Finally, a useful side effect of picking a tightarse Tuesday budget airline to fly with !! Since getting to the UK I've been talking about hopping over to Germany to go visit me ol' high school chum Wib, and I finally got around to it. It turned out not to be that complex a proposition, cos as luck would have it, Munster is located perilously close to the regional airport Munster-Osnabruck.
What a groovy little place – it's largely a university town, and it's laid out nicely with cyclists in mind. Cycling is in fact the chief means of getting about. There's scores and scores of old bikes chained up all over the shop, and plenty of nice wide footpaths to ride them on. Presumably the purpose of buying really old bikes all the time (I'm not kidding – these were no Malvern Star metallic blue dragsters!) is because they're cheap, but equally, nobody in their right mind would nick one. You couldn't make much of a getaway on these things.
Whilst visiting a new culture I'm always keen to try the local delicacies. In our case, the thing that leapt most readily to hand was beer, which of course I tried with enthusiasm, and on the Saturday afternoon we even visited the rather excellent Pinkus Muller brewery, where I had to work my way around the menu in order to give it a fair hearing. Additionally, I tried a local thing known as “Matjes” (rhymes with mattress). Matjes, it turns out after I'd agreed to eat one, is a kind of sandwich made with some type of pickled fish. Not the most romantic looking bit of cuisine, but not half bad !
By stark contrast, something that was bad was a (sadly) readily available beer variant known as Altbierbowle. They take a perfectly delightful strain of beer – altbier – and then add a few spoonfuls of diced fruit, such as oranges or strawberries. Good for the vitamin C intake I guess, but otherwise 'orrible.
On the Saturday we spent a fair bit of time picking things up from the market (including popping by an organic lesbian bakery), and it's good to see our German cousins keeping in line with the Spanish, French and Italian ways of eating decent, fresh, tasty and healthy looking food, as opposed to the over-processed muck that many of the English seem to have settled for.
After the market trip we had a wander around the cathedral and through the museum they had there. Pretty cool stuff – packed out with elaborate holy relics and textiles from the day, and some quite elaborate burial arrangements for members of the clergy.
The cathedral itself was quite staggering as a building, and the thing which interested me most was the astronomical clock (first built in 1408, but rebuilt in 1540 following anabaptist disturbances). It has undergone some substantial changes over the years, but essentially it's a marvel of engineering that allows priests to calculate dates for the various religious festivals in the future to a very very high degree of accuracy.
Sunday we rode our bikes about in the sun, had a few lazy beers and some nice food, checked out the museum of the local area, had a wander along the river, and stopped for an impromptu virtuoso performance by myself on the foot piano – a sort of rendition of “Waltzing Matilda with extra swearing”.
I don't think I've forgotten anything too important – other than to thank Wib for an excellent weekend! If time & weather permit, I'll most certainly pop back to Munster for another weekend. That was great fun.