And the sun shone, at last.
It was only a short hop across the border from Turkheim and it went without ceremony. I only realised because of the sudden stark authoritarian street furniture and a smattering of police. Realising, I pulled in. We need a bloody picture of this, I said. It’s taken so bloody long. Of course it hadn’t taken so long but we’d felt thwarted at every stop by the weather so many times that it felt a significant achievement that was longer in the making than it ought to have been.
We rode on, the countryside opened up almost at once and as far as the eye could see. Green, flat, lush and on a backdrop of brilliant blue sky. We navigated around Freiburg and stopped at the first fuel stop we saw in a town called Staufen. I’d forgotten to check German phrases so had to employ the only one I had to hand “Sprecken sie English?”. The lady did and graciously directed me to the road map section, going as far as coming over to help me select a suitable one.
Furnished with a map we set off again into the Black Forest mountains. On entering Munstertal I was taken by its quaint picture postcard alpine houses, painted in bright colours and adorned with murels. Gasthaus’ lined the road but none seemed open. The place was devoid of people and everywhere was shut, despite it being a Thursday afternoon, lending a sleepy, surreal feel to the town. We rode on until I couldn’t stand it anymore. This is just so beautiful, we need pictures, and to stop and just look! Literally breathtaking. A beautiful orthodox church nestled perfectly between hills adding to and completing the aesthetic. An old couple stop to talk to us, we can’t understand a word and I feel a little helpless but they seem happy with the exchange and move on chuckling in a good natured way. The old man later finds me again as he descends from the perfectly manicured graveyard and smiling, asks me a question whilst laying a hand on my shoulder. I’m sorry I say and shake my head “Sprecken sie English?” “Nein” he says smiling softly and says something else while softly patting my arm and then moving on.
We continue on. Into the mountains. Hair-raising, hair-pin bends not metres from stomach churning drops. My head feels out of the game, on a bike I don’t know yet, fully loaded. I can’t just find my pace and enjoy it. Frustrating. But it’s beautiful. And oh so tiring. I need food before we go on much further. We try one, two, three restaurants, all shut. At the third, I sit in the carpark. I’m done, tired. I’ll wait here until it opens at 17:30. OK says Mickey, un-phased he’s happy with anything and if it makes me happy all the better. I’m grateful for him. Grateful for the fact he understands, no drama, no upset, I’m just done and he doesn’t want me on a bike when I’m too tired to ride. An employee arrives a few minutes later and he enquires inside for us, they briefly open up check-in and give us a room key, telling us we can sort it all out later. So helpful!
We eat a lovely meal of Goulash and a local Knudel dish with Vasi, our helpful and smiling saviour serving us and then collapse into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in for an 11 h shutdown.
In the morning the owner of Gasthaus Waldeck wishes me a great journey onwards and hopes we’ve enjoyed our stay. Simple enough words proffered by many a hotelier but I’ve never had them delivered with such heartfelt sincerity before. Everyone here has gone out of their way to accommodate us, in our own language in their country. Maybe there’s an example for all of us in there somewhere.