Munich

Reluctantly, we must leave Luzern today. We’ve been coming here together since 1981. We have an early train from Luzern to Munich, with several changes along the way. At this early hour, the tracks are not yet full of trains, but there are people buying their breakfast at Bretzel Konig (Pretzel King) or Cafe Hug in the station. Our double decker train arrives on gleis (track) 5. There’s little delay after the train arrives, until it departs, so you have board quickly. The train quai notes the sections of the train, so you know which sections are first class (usually nearest the engine ), and which are second class. If there is a restaurant car, it’s in the middle. If you have seat reservations, you know which car # and seat you have.

7:35am train from Luzern to Zurich, about 60 minutes. Then change trains at Zurich for Schaffhausen, then at Schaffhausen to Ulm, change again at Ulm for Munich. Four trains. What could go wrong?

As we depart Luzern, the train passes by the narrow lake where the rowing competitions were held one year.

In the countryside, farmers are mowing their hay. As we zip thru some smaller towns, you see the personal allotments alongside railway tracks, where individuals garden; each with their own little cabin. Near Zug, there are a number of holiday campers setup by the lake.

At Thalwil, awaiting the next train on the platform, there is a mixture of cyclists, backpackers, business people and ordinary travelers like us. The Interregional train we’re on doesn’t stop at every small town.

15 minutes to change tracks to catch the connecting train to Schaffhausen. Zurich Hbf is pretty modern, with a lot of shops located in the underground section. Three cyclists board our car for the 34 minute ride. Four more cyclists board at the next stop and the entry way is now full of bicycles.

As we come into Schaffhausen, we pass the Rhinefalls and an imposing castle at the juncture of the river. No time for touring here, as we only have 20 minutes between trains.

The train to Ulm is packed. It’s not a big train, probably four cars, and it’s standing room only (no seat reservations on trains like this). We stand for the first 20 minutes. I’ve only had to stand once before on a commuter train in the UK. The train doesn’t get much less crowded as we stop along the way.

The countryside is dotted with farms, whose fields are neatly cultivated, and vineyards where the vines are covered with netting to protect against the elements. The netting must be a function of the grape variety, as some fields have both (netted and unnetted).

European trains are notable for being very punctual, except sometimes, like today, when the train into Ulm was >20 minutes late. Which means you miss your connection. On trains where seat reservations are not compulsory, nbd. But on a TGV where reservations (1st and 2nd class) are compulsory, I wondered how this would be handled. My wife noted that since we had e-tickets, when the conductor scanned the tickets, she later received a notification that our connection delay had caused a conflict (missed connection) in our journey. The email didn’t give a resolution, but the conductor indicated to just get on the TGV. Of course, everyone else on our train connecting to Munich had the same issue and we all seemed to crowd into the cars. Standing again, but going faster, lol. I have a lot of company. Conductor didn’t even bother checking tickets, the car is so packed. Travel isn’t always glorious. Here’s where music on the phone and an extended battery comes in handy.

Better late than never. Arrived in Munich about 2 pm, where its notably cooler, about 66F. Munich Hbf a welcome sight and our hotel close by. Munich Starbucks index for a Venti latte €4.25 (probably close to the US price) McDonald’s Big Mac €6.19

Part of the Frauenkirche (twin towered onion domed church) is obscured by scaffolding. As old as it is, one or both of the towers always seems to be under renovation. The stores close early (for us) here, at 6:30pm weekdays, and for the most part, aren’t open on Sunday. But the bier Garten didn’t close! Ein Mas is €7.20, but what better way to spend the afternoon under the blooming horse chestnut tree, than having a nice cold bier? Prosit!

On our walk back, I’m reminded of the super Internet cafe that used to be located directly across from the Hbf. It had hundreds of seats and the cost/hr was time of day/demand based. This was in the days before smartphones, tablets, wifi and cellular data fast enough to be useful. I’d argue that technology put them out of business, as smartphones have taken over much of what I used to do there. Even this posting on the blog is written with a smartphone with an html editor app., then uploaded over wifi. Commonplace now; unheard of then. More photos on Flickr.

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