We rolled into Munich on a packed Greyhound bus, groggy from hours of sleep on the cramped grey seats.
Dragging our suitcases along the streets, sheepishly following our GPS, our group of 12 college students was unprepared for the chaos that was bound to ensue on our three day beer-fueled vacation.
It was still the beginning of the semester – none of us had grudges or foes in the abroad group yet, so it seemed reasonable that we all stay in the same Air BnB. From a bearded engineering student to a blonde who insisted she worked with the FBI, the group was about as random as you can get.
We spent the first night drinking cold beer from green bottles and dancing in the hipster-deco living room of the apartment, the disco ball overhead reflecting the street lamps from outside. A few of the boys slept on the floor while the girls squeezed like sardines into the few beds.
We set our alarms early and prepared to severely damage our livers.
The next morning the singular bathroom in the AirBnb was contested over – we all wanted to French braid our hair and don our outfits. We left as a group, walking the mile or so to the vast expanse of white tents, throbbing with drunks and currywurst around every corner.
We fought for a table, the tents already packed at 10 a.m. At Oktoberfest, that’s a late time to begin drinking. I slung back a glass of beer and ordered rotisserie chicken, brought to us by a server in a checkered dirndl.
The day began to melt into an ooze of glass pitchers and belligerent men who had no boundaries.
Wavering men stood on the benches and chugged glasses of beer as large as their heads, the crowd jeering and banging on the tables until the glass was empty. As music blared from all around us people jumped and sang, cheering “Prost” as they guzzled the chilled beer.
Gradually our group dissipated, until only four of us sat at the long wooden tables.
My roommate Aubrey went to the bathroom and I followed suit, looking for her curled blonde hair. When I couldn’t find her I pushed through throngs of people and realized our table was empty.
I frantically ran outside, scouring the sloppy drunk faces around me in the hope of finding someone I knew. At last I saw Morgan, and we stumbled down the streets, in search of our comrades.
We decided to head home, and I inhaled currywurst from a street vendor, wiping ketchup and curry on my shorts like it was a napkin.
We made it back the apartment and were greeted by many slumped bodies, snoring, limbs contorted and tangled up in the blankets.
Aubrey got home an hour later, alone. She had somehow managed to navigate back home with no GPS and befriended a few rosy-cheeked German women on the train who helped her find us.
A Cali boy named Matthew awoke from his slumber to tell us he had been taken to the medical tent, and lost his wallet. Sophie had to drag him home in an Uber, and he was charged $100 for throwing up in the back seat seconds before they got home.
We all awoke at 7 p.m, groggy, the smell of the amber colored lager leaking from our pores in the warm German air. We had only spent a few hours among the waves of strangers that hoarded every street, but I was thankful to have made it out- hungover, but very much alive.
We had a feast for dinner and shuffled to our bus the next morning, men in suspenders on their way to another day in Oktoberfest. I’m impressed by the resiliency, because I barely survived one day in the mayhem.