an idiot in germany

October 2001

Thursday, 11th October 2001.

Triberg! Home of Germany's highest waterfall!

Not much of a boast, to be honest, but at Adelheid at the top of the falls, I met an old bloke who would have to have been pushing 70. Pushing 70 what? Ho ho!

He couldn't wait to tell me that he walks for five hours every day. Resisting an urge to make a wisecrack about catching the bus (because my German doesn't extend to wisecracks) I asked him to tell me more. (Not that he needed encouraging.)
"In the morning I walk on my own," he said, gesturing vigorously with his walking stick at nothing in particular, "and in the afternoon I walk with my wife."
I asked what she does in the morning, to which he just shrugged his shoulders and gestured aimlessly again with his walking stick.

As I crunched along a gravel path winding through the Schwarzwald, I heard a strange sound. I stopped, cocked my head like an inquisitive puppy, walked, cocked, get the picture. It was a tearing, ripping sound. I reached a clearing and encountered a herd of cattle grazing very noisily. They stopped and looked at me.

Time stood still as the herd contemplated Hiker Ian. There was a hush all over the Black Forest, puntuated by bursts of banjo. I stared back. Neither man nor beast moved.

I addressed the lead cow. "How are ya?" I asked.

With alarming synchronicity, the cattle immediately resumed their grazing.

I walked on, through Weissenbacker to Martinskapelle and then on to the halfway point of my hike - Donauquelle. This is the source of the Danube. As I reached the crest of the hill a familiar stench assailed my nostrils - eau d'espana!

Ah yes, that special blend of cowpats and the hot sun - the Germans do it nearly as well as those funky Spaniards! The perfect aroma to accompany one's lunchtime break.

In glorious German sunshine I walked back to Triberg, and caught a train to Freiburg. Which probably wasn't the cleverest thing to do, since the train took the long route to Freiburg...via Offenburg. If only I could work out the bus...

And here's a helpful map:

You stupid boy.