Munich's Oktoberfest is the largest festival in Europe and one Josh Martin enjoyed a little too much.
"You had better move quickly if you see a wench blowing a whistle with a dozen steins stacked high."
I was told this as we waited eagerly for the first beers of day two of Oktoberfest. Eager more for novel, touristy tradition than actually craving a strong Lowenbrau ale at 10am on a Sunday.
As she was a three-time veteran of Munich's famed festival, I took note of her warning and didn't wait long to see the prophecy realised. These Bavarian beer servers are no Ponsonby hospitality waifs, ploughing through the tiddly crowds ruthlessly with stein-stacking ability like no other.
Giddy stragglers on the end of a toilet queue came off second best to a beefy, er, wench who had grown tired of her whistle being ignored. Ever the opportunist, I made sure to always catch the slipstream behind a beer-carrying fraulein whenever I needed a quick trip to the bathrooms. Being a beer festival there were plenty of those and as the blood-alcohol level in the room increased so did the tempo of the oompah band.
Watching the crowd-ploughing fraus became a spectator sport. Not that there aren't enough distractions outside. The roller coasters, schnapps bars, mechanical claws, burger stands and shot shacks can be a potent and messy mix if done in the wrong order and give Oktoberfest a less than family-friendly carnival vibe - much to the annoyance of the organisers.
A strong contingent of Antipodeans enjoy themselves enough to keep our binge-drinking reputation intact. It's all the more surprising considering the array of delicious carbohydrate stomach liners on offer within the halls. Huge pork knuckle and crackling portions, served with potato dumplings, potato salad and gravy, evoke food envy from those at our long table who opted for merely (giant) pretzels.
Bavarian traditions are not completely drowned out by those keen on just a weekend bender disguised as beer homage. Having run, (yes, run) to secure our table in the Lowenbrau tent, we nabbed one bordering the VIP area.
Come lunchtime, it wasn't socialites or footballers who took up adjacent residence but two dozen members of the Bavarian aristocracy, parading in to their own theme music and family insignia, in full traditional Bavarian dress with fur-trimmed and feather-pricked hats (no stained lederhosen or dirndls, like our low-rent table).
They stopped short of spontaneously bursting into the chanting and stein-clinking that reverberated through the rest of the halls when the band played Oktoberfest's theme, Ein Prosit, and left the international revellers to it.
A (predictably) late start the next morning meant we were never in the running to score a table in the halls (necessary, as you cannot be served unless you are seated). Instead we boarded a tram to the city centre and one of Munich's permanent beer halls, The Hofbrauhaus.
We needed some photos from the weekend's trip that didn't feature a stein or a greasy empty plate in them.
Hofbrauhaus' golden brew has been served in Munich since 1602 and we were lucky to get a table with locals keen to avoid the tourist hordes at the main site. If you're after an introductory approach to Oktoberfest, the expansive Augustiner-Keller beer garden is worth a look, which we took on arrival.
The relaxed atmosphere meant staff had more patience for my euro coin fumbling and food questioning.
Over its three-week celebration, Oktoberfest's 6.5 million attendees (making it the largest festival in Europe) consume more than 6.7 million litres of beer.
It is so entrenched that Munich International Airport has its own brewery, AirBrau. The bar's oompah band was drawing in a crowd as we passed through the airport.
Not us, though. A long weekend where brunch meant pork knuckle, potato dumplings and a stein, was never going to put me in a spritely mood come home time. I was just content to escape the brusies of the beer wenches.
Getting there: Emirates flies from Auckland to Munich via their hub in Dubai.
Details: The 2015 Oktoberfest festival runs from September 19 - October 4.
Further information: See muenchen.de.