Luckily the drying room was empty and I was soon back at the tent. What now? I'm sat here wearing a mini skirt and girl's pants and I'm starving! Well I guess that woman didn't notice anything odd, maybe... Nah that's stupid. I settled into writing my journal, moving onto the ass in front of my tent to take advantage of the evening sun.
I'd actually been sat there for nearly fifteen minutes before it occurred to me that I was just sitting about in a skirt. I was still hungry maybe I could get away with it, there's a restaurant on the site, I could go there, maybe?
The idea is preposterous, intentionally dressing as a woman. My stomach chose that moment to make its opinion felt with a very audible rumble. Oh what the heck, its only clothes after all. I gathered my wallet and secured Foxy and the tent and steeled myself for the expected ridicule my attire would garner and nervously headed towards the camp restaurant.
There were a few more people about now, kids running about, couples out for a stroll, parents cooking - well it was just as you might expect a campsite to be. And then there's me in a short skirt and vest top. I was expecting stares and maybe worse but t e only looks I got were friendly and often accompanied by an 'abend' or similar. With no excuse to turn and flee to the safety of my tent I was soon at the door to the restaurant.
Here goes nothing! I mustered my courage and went inside. It was more like a pub inside and only one or two tables were occupied. I spotted a vacant table in a dark corner and headed across the room. The other patrons gave me no more than a cursory glance before continuing with their food and conversations. I carefully sat down, never have I felt so exposed, I resorted to what I've seen a thousand girls do - that is try to pull a too short skirt down! Geez. Nervously I picked up the menu, I wish my German was better.
The girl acting as waitress, I recognised her as the same girl that checked me in earlier, spotted me and gave me that `won't be a mo` look that is as universal as eating itself. I studied the menu again, the options were not extensive, that German staple goulash soup, some sort of noodle soup, three types of schnitzel, what looked to be sausage and chips and lastly a basic cheese and tomato pizza which claimed to be vegetarian.
"You would like to eat?" Her English showed me up big style.
"Er yes please" I realised that my voice had taken on a slightly squeaky pitch.
"It is better you are dry yes?"
"You drink yes?"
"Please, ine growser beer please"
"Okay, we also have, how you say in English, er special menu for today." she indicated a board by the bar.
I was expecting some comment about my attire but there was none and she didn't appear to notice anything odd. The `specials` board added what I think is spag bol, a `schweine` something and a Rothenburger wurst. Hmm, I think I'll stick to what I recognise so I settled on the pizza.
My beer arrived and my food order taken. No one seemed to be taking any notice of the cross-dressed guy in the corner, for which I was grateful. My host seemed oblivious to my gender, despite me booking in as me. Maybe my limp shoulder length hair and rain gear had disguised my sex? Did she think me a girl earlier? I sipped at my drink nervously whilst trying to melt into the upholstery!
My food arrived in reasonable order, I was a bit disappointed that it was a thin crust and the topping wasn't overgenerous either. It was saved by a decent salad; my appetite was at least filled by the meal. The other patrons were well into their cups by the time I finished, I might have had more to drink myself if I hadn't been wearing a skirt and panties.
I paid my bill and with a "tooce" I beat a fairly hasty retreat. I can't believe no one said anything, still, no point in pushing my luck. I stopped off at the drying room, my own stuff was still holding a significant volume of liquid, I hope they do dry overnight.
Back at the tent I crawled inside before losing the vest and skirt, I decided to keep the knickers on for the night as my own were still out of commission. I eased into my sleeping bag; this is really it, my first night under canvas at the end of my first day's riding. I lay back and relaxed, two more weeks of this, excellent! I checked my phone for the time, I don't use a watch, nine thirty, early yet but to be honest I'm well bushed. I quickly dozed off to the night time sounds of a busy campsite.
The sound of birds chirping and a distinctly bright dawn woke me after an exhaustion fuelled sleep. I blearily glanced around my faintly green surroundings trying to figure where I was, green, tent - holiday! Still in my sleeping bag I poked my head out of the tent, early morning mist swathed everything below half a metre but above that were the makings of a hot summer day. The slight chill of the morning air sent shivers coursing through my scantily clad bod; a visit to the toilet block will be needed sooner rather than later!
I made a grab for my shorts and dragged them on, hey where's the other leg? Wait a minute, these aren't my shorts... Oh sugar! Last nights events came rushing back, bum! Well there's nothing for it now, I need the loo and I need it now! I finished pulling the skirt up, located my fleece, dragged my sandals on and crawled out of the tent.
Well at least no ones about yet, I can collect my hopefully dry kit on the way back. There's something serene about a campsite at this time of day, no kids, cars, dogs, radios, well any of the myriad noises that populate the airwaves most of the day. Only the chirping of the birds, a distant cockerel, a car speeding past on the road outside but mostly silence.
I was at the urinal before I remembered my attire; embarrassed I headed into a stall instead. Bliss! In my head I was planning the day's programme, walk up into Rothenburg, hmm maybe I can go via that castle place and the bridge?
Huh? I looked up my musing to realize I was stood in front of a rather portly and confused looking middle-aged man. I must have nearly walked into him as I exited the gents.
"Er sorry" I blushed and hurried past. Oh no, he thinks I'm a woman and I was coming out of the gents. To say the least I made a hurried retreat! To compound matters, when I got to the drying room it was locked, bum, bum, bum! I read the sign on the door, eight o'clock; I've got breakfast booked for seven thirty. With a heavy heart I made my way back to my campsite, this cannot be happening.
It was still not six thirty when I got back to my tent, thoroughly depressed and now in a definite quandary. Hmm, maybe I can work something out over a cuppa. I set the stove up in the tent porch and was soon intently watching the kettle; you have to watch, as there is no whistle. The tea didn't change the situation but it did ease the tension that was building.
Looking at it logically it's not the end of the world. I reckon I can cope with breakfast in the skirt then I can get my kit and change before going into Rothenburg. There, that's not so bad is it? Settled on a course of action I decided to read up on the town before heading to breakfast still forty-five minutes away.
As I skimmed through the guidebook my mind kept wandering away to what I'm about to do. Last night was one thing; the light in the restaurant wasn't great so people couldn't really see me. And the laundry room and again this morning, they didn't really get a chance to see me properly. Maybe this isn't such a great idea!
My stomach gave a loud growl; in matters of food I have to admit that my head loses nearly every time. Well in for a penny! Well despite the bargain price it seems that most campers prefer to do their own breakfast. I was somewhat relieved to find only one other table occupied when I got to the dining room. It was a thirty something couple, the woman briefly smiled at me but otherwise I was ignored.
"Good morning" I nearly whispered.
"You have booked yes Fraulein?" a lad in his late teens asked.
"Yes, Jenkins" I advised.
"Sit where it pleases, there is cereal unt fruit, kase unt meat, help yourself. To drink?"
"Okay I will bring to you shortly"
With that he left me to it and I found a seat. I won't bore you with every detail but my 6 Euros got me an excellent repast and rather than looking at me funny, the lad smiled every time he caught me looking his way. It was well after eight when I finished and I thankfully recovered my washed kit on the way back to the tent. I can only imagine everyone here is blind, no one pointed or stared, in fact the opposite, they smiled and offered greetings - you are not telling me that they can't see I'm a bloke in a skirt!
Well my shorts looked like they have been trampled by a herd of elephants but at least they are mine! I decided to leave the knickers on, they're comfy and it will mean I can use my pants tomorrow. And no one will know will they? My socks however were beyond redemption, okay for riding but for walking around - I'd feel a right scruff in grey socks. Maybe - no I shouldn't, hmm well its only socks. I opened the case again and indeed there were some socks, those trainer things, I can replace them later. I had them on my feet before I realized they had a pink stripe around the top, well who's going to notice?
Feeling a lot more comfortable I headed to the ablutions for a quick wash. Only wash today - I can't grow a beard to save myself, I get a few straggly hairs after about three months! A check of my chin confirmed what I already knew, completely smooth, not a whisker in sight. I tied my hair back; it's not that long but it just keeps it off of my face. By some weird coincidence although there was no one else in the washroom, when I left I bumped into the same bloke I saw earlier.
"Er morning again" he still thinks I'm a woman!
Back at the tent I collected my valuables and with a final check of Foxy, set off for the day. I shouldered my bag and out of the campsite into Detwang village down past the `Alte Poste` inn and onto the footpath alongside the Tauber. I was soon striding along; this really is what I came for!
The path, then road took me towards the Topplerschlößchen and shortly I spotted the walls of Rothenburg/Tauber high up above me. My camera was soon pressed into action, the schloss itself, really a fortified house rather than a castle then a short distance further, the unique Medieval Tauber Brucke. I'd already planned my route but flat paper didn't prepare me for the climb up to the town!
I was certainly thankful for the trees as by now the sun was making its presence felt, the almost clear blue sky with just the odd wisp of high white cloud promised a day of hot sunshine. I eventually reached the Spital Tor and started my exploration of the town and its defences. I started with the walls, you can 'walk the walls' for most of their length, by the number of people I started to negotiate, it's a popular walk.
I was intrigued by the plaques set into the wall, sometimes in quite thick profusion with something like `Mark Jones, Kansas, December 1985`, at first I thought they were commemorative, they are in a way, I found a board on one stretch that explained them. Apparently, if you donate enough to the town restoration fund, you get a plaque. I was more amazed by the fact that, you'll like this one, the town was captured virtually intact by the Americans who then used the magnificent medieval towers and houses for target practice, practically levelling the place. So everything you see now has been rebuilt since 1945! I was happy to see that a good proportion of the donors on the plaques were American, even corporations - there might be hope for them yet!
It was certainly different, walking these walls with their covered walkways, steep stairways and long stretches with no exterior view. The last city wall he'd walked was York where perversely considering the English weather; its wide, open views are unhindered by roofing! The first time he heard it he thought he'd misheard, the second disabused him of that notion and the third time it was obviously real. If it had been the same person it wouldn't have been so bad but three separate persons, 2 Americans and a French woman had variously called him Miss, Ma'am and Mademoiselle! This is starting to get irksome!
It took over an hour to walk as far around the perimeter as was possible, his camera working overtime. He followed the wall around to the Castle Gardens and walking to the end looked out over the Taubertal. Well there are more spectacular views but this one's fine enough with the Double Bridge, the Kobelzeller Church and just visible down through the trees, the little white Topplerschlößchen. It was peaceful along here, a bit too far for a lot of the touristos on their air-conditioned coaches. And how many Japanese and Americans are here?
He wandered back towards the town, pausing for a solemn visit to the little Blasius Chapel, which now is dedicated to the dead of two World Wars. Outside of the castle grounds he found a gift shop and elected to buy the town walk guide. Looking at the maze of streets it would be easy to get lost! After another hour or so of exploring the central area he was feeling rather foot sore, the enticement of some shade, a beer and a light lunch was looking increasingly tempting. A roadside bar in the almost traffic free central area provided the victuals before he rejoined the multi national throng of visitors. The guide book led him to some of the lesser known points of interest and after a visit to the " Medieval Crime Museum' and the purchase of some "schneeballe", the local culinary delicacy akin to a doughnut, it was time to head back to the campsite at Detwang.
At least the walk back down into the valley was through the shelter of Lindens and Oaks keeping the fierce late afternoon sun at bay. Back at the tent he was quite content to collapse on the grass and kick off his sandals from his now weary feet. After what seemed like hours but in reality was only about twenty minutes, the lure of the contents of the site shop proved too much, a supply of bread, butter, cheese and ham joined a litre of cola and two bottles of beer. Tonight food will be alfresco!
It was still fairly early so rather than eat straight away he decided to have a drink before going to check out one of the Romantic Roads hidden gems, the parish church of St Peter and Paul, Detwang. It was but a short walk down through the village to the church, set as it is, in a pleasant walled area dominated by the gatehouse, a solid stone affair dating to the 1400`s. Mark enjoyed looking around the old building, religious he wasn't but old churches hold some sort of fascination. A few pictures and a gentle stroll later and he was back at his 'zeltplatz', now gaining some shade as the sun headed down behind the hills on the other bank of the Tauber. Ah! This is the life, peace, pleasant weather and opening a beer bottle, alcohol!
With beer at hand, he used the time to write in his diary, noting what he did and saw; he'd never remember everything otherwise. It was actually starting to cool off by the time he started on his tea cum supper and by the time he finished the light was just starting to draw in. He opened the second bottle and kicked back on the grass.
"Tomorrow I start south proper, Dinkelsbühl I think it is, weird name. At least its not as far, I just hope the weather holds."
Compared to last night, this one was cooler and sleep was longer in coming. But eventually it did and Mark slept soundly.
To Be Continued
Maddy Bell 08.09.04© 2004
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