I am writing this from a hotel room in Haag an der Amper – a tiny village to the North East of Munich in a quiet, forgotten corner of Bavaria. My Dad, Noel, and I are taking part in a veteran motorcycle rally which we enjoyed for the first time last year. Noel brought the bikes down from Yorkshire in his van and we trundled over here yesterday. We are both riding Triumphs – Noel on a Model C from 1913 while I am on the modern machine, a Model H from 1918.
The event here is a great advertisment for German efficicency. It is perfectly organised and has the great benefit of starting and finishing in a very pleasant beer garden. This year there are a handful of Brits taking part too which makes things a little more pleasant too.
We arrived yesterday evening and took a stroll around the village looking for somewhere to eat. I did say this was a quiet forgotten corner of Bavaria but I had forgotten how quiet. It had been a rainy day so the beer garden was closed and we soon discovered that there was no other restaurant in the village. This is strange because you usually find at least a lone Gasthof in every Bavarian village – usually called the Gasthof Post or Adler. I found it tragic that a village could have a chruch but no pub. What is the world coming to?
We drove down the road to Zolling and soon found exactly what we were looking for – a traditional Bavarian Gasthof. The initial signs were not so good. There was a grumpy looking chap smoking a cigarette at the entrance and when we opened the door into the Gasthof everybody stopped momentarily and looked us over. Going into a rural bar in Germany can sometimes be a little daunting. Still, sturdy waitress soon served us a couple of beers and we settled in.
Things got better when Noel noticed one of his motorcycling pals, Ronald from Belgium, sitting at another table with three Brits. We said hello and joined them. Soon the beer worked its magic and we were all enjoying a lovely evening. The conversation switching between the superiority of pre First World War Bosch magnetos to Brexit, to politics, to music to religion – and back to Bosch magnetos. The food was excellent and the waitress slowly warmed to us and showed the hint of a smile every now and then.
The bar filled up with all sorts of different groups. There was a heavy drinking, card-playing table of middle-aged men, next to them the “Dorfjugend” (the village youth) and behind us was a table full of the older generation. As the evening wore on everyone could see that we were enjoying ourselves and making a decent effort to speak German to the waitress. I could see the table of elderly visitors nodding approvingly about the Brit table and soon we were all saying how friendly and wonderful Germany was.
Looking around the bar, it really did feel like we had slipped through a wormhole to another time. The decor was heavy wooden tables and heavy wooden ceilings. Our waitress was in the traditional Dirndl dress which wouldn’t have looked out of place a hundred years ago. I had the traditional “Zwiebelrostbraten” – a delicious beef steak with onions. When I ordered it I was asked whether I would like it medium or well-done. None of your french “à point” nonsense here. You get your meat cooked in Bavaria. The “Wirt” (landlord) was wearing, of course, Lederhosen.
In the end we warmed to the Gasthof Hörhammer and it warmed to us. Must leave now – the events start on time here and the organiser, Otto, made a point of telling us all to be pünktlich – on time – this morning.