The bus has been hanging around outside the station. Our bus to Zoigl land.
It's going even further. To the Czech Republic. It doesn't look much like an international bus. More like the ones that pooter about Newark. But we're too excited to worry about that. We get off at the main square of Mitterteich. I'll tell you something. Mitterteich is a site more scenic than Wiesau. A proper little town. With people.
Mike would have walked right past. Luckily my beer radar is operating 100%. Admittedly, the half tree hanging outside is difficult to miss. A happy clinky chatter from inside confirms that there's some zoigling going on. We step inside.
A courtyard is filled with beer garden tables and chairs. We've timed our arrival well, and get seats. Time to look at the menu.
"Those thieving bastards, Mike. They want 1.70 for a half litre. And a couple of the meals cost more than four euros."
"Be serious for once."
Soon two over-priced beers are in front of us.
Hartwich Zoigl: full of beery deliciousnessness. Folkily, beerily good.
"This is perfect. A Zoigl butcher's. How can you get better than that, Ron?"
"We got the best thing on the menu, Ron. It's all meat."
"This is a cornucopia of meaty goodness, Ron."
"Big and small. They're my two favourite beer styles, Mike."
The beer is good. Really good. It slides down quickly, punctuated by mouthfuls of sausage and rye bread. The sausage is great. The bread's pretty good, too. Come to think of it, there's not a single thing I'd change. It's one of those perfect moments. Timeless afternoons that stay fixed in your memory. A treat to take out and savour in the cold, dark days of winter.
This is about as simple as hospitality gets. One self-made beer. Sausage and cold cuts from the in-house butcher. Basic furniture. Yet it's wonderful. Intimate, friendly, human. No clanking machines or blaring boxes. Just chatter and the ching of cutlery against crockery.
Joining in with the chatter and ching of the crowd, we idle away the afternoon. Gloriously. I've rarely felt more relaxed. Four or five beers are consumed, almost as an aside. It's not just about the beer, though the fact it's Zoigl does add an extra zing. Gestalt. That's what it is. The perfect combination of a few simple elements. Food, beer, atmosphere. All perfection.
Mike had been concerned of disappointment. He needn't have been. It was just perfect.