We knew we were in trouble when we saw a tank charging towards us. This was no military vehicle but something much scarier: an angry woman, steaming in our direction, loud German words flying out of her mouth.
Andrew, who was cooking dinner just outside the tent, was first in the firing line. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t understand a word of the verbal assault coming his way and put up the equivalent of a white flag. “Ummmmm, in English please?”
From inside the tent, Friedel heard something about “cooking” and “verboten”, the German word for forbidden. Out she came, from the tent into the crossfire.
“Sorry,” Friedel said in German. “Where can we cook, if not in front of our tent?” Every campground we’ve been in so far has allowed us to cook by our tent, so this seemed odd.
The woman kept on yelling and pointed towards a little shed, half open, only a few feet long and filled with bicycles and clothes hung up to dry.
Was she kidding? There was no room in the shed, certainly not enough to share among a tenting site with nearly 100 people in it, even without all the bikes and other belongings already stuffed in the small space.
We started to ask if there wasn’t another spot we could make our meal, when the onslaught entered its second phase.
“And have you registered? Why haven’t you registered? Go and do it, now!”
Once again we tried in vain to explain that the office wasn’t open when we arrived. A sign clearly said registration from 5pm-8pm and we’d arrived earlier, so intended to go back after supper. She wasn’t having any of it. She proclamed us fools, told us this was no laughing matter and generally tore a strip off us in front of the whole campground, which by now had gone into a freeze frame, with everyone turned in our direction.
If we hadn’t already set up our tent and started supper, we’d have left by this point.
Only later did we learn that the owner seemed to enjoy taking her customers down a notch and did this several times a day. In the process, she’d earned herself a few names, The Battleaxe and Major General being the most popular. After she’d finished with us, barged through the rest of the campground putting people in their place and finally returned home, several others came to tell us their offences. Grave ones they were indeed: washing clothes in the sink, taking up too much space at a communal table and forgetting to turn off lights were all strongly “verboten”.
The good side of this was that like recruits at boot camp the guests came together and we ended up having a good laugh and getting to know some really lovely people. An Australian couple cycling from Amsterdam to Vienna told us how they’d taken up cycling in their late 50s and were loving it, while a family shared their tales of biking all over the world, in Greece, New Zealand and Canada to name a few countries.
Of the campground itself though, we don’t have very good impressions. We already thought the price was expensive for a tiny pitch, crammed in with dozens of other tents, and then to get a public berating as part of the “service” was a little too much.
That aside, we had a nice and easy ride into Passau. We didn’t even know when we entered Germany. There wasn’t a single sign to indicate a border crossing. From here, we’ll have to do some research. We’ve decided to meet a friend in Frankfurt for the weekend, before going to Munich, so we’ll certainly need to take a train to make up some of that distance and we’ve got floods in the area to consider as well.