First Daze!!

The decision to take a shuttle to the airport was a good one. We were very early and we  did try to upgrade but to no avail. I don’t think there is such a thing as a free upgrade these days. Our allocated seats seemed to be reasonable. In fact once we were on board we discovered there were a few free seats and because John’s TV didn’t work he found another seat- with a bonus spare seat beside him leaving me with a spare seat too. Singapore Airlines service and food was excellent. The toilets were kept clean and staff constantly moved around offering water and juice to help us avoid dehydration.
Munich- We have never taken a train to get to the baggage claim before. The plane docked at the terminal and we walked, and walked – up and down a half a dozen escalators, along two or three very long travelators and then transported by train to yet another lengthy hall where we finally exited through passport control into the baggage claim where there were more than twenty carrousels which were well designed and passengers cleared the area quickly.
We caught the bus to Erding.  We even knew where to get out as each stop was shown on the LED display so that was a major clue. We stood at the intersection on the outskirts of town with no idea in which direction to go. We checked our map on the Booking.com map but it was far too local. Fortunately Thomas came along. Despite his arm being in plaster he took my roller and guided us towards our hotel explaining that it was a long walk- a kilometre or so. We have no German and he no English but his kindness in wanting to help us was really wonderful and a fabulous introduction to our holiday.
By the time we arrived at the hotel it was nearly ten o’clock. Our intention was just to ask if we could store our luggage but the concierge said that if we were prepared to pay an extra ten euros we could have a much bigger room with a balcony and it would be ready for us in just ten minutes. Seriously our day was just getting better. We were able to access the breakfast room  get a cup of coffee and take some time to rest and recuperate.
We needed to fill in some time before catching the overnight train to Opatija and Therme Erding was a good choice. We were able to store our luggage and had lockers for our clothes and valuables. The therme has innumerable pools, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, restaurants and bars- easily able to fill in the hours. Afterwards we got a bus then the train to the München Hauptbahnhof – Munich Main Train Station,  where there were lockers and we could go off to find Augustiner Keller the oldest beer house in the world and indulge in some traditional German fare. It was Friday afternoon and the place was pumping.
It’s always a bit challenging and there is a modicum of interest when you join the massive queue and realise that you have no idea what you are doing. Your powers of observation are tested. Quick thinking is required because the queue is moving fast and why…because everyone knows what they are doing. It was my turn. What? No! I haven’t had enough time. I’m being shouted at or is that just German for “Make up your mind! What do you want?” Buggar!! Suddenly my prince steps up and in perfect German says something that the responder nods to and produces an unusual plate with divisions- the dumpling, the coleslaw and the two enormous chunks of pork. (Ja!…schwein.!!!) Next the drinken… Steins of a pale larger are being swiped and the jostling is getting more intense. We grab one each and head for the cashier. Next step the seat. Not only is this the oldest beerhouse but it has to be one of the largest seating 5000 people and all of them were there this afternoon. Lucky us!! We landed beside the loudest American in the world! He ‘entertained’ his assemblage with tales of how he avoided paying for anything related to his computer…operating systems, wifi, Netflicks, and anything else he could think of. Actually one began to wonder if he simply had a work computer and wasn’t really expected to pay. Some people!!!!
Oh the drink….it was a disaster!!! A Radler!!!!! A shandy!!! Not drinkable!!!! Neither of us could stoop so low!!! We deserted them to their fate.
It was time to head back to the bahnhof and collect our gear. The Rejika night train departed at 23:35. The summer timetable was displayed and all the details were there for anyone who knew how to decode the secret messages. Ha!!! We had been on German trains before and knew what it all meant!!! Oh….It was going to be a very long train with an engine at each end and would be split during the night- part off to Budapest and the other to Rejika. So it is very important to be in the correct carriage. Of course ours was at section G…at least 500m down the platform. John thought that we could discern the curvature of the earth from where we were waiting. We found our cabin which had two bunk beds, a sink, bottled water, juice and a pre-packaged croissant. I was baffled by the doona- It was enormous!!! Some bureaucrat must have ordered a zillion and got some sort of kick-back.
Soon after the train left the platform the conductor came to tell us that “Rejika kaput!! Autobus Ljubljana”. The dance of the dramatized dialog completed our understanding of what was going to happen. So much for the leisurley nine am wake up – we would be woken before six and the bus would leave at six thirty. We would still be at our destination around the same time.
About seventy people got off at Ljubljana to wait for the bus. A group of young men probably uni students had obviously had a very big night and were clearly up for more banter and general mayhem. They tumbled on to the bus and down the back of course. By the time we got on the only seats left were the two in front of the rowdy crew. The bus driver was confirming our destinations. “Rejika….Ja!!! Opatija….Ja!!! Zagreb …Nein!!” A little voice from the back.. “Pivo…Ja!!” Laughter spilled into the bus. (Pivo is Croatian for Beer). We were very dubious but despite their efforts to distract and disturb, the night’s folly overcame them and all were sound asleep by the time we left the city. Our holidaze had begun.

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