I had a meeting in Bad Tölz today, not far from Munich in deepest Bavaria at the foot of the Alps. It was an early start to beat the traffic and I had plenty of time to enjoy the drive. As the Autobahn turned South after the traffic jams around Munich the mountains came into view. The sun was still shining on the snow-capped peaks. On Sunday I had been out in shorts having a picnic with kids, so it was quite a surprise to see so much snow again. But a pleasant surprise.
I was early, so I stopped at a service station (with a good view of the mountains) and had some scrambled eggs and a decent cup of coffee. I even remembered to do things in the right order. Let me explain. Most service stations in German subscribe to the “Sanifair” system. That means you have to pay (70c) to take a pee. You get a voucher for 50c which you can then redeem when you buy something at the service station. So your net contribution for a clean toilet is 20c – that seems reasonable. But I usually only remember I need “to go” after I have eaten. So I pay my 70c, pick up my voucher and stuff it in my wallet. There it gets crumpled and faded until I get sick of having it there and put it in a drawer at work. Then I forget about it. So I felt pretty pleased with myself for remembering to pee first and eat later, so I could redeem my voucher against the (very tasty) scrambled eggs.
Before Sanifair came along there was usually a scary-looking Eastern European Lady sat outside the toilets with a grumpy expression and a plate containing a few coins. You felt obliged to drop in 50c just not to upset her. I guessed that her job was to keep the loos clean, but in some service stations the job was apparently just to sit there. It’s better now.
I got to my meeting on time and we got down to work. After about an hour, there was a quick break as fresh pretzels, sweet mustard and “Weißwurst” (literally white sausage) were brought in. This is a Bavarian tradition which I had happened to mention I liked on one of my previous visits to Bad Tölz and my host, Robert, had remembered. If there was ever a food which merits the description “tastes a lot better than it looks” then I nominate Weißwurst. A boiled, white pork sausage – but they taste great. Honest! It should always be eaten before noon and a true Weißwurst breakfast needs a half-litre of Weißbier (wheat beer). I skipped the beer this morning as I had some spreadsheets to explain later but the Weißwurst was excellent. You peel the skin off, and then dip it in a very aromatic, sweet mustard and take alternating bites out the Weißwurst and the pretzel. It’s probably about the furthest away from a healthy “superfood” that you can get but I’ll take a Weißwurst breakfast over McDonalds any day.
*Robert has an important professional position which he carries out with elan, but he is also full of Bavarian joviality. He has a strong accent and may turn up to a presentation of suited insurance-professionals in Lederhosen – and get away with it.