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School Trips

Bavaria and Austrian Tirol

1934

A party consisting of the Headmaster, some Old Ealonians with their friends, and ten Monovians left Victoria Station on Saturday, July 27th, for Dover, en route for a fortnight's holiday in Bavaria and the Austrian Tyrol. Those for whom this was a first venture had some misgivings, as rumour had it that travelling comforts on the Continent were of a minimum quantity and quality. However, the fine sunny morning kept spirits high, and all were full of anticipation at plunging into the "unknown." Although sleeping in carriages fitted with wooden seats is by no means luxurious, it is practicable, which is surely all that matters; and spirits still ran high when we reached our destination, Immenstadt in the Bavarian Alps, on Sunday, with the savour of lunch and the fragrance of cigars blending in the summer air. Immenstadt is picturesque and typical of most small towns in that part of Germany, with its clean cobbled streets and healthy looking inhabitants, neatly dressed in Tyrolese costumes; with its noble, finely sculptured churches and numerous signs and banners. It was this town which was our home for the next six days, and it was here that the most fastidious could satisfy their taste, with facilities for hiking, climbing, swimming, boating, and the more sedentary sunbathing all at their disposal. Having settled down to our completely new mode of living, we ventured next day to climb Stuiben, a mountain about 5,400 feet high, but as Immenstadt is not at sea level, the task was not so formidable as would be imagined. When we reached the summit, the view of the snow-capped Alps to the south and Lake Constance to the north-west aroused great enthusiasm. Although our activities continued, enthusiasm for this particular diversion waned, and our next excursion took us to the Breitachklamm, a beautiful gorge, and through Oberstdorf to Lake Freibergsee. At the Freibergsee a few us were fortunate enough to meet some members of the Hitler Jugend. A short conversation with one revealed that he worked eight hours a day in a factory at Chemnitz, where reckoning and typewriting machines were made. He appeared perfectly satisfied with his job and gave the impression that it was carried out under ideal conditions. As the time for our departure from Immenstadt was drawing near, the two following days were spent in exploring the town and its surroundings, and on Saturday morning we left it by 'bus for Pfronten Ried, where to our great dismay we had to wait four hours for the train to take us to our destination, Reutte, a town in the Austrian Tyrol. However, eight "stout" fellows walked the distance of fifteen miles and were ungraciously rewarded with a drenching. This was the beginning of a downpour that lasted two days, which time was spent in eating sparingly and drinking moderately, playing indoor games and 'writing letters, going to bed early and, in our opinion, rising early; all of which were successfully achieved at our hotel, ideally situated overlooking the town. After the second day the rains stopped and the sun shining brightly gave us the first opportunity of taking our bearings. On Wednesday we took advantage of the brilliant weather to make the ascent of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, by cable railway. This engineering wonder has, however, destroyed the natural ruggedness of the scenery, and now thousands "rush" where once the experienced climber "feared to tread," and, moreover, that feeling of victory enjoyed by a climber after achieving his objective is not kindled within the bosom of one who pays a fabulous price to make an effortless ascent. This excursion was undoubtedly the climax of the tour. With Thursday dawning our thoughts were directed homewards, and at 10 o'clock we left Reutte to have an enjoyable ride back to Immenstadt on the first stage of our return journey, which we continued next morning by rail to Mainz, arriving there in the late afternoon. This was our first glimpse of town life. Certain trivial and almost amusing municipal statutes are administered in these prosperous parts. One was brought to the notice of a few of us when we entered an ice cream shop. Each bought an iced wafer valued at approximately 1.5d., and we were preparing to leave when the salesman informed us that eating ice cream in the streets is forbidden after seven o'clock in the evening. Trivial though it may seem, we had to adhere to it. It was here too that the activities of the Nazi regime took our eye. The Storm-trooper is a prominent but not a dominant figure. When greeting, he clicks his heels, presents a palm, and murmurs but two words "Heil Hitler!" While still dressed in his brawn uniform he is sometimes to be seen puffing a cigarette. A battalion of Stormtroopers on the march does not display great uniformity of action, but this is skilfully counteracted by singing, which although not always harmonious, does represent a united effort. On Saturday we steamed down a most beautiful stretch of the Rhine to Coblenz, where we took train for Cologne. Unfortunately, little time could be spent in this historical city, and soon we were rattling across Germany and Belgium towards Ostend. Here we bade the Continent farewell and arrived at Dover just at the sun was rising above the harbour. Few interruptions were necessary in the Customs Office, and before long we were gliding through the Kentish Weald towards Victoria and an English breakfast. At Victoria we said goodbye to our friends from Ealing after a thoroughly enjoyable fortnight, and, for many, a completely new experience.
By R. JAMES (VI Lit.)