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The Monks Quit Putt Putt | Tripping Along the Milchweg
Europe Trip Travelogue 3
It’s not every day when one is faced with an honest-to-god labyrinth. Nor is it common for that labyrinth to be Europe’s largest outdoor shrub maze.Even more rare are the days when one gets water shot up one’s shorts by that very same labyrinth. I stand before you, friends, as a man who has experienced all of the above.
Holland, Germany, and Belgium meet at a hill called the Vaalserberg. Up there you can prance around in a circle, passing through three countries as you go. If you also sing a song and make yourself giggle you might be able to amuse a German woman. World’s Greatest Wife did all these things.
That done, we attacked the labyrinth, where, at critical points, we were faced with questions about European history. If we got them wrong, we’d be sent down the wrong path where we’d find metal grates set into the ground with nozzles splorting water into the air.
These water splorters act as one-way gates. There are sensors on one side. So if someone approaches from the “right” way the water turns off. Approach from the wrong side and you can still go through, but you’ll probably get squirted.
In our case we, bravely, got tired, hungry, and ready to be done with the labyrinth. These factors resulted in a healthy desire to cheat, and, while gracefully leaping over a grate, I got water shot up my shorts. Not only was one leg and buttock soaked but I faced jeers from my (supposed) family.
My shorts dried out on the hike back to the car. But I am still harboring a labyrinth of grudges over the mockery.
Imagine our faces when, later in the day, we were faced with yet another shrub maze.
The Monks Quit Putt Putt
That night we stayed at Steinfeld Abbey’s guest house. I’d never been to anything like it before. The site’s history is long and includes many phases of various religious orders as well as phases of construction. In addition to the expected monastery stuff like stone walls, chapels, and courtyards, it has a swimming pool, yoga classes, and what appeared to be an archery range.
I love doing archery and would have been thrilled to get to partake. But the archery doodads were right next to the people quietly doing yoga and I didn’t want to bother them by running over and yelling, in American Doofus English, “CAN I SHOOT Y’ALLS BOWS?”
Now I’m wondering if I witnessed a squad of yoga archers. Silent! But deadly.
It was also evident that at some point pastimes included a putt putt course.
Soon after, we discovered that we were within striking distance of netting ourselves a two-labyrinth day because, possibly thanks to giving up on the putt putt course, the abbey maintains a labyrinth. Damn. Those Premonstratensians think of everything.
We hurried to try it out but this labyrinth was undergoing maintenance. The entrance was plugged with trash cans and the sounds of gas powered hedge shaping devices could be heard. A woman sat in a chair nearby ruefully smoking cigarettes in the labyrinth’s direction. She remains a mystery.
We had some dinner, then WGW and I found a quiet spot to enjoy some Belgian beers which a friend gifted us. We vowed to try the labyrinth again in the morning.
But first, there would be the small matter of the Milchweg.
Tripping Along the Milchweg
The Milchweg is a hiking path which encircles Kloster Steinfeld. In addition to just being a beautiful place to walk, the Milchweg attempts to educate its guests, using signs placed along the weg, on where milk comes from.
I’m not sure this is a question that needs answering. I feel pretty confident about the origins of milk. I think a better question might be, “Why do I so willingly drink other species’ milks meant for those species’ youths?”
I never drink human milk. It’s never been offered to me as an option in a cappuccino. As an orphaned and adopted person of unknown origins I might never have had it at all. And yet I’ll happily wade into a room crowded with cows and goats and begin squeezing everyone’s teats with unseemly abandon.
And that’s not to mention what I do to oats. You don’t want to know what I do to milk oats.
All that aside, the Milchweg was a hoot. Here you can see the World’s Greatest Wife wegging along.
When we got back we joined the World’s Greatest Stepdaughter for a bite of breakfast and then set off to reattempt the abbey’s labyrinth. And it was still closed.
A shame to be sure. But sometimes that’s just how the milch wegs.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’re wegging well out there.
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This seems like a conspicuously large amount of qualifiers. Where’s the even-bigger indoor shrub maze?