|No sir, you are not mistaken, that’s a camel wandering the marketplace|
“Take the luggage off your bikes and then take them to the right and around the back and park them up,”says the hotel owner, in good English; a relief after days of pidgeon German.
“Next to the camel?” I ask him cheerfully.
“The camel.” I’m hoping he doesn’t ask me to clarify this as I’m sure my phrasebook won’t stretch to a German translation of Camel.
With the palm of my hand I draw two bumps. He probably thinks I intend to retreat to the nearby Mcdonalds. But no, he raises his head and lets out a long laugh. “Ah you mean the hysterical market?”
I take my bike through the historical German market which for some inexplicable reason has recreated a cross between a Moroccon souk and a medieval castle. Spices fill the air, a man is gutting something dead in front of me, and donkeys and camels are on every corner.
|Wandering through the market, you’re never far from a camel|
There is a beggar dressed as a medieval peasant who demands euro’s but gets none. The archery stall is doing a roaring trade, and scantily dressed women throw coloured lights into the air on strings. A band plays in the centre of the town, and everyone is drinking the usual selection of German beer. Sausage sellers shiver in sackcloths with string waistbands in fairy lit wooden stalls, and the boys are attracted to a stall wholly furnished with animal skins. “Oh it’s so fluffy,” says Matthew, handling what looks like some kind of beaver fur, getting the same look from the stall owner that Stuart was awarded earlier when he tried to squeeze his tandem and trailer between the camels, a lamp post and a large pile of camel shit.
We go out for dinner, a traditional medieval fayre of pizza, spaghetti Bolognese and egg fried rice in the local Chinese takeaway. Shongau is a strange town. As we approached we could see it high in the air. “Not another medieval walled city,” I cursed under my breath, knowing it would be another two hundred metres of climb after a long day. But no, just up a short hill the city walls opened to reveal a rather bland place of chain stores and fast food shops. And of course the quaint, traditional medieval market.
|Even as we head to bed, the beast waits outside the hotel|
As the rain comes down, and thunder flashes above, everyone rushes for cover with their beers and we retreat to our hotel. The camel is now stationed outside the front door. Both the animal and its owner give us an evil stare. But then the local drunkard offers three euro’s to be carried home on it, and we run inside, side stepping the dung, resolving to close the windows in case camels are nocturnal creatures. “Night night John boy, Night night Mary Ellen. Night night camel,” says Hannah as she drifts off to sleep, a medieval guitar playing a soft accompaniment to her dreams.