Bavarian Hospitality

It’s taken me longer than I thought to follow up my earlier post about my recent trip to Germany. It’s been two weeks since I returned and I’ve been catching up on reading and watching films in that time. I also spent a few days babysitting my nephews and, even though I really enjoyed it, I needed a few days to recover from it. I had spent the earlier part of that German trip outside Bavaria, but the latter half of my visit was spent exclusively in the area that the locals refer to as Bayern. After leaving Micha’s birthday party in Siegen, he drove us both to his place in Nuremberg. Micha was working the next day and I had had a little too much to drink the previous night, so we took it easy and just had a beer or two as we watched a few episodes of the always hilarious Black Books. The next day I wandered around the city of Nuremberg, though I only made it to a few record stores on Jakobstrasse and to a lovely park called Woehrder Wiese. I had been here before and it’s quite large and clean with a nice beergarden. I ate a fine lunch there and was back again that night with Micha and another friend of mine named Christian and his wife Ria, both of whom also live in Nuremberg. We drank one or two beers and decided to call it a night around one in the morning as the lads had to work the next day

I bid farewell to Micha and made my way to see Sabine in Augsburg. I had also been here many times and was looking forward to a nice quiet evening in the city just outside Munich. I felt that I needed to take it easy on the beer for a night and the warm weather in Augsburg didn’t help. Sabine showed me around the city and I saw many parts I’d never seen before. She even took me to a place where I met three lovely German ladies. There was a receptionist who spoke no English, a nurse who had a good command of the language and a doctor who claimed she only spoke “holiday English”. Despite this, and my basic German, I managed to make each of them laugh as I told them about my weekend. It turned out to be a costly evening, but it was one of the more exciting nights I’ve spent in Germany. The next morning I visited Sabine at her school where she had asked me to speak to her class about Ireland as they are writing a paper about various aspects of Irish history and culture. I listened to each of the students as they told me about their own topic and offered them some advice and answered their questions. A few were writing about Irish music, some about Northern Ireland and many were writing about the Irish economy, recent immigration and also emigration. It was certainly an interesting discussion and I wished the students all the best and thanked Sabine (and Marc) for their hospitality as I left Augsburg for yet another beautiful German town

Bamberg is just north of Munich and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I was there to visit Katrin (another teacher) and her fella, Alex, who also works in education. I have been here loads of times before and this was the first time that the weather was rainy, so it made the place look different. They took me to a biergarten at the top of the town and I ate a local delicacy that had once been a pig and was quite tasty. We managed to make it to Katrin and Alex’s nearby local before the rain came and it turned into a welcome refuge from the brief though heavy downpour outside. The three of us spent some time talking about Ireland and also about music and film and books. We swapped recommendations with each other and I was extremely interested in a book they told me about that’s called Glennkill: Ein Schafskrimi. The book was written by a German visitor to Ireland named Leonie Swann and it’s a crime thriller set in the Emerald Isle that opens with the apparent murder of a shepherd. My ears really pricked up when my two friends told me that the book was actually narrated by the sheep left behind by the shepherd! We follow them as they try to figure out who killed their master and perhaps come to understand what goes on in a sheep’s head. Both Katrin and Alex were very enthusiastic about the book, but they weren’t sure if it had been translated into English yet. Alex kindly suggested that Katrin would love to translate it for me. Well, you don’t need to, Katrin. Swann’s novel has been translated into dozens of languages and is known in English as Three Bags Full and is subtitled A Sheep Detective Story. I thought I might have a bit of trouble tracking the book down, but I’ve actually located a hardcover copy at my local library. I’m looking forward to reading this shaggy tale and will give my verdict here when I’m finished. Thanks a million to Katrin and Alex for the tip and for looking after me in Bamberg

I made it back to the hostel nice and relaxed and found I was sharing the room with two other guys. One was on the phone when I came back and he went out without even acknowledging my presence when I entered the room. I didn’t hear him talking but I guessed that he might be from Eastern Europe. After a while the other fellow came in and he was more friendly. It turned out he was from Franconia, which is actually a region in Bavaria not too far from Bamberg. He told me he’d bought a special monthly ticket for €250 that could take him all over Germany by train for 30 days. However, he was only on holidays for two weeks, but he’d still use the ticket for the remaining two weekends. He was not the first German I’d met for whom practicality and economics were important factors. So, he was basically travelling around places in Germany that he had never visited before and some of these were near where he grew up. I told him why I was in Germany and asked him if he knew where the other guy in the room was from. He told me that he seemed quite unfriendly and hadn’t even spoken to him. The third man came back soon after that and he ignored us when he came in and we decided to do the same. Both of us kept chatting and after about ten minutes the third man spoke. He excused himself and then asked me where I was from. Being Irish, I answered with a question of my own. I asked him where he thought I was from. After listing a number of English-speaking countries I told him I was from Ireland. I then asked him where he was from and, of course, he asked me to guess. Having heard him speak I was still sure he was Eastern European and I told him I thought he was Russian. He was actually from the north of Germany. He had started working in the area a couple of weeks before and had been staying in the hostel all that time. He revealed that his employers had been giving him money to pay for a hotel room, but he had decided to just stay here and pocket the difference. Yet another example of that German practicality and economics that I mentioned earlier. The two lads had used up all their conversation at this stage and I wanted to get to sleep, so we decided to call it a night

As is my wont, it took me a while to nod off. It briefly popped into my mind that these two Germans might be serial killers who might murder me (or worse) during the night. Nevertheless, I soon drifted off and woke up bright and early the next morning. Six years ago, I had failed in my attempt to make my flight home having set out from Bamberg train station. I had no such problems this time as I made it to the station with minutes to spare. I was about to put the €21 into the vending machine that would give me the ticket that would eventually bring me to the airport in the Bavarian capital. That was until a fan of 1860 Munich asked me if I’d like to accompany him and three others for just six euro. In Bavaria, you can buy a Bayern ticket for one person for €21 that gives you unlimited access to use the Bavarian transport system for a whole day (providing you avoid the fast trains). You can also buy one for €29 that can be used by up to five people. Practicality and economics. So, I made it to main train station in Munich for just €6 and then got a ticket to the airport for a tenner. I ate some more pig there and made it back to Ireland safe and sound. Thanks a million to all my German friends for looking after me yet again. And you know that you’re all welcome to visit me in Limerick whenever you want. Here are a few tunes

Time Flies By (When You’re a Driver of a Train) – Half Man Half Biscuit

Smiling At Strangers On Trains (Million Dead cover) – Frank Turner

The Train Leaves At Eight (Mikis Theodorakis) – The Walkabouts

In The Hospital – Friendly Fires

Hospital Beds (Cold War Kids cover) – Florence & the Machine

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2 thoughts on “Bavarian Hospitality

  1. Hello,

    I’m Mark and I live in Nuremberg, very close to the Wöhrder See. What a big suprise it was to discover that someone whose blog I have been reading regularly has been to my place. I hope you enjoyed it. Look me up, next time you’re around.
    Thanks for the music
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for reading the blog. I must say that you are lucky to live near the Wöhrder Wiese. I have two friends in Nuremberg and I will certainly visit there again, so I’ll let you know.

      Cheers,
      Pat

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