Rick Steves Includes Oktoberfest in “Europe’s Top 10 Festivals” Special

“I joined my film crew in Munich this year for Oktoberfest — the last festival we’re filming for our “Europe’s Top Ten Festivals” special that will air on public television in 2017. Oktoberfest goes for 16 straight days, usually starting on the third Saturday in September. Here are some thoughts and a few tips after my visit this week:


Rick Steves at the Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald...
Rick Steves at the Mountain Hostel, Gimmelwald, Switzerland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must close with a political observation. (If that will anger you, you might just stop reading now and leave today’s post with nice beer-and-dirndl thoughts.) While enjoying this happy festival, I was struck by how the crowd was 90 percent local and how I felt I was in a country with a healthy middle class.

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It’s fair to say that the vast majority of Germans are middle class. They live in a country where progressive taxation, a $15 minimum wage, one-month paid vacations, and affordable health care are not controversial issues. And they easily afford fun such as this. In my travels, I’ve observed that when a society’s middle class is shrinking and under siege, so is the societal well-being of that entire nation.

Over all, Germany and the USA are similarly successful economically. But Germany has more people in the middle and fewer at the extremes, while America has more of the rich and far more people struggling.

If I had a red hat with a political slogan to wear, it would say, “Make Our Middle Class Great Again.” And I wouldn’t buy that trickle-down stuff our big-business elites (“job creators” and their friends) keep preaching.”