Dispatches from Bavaria

The first instalment of likely plenty of incoherent ramblings about our recent visit beside the Danube (and more!)

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Eleven days into July we left for Bavaria. A taxi before the sun, a dawn-soaked plane ride across the Channel, a wait at the bus stop where we smeared sun screen across our already freckled forearms, and a train ride through fields of sunflowers and solar panels. Upon arrival in Regensburg – my old home, my childhood best friend, my city soulmate – a stroll through the Altstadt, a history tour by Rudi, before a sleepy drive up the hill to Lappersdorf.

It was a light-speed tour: Altstadt, Lappersdorf, a garden party overlooking the Bavarian forest, Regensburg, Stadtamhof, Danube, Munich. Three nights, three different beds. It’s a little blurred, like the hazy feeling of watching buildings flicker beyond a rainy car window, but here’s just a few snippets I hope to remember.

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Sunflowers from the train window, yellow scythes slicing across the sky. The lustrous crimson redcurrants, glimmering in the sun, our stained fingertips and rosy lips. We ate three slices of cake (each!) in a single afternoon and didn’t feel one bit guilty. The spontaneous gelato – strawberry-yoghurt for her, always chocolate for him – purchased from a food truck outside the Lenbachhaus, Kandinsky paintings still bursting like tiny fireworks through our brains.  Giggling in the rain at the medieval figures dancing on Marienplatz: “Why are we watching 16th century entertainment?” he laughed, dimples blooming. Sitting side by side, eyes trained on Reclam volumes in the foreign-language section of Hugendubel – her, American love stories; political speeches through the ages for him. Knees touching. On Monday evening, Munich steeped in rain, we giggled over Radler and an ill-chosen dinner (never order Obazda unless you really LOVE strong cheese!) at a Biergarten on a Schwabing corner, home also to a family of tiny hedgehogs that scuttled around patrons’ feet in the twilight. It was perfectly eccentric, Bavaria distilled.

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The eve of our arrival we dined royally in a rectangular garden edged by fields of maize and, beyond, the Bavarian Forest. I had that wild, untethered and wholly wonderful feeling one sometimes gets in a foreign land; of being transplanted into a Tolstoy novel or a Chekhov play, of being somewhere so at odds with one’s normal everyday existence. We sat side by side on one side of a sweeping trestle table, batting away mosquitos (to no avail) and listening to an old German man in a burgundy jumper advocate the drachma. Quark, citrus-seasoned, generously heaped with strawberries was preceded by vast mountain ranges of cheese, artichoke pastries, rainbow salads and as much meat as the Bavarians are accustomed to. The old dog Jester tickled our ankles with his tail and Julian told us of his work on rooftops in Arizona in between trips to stoke the fire burning at the end of the lawn and plying guests with Weissbier. At one point the party separated, some smoking cigars against a sky straight out of a Van Gogh masterpiece, others dawdling into the house to listen in silence to Korean jazz. I felt glad to be alive. Bavaria will always be my happy place.

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All photographs snapped on my ageing iPhone 5 (the roll of 35mm film I raced through is at the developer’s and I’m all itchy-footed waiting to see the pictures!)