The day was finally upon us and Derek Lyons, Pam Rose, John Chapman and I were finally there in the deep south of Germany for the 9th Annual 501st and Friends Meeting in Bayern Park, Bavaria!
We flew from Heathrow with Lufthansa and made excellent time, arriving in Munich 10 minutes early. Met by Ulli Pallor of the Austrian Garrison, Michael Robl of the German Garrison and some of the girls also of the 501st German Garrison, we headed off in the direction of Reisbach, in the vicinity of Bayern Park.
After heavy rain the last few days, we appeared to have brought the good weather in tow and, indeed, the temperature was 31 C today. We continued first to the hotel, Das Hotel Schlappinger Hof, which Derek and I had previously stayed in the year before and checked in. Ulli took us out to meet with the members of the 501st already setting up on the camping ground by the park and we then went to meet the charming family who own and operate the park.
I must say, this park is a country idyll, with clean paths and rigorously maintained lawns and borders as well as state-of-the-art rides and amusements for the whole family. I wish our amusement parks were of this sort of standard! Children can run free in safety and the staff are delightful. One price on the gate and and everything is free within!
|The latest ride inaugurated for our visit - Der Freischutz|
Day 2 started with a blazing hot sun and the drive back to the park. On arrival, even though we were early, a large queue had already formed and so we went straight in and met up with Garrison members from Austria, Switzerland and Germany and members of the Rebel Legion, who were also trooping the event. In all, over 150 costumers in full costume, as well as children in brilliant costumes as good as those of their parents, were there to troop!
|The next generation is already in training! LOL|
I applaud all of the 150+ costumers of the German and visiting Garrisons for trooping tirelessly in full costume in the heat! This day the temperature rose to 34 C before midday and very humid!!! But you can't keep a true Star Wars fan down and all trooped with amazing good humour! The public gave all the guys and girls fantastic receptions as they toured the park, posing with kids and parents alike and joining in the fun.
The crowd massed to see what photos we had brought with us and any other novelties, as Derek and I had done the year before. I had sat down a few days earlier and made up a load of bookmarks for each of us and we had all brought a variety of cards, figures and t-shirts to help the event along. As in Stockholm, Her Majesty The Queen was in attendance on my table waving cheerfully to the public!!! I told the kids and their parents it was my way of getting my taxes back for all she cost us! Don't suppose I'll get a knighthood now!!! LOLOL
John Chapman was very popular with his comic books of the adventures of Jonnie Rocket - great books for kids of all ages, and especially those learning English!
Lunch came and went and I once again remained signing throughout, missing my Wienerschnitzel and fries! But I didn't mind - I had the very lovely Daniela Hofman helping me with the throng and we battled on in good humour to the end of the day. The public spoke confidently to me in the certain knowledge I would understand them, as I had made my little opening speech in German at the beginning. I was met with accents and dialects I had never heard before. Truly, people had come from far and wide for this event!!!
Amongst the highlights of the day were three particular children. Firstly, the one month premature baby daughter of Andrea and Michael (who had collected us from the airport and driven us to the park), just two weeks old and pushed by her father in costume in a converted buggy made to look like a Sand Crawler! :)
Another little darling, Rebecca, settled happily into my arm and stayed with me a long time - I was reluctant to hand her back as she was so well behaved.
|Baby Rebecca with me, Daniela and Ulli's daughter, Constanze.|
|The Sand Crawler buggy! :)|
|Baby Rebecca with her mother Nicole! A perfect little bruiser with a sunny disposition - the baby that is LOL!!!|
|Hardly a baby anymore, but #3 - this cheeky little chappy preferred to stand on my hand!|
That evening, we all returned to the park for a BBQ with the 501st members camping there. The sky was bejewelled and clear and the International Space Station tracked acroess the sky on queue! Amongst the attendees was a lovely girl, Katje, with her dog, Sophie - a cross Miniature Pincher/Chihuahua. Katje Beham lived a while in the States and her English is really great! We chatted for quite some time and Sophie made my lap her bed. A nice feeling of home-comfort and lovely food and company!
|Sophie and her 'Mum' Katje. Andrea Rilli and Ulli Pallor behind.|
|A view down the aisle towards the Gothic Choir.|
|The entrance to one of many courtyards across a wooden bridge.|
|And another courtyard, dated above the arch 1533....panting by now! LOL|
|A courtyard too far!!!!!!|
|Michael Robl in his Lederhosen by a plan of the castle.|
|Pam with the town behind...|
Our final day was to be a brief excursion to a German traditional dress outlet to have a look at Lederhosen and Dirndls. Only John Chapman and a couple of the girls tried anything on. John declined to show us! :)))) But Elisabeth and Daniela were game.
|Daniela in her dirndl. The headwear is not traditional! LOL :>)|
We left the shop and tottered into a brilliant Chinese restaurant, where we had a fantastic buffet as Ulli and Michael's guests.So generous!!! Thank you guys!
And with that done and our tummies stuffed full, we went on to Munich and the airport. The flight was on time and comfortable and we were soon back in my car and heading back to London. I think I can certainly say that we all had a fantastic time in the company of our hosts and the German/Austrian and Swiss 501st. Long may they continue to attract such wonderful and welcoming people!!!
|Farewell Germany, until the next time.......|