Our flight back home from Munich was fairly early so we got up at 3:30 in the morning, which was actually fifteen minutes before our alarm was set to go off. We were ready to go by 4:30 but waited until about 4:45 before leaving the hotel room.
We had arranged for our car to be picked up from the garage by 5:00 and were pleasently surprised to find out that it was outside waiting for us. It took a few minutes to get the address to the airport programmed into our car’s GPS because we didn’t realize that the Munich airport was not in Munich.
There wasn’t much traffic that early in the morning so we got to the airport fairly quickly but finding the rental car drop off was a bit confusing but after one or two wrong turns we found it. It was organized chaos with what seemed like hundreds of cars waiting to be processed.
Once inside the airport we had some problems figuring out where to go but that is why we gave ourselves plenty of time. We had an 8:50 flight but boarding started much earlier, at 7:45. I suppose that is because we had to take a bus to the plane.
Our trip back from Germany was not as bad as the trip to Germany. The long flight was earlier in the day and the hours of sitting didn’t seem to cause me as much pain as did the flight to Munich.
I think the only part of the return trip that was a hassle was going through customs when we got to Charlotte, North Carolina. The process seemed designed to make it as inconvenient for travelers as possible. We first had to go through customs and then we had to pick up our luggage and go through customs again, but this time with our luggage. Since they didn’t bother looking through our luggage, I don’t know what the point was. Why the customs people just couldn’t be on hand while everyone’s luggage was transferred to other flights is a mystery to me. It would have been much easy and faster for travelers.
We then had to stand in a very long line to go through a security checkpoint again even though we had just come off of an airplane and had already been screened in Munich.
If we arrived on a domestic flight and then transferred to another domestic flight this would not have been done. This tells me they don’t trust the screeners in Germany and other countries but if that is the case, why do they allow them to fly into the country in the first place?
Once we got through security, we found a pizza restaurant and had lunch. I then found a Starbucks and couldn’t resist buying a real American coffee with heavy cream. It was very difficult to find coffee with real cream in Germany. Everyone offered only milk and usually that was low fat milk.
We flew back to Tampa in another sardine can but at least the window shades were open this time and the person next to me wasn’t hogging the arm rest so it was tolerable.
When we finally arrived in Tampa, it was about 6:30 in the evening. We had been awake for 21 hours and we were exhausted. Once we got our luggage, we ordered an Uber which took only about five minutes. Taking an Uber to and from the airport was a very smart decision because it not only saved us about fifty dollars in parking fees, it also saved us gas and we didn’t have to risk parking our car in a public lot for ten days. Plus, we were too tired to drive.
We had a wonderful time in Germany and I hope we can go back again in a few years, but after a long trip we were very happy to get home to our cats.
That is the end of our trip but I still have more to say about Germany. I hope you will look for my next post when I compare some of the differences I noticed between Germany and the United States.
My wife and I wanted to do something special for our twentieth anniversary so we decided to finally book the trip to Germany that we had been talking about for years. Now that we are back from that trip I decided to write about it in segments because there is just too much to tell for one blog post. I should mention that the first 24 hours did not go well but please stick with me because the story does get better.
We got up early Friday morning, October 11th, and got ready for our trip. We booked an Uber because parking our car at the airport would have cost us around $180 but an Uber was only about $40 each way and that was with a tip. The driver picked us up a little after 8:00 a.m. He was a little older than us and moved here from Crete, Greece in the 70s. He also survived cancer by refusing chemotherapy and changing his diet. I know this because he was talkative. Very talkative.
Our American Airlines flight left for Charlotte just after noon. I sat in the middle seat next to a guy sitting at the window and Rose sat next to me on the isle. The guy had taken over the armrest so I felt squeezed in like a sardine. He also had both his windows closed, as did the people across the isle from us so I couldn’t see outside. That made me feel even more like I was in a sardine can. It was a very uncomfortable flight. Fortunately it was less than two hours. I don’t think I could have survived if the flight lasted much longer.
We arrived in Charlotte before 2:00 and our flight was scheduled to leave for Munich two hours later but it was delayed for two more hours because they found a dent in the plane and had to wait for another plane. Perhaps the pilot hit another plane while backing out and didn’t tell anyone. Whatever the reason, I don’t mind a little inconvenience in exchange for my safety.
The flight to Munich was a little better because we had bought the economy plus which had slightly wider seats, twice as much armrest room, and only two seats in our row. It was also a wide body plane so getting up to streath was a little easier but it didn’t have a lounge like a 747 so there was nowhere to go.
Every seat had a video screen but mine didn’t work right. I tried to watch a movie but had to restart it every two or three minutes because of an error that told me, “Where sorry. The channel is no longer available.” After restarting the movie more than ten times, I just gave up and turned it off.
The last few hours of the nine and a half hour flight were very tough. I was tired but couldn’t sleep and everything was hurting.
When we finally arrived in Munich I had to pee but everyone was blocking the isle and I didn’t want to wait until the line started moving out of the plan to use the washroom so I figured I would go when I got inside the airport. That was a mistake. Upon leaving the plane and exiting the jetway I noticed we were not connected to the airport. Instead, there were busses waiting for us. That did not please my bladder but I had to grin and bear it.
When we got inside the airport we were directed upstairs where there were no bathrooms in sight. First, we had to go through customs but there were no customs agents around. The room slowly filled with people and the ones in the front were waving trying to get the attention of someone on the other side.
Ten minutes went by before anyone came out but they were not customs people. Three or four walked past us pretending not to notice. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, someone said they were on the way but they didn’t say from where. I think a half hour went by before they started processing people. By then many people who came in late filtered around the line to the left and got ahead of us. By the time I got through and made it to the bathroom I was ready to explode.
We got our luggage and proceeded to look for the Avis car rental place. It was quite a long walk and when we got there and saw how long the line was we were not happy. Rose guessed we would be in line for a half hour but it was actually closer to 50 minutes before we got to the counter.
We preordered a Mercedes six months before but we were told they didn’t have any and we were given a Volkswagen SUV insted. They offered us insurance for $350 euros, which was more than the cost of the rental, but Rose said our insurance would cover it and didn’t buy it. We then had to walk what seemed like another mile to the Avis lot where we passed about 500 cars, including several Mercedes. When we got to the car Rose wondered if we shouldn’t have gotten the insurance. I suggested she call our insurance company, which she did, and they told her they did not cover cars outside of the United States.
Now we needed to get the insurance but didn’t want to walk all the way back and stand in line again so we called them. The phone system put us in the queue but never answered. Since our phone company was charging 25 cents a minute we decided to hang up after almost ten minutes.
Rose said she would wait in the car and I could go back. She told me not to wait in line but go right up to the person who helped us. I felt uncomfortable pissing off everyone in line but I went. When I got there the woman was busy with a customer but another woman was off to the side talking to a customer. I decided to talk to her when she was finished so I waited behind the customer. When she was done she ignored me and walked away. I took that as a sign that they were not going to help people out of line so I walked back to the car.
Rose’s was pissed at me for not doing what she said. I told her we should could call the Avis corporate customer service and we got right through to them but we were told only the desk agent could issue the insurance policy so Rose and I both walked back to the counter. When we got there Rose butted right in behind the agent’s customer and when she was done the lady took care of us. I guess I should have listened to her.
When we got back to the car we wanted to put the hotel address into the navigation system but it was in German. Despite all the German I learned, there is still more that I don’t know than I do know. I tried to figure out how to change the language but the solution was far from obvious so I put in the address in and hoped for the best.
Once on the road the navigation system seemed to contradict the road signs on two or three occasions. I wasn’t 100 percent sure I programmed the address right so I decided to trust the signs and ended up adding ten or fifteen minutes to our trip. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but at that point we were both very tired and ready for the trip to be over.
At home, Rose drives because she claims that I am a terrible driver but really she is a terrible passenger. This time I drove because she knew I would understand the road signs better. It was a bit stressful, especially driving through Munich because there was so much traffic and so many pedestrians. Add to that the fact that I didn’t know where I was going and it made for a less than pleasant drive.
When we finally got to the Excelsior hotel, we saw we couldn’t drive to the front of the hotel like every other hotel I have ever seen. It was a pedestrian only area.
There was an area relatively close but there were cars parked there so I drove past and found a parking garage. I was under the impression that the parking lot was owned by the hotel but this was a city garage that charged by the hour.
We pulled in and went down one level but there was nowhere to park so we went down another level and found a spot way in the back. Nearby there was an elevator and we took it up to the main level. When it opened we were looking at the inside of a department store. There we were standing there with two huge suitcases and back packs and needed to go through an entire department store. Rose was willing but I didn’t want to do it and talked her into going down one level and walking up the ramp. She was not happy with me, again, and complained that the garage smelled like piss.
We paid for a room that Friday night simply so we would be able to check in early Saturday morning because we knew we would be tired. By the time we got there it was so late that it wouldn’t have mattered. We got the keys to our room on the third floor and went upstairs with the sole purpose of going to sleep
We expected the beds might be weird but weird doesn’t begin to describe it. Essentially they were two single beds pushed together, each with a single fitted sheet, no top sheet, and two heavy comforters, one for each side. The pillows were also a bit weird with the main pillow being square instead of rectangular.
Our room also had a great view of more rooms.
The good news was that we had arrived and had many days of adventure ahead of us. Next I will write about our first day in Munich.