Bookmark and Share

A German DIY Picnic

On the Motorway Near Kempten im Allgäu – September 2009
German autobahns have service stations, but they also have places where you can pull off the motorway, to an area that if you are lucky is shielded from the motorway by trees and where you can park up and have a picnic. Often there are toilets too. French and Belgian motorways also have such laybys, or aires, but I don’t think you find them in any other countries.
We had bought some bread in Austria. Possibly Austria is the best county in Europe to buy bread. And not long into Germany we stopped in the autobahn picnic area for our lunch of high-quality Austrian bread.
A German man with a grey beard wearing sandals and socks was carrying a pan to the toilets to get water, while his missus set up the primus stove on a picnic table; rather too near the entrance to the gents, I thought, to make for an entirely relaxed tea break.
We found an unoccupied bench in the sunshine, and were enjoying our Austrian cornbrot when a coach pulled in, and out creaked a contingent of elderly ladies with grey hair and wearing neatly pressed beige slacks. Some of them had walking sticks and needed help in getting off the coach. There were a few men, but predominantly women, and predominantly beige. We wondered: a Women’s Institute outing? Could have been.
Once the driver had ensured that everyone was safely down off the coach and leaning on their walking sticks, he went round to the luggage compartments and brought out a folding bench-table and two long folding benches, which he erected alongside the coach. Then he opened various panels in the side of the coach to reveal water for coffee and plastic picnic baskets. Coffee was made in jugs and everyone given something to eat, and the passengers had their picnic, on the benches, alongside the coach, in the parking area; all this was done at a stately pace, it taking time for the coffee to be brewed and the snacks to be distributed, and of course not everyone could fit on the bench seats, so there was a general milling about and talking, about what, we were too far away to hear.
It was a German DIY picnic trip.
The coach was not an especially new one, and its regional registration code, VB, was not one we recognised, so that other than their being German, we could not work out where they came from or possibly were going back to. If we were less generally shy, one of us would have gone round to the back of the coach and looked at the numberplate badge, which tells you the town of registration, and used this to spark up a conversation, but we were too bashful to do this, at least on that day. So we simply took a couple of photos with the mobile, which was all we had to hand, and continued on our way.
VB is in fact Vogelsberg in Lauterbach, for one can look this up on Wikipedia and is a town that is not near anywhere very much, it’s in Hesse, to the north-east of Frankfurt-am-Main and a fair drive from the Austrian border. It has a wonderful private website, with a video of the local railway line dating from 1926 and a really fun soundtrack – worth looking at the website just to listen to the music.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails