Copyright 2002 - 2007 I Text and Photography by Dieter Rolf Fischer, unless indicated I Above photos: Telstra
12. All go - Allgau
When a sportsman achieves second best in a field of the world's best, yet still apologizes to his fans that he did not come first, what does that say about the man?
Australian cyclist Cadel Evans did just that after becoming the first Australian to ever stand on the Tour de France podium on Paris' Champs-Elysees. The humble champion ended the gruelling race a mere 23 seconds behind the overall winner, Spain's Alberto Contador.
Continuing my 07 World Tour on Monday 7/5/07 I travelled into the Allgau Region of Southern of Germany for 4 nights/five days. Originally I had planned to spend this time with my brother Gerhard. I had booked a holiday apartment, via the internet. When the time came he decided to not take the time off work. He stayed back instead.
Rather than wasting the vacant space, I invited friends I had known for 40 years to spend a few days with me. My friend Juergen came and spent 2 nights, another, Paul, planned to come for one night.
It was a different Juergen to the one from the Black Forest, who picked me up in Esslingen on that Monday morning. It was the same one, where I had weighed myself on electronic scales, and clocked a surprising 68.4 kilogram (The story is in Chapter 1).
It was only a two hour journey in the car to the Allgau, a region famous for dairy production as well as tourism. On the way we took a walk around historic Memmingen and enjoyed a cup of coffee, as rich in aroma, as only the Germans can make it.
It was refreshing to see a large number of trout fish swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the creek, which runs through the centre of this lovely town.
Casually browsing inside St. Martin's Church I read a sign, asking for a donation toward their organ. For a minimum of 3 Euro toward the project, every donor would have their name included on a published list of donors. Becoming a recognized organ donor for only 3 Euro was worth it. I inserted the coins into the slot and wrote my name in the book. (Perhaps Memmingen wants to claim the title of the town with the most organ donors in the world?)
Our final destination that day was the Fuessen suburb of Horn. I had chosen the apartment because of its location, very close to King Ludwig's fairytale castle, in this most picturesque region of Germany. It gave us the best of both worlds, lovely mountain scenery, yet all around flat countryside, interspersed with lakes and ideal for what I planned to enjoy doing - cycling.
I could understand, if those who know my code think, I selected the Allgau, because the first three letters are ALL; or the suburb Horn, in German meaning hear N (with Umlaut); or I chose it because of the name of the Apartment - Se it z. None of the above is so. I simply surfed the net and chose this reasonably priced apartment, because of its location and the fact it included the use of bicycles for free.
As was the case elsewhere, my code followed me even here, while on holidays in this corner of the globe. Many, many numbers came in the form of car registration plates.
Just one example - right next door to our apartment in Horn I saw a parked BMW plate No. STA ... 070. Reading the S as 5, it made that day's date - 5/7 (+ TA).
Taking the dog for a walk during a break in writing, vehicle ANEV 015 (not in order) crossed my path. It happens so regularly, almost every time I leave the house. I tend to ignore it mostly.
The latest 5 & 7 incident happened on the evening before writing. I was returning from a meeting at the Italian Pentecostal Church in Adelaide, when I saw a Mitsubishi with the bonnet raised, obviously broken down on the far side of this main road. I turned the car around to see, if help was needed. But the lady had already called the tow-truck, so continued on.
Before driving away I noticed the registration number of the Mitsubishi - 5 & 7, plus the letters UTT.
Early this morning a strange, link came: That evening I had been listening on the radio to a concert. It was the 10-year-anniversary concert of the Italian choir TUTTI, broadcast live on Peter Goers evening show on ABC 5AN 891.
I recall having asked somebody at the Italian church what tutti meant - everybody). Now everybody can work out what I mean by it: TUTTI - UTT = IT.
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Historic Wangen / Allgau.
The beautiful Frauentor (Women's gate) is situated at the end of Herrenstrasse (Men's Street, better translated Lord Street). It is also called Ravensburger Tor and was first mentioned in 1472. The latest restoration took place in 1988.
ITAL - Italians in Germany make great ice cream.
The yellow and orange balls remind me of an incidence in Fuessen. I was looking for a particular shop on my bike, when I saw balloons in the same colours at regular intervals. (Book 1 featured yellow and red balloons a number of times, eg. Chapter 19).
I followed these balloons just for fun. After a few minutes I found myself browsing through the merchandise of a sports store's closing down sale. I needed a new pair of joggers, but did not buy any. The place was called Gaier & Wally (G 1a er & VV ally).
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(I ask the reader to be patient, if my writing sounds repetitive, but I feel compelled to include two No. 185 incidences, where I believe, intelligent minds have worked behind the scenes to create it).
Waking up early on Tue 8/5 I decided to listen to my transistor, what was on the airwaves in this part of the world. (My radio is very clever. Anywhere we go, it speaks that country's language, amazing). On the Evangeliums-Rundfunk (Gospel Radio) I just heard the final segment of a story:
Three ladies in Indonesia were in prison, because they had continued to teach little children Christian songs, after having been forbidden to do so by the authorities. Listeners were invited to phone, if they wanted any further information.
My mind stirred, when I heard about this injustice. What a good example of intolerance by ignorant authorities against Christians! When the broadcaster gave a phone number to ring, l listened carefully - 01805 ... the rest was an easy number to remember.
That's interesting, I thought. It starts with 01805 and today's date is ... But 185 were also the three digits, central to an incredible market-tomatoes-magic on Oct.18th 05. (Full story in - Journey so far to Oct. 05).
May I just side track here and mention a weird sensation I had a few weeks ago. While visiting my daughter in Sydney, I noticed an ad on TV. A hockey player, wearing shirt No.8, was being exchanged for another, No. 15, because she had a headache. The next scene: a P*N*D*L tablet made the headache disappear. (*Insert A A 0 to complete name).
The very next ad was about a food product. The very first scene showed a huge tomato. The name of the product Old LPa so.
The very next day I saw it once again, the headache tablet ad, then another, which featured tomatoes (I think it was a different food to Old LP...). All this happened on 31/7 and 1/08/07 on Sydney's Channel Ten.
Back in Fuessen, I phoned the number of the Evangeliums-Rundfunk from a public phone box. At first I had difficulty getting through. When I did, I was assured it was the right radio station. I explained that I had heard about the plight of the three Indonesian woman on their radio broadcast. Was there a website to check it all out?
A female voice, Frau Maier, did not know what I was talking about. (Nice name, M AI ER, Mai is May in German) She seemed surprised and affirmed me, I was the only caller regarding this story. I run out of coins in the middle of the conversation, before hearing further details. (Read on for good news at the end of this chapter).
Earlier that May morning I had taken a bike ride to the fairytale castle, only minutes away. It was a cool, glorious morning as I cycled through the fresh, clean mountain air, through the forest, beside lush green meadows. Cows were grazing contentedly, as a backdrop rocky, snow-capped mountains. What more does a man need to feel the joy of being alive?
Ah yes, of course, a code as a sign that somebody is following his footsteps and perhaps has been following his mad story on the internet?
At first I ignored it. After all this was my holiday, within my holiday, if you know what I mean? Not that it involved a lot of work, picking bits up from the ground and either dumping them or sticking them into my diary. After so many years, the practice had lost some of its novelty value. However, I felt prompted to turn back and see what it was I had spotted cycling by.
The bright yellow, small cardboard box on the dark pathway stood out. It looked fresh and clean. That's one reason I turned back to check it out. I was sure, it had been planted not long prior:
Top part of cigar box in my diary - 8/5 - Barcode 850001 390145
Bottom: Yellow single cigar carton: SIGLO IV - G (God) IS LOV 1.
Habanos SA (Hecho en Cuba).
Totalmente a mano (totally by hand - handmade).
That morning Juergen and I took a long hike. We had parked near the Neuschwanstein Castle and walked the length of the Alpsee and the Schwansee (Photo below). Juergen, a retired 65 year-old bachelor, had had great influence during my formative teenage years. I knew where to go, when I needed a listening ear. He always encouraged me, when I had problems at home and needed some wise counsel.
He had led the brass orchestra, where I learned the trumpet, as well as directed the church choir for many years. Juergen had had a distinguished career in electronic engineering. He was either a Doctor, or even Professor Doctor. I was not sure. He never bragged about any of his achievements.
We had a brief conversation about my mission, my passion to see an innocent man released from jail. Unsure, if he had read my story online, I gave a few details. He reacted in the same casual manner I had noticed in other people, non committal.
Juergen and I used to walk home after trumpet practice and talk about many things. We used to discuss and debate issues from every angle, leaving nothing unexplored. But things were different now. Maybe it was just not the right time and place to talk about such serious matters. I let it go.
In the early evening we took another walk along the Forggensee to the cute village of Waltenhofen. The water level in the large lake looked alarmingly low. The weather had turned windy with showers, so we took shelter inside the beautifully decorated Kapelle (Chapel) and admired the splendour of the place. After a while we sang a few hymns, turning back the clock 40 years. I could have stayed in that chapel and sang for hours.
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Two days earlier I had also sat in a church and sung hymns. It was at the ancient Esslingen, Stadtkirche, where my friends Willy (2 Ls, no connection to any French winery) and his wife Andrea took me to the Sunday morning Worship Service. One hymn we sung had 18 verses, but we only sang 7 (or was it 5, just kidding).
The first verse of this hymn by Paul Gerhardt (1607 - 1676), seems to summarize in four lines, how I see my mission:
Ich singe Dir mit Herz und Mund,
Herr meines Herzens Lust.
Ich sing und mach auf Erden kund,
was mir von Dir bewusst.
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I sing to you with heart and voice (lit. mouth),
O Lord, you my heart's joys.
I sing, throughout the earth, declare,
Of what you've made me aware.
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Neuschwanstein - King Ludwig's Castle)
(Original Photo - Verlag Kienberger, Lechbruck).
The two lakes beside the castle were the Alpsee (far left) and the somewhat smaller Schwansee, just visible on the right. During a most pleasurable three hour Wanderung (hike) my friend Juergen and walked them both.
One of the most photographed buildings in Germany, the castle was a finalist for a place among the New 7 Wonders of the World.
The official result of the world-wide poll, (I cast my vote online) was announced in Lisbon, (L is good) Portugal on 7/07/07. Neuschwanstein did not make the list. (They will create their own wonder shortly - a large L, read it below).
The winners - the 7 New wonders of the World:
The Great Wall of China ....Chichen Itza Pyramids, Mexico .... Christ Redeemer Statue, Brazil ....The Taj Mahal, India.... Machu Pichu, Peru ....The Colosseum, Italy .... Petra Temple, Jordan.
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Left: Beautiful Reutte, Tirol /Austria. Juergen and I climbed both, the Ehrenberg Ruin and the Schlossberg, another historic ruin with magnificient views of the town and surrounding Alpine scenery.
Top: Nearby Tannheimer Tal (Valley), Austria.
Bottom: The church of St. Coloman (usually photographed with Neuschwanstein as backdrop). Love that name Coloman!
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According to schwangau.de a spectacular event will be taking place on the eve of August 24th 07. The large letter L will be created by flaming torches (weather permitting) to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of King Ludwig II. It will appear on the side of the Tegelberg, the mountain beside Neuschwanstein, and visible for miles around.
The Tegelberg holds a separate story in my diary. After my friend Juergen left, another arrived for lunch on Thursday 10/5. My friend Paul took the opportunity for a break away from his busy practice as psychiatrist. Paul had been Youth Leader of the Volksmission in 1964, when I joined the church youth group. His dedication and example were one reason, why I decided to go all the way with God. I started my journey at the tender age of 14, and never regretted it, believe me.
Our re-union over lunch took a little longer than expected, so we only left around 3 pm to climb the 920 meter high Tegelberg. We commenced our hike at the cable car station, where we had cycled to. We followed the wide, steep track for about 20 minutes.
A sign indicated that the normal, easy route continued straight ahead. Another sign pointed to the right: Tegelberg summit - experienced climbers only. We took this path, not really sure, what lay ahead. Looking up I wondered, how could there be a track through those steep, vertical rock formations?
We had to be careful to not dislodge any loose rocks, which could prove disastrous for other walkers. Further up, when the track became rather dangerous, firmly anchored chains were a great support. It was a welcome relief, when the path levelled and widened near the top.
The plan was to take the cable car back down. During a moment of inspiration, about 20 minutes before 5 pm, I recalled saying to Paul : "We better not rest too long, just in case the last cable car is leaving at 5 pm?" We arrived at the top at 5.03 pm. The last cable car had just left - at 5 pm.
In a way it would have been a pity to not stay and enjoy the magnificent panorama of the snow-capped Alp-en mountaintops. Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze (2962 m high), had fresh snow on it, so a young couple told us. They were the only people still around. They ran the Summit Restaurant. We were very thankful, because they made us feel very welcome, serving us with a snack and drinks, despite having closed for business.
I envied the friendly, young couple's lifestyle: a million dollar view, all day every-day, no traffic at all, very quiet neighbours, a gorgeous new baby and a very friendly dog! What more do you want for a happy life-style? (And what you don't know you don't miss - like yellow cigar boxes with codes on them!)
It was a long, but still very enjoyable, scenic track back down the Tegelberg mountain. We both deserved the ice cream in downtown Fuessen later that evening.
Steep path up the Tegelberg. In the background the Weissensee and the Forggensee? (Not sure).
Parts of the steep, narrow track had a safety chain, visible on the right (at the level of my feet). During the 2 hours climb, I sensed a weird kind of addiction developing: Whenever the path got dangerously steep, I was looking for the chain. Just touching it gave a wonderful feeling of security and comfort.
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Researching this chapter, I noticed that on the day of uploading this chapter (August 12th) the annual Tegelberg race is being held. Anja Carlsohn* (nice name) of SC Potsdam* holds the women's title with 49:26 minutes. Helmut Schiessl, World- Champion runner from TSV Buchenberg*, holds the men's fastest time of 40:11 minutes.
How strange: Both places - Potsdam (in Chapter 8) and Buchenberg (same name, different town, in Chapter 9) are place names I had visited during my trip, only a week or two earlier.
*Another cookie to surprise us: On Saturday evening, amazing timing, the day I wrote about Anja Carlsohn, my wife and I were watching a DVD from the Gaither / Billy Graham Homecoming Series. I recognized a young lady singing: "It's me, it's me, it's me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer."
It was Evie, the Swedish singer, who sings the grand-finale song on my driving-school.com.au website: Jesus I believe what you say ... Her surname is Carlson. Co-incidentally, she wore a jacket, lavender in colour.
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Pfarrhaus (Church manse) Oberkirch
It was on the first real sunny morning of my five-day stay, Thursday 10/5, when I took this photo. A little research on fuessen-weissensee.de revealed an interesting tale:
On orders of the Bishop to place a permanent Minister to perform pastoral duties, the restoration of the Church Manse began on 03.06.1766. The builder was Franz Karl Fischer, the son of church Master-builder Johann Georg Fischer of Fuessen. After 200 years for the first time a thorough renovation took place between 1963 and 1965.
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On my final day in the Allgau region I made sure to take another early morning bike ride. I pedalled along the Forggensee track, around the modern Concert Hall, then back toward Fuessen. Just beyond the main road I noticed a driving school car. The instructor was just finishing a lesson, then drove away. He may not have had time for a chat anyway, probably running late, as I always did when I was an active instructor.
I had already turned into the street, which made me take note of a piece of clothing hanging on a fence. Curious, as always, I checked it out. It was a girl's jacket (from memory, it was mainly pink). In large letters I read (in English): LOVELY GIRL.
I left it there, of course. Just as I moved on, I noticed a large bus delivering children to the nearby school. The sign on the bus read KOTZ. I knew someone back in Adelaide by that surname; that's why I took note.
Paul joined me one last time for another excursion on the bikes. We cycled along the Forggensee and Weissensee. It was glorious. He told me how he appreciated this kind of activity, which as a busy professional, he had not done in months. On the way home we did a little shopping at a local Supermarket/Department Store, the V-Markt. The original name of the store was Vincent-Murr, therefore the letter V, I guess.
Inside the small, separate Cafe I noticed two pictures on the wall, while having a bite to eat. I was more daydreaming than looking. Without thinking I counted the people shown in the pictures. The picture on the left, taken in 1902, showed 9 Gesellen (trainees) in their old-fashioned uniforms.
On the right was a later picture, again a group of people, taken one hundred years later in 2002. This time I counted 10 Gesellen, the extra one was a female. Why did I see a connection to the numbers 9 and 10?
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Stop Press: After working on the first draft of this chapter for 10 hours on Saturday 11/8, I decided to stop writing for the day. As I sat in the lounge I picked up a magazine and saw this:
Indonesia: Three Sunday School Teachers released from prison:
God answered the prayers
Voice of the Martyrs Magazine, August 07 Edition: (In the same magazine's June Edition, a picture from their Lagos, Nigeria, office came across my path in magical timing - Chapter 1).
Scanning the photo the next morning, on the day of uploading, my wife asked, why I was scanning the above photo. I explained, how I had heard on 8/5 on the radio about 3 ladies imprisoned and the phone number started with 01805.
Still looking over my shoulder, my wife witnessed a little magic. I explained that I was now reducing the size of the scan to 70 % to save space on the hard-drive.
My calculator worked out 70 % of the height of the scan (155). It came to 108.5.
What classic example, how I see this intelligent, unseen power and friend, Almighty God, demonstrating that HE is there with me. Had I claimed this in any different way, such as a loud voice saying: "Well done son", people would accept even less that God is behind it all. If God wanted to use numbers to show himself, who am I to argue?
Only once before did I hear an audible voice. It was four months ago.
Friends, those who want to believe, they believe what they want to believe or they reject what they do not want to believe. Those who open their hearts and minds toward God, and diligently seek HIM, even in agonizing doubt, will find HIM.
Simple trust, faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, is sufficient to please God. Those who plant such seed with confidence and trust in a powerful God, a God who is real, will find their faith and their seed grow. They receive a big harvest in due time.
"Do you not say: There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, they are already white for harvest."
(John, 4, 35)