It's become a tradition. A summer trip to Franconia to soak up beer, and gobble down pork. Though not necessarily in that order.
I'll be honest. Both acquiring the bus timetables and the planning were Mike's efforts, not mine. I'm more of a planning executive. Publisher, too, I guess. As I assemble the printed guide. All those years preparing internet pub guides have given me one useful skill.
Our plan was simple: fly to Munich, get a train to Bamberg, have fun. Pretty difficult to mess that up. How can you not have fun in Bamberg? After that, it was out into the countryside, armed only with Mike's iphone and my unerring sense of direction.
Mike assembled a list of must-see pubs and tried to cram them into an itinerary. Harder than it sounds, seeing as the bus routes are designed for locals rather than itinerant pub-crawlers. He eventually nailed one together without too many protruding sharp objects. Just the odd scary bit beyond the reach of buses.,
After spending days poring over the German weather archives, we picked the first week of June as the most likely time for a peaceful trip. It worked - only first day was dampened with rain.
Our ridiculously early flight got us to Bamberg in plenty of time for lunch. Thanks to the careful weather planning, our eagerly anticipated al fresco lunch at Schlenkerla had to move indoors. Though the careful weather planning did mean that we arrived on the release date of Schlenkerla Kräusen. The only time I've seen a pair Bayrischer Anstich beers in a pub. Lucky us. Thank god for the rain, it had driven all the tourists away so we got to sit in the nice room where we could keep an eye on the barrels.
The Kräusen was perfectly nice, but lacked the deep bacon lure of the Märzen. There was no way I was leaving with lining my innards with a pint or two of that. And some pork. It would be a sin not to. "It's unlucky to walk past an open pub without going in." That's what I always tell the kids. For quite a while, they believed me. Possibly because I never walked past an open pub in their presence.
The buses at Bamberg station are run with typical German efficiency. None of the stops bears a number.
"We'll need to be psychic to find our bus, Ron."
"I said pshycic, not psychotic."
"Just expressing my frustration, Mike."
Next stop, the new Zoiglstube in Strassgiech. We found the pub despite the bus stop sign blocking it out.
Wood, wood, wood. The stuff was everywhere. Except in the beer. That was clean as bishop's finger.
The schnapps was delicious. Deliciourifous. Mike wanted to buy a bottle. But it was from a cask. Being a friendly and generous fellow, the landlord stuck some in a random old bottle. "What do I owe you, guv?" "Nothing, son. My gift."
I allowed ten minutes for walking to the bus stop. A minute for each pace outside the door of the pub.
Bamberg, Eggolsheim: bus, train. That's more than you need to know. A half hour stroll along German roadways, with Lexie's dodgy pully bag bouncing behind me. I almost knacked it last year, marching through the outer suburbs of Kulmbach. I wouldn't have used it this time, except my posh De Bijenkorf bag broke a-bleeding-gain.
The hotel seemed locked tight. Turned out we were just at the wrong entrance. But its pub was shut.
Checked in, we explored the village. Who am I kidding? We went to the other pub, Landgasthof Kammerer. Just past the war memorial (for both wars, by the way - at there was a Kammerer amongst the dead), and the left-footer church. Offering St. Georgen Kellerbier, in pretty blue and grey ceramic mugs. Food, too. Pretty good food.
Back to the hotel for a good night's sleep, punctuated only by a little light vomiting. The first day is always the hardest. Until the body gets used to the new routine.
Next day would be exciting: Kreuzberg. A real Kellerberg, really out in the countryside. Could I control my agoraphobia long enough to make it there? You'll find out in the next thrilling instalment. Tomorrow or some other point in the near future.
Zoiglstube Drei Kronen Straßgiech
Drosendorfer Straße 24
Tel: 09 54 2 - 77 41 25 5
Pautzfelder Straße 40
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