Munich Nights Chapter 44: “Bamberg: A Brief Welcomed Respite”
The outer (now rather aged and crumbling) perimeter walls of Bamberg old town were apparently constructed very carefully on seven hills, many years before. These were witnessed by all weary travellers into open view as the dawn of the new day finally arrived. Never failing to perform with wonder and precision in its daily miracle. Yet an atmosphere of enchantment still hung over the town in the now exposed buildings being viewed by the tired but excited Göring party.
Historically it seemed that apparently, Emperor Heinrich II had almost bankrupted the treasury in trying to emulate the splendour that was always doomed to failure in pagan Rome. And incidentally with sixty-four working breweries today, it is claimed that this city proudly boasts about this if and when asked. Many town inhabitants or their guests seemed to joyfully celebrate this alcoholic fact, in raising any offered overflowing full stein of beer in the name of goodwill and friendship from the people of Bamberg to the world!
However, because their Mercedes cars had not yet been fitted with heaters – a sad oversight from the makers – this overlooked blunder was, unfortunately, leaving its passengers rather cold, tired and flustered.
Carin and Karen would happily welcome the enjoyable prospect of luxuriating in a hot refreshing bath that filled them both with satisfaction. Karen realised that the newly appointed nurse would be required and expected to assist Carin in her bathing routine. Her own personal popular soap named ‘aloe vera gel’ would have to be applied carefully for Carin’s always dry parched skin. She would have to remind the nurse about this crucial criterion in Carin’s care.
Her friend’s arms she had also noticed recently were now not strong enough to support her own shrinking bodyweight it seemed. Another cause for concern for Carin who was now experiencing painful discomfort in both entering and exiting her daily bathing routine was almost impossible for her to manage alone. Karen understood her dear friend would be at least able to soak herself once submerged in the welcomed warm water. But the newly hired nurse would have to gently soak Carin’s back and other parts of her anatomy that her friend was unable to reach.
It had been a useful gesture from her father to engage nurse Stanic whom she knew well enough to assist in such a personal way. But there was something about this woman that made Karen feel …. well .… rather uncomfortable. Whenever she needed to speak or watch the nurse something about the woman’s demeanour slightly concerned her. She realised her father would certainly have hired only the most professional nurse for this final motor tour and would certainly have vetted her references. All the same, something about nurse Stanic caused concern and suspicion. She decided she would discuss this worrying matter with Walter later and see what he thought professionally about her fears. After all, had she not frequently reminded herself with a wry smile and tongue-in-cheek that he had been THE finest investigating officer in the Munich Kripo police. And he naturally agreed with her of course.
On first viewing this historical town, and for those who were now awake, it had been rather disappointing. The town buildings that faced them when they motored over the famous Regnitz river bridge seemed rather dark and dirty to look at and certainly not to admire.
In the distance, she noticed a long canal boat meander slowly on its way down the main-Danube canal, but then suddenly displayed like a pack of playing cards painted by the old Venetian masters themselves, stood the old townhouses or the ‘Klein Venedig’ all arrayed in their glory, graced with dramatic and amazingly vivid colours. This no tired traveller, she had later read in a popular travel brochure, who reached its welcoming gates for the first time would or could never forget their first sight and the deep impression it always made on them.
Walter helped Carin slowly to alight from the car and noticed she was slightly shivering. He reached for her heavy mink fur coat that was quickly passed to him by a concerned Karen and placed it around her frail shoulders. She thanked him and affectionately touched his cheek as a silent thank you.
Hermann then walked around and placed his own protective arm across his wife saying with pride as he gestured to the splendid hotel before him: “Well here we are my darling Carin. This I was informed is Bamberg’s finest hostelry. And all ready for your personal inspection madam” he gestured with a mock bow toward the building again. She smiled at his foolish gesture.
Behind them stood Walter with his arm now around a cold Karen: “Well my darling,” he said with a gentle squeeze,” “a nice hot bath awaits you and I hope your favourite bath salts will be provided for you then to just luxuriate in.” Then the four of them walked towards the hotel entrance and a smiling departing hotel employee greeted them as if they were old friends.
Watching them depart was Kurt Ludedke, their driver and nurse Stanic. They shared a few words with each other. Then both followed the four into the hotel forecourt.
“It’s rather exciting isn’t it darling,” Karen said looking up at her husband and snuggled closer to him and then noticing the many nation’s flags fluttering in the warm breeze. All very international, she thought.
To Carin, the hotel frontage somehow reminded her however of a drab government passport building she had once visited years before with a relative in Copenhagen in the Gammel Strand. But that all changed immediately when she entered the busy and vast foyer.
The bustling room displayed thick welcoming Persian carpets for the arriving guests. A high, very large Zodia clock looked down on all from behind the arrival desk. A tall bearded smiling booted decorated Cossack doorman in dressed full Russian uniform with assorted gleaming medals displayed that he had probably earned whilst serving in the Tsar’s failing white army against Trotsky’s prepared red army. He saluted them as he pulled open the heavy doors for them to enter. Once inside were young smiling page boys in silly pillbox hats coasted around the rooms with silver trays displaying important messages for guests to accept or decline as they called out the recipient’s names. Several assorted gushing water fountains were also seen, splashing gently from their deep amber lit pool lights. Someone had carefully arranged white lilies now floating gently on the undisturbed surface like galleons. It was like a fairytale unfolding around her, noticed Karen and she was now very much looking forward to sampling the hotels’ many culinary delights as well. Especially from those gold-framed daily menus and incidentally all carefully handwritten in gothic French that she had then noticed on arrival with interest.
To be continued……
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell