Friday 8th May 2015, Ingolstadt
Yesterday we woke on our rain-soaked campsite to a pleasant and sunny day. Just a kilometre or so away we discovered Pullman City. It has nothing to do with steam trains as I fondly imagined. It’s where the German people come for a weekend of dude ranching and line dancing! Well "howdy fremder" as they say in Bavaria’s answer to Dodge City!
Some 25 kilometres away, across the attractive green landscape of wide flowery fields and dense mixed woodland, on the banks of the Danube stands the very pleasant town of Deggendorf. We’ve passed nearby on a couple of occasions but today it was on our itinerary. Our son Neil previously worked cooperatively with a company based here and made numerous trips to the town. We were thus interested to take a look in passing. Once we managed to park we were agreeably impressed. It is typically Bavarian, clean, and immaculately kept. It was market day and the sun was shining so everyone was out with huge bicycles buying their shopping and stopping for coffee with friends at the countless cafés on the main street where tables, sheltered by sunshades, were spread out on the pavements.
On our way back to Modestine we realised we only had a few minutes left on our parking ticket so Ian rushed on ahead to ward off any meter Mädchen who may be lurking. He got confused, took a wrong turning and arrived some ten minutes after me, fortunately before we were spotted as I don’t imagine the Bavarians are very sympathetic about such infringements.
We continued to Ingolstadt where we found the wooded campsite beside a lake rich with water birds. It is obviously a very popular recreational spot for the people of Ingolstadt with a couple of waterside cafes for beer and bockwurst.
Today we took the bus into Ingolstadt. It stopped at the campsite gates and while waiting we were entertained by a fellow camper who told us that before "The Change" in 1989 he’d lived in Leipzig. Since coming to Ingolstadt he’d worked as a welder until injured in a car accident a few years back. He now lives for six months of the year on the campsite and for the other six months in his house just down the road. With the compensation he received, he had retired, eventually recovered and was now thoroughly enjoying not having to work. He was a very extrovert character claiming that he spent his time drinking beer and dancing for sheer joy that he no longer had to work! He did show us the scar on his knee though and personally I’d have preferred not to have the compensation, nor the injury. He was certainly exuberant and on reaching the city he explained where to get the bus back and how to get into the city centre before trotting off for his regular psychiatric counselling session resulting from the trauma of his injury. He told us he would dance in once a week, shake hands with his counsellor, proclaim that he was "so very happy" and dance out again until the next visit.
We made our way to the Neues Schloss which houses the military museum. There is currently an exhibition concerning Napoleon and Bavaria.
Ian had been responsible for an exhibition on the English view of Boney, largely through satirical prints, which had been shown in Caen in 1985, so he was particularly interested in this very different view. Bavaria welcomed Napoleon into Munich in 1805, taking rather a gamble in allying themselves to France rather than Austria.
At first it paid off, but at a price. After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire the Elector Max Joseph became king of an independent kingdom, but his daughter Auguste Amalie had to marry Napoleon's adopted son Eugène de Beauharnais. Bavaria was able to restructure itself; it had a progressive constitution in 1808 and began the first large-scale survey of any European country, using the new lithographic techniques developed by the Bavarian Senefelder in the 1790s.
It also gained large swathes of territory from other petty princedoms – with considerable numbers of able-bodied men. The downside was that these men had to serve their new ally on the battlefield, and many thousands were slaughtered or died from disease in field hospitals over the next decade. The final downfall was the disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 which decimated Napoleon’s troups. His Grande Armée was reduced from 400,000 to 28,000 while from the Bavarian contingent of about 30,000 only 3,000 survived.
On the home front the demands of the war impoverished the country and businesses failed. In 1813 Bavaria changed sides and joined Austria. It was a minor player at the Congress of Vienna and the disasters continued with famine following the volcanic eruption of 1816, which meant that there was no real summer that year. The legacy of the Napoleonic era was controversial. While those who fought during the alliance with Austria were recognised, it took longer for those who fought under Napoleon to receive recognition for what they had suffered.
The exhibition gathered together documents and artefacts from collections across Bavaria, and also from Austria, France and Russia. They were very wide-ranging, from portraits of the heads of state and generals, battle scenes, votive pictures for dead soldiers or for the few that survived, uniforms worn by major figures including Napoleon's famous tri-corn hat, parish registers showing entries for the baptism of children born to women who had been raped by soldiers (a parallel to the horrors that are finally being revealed about the end of the war in 1945), secret code books, lithographic plates of the survey of Bavaria, tiny loaves produced during the famine in 1816/17 and so on.
There were few caricatures; it was not a period when dissent was tolerated in Bavaria. The crown prince of Bavaria strongly disapproved of his father's alliance with Napoleon, and draft letters to the Tsar were shown, but there was little open criticism. When the Nuremberg bookseller Johann Philip Palm published an anonymous pamphlet Germany in its deep humiliation in 1806 he was shot on the orders of Napoleon. The jacket he wore at his execution is one of the items on display.
The only mention of Great Britain in this extensive exhibition is at the table representing the Congress of Vienna – when the "Plan for Europe" was first drawn up. Ironic that we visited the exhibition the day after an election which put in power the party that has pledged to hold the referendum that could remove us once and for all from the plan for Europe.
For lunch we found the Viktualienmarkt where many of the working people of the town would seem to eat. In the warm sunshine with a large bottle of beer to share it was delightful, sitting on benches at long wooden tables with plates of schnitzel and chips - confusingly known as pommes - the first we can recall eating since we left England!
We’d seen and heard nothing at all about the election in Britain and as the internet isn’t working at the campsite we’ve been unable to find out the result. So we went to the public library, which, as in England, seems to have diversified into providing coffee and food – in this case Currywurst with pommes! We searched right through the daily papers but there was no mention anywhere about the British election, not a single reference in any of them. Ian reckons they went to press before the result in Britain was known. We asked if we could have internet access so we could check the BBC News. The librarian promptly told us the depressing news that David Cameron had an absolute majority and all the other party leaders had resigned. He saw by our faces that it was not good news and became quite chatty and sympathetic. Well whatever the outcome it was all rather a mess but at least it’s not a hung parliament again. Other than for the librarian however, the British elections would seem to have passed pretty well unnoticed in Europe.
The rest of the day we have been exploring the immaculate streets of Ingolstadt, admiring its massive brick minster which is still delightfully gothic inside, having somehow escaped a baroque makeover. It is the largest brick-built late gothic church in Bavaria.
We also discovered an Assam church which is as baroque as baroque can get. Even I was wide-eyed with amazement at the lavish decoration of the walls, ceiling, floors, doors and windows all covered in painted decoration, inlay and onlay, inside and outside! Ian lingered within the building while I returned to the street where even the exterior of the church has white decorative onlay over the golden-yellow rendering and the doors are covered in decorative marquetry. It was built in the early 18th century as a prayer hall for the student congregations.
We walked to the town gate, a mediaeval brick building with seven towers. It is Ingolstadt’s most famous building. Nearby, just within the city walls, is the medical museum with its delightful garden of medicinal plants laid out in formal raised beds. There was also an exhibition of the use of lasers in eye surgery which interested me, as well as the first use of lasers for breaking up kidney stones. I wrote on the Medical library in our earlier Ingoldstadt blog. See entry for 5th July 2006
Around the town there are many large and beautiful buildings, some with religious paintings on the façade, all with tall gabled roofs, the walls rendered in light colours.
It has been hot around the streets and around 4.30pm we made our way back to the bus station for the return ride to the campsite. Being Friday there are several extra vehicles, tents and caravans arrived for the weekend. It has been a very pleasant interlude and a relief not to need to drive today.
Sunday 10th May 2015, Munich
It’s been rather a blur since yesterday morning when we left Ingolstadt and drove down to visit friends Anne and Ray in Rorhbach. Anne was expecting us and the coffee was starting to bubble through as we arrived, exactly on time. Ray, to nobody’s surprise, was not on time and was still a couple of hours from waking. Anne, had wisely assumed Ray would not be ready to join us for lunch in Pfaffenhoffen as planned and had set up contingency plan B, The kitchen table was laden with a couple of kilos of Spargel so we could eat at home to fit in with Ray when he eventually surfaced from his slumbers.
Ian, Anne and I settled with coffee and croissants while we filled each other in on recent events in our lives. The news from Bavaria is excellent. Anne has now fully recovered from her recent illness and is pretty much back to her old self again, her life occupied very much by her horses. She has also become involved with helping the political and economic migrants from Syria, and the “boat” people from North Africa allocated to Rohrbach by the German government. She assists them to adapt to their new lives, helping them learn German so that they stand some chance of finding employment, and gives practical help with registering for health care, getting the children into schools etc.
Later we transferred to the kitchen and started our first practical lesson in peeling asparagus and cooking it in a special pot specifically for that purpose. We cannot imagine ever owning our own asparagus pot but no house-proud German Frau’s kitchen would even be without one!
Eventually Ray appeared and we settled for lunch which we finished around 4pm when the last pieces of spargel were finally consumed. For the entire springtime it seems to constitute the mainstay of the German diet and it is a recognised diuretic. We can vouch for its efficacy.
Our visit this time was very brief but it was lovely to see our friends again. The time passed all too quickly. Around 4.30pm we left to continue our drive down to Munich where we are now staying for a few days with Charlotte. This is always one of the very nicest aspects of our trips to Germany and in recent years we have been fortunate to meet up with Charlotte in England as well. We quickly settled in and soon the washing machine in the basement was working overtime to clean our clothes, duvet and towels, rescuing us from our vagabond existence and returning us to civilised society once more.
As a special treat Charlotte had prepared a huge dish of Spargel for supper! It amused us that having eaten it so very rarely in our lives we were offered it twice in one day! Thanks to both sets of hosts for thoughtfully preparing your local speciality. Apart from popping out of bed several times during the night we’ve suffered no ill effects from Spargel surfeiting and have greatly enjoyed it. I now know how to cook it and am looking forward to offering it to any future guests in Exeter – if I can find any to buy!
Charlotte currently has Heinz, a young man from Nuremburg staying with her while he is on a work contract in Munich for several months. As Germany is currently in the grip of a rail strike and he was unable to return home for the weekend his wife drove down to Munich to be with him here instead. This morning Charlotte suggested we all squash into her car and she would drive us to Starnbergersee where she has recently discovered an intriguing museum, the Buchheim Museum der Phantasie which, she assured us we’d find slightly quirky and very entertaining. We were not disappointed. It is the personal and very diverse collection of one man, the painter, publisher, author of art books and novels, Lorhar- Günther Buchheim (1918-2007), which he built up over his lifetime. It is certainly quirky, as well as being fascinating and containing world class material.
The collections include paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints. Included are works by Erich Heckle, Otto Mueller, Max Pechstein and of particular interest to us, Emile Nolde whom we first encountered up in the very north of Germany, right on the border with Denmark back in 2006. The collection is world class and documents the development of German expressionism until after the First World War. The building stands on the edge of the lake surrounded by an extensive park and combines a unique synthesis of Art, Architecture and Nature. Special exhibitions provide access to some of the museums lesser-known treasures.
Concerts of classical music, and music from diverse countries and cultures take place within the exhibition galleries bringing together painting, literature, music and art. Buchheim was a journalist aboard a German U-boat during the war and wrote a book based on his experiences. This became a film and its success is in large part responsible for funding the museum.
It was so late by the time we’d finished exploring the museum which including some of the special collections made, painting or collected by Bucheim and his wife, that we decided to return to Munich for a late lunchtime snack as Anita had to drive back to Nuremberg ready for work the following day.
The weather was warm so that evening we all ate together outside in the garden. Charlotte, who is always anxious to ensure her guests are extremely well fed, cooked us a Bavarian speciality of Leberkäse mit Bratkartoffeln und Salat. This is a crusty meat loaf made from 50/50 veal and pork with herbs, served with fried potatoes cooked with onion and finely chopped pieces of dried bacon. The salad, she assured us, had a low calorie, light yogurt dressing with artichoke hearts, lettuce and beetroot. Well that was a relief!
Next day our hostess had an appointment for a knee examination following a recent fall. We took the opportunity to spend a day around Munich after we were dropped off outside the Opera House. Typically the weather was amazing, the temperature rising during the afternoon into the 30s.
First we went to Munich’s leading music store, Beck, to buy the latest CD of Jonas Kaufmann, Munich’s very own opera star (who will apparently be singing Rule Britannia at the Last Night of the Proms). Charlotte is an enthusiastic fan who owns every piece he has ever performed. My knowledge of classical opera expanded exponentially during our stay as she enthusiastically played us extracts from his performances, either as sound recordings or dvd performances from the grandest of grand opera, including Bizet’s Carmen, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Il Trovatore, and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. They all had ludicrous plots that expected the audience to totally over-extend the limits of credulity! When we were all much younger and she lived in England Charlotte was prepared to dress up, wear a silly wig and join our English friends as one of the "Three little maids from school” on stage at Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, so she is well used to ridiculous plots by now.
We walked Munich, watching the carillon on the Marienplatz, exploring the strange vegetables in the Viktualienmacht and stopping for a coffee at the Augustinerhof with its typical Bavarian atmosphere of wooden tables and bare boards while the Lederhosen-clad waiting staff did just that. They waited, and we waited – for ages before they deigned to serve us! However, we have eaten there in the past and found the food excellent. I guess they are just not used to anyone wanting coffee rather than beer and Weisswurst at 10.30 in the morning!
We explored the Hofgarten where gypsy music was being played in the rotunda at the centre. From there we walked to the Bavarian State Library where we left our bags while we explored its massive entrance hall and several of the reading rooms. We bought a couple of sandwiches and coffee in the library cafe which we enjoyed in the library garden on comfortable sofas sheltered from the sun – a delightful experience.
Then, in the Englisher Garten we watched young people in wet-suits surfing on the waves of the fast flowing river as it gushed from beneath the low bridges.
Gradually we made our way through the shady garden – which is huge – to the Chinese Pagoda where there is a collection of Bierstuben. Here we gave in to the heat and bought a couple of chilled beers which we drank under the shady trees sitting on a long wooden bench.
Finally, before making our way home, we discovered an original 19th century roundabout still in active use. The tiny children sitting on the wooden swans, giraffes and horses could have no understanding that they were riding on the backs of history! How much has happened in Munich since the wheels first turned on that roundabout! Back then of course it was not electrified and was worked by a couple of people pushing it around, hidden beneath the flooring.
Tuesday 12th May 2015, Munich
Today Charlotte had us up and out early. She had already been shopping before we stumbled sleepily down the stairs for the ample Bavarian Fruhstuck of cooked meats and dried sausages, liversausage, assorted cheeses, fresh butter and warm bread rolls sprinked with pumpkin seeds. There was also jam for Ian, fresh fruit juice and lots of coffee. Charlotte loves to spoil her guests while we are getting fat and purring with contentment.
By 9.45am we were at the brewery in Aying eager for a guided tour. It turned out that we were the only ones turning up this morning.
Our guide came from the South Tirol, an area that had formerly been part of Austria but passed to Italy around 1918. He spoke fluent German and Italian but was delighted to give our tour in English, for my sake. This was also remarkably good and rapidly became more fluent as he answered our many questions. Two hours later there was little left to learn concerning the Bavarian brewing industry. We’ve already had a very detailed guide to the Wolnzach Hop Museum and the Holledau region from where the brewery gets its vital hops on one of our previous visits to Anne in Rohrbach. At the brewery in Aying everything is produced locally and bottles are all cleaned and re-used many times.
The brewery bottles soft drinks for Bavarian companies without their own bottling plant, as well as its own beer. Watching the bottles rushing by on the automated belt, being sterilised, rinsed, checked for faults, filled, capped and relabelled was fascinating. It’s so much more eco-friendly. The used water is rendered ph neutral, stored and used to irrigate the acres of barley grown by the brewery to produce the wort essential to the fermentation process. Of course there is a refundable deposit on every bottle sold so they are sure to be returned and the majority of sales are in Bavaria except for those supplied to the US market which obviously are not returned.
At the end we were offered six different beers and asked to grade them according to preference. We could have had full glasses but managed to stop our enthusiastic guide and happily all shared the same six samples. So much alcohol definitely isn’t normal for us before lunch – or indeed at all! And as Charlotte was driving we left far more than we tasted.
Our visit over we adjourned to the local pub, also owned by the company, for sausages with bread and mustard and glasses of chilled water. After that we returned to Munich and snoozed in the garden in the afternoon sunshine while Charlotte cooked a huge bowl of spaghetti and a dish of bolognaise sauce for supper.
Thursday 14th May 2015, Tubingen
Our intention to leave Munich yesterday was overruled by our hostess who insisted we could not leave until we’d seen extracts of her opera idol in a further couple of operas and Ian had helped her carry some beer down into her cellar. We happily complied with both requests, amazed that our company was actually still wanted! We did little other than go to the supermarket to refill our fridge ready for our onward journey and enjoy ice cream and cream cakes in the garden. The sky turned black and thunder began to rumble in the evening. During the night there was heavy rain though we were unaware as we slept deeply in our comfortable bed.
We woke to the news that Augsburg, which had been our intended destination the previous day, had been hit by a tornado during the night causing serious damage to homes and buildings. So we revised our plans and headed for Tübingen instead. We were lucky Charlotte insisted we stayed an extra night!
Today has been a public holiday in Germany as it is in France – the feast of the Ascension. This has meant that there is far less traffic on the roads and no heavy lorries. We drove into Munich and picked up the motorway out of the city. It was only later we wondered whether we should have done so as we have no vignette to prove our emissions complied with the permitted limits in certain German cities. Without the normal level of traffic and no container lorries to frighten us Modestine skipped along, passing Augsburg in bright sunshine – we saw nothing of last night’s disaster – past Ulm which has the highest church spire in the world -161 metres, and thus reached Tübingen, leaving Bavaria behind.
Holledau region and Wolnzach hops museum. See 4th July 2006.
Emile Nolde See 2nd August 2006
Ingolstadt, Emile Nolde,