NOW IT CAN BE TOLD!--Chapter 4: Our Visit to Germany & Austria! DO 2725 3/91
--Story Time with Grandpa!
1. (David: Thank You, Jesus, so much for this special time that we can be together & hear from Grandpa about our Family travels & about him & Mommy & the Early Days. We really pray that You'll give us listening ears, Lord, & attentive minds. Really help us to continue to learn whatever You have for us. Thank You for how it's been so interesting, Lord, & fun, too. Thank You for Grandpa being a good teacher, Lord, in Jesus' name, amen.) Amen! I'm just a storyteller, I'm not much of a teacher. (Techi: Oh, yes you are, Grandpa! You're a good teacher!)
2. As you recall, in our last story we were leaving Copenhagen, & in order to get back to the rest of Europe we had to go through Germany. We decided we might as well take kind of a little circle tour & see some of Germany & Austria, so we took the famous "Rhine Express" train down through Germany along the Rhine River!--The land of castles, German castles! Here, I'll show it to you on the map. (Grandpa points out route on map.)
3. And guess what day we arrived in Munich, of all days! I had a warning of this because as we were riding down towards Munich, suddenly the word "Oktoberfest" came to me. I thought, "What in the world is that?--It must be some kind of a festival in Germany." And sure enough, as soon as we got to Munich, there was the Oktoberfest! We got there in the afternoon & everybody was drunk & singing & flourishing their beer steins! A stein is a big mug especially used to drink beer. So that's the Oktoberfest, it's a drunken spree by the Germans of Munich! (Techi: Why?) I don't know what it's supposed to celebrate. I think originally it was supposed to celebrate the harvest of the grain that they make beer out of. (Techi: Oh, so everybody gets real drunk?) Yes, at least a lot of people do.
4. So we decided to see what the local celebration was like. I never did like beer, though, because it's carbonated & I hate carbonated drinks. But we thought we'd go into this little beer garden--they call them "Bier Gartens"--which was packed with people. They were all sitting on benches at long tables & there was entertainment up front where a little orchestra was playing, & there was a little tiny space to dance up front, too, which was pretty crowded.
5. We were probably the only ones in the whole crowd who drank tea! The Germans, of course, do drink tea. They really prefer coffee to tea, though, & of course they prefer beer to anything else! The waitress looked at us kind of funny when we ordered tea, but I just indicated to her that I couldn't drink beer. The waitresses were cute young women all dressed up in these festival costumes, & Mama & I sat down at a table & watched the fun. The main thing at the Oktoberfest is that everybody sings together, swinging their steins, keeping time with the music. Anybody can start a song & then everybody joins in.
6. With all those hands upraised swinging their beer steins, I was afraid one might let go & hit me on the head! But we managed to survive it & we ran out quick after we had sat there about an hour, maybe not even that long. We were trying to decide whether to catch a train out of Munich right away, or spend the night there & leave the next day, because the place was so crowded! People come from all over to Munich for the Oktoberfest! Munich is where Hitler got started in 1923 when he held a mass meeting in a beer hall. They call it Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch"! A "putsch" is an uprising or an insurrection.
7. We had looked up several places that rented rooms in our "Europe on $5 a Day," & we phoned & phoned but they were all full. Then we saw a little desk over to the side of the train station where a guy was sitting & it said "Rooms" there. There was a long line of people leading up to him, but we got in the line thinking, "Well, if there is any chance of there being any room at all, we've got to stay some place tonight."
8. So we were standing in line, & we hadn't been there but a few minutes when this well-dressed man, very nice-looking, clean & middle-aged, came up to us. He chose us out of the whole line, probably because most of the others in the line were hippies & drunks & whatnot. He looked at me & I guess he thought I was fairly safe & sensible. He said, "Are you folks looking for a room?" We said, "Yes!" We still were, we were going to go ahead & see what they had, but we had just about made a decision to give up on Munich & take the next train out! (Techi: At least it was probably interesting.) It was interesting, but once was all I needed to show me what the Oktoberfest is like!
9. He was a real nice fellow & we were sort of weighing between going with him & how long it was going to take us to get up to the desk. He said, "Well, if you make up your minds to stay, phone me & I'll have a room for you." By that time I had made up my mind, & I said to Mama, "Forget it, I don't want to stay in this town full of drunks overnight. Let's take a train to the next place we're going to go!"
Train from Munich to Vienna!
10. As you can see here on the map, Munich, Germany, is just across the border from Austria, so we took the train then from Munich, eastward, to Vienna, Austria. We'd decided to catch the train & ride the train that night.--In fact, we usually planned our trips so that we'd be able to sleep on the trains at night, that way we saved money because we didn't have to pay for a room!
11. It was fairly late when we boarded the train, about 9 or 10 o'clock at night. The porter had already retired for the night & I didn't want to wake him up. We had asked at the ticket counter for a couchette, but they said, "It's too late to reserve a couchette, you'll just have to wait till you get on the train & see if you can find one." So we got on the train & traipsed up & down the aisles, car after car, trying to find an empty compartment, or at least a couple of empty bunks. (Techi: But wasn't everyone sleeping?) Yes, nearly everybody.
12. And thank God, this dear Romanian man who spoke English passed us in the hallway & said, "Are you looking for something?" We said, "Yes, we're looking for a couchette." He said, "Well, there's one vacant right next to my compartment. Come along & I'll show you where it is." He was like an Angel!
13. So he led us to a compartment that had a couple of vacant couchettes. They're bunks, but they're very comfortable, sort of springy. On the other side of the compartment was a Swede upstairs & a cute little French girl downstairs! They were still awake & talking so he introduced us & asked if the bunks were occupied, & they said no, they weren't occupied. So we went in, & of course you slept with your clothes on--most people did anyway. Each bunk had a pillow with a nice little fresh white pillowcase, so I grabbed the pillow off the top bunk & Mama & I put our two little pillows side by side on the bottom bunk. Of course, we couldn't fit on the bunk very well unless we slept on our sides.--And if we wanted to turn over, we'd both have to turn over at the same time.--Ha! It was really funny.
14. (Techi: So what did the Swede & the French girl end up doing?) They were talking for awhile, but we couldn't really understand what they were saying. (Techi: What language were they talking in?) French, & he was singing her songs, quietly of course. She had stripped down to her little slip, & I think he was just in his undies, his shorts. And by & by, after they figured we were sound asleep, he apparently invited her upstairs, & she went up! The Swedish men are very masculine & he wouldn't have thought of descending to her bunk! But the French women are very willing & yielded to men's masculinity, so she went up. (Techi: A perfect team!--Ha!) There was some bumping around for awhile but finally they settled down. And some time in the night she must have climbed on down to her bunk--it is a little uncomfortable sleeping two in a bunk--because when we woke in the morning, he was in his bunk & she was in hers. (Techi: She probably didn't want you to think anything happened!)
15. And by the morning we were in Vienna! We got off the train & discovered that not a lot of people speak English in Austria, they all speak German. We kept asking & asking the railroad station clerks about places to stay, hotels etc., because I don't recall there being anything listed in "Europe on $5 a Day" on Vienna. But anyway, we found a map & we decided we'd walk around the city.
16. The train station we landed at was right at the top of a main street & then there's a long, gradually declining main street that goes down to some big buildings, & we walked down that. I remember the first thing I was so surprised at was that there were hardly any young people or children, just old folks. Back then, Vienna was a city of old people. They say many of them stopped having children because of World War II. They figured the World was in a hopeless state & they didn't want to bring children into it. (Techi: They stopped having children?) Yes, by various methods. (Techi: Like abortions & things?) Yes, I suppose, or birth control pills.
17. I remember we stopped out in front of a church & there were these beautiful chalk drawings, almost like paintings on the sidewalk! Amazing! The artists make these chalk drawings right on the sidewalk, & with the first rain they just wash away. I mean, they were beautiful! We stopped to admire this artist's paintings, etc., & he, of course, had other little drawings on paper that he was selling. The chalk drawings on the sidewalk were just to attract your attention. I always have a lot of sympathy for the poor salesmen, especially the sidewalk salesmen or door-to-door salesmen, & I always try to buy something from them if I can. So I think we bought a little sketch he had made for just a few Dollars. (Techi: Was he an old person too?) No, he was young. He was one of the few young people we saw!
18. We walked on down to this old, old, old hotel & we got a room there, a very big old room. It was one of those grand old hotels that they used to build in Europe that now have grown old, & it's 20 years older now than it was then! It had very large rooms with vaulted (arched) ceilings, very ornate, & there was, thank God, a double bed, which was rare in those cheap places where the hippies stayed. And it had a washbasin attached to the wall.
19. You have seen that washbasin! It was in the pictures of our trip with Mama sitting on it! I had to show her how to do it, how to sit side-saddle on the washbasin & use it for a toilet!--Just for urination, of course, & that was perfectly all right. We just turned on the faucet & washed it down, & that was it.--Because you don't want to get up out of bed, usually stark naked, & go out in a public hall clear down to the bathroom in the middle of the night. So I showed Mama how to do this before we went to bed so she would know she didn't have to go out in the hallway. (Techi: What would you do if you had to have a BM? You would go out?) Yes, but Mama & I are pretty regular--she has hers before bed at night & I have mine in the morning.
20. After we got settled into our room, we went out to eat, then back to the hotel to sleep. We got up in the morning & we wanted to catch the first train out because we weren't too interested in Vienna. We were interested in young people, & at that time Vienna had virtually no young people or children. It was amazing! I was just astonished! That's the thing I remember the most about Vienna. Of course, since then things have changed & Vienna now has a lot of young people.
21. So then...oh my goodness, our time is up already! Well, that was Vienna, & next time I'll tell you about our trip from Vienna to Paris! That trip we took in the daytime because we were told how beautiful the scenery was through the Austrian Alps--which are called the Tirolean Alps--& the Swiss valleys & Alps which we would pass through as we went all the way from one end of Austria--see on the map here--clear to Geneva, Switzerland where we had to change trains to go to Paris. That was an all-day trip from Vienna to Geneva and on to Paris, and I'll tell you about that next time! PTL! GBY! ILY!
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