Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho

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It’s off to Europe we go. Today’s a travel day, flying from DFW to Philadelphia, then on to Munich. This is our 33rd trip to Europe together! We started our European trips together in 1981.

We have a few hours’ layover between flights, so we stopped in at the relatively new American Express Centurion lounge in Philadelphia, which opened late last year. It’s not a particularly large club lounge and it’s mostly full, but it was lunchtime. If this is their typical traffic, they undersized it. The DFW Centurion is relocating and expanding. Naturally, it’s reopening tomorrow….

Leaving on an extended trip is always a combination of anticipation and a little anxiety about whether something will break at home (like our air conditioner has a couple of times). But unlike most trips in the past, with some home automation, we’re able to check in on some things while gone. This way I can see whether there’s water streaming down the stairs. 😉

Were on an Airbus 330, which seems pretty spacious. We’re in bulkhead seats, so we have more leg room than the premium economy class. We’re in steerage class, but it’s free. Can’t complain.

TUESDAY August 14

We landed in the early morning, about 6:15am. Mostly cloudy and 60 degrees, a welcome temperature compared to a Texas. Clearing border control was quick and since we “rolled on” with our luggage, we didn’t have to wait. We found the ticket machines for the S-Bahn, a regional train system. The ticket machines are multi-lingual, so it’s not hard to find the route you need. It’s about 45 minutes and €11.60 (per ticket) for a ride into Munich’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station). There’s lots of small towns and farmland between the airport and the city. Some of the harvests are already completed (which seems early to me), while some are still in the fields.

As we enter the outskirts of Munich, office buildings, apartments, construction cranes and rail tracks dominate the landscape. Continuing on, we move underground and stop at stations I recognize, finally reaching Hauptbahnhof (Haupt = main Bahn= train station).

Intercity (ICE) high speed trains

When we visited last year, we saw an exhibit of how the train station was going to be transformed as they add 10km of tracks (through the center of Munich) and modernized, so we weren’t sure what we’d see. So far, the only signs of this massive transformation has been the emptying out of the retail of one building of the station. It’s probably been 25 years since the last time the station was modernized and I can vividly remember sitting in the station while it was under construction, late at night, in the cold, waiting for a train. During a day, the station has about 450,000 passengers transiting thru the station between IC (Intercity trains), S-Bahn and U-Bahn. The construction will have to accelerate if it is to finish in 2020.
We had breakfast in the station, as “breakfast ” on the plane is barely worth mentioning.

Surprisingly for being so early in the day, our hotel room was available, so we were able to take a little nap.

I activated my Google-Fi service on my second phone. A speed test in central Munich got me 53.7 meg down and 6.5meg up. T-Mobile’s 2G on my iPhone was barely measurable. We’ll be tethering to Google-Fi!

One pleasant aspect of this trip is the Euro/USD change rate. The Euro is about $1.14, but we’ve been in Europe when it was under $1 (when the Euro was first introduced) and when it was $1.35 (or more). Not that we plan on buying much, but it makes a difference on food and sightseeing. It’s great for tourists, not so much for US businesses translating Euros into Dollars.

Walking down Bayerstrasse from Hbf, prior to getting to the Marienplatz, you go down underground to Stachus/Karlsplatz, a large square (above ground) and shopping area underground, then back on street level, cross under Karlstor (one of the few remaining city gates). We decided to have lunch at the Viktualienmarkt, a large Biergarten surrounded by specialty food shops, under a canopy of horse chestnut trees. It’s located at the end of the Marienplatz, a long pedestrian area with a lot of shopping, several churches and the Neues Rathouse (city hall). Even though it was 2pm on a Tuesday, it was packed.

As you walk down the Marienplatz, there are a number of street musicians, mimes, a street artist, a juggler and even a pianist!

Frauenkirche The twin domed “sisters” of Munich

Street artist

We did find a bench and table and we enjoyed weisswurst – delicate white sausages, with susse senf (sweet mustard), sauerkraut, a pretzel and split ein Mass (a liter) of bier.

The Mass was €8, about $9, but you can buy a half liter as well.

You can see why natives and tourists alike enjoy the Biergarten and this is not the largest in Munich by any means. We’ve been to the Chinesischer Turm, which seats 7,000 and it’s not the largest Biergarten

Viktualienmarkt Biergarten

Surrounding the Biergarten are quite a few specialty food shops, selling meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese, fish, olives, spices, flowers. Video

At the center of the Viktualienmarkt is the Maypole


By the time we left the Viktualienmarkt, both it and the Marienplatz were both packed with pedestrians.

Down underground in Karlsplatz, the commuters will soon be converging on the many fast food shops here on their way home. The big department stores have underground entrances from Karlsplatz. They’ve lengthened their hours and stay open until 8 pm weekdays, where years ago, they closed at 6pm. Shops stay open until 6pm on Saturday, but close on Sunday.

As many times as we’ve been here, there’s so much to see and unfortunately I think we’ll not be giving Munich enough time as we’d like this trip. Munich is one of our favorite cities.

Travel on ….

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