After nearly five years in Venezuela, I finally got to go to Oktoberfest in Venezuela! I was so excited to see what this German festival was like in the middle of Venezuela, so I don’t know why it took me so long to get there when it Tovar is only a two-hour drive from Valencia. Well, my friends and I finally made it to Oktoberfest in Colonia Tovar last weekend!
Part of the problem is that my current school always hosts the Charity Road Race on the same weekend as Oktoberfest. We are required to participate in the Race so we cannot spend two nights there as we would have liked to do. Instead, my friends and I ran or volunteered (I did a slow jog so I could get my steps in) at the race, changed out of our sweaty clothes, and then hopped in our cars to caravan out of Valencia.
Lessons Learned at Oktoberfest in Colonia Tovar:
Book your room ASAP:
After a couple of stops, we made it to our posada in Tovar at about noon. Make sure you book your posada 3-6 months early because when we booked it at the beginning of September my friend had to call about 30 different places before she could find one with an open room.
Oktoberfest does not take over Tovar (just one hotel):
We were all ravenous since many of us had only a small breakfast before running the 5K race and it was lunch time on top of that. So we walked through the lovely Tovar Centro to the Hotel Freiburg where the festival was being held and bought the tickets. It was a good 20-30 minute walk from our posada.
Buy your tickets at least a week early (or know how to sweet talk):
When we got there they told us that it was SOLD OUT! Thankfully there were two fluent Spanish speakers in our group who were able to convince them that this group of 11 gringos had traveled all the way to Colonia Tovar from abroad just to experience Oktoberfest. They made us a deal that if one person put all 10 tickets on their debit card then they would let us through. Thank goodness Aliza transferred just the day before so we could all just pay her back later. The ticket was 15,070bs per person according to the official website. You can get a great deal for all three days if you don’t have a school event to attend like we did.
There is a shuttle bus if you know where to look:
I’m not sure about all of the stops (because I didn’t ride the shuttle while I was sober), but I know that we got picked up from Hotel Freiburg and that it dropped us off in the Centro near a great restaurant that is above a pharmacy. I think it was free too. If not, the cost was very minimal.
Bring very comfortable shoes:
I’m not sure if it was because of the Race, or if it was just my friends and me, but our feet and legs were sore after climbing up and down the mountain roads of Colonia Tovar. I thought I would be fine with some sporty ballet flats, but I learned that ballet flats + rain + hills= pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully they started hurting less the longer I enjoyed the festival!
Bring rain gear:
Maybe it is just my inner Oregonian that brings the rain with me, but both times I’ve been to Colonia Tovar it has rained a lot. My friends were all laughing at me when they saw my backpack stuffed with sweaters, jackets, extra pants and a change of shoes, but I was having flashbacks of myself freezing cold at the end of my last trip so I knew better. So while my ballet flats were a poor choice for the rain, I was the only one dressed warmly and had warm dry clothes for the next day.
Go shopping at about 9 AM on Sunday:
My friends and I woke up and were all dying for an American sized coffee… that seemingly doesn’t exist in Venezuela unless I make it, so we wandered down into the Centro again. I’m not sure if the shops always take a while to open on Sunday or if it was just due to the festival, but just about the only things we saw open were fruit and vegetable stands. Thankfully just around the corner from the main church, we found a cafe open who served breakfast and what would be called an extra small coffee back home.
Look for plants to take home:
Nearly all of us brought either potted herbs to take home or beautifully arranged potted plants. I got one of the smallest plants in a small bowl that perfectly for about 70 cents (US). My friend got a rather large one for only $1.50 (US).
They have more than just beer:
I wasn’t terribly excited about the whole beer drinking aspect of Oktoberfest because I dislike almost every beer that I’ve ever had. Normally I like hard cider, wine, spirits, cocktails (basically anything other than beer). I did have a small hope that they would have cider, like beer fests back in Portland, but I had never seen cider in Venezuela before so I wasn’t holding my breath. Not only did they have one cider, but they had three fruity beers that were sweet and delicious!! Also, there was typical German food that kept all of us happy- even our two vegetarian friends!
So if you are in Venezuela and not too far from Colonia Tovar around mid-October, you should do you best to visit Oktoberfest!
Comment below: Have you been to Colonia Tovar? Have you visited Oktoberfest there? Have you experienced Oktoberfest elsewhere? How does it compare?