We have a transition day ahead of us. Our time in the Austrian Alps has come to an end and we will, over the next day and a half, move from South Central Germany/Austria to the western side of Germany on the Rhine River. Today we have to drive back to Munich, drop off the rental car, do some laundry, then catch a 0730 train on Saturday to Frankfort Airport, transfer to a regional train and then onto Bacharach.
We arise late, get our last big breakfast, pack all our stuff and then head out on the road. The drive is short–we are only 110 kilometers, or 66 miles from Munich, but seems like a world away. We drive along country roads for the first third of the trip, including dodging about 1,000 motorcycles in Garmish in town for the BMW rally. We then hit the autobahn for the last two thirds. There is as ton of construction so we don’t make great time, but we aren’t in any hurry at all. About 20 miles outside of Munich we stop at a gas station and fill up and get reminded that the price (1.50 euro) is per LITER not gallon and I get a little sticker shock when I pay our bill. The final 3km is downtown Munich and Jan, navigator extraordinaire, gets us back to the drop off location without hitting any other cars or getting in an accident.
We walk back out onto the streets of Munich and with more moderate temperatures, the town seems totally different. It is more welcoming, inviting and fun. We are staying in a hotel that is in the same area that we were at before and this one has air conditioning. We arrive at 12:30, our room is not ready, so we drop bags, take our dirty laundry and knock that task out while we have a chance. Back at the hotel at 2pm, room still not ready so downtown for lunch. Return to hotel, we get into our room which is tiny but sufficient and then we walk around our little slice of heaven. It qualifies as a colorful place…there is a department store advertising clothes for families right next to a strip club. You can buy a piece of flat bread that is as big as a small table for .40 euro or go smoke your hookah out on the sidewalk at a restaurant. It is fantastic to watch and see and even better when we get to our room and can close the window to keep the noise out!!
Next morning and we are up and out the door and the cabaret ‘dancers’ are still working the doorways of their fine establishments at 0700. For us it is an early morning, for them, it is still a late Friday night. Pastries at the station and we head to our track where our train awaits. We wonder if the trains are washed between runs–because this train is cleaner than my car (which, granted, isn’t that difficult). As we move down the side of the (very clean) train we see a very, very large man standing half way down a long train. Jan jokes that he will probably be sitting next to her on the train, and it is like she can read the future…she is sitting next to the dude. It is our typical ICE ride; burning along the tracks at 220km/hour with stops every 45 minutes for a town. Everyone has a seat, train isn’t too crowded.
We have a transfer at Frankfurt Flughafen (Airport) from the Ice, Ice baby to the regional train and according to our helpful Bahn app it is a 15 minute walk. Our time to transfer was 17 minutes but we get updates that say we may be running late and may not make our connection. We start a minor sweat, but we get to the airport train station on time and head out on our fast walk to the regional train.
The regional train is a different animal than our ice, ice baby. It appears that Bahn can sell WAY more tickets than available seats because when that train pulls into the station it is full and it gets really full as we move north out of Frankfurt towards the Rhine. We score three seats and space to stash our luggage, but there are a whole bunch of people with really big bags walking around the train looking for space. Soon is it standing room only with a huge assortment of humidity to watch. We have a mother breast feeding her baby, an octogenarian having a very long conversation with me, even though
a. I don’t speak German and
b. I don’t actually answer him back.
We have young kinds running through peoples legs chased by their mothers or grandmothers. We have what appears to be a bachelorette party starting early, heading (one assumes) to a disaster later in the night. People in suits. People with bikes. Men wearing sandals and socks (and I’m going to be rocking that look before I leave this trip). It is only a 30 minute ride to Bachacrach and I kind of wish it had been longer; that was some of the best entertainment we have had on the trip and all for the cost of a train ticket.
When we stop in Bacharach we are definitely in a different part of Germany. The train stops and we are at an old medieval town right along side the Rhine River. Barges and river cruise ships are moving up and down the fast moving river. Above the valley are green, tree covered hills and from our vantage we can see two (count ‘em TWO) castles. This should be fun.