A Brit in Bavaria – A Bavarian in UK
Good old times vs. modern times…
Part 1 – AUGSBURG
by Ralph Kratzer
My girlfriend Sarah is English, I am from Bavaria in Southern Germany. For 10 years we have both now lived in Northern Cyprus and met each other just by chance a bit longer than one year ago.
So we decided it was time to visit my relatives and her family and friends over Christmas and New Year in both our home countries.
We had already booked our flights on the Internet some time before, as well the train tickets for England and the rental car there. All seemed to be perfectly organized, nothing should go wrong… modern times! But, as so often in life, things didn´t work as planned…
A taxi took us on time to Lefkosa-Ercan airport. The flight to Munich via Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines should depart at 8:10am. We had planned to check in for the connecting flight to Munich about 1 hour after arrival in Istanbul. That should be enough time at Sabiha Gökcen Airport because this is the smaller and more uncomplicated one compared to the huge Atatürk Airport on the European side of the mega city.
So we checked in, went through passport control and security and were at last sitting in the departure area of Ercan in a good mood having our morning mugs of cappuccino. Suddenly I discovered on the indicator board that the departure time of our flight had been postponed to 8:40am. OK, I thought, not ideal but still enough time left to get the plane to Munich. But in fact, our aircraft was not in the air until shortly after 9.00 o´clock! At 1½ hours flight time this resulted in an expected arrival around 10:30am. At 10:55 the take-off time to Munich was announced! It would be virtually impossible to manage this…
On our request the flight attendant dropped us off on two of the front seats of the aircraft before landing, to allow us a quick exit.
Normally people really annoy me who are jumping up from their seats prior to the halt of the plane, then impatiently trampling about on the aisle while ramming their hand luggageinto the faces of the still sitting passengers… In this case, we were the ones who could not await leaving the plane!
We rushed to the airport´s transit area. To our surprise we were already expected by an employee of Pegasus. “Transit to Munich?” he called out to us, “please follow me!”
The friendly young man smuggled us through all queuing travellers directly to the departure gate and called out to his colleagues: “These are the late passengers from Ercan!”. We were quickly checked in and fell, exhausted but happy, into our seats on the plane to our final destination… Subsequent thanks to Pegasus Airlines! Whatever may have caused the unfavourable delay initially, you did a good job in the end!
Of course one thing remained to worry us: “Will our luggage be on board as well…?”
At the airport in Munich, we were eagerly awaited by my daughter. And the best news of the day: Our baggage had actually arrived as well!
The days in my home town Augsburg were beautiful. The weather was cold but clear and I was able to show my girlfriend some of the many historical attractions of Germany´s third oldest city, being founded in 15 BC by the Romans as Augusta Vindelicorum, named after the Roman emperor Augustus.
But the highlight for Sarah was, in addition to the countless shopping facilities, the visit to the Christmas Market in the main square of the city. It is considered to be the most beautiful Christmas Market in Germany and we had a wonderful evening there (although I cannot stand crowds of people…!)
In-between I also showed her the pub culture of Bavaria. We had lots of fun, because in the first pub we visited, a game of my favourite football team FCA (Fußball-Club Augsburg) was shown live on big TV-screens….there was a crazy but friendly atmosphere among the numerous soccer fans present and my girlfriend clearly enjoyed the Bavarian mentality and hospitality… I secretly thought if it would be similar in England???
(I have to mention at this point: Years ago I had travelled to England several times for business reasons, but apart from Heathrow Airport and our company´s office in High Wycombe, Northwest of London, I had hardly seen anything of the British island!)
After the Christmas Market, with some shopping and mulled wine later, we went to one of the most trendy restaurants of Augsburg, the “King of Flanders” in the middle of downtown.
It was crowded, but we were lucky and still got a small table for two. We enjoyed delicious home-brewed beer and traditional Bavarian-Swabian food, namely “Kässpatzen”. Sarah was visibly impressed! (To get the recipe for this tasty dish – click here!)
Next day we continued sightseeing and visited more of Augsburg’s showplaces, inter alia the famous “Fuggerei“, the world’s oldest social housing complex which is still in use. The yearly rent for one of the small picturesque houses there is € 0,88! But you have to prove to be poor, Roman Catholic, born in Augsburg, and you have to say a prayer for the founder Jakob Fugger “the Rich” (1459–1525) every day of your life!
I think my girlfriend will not soon forget our visit to Bavaria, not only because of the lasting impressions of Augsburg, but also because she had been welcomed with open arms. Our three day stay ended with a cozy pre-Christmas dinner together with my family in a traditional rural Bavarian restaurant in the area with lots of wild duck, wild pork and venison, dumplings, red cabbage and all the rest of it…good old times!
The trip back to the Munich airport we made with mixed feelings, on the one hand with anticipation, on the other hand with the thought: what would go wrong this time…? (to anticipate it, we were right!)
Next part of the travel report will follow soon!
Learn more about Augsburg by clicking here!