Thursday, September 21, 2006

What goes up must come down - Munich

1. Creeping down off the mountain from Castelrotto.
2. Finding my alter ego at the drop-off center.
3. The final tally, 1449 miles, 32 hours in the car and 26.4 mpg!
4. Ouch! It would appear that some folks don't get away as lucky.
5. One of my favorite street buskers. This guy was a fountain complete with water.
6. Don't you just love German food?
7. During Oktoberfest, many Deutchers wear traditional folk dress.
8. Ditto


Leaving the thin, crisp mountain air of Castelrotto, we creep down the mountain and set sail for Munich, 167 miles and 2.5 hours away. Realizing that the final leg is upon us, the gloom begins to settle in. As we cross the border into Deutschland, we look for the classic ‘end of speed limit sign’. Unfortunately, each time we see it, we either encounter traffic or there is a temporary construction zone slow-down. With over 1,000 miles on the cars, we were looking forward to running flat-out but it serves as one more hint that the euphoria of our odyssey is coming to an end.

We hit the outskirts of Munich and begin to work our way thru the labyrinth of a modern city. Here is where you appreciate the nav the most. Instead of streets running east-west and avenues running north-south as in the U.S., roads are coming at you from every conceivable direction. Like an old friend, the soothing voice of the nav, a lady you’ve lived with for the last week, gives you plenty of time to change lanes and you plan for turns well in advance. It’ll be great if she’s the same voice I’ll hear on the stateside version. We find the hotel straight-on and manage to secure parking in the rear.

A&J are thrilled to find that Lufthansa has located and finally forwarded their luggage to the hotel, just in time for the return trip! Julie thrilled to find fresh familiar duds available decides to treat herself to a local salon while Andy, Marcia and I head for the drop-off center in Garching, about 15 miles away. I find it amusing as our highway speed drops slower and slower as if we're doing everything in our power to prolong the trip. At the drop off center we’re amazed to see quite a few ‘red tourist plates’, the give-away clue of a euro delivery car, where as in all our time on the road we never saw a one. Like a mantra I keep repeating in my head ‘don’t forget to remove Beewang's Nav DVD, also figure a way to remove the front license plate, and take the first-aid kit and the warning triangle from the trunk to keep for souveneirs. I needn’t have worried about the plate as Thomas the Shipping Center mgr, pops over with a power screwdriver and zips off the front tag and hands it too me with a look that implies that he can't believe I'd actually want to stuff the bug infested hunk of metal in my suitcase. I walk away looking back at the car that I won't see for another 6-8 weeks. A car that's carried us safely, comfortably, economically and at sometimes very high speeds, halfway around Europe. I feel somewhat ashamed to leave her here bug encrusted and filthy.

There is a German lady in front of us who is shipping a Mercedes and then Andy begins the paperwork process. When it's our turn, I look at Marcia for our paperwork, she glares back at me with that ”don’t look at me” message that tells me we are in trouble. In all the ending hysteria, we’ve forgotten our export permit, insurance papers and power of attorney that will allow us to ship the car home. I can feel the sweat begin to drip from my brow. Thomas, a young German with cowboy boots and a haircut that looks like he belongs on a ranch in Montana, tells us not to worry, we aren’t the first dumb yanks he’s run across (my words not his). He shows us what we need to fax him when we get back to the hotel and then he'll fax back papers that we need to sign and return to him. With that he calls us a cab and we’re off to the hotel.

On the trip back to town, our cabbie (a Juan Pablo Montoya lookalike) was amazed to hear about the Euro delivery plan and couldn’t believe the economics involved. This is BMW’s best kept secret. He also amuses us with tales of the Oktoberfest and the joy of picking up drunks. He has made an art form out of trying to identify who is going to barf in his cab before he lets them in. This is followed by the thrill of trying to convince them that they need to pay for the ride as well. We decide to skip the Oktoberfest and close the trip with a quiet dinner in the old town.

The hotel staff is very helpful and the fax operation goes well. We head for town to enjoy our ‘last supper’. It’s odd but, instead of replaying the trip and revisiting the high points, we all seem to be lost in our own thoughts. The night passes quickly and following a stop at the famous Hofbrauhaus for souveniers, we turn in for the last time in those ultra comfortable down filled Euro beds. After a brandy nightcap that is!

Munich Images:

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