Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thanks Scotland, now I'll take a side of Germany ~

My Scottish West Highland Way adventure turned out to be a grand success.  I think the trip would not have gone so smoothly if it hadn't been for Davie, who was my taxi service to and from the airport, my chef, my butler (although he made me carry my own bags), and an all-around good friend.   Several times during the trip, we came back to the flat and he would ask me if I wanted a cup of tea and a scone.  That was one of my favorite parts of the trip... eating scones and drinking tea in Davie's kitchen.

We awoke early the next day after bagging the Bouchaille Etive Mor peak to head to the airport.  I had to be there at like 5:30 am, which I was not very fond of, but I would be traveling to Germany which required the 2 hour international advanced-check-in.  The ladies at the KLM desk were really nice.  I ascended the escalators thinking that I was going to security, but made a wrong turn and ended up doing a lap through the food court.  The looks and smell of the food after drinking ale and scotch the night before really turned my stomach.

I turned around and went through security, then did the mile-long walk to the gate.  I stopped and got a cup of coffee at one of the airport pubs and was amazed to find men lined up drinking pints of beer at 7am.  Eye-opener anyone?  Not for me.

The good stuff.
I connected from Glasgow through Schiphol, Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get anything to eat or drink (as I had planned) at the airport, because I had a very short layover.

It felt good to touch down in Munich, and know that I was only a short 2 hour train ride from our town of Kochel am See.  I felt even better when my bag came off the luggage belt, given my short layover in Amsterdam.  I stopped at the train ticket Automat and purchased my ticket, then rode the subway train (S-Bahn) for the first leg, and sat next to some really nice Americans~ the woman was a retired flight attendant, and she was traveling with her brother.  They had flown stand-by and their bags were held up in Augsburg, so they had made the trip to the Munich airport to see if the bags had arrived:  they had not.  They were planning on going shopping.

Just as we were approaching the Munich main train station (Hauptbahnhof) the train police boarded our car (or the Gestapo, as my sister-in-law likes to call them ~ they are truly scary, some of them).  And these two lived up to the reputation.  The cop looked at the American woman and said (in German), "Can you read?"  Apparently, she had gone to a self-serve ticket station and had time-stamped the wrong end of her ticket.  I translated for her.  Her face turned bright red, and she just looked at the cop and said (in English), "Yes.  I can read English."  The cop shook his head and said (in German), "Next time, it's an 80 Euro fine if I catch you again."  What an ass.

Raindrops on the train window ~ Bavaria.
Poor woman was mortified when I translated for her.  That's no way to treat someone who is a visitor in your country (or anyone, for that matter).  The majority of Germans realize that it is foreign tourists who bring tons of money into the country, as a major industry in Germany is tourism.  The nicer you are, the more likely someone is going to come back.  This cop seemed to be really having a very bad day.

I made a quick transfer to the regional train (Regio-Bahn) at the Hauptbahnhof and was relieved to be in the last stage of my journey.  I had about 2 minutes to grab a salami sandwich at the kiosk, and quickly wolfed it down.  When I got on the train,  I recalled the movie with Steve Martin and John Candy called "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and had a bit of a chuckle to myself.  I had been traveling all day, by all modes of transport and felt a little haggard.

The train was full of a youth group who was going to a town just north of where I would be going (Benediktbeuern) and they were going to stay in the youth hostel.  I sat next to the youth group advisors and had a nice chat with them and told them about my recent trip to Scotland.  By the looks of their pre-teen  group, they were going to have their hands full for the next few days.

A room with a view ~ Erlengrund, Kochel am See.
As I approached Kochel, it began to rain.  All of that sunshine in Scotland and now I had finally found the rain.  It felt pretty good, actually, and had a calming effect on me :)  I was also happy to find out that the Regio-Bahn is now running direct to Kochel, instead of requiring (yet another) transfer at a station 30 minutes north of town.  I called our friends in town so that someone could pick me up.  Our friend Jan Jr. got me at the train station and took me straight to the house.  I was ready for a nap.  His parents had invited me to dinner that night, and I wanted to get a shower and a nap in.

On the day ~ three countries, traveling by car, airplane, and train.  ~10 hours and very little to eat or drink.  I was so happy to sit down to Bavarian brotzeit in the evening and was looking forward to relaxing at the house and eating well over the next few days.

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