I finally alighted from the bus very early on the morning of the 24th and thankfully it left us in a fairly central location which is not always the case as their pick up and drop off points tend to be public carparks on the edge of town which I suppose saves time with traffic on day runs and no doubt keeps prices down by cutting costs for bays in “proper” bus stations. With my huge distrust of technology, which the reader is probably sick of hearing of by now but which fairly much defines my travelling and subsequent writing, I had taken the precaution of writing down directions to my hotel. I like old technology like a map or pen and paper and even have my own shorthand for directions. I’ll teach you it, if you like!
I had had to sit up for the last few hours of the journey and be annoyed beyond belief by a gang of teenagers making the most abominable racket and with even a few of my hard stares, which normally tend to work, failing to silence them and so it was a fairly bleary-eyed, stiff (my bad old back really was protesting) and exhausted Fergy that took off. No problem, and I found the street I was looking for quickly and in good order, there definitely is something to be said for travelling this light.
This is where the problems began and I have to say they were entirely of my own making. If I can align the images correctly you will see an image of the Park Hotel, Memmingen which, as you can see, is hardly tucked down a back alley nor some tiny little unmarked door and yet I managed to walk straight past it somehow and kept walking. I had a mental image of it in my head but it just did not register in my exhausted brain or maybe I was looking at the far side of the street or whatever. As is my way I walked and walked and then walked some more until it became apparent I was at the edge of town and not where I wanted to be so I turned round and headed back.
The day was starting to warm up and I was a bit parched so I headed into a delightful little cafe / restaurant apparently attached to a local garage where a coffee and a bottle of mineral water was called for and promptly served by a charming young fraulein. Yes folks, you read that correctly, Fergy was on coffee and water in a place where beer was available! Damned welcome it was too if totally out of character. I asked the young lady where the Park Hotel was and she directed me back down the road I had just slogged up indicating it was on the right. I settled the bill, thanked her and took off again. By now I was pretty knackered but I knew it couldn’t be that far as I knew where the road began.
When I saw the place I could not belive how I had actually walked past it and not seen it. I knew that check-in was not until 1400 or 1500 or whatever industry standard is here but I thought I’d chance my luck and ask if I could drop my kit in the luggage room until the appointed hour. The utterly charming young lady on reception bade me wait a moment whilst she checked her computer and told me she would change a few things (i.e. reshuffle rooms) and I could check in there and then. This was almost spot on 0900 and I could not believe my luck. I would have kissed her there and then had I not thought that she, not to mention the local polizei, may have taken a dim view. I believe the Park Hotel is only ranked three star but that is what I call service, proper service and I thank them for it.
Straight up to the room, bag on the shelf provided for the purpose, planxty stripped off (sorry, I know it is an appalling thought) and asleep just about as soon as his head hit the pillow. I didn’t even set my alarm but I was up before 1400, showered, dressed and off to savour the delights of Memmingen which were to prove to be many.
I had vaguely noticed on my rather extended walk to the hotel that the town was attractively medieval but in the state I was in and in the early morning light it had barely permeated my exhausted brain. Albeit the day was overcast with me having gone North again from my Southerly search for the sun it was nothing short of a wonderland. I had taken six images in the hundred yards to the bottom of the street and could easily have taken more, I was on a complete shutterfest. In Memmingen you literally cannot turn a corner without seeing something else amazing and worthy of a few Mb. of your flashcard. It really is like something from a Disney theme park to the point that it is almost a caricature of itself. If someone had told me that the German government had built this place on a greenfield site as a tourist attraction in the 1960’s it would be believable but this is all for real.
I can only guess that either Memmingen was mostly spared the ravages of the Second World War or else it has been very sympathetically restored. If it is the former I am happy and if it is the latter they have done an utterly amazing job. On the principle that a picture paints a thousand words I have a rather large volume here which I shall let speak for itself. This was only the first day and I have more for the next instalment.
I fully appreciate that I have had a very charmed life in all senses of the word and I have been lucky enough to have visited some extremely beaurtiful places and I have to say that Memmingen must be up with any of them. Judge for yourself if my feeble attempts with a cheap compact camera do the town any kind of justice.
Naturally, all this walking was making Fergy a thirsty boy and so a few “pit stops” were called for along the way but nothing major as I was still a bit shattered from the previous night’s trek (see previous journal entry for details) but I did “mark” a few decent bars for future reference. Frankly, I didn’t find one that I would not have described as decent, the standard is consistently high, it is just a matter of what type of place you want to drink in.
What is perhaps more remarkable is that I actually got a bit hungry and ate at about 1900 in the evening. Those that know me will understand that that is not my normal M.O. On my meanderings around town I had noticed a restaurant, in a very central location called Ha Noi which indicated to me that it was Vietnamese run, and so it appeared to be although the menu is very much pan-Asian. I mention it’s location as it was ludicrously cheap by European standards despite being “prime real estate”. I had a wonderful hot and sour soup ( a favourite of mine and which, with the prawn crackers would have filled me by itself) and then an excellent main dish which I could not finish, needless to say. I should mention that Ha Noi seems permanently busy, which is always a good sign but turnover is quick (I was not rushed, I hasten to add) and it is quite large so you should not struggle for a table unless you are a particularly large party. They even served very decent beer in there, well it is Germany I suppose.
A quick night image for which I apologise as I did not have my tripod and my little compact isn’t too good without it and then I was back in my pit before midnight which is another rarity but I knew I had to travel on the morrow. Having come this far I was determined to stay the course and get to Kempten to meet my friends although I would definitely want to return to Memmingen some day for a more extensive exploration and I do highly recommend it to other travellers. It is utterly enchanting.
Stay tuned and spread the word.