Cologne to Munich by MotoRail
Thursday 3rd September 1998
Woke up at 4.30 am (ouch!) to the sound of rain (doh!). After carting 3 rather large and heavy panniers down 2 flights of stairs, we tried to get into the Reception which at first seemed locked. We then went to see if the garage was open, but it was well and truly secured. Starting to panic a tad, we were at a loss at what to do as there was absolutely no sign of life anywhere which I suppose you would expect at 5.00 am in the morning!!
We tried the Reception door again and this time it opened. Relieved, we went into the darkened room. Suddenly from the corner of the room came a sleepy grunt and we realised the night porter had been having a kip on a bench behind a table and that’s why he hadn’t heard our knocking! He had a very bad case of halitosis so we hurriedly settled up with him (130 DM) and got out quick. As we went out to the ‘bike it started to pour with rain and we had to stop to put on our anti-rain gear. By this time we were horribly late and starting to wonder whether we would actually catch the land-train to Munich.
Eventually we found the train station, but couldn’t find anywhere to load the ‘bike as all the signs were German (how inconsiderate) and very inconspicuous! Nobody seemed to know where we had to go, not even the station personnel. After what seemed an eternity, somebody directed us around the back of the station, but after another 10 minutes we still couldn’t see where we were meant to go. We asked at an office block and they gave us a small map. Unfortunately the map bore absolutely no resemblance to where we were. We decided there was no other alternative but to race around a car-park shouting “Bahn-hof” (the extent of our German) and hope somebody would take pity on the 2 English fools on a motorbike. Fortunately, somebody did, in the form of a road-sweeper who directed us to the place we needed to go. By this time we had about 6 minutes before boarding cut-off time.
We could see where we had to be... but there was no obvious route except back out on to the main ring road. I had no choice. To the absolute horror of the locals, I gunned the bike and zipped over a couple of pavements, through a small garden and between a barrier marked “VERBOTTEN”. We loaded the ‘bike on the train with just 2 minutes to spare! Talk about nervous breakdown! We were hyperventilating for the next three hours!
Handy Hint = Before you decide to travel to Germany, don’t assume everybody speaks English, save yourself a coronary and invest in a Phrase Book!!
We bought some nice sandwiches from the station to take with us. Good job we did because all we were offered from the Train Company for the whole 7 hour journey was a croissant and a coffee!
The train followed the River Rhine and we were able to see the boats and take in the lovely countryside and vineyards. After a very laborious and boring 7 hour ride, we eventually arrived in Munich at 1.41 pm (Exactly on time – that’s German precision for you – just like British trains …. NOT!!) and got the motorbike off the train at 20 mins later. We were supposed to meet our German friend Sigi and her boyfriend Jurgen outside the main entrance to the station but had major hassle finding it due to complete lack of signs (our lot in life) and road-works. Completely by chance we came across the entrance and managed to meet up with them.
We followed them out of Munich and soon we were driving along fast twisty roads into the Bavarian countryside. The skies began to get darker and darker as we rode and just 10 k’s from their home the heavens opened and thunder roared! It even hailed! We stopped to evaluate the situation, but decided to keep on going as we weren’t far from their home.
We arrived in Trostberg, Sig’s home town, just over an hour from leaving Munich. We stood in awe at Sigi and Jurgen’s house with it’s beautiful pine balconies filled with flowers and Swiss alpine roof. (A world apart from our 2 bedroom 1912 terrace house in the West Midlands!)
We were given the whole top attic apartment to ourselves complete with shower, large bed, lounge and kitchen! There was even a microwave!!
After unpacking we all went for a walk around their village and then came back for a dinner of meat, veg and dumplings (which in Germany are called ‘cannoodles’!! (enough said!)
After our ‘cannoodles’ we had a few beers and ‘Radler’s’ (German for Shandy) and discussed the route for the next day, before heading for bed and more “canoodles”!!!