Six Wheels in Germany – July 2020 (Month 76)

I’ve had a very low mileage month, pretty much only commuting.

And here is the Wheel which shows where I have been – a small green blob around Kempen and a tiny blob near Munich.

Klaus has been out riding Malcolm the Sprint X in the evenings and has taken some lovely photos.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus

One good bit of news on the work and cycling front. Where I used to park my velomobile was no longer available and I had to park it in our general open area where various trucks manoeuvre all day long. I had noticed a couple of times some of the truck drivers having a close look. I used to park Millie right under my window but the boss wanted that area left for visitors so I ended up having to park her a long way away – I wouldn’t hear her alarm. A colleague kindly ensured that every day he parked in front of me to block her from view (mostly), but she was out in the rain and I had to make use of the rain cover regularly, which is a bit inconvenient when you need to pack it up and it is wet.

One of the maintenance guys talked with me about it and a couple of weeks later said “I have cleared a Carport for you”. And he was right! Millie’s new parking place, within sight of my window…

There’s room for a couple more velomobiles there! It is also mostly out of sight of the truck drivers as my office is at the far side of our large parking area.

Just before we went on our summer holiday to Munich I had a very busy few days at work where we had to do an inventory. This involves checking batch numbers on up to 1000 tonnes of raw materials for food production and 400 tonnes of finished products.

Here is a pic of me along with my colleague Rashmi (I stuck the sticker on her back, we had to put one of these on each checked pallet). Look at the impressive clothing we have to wear at work!

It was two full days’ work, plus a very busy last Friday morning when I fortunately managed to get everything finished with the inventory and was able to leave work at 1pm – holiday!

Klaus’s daughter Lara came to stay with us overnight and then the next morning we set off on the long, long car journey to Munich. We were staying outside Munich in an area called Starnberg which is beside a lake where a previous Bavarian king drowned (or was he murdered?)

It was a six hour drive to get there but we made good progress and were soon at our lovely Ferienwohnung. It was on the edge of Starnberg and after just a few minutes’ walk we were out in the countryside.

The landscape was very different to that in the Niederrhein – rolling hills, very beautiful.

We amused ourselves well in the Ferienwohnung with various iPads. I taught Lara how to play chess, having not played myself for over 30 years, and not knowing the terms in German (so she learned ‘pawn’ and ‘bishop’ rather than ‘Bauer’ and ‘Läufer’). When I was young I was actually quite good at chess and won a competition in some schools event. Anyway, Lara beat me in her one and only game (although I did help her out!) so I think my chess days are probably over.

I have some friends who live in Munich, Melanie and Konrad, who I got to know when Melanie did a language placement in Colchester and got involved with the cycling campaign. I contacted them to ask if they would like to meet up and we were invited round for cake on the Sunday afternoon. They had bought a great selection of cakes!

I tried this many-layered cake below which is a local speciality and the layers have some meaning (which I can’t remember now, of course).

The Bienenstich was also very nice.

We sat outside in their garden and had a really nice afternoon. Melanie and Lara were comparing notes on school and COVID responses as Melanie is a French and English teacher and Lara has been a French and English student! It seems as though the schools in Bavaria have done things differently than in NRW.

The next morning we decided to go to Ammersee, a local lake, for a bit of a walk. It was very beautiful there.

This boat reminded me that it was chum Jochen’s birthday in a few days – sadly we missed his little celebration as we weren’t back in time.

We also liked the lack of logic with this sign – it is against the rules to have your dog on a lead…

Whilst we were sitting watching the lake there were clearly some flying things going on. There are a couple of airbases not too far away so I guess the US military was doing some exercises.

We went in search of a decent café for some cake (where we could also sit down and use the loo) and struggled a bit to find anywhere that was open. Down a side road we noticed this house identifier.

van Kempen, like us!

We ended up sitting at an Eiscafe looking over the lake with this rather lovely vista.

Service in the Eiscafe was poor but then they have a captive market!

I liked this posh house.

We weren’t sure initially what to do in the afternoon, but one of our plans for the week was to visit Dachau. Because the weather was good it seemed wise to go that afternoon, so we drove to Dachau, parking the car and then walking in to the former concentration camp grounds.

It was much less busy that a normal year (due to corona) but there were still quite a lot of visitors. Things were definitely relaxing with regard to tourists.

There was an exhibition inside one of the enormous camp buildings and I spent more than an hour in there. It becomes too overwhelming eventually and so we left after about an hour and a half there. It was Lara’s first visit to a concentration camp and so quite a draining experience for her. Melanie told us that all schoolchildren in Bavaria have to go to visit as part of their schooling when they are about 12 years old.

That evening we had a barbecue on the balcony.

The next day was the first of our two planned days in Munich.

We were planning later in the evening to meet a friend of Lara’s so we drove to an S-Bahn station with a Park & Ride near to where we would be meeting Sara. We then took the S-Bahn into Munich centre.

It was very noticeable how clean and tidy everything was on the trains, and also every passenger was wearing a mask. In Berlin we found that one or two young people per train carriage were being radical and non mask-wearing.

It was a lovely day and so we went to Marienplatz to look around.

It was obviously time for cake so we stopped for some…

Munich is expensive and eating next to Marienplatz is obviously not cheap but we were a bit shocked by the price of our tea and cake each. We paid 4.20€ for my glass of hot water for tea.

To recover we went for a bit of walk, and went to the surfing spot in the Englischer Garten.

It was enjoyable to watch the people surfing – most managed 30 seconds or less.

Photo by Klaus

We wandered around Munich and stopped for lunch at a bakery about 200 metres from Marienplatz. We each had tomato soup, a filled roll and a drink and it came to almost 50 Euros! I was a bit shocked.

We wandered around a bit but were slightly underwhelmed by Munich over all.

We had planned in the evening to meet Lara’s friend Sara so we headed off to the Biergarten she had suggested as our meeting place. The food here was slightly better value but it was still mega expensive. Klaus chose a giant pretzel but this was 4.80€.

Sara arrived shortly after we had got our drinks and we had a good chat with her. She’s an energetic young lady who is working two jobs as she and her partner are involved in a Guest House in Thüringen whilst they work half the week in Munich. It’s a massive commute but they are young enough to manage it!

The next day we stayed home in the morning (I walked to get our breakfast rolls) and made our own salad lunch to try to recover from the ruinous food prices in Munich. In the afternoon we went to a shopping mall for a look around – Lara bought some trainers and I bought some smart shoes.

The plan for the next day, Thursday, was to go back to Munich and visit the Deutsches Museum. We had to buy our tickets online for this but that was fine.

I had visited this museum many times before and really liked it. It is rather an old-fashioned museum with lots of things to read and sometimes the feeling of a lack of coherence with what is being exhibited, but I enjoyed looking round again, especially as my German is now good enough to read the German exhibits even when they are technical.

There was an exhibition of computer stuff and Klaus and I exclaimed many times, “I had one of these!” It’s a bit odd when your youth is now a museum exhibit, such as this CBM computer (we had a Commodore PET which is basically the same thing and looked identical).

There was a mining section in the museum which must have been there forever. It involved lots of going down into the earth – we were clearly well below ground level a lot of the time, and as the museum is built directly next to the Isar river this was interesting! I have looked in vain for a plan of how deep it actually goes, and where the routes are, as it was snaking all over the place underground and in the dark.

Both Klaus and Lara were slightly disappointed by the museum, I think because of its old-fashioned nature (which was much less old-fashioned when I last visited about 15 years ago I suppose!)

During the day whilst walking around I realised I had a hole in the toe of my walking trainers so we popped into a Kaufhof and I bought a new pair of trainers directly. We then went to a burger restaurant and met Nils, son of our landlord and landlady, and shared an evening meal with him. It was good to see Nils in his new city.

The following day, our last full day in Bavaria, the weather was less good so we decided to go on a bit of a trip. We went to Garmisch Partenkirchen which is at the foot of the Zugspitze (highest mountain in Germany) but which was rather covered in cloud.

We had some cake at a café with dubious customer service but nice cakes and wandered around a bit. We had considered the cablecar up to the Zugspitze but that was nearly 50 Euros each!!! And with zero view as it was in the clouds.

On our way back we stopped at Starnberger See as we had been staying in Starnberg all week but not actually seen the lake. It was peaceful although there were some ominous rainclouds in the distance.

However we stayed dry and ended up having a takeaway curry at home to save money (still 66€ for three people!!!!!)

Our drive back the next day involved a diversion to Mannheim to see Klaus’s father followed by a diversion to Frankfurt to drop Lara off with her Uncle (and her Mum was also there as they were having a week’s holiday).

Klaus and I got home after nearly 10 hours total travelling – to an empty house as Poppy was still on holiday in Berlin. She arrived home two days later and we had prepared a welcoming committee for her of her toys.

Since we have been back we have had a quiet couple of weeks. Firstly trying to save a bit of money after the shocking food prices in Munich, although I had to allow myself a little treat of strawberries – especially as they were from the UK!

Klaus has been riding Malcolm his Sprint quite a lot this month, after getting Liegeradbau Schumacher to service and repair his hydraulic brakes (there was a crack in the plastic cover). We also did some walks with Poppy, including for some cake at Poeth.

We are planning to go to England in the middle of August to celebrate my Mum’s 75th birthday with her. We haven’t seen her this year of course, because of Covid, so it will be lovely to have a chance to spend a few days with her. And, of course, restock on British necessities.

I did a stockcheck of teabags and I have about 2000 still so it’s not desperate but I will probably get another 2000 or so to tide me over.

Cakes this month

Here is the gallery of the cakes we had this month.

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