Our flight from Philadelphia to Munich, Germany was a little better than the previous leg of our trip. We flew on a Boeing 767 which had 2-4-2 seats per row. Nancy and I were able to sit together in a row by ourselves. With the armrest between us lifted, we had more room. The seats were not as comfortable as the Airbus, but the plane was quieter. I slept for two or three hours, but again Nancy was not able to get much sleep. The flight took seven and a half hours. We both were in agony from sitting in airline seats for so long.
We arrived in Munich at 10:15 in the morning of the 29th (remember we departed San Francisco at 10:15 in the morning of the 28th). Getting through customs was very quick. They never asked us if we had anything to declare. The agent only asked us where we were staying (I told him near Stugaartt). He stamped our passports and we were on the way to get our rental car.
A very nice thing about the Munich airport is all the baggage carts are free. We really needed one for the long walk to the car rental counters. I would guess it was close to a half of a mile. They were out of the type of car we had reserved (a Ford diesel wagon) so they gave us a Mercedes diesel wagon instead for the same price :-) It turns out that the car has a GPS navigation system. We spent almost a half an hour trying to figure out how to change it to English. There were no instructions in the car.
The rental agent wrote the location (space number) of the car on what I thought was a scrap of paper. When we tried to leave the parking garage, we came to a barrier that required a ticket to open the gate. Neither of us remembered the agent giving us such a ticket. Nancy backed up the exit until we could turn around (much to the irritation of all the cars that were stuck behind us). She dropped me off and I ran back to the rental desk and got a ticket for the gate. When I returned, Nancy was no where to be found. I had run around the parking garage twice (in 50 degree weather with only a T-shirt). Just after my second lap I saw Nancy walking up. She said she was told she had to leave the garage and the guard had used his card to open the gate. She was parked out on the street. When I got in the car I saw that the scrap of paper was the ticket to exit the garage.
While Nancy drove, I tried to figure out how to use the navigation system. I had my laptop with a program called Teletype that was working at the time. We used it to find the hotel that Jim Yocom and Bruce Barmakian were going to stay in, when they arrived three days later. I was able to figure out the navigation system about the time my laptop died. We found the hotel and it looked as good as it did on the internet.
We decided to drive to the AIR factory so we knew where it was. This would remove some of the stress of picking up the gliders on June 1st. The navigator worked great. It speaks in a female voice with a British accent. I started to call her Bitching Betty because of the way she talked when you missed your exit. It is funny in an annoying way. She was able to get us right to the AIR factory. As I expected, there was no one there. We drove over to a hardware story to buy some items we could use to make a rack. I could not find any way to make a front rack. We will have to make do with just a roof rack. Christoph told me earlier that they seldom use a front rack in Germany.
On the drive to the factory we saw at least 6 sailplanes in the air. I have never seen this many back in the states. One thing we did not see on the 3 hour drive was pickup trucks. Not one, and very few large SUV's. I don't think it is due to the price of gas (about $3.5 a gallon) because on the autobahn many of the cars were going over 100 mph. I doubt they were getting great gas mileage at that speed. (I stayed in the right hand lane and drove at 75 mph). Once in the small towns the roads are so narrow that driving a larger car or truck would be very difficult and this is probably why there are no larger cars or trucks.
After the hardware store we had Betty find us a hotel. The computer has all sorts of points of interest in the database. We picked a hotel about 4 miles from the AIR factory. Betty did a nice job and we found the hotel without much bitching from her. The name of the Hotel was the Am Neuenbuhl. The price for a night was 59 euro which included breakfast. The room had a private bath and was worth it. Nancy fell asleep soon after we arrived at 4 pm and did not get up until 8 am the next day.
I took a nap and then tried to get the cell phones working. We did not see any cell phone stores on the drive. We purchased a cell card at a gas station that did not work. I then read that the card only works in the country you purchase them in and the existing phone we borrowed had sim cards from France and Spain. The card we purchased would require a new sim car to work. I decided that I would not worry about it until we get to Austria. We do not really need a phone until then.
If you have been checking my site for updates of our trip, you probably figured out that we have not been able to get internet access. They are supposed to have it at the place we are staying in Austria, so you will be able to read them by June 2nd.