Of Minstrels & Hot Chocolate

It’s a bit difficult for me to retell our day in the power due it, but I’m nothing if not up for the challenge of trying… It was still during the holidays, December 30th, some random day of the week, (no one ever really knows the day during the holidays) and Lisa, Simon and I had planned to go to Mittenwald.  I don’t know who’s idea it was; someone asked me if I enjoyed going into the mountains and then there was some Bavarian chatter – which sounds like the language version of a very carroty stew – then I was asked if I’d like to see Mittenwald, and somewhere between me not saying ‘no’ and my uncontrollable smile, it was decided.

None of us are made of early morning fiber, so we set out the next day whn all self-respecting mill-stone grinders are probably already on their third cup of tea. Fog sat around us like sticky jam filling! I would say it swirled around us, but it did no such thing. It sort of parted before us like the red sea and closed behind us with a loud snap. Some time later, I realized we had been birthed from the fog and were now zipping along through Bavarian foot hills. Blue skies loafed overhead and the radio changed to the whims of her in the passenger seat.

Arriving in Mittenwald, we made our way down a street that was overflowing with an unreasonable amount of old people.  I do not jest!  There were literally bus-loads of the elderly.  All of them with faces which bore an expression that said “I’m well over 70 and I’m on holiday. So bugger off!”.  They were Poking about in hat stalls and magnet racks, waiving with animated canes at friends and brooding over whether or not a green felt alpine hat with cocked feathers, wasn’t indeed what their personal look had always lacked.  We dodged, ducked, and tried not to push our way through to the other end of souvenir street and into a much quieter byway.  My guides were so busy reading their maps that they almost missed it.  But I didn’t! There it sat, quietly, hoping I would look over so it could wink at me with it’s fat windows growing up just feet from the cobblestones. “Geigenbaumuseum” written, like home, on the wooden violin hanging over the street.

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We entered, greeted by a low ceiling and a youthful man of very cheerful visage. He grinned at us, pointedly, until we closed the door behind us.  Then commenced to beam at us steadily from under his traditional mountain fedora, whilst giving instructions and pleasantries with equal amounts of levity and warmth.

A customized house of delights could not have delivered a more interesting experience (unless perhaps Jim Carry had served me cake, but who’s dreaming?).  I cannot give you a full rundown on what was inside.  Suffice it to say that the raw materials used for making varnish – resins and such – were locked up, so I couldn’t even taste them.  And the finished varnishes –which were displayed so they could be smelled – mostly smelled like a combination of delicious port and something very poisonous. So I did not taste them. ,

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Having explored the farthest depths of the museum, and bidding adieu to the man with the smile of a thousand skies, we left to find some lunch and make a plan for the rest of the day.  Failing to make a plan, we chose to get back in the car and see where the day took us.  As I was riding in the back seat, I did not expect to have any say in what decisions were made thereafter (let’s face it, if you’re in the back seat, you’re considered the illiterate of the planning world).  So imagine my surprise when our driver was cruising along and casually dropped into conversation that I was responsible for calling directions.  Thrust thus into a position of pure power, I panicked and started shouting contradicting instructions (clearly I handle subordinance with the grace of a queen).  Things seemed to be going well, my heart was pounding and we hadn’t crashed, when out of nowhere I was told there was an intersection and we could go home or go to Austria, and I had to decide ‘NOW!’. I dithered for a brief moment before shouting ‘AUSTRIA!’.  And that is how we came to have hot chocolate in a warm little cafe in Austria while night descended!  On the drive back home, I laid back, happiness sneaking into my toes, and listened to the chattering of the stars while the mountains slowly woke up.

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