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Friday, July 19, 2019

June 20th Fussen to Reutte

It had rained the night before, I noted as I walked over to install the battery in the ebike and ride it to the Hohenschwangau ticket office. The Hohenschwangau ticket office opens at 7:30am, but even at 6:57am there was already a line waiting. The office opened promptly at 7:30am and we were treated to a rare example of a German failure, which was that the credit card machines didn't work, forcing us to pay cash for our tickets. I arranged for the earliest possible tours in case the forecast about the thunderstorm was right.

I rode back to Fussen and tried to get everyone organized to meet our 9:00am entry into the Hohenschwangau, which  was actually the better tour. Bowen complained about visiting the castles again. We rode to the castle just in time to make the entry, but somehow between when we parked the bikes and when we made it up to the castle entrance Bowen's eye started swelling. By the time the audio tour started, it'd started looking bad. I asked the tour guide to let us out so I could give him some claritin, and she suggested that I take him to the hospital. I was resistant to the idea but I was told it was really close, and when it didn't look any better despite the claritin, I took him there, leaving the luggage in the hands of the local souvenir shop. One look at Bowen and everyone had sympathy for him (and me!). I told Xiaoqin and Boen to stay on their tour.

I rode at high speed to the clinic, parked the bike outside unlocked, and was ushered into the emergency room. There were a couple of people ahead of us, but they looked at Bowen and told me to interrupt the doctor as clearly what he had needed more urgent attention. The doctor looked annoyed at us, but the entire waiting room was in consensus: she should see Bowen first! The doctor looked at Bowen and concluded that he had an insect bite. “It looks scary, but if it was an allergic reaction it should have affected both eyes. He'll be better tomorrow.” She gave Bowen some prednisolone, and a second tablet to give him the next morning. “I can write you a prescription for eyedrops. It's not strictly necessary but it might make him feel better. The problem is that it's a Saturday and the nearest open pharmacy is quite far away.” She named a couple of towns whose names I were not familiar with. “How about Reutte? We're going there today.” While Reutte wasn't a big city, it was the largest village around in that part of Austria, so if there was anything open it would be more likely to be in Reutte than in any of the Austrian villages. The doctor said she didn't know but wrote me a prescription anyway.

Bowen was clearly relieved at the diagnosis and felt immediately better, so we rode back to the castles and met mommy and Boen. We took the bus up to Neuschwanstein, but missed our entry time. We explained to the security personnel about Bowen's eye. One look at Bowen and he waved away my search for my receipt from the doctor's office and gave us the next tour which was in just 5 minutes!

The tour was great and we had a quick lunch, but not quick enough as when we got to the Marienbrucke it was more crowded than I'd ever seen it. We got in, took a picture, and got out just in time to catch the bus down. The sky had clouded over, so we made a dash up the street to try to make it to Reutte before the forecasted thunderstorm.

The ride, as I remembered, wasn't very hard despite it being a climb. It was by far the easiest border crossing between Germany and Austria in the area, and I was quite happy with our progress when it started raining exactly as we reached the border, which was where the paved bike path turned into an unpaved fire road. We heard the sound of thunder and decided that discretion was the better part of valor and wait under a shelter. When Xiaoqin and I had bought rain gear for her and the kids at the REI memorial day sale, she asked if I intended to ride in the rain. I said that you buy rain gear hoping not to use it, but in any case the Partnach gorge in Garmisch would demand it. Well, now was the time to use the rain gear so I got out all the rain gear and we dressed the kids and ourselves in our rain gear.

The forecast called for the thunderstorm to die over the afternoon, and indeed by 3:00pm, the thunder and lightning had gotten further away, and we were getting more wet from raindrops falling from the trees than the rain, so we made the decision to dash for it. Riding down the dirt path into Austria proper was easy, but the bike route to Reutte seemed to be much longer than the direct route Bowen and I took the year before, which ironically was because we missed the bike path sign.  Both kids started complaining about the cold, but of course we finally spotted our first zipline playground of the trip 3km before arriving at the hotel. As is always the case, once we reached the hotel the rain stopped and the sun came out!

It wasn't enough to to drop off everyone at the hotel, however, I still had a prescription to fill on a Saturday. I asked the hotel receptionist about it, and to my delight she gave me the name of a pharmacy. I asked if they were open, and she said “no, but push the button and someone will help you!” I rode my bike to the pharmacy, and there found a sign to push a button but no indication as to which button it was. I walked around pushing random buttons until I realized that the sign referred to a big pillar outside the pharmacy that said “Nacht Watch” for “night watch.” There was a 1.5 Euro surcharge for using the night watch service but I was more than happy to pay the premium. The pharmacist apologized for taking a long time because filling a German prescription in Austria meant that he had to triple-check everything and all the drug names, despite everything being in German!

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, and afterwards as promised, I took Bowen and Boen to the zipline in the fading light and had them play for 30 minutes. The hotel room was a strange split-level setup, so Bowen and I slept in the “attic”.  Fortunately, the weather had cooled off considerably after the thunderstorm, so we could sleep.

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