I flew from New Orleans (MSY) to München (MUC) to start my 11 day hiking/backpacking trip in the Stubai alps of Tirol, Austria.
My British Airways flight to London (LHR) departed an hour late from Louis Armstrong International airport in New Orleans. A little bumpy leaving the southeast due to thunderstorms, but a smooth flight after that on our Boeing 787 Dreamliner (“if it’s not Boeing, I’m not going”).
I tried British Airways World Traveller Plus (premium economy) this time to cut costs (vs. Club World, business class, on previous trips), and because I don’t need the flat bed since I don’t sleep on commercial flights. Even with some melatonin this time, I slept less than an hour.
The news media was full of stories about congestion and “chaos” in European airports and flight cancellations, so I was worried that my flight to London would be cancelled, and that the security line at London Heathrow Terminal 5 would be horrendous. I was delighted to find no lines at Heathrow; only a handful of people in front of me, and it took less than 5 minutes to clear security. They were conducting a “trial” with a streamlined process where you don’t need to remove anything from your bag (which would have been nice to know earlier before bagging my shampoo). I do not enter the UK while transiting through from the US to other cities like Munich or Zürich, so it’s not clear why I always have to go through security again at Heathrow. Another fun part of changing planes at Heathrow Terminal 5 is that they do not announce the departure gate until 30 minutes before departure, about 10 minutes before boarding. So it can be a scramble if your gate is out in one of the satellite terminals.
München (Munich) was even easier – Cayman Island airport is much smaller, but has a much longer line. I walked right up to the passport control window where I was sternly asked “why are you here and where are you staying”. The officer didn’t understand “hiking” and “huts” in English (I should have said “wandern” and “hütten” instead), but eventually stamped me in. I had nothing to declare so I walked right out into the terminal. Super efficient, just as you’d expect from the Germans (my ancestry).
I had a little difficulty finding the right S-Bahn train at the airport that would take me into München Alstadt (old city). I knew I needed platform 1 from my ticket purchase, but there were no signs indicating the platform numbers. I finally convinced myself that the nearest train would actually go to Marienplatz station (closest to hotel). I enjoyed views of beautiful farmland and small villages between the airport and Ismaning, after which the train entered the outskirts of München.
I had anxiety again at the München Ostbahnhof (east station) where it appeared I’d have to change trains. I finally convinced myself to get back on board and then confirmed that I was indeed on the right train from the digital display of upcoming stations.
I arrived at the underground Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) station and after riding up a few escalators, I finally popped out onto the Kaufingerstrasse – a pedestrian-only (car-free) shopping area. The weather was nice – a little warm around 80°, but I didn’t have far to go. I enjoyed all of the beautiful old architecture along the walk to the hotel.
It was a short stroll over to the Mercure Hotel München Alstadt. I checked in to a nice small (but not too small) room with twin beds and a private bath with shower, and the sturdiest and best-latching door I think I’ve ever encountered – the missileers in our underground ICBM silos should have such protection. I changed my shirt, zipped the legs off my hiking pants, and headed out to dinner. The front desk recommended the “Augustiner” by the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) – I passed two by that name before deciding to stop at the Augustiner am Dom on the Frauenplatz.
It was so AWESOME to be back in Europe for the first time since before the pandemic! I had a nice Weissbier, kalbs (veal) schnitzel, potato salat, and (of course) a Kaiserschmarrn.
After dinner it was a nice stroll on a warm summer evening, past the Frauenkirche, and back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in an air-conditioned room under a duvet.