I rolled out of bed before sunrise feeling as though I had only slept for seconds and threw my hair in a messy ponytail. Grabbing my backpack and a piece of toast, I slid my feet into the boots I borrowed from my roommate and headed for the door. But these weren't just any boots and I wasn't starting any normal day; they were vintage Frye boots and I was heading to Germany for Oktoberfest--a place full of rambunctious young crowds, lots of beer, greasy food. Basically a place where no nice shoe would survive.
Why would I ever think it appropriate to spend three days in a gorgeous pair of distressed leather boots that weren't even my own? I blame exhaustion and a general complete cluelessness of the shenanigans that lay ahead.
I couldn't have been more excited for the upcoming study abroad semester in London. My seven flatmates (yes, seven) and I were told that we could travel through Europe at ease on the weekends, but our weekend in Germany should be booked well in advance. And for some silly reason, we 20-year-olds thought ourselves well-equipped to do so with advice from older friends: that we should arrange for accommodations in a tent. I wish I knew who uttered this little piece of "knowlege" that landed us on a campground, in the middle of the woods, a one-and-a-half-hour commute from the festival grounds, because I'd like to give them some feedback.
Fast-forward to the night before boarding our early morning flight. The girls and I were up all night, cleaning the apartment and packing our bags, trying on all sorts of cute outfits that we would don throughout the trip, clueless to the fact that 99 percent of the other festival-goers would be decked out in traditional German lederhosen and couldn't care less what we looked like. Nor would they even be able to see straight by noon. Unsure of the weather, we settled on a couple pairs of skinny jeans, lacy tops and one lightweight sweater each. I had been blissfully unaware that my US-sized carry-on bag would not be allowed on the European plane until that night, and by then just about every store had closed for the evening. So, I was left to pack a child-sized bright green Nike backpack.
And then it came time to decide on shoes. Being that my only choices were a brand new pair of knee-high black leather boots, gold boat shoes, or any number of heels, all which seemed vastly inappropriate for the occasion, I ran around like a crazy person that evening searching for a more suitable option. What I landed on was a pair of what I guess you could call knock-off Keds from Primark, a British-based department store where you can score almost anything imaginable for under $10. The shoes were completely black, including the laces and the soles, and set me back about five dollars, so I decided to snag two pairs--I'd be extra-prepared!
Proud of my new smart travel purchase, I marched back to my dorm to show the girls. They could barely keep a straight face. What I thought was a subtle pair of kicks were actually the most hideous slip-ons. After we all decided the poorly made shoes wouldn't even last me through the weekend, I tossed them. And that was the moment when my roommate suggested I borrow her boots, and I thought, "What's the worst that can happen?"
The next three days that ensued were full of absolute chaos, and about three hours into the trip, I realized that nothing I could have worn or packed would have prepared me for the weekend.
To sum it up, we mistakenly flew into the wrong airport two hours away from the campground, spent one freezing, cold rainy night in a tent with no sleeping bags, waited hours to secure a spot in a famous beer garden, paid a visit to the emergency medical tent after my friend had an unfortunate run-in with a broken beer mug and a drunken tourist, were followed around the festival by Tom and Mary, an elderly American couple who told us of how they had always wanted children of their own, and to top it all off, spent the last night in a train station once our plan of avoiding a second night in the tents fell through. Who knew airports closed?
Sure, there were plenty of fun times thrown in the mix--catchy drinking songs, amusement park rides and traditional German sausage. But I must admit that in this case, the bad outweighed the good.
By the end of the trip, all we could do was laugh. Well, cry until we laughed. We learned that when you don't shower for three days, it really doesn't matter what you wear. What got me through the weekend was one unchanged outfit: jeans with a pair of Under Armor leggings underneath, a gray T-shirt, fleece blanket, and of course, my roommates vintage Frye boots. Those shoes made it out of the weekend the same way I did--muddy, covered in beer and a bit more worn down--but we'll both always have the memories.