POST 4 OBSERVATIONS from the SADDLE OF a BIKE
Augsburg and our first Couchsurf experience
Not wanting to spend hours on trains we decided our next stop would be Augsburg just a short hop away from Stuttgart and in addition we could meet our friend Margit who lived nearby in Munich and her sister Sylvie who lived in Augsburg. Margit worked in our pottery workshop years ago and since then we have kept in contact.
For our first couchsurf experience we arranged to stay with Dominik and Sarah who lived a short ride from the Augsburg centre. It was arranged to meet Dominik at his apartment at 6-00pm. Bev and I sat on the step waiting, hoping he would turn up. By 6-30 we were getting worried and began wondering had we got the dates right. Our main means of communication is through email and it helps to have wifi connection constantly. To make things easier Bev is suggesting a smart phone for our next travels!
As I have mentioned previously Bev gets a little anxious at the end of the day as to where she is going to sleep, but I reminded her that in the 45 years we have been on the road she has never had a bad night. I went off looking for a suitable stealth camp and found an ideal place in a children’s playground surrounded by hedges on all sides. In the playground was a trampoline and for a stealth camp I thought it was nine out of ten. I insisted Bev come and have a look.
Much to Bev’s relief Dominik and flat mate Daniel turned up (the traffic was bad and therefore delayed) and we were made most welcome. Dominik’s partner Sarah was away so he offered us their double bed and he took a single mattress to another room. We slept soundly in luxury and did so for the following four nights. Sarah arrived a few days later from visiting friends prior to going with Dominik on a long trip to South America, Australia and New Zealand. They are to make a containership passage from Valencia Spain to South America and ultimately travel and work in NZ and Australia. Of course we hope we will be around when they arrive in a year or so. It is their intention to try and travel the world without using aeroplanes.
Dominik held a degree in landscape engineering and design but he found sitting in front of a screen all day not to his liking so he took to the shovel and did hands on practical landscaping work. For some reason we missed out on a photo of him.
Sarah was a theatre backdrop artist and some of her work was truly remarkable. Take note of the size of her paintings. In some cases they are life size.
The original of this painting was done by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip lV during the Spanish Golden Age. The Spanish Golden Age or Golden Century was a period during the rise of the political Spanish Habsburg dynasty (1492-1659).
There are many historical buildings in the Augsburg city centre as the city was not bombed to the same degree that other German cities were. However Augsburg was targeted and the most infamous bombing raid involved RAF Bomber Command’s attack on the M.A.N. U-boat diesel engine factory. Because Augsburg was a long distance from England it was decided by Bomber Command to bomb the factory during daylight hours. The new Avro Lancaster was employed for the task. Only two aircraft managed to get to the target and drop their payload. Seven Lancasters were shot down with the loss of 49 crew, 37 killed and 12 taken prisoner. When I read statistics such as this I cannot help but think about the losses on both sides and the fruitlessness of war.
Another raid in 1944, referred to as the ‘Big Week Mission’, the Augsburg Messerschmitt factory (bomber aircraft) was bombed and again with the loss of many lives. During the last bombings 730 people were killed and injured and over one million left homeless. Due to frozen fire hydrants (it was minus eighteen degrees at the time) fire-fighting was difficult.
One might wonder why I include WW2 bombings in my European writings but to the people, although the war ended in 1945, WW2 is still very much in their minds. For example, during the Christmas of 2016, 52 000 Augsburg residents were evacuated so a 3.80 tonne unexploded bomb could be removed from a construction site.
We met our friend Margit and her sister. We wandered around Augsburg with them visiting the essential tourist points. At lunchtime we ended up in a Moroccan café. It was a positive place with many posters on the walls that I consider imperative to include.
Following are some of the things we saw while on our tour with Margit and Sylvie.
Around cities there are many things happening that are essential to make a city function but not a lot of visitors take an interest in the mundane, for example the laying of roadway setts.
Every city has an eccentric and Augsburg is not without its very own. One café actually issues a welcome to tourists in supposedly the words of the King of Augsburg.
After four wonderful nights with Dominik and Sarah we bade them farewell and for a first couchsurfing experience it was most acceptable. As they sail into a future life we will think of them with affection and I do hope they visit us when in Australia as I have a couple of rainwater tanks that need a painting on them and I am visualising Sarah behind the brush.
There is a church in Augsburg I call a minimalist church. In the remodelled St Moritz Church there are no mouldings, festoons, filigrees or fancy Baroque style adornments, simply plain white painted walls. When I saw these walls I thought of Sarah and what wonders she could do with a plain white canvas such as the walls in the church.
Thinking simple brings this post to an end. To stay with us as we continue Observations from the Saddle of a Bike click on FOLLOW. You will be alerted each time we do a post. If you wish to make a comment please do so. The next post will relate to Villach, a city in the region of Carinthia in Austria.