Bad Dürkheim hosts the world’s largest wine festival, the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt. Interestingly enough, the name translates to Sausage Market. There were plenty of bratwurst to be found (as is typical of any German festival), but still a surprising name for a festival that draws an enormous crowd for the wine.
In keeping with the theme of the unexpected, I drank a lot of beer, which was mostly because I had yet to develop an appreciation for wine (thanks for fixing that, Italy). And because I discovered Bischoff Hefeweizen, a delicious German wheat beer that is still one of my favorites. It is light, refreshing and goes down easily. Too easily, really. Truthfully, most of my memories from the festival are actually just stories I was told the next day by the friends I traveled with.
I do remember having an incredible time and enjoying walking around the festival grounds. It was the first German festival I attended, so everything was new. The train ride there was a bit uncouth; the carriages were packed to the gills and saturated with body odor. But once we arrived to the festival grounds and fresh air, things started picking up. Germany loves a good festival and will provide any reason to celebrate. I enjoy that there is such an emphasis on festivals and enjoying life.
I did get a bit carried away, but I’m still living to tell the tale. And now it is a hilarious story to look back on (though I would caution for other travelers to be a bit more careful and to drink responsibly, especially when traveling solo). So what exactly happened during the festivities at Bad Dürkheim? Well here is the story as I remember it, and as I was told:
Memory: We arrived to the festival and walked around for a while, taking in the different food vendors and rides available. We had some tasty bratwurst and decided to get a drink of some kind. A couple of the girls opted for some wine, but myself and a couple others went with beer. You essentially paid a small fee (I think it was about 2 Euro) to rent a 500 ml glass, and then paid for the beer itself. I ended up drinking three of said glasses of beer, equaling 1.5 liters. Suffice it to say that I was drunk by the time I finished my third beer. Drunk enough that when one of my friends poured some of her rose wine (it seriously tasted like roses; so weird, but I drank it anyways) into my glass, I considered nothing other than: Oh, I have some drink in my glass. I will drink that. Now it’s gone. Oh, there is a bit more now. How’d it get in… I’ll just drink it. Now it’s empty. Oh, some more… and so on. It went downhill pretty quickly from there. I lost most of my ability to walk and became separated from the majority of the group. But luckily, one of my friends was still with me. Though the poor thing was the smallest of the lot and was too tiny (and too intoxicated herself) to effectively help me walk anywhere. And I was drunkenly stubborn and tired, and I just plopped myself down in the middle of nowhere and rested my head in my own lap. And from there, my memory gets shaky.
Friends’ Accounts: A sweet German lady, who saw my friend helping me walk around a bit earlier, came to help and decided that neither of us were getting anywhere. So she called an ambulance, and two EMTs arrived. One of the EMTs was trying to convince the other that I wasn’t all that drunk; I ended up puking all over his shoes. So they hoisted me on to a stretcher, into the ambulance and then deposited me in a Red Cross tent on the outskirts of the festival (I don’t remember any of this, and it is the only time I have ridden in an ambulance or been on a stretcher). I was laid in the recovery position on a cot with a bucket beside me. I vaguely remember waking up a few times to ask where my friend was, and repeatedly being told that she was in the restroom. I would pass out again and repeat until she finally turned up with the rest of the group. Turns out that while I was sleeping it off, she got a bit lost in her drunken stupor, but ended up running into the rest of the (intoxicated) group. They were all lost for a bit, and one girl tried to scale a wall, determined that the tent was just on the other side. They did finally managed to locate the tent, which they literally just had to turn around to find. One of my friends ended up bursting into tears when she saw the tent’s interior. She was overwhelmed by the rows and rows of cots lined up and filled with people who’d had one or far too many. She described it as a kind of drunken war zone. She thought she spotted me in a cot lying next to a strange man, but it was just another curly-headed person.
Memory: I was in fact stumbling toward the group, relieved to see my friends again. I felt a bit more alert after sleeping for a while, but was no where near full functionality. We were all happy to be reunited and headed toward the train station to catch the last train home. On the way I checked about 15 times if I still had my camera, wallet and phone, which I did indeed have each time I checked. Attentive of my possessions even in my lowest levels of functionality! There was a huge line of people waiting for the train, and we almost missed our ride home. But a few guys were incredibly generous and gave up their seats, so that we could squeeze on board. We had a long trip home, but made it back safe and sound in the end. It was definitely a lot of luck that got me home safely that night.