The visit commenced with an Easyjet flight, in company with my friend and fellow German Garrison Honorary Member, Derek Lyons. As normal, the flight was delayed and we arrived in a baking hot Munich airport quite late. We were met by Ulli and Hubert Siebertz of the Arma Candida (White Weapons) and set off for Reisbach - the nearest town to Bayern Park and the destination for the following day.
The hotel restaurant was already closed (thank you again Easyjet) and so we stopped en route at a drive-through McDonald's - a very different proposition to the English branches! Here the selection of food was at least twice as large and was more like a restaurant than the UK's plastic palaces! We ate and continued on to the hotel. Ulli had had the foresight to check us in and collect our keys in advance - just as well, as the hotel was dark, with no night concierge to greet us!
|Das Hotel Schlappinger Hof.|
This was a family-owned hotel of a very good standard and with comfortable rooms. My only problem was to connect to the advertised Wi-fi facility, which the owner maintained was not needing a reboot, as diagnosed by my laptop, but that my laptop was English and could therefore not speak to his German router!!! I was informed he thought I would have to wait until I came home, where it could talk to other 'English computers!' I found this rather funny, but didn't pursue it further...of course, in the light of events, he was right - sort of!!! Hehehehe!!!!
A stage had been built for the occasion in a small paved and cobbled forecourt, opposite a large (5 meter tall) statue of a Bavarian lion. We ascended the steps and found ourselves looking out on a sea of faces!
|Ulli awards a promotion to a German Garrison Naval Officer.|
|The posters produced to mark the occasion of the 8th Stormtrooper Meet in Bayern Park.|
|Derek responding to the welcome speech given by Walter, far right - a great guy from the Park.|
Walter, a member of the Park staff management gave a warm speech of welcome, to which we were each asked to respond. Derek, with the aid of Andrea Rilli (above in TK armour), gave a hearty vote of thanks, punctuated with his favourite German phrase "ich mag Chocoladenkuchen!", for the invitation to attend and for the great welcome offered us. I had intended to speak in English, but the size of the crowd and looks of expectation towards the Guest of Honour, myself, prompted me to take my life in my hands and address the crowd in German. Andrea helped me out and we received a roar of applause! Derek and I were wondering what we might be doing next, until we noticed tables laid out to the side of the stage and realised we were going to start giving autographs immediately!. I have to say, I have never been mobbed before, but that is what happened to us, and rather than sign for an hour and move on, we signed through lunch! Derek moved off and was intercepted to give a brief interview on camera, and as he moved off, I was asked to do the same.
I lost sight of Derek and the Troopers and soon found myself surrounded with more people wanting to ask questions in German and wanting autographs. So, I had little choice but to smilingly return to the table and recommence signing! Apart from an interlude when Derek and I were called back to the stage for ten minutes for the presentation of my Honorary 501st Membership, and a brief sojourn inside a climbing wall-lined 'castle' as a hostage of the Rebel Legion, we stayed there signing until the Park closed!!! A total of seven hours by my reckoning! We signed what seemed like hundreds of posters produced for the event by Ulli and the 501st, as well as everything we had brought with us - even 60 business cards and 50 bookmarks I had brought to give to kids! In fact, I did come home with three photos, which I had left in the hotel room! LOL!!!
|Receiving the laser-etched plaque award from Ulli, assisted by Hubert Siebertz, and my ID badges to identify me as an Honorary Member of the 501st, worldwide.|
|Padme Amidala - Tanja Achatz - tries to make an escape! LOL :o)|
|Being held captive for ransom by the Rebel Legion and friends in the castle of climbing walls - and no, the kid behind is in a harness - he isn't hanging by the neck, as it seems! LOLOL :o)|
|And back to signing.....|
The crowd never let up and the pile of items to sign disappeared rapidly.
Ulli conducted a tombola behind us, distributing prizes for completed questionnaires the kids had filled out, including questions about Derek and me. Ulli was ably assisted by his lovely daughter, Constanze.
|Derek - happy and replete!|
|Andrea Rilli, me, Hubert Siebertz, Derek and Ulli Pallor.|
And with that, off we went to sleep the sleep of the just....LOL!
The following day - our last - we were whisked off for a day of sightseeing, starting with the city of Passau. Our driver this day was a really nice guy named Michael Robl. This city sits at the confluence of three rivers; the Danube; the Inn (flowing from Innsbrueck) and the Ilz. Each of these three rivers is coloured differently by the silt they carry from their sources and a curious division of the three waters occurs before they mix...
|The Danube - dark green; the Inn - pale green; and the Ilz - grey.|
|A close-up of the architecture of the city below|
Another view of Passau from halfway down the hill.
|Derek and me at the other end of the main street with the enormous Cathedral Spire behind us.|
|The last remaining city gate with the cathedral spire in view.|
|View from the bridge leading away from the city with the Ducal Castle/Palace on the hilltop. It is said the citizens of the city could see what thr Duke was eating by climbing the towering cathedral spire, which overlooks the palace on the hilltop, and looking down on the Duke's dinner table!!!|
|Michael and Andrea with Derek|
|The huge medieval brick-built spire|
|A beautifully painted facade.|