Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wound Spotting - Germany

In Warsaw it was knees.

In Granada it was arms

Munich its heads, in particular foreheads and eyes

Several places I have been recently I’ve discovered a peculiarly local outbreak of a particular injury, with many of the locals sporting matching wounds.

In Munich it’s been plasters on the head, or eye patches.

Is it just the laws of averages, or do I bring some kind of horrific accident jinx with me?

Though, of course, based on the last couple of days, they could all be the victims of drunken tourists on bikes, sorry Munich!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

And which form covers that...

If you thought the Bavarian attitude to drunk walking tours was liberal, you haven’t experienced the bike tour of Munich.

The essence of the tour shortened into a single (long) sentence. Get bike, tour Munich, stop in Englischer Garten and drink lots of beer, cycle back through Munich without killing yourself whilst “tipsy”

The tour was excellent, the beer ditto, the experience of cycling while technically several times over the legal drink drive limit, strangely invigorating, the thought of explaining all this on the Health insurance claim should I need to make one didn’t cross my mind, until I got back to the hotel!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Pisched tours loves you, your my best mate

If this was Britain the company would have been shut down by now (and the Daily Mail and Express would have launched campaigns to have the proprietor flogged).

If this was Britain it would all end in A&E

If this was Britain the Health and Safety Executive would have stopped it long ago.

But, here in Bavaria, they have no problem with people drinking (partly because, on the whole, the locals don’t appear to have too much of a problem with drink. They might drink a lot, and be in possession of what would constitute a lethal weapon – if you have ever picked up a glass stein you would know what I mean! – but you don’t see people slumped in doorways or passed out in pools of their own vomit)

Consequently, they have no problem with a walking tour that starts in a beer hall, proceeds to a brewery to sample more beer, and then ends in the Hofbrauhaus.

In reality, I didn’t feel that drunk by the time I got back to the hotel, but then we were a quiet tour...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

It’s childish I know...

The thing that really got me interested in going back to Munich was watching a programme on DW-TV about the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany.

The scenery was so spectacular, the mountains so beautiful that my mind was kind of made up to go back to Bavaria, and a few months later when easyJet was having a sale I managed to get really cheap flights.

Then I started planning what to do. I’ve already been to Munich twice so I wanted to get out of the city, certainly to visit the Zugspitze, but was that enough to fill the day.

Then I looked at the website for the Zugspitzebahn, the railway that gets you to the summit. Something struck me on the front page of their site. In the top right hand corner was a rude word. Had someone sabotaged the site, was someone having a joke, or, could there really be a place in Germany named after the English slang for an (excuse the Catholic euphemism) act of selfishness liable to damage your sight.

But no, just outside Garmisch-Partenkirchen, overlooking the town in fact is a mountain that rhymes with Bank, just pronounced with a Germanic “W”. (for the obvious reason of not wanting to get my blog blacklisted on every piece of filter software I’m not going to actually spell out the name of this perfectly innocuous mountain!)

And, because I’m the kind of person who has a collection of visits to Hell (or Hel), I couldn’t resist but divert via the mountain and the [Name of Mountain]haus at the summit – queue as many innuendoes as you like.

In truth, the mountain is more than just a curiosity to the English speakers (how many pictures of the mountain name, or the summit house must there be in the world?) The views from the summit are some of the most spectacular I have seen, with the town of Garmish-Partenkirchen at the foot of the mountain laid out on a valley floor, and a small corridor of valley tapering to a point at the foot of the mighty Zugspitze. If anything the views from here at just a little over 9,000 feet are better than those from the Zugspitze 9,700+ feet.

So, Like Hel in Poland, come for the name, stay for the stunning scenery.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"Something spectacular is about to go wrong..."

At the end of my last diary entry (link here) I said that “I’m fearing the worst for my next trip, it’s never been that smooth before, something spectacular is about to go wrong!”

Well, this morning I had to go into work as we were having major network changes taking place and I needed to be there just in case something went wrong. The guys were supposed to be in and all of our PCs down between 8 and 10am, which would have left me with a very tight window if something had gone wrong.

By the time I got into work at 8:30 everything had been done and there were no problems.

I got to Gatwick just after checkin opened to find a massive queue, which promptly moved at such a rate that the people who were waiting in the Speedy Boarding Plus queue to supposedly avoid having to join the big queue, ended up waiting longer than I did.

I walked through security, no problems, into departures which wasn’t particularly busy to see my flight listed as being on-time and with a note saying the gate would be announced at 12:10.

At 12:10 the gate number flashed up and I wandered down, sat at the back of the gate room and awaited the hoards as I was in boarding group B I was going to be one of the last to board, so I was preparing for a cramped flight in between a warring couple (see the Ryanair flight back from Verona last May!).

They announced boarding I looked up and there was virtually nobody there, I got onto the plane and, as nobody was sitting there, bagged seat 1A

The plane pushed back on time, had a quick taxi and a smooth flight

10 minutes early I was off the plane, through passport control and my bags were already on the belt.

Straight onto a waiting train at the airport station, a quick change onto a tram in the city centre and then into my hotel.

The only possible thing that could be considered a problem is that the room is shared facilities rather than the ensuite I thought I had booked, but that’s hardly a spectacular failure.

Of course, I could have spoken all too soon...