Wednesday, September 5, 2018

If It's Mittwoch It Must Be Bernau


I can't tell you just how nice that mythical creature known as “sunshine” feels after a week without it.

Greetings from Bernau-am-Chiemsee tonight, where our room does indeed have a view of the nearby lake but also has four German guys trying to set up a tent right below our window. I'm not quite sure the purpose of the tent. It might have something to do with the fact that the entire hotel was closed and being sandblasted when we arrived late this morning. We weren't quite sure what was going on, or even if we would have to find another hotel. But the owner finally came out, and although she doesn't speak a word of English (to go along with our not speaking a word of German) we finally figured out that the work would be done by two or three, and that we should come back then.

We did, and voila. We have a hotel room. And a floor show outside to go along with it.

We're staying here for a few nights because it's a good location for tomorrow's big task, taking a ferry over to a nearby island to see the last one of King Ludwig's palaces we wanted to check out. But we also know that this place is HUGE for biking & hiking, and we were kind of thinking about getting a few bikes, pedaling around the area and soaking up the sun.. One could, if one wanted, bike 70 kilometers around the lake, although we were just thinking we could go a few K in one direction or another. But because we couldn't check in early and have our luggage in a secure place, our plans were shattered.However, not wanting to waste the sun & the heat we threw our most important stuff in our backpacks, strapped them on, and went for a walk to the lake, which is about three kilometers away. You walk through town, past a place that sells luxury yachts, and then down this path--

And eventually you end up at Chiemsee--

Chiemsee is Germany's third largest lake (the biggest in Bavaria) and it's a place that's a magnet for people, especially on the first warm & sunny day after a week of cold & wet days. You can swim, sail, or just loaf around in the sun, all under the watchful eyes of the lake's guardians.

It's funny, though. For a place with a lake and biking and hiking, the town of Bernau itself is rather sleepy. It just doesn't have much going on. Heck, even the one grocery store closes at 6. But then, if you're beaching and biking and hiking all day maybe that doesn't matter. You just need a place to sleep. Hopefully, Bernau's good for that.

Even with the workers outside our window.

Actually, there is one place in town I discovered where you can spend a little time, and that's at the town park. When I walked through this afternoon there were parents and kids playing around, plus a nice little stream...

A German bee doing what bees across the world do--

And a mini-golf course that seems to attract almost everyone in town, including a couple of little kids who wish they were old enough to play--

One thing we did notice was that there are a LOT of fruit trees around Bernau--

In fact, we went for a stroll after we ate dinner, and I grabbed a plum that had just fallen off of a tree. It was divine.

It was a bit of a shock to the system, too. One of the things I've noticed in my travels is that, especially in Germany, you don't eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I don't know what it's like in the home of an average German, so I could be entirely wrong about this, but both at breakfast at your hotel and going out to dinner at a restaurant you don't see a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. You see lots of breads, and just about every part you can get out of a pig, but you don't see a lot of fresh fruits & vegetables.

Maybe that's why the plum tasted so amazing.

Lest you think we ignored the chocolate today, we didn't. Just down the street from our hotel, right off the nearby exit from the Autobahn, lies a Lindt outlet store.

Yup; there was actually a little outlet store mall at the freeway exit, a genius move by somebody trying to capitalize on people who want to get out of a car & stretch their legs. But during the short walk from town to the Lindt store we came across a mystery. There's a Shell station right by the Lindt store. In fact, you could even see Bob Marley at the Shell station--

I'm not quite sure WHY Bob Marley was painted on the back of someone's camper, but that's neither here nor there. Upon coming into Bernau this morning we noticed that gas was selling for €1.31 a liter. That's a good price this trip, so we figured we'd fuel up there when leaving on Friday. But when we walked down to the Lindt store a few hours later,the price had gone up to €1.34 a liter. We were a little disappointed, but still okay with that. We spent about 10 minutes in the Lindt store, and when we came back out the price at the Shell station was now €1.32 a liter. It went down two cents a liter in ten minutes, just a few hours after going up three cents a liter.

What's the deal? Was the person operating the sign bored today, or maybe had a little too much sugar for breakfast? Does the store operate on some kind of supply & demand system, where if they see a lot of cars driving past without stopping they lower the price, and when they do get a lot to stop they raise it? Or is there some kind of strange gas pricing algorithm that all gas stations used to raise & lower prices all day, and I'm just not aware of it?

These are the things that keep me up at night!

What else is there to share? Well, because Bernau is a little sleepy, not too much. How about, though, what may be the world's only curry AND pasta delivery vehicle, which was basically a motor scooter with a cab on it?

Or this rather attention-getting display in front of a shop that fixes windshields?

If they can fix that, they can fix anything, right?

Well, the guys putting up the tent underneath our hotel window are now shouting out “ho” in unison as they put the top on, so this is probably a good time to quit. Tomorrow, we spend another sunny day on the grounds of a castle so big it almost covers the entire island on which it sits.

That should be something.


(p.s.--there is one more thing I'd like to share, and that's this picture I took as we were leaving this morning, this picture of Berchtesgaden's iconic mountain peak, Watzmann--

There's a legend about the mountain that I'll have to share when I have the chance.  But we were just glad to see it in sunshine before we had to say goodbye (at least for now)!

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