Dr. Hoffer's Travel WebSite This site was last updated 09/19/12
SCAND2003 #1 GUT FÄHRT!
May 27-30, 2003
GUT FÄHRT. No, that has nothing to do with gas. It’s the sign wishing you a “good trip” as you leave the parking structure in downtown Munich. It seemed to sum up the smelly start we’ve had on this trip.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
The week prior to our leaving was extremely hectic and panicky. Dimitrii had invited us to see Moscow on this trip but we needed to get visas to enter Russia. After 9/11, it was becoming very difficult. My visa was a problem because it only became available two days before we were scheduled to leave the US, but, it had to be picked up in San Francisco. My son Kevin was kind enough to fly up there and get it for me. Marcia's was even more problematic because her passport had expired and waiting for the renewal would not give enough time for them to issue a visa before we left. This was a real mess. So we were leaving with only me having a visa to enter Russia. More on this Russian visa business later.
Kevin, Rebecca & Kaylin took us to LAX and dropped us off. Going through the new US security system at the airport wasn’t quite as bad as I had expected. This time I put all my metal in one pocket and had to take my shoes off. Didn’t make any bells go off this time. We took off in usual German fashion on time at 4:40 PM PDT. The 12 hour Lufthansa flight from LAX to Munich was smooth with not a bump all the way across northern Canada past Greenland and into Europe.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
As you might expect, we arrived safely at the München Flughafen (Munich airport) right on time at 4:00 PM Europe (GMT+1) time (1:00 AM PDT) after 11 hours and 20 minutes of tossing and turning. This was the first little negative of this trip compared to the previous. I took my usual regimen of Klonopin and Melatonin but woke up after 3 hours and just could not get back to sound sleep again. The business class seats were large and comfortable (way better than the sardine coach seats I saw and not much less than the First Class seats). Why even after a second pill I couldn’t get back to sleep I don’t know but it sure affected the next couple of days. I may have made an error the night before in that my hangover didn’t seem as bad as those on previous trips. We had a wonderful sendoff dinner with Kevin, Kristin, Jeff, Rebecca and Kaylin the night before.
This time I packed much lighter taking practically no clothes and Marcia must have also cut back a little because we were able to get all our bags on one cart instead of the usual two. The Mercedes-Benz cab takes us right to the Atrium hotel for €60 ($72.) This brings up the second little annoyance of this trip. The Euro has been worth about 80-90 cents for the past several years until about 6 months ago when it has risen rapidly and is now worth $1.20. This means everything will cost us about 30% more than it would have last year.
The third little pain is that the Best Western Atrium Hotel (1 and A below) [Landwehrstraße 59, +49-8-951-4190,] which was booked by Marcia’s travel agent, is a mediocre at best place but still costs €172/night ($206.) I was not very happy with this selection and would not recommend it to anyone.
[The Atrium was recently renovated. In 2012 the rate is €199 ($250) and the reviews complain of the poor neighborhood, the long distance to get anywhere and the lack of air conditioning.]
We were told that it was walking distance to Marienplatz (center of town) but that is only true if you have your running gear on and want to run a couple of miles.
It was also located in a very seedy Turkish area of the city with many kebob restaurants nearby. With no sleep and really bad jetlag things were weighing heavy on me; am almost wishing I was back home. I went for my run in a large park near the church down the block. Instead of a cappuccino, I had a beer at Bar Centrale [Ledererstraße 23, +49-8-922-3762.] It was refreshing and helped my mood somewhat.
We took a cab to Marienplatz and had dinner in the Ratskeller [Marienplatz 8, +49-89-219-9890] in the basement (Keller) of the City Hall (Rathaus) building. I had duck which was pretty good and a very bad Lowenbrau wheat beer.
We needed to take a cab back to the hotel and got to bed at about midnight.
Now for the 4th but really big snag we hit. I had wanted to go directly from the airport to the BMW plant and pick up our new car. Marcia did not because she wanted to get checked into the hotel first and argued that we would also have to pay to park the car. She preferred we get it the next day (as we always had in the past.) BIG mistake. The next day was Thursday. Not an ordinary Thursday, but Ascension Thursday which is a big holiday in Germany (Bavaria is heavily Roman Catholic while northern Germany is Protestant.) We call in the morning and no one answers so now we are stuck in Munich for an extra night.
After finally reaching Rolland (a BMW person from previous years,) he tells me that the big problem is that Friday is a “bridge day” meaning they will also be closed. The hotel lets us stay Thursday night but after that we have to find another hotel. Friday is our 33rd wedding anniversary, and I had planned we would celebrate it with Dimitrii in Milano or at least in Sirmione, our little favorite Italian resort on Lago di Garda. Now snag #5: when we tried to make reservations at the little Alpotel-Tirol in Innsbruck (stopover from Munich to Sirmione), we find out that they have gone out of business. Things are not going smoothly.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
I woke at 3:00 AM and could not get back to sleep. The jetlag is getting worse on top of recovering from the cold Kaylin gave me last week and I am really beginning to feel miserable and unhappy. I finally slept from 10 AM to 4:30 and then ran to Marienplatz and had a cappuccino at my favorite Café Am Der Uni near the University. On the walk back I had a second one at Café Tambosi right next to where Hitler held his 1st large rally in Munich. While sitting there I heard live opera music from the courtyard letting me know I was back in Europe again.
I had put a call into my friend, Dr. Thomas Neuhann but he never called back so we decided to take a cab to the place he took us to dinner two years ago, Locanda Picolit [Siegfriedstraße , +49-] (ß = ss). We took a cab back to the Atrium Hotel and had beer and wine in the hotel bar and got to bed at 2:30 AM. We received a message from Center BMW in LA that “we could pick up the car Friday” but he was wrong.
Friday, May 30, 2003
Friday morning I wake at 5 AM, tossed and turned until the phone rang at 8:00. It’s Olivier from BMW who tells me he is going to try to contact the head of BMW to see if we can get out car. He would call us back within 2 hours. I decided to go for my run and repeated yesterday’s but brought Marcia’s new SONY 4 mega pixel camera to get some photos. After getting a cappuccino, I discover I forgot to bring any Euros with me and for €3.60, the man would not take my credit card. We fought for a few minutes and he finally let me pay him later. I stopped at a Vodafone store to buy a German chip for Kristin’s English phone but after getting everything in the package, he tells me he can’t accept a MasterCard, only a Eurocard. Can things get better on this trip?
Well yes they did. I walked back to the hotel to find Marcia not in the room. I went to the desk and she left me a message that Olivier had come to pick her up and take her to the Delivery Center. We may be getting our car and get out of here. Marcia finally called to tell me that they opened the place up for her and were putting the plates on the BMW 530i and Olivier was going to guide her back to the hotel. I went downstairs and cancelled our reservations at the Munich Hilton for the weekend and the one at the Best Western in Innsbruck and started to organize the bags. She finally arrived at noon and the little blue Beemer 530i looked really nice (license # M-717-Z).
[I still use this car to take my little Erik to Peets Coffee with me on Thursdays.]
We checked out of the hotel and all but two bags filled the trunk (its smaller than the 740i we had on the three previous trips.)
Two final notes: While in the elevator with a hotel cleaning lady, she asked if I was Americano. I said, “Yes and you?” She said “I am an Iraqi, thank you, our good friends.” I was touched. Then, while on a walk, Marcia was approached by a man asking her where the Bahnhof (train station) was. When she said she was from California and didn’t know, he proceeded to tell her he has a girlfriend in California and has a house here he is trying to sell. He wondered if she might try to help him sell it to a Californian. Can you believe it? A pick up line or what was he up to?
Marcia was a little perturbed that I had taken so long on my run and she had to get the car by herself but since we hadn’t pick it up after our arrival as I had wanted to do, we called it even. We drove to the Marienplatz parking structure and Marcia had lunch of some kind of pork in gravy with a huge potato ball (which she passed on.) I took the phone over and paid for the new phone chip in cash (€70.) The phone number is +49-162-414-7734 and Marcia will use this until we get a new chip in Scandinavia. I tried my Credit Card in a Deutches Bank ATM and got no money out (with no explanation.) I later tried a Dresdener Bank and got €350 easily. I walked back over and paid the man his €3.60 and he was surprised I had returned. For one hour the parking garage was €4.60!
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #2
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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