So, one week into my first-ever, low-budget backpacking trip through Europe, the Oktoberfest called and I came a-runnin'.
I was staying with a German family outside of Munich who decided that it would best if I was accompanied by their 16 year-old-daughter, Daniela. To this day I can only guess as to why they thought this would be good idea. I think they felt obligated to see that their guest made it home alive. In the end, it was a fortuitous decision on their part.
Although I can't remember just how we met, I soon became instant best of friends with the aforementioned Graeme, who along with his brothers, Tim and Dave, had driven from London with Graeme's employer.
I had already consumed two liters of the German nectar with Daniela, who of course, abstained, and I was feeling rather full, plenty tipsy and ready to call it a night when my new best friends insisted that we accompany them to their private box. Soon Daniela and I were led to a roped-off space, tucked into a corner of a tent that sat thousands of revelers. Poor Daniela. Just when she thought she was on the train home, safe and sound, fate intervened and all the beer, schnapps and food I could consume was on the house. Not just that, but in a tradition as old as drink itself, my new companions, whom I had known for all of a half-hour, had become the finest bunch I had ever had the pleasure to know. We all agreed we would remain friends for life. Nothing would stand in our way.
As you might expect, the hours that followed my introduction to Graeme's co-workers are nothing but a blur. The schnapps kept coming and so did the food. And, of course, barmaid after barmaid delivered fistfuls of foaming liter steins full of that fine beer. Many, many toasts were made. Toasts to England. Toasts to the USA. Toasts to Germany. Toasts to beer. And I believe more than a few of the barmaids were toasted to as well.
On the one hand it was over all too soon. On the other hand, I probably should have left when I had the chance. At the end of the night addresses and phone numbers were exchanged and promises were made that sealed the bonds of our friendships forever.