Friday 9 October 2009

The Lost Boys Tour of Europe: Giro dell’Infèrno 2009--Arrival in Germany

Bike packed and ready to go!

Following our successful trips to the Black Forest, Alsace and the French Alps, Tour No. 4 saw our first visit to Bavaria and Northern Italy.  The trip for me began with checking in at the Ottawa airport on August 4 at US Airways.  The bike case always attracts excitement from the check-in people so I was sure to be there quite early.  Sure enough, my case was nearly 2 kgs, or 4 pounds, over the limit of 50 pounds.  We are in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t situation as the whole point of the case is to protect the bike but having a hardshell case means an overweight charge in addition to the US$ 100 charge to ship the case in each direction.  The agent suggested I might take something out of the case and put it in my other suitcase but when I opened the case and started to look for things he just said to forget it.  I also asked if I could pay the shipping fee for both directions in Ottawa, which would save me some time when I flew back.  This turned out to cause other problems, as we shall see.

Anyway, the flight from Ottawa to Philadelphia was on time, and my flight out of the City of Brotherly Love, five hours later, also went very smoothly and I arrived in Munich on time.  My luggage was unloaded quickly and I easily made my way across from the international terminal to the one for domestic flights, where I met the Thin Man, who was arriving from Berlin.  We took our cases down the elevator to the S-Bahn platform where we waited for our train to Munich Ost.  There we unexpectedly met Carol and Glen, two of our group who were also heading to Rosenheim. 

On the way to the main station we stood to prevent our cases from flying around in the train.  I chatted with a businessman who was very interested in where we were going.  It turned out that during the following week he would also be heading to the Dolomites to ride his bicycle, so a small world all around.

City Museum, Rosenheim, and entry to the pedestrian zone

From the Munich Ost station we got on an Italian train going towards Venice and not ideal for handling bike cases as it has the same narrow doorways to be found on German EC trains.  The train was packed but since we were standing in doorways with our cases it did not matter much.  In half an hour we got off in Rosenheim, where construction at the station meant the cases had to be shifted up and down stairs, never an easy proposition.  At the front of the station we met yet more people from our group as Patrick and Julie looked for a cab.  An extremely helpful Deutsche Bahn person looking after the traffic in front of the station found us a huge taxi van and we quickly covered the 1.2 km to our hotel in the old city.

Our home away from home...

Old is right–the Hotel Gasthof Flötzinger-Bräu is in an old brewery building and has been occupied more or less constantly since 1543, and as an inn since 1604.  There was a large courtyard full of bike cases and other Giro riders were already there, assembling their bikes.  This all went very smoothly as even the mechanically-hesitant got everything together.  I had taken great pains and a lot of foam pipe insulation to pack the Tarmac and there was not a mark on it.  To celebrate, several of us went into the hotel restaurant for a truly Bavarian meal of Käsespätzle (cheese noodles) with big glasses of draft Hefeweizen.  We needed the fortification since we all had rooms that were up at the top of the building, requiring climbing three or four flights of stairs.  No matter–we were here to ride up mountains.

Terry unpacks his Dahon, which knocks down for easy shipping
(photo by Patrick D.)

But not on the first day.  Having had lunch and feeling surprisingly good after the long trip from Canada, I thought it would be a good idea to test out the bikes and ride along the Mangfall bike path towards Munich, find a place for another beer and then ride back.  It was fairly easy to find our way to the Mangfall, which is one of two rivers going through Rosenheim (the other being the Inn) and the bike path, although we discovered quickly that the path was very narrow and heavily used so we had to manoeuver rather carefully.

One narrow bikepath

Leaving Rosenheim and its suburbs we soon passed through Kolbermoor and Bad Aibling, a small spa town, before losing the bike path and the river completely.  After some detours, we found ourselves on a small agricultural road and soon located a beer garden, where we enjoyed our first outdoor Hefeweizens of the trip.

Mission accomplished, we returned to Rosenheim, taking time only to get slightly lost again, and after getting cleaned up everyone met up for an excellent Italian dinner.  The streets of Rosenheim are very lively in the evening (which some of our group would discover goes late into the night when they tried to get some sleep).  An excellent first day, and I was very much looking forward to the first real bike ride of the trip.

Enjoying our first group Hefeweizen!

1 comment:

Groover said...

Ah, I have been waiting for this report. :-) Now, I'm keen to find out how it continued. I can feel the cold Hefeweizen running down my throat.

BTW: My mum has now been cleared to travel by her doctor and my parents are coming over for Christmas. I'm so excited.