Chapter XIX

Certain towns involve certain duties. You journey to Bairenth to hear a Wagner opera in the Wagner opera-house, but to Munich to drink Munich beer in a Munich brewery. There are, of course, galleries in the town, and, if you time, you can go and make sure that everything- marked with a star in Baedeker is really there. But you can do this as well in any other capital in Europe. We went the first evening of our arrival to the big brewery on the other side of the river. It was a new three storey, factory-like, brick building, and its doors were hospitably open. A hall led to the garden at the back, but not a light was lit, and chairs and tables were turned upside down and piled up together. Fear of the rain had driven everybody inside. There were two large rooms downstairs, and I suppose the men and women and children sitting at the long tables, as close as sardines in a box, were enjoying themselves. They were eating sausages and sauerkraut, and drinking beer, and the men were smoking long pipes. Every window was, and I believe always has been, tight shut: there was not so much as one little ventilator, The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and we tried upstairs. There was the same crowd, the name Loathsome atmosphere: only here the people overflowed into the hall, there were more women and children about, and most of them had brought their sausages in newspaper parcels. We went downstairs again. But we had come for our own amusement, and not, at the risk of our appetites, to investigate t German customs; and we started off just as fast as we could for the freshest, cleanest restaurant in the place, and that was the last we saw of the Munich brewery. We did not have to walk far to find a restaurant. All Munich goes out for dinner and supper, and eats and drinks of the best with no trouble and for next to no money. The restaurant-keepers do not set themselves up as prophets, but they might give a practical lesson to those reformers in London who preach the moral beauty of life in common, by which they mean kitchen in common, and stop at the preaching. As to the people of Munich, not being bothered by.“yearnestness,” they get as much healthy pleasure out of their meals ns they can, and are monstrous civil and merry, as Pepys would say; while the constant click of the billiard-balls is the sociable sound beard in the dullest restaurant. But the gayest haunt is the whole town was our hotel, with its beer-garden and nightly concert when there was no rain. Then, too, it was the C.T.C. recommended headquarters, and we met cyclists there-a mild Viennese, who was the only person in the house to dine upstairs, where you ate the same dishes and paid twice an much for them as if you stayed below, and who showed us the comic post-cards, a specialty of German humour, which he was sending to friends at home, Americans who treated us with respect which was oppressive: and a delightful little Pole, who, after that, became our fellow- traveller for several days. The morning we left, just before noon, Joseph was over-hauling the machines, and he asked the Pole, who was putting his safety in order, for a spanner. That was our introduction. They both misunderstood each other in German for a few minutes, when it occurred to them that they might understand each other in French. It was then we discovered that he was a Pole, that he had lived in Paris for years and spoke French like a native, and that he was riding in our direction: and so, after dinner, we all started off together. If the road going into Munich was bad, I don’t know what to call the road going out of it. I feel that I used up my strongest adjectives too soon. But the most naturalistic description would not explain its execrable condition better than the fact that the big, heavy, lumbering country carts took to the ploughed fields in preference, and so did we. When the fields came to an end we rode through woods, dodging the undergrowth as best we could, ducking under the lower branches of the trees, though every now and then one would catch my hat and send me flying. When I fell I always turned around, and there, some distance behind, I always saw the Pole in the mud, with his safety at his side. Every time Joseph would go back to help him out; every time the Pole would find a new excuse for having tumbled. Joseph a more emphatic word for having been bothered. There were trenches running from the road to the wood, as if it were possible to drain it of its mud: if we saw them in time, we jumped off our bicycles, if not, we wen- jerked off. That one afternoon was to me worth years of ordinary practice in mounting and dismounting. When the wood became all but Impracticable we went back to the mud; when the mud became unendurable we went back to the wood. And once, where the road was most disgracefully bad, we passed a road-mender carefully pulling up the weeds at its side! Presently, the Pole refused to go farther, and threw himself on his back in the wet grass. We suggested rheumatism and lumbago, but he would not budge. We had waited a good half-hour in the first village inn before he overtook us. Things improved after that. The wind subsided a little, we begun to see the mountains of the Tyrol in the distance, there were wide views from every hilltop, we met peasants in Tyrolese costume—knee-breeches, ruffled shirts, jackets with short tails, soft hats with green ribbon and feather—and on the houses, almost every window and door, were the pretty decorations peculiar to this part of Swabia. But the improvement was not great enough to make us think twice about stopping in Aibling, forty-seven kilometres from Munich, though Joseph and I, out of politeness, stood in front of the inn at the entrance of the town until the Pole had caught up to us—he was walking by this time—and pretended to consult him. He made himself so useful that we forgave him for having kept us waiting. He had an idea that his German was very much better than ours, which it wasn’t, but we let him go on believing it. and were modestly silent while he did all our bargaining. To this day I am not sure whether it was owing to his talents or to the natural virtues of Aibling that our bill there was the smallest of the entire journey. It deserves to be recorded. For our two suppers, our room, and our two coffees in the summer we paid exactly three marks and thirty pfennigs. And there was no petty meanness about the proprietor either. We had three beds in our room; the Pole four in his. The next morning, farther in the town, we found several more pretentious hotels, where, I don’t doubt, we could have paid twice as much, but we were content. The small clean German inn was always good enough for us. After Aibling, the road, though nothing to boast of, at least compared favourably with the fields on each side, and it ran through uncommonly pretty country. It brought us to Rosenheim and Endorf, to Trauntstein and other picturesque towns. The near blue mountains of the Salzkammergut rose before us and took on bolder and more beautiful forms with every hour; and we came to one after another of the wide Bavarian Sm, or lakes, now looking down upon them from high places, now loafing on their banks; and once for several kilometres we skirted Chiem See, radiant in sunshine, in the far distance the island where the mad Bavarian king built himself his lordly pleasure-house, and where in near waters he was drowned; at the lower end was a little village, with an inn overlooking the lake, where we ate a dinner of the Pole’s ordering. The Pole was the one excitement of the day. He would not keep up with us, he would make us wait for him, sometimes in a roadside inn over a light lunch, sometimes under a tree in the open country. Once we lost him altogether as we rode through a town, but he turned up an hour later scorching like one possessed in his desire to overtake us; once Joseph rode back a whole kilometre, so sure were we that this time he had broken his neck. But he was never without his good reason: his brake had come loose, his chain had got choked with mud, he had dropped something, he never did believe in riding more than twenty kilometres at a time without stopping to rest. Indeed, he was a great comfort to me —he was such a bad rider. Still, we were anxious to get to Salzburg for the night, and so was he, for that matter. When he rode with us, which was not often, he was preparing us for the delights of a certain Weinkeller in the town which he knew, where, he said, we must go for supper.#

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