A place I have mentioned before. The first place I visited in Germany.
References can be found on my page called, "A Small Town in Germany,"
Why do I like Germany so much? Is it because some of my best friends
live there? Is it because I love the Oom-pah-pah bands? Is it because it has the best breads in the world? And the best schinken and kasse? This, dear reader, from a San Franciscan, who lives in a city that has America's finest bread: Sourdough.
I digress as always. There is a bacteria in the air in San Fran. It is that bacteria which makes sourdough bread possible. I have seen, and, tasted sourdough bread in places as far as New Delhi, India, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just not the same. Impossibble without
bacilus san franciscus.
Nine in the morning. A scrumptious breakfast. Cold cuts, majestic kaiser rolls, light-as-air-croissants. Three Cheeses, translucent in succulence, a pot of coffee, dark, not overbearing like the 'gourmet kaffe' that is served in the US. "A double large latte, non caffeine non dairy with cinnamon, please." Wake up people!
One solitary semi-soft egg challenges me. I attack with relish, slicing the top off deftly, and add freshly crushed black pepper. Soon, the egg is no more. My love looks at me, with bemused fondness. I am lucky to have her.
Our Hostess. A friend who had never met my love and who was now done with the other guests, burst on the scene. She has always treated me like family. My love, too, was welcome in her home. 'I have a good place for you two, a very pleasant walk', she said. I was sold on it five minutes later. Her enthusiasm was such.
Ten minutes later, with a hand drawn map and a general idea, we got to the pier. It was ten minutes or so, for the boat to come in. Ferry, sorry, not boat. The boat comes in later. We putt-putt to Tegernsee across the lake of the same name. No gasoline engines are permitted. I wish they would do the same on Lake Tahoe, and other lakes.
So began the Adventure of the Zwei Parapluis ...
But first: Gelato. Living on a protected, rainy island, she had never tasted it. A stand just across the ferry stop. She chose banana. I shudder to think how Freud would
have interpreted that!
We follow the meticulous directions and we are confronted with... Steps!
Steps up a hillside. Maybe a 159 of them. My love, mountain goat that she is, scampers up in glee. Yours truly, trudges. Weary, already.
Years later, we are at the top, or so I think. It is just the start. There is restaurant with outside seating. We bask in the sun. It is a beautiful day. The view of the Tegernsee Tal is magnificent. Some GI's march past. I salute one. Sharp as a tack, I get a crisp salute back. I am not a war-monger. I am not a military basher, either. These guys put their lives on the line for us. We owe them our
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields."
John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields," 1915.
With me complaining, and her cajoling, we start up the trek.
On and On. I espy the number to a cab company on a light pole.
I memorise it, but there are no phones. A dip in the path. In the center, in the shade, a bench. It is by now quite hot. We are are a thousand meters, and the sun is at its strongest. About One in the afternoon. We breathe the sweet mountain air, and talk about, what else? Bananas. She confided that
she loved the gelato. She knows how to make me feel good.
After a while, she springs up and I follow wearily. Darn you. Marianna!
The path narrows some and gets steeper. This is encouraging . We
are getting somewhere. "Der Grosse Parapluie, 1.2 kms." says a
sign by the path. So much for encouraging. By now, though, I have my walking legs back. In San Francisco, I walk 10 yards to the elevator. and another ten to my truck. Unless I am playing tennis, ie. Now there is a spring in my step. We arrive in a few minutes at our first of three objectives. Literally translated, the Grand Umbrella. It is perched on a higher space and is no umbrella. Its is a fairly big german version of a gazebo, with a metal roof, about 15 ft tall. This is Germany. Should I say 5 meters? Nah.
The valley is about 1200 meters, (ok, ok) benath us. The lake is like
glass. The countryside is hued in millions of shades of green. It was
beautiful. Thank you, Marianna! There are about ten or so, people sitting around on benches, drinking in the view. Most of them are older than me. My respect of the hardiness of the Geremans is not new. Years ago, in a village just across the lake, one day after I had I got there, and still within a jet lag interval, I was invited to join a walk. Whom with, I asked. My late aunt's friends, said Ingrid, seventy six and seventy three, respectively. Nonchanantly, I said, sure. It was a nine km walk up a mountain! The
Seventy six year old woman, had me beat by 50 yards! On the way down, I had her beat by a 100 yards. So there.
The path started to head down. We were over the summit. I felt like
Hannibal, only I had no Elephants. Soon, 'der Kleine Paraplui.' I was
by then, overpluied 'Look!' Says my goat, 'A shortcut!' I looked. It was
not for me. A few turns later, MORE steps. Finally, Terra Firma.
There is a small pub-like place across the narrow street. Alas, no
'stillwasser.' Three small kids, two girls and a boy, between 3 and 5,
were playing in the garden. Darting in and out of the place. One of them
said a strange nonsensical word. I repeated it. This was the source of
much merriment to them. So I said it over and over. They went hysterical. And then it happened: Another two year old boy, with blonde hair and teutonic blue eyes,
darted out of the kitchen and pee'd right on the walkway! No Huggies, no Pampers, just a golden stream. Now I was hysterical! His mom, embarassed, appeared seconds later, armed with a scrub brush and a disinfectant. The other kids rolled thier eyes. I said the word again, as I glanced back. This time only the 2 year old boy laughed. My guess? It was a frequent occurence. Come on, I thought, he is two years old!
Why germans do not drink water is a mystery to me. Why I do, is an enigma to them. Such is travel.
By the wooden walkaway, on the lake, my love waited for me. We had
been told to 'ring bell for boot.' There was no need. The boat was slowly
oaring towards us.
A row boat! You expect me to get into that? Ah, well, whats the use?
Certain death, here I come. I was wrong. I have noticed that at the times I have been wrong before, the world does not end. Darn, anothere theory shot to heck.
The boat was about 10 feet long. In the center, sat its lord and master.
In traditional Bayerische garb: lederhosen, leather suspenders and boots, a hat with a pointy feather,a meerschaum pipe, and a ...cellphone! Courteous and
confident. It was a ridiculous E3.50 to row us across the lake to Rottach
Egern. It was a placid ride. Peaceful. Helos marched across the mighty sky, burning up, as usual.
We waited for the ferry again for a few minutes. There it was. We alit at Gmund. I noticed a fat guy in a G-string swimming in the lake, his clothes, lying by the shore. I wanted to steal them, and dump them in the nearest dumpster. My girl forbade it. This is why I used to travel alone. That may change.
I knew of a great Austrian confectionery in Gmund. En route, we stopped at a stationery shop. As luck would have, they had a lot of
knickknacks too. Amongst them: A funny looking chicken. A replica, dear reader, not a real one. Where do you think we are? SF Chinatown? Marianna loves chickens. They are all over her
place. Different shapes, sizes. In the kitchen, in the dining room,
in the parlor. Even a row of porcelain ducks, lifesize, in her back
garden. It was the perfect gift. The wrapping was free. She was
delighted with it. Thank you, Marianna, or as my love would say,
to me, thumbs up.
Under Edit, E&OE