Heather--By this point in the trip, we were all getting exhausted and cranky. So we all agreed to sleep in a bit. (That meant getting up around 7:30 instead of 6:30) Unfortunately, this morning we had to check out of the hotel before leaving to sight-see. And we also had to maneuver 7 heavy (40-50 lbs) suitcases and 6 small bags. This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. So here's how the day played out.
Dad wakes up with a sore throat. Mom is put 1/2 hour behind schedule because she stops getting ready to find some pills and make "sickie" concoctions for Dad. Meanwhile, the rest of us frantically finish packing suitcases and then take them all to Raquelle's and my room for the final "balancing act" - that is, balancing the load between suitcases to keep them all under the airlines' 50 lb weight limit.
Then a last race down the elevators, handing in the room keys, and wrapping ourselves in overcoats, scarves and hats. Then, heads down into the cold, driving rain, we all began a steady trot to the train station. We were late and desperately had to make the train or there would be little time to sight-see before we had to take another train to the airport. As hard as it was to trot through the rain the day before, it was twice as hard while pulling a 50 lb suitcase!
We finally get ourselves on the train (and doing that with all your luggage is no small feat, as the train only stops for about 30 seconds) and collapse for the twenty minute ride. We get off at the now infamous city center train station. And proceed to get lost again. We were looking for lockers to stow our luggage. There were lockers all over the train station, but we sure had a tough time finding them! Finally, we find some lockers and proceed to load about 6 of them with our bags and suitcases.
Then disaster strikes again. Mom, Grandma and Raquelle all decide to use a ladies room, for which we can all see the signs. The rest of us continue to stow luggage. But due to a miscommunication, once the luggage was stowed, we proceeded to go follow the ladies to the ladies room. Only we hung out at the wrong ladies room.
Meanwhile, the ladies had forgotten that public restrooms require not only a payment, but you must have exact change. They can't use the restroom because they have no proper change. They give up and come back to the lockers to find us. And we're not there.
It was panic city for the next 15 minutes or so. Dad and I pull out the walkie talkies (which we should have done before the ladies left) but the batteries are dead. So we desperately start changing batteries, becoming thumb-fingered in the process and managing to drop everything several times.
Everyone eventually met up again and breathed a sigh of relief (and exasperation). It was now so late, we only had time to do about an hour of sight-seeing. So we decide to go to the Residenz, a Bavarian palace-turned-museum. We didn't even have time to do all of it, so we just toured the treasurey. This was definitely worth the trip in itself! Wow! Some of those crowns were awesome! And there was a reliquary with a gorgeous statue of St. George slaying the dragon on top. I went around snapping pictures right and left. Cool!
(Raquelle's comments ~ There was a lot of other neat stuff too. They had a whole display of items made from jasper and lapiz lazuli (pronounced LAP-iz LAZ-u-lie on the audio guide). They had massive gold and silver plates. And a big display of bejeweled snuff-boxes. The lid of one of them was a giant emerald that was more than an inch across.)
Heather---Then it was back to the train station to grab a quick lunch and take a train for the airport. Of course, first we had to find our lockers with our luggage. This entailed getting lost again. Then, once we had all 7 suitcases and 6 bags, we had to get lunch. Fortunately for our schedule (since Europeans do NOT understand "fast food") we found a place that had sandwiches already made up. Everyone got one and we started to look for our train.
After about five minutes of getting turned around, we finally spotted our elscalator and headed that way. Gramps was in the lead and just as he started down the escalator, an alarm sounded and the escalator stopped. Two men were racing up the "down" escalator, yelling and hollering. We stood there stunned, wondering what was going on. The first man ran off and as the second man ran past me I heard him say something that sounded like "shysteroff!" So we concluded perhaps the first man had been a pickpocket or something. At any rate, the escalator was now stopped so we tried to find another. But we couldn't find another one that went down to our particular train. So finally we headed back and manually hoisted the 50 lb suitcases down the stairs. Bleh!
Once on the train, we proceeded to eat our belated lunch of sandwiches. This led to another "adventure." Mom noticed a small bit of tomato on Gramps' coat and she flicked it off. Unfortunately, it landed on a lady across the aisle, on her jacket. She reacted spectacularly, jumping and shrieking and slapping herself. Mom was highly embarrassed and apologized profusely. But more than embarrassed, she was highly amused. Once we got off the train at the Munich airport, she gave full vent to her laughter and laughed till she cried. The rest of the day, all we had to do was mentioned "tomatoes" and she'd start laughing all over again.
Fortunately, when we arrived at the airport, everything started going more smoothly. We checked in quickly, only had to wait in the immigration line for 20 minutes and wound up arriving at our gate early. So we peacefully ate the rest of our sandwiches, wrote some postcards and took some cat naps.
Raquelle's comments ~ Dad and I tried to get our tax refunds, as non-Europeans can get their taxes back. We went to a counter that had guy with brown hair and piercing eyes and looked very Norwegian or something. "Spekkenzedoitch?" he asked, which means "Do you speak German?" (but it's not spelled that way). We said no. He looked slightly exasperated. (Schtupeet toorists!) He looked at our paperwork carefully. Then he said, "Vell, you know here ve haf European Union. So you can do dees ven you leaf to go back to America."
Fine. Why didn't he say so up front? And I'm wondering if he told us the truth or if he was trying to get rid of us??? :D :D :D
We flew from Munich to London (being served the same chicken/tuna sandwiches--pronounced "chicken and chtuna") and digestive biscuits as before). Then we stood in line to be processed through passport control. There was a LONG line and only two or three people working. One man, with bushy white hair and glasses, sat idle, "directing traffic." We got amused watching bureaucrats at work. Several Indian gentlemen traveling together were processed at the same time. Then--horror of horrors!--they began to walk past the agent's desk on the SAME SIDE together when they were done. The horrified agent promptly stopped them and insisted that one go on ONE side and one on the OTHER. Gasp!!! Wonder what THAT was about!!
At the airport I was quite warm and, since we had time, wanted to buy something cold to drink, like a smoothie. They had some fruit drinks in a cooler at one place and I picked one up to look at it. It listed the ingredients VERY precisely, down to the exact number of blueberries used and the half of a banana. What I found most curious was that "one rowing machine" was including midway down the ingredient list, with an asterisk beside it. The asterisk led to a note at the bottom which said, "one stroke." Hmmmm.......is that wacky British humor or something?
I tried to get one of the clerks to notice me to take my order for a smoothie. They didn't notice. Mom and I were muddling about it and a kind gentlemen in line asked what the trouble was. "We're trying to get the clerk to notice us," we sighed.
"Ah well, just push up there!" he said, in his delightful English accent.
"Just shove, eh?" we grinned.
"Ezactly!" he crowed.
I got my smoothie--cran-raspberry--and shared sips with everyone else. Ahhh!!!
At last we were on the plane to Edinburgh. They said they would serve us a "light snack." In America, that means pretzels. Here it meant smoked salmon, a small potato/veggie salad, a roll, and a small orange cheesecake. Holy moly, they know how to do light snacks!!!
And I ordered sparkling water, but I did NOT call it "water with gas." Nor did I play with my stirring stick. :D
We took taxis to our lodging, small apartments near the center of the city. But it's bedtime, so the saga of how we got checked in shall have to wait till tomorrow!!!!