Oktoberfest 2013: A Guide for the Lazy and Unorganised

Oktoberfest. The one time slightly uptight Munich actually explodes into a riot of fun, drunken debauchery! Merry people everywhere, girls in slutty dresses, and piles of vomit on every pavement slab. Just like London at 4pm every Friday then.

Last year was my first time at Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival – and I was lucky to experience it with a local Bavarian who has been a lot. I discovered that you don’t need to be a beer drinker to have fun, although the prices of any other beverage there will make you wish you were one. You don’t have to book a table or buy a ticket. Just turn up and get involved. Ja wohl!

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Oktoberfest is the huge fair. It’s hard not to, as it is the largest in the world. The rides seem to go on for miles. They also look positively retro, and they’re great fun, especially after a litre or two of strong Bavarian beer. Word of warning – look out for projectile vomit when standing under them. Really drunk people and fairground rides don’t mix.

I’d like to point out that we didn’t see one female in this state. Just men. WIMPS.

After having a few rides (ahem) get yourself to a beer tent and find a space on one of the many long tables. I’d recommend doing this pretty early, as those tables do get busy and the punters don’t tend to budge much (except for the loo). Avoid being in large groups too. We were a three, and found it pretty easy to slide onto the end of another group’s table.

The social side to Oktoberfest is great. Of course the beer gets everybody chatting, and it’s a great way to meet people who have come from all over the world to enjoy the festivities. Everyone is there to have a good time. We got chatting to a very nice Croatian boxer and also a sixties British hippie who was selling glow in the dark thumbs. Here he is.

And here we are with our massive jugs.

But the real fun to be had is inside those beer halls. That’s where there’s loud band music, people dancing on tables and an all-round amazing atmosphere. They had already stopped admitting people when we arrived that afternoon, but we managed to get into one later on thanks to my cousin flirting with one of the doormen, telling him she had come all the way to Munich from Australia. Which she actually had. Not many men can resist a young, blonde Aussie, and with that, WE WERE IN.

The carnage inside was bloody brilliant. Hundreds of people all high on Bavaria’s finest. Men in Lederhosen, women spilling out of dirndls, and ‘liquid gold’ slopped all over the place. There was a great live band playing pop songs, and when they belted out ‘Hey Jude’ everyone got on the tables and sang along. It was a moment I will never forget.

Get yourself to Oktoberfest this year. You won’t regret it! (Unless you’re one of those guys throwing up in my pictures above).

Oktoberfest facts:

  • Oktoberfest 2013 actually takes place from September 21 to October 6.
  • It has been running since 1810 and is called ‘die Wiesn’ by the Bavarians
  • Oktoberfestbiers are the beers that have been served at the festival since 1818. They come from six brewers and must be brewed within the city limits of Munich.
  • They are strong – 6% alcohol minimum.
  • The fair is held right in the centre of Munich at the Theresienwiese. The underground trains take you right there. Don’t drive unless you’re crazy.
  • A majority of visitors are Bavarian. Be aware of the local guys girls. I have been told it’s a real badge of honour if one manages to pull a foreign female in front of his mates.
  • If you haven’t booked accommodation already, then good luck. Prices rocket in Munich during the festival. Consider staying somewhere outside of Munich, like the Five-Lakes district. It’s an easy commute from there into the city.

Prost!

And Then The Pigs Magically Became….Sausages

On Saturday we went to one of my favourite local spots in Bavaria, a tiny, picturesque village up in the hills with a farm, adjoining restaurant, and a 5-star bakery.

I’ve never heard of a 5-star bakery before and I’m not exactly sure why the Kasprowicz in Gut Kerschlach is one, except for the sign outside saying it is and the exceptionally good cakes.

But at least I can now say that I have been to a 5-star bakery, even if there weren’t any limos parked outside, high-class hookers hanging out at the counter or bread rolls lounging around in tuxedos smoking cigars.

To get to the village you have to drive to another small village in the south of Bavaria called Pahl, and walk 20 minutes or so along a trail through tall forests and rolling countryside with gorgeous Alpine views.

It’s very pretty to say the least.

Once more it’s great for kids, because there’s very little traffic up there, and you can tour the farm with its kids’ park and zoo, with  moo moos, bunnies, baa baas and neeeee-ighs! (This is how I talk now I have a 16-month-old).

Now we all know how much kids love animals. And how much nicer it is to see them on an ‘eco’ farm, being treated all humanely and stuff. It was a lovely family outing, and our hearts were literally singing with joy as we skipped around in the sunshine like characters from a Disney movie, talking to the animals all Dr Dolittle like.

But sadly we were unable to find the oink oinks. The map showed their barn as being at the back of the farm. But they were nowhere to be found.

Max has just learnt how to make grunts like a pig.  When you’re a parent and your child learns to make grunts like a pig, THIS IS ONE OF THE HIGLIGHTS OF YOUR YEAR.  Therefore, we had to find those smelly noisy pink buggers as if our lives depended on it.

After ten minutes of frantic searching, we found what we thought was the pig area. Hooray! Max’s face lit up, and he started making his cute oink oink noises.

We all skipped over holding hands, with grins like the Cheshire Cat (not really but got to keep up the Disney-esque-ness of it all). We had found the pigs!

But instead of the pigs we actually found this….a sausage factory.

Are you having a laugh? Who puts a sausage factory on a farm for kids, right where the pigs are meant to be? That’s the wurst!

There wasn’t even an attempt to disguise the factory of horrors. There’s a whopping great big sign on the sausage factory announcing it’s a sausage factory, explaining to the children what happens to the animals inside. The way they break the news is quite hilarious. The sign is in German, but let me (or Google) translate.

“Kerschlach Factory. Here the animals that come from the farm and from partner companies are slaughtered in an animal friendly-way and are transformed into speciality sausages.”

“Transformed.” What a nice way of putting it.

It was a sad end to a beautiful day. We trundled off, heads bowed,  looking and feeling grim. Damn those Germans for always being so brutally honest and direct. Practicality rules over everything here. Feelings don’t always count. That’s why there was a sausage factory on a farm for kids. That’s why my friend’s nan lives in a sheltered housing scheme for the elderly with great views of the cemetery over the road. That’s why people here still wear Crocs – in public.

Although I have to admit, I have enjoyed a German sausage or two in my time.  They taste amazing. I guess there’s no point hiding the truth of what happens to most pigs in what is the land of sausages. In Britain I doubt this scenario would have existed, for fear of being insensitive and giving children nightmares. Not in Bavaria!

And at least, like whenever something doesn’t go to plan here, we can cheer up over five-star cake.

German Hospitals Rule – There is Beer!

As regular readers of my blog will know (all five of you), I recently spent a week in a German hospital following an unpleasant car crash.

This was actually my second week in a German hospital, having spent a week in the same one last year after having my baby there. (Yes, an entire week! No chucking you out after a few hours here!)

So I wasn’t that shocked to discover on my second stay that German hospitals are very different to English ones – i.e. they are nice.

Or should I say Bavarian hospitals. I have come in for some stick lately for referring to Bavaria as German. Tut tut!  How dare I confuse a German state as actually being part of Germany!

I even took a few pictures to back up my claims. Do all German hospitals look like this or is it a case of mega-rich Bavaria coming up trumps again? If so, I really undersand why the rest of Germany is so jealous hates this state. Take a look for yourself.

Spotlights and polished wooden floors? Ja Danke!

Wards with balconies overlooking the gardens? Naturlich!

Plenty of green space for patients to wander about in? In England this would have been turned into a money-making car park long ago!

An empty bed? Definitely not an English hospital then! Watch and weep, David Cameron.

Fancy artwork on the walls? This would never have made it on to the wall of an English hospital, for fear someone would use it to attack one of the staff then steal some morphine.

And a kitchen for patients with free tea, and use of a coffee machine. How lovely!

However, it was in this said kitchen that I also found someone’s secret stash of beer. Remember this is a Bavarian hospital, where prescriptions for beer are readily handed out. (Americans – that was a joke).

My only complaint of the German hospital was the food.

This was breakfast, and the same was ‘dished up’ for dinner.

Bavarians eat a lot, so I was surprised to find really meagre portions existing anywhere in Bavaria. So meagre in fact that when my little German couldn’t bring me food, I had to order take-away from the pizza place across the road. And I honestly don’t eat that much. That pizza man must make a killing from all of the hungry Bavarian patients! Especially the ones with the beer munchies! The most profitable businesses in Germany must be the restaurants close to hospitals! Open one if you can.

Finally, I couldn’t help but laugh at this poster for the hospital hairdresser that I spotted by the lifts.  It’s amazing what men can get for 29 Euros these days.

So I Won’t be Borrowing the Car in Germany Again Anytime Soon.

Honey I crashed the car.

This is the kind of thing you really hope won’t happen when you move abroad and attempt to drive on the other side of the road. Particularly in Germany, where on some roads there is no speed limit, and you literally feel like you’re dicing with death when all you really want to do is pop to the supermarket.

I was coming home two weeks ago from a nearby town when I had a head-on smash on a major road with a woman probably doing 100kmph (just a leisurely drive by German standards).  The force of the crash shunted our car backwards and into another two vehicles, leaving a somewhat chaotic trail of destruction.

I don’t remember the crash as I didn’t even see the other car coming. The last I remember I was preparing to turn left across the road and into another at a pretty hazardous junction (where I have heard accidents are pretty common). There had already been a car accident on the road I was about to turn down. Nothing serious, just a shunt up the backside, as the locals seem to love driving right up people’s backsides at high speed here, as much as us Brits like to moan about the weather.

I often wonder, why the hell are people in such a rush on the roads here? Particularly in Bavaria, where there really is nothing worth rushing too? It’s the first thing I noticed when I moved here. How crazy overly sensible, law-abiding Germans become once they get behind a wheel.  And that’s really saying something considering I lived in Malta for four years.  Where is everyone so keen to get too? Are there amazing parties  on every day near German autobahns  with free alcohol and sausages that us foreigners don’t know about?

From witness reports it sounds like our accident was actually my fault though, and that I turned across the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle that I somehow didn’t see.

One moment we were driving along without a care in the world, then, bam! The next thing I knew I woke up on the side of the road, with a load of strangers peering down at me, muttering sweet German. “Sie ist in shock!” one woman said.  I looked to the right, saw our smashed up car and another person sprawled out in the road, and I realised there had been a terrible accident.

We all got off extremely lightly considering. I believe the other driver broke both of her legs and is probably still in hospital. I broke three ribs and suffered a bruised lung and spent a week in hospital. My 15-month-old son was in the back and he was completely unharmed, by some kind of miracle. It makes me sick to think that things could have been a lot more serious and I really have been counting our lucky stars.

The poor little mite must have been so traumatised at the time, but mighty Max has been his completely normal, happy and boisterous self since. Which is a right bugger when you’ve got broken ribs. The car is a complete write- off, and we only had third party insurance, but the money means nothing when I feel totally lucky to still be here and to have my son. I just hope the other driver gets better soon.

In England there are speed cameras everywhere, particularly in Essex, the county where I’m from. Here in Bavaria you certainly don’t see as many.

About a week before the accident I was walking through our picture perfect Bavarian village, thinking of how safe it is. “The only danger here are the roads,” I thought to myself.

I think I’ll be sticking to the train for a while.

Top Twelve Reasons I Love Living in Germany

Like many people who live abroad, I often think about moving back home. But then I remind myself what it is I like about living in Germany, and life isn’t so bad after all. Every wobbly expat should keep one of these lists to get them through the ‘sod it, I’m out of here!’ times. Here are twelve great things about living in Bavaria.

The EidseeClean living: The air that we breathe feels so clean in Bavaria some nights I don’t even feel the need to wash my face. Okay, so I’m a lazy cow at times, but still. The air is REALLY clean here! I can see the difference in my skin when I go back to England. The tap water doesn’t taste of chemicals either. In fact, the tap water in Munich comes direct from the mountains.  No need for mineral water here. If you fancy a detox, come to Bavaria!

Bavarian health food/medicineCheap beer: So maybe a detox isn’t such a great idea after all. Beer is very cheap in Bavaria, and there are over 4,000 brands to choose from.  My Bavarian neighbour starts drinking beer at about 10am. He also looks about 60 when he’s probably only 30, but at least he’s happy. Munich’s Oktoberfest is a great way to pay homage to Bavarian beer. Don’t miss it.

Amazing nature: Germany feels like one massive forest. This is where Forest Not sunbathing weather thenBoy claimed to have been brought up, remember? There are probably another thousand ‘Forest Boys’ living in Germany that no one knows about. The nature here is really beautiful, with lots of rolling green hills (the greenest green I’ve ever seen right now after all the snow and rain we’ve had), snow-capped mountains and emerald lakes.  Deer and storks are just some of the wildlife I see when I walk near our home.  Amazing.

Smack bang in the middle of Europe: France, Italy, Austria, Eastern Europe, or down to Slovenia and Croatia…all can be reached on the same day by car from Bavaria.  If you live here, you literally have the whole of Europe at your feet. This is great news for a travel ho like me. The Germans think nothing of popping down to Italy for a short break. Or driving to Austria to stay in a fancy hotel for the night. Bloody brilliant, like

Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporati...

Even women work in Bavaria! (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

No recession doom and gloom: Bavarians don’t even know the meaning of the word ‘recession’. Unlike when I go home to England, the crippling financial crisis has barely caused a ripple here. Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU. Our local newspaper is full of job advertisements each week. Public services are not suffering from huge cutbacks. People feel secure, even if they are not earning very much. It will be interesting to see if that continues.

Mountain stops to admire its reflection in lakeThe mountains: Not only do they look great, the Bavarian Alps provide plenty of opportunities for a day-trip or more. In the winter months there is of course, skiing and snowboarding, plus sledging tracks, climbing and lots of other things mentalists do on ice. In the summer you can hike on them, or run around in a dress pretending to be Maria from the Sound of Music. Ace.

English: photograph of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

Great Mo! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

King Ludwig: This is the fairy-tale guy who brought us Germany’s most popular tourist attraction, the Neuschwanstein Castle. The late king also called a number of other majestic Bavarian palaces home, all of which are remarkable to visit. But Ludwig was more than just king of the castles. He was possibly the most interesting German who ever lived. Secretive, eccentric and mad (according to some), he was sadly and mysteriously  found dead in 1886 after being declared ‘unfit to rule’. I’m kind of fascinated by him.

Cat Burglar

Photo credit: Feral Indeed!

Safe as houses: Bavaria has the lowest crime rate in Germany. The police must be really bored here. Unlike where I’m from in England, the local newspaper isn’t full of stories concerning burglaries, muggings and rapes. Which is nice! It’s so safe here that when I couldn’t find our front door key recently, I propped the door open with a mat and went out for the afternoon with no worries at all.  Here’s what a Bavarian burglar would look like if they existed:

Bavarian fashionistasFriendly people: Because they are drunk on beer most of the time, Bavarians are extremely friendly and hospitable people (except in Nuremberg). Despite being a dirty foreigner with terrible German language skills, I have been welcomed into our tiny community with open arms. Unlike when I lived in London, I know all of my neighbours, and I could count on them if I ever set the flat on fire etc.  When our son was born, three of them brought presents even though we didn’t know them that well at the time. Wunderbar!

The bread: German bread is so dense you could knock someone out with a loaf on the first wallop. And there are so many different types of bread here you never know what you’re going to get on a visit to the bakery ( of which there are two per every one person in Bavaria). We must have about 20 different types of breads at our local bakery, from round loaves made with potatoes (yes, potatoes!) to long sticks made with seeds and spelt. Delish.

Nice traditional towns: Colourful, historic, and with cute, traditional shops. This is what a typical high street in Bavaria looks like. In England most of our high streets have faced ruin thanks to the likes of huge supermarkets like Tesco and online shops. Not in Bavaria.  Here you can still find toy shops selling real wooden toys nestled among butchers, bakers, and clothing boutiques. Twee.

Good education / health systems: You know you’re becoming old and boring when ‘good schools and hospitals’ become an essential reason for living somewhere above ‘hot men and free condoms’. But it’s re-assuring to know that if the worst was to happen here in Bavaria and we ended up in hospital, we are probably less likely to die, catch gangrene or contract MRSA than if we were in an English one. The education system in Bavaria is highly rated too, even though school kids finish their day well by 1.30pm. With those hours, no wonder every German I meet is studying to be a teacher.

The Great Bavarian Get-Away: Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Lago Maggiore

Lago Maggiore

Another reason why we should all be jealous of Bavarians besides their stinking riches is that they can drive to Italy in just a few hours. Northern Italy is therefore a very popular holiday destination for the Bavarians, with no hassle of catching flights, boats, or trains required. Just jump in your car and go!

The Great Italian Lakes are a top spot, with many Germans popping down to wonderful places such as Lake Garda for some rest and relaxation. Yep that’s right. While us Brits have the windswept Isle of Wight, the Germans have Lake Garda. No contest there then really.

British seaside

The Great British holiday

Beach Fun

vs the German one. Photo credit: Ozgurmulazimoglu

On the day we left Bavaria just a few weeks ago it was 6C and raining so heavily half of Germany flooded. When we arrived in Italy four hours later it was sunny and 22C. It’s consoling to know after such a long harsh winter in Germany that warmth and sunshine is just a drive away.

The journey there took us to the very south of Germany, then through Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, then over the border into Italy. Five countries in just a few hours! With a one-year-old! Needless to say Max wasn’t in the best mood after that trip.

Lake Maggiore is not one of the better known lakes, and that’s why we decided to head there. Italy’s second largest lake straddles the border of Switzerland and Italy, and is just an hour’s train journey from Milan. Its beauty is immense, with its clear waters framed perfectly by the mountains, rich green peaks, and picturesque rustic towns, some hundreds of years old. Historic villas, palaces, botanic gardens, and crumbling churches add to its allure. The colours and scenery are among the best I have ever seen. I truly fell in love with it.

We were surprised to find that somewhere so close to the Swiss border was still so enthusiastically Italian, with passionate people with the fiercest hand gestures in the world, lots of designer handbags, a plethora of pizza and pasta, and the smell of rich coffee filling the air. For someone who loves nature and has forever longed to be in Italy, this was my dream world!

I could have spent every day of our week’s break sitting in one of the many cafes watching the Italians go by. ‘Ciao!’ ‘Prego!’ and ‘Bella!’ seem to be the only words you really need to learn in Italy. The Italians all seemed to love our son Max too. Here is a little old lady in a bakery doing a dance for him, and blowing him kisses. Italians are the opposite of Germans – crazy! I loved them.

There were so many little towns and sights to see around the huge lake, we sadly couldn’t do it all. These were our favourite bits:

Villa Taranto: A spectacular 16 hectare botanical garden that really isn’t as boring as it sounds. The plants and trees here are from all over the world, with seeds collected by a Scottish captain on his travels. Neil McEacharn created the garden on a whim after buying the villa in the 1930s. He left it to the Italian Government when he died aged 80 in 1964 to carry on his work. What a great travel legacy to leave behind.

Stresa: Beautiful town where old-school Italian glamour meets relaxed, lakeside charm. The magnificent hotels overlooking the lake here have welcomed kings, princes and the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to put on a nice dress and heels and sip pink champagne. Unless you’re a ‘real’ bloke.

The Islands: You can catch a boat to the islands on the lake. We went to Isola Bella, and toured its remarkably opulent palace and wonderful gardens. We also visited Isola Pescatori, an island popular with fishermen and lots of German tourists in socks and sandals.

Lake Orta isn’t too far away either. We found it to be a mini Lago Maggiore, but much quieter and less touristy.

I am already planning my next trip to Bella Italia – the country, not the awful chain restaurant. Until then, Tutti Frutti!

Nuremberg: Great place. So what’s up with the locals?

Nuremberg is  one of my favourite destinations in Germany so far. Yes I know I raved about Regensburg. And I haven’t been to Berlin yet. But read on and you’ll see why Nuremberg must surely be one of the top places to visit in Deutschland. DESPITE THE AWFUL PEOPLE. More about them later.

Nuremberg is Bavaria’s second largest city behind Munich. But I love it so much more. According to a friend of mine, Nuremberg has a higher unemployment rate and more druggies than Munich. Great! This means it is far grittier and therefore more interesting than nice but dull Munich.

But please don’t think that because of that Nuremberg is some hell-hole full of pick-pockets. Far from it. Its centre is a beautifully restored medieval marvel, full of ye-olde-worlde buildings and airy cobbled streets. It is where one of Germany’s most famous Christmas markets is held. Its history is simply fascinating, and can easily be recaptured through the dozens of museums and sights on offer. But it is also lots of fun, with cool clubs, bars and a thriving student scene. It seems to be pretty popular with stag parties too (that’s bachelor parties for you Yanks), as Nuremberg is surrounded by hundreds of breweries, and has a number of brothels. Class!

One of Nuremberg’s most interesting sights has to be the dungeons underneath the Rathaus. That’s the local town hall, not a house for rats. You can take a tour of the old prison, built between 1334 and 1340, and imagine the absolute horror the inmates went through there. The cells were small, cold, stone-walled, and completely devoid of daylight. A pail served as the toilet and the table. Some people were tortured as a way of making them confess to crimes they may or may not have committed, and you can still see these torture devices  today. Some inmates were subsequently sentenced to death by hanging, beheading, burning or burying alive. Don’t go on a hangover, like we did.

In stark contrast to the dungeons was my next favourite attraction – the gardens at the Kaiserburg. The castle’s grounds are a perfect place to catch rooftop views of the city and to laze around surrounded by the wonderful flowers.

Another great aspect of Nuremberg is its fascinating yet harrowing Nazi legacy. It was here that Hitler held his mass party rallies and stripped the Jewish of their German citizenship in 1935. Bastard! More than 6, 000 people were killed and 90% of the centre destroyed during the war. But many of the ruined buildings were rebuilt using the original stone, which is why you can still see most of the old town today. Nice.

A must-see is The Reichsparteitagsgelande (pronounced ri -chhhhhhhhccccchhhhhhrrrrrrr flemmy flemmy spit spit schpart tie tag schhhhcccclrrr geland – e), or more easily known as The Nazi Party Rally Grounds. A visit here is a great way to comprehend the scale of Hitler’s support in Nuremberg back in the 1930s. This was where he held his huge rallies to thousands at the Zeppelinfeld. Today the grounds are used for sports and music events, but you can still tour the old grandstand, and literally stand where Hitler did to address the mammoth crowds. Standing in the footsteps of one of the most evil men in history feels eerie to say the least.

In Hitler's footsteps at the Nazi Rally grounds

In Hitler’s footsteps at the Nazi Rally grounds

Despite its shady past, Nuremberg is now a young, multi-cultural, buzzy place, known as the “City of Human Rights”. We loved strolling down the Way of Human Rights, a symbolic row of 29 pillars and one oak tree bearing the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No I don’t know what that is either, but it sounds like a very good deal.

Way of Human Rights

Way of Human Rights

So, if Nuremberg is such a gorgeous place, what the hell is wrong with the locals? We couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone we dared to have a conversation with in the city was miserable, unwelcoming and completely stand-offish. Yes, I know they are German. But still. In Nuremberg they take it to a whole new level. Here I am with one of them.

A Nuremberger and I

A Nuremberger and I

Our first run-in with an unfriendly local was at a sausage cafe, where I was loudly told off by a butch looking waitress in a dirndl for giving some of my bread crumbs to a malnourished pigeon. Yes I know it encourages more of them, but there are polite ways of addressing these things. Then I was accosted by a market stall seller for daring to take photographs of Nuremberg’s famous ginger-bread cookies. But I got a picture anyway bitch, and here they are:

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

We were also made to feel extremely uncomfortable in a cafe where the witch ahem waitress serving us was extremely curt and awful. We almost felt guilty for daring to order a large breakfast each, and spending our Euros there. Mrs Awful then told another member of staff off for a good ten minutes in full view of all of the customers, saying how crap she was at HER job. Professional!

On a night out during our trip, I had a very insightful conversation with one of the lovely Nurembergers.

Him: “Where are you from?”

Me: “England, but we live in the south of Bavaria.”

Him: “Most people who come to Nuremberg from the south of Bavaria never admit it. We hate each other.”

Me: “Oh.”

Man gets up and leaves.

I then had a rather unpleasant run-in with a really cheesed off toilet attendant in a nightclub. I could tell something was wrong when I was sat on the loo doing a number two, and someone started spraying air freshener under the door. Blaming it on a slight drunken haze, I thought nothing of it until I left the said stinky toilet.

Cheesed-off toilet attendant: “Hast du kacka gemacht?” (Did you do a poo-poo?)

Me, pleased that I had finally understood a German speaking German: “Ja!” (Yes!)

Cheesed off attendant, spraying furiously: “Du Schwein! Nein!” (You pig! No!)

I had never been told off for using a toilet as a toilet before. Somewhat surprised, I looked at crazy spray lady as if she was crazy, washed my hands and left the loo. Did my poo really smell that bad? I have pondered that question ever since.

I remember meeting a lovely family once from Nuremberg who were on holiday in our part of Bavaria. We got chatting by the lake, and they explained that they liked to come down this way because the people are ‘much nicer ‘. I can see their point.

Today I visited a Bavarian friend of mine, and told her how much I loved Nuremberg. Before I could mention our experience of the locals, her face turned to angst. “But what about the people there?” she hissed. “They are bloody awful! I lived there for six months. If you walked up to a stranger and said ‘hi how’s it going’ they would look at you as if you were bloody mad. Terrible people.”

So there you have it. Nuremberg. Great place to visit.  Just be prepared for the people and don’t poo anywhere, especially in a toilet.