Monday, 21 June 2010

Munich to Buttenheim

I'm just back from a week in Bavaria. North Bavaria, mostly. Some magical times, some more prosaic ones. For the next week or two I'll be forcing you to relive it with me. hope it isn't too much torture.


Friday 11th June Munich airport 12:30


For reasons I really can't be bothered to explain, Mike and I didn't fly to Munich together. His plane is due to land at 12:30. Our train from Munich Hauptbahnhof is at 13:55. And the journey from the airport takes 40-45 minutes. "We've plenty of time" Mike reassured me, after booking the tickets. Yeah, right.

12:40 is the estimated arrival time. I keep making mental calculations. It doesn't look good. 12:40 comes. The plane hasn't landed, but the estimated arrival time is now 12:35. Must to some sort of time vortex over the airport.

Mike appears through the sliding doors at 12:55. "No rush, we've got 20 minutes." Mike had read that the S-Bahn took around 40 minutes to the Hauptbahnhof. That would be true if S-Bahn's left every minute. But they don't. Only every 10 minutes or so.

I've had the foresight to get us S-Bahn tickets. There are two waiting in the station: an S8 and an S1. The S1 is due to leave in 9 minutes and the journey time is given as 43 minutes. And it's 12:03. The S8 is due to leave in 1 minute, journey time 41 minutes.

I'm in such a rush to get on, that I forget to stamp our tickets. Which means they aren't valid.

"See, that wasn't too bad." Yeah. Two minutes later and we would have been fucked. We still could be if the S-Bahn is delayed for any reason. I start fretting about delays. Then I remember the bloke I saw get fined just yesterday for not having a valid ticket. On an S8. Should I burden Mike with this?

"I forgot to stamp the tickets." Why should I be the only one to worry. " And I saw a bloke get a 40 euro fine." But Mike isn't the worrying type.

Luckily, we're in Germany. The S-Bahn is dead on time. We've 10 minutes to get from the underground station to our ICE. It being Friday afternoon, the train is mobbed. And we have no seat reservations.

Mike finds two seats opposite each other with bags on them. At the third request the surly young adult removes his bag from Mike's seat.. "Klootzak." I say. Hope he doesn't understand Dutch as I've just noticed that he looks rather muscular.

"That was a rush, Mike."

"No it wasn't. we didn't have to run, did we?" Mike has an original view of what constitutes a rush.

"We made it by the skin of our teeth."

"No we didn't. We had 10 minutes to spare."

"Two minutes later at the S-Bahn and we couldn't have made it."

"But we didn't have to run."

It's pointless trying to push the point.


Buttenheim

I won't bore you with the lateness of the ICE, nor the pissing around in Munich station trying to find the connecting train. It's hot. Way too hot for me.



It's still hot when we arrive at Buttenheim station. It's not actually in Buttenheim. It's in a village called Altenberg Altendorf. Buttenheim is about a kilometre away. All uphill. I'm glad I've got Lexie's bag with wheels.

We get to our hotel all hot and sweaty. By the time we've checked in, we're even hotter and sweatier. My room is tucked under the roof, in full sunlight. It's boiling hot. Somehow, I've managed to get even hotter and sweatier. Sticking my head under the cold tap helps. Until I take it out again.

We walk right past the St. Georgen and Löwenbräu brewery taps. We're still sweat and hotty, but have another destination in mind. We're heading for Kellerstrasse. Now guess what's on that?


Bierkeller. In Fraconia, it doesn't mean the same as in the English-speaking world. It isn't a beer hall. It isn't even necessarily any type of permanent structure. It's a hangover from the days before artificial refrigeration. Brewers would store their beer in natural rock cellars, often just outside town. Packed with natural ice harvested from ponds, these cellars stayed cool all summer. Trees were planted to shade the entrances. Then some bright spark had the idea of selling their beer directly from the cellar. Add few picnic tables and away you go. A Bierkeller. One of man's greatest inventions.


We've two choices. St. Georgenbräukeller, up the hill; Löwenbräukeller just over the road. I'm sweatily hot and gagging for a beer. No way I'm walking up that effing hill.

They're selling Kellierbier, logically enough. Straight out of a barrel. The first one magically disappears into the pool of sweat that used to be my body.

"Do you want another, Mike?" I don't wait for a reply. There's no queue at the beer counter. And I'm counting on getting another beer quickly.

"1.80 for half a litre? The robbing bastards."

After two I've cooled enough for Mike to be able to persuade me to walk up to St. Georgenbräu. I won't try to describe the view. To do it an injustice with words like stunning or breathtaking. I breathe it in. Deep green breaths of countryside. Deep soothing breaths. And all the rush, all the sweat, all the annoyance are gone. I'm as happy as I've been in months. Calm, content and 100% on holiday.

They're dispensing their Kellierbier from fake barrels. it isn't a spot on Löwenbräu's. But I couldn't give a toss. There's more than just beer. Intangibles just as vital to the experience, the joy of life spreading through me.

And they've got Bierhaxe for just 5 euros.

Life really doesn't get better than this. Does it?


You'll find out tomorrow (or whenever I get around to writing it) in part two. When we head for Kulmbach. And a relaxing country walk.




Löwenbräu Keller
Eremitage 3
96155 Buttenheim
Tel. 09545 - 509346

6 comments:

Ed said...

What's Bierhaxe?

Barry M said...

Ed, it's meat. Big knuckle of pork basically.

Ron, I've noticed that even on packed trains, people here don't often voluntarily remove their bags from seats.

Paul Bailey said...

Off to Franconia myself next month. Can hardly wait!

Barm said...

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Wash and dry the pork knuckle and cut criss-cross through the skin. Rub with salt, pepper and caraway. Put the meat in a casserole dish, pour boiling water over it. Add some juniper berries to the dish and roast the meat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting regularly with beer. The crackling must get brown and crispy. Remove the meat from the dish and use the juices together with some meat stock, sour cream and paprika to make gravy.

bierentrein said...

Buttenheim station is in Altendorf

Ron Pattinson said...

Bierentrein, thanks for the correction.