19 Dec 2011: This morning, we drove about two hours to the outskirt in the Bavaria Forest, near the Czech Border, to our resort, Mondi Resort. I had booked this three-star resort as a second choice as I couldn’t get our first choice in the Black Forest.
I could see the disappointed faces when we arrived at the three-star apartments, especially after the 5-star treatment at Sofitel Munich. This apartment was simply furnished, much like the one we stayed in Cameron Highlands but better maintained. The three apartments all came with full kitchen. I allocated the one-bedroom suite to Frank’s family, with my mother bunking in with them, with the two boys sharing another apartment next door. Mike and I would take the last apartment on another level. The resort had a list of suggested things we could do everyday of the week, which was helpful. After settling in, we went to the supermarket nearby to stock up our kitchen. There, we found stollens with rum and decided to buy one to try. Aunt E had ordered 6-8 rolls and we were undecided if we should buy them here or when we return to Frankfurt.
For dinner, we drove to a town nearby called Straubing for dinner. Frank had located a Japanese restaurant through the internet. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed on Monday, so we walked to the nearby Delphi Greek Restaurant instead. After dinner, it was back to the resort for laundry (at least for me) and rest. For dessert, we had the rum stollen and it was very good. We decided to grab all the stollens they had at the supermarket the next day.
20 Dec 2011: Mom woke up with a swollen eye from taking aspirin, which she claimed she had no knowledge that she was allergic to and Frank had to drive her to the doctor and the Apotheke for medicine. We had booked a free Straubing City Tour conducted by the tourism office through the resort and Mom would have to miss it. I told her we’ll only be back after dinner and that we would be going to the Japanese restaurant, did she want sushi for dinner since it’s also cold? She shuddered and said no. Then I pointed out the alternative – toast and ham, which she immediately rejected. ‘Bring me back udon soup,’ she ordered. I looked at her incredulously and reminded her that we are in the Bavaria Forest. ‘Yes but you’re going to a Japanese Restaurant!’ I rolled my eyes.
We had a quick sausage lunch at the Christmas Market and joined another family of four for the city tour. Our guide, a feisty female called Rosita took us though the history of Straubing, pointing out famous houses built in the Rococo and Baroque eras. We went into a church and visited the underground crypt. We also gained free entry to a museum to see the Roman artifacts that was dug out in the nineties. We enjoyed the two-hour city tour, Frank especially, when he learned we would otherwise have to pay to enter the museum.
Dinner was at the Tokyo Restaurant. We were early and the staff were just unlocking the door when we arrived. We hovered outside and were their first customers that night. The deal was, all the sushis you can eat for one hour at €11 per person. This restaurant was operated by Chinese. It must be like meeting old friends when we conversed in Chinese to them, such that when we complained we never had a chance to ‘grab’ the Salmon sushi, the salmon sushis arrived in a wooden tray, enough for all. When Aaron wanted the jelly, he was served a generous portion. The Chinese tea was charged per cup and we had to ponder hard if we should order another round when the young waiter waived off the charge. They were also generous with the time, telling us that we had twenty more minutes when we were sure our one-hour was up. There was no udon soup for Mom and I packed home a packet of rice with pork and vegetable for her. She complained it was too salty.
21 Dec 2011: This morning, we decided to take the kids ice skating, the next best to skiing. We left Mom at home again but promised to return to take her out for dinner. She had started coughing and wanted to visit the doctor again but Dr Albrecht decided she was better off visiting the Apotheke for medicine instead.
The boys had never skated before and Nat had skated a few times. I went ice skating once with neighbour Aunty Rose but declined to join in this time – I didn’t think my old bones can take any fall. In the end, Frank took the kids. He glided, pulling Pat along. Ivan and Aaron ‘shuffled’ along the rim, never letting go of the fence. After one round, Aaron had enough and I had to persuade him to go another round. Nat, gliding around nicely, kindly offered her hands and off they went. Let’s just say after three rounds, they were confident to skate without holding and even complained that they would lose their ‘skill’ when they return to Singapore.
Dinner was at the highly recommended Da Nico Italian Restaurant near our resort. While some enjoyed the pastas and steak, the mussels in white wine sauce were too pungent for Aaron and I. So were the prices!
22 Dec 2011: This morning, we would explore the ‘Glass Route’ – another recommendation by the resort. The route is dotted with numerous glassworks, workshops and art glass manufacturers. There are also sumptuous displays of glass in museums and galleries along the route. It was an hour drive from our resort. Along the way, it started snowing heavily, creating a surreal vision for us tropical visitors.
Frank decided we should just concentrate on one location, Das Glasdorf, instead of driving along the 250-300km glass route. There, we were lucky to witness a glass blower in action. The kids had a fun time guessing what would be the eventual object from the molten glass.
It was our last night in Bavaria. We returned to our resort town Midelfelds and drove around looking for dinner. We stopped by a nondescript Bavarian restaurant, arguing if we should enter and was rewarded with fine food that was cheap and good.
23 Dec 2011: Our Bavaria holiday was turning out to be surprisingly enjoyable. We had no itinerary as none of us had been here before. Thankfully, no one had high expectation and the family relished the time spent together, something we never had in Singapore. This morning, we would experienced a farm breakfast. Breads are baked fresh and sent to the market from this farm every Friday. We were served rolls and ham, plus a hard-boiled egg each, nothing fanciful or surprising. We walked around the farm, the land white with snow, and imagined how it would be like in summer, where the cows, now locked in the shed, would be out grazing. We left the farm, stomachs filled and satisfied. We took in the sight and sound, and also brought with us back the smell of the farms from our boots into the cars.
I had really enjoyed my stay at Bavaria, a place I have never imagined I would visit. My German itinerary ends with Bavaria and we left the resort, wistful that our holidays would soon be over.