Sunrise over Bayreuth
The bust of Richard Wagner at Bayreuth

I awoke on my first full day in Bayreuth at 5.30 am, in time to watch the sunrise over the distant wooded hills to the east.  Parked still in the hotel driveway was the police van that had been there the day before, as apparently some top level politician or celebrity was staying in the hotel and needed protection.

Breakfast was a chilled coke and some German cigarettes.  Seemed another fine weather day was beginning.  As my companions were still snoozing I felt compelled to take a walk to the Festspielhaus, as I couldn't wait to get a close look at it.  You will recall I had driven by it the day before, but at that time my eyes were focusing on not running over any Germans and following the Polizei's hand signals (in German) in tight traffic.  So, armed only with my camcorder and a fresh pack of Ernte 23 smokes, I headed out into the quiet streets around 6.30 am.  Within 20 minutes of relaxed strolling I was at the foot of the Green Hill as it has been referred to, and aptly so.

It goes by the name of Siegfried Wagner Alle and is two lanes wide with greenery on either side:  trees and lawn on the left and a beautiful duck infested pond crowned with a bank of colorful flowers of many varieties on the right.

The only souls around were two Festspielhaus gardeners--pruning, snipping, and watering.

What a contrast to my local house, the Lyric Opera in Chicago, which has 8 ft. of concrete and an auto racetrack at the front door and not a gardener in sight.  Flowers everywhere, including a fine neatly arranged bed directly in front of the house, where the road takes a bend to the left to skirt around that side of the house and leads to parking lots and an Italian restaurant behind the theatre.

All alone, with the sun streaming through the trees as it rose, I stopped in a quiet garden, where at the far end stood an obelisk maybe 8 ft. high (2.5 kilowatts in Metric) bearing a bust of Richard Wagner.  Interior of the Festspielhaus.

On to the theatre.  Peering though the blue side doors I was able to see into the auditorium and there were the familiar clusters of round lights and the steeply raked seats.  I looked for the door I would go through to row 1 but it was set too far in to see, but through the door to row 5 I could plainly see the curved grey hood that hides the orchestra from sight. My heart pounded.

There was a kiosk where programmes and such are sold and outside were some glass display cases showing color photos of current productions to whet the appetite.  As I walked around the left side I came upon a big dog at the feet of his master who was fast asleep in a sleeping bag outside the ticket office.  I wished him well and went about my business of videotaping the house from every angle possible, including an upside down shot where I hung by my ankles from a tree, and a worm's-eye view shot where I uprooted a bed of flowers and dug a trench to get just the right perspective.  By now my stomach was saying it was time for breakfast and when my tummy talks, I listen.

I met P13 for breakfast, which was a 30 ft. long array of meats, fruits, breads, eggs, drinks, and cheeses.  I loaded up my plate with the usual bacon and eggs augmented by a medley of 12 meats (various ham and salami treats), some croissants with apricot marmalade, and once the waitress brought me coffee (ordered in my impeccable German), I tucked in, sparks flying from the silverware.  P13 was elected Mimosa Man of the Week and so he made frequent trips to the buffet to squeeze orange juice and pop the cork on the never ending supply of bubbly.

Carol joined us around 10.30 just as the lunch items (roast beef, roast potatoes, fish and pasta delicacies) were added to the breakfast menu, and so we set to on the second act of Breakfast in Bayreuth.  This we took out to the terrace to enjoy the sun.  There was a table of talkative sorts, mainly British folks nearby, and in their midst were Mr and Mrs John Tomlinson.  They were pounding away at the champagne and so P13 had to make many trips to the Mimosa table to insure our survival.  They asked him to take group photos of their party and Carol took the opportunity to go over to talk to John.  I was by this time, three sheets to the wind, and had inadvertently tucked the tablecloth into the collar of my shirt, mistaking it for a napkin, and alas when the opportunity to chat with "Old Tommo" came up, I couldn't contain my excitement and stood up abruptly:  so abruptly that all the food and crockery on the table went flying as the tablecloth rose with me, and to make matters worse my head hit the umbrella shielding us from the sun and it collapsed around my ears almost suffocating me.  Once I became disentangled I was sorry to see Mr Tomlinson had gone (fled?) and so I consoled myself with a fresh Mimosa.

To be continued......

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