangover.
If pork ain’t your scene, whole roast chickens are also the order of the day at Oktoberfest, where about 460,000 birds are sold.
Thrills ’n’ spills
The Oktoberfest grounds are home to the massive shed-sized beer tents of the Bavarian breweries, but there is also a sprawling funfair set up around them that’s chock-a-block with roller coasters, dodgem cars and crazy rides. They might not cure your hangover, but they’re sure to help purge your system.
Bit of concentration
A short trip out of Munich is the Dachau Concentration Camp, a place Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. It’s worth seeing in the morning before hitting the beer tents later in the day.
Taking a stroll around the gas chambers is a powerful and sombre experience that’s sure to put your trivial hangover problems in perspective.
A bit like an international chess tournament, Oktoberfest is a mental game. You have to put the misery of the moment out of your mind and remember that you’ll be home in a few days, eating salads and hitting the hay before 3am.
Added to which, Germans are a damn friendly bunch and it’s impossible to wallow in the misery of a hangover when you’re surrounded by locals all lining up to shout ‘prost’ (cheers), clink glasses and do a jig on your table.
So toughen up, get out of the foetal position, throw on your beer-stained jeans and hit the beer tents in time for the next round.
After all, it’s the biggest booze up in the world, and you wouldn’t catch the Germans asleep in a bunk bed. They’d be too busy wetting the whistle.
» Trevor Paddenburg travelled with Busabout (020-7950 1661; www.busabout.com). A four- or five-day trip to Oktoberfest including accommodation and flights starts at £359. Earlybird deals are still available.
What’s it all about then?
The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in honour of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
Why the hell is it called Oktoberfest if it starts in September?
The festivities in 1810 began on October 12 and kicked on for five booze-fuelled days. Then the celebration was brought forward to score better weather. This way, drunken punters could enjoy the gardens and ‘die wiesen’ (the fields) without worrying about frostbite.
How much is a litre of the brown stuff?
About €7.70 to €8.
How much will I drink?
When will I know if I’ve had enough booze?
When you lose control of your bodily functions, topple off a table and the lights go out.
How many people go?
Six million over three weekends.
It’s more than just a piss-up, though?
Sure is. It’s a real family event with heaps of locals dressed in traditional garb. Outside the beer tents is a massive fun park with tonnes of rides and tasty traditional Bavarian food.
Word of warning
Go hard at Oktoberfest but don’t leave the fairgrounds in the back of an ambulance.
I was sharing a table with an Aussie named Ben when he passed out while dancing on the table and toppled head-first to the ground, mid-way through his tenth stein of the day.
When I rolled him over seconds later, a pool of blood was already spreading around his head. His teeth had pierced his upper lip and his nose was mashed across his face.
It was an abrupt, expensive and painful end to what had been, until then, a brilliant Oktoberfest experience for the 25-year-old.
Beer wench trivia
21 steins anyone?
Some beer wenches at Oktoberfest can carry a staggering 21 steins (litre glasses) of beer at a time. Even seeing them weave through the drunken masses with 10 steins is impressive. They have the sort of power in their forearms that most blokes can only dream of.
There’s a big waiting list to be a beer wench at Oktoberfest. The privilege is also passed down from mother to daughter.
Has anyone called the union?
The beer wenches at Oktoberfest work for 21 days straight, from about 10am to 11pm. But it’s by choice — the money is so damn good they want to make the most of it.
Cash and carry
It’s said a beer wench can earn up to €40,000 during Oktoberfest. They buy the beers, then sell them at a mark-up, and also earn a bonanza in tips. Many work flat out at Oktoberfest
to pay for their retirement or university for the rest of the year.
Should I tip?
Tipping means your next round will arrive promptly and with a smile. Tourists generally hand over €10 per stein — a tip of about €2. Locals generally give about 20-40 cents.