Friday March 27th 2015 saw the final stage in the twinning of Didcot and Planegg, when the twinning document was signed by the Mayor of Planegg, Heinrich Hoffman, and Didcot Town Councillor, and previous mayor, Axel Macdonald. Axel is also Chair of Didcot Twinning Association. Following the formal part of the ceremony, the nine visitors from Didcot and their German hosts were entertained with traditional Bavarian folk music and then served with a delicious meal of local specialities. There was also an opportunity to try the ‘strong beer’ that, in this area, was drunk during Lent so that the monks who brewed it could sustain their fast without going hungry.
The following day we assembled in Marienplatz, in Munich, in front of the impressive Gothic Rathaus, arriving just in time for the full performance from the mechanical clock. In the ensuing guided walk around Munich’s historic centre we learnt of the rivalry between the city’s two main football clubs, the unreliability of some myths, the importance of siting your city on an important trade crossroads and how beer funds charitable works in the city. It was impossible to ignore that flags were flying at half-mast following the tragic loss of life in the Germanwings air accident.
The tour ended at the Oktoberfest and Beer museum with lunch, a beer tasting and a tour of the museum.
The rest of the visit followed our usual pattern of unscheduled activities, leaving time to be spent with hosts. On Sunday, some ventured into the mountains whilst others explored more cultural venues. Perhaps most surprising were the surfers on the Eisbach, a side arm of the river Isar, where an artificial wave provides hours of fun for surfers and spectators alike.
All too soon the visit was over the Didcot group was on their way back to the airport and home. More interesting experiences enjoyed and more friendships formed and strengthened. Pretty much a normal twinning visit, then.