… I embarked upon a school cycling trip through Germany beginning at Dinkelsbühl. I can remember nothing about the town but its cute name and the fact that we were staying in Jugendherberge [youth hostels]. Our holiday turned out to be a stinky hot tour, with temperatures topping 100°F [it was 1968 so we didn’t do Centigrade] and, given my youthful propensity for bad sunburn and doing lobster impressions, I was forced to ride my curious Mouton Standard, complete with only 4-speed Sturmey-Archer gear box, in denim jeans and long-sleeved shirts. The Germans had never seen such a bicycle and their jaws dropped as they stared. It was one of the best holidays of my life.
Having mentioned my school trip on numerous occasions, Francine was fascinated to see Dinkelsbühl for herself. Since we’d be passing close by on out return drive, we made for it. After a nightmare of a journey along an autobahn containing two sets of highly disruptive roadworks that lost us an hour stuck in traffic, we finally arrived yesterday at a campsite within walking distance of the old town. Happily we arrived just before the accursed MIttagsruhe. We’d booked in for two nights to give us today to give me a blast from the distant past.
Dinkelsbühl old town is a charming mediaeval vision with cobbled streets adorned by several towers. Dinkelsbühl lies on the so-called Romantische Straβe, which seems to be a bit of a touristic marketing ploy. The guide books suggest there is nothing to mar its mediaeval atmosphere – nothing, that is, save for a couple of modern construction cranes which can be avoided for holiday snaps. Oh, and cars are permitted to drive around the cobbled streets, of course, which looks a little less authentic than carts drawn by horses. Sadly, none of this nudged any memories from the far flung recesses of a 15-year-old schoolboy’s memory.
We went in search of the youth hostel where I would have stayed. Luckily, it is marked as a building of interest on a tourist town map, so we had a fighting chance of finding it. Find it we did and my memory continued stubbornly to fail to recall any details of my original visit. We snapped the youth hostel anyway and went in search of more adult refreshment.
Much of the town seemed to contain hotels rather than beer gardens but we finally found a more relaxed looking hostelry which served us some Dinkelsbühler Weizen [wheat beer]. Wheat beers are light and quite refreshing in heat and I have to say that this example is about the best Weizen I’ve tasted to date.
After another short wander, clearly Francine wasn’t quite refreshed enough and decided that an iced coffee would be in order. Lunch time was beginning to slip by, too, so, not doing well without a minor lunch, she accompanied this with a slice of cheesecake. Pop! I went for an apfelstrüdel and simple espresso, to keep the volume down. ‘T was OK but the strüdel had clearly been nuked in a microwave so the pastry was soft.
At last Francine had seen my old German cycle tour starting point. I can remember bits of the holiday, such as a 6th-former filling his water bottle with beer and not getting rid of the flavour from that point on, but I still recalled only the name of Dinkelsbühl.