We were expecting Teck and Colin to join us in a couple of days, but for the time being it was Bea, Lydia and me. It was only the first night and already we were complaining of having too much meat.
Bea: We should order two portions to share among the three of us.
Me: I'm having a salad for dinner tomorrow.
Flies with slow reflexes
The meal was great but we had a small problem with flies. I didn't expect this as we were in the mountains. Returning to our room, we found yet another fly. I tried to kill it the usual way, by clapping my hands together about four inches above it.
The theory is that the fly's reflex action would force it straight into your palms. But this was no ordinary fly. I looked down as my hands came together and saw the fly only just starting to move. It had escaped by virtue of being slow-witted.
No problem: I tried again, this time making my clap last half a second. It worked.
Lake Forggensee cruise
Our balcony had a direct view across to Castle Neuschwanstein so in the morning I got up early to see how it would look at sunrise, forgetting that the sun would have to come up over the mountains before I could see it. In other words I was too early. But the view was misty-mystical and I ended up spending an hour in the cold watching the fog move up and down. Very atmospheric.
We walked over to Lydia's hotel and then to the lake. We got on a boat that went around the lake. The man charged €20 for all three of us. The accountant in me found this suspicious. He explained that it was €7.50 per person and he was charging us less. We weren't satisfied until we realised that the couple behind us were paying €15. We didn't get a ticket though, and throughout the ride we speculated about the man pocketing all the money for himself.
The ride itself was relaxing. We sipped Prosecco and enjoyed the views as the boat cruised around the Forggensee.
Mixed-leaf watermelon salad
At dinner, I was the only one who stuck to the plan.
Bea: I want the schnitzel.
Lydia: I want the veal.
Me: What happened to sharing?
Bea and Lydia: This is a 'Wellness' hotel, so the portions should be small.
Me: I'm having the mixed-leaf salad.
The dishes, when they came, were massive. That included my salad. I've never seen so much salad on a plate. There were mixed leaves, and bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts, and watermelon cubes. And a large wedge of watermelon on the side. I let Lydia have a taste. She urged Bea to try.
Lydia: It's very nice.
Bea: It's just the vinaigrette dressing.
Lydia: No, there's also a taste of papaya.
Me: No, there isn't.
Lydia: Yes, it tastes like papaya.
Me: No, I hate papaya and I'd know if there was papaya.
Lydia: Oh, I mean watermelon.
She didn't know how watermelon had suddenly turned into papaya but we had a good laugh about it.
I slept easily that night.
In the morning, I sent Teck a text message to find out whether he had arrived in Munich. He replied saying he would arrive on the 21st. This got Bea and me into a calendar-checking panic. We were sure it was already the 21st, and we were right. Teck had got the dates mixed up!
Bea and I then started discussing what adjustments we needed to make to our itinerary. The problem was that we wanted everyone to be able to visit the castles together the next day but we didn't know whether we had to book or if we had to go very early to the ticket centre to be assured of the timings we wanted. There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet, so we asked around. This is what we eventually found out:
- There is no need to pay money to book a time slot online.
- There is at least one English tour for each castle every hour.
- Each tour lasts about half an hour.
- You are more likely to get an afternoon slot than a morning slot.
- It's more crowded during the weekends.
- If you plan to take a bus or horse carriage up to Neuschwanstein, please take into account the queues - generally if you queue an hour or more for the bus or horse carriage before your scheduled tour time, you should be safe. The horse carriage queue for Hohenschwangau is much shorter.
Susanne Erben the milliner
In Fussen, we took a walk around the town and had more meat at a Metzgerei (or butcher shop). We would later meet Colin and his partner, A-Kee, when they arrived at the train station at 2.55pm. In the meantime, the girls went looking for Bavarian barmaid costumes to wear during Oktoberfest, but they couldn't bring themselves to spend €120 on an outfit.
Lydia was drawn to some hats in a shop window at Magnus Platz and was peering into the shop when out popped a lady gesturing for us to go in. Even if you are not in the market for hats, I would highly recommend a visit, just to interact with Susanne Erben, the shop owner and milliner. She used to worked on New Bond Street in London but came back to Fussen for her children.
"Where are you from? Singapore? My good friend Grace Tan is from Singapore."
She looked so excited just to be picking hats for the girls.
"That's so nice."
"Mmm-hmm? I love that colour on you. Mmm-hmm? Mmm-hmm?"
"I know which one you should try. The purple one. Mmm-hmm?"
Each time she said 'mmm-hmm', you could almost see the lightbulb flashing above her head as she sought out another design for the wearer. I had the impression that Susanne Erben's goal in life was to find you the perfect hat.
Clowning with the waiter
Colin and A-Kee arrived on time. We gave them directions to the hotel and then continued on our tour of the town. Towards the end of the day, we stopped at a coffee shop and waited for them to rejoin us. They were eating a sausage when they came, but A-Kee kept talking about wanting a whole sausage to herself.
It was getting dark. Colin asked the waiter about a good restaurant for dinner. The waiter was very friendly and helpful, so Colin asked him about buses: what time the last bus was, how frequent they were, etc.
Waiter: I don't know, I don't take the bus.
Colin: It's okay.
Waiter: Take a taxi?
Colin (joking): Do you have a car?
Waiter (laughing): I cycle.
Colin: It's okay, you can make four trips.
Over dinner at Gasthof Krone we joked about Colin's small appetite and Lydia's large appetite.
A-Kee: He orders a lot but can't finish. She says she's full but clears the plate.
Colin: This corn is 'world-best' .
After that we used 'world-best' at every opportunity. We had world-best fries, world-best crackling, world-best everything. The only thing that wasn't world-best was the potato dumpling.
Everything the same
This must have been Singaporean Night because a large group of Singaporeans came in and sat at a table next to ours. We took some pictures for them and they for us. Before we left, they asked Colin about our trip. Everything seemed to coincide and they would exclaim "Same!" in unison at each reply.
"When did you arrive?"
"Where are you going after this?"
"When do you fly back?"
It was so loud that we could hear them from outside the restaurant. I don't think Singaporeans made a good impression on the other diners that day.
Teck at last
The next day we finally met Teck and his mystery partner, A-Deng, but not without a scare: his phone had decided to be unreliable just when we most needed to contact him.
The rest of the day went smoothly and we managed to view both castles and even cross the Marienbrucke even though there was an incident which had the police closing it off temporarily.