Auto Ads by Adsense

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 28: Rest Day in Munich

We woke up in the morning to a light drizzle that would wax and wane all day, leaving us glad that we had taken the day off. I ran downstairs to buy some senf (sweet mustard) as well as bread for the Weiss Wurst, made some, and then Phil and I went downtown to first get an umbrella and then chat with Alan about dinner arrangements. He seemed happy to meet with Googlers, so we set a time for 6:00pm and went back downtown to use the ATM, browse maps in the bookstore (Phil found an Austrian map to his liking, indicating that perhaps he might return to Austria some day for some more exploration), and then visited Google for lunch.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

After lunch, we bought more Weiss wurst and then headed back to the apartment where Phil slept and read while I watched movies on my Nexus One, which had become my only source of entertainment after my Kindle had died.

Dinner with Alan, Frank, and Daniel was great. Alan explained to us all the construction that was happening in front of the Google office in Munich near Marienplatz. The train line through downtown was the busiest in all of Europe, with a train passing through every 2 minutes, bottle-necking the entire system. The construction was intended to alleviate that by not just building multiple lines, but also enabling Munich's East train station to further allow more traffic. The result should be complete in about 5 years or so. Discussion also revolved around the politics of the train station. The big news, however, was that the French TGV system, which was famously unfriendly to bike carriage, would finally run a line from Lyons to Frankfurt. However, as a condition of being allowed to run on German tracks, the German train system had negotiated with the TGV to have a bike car! As a result, this will be the only TGV/long distance train run by the French system to allow bike carriage. This train will start running in 6 months, and you heard it here first.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

Dinner passed very quickly, and at the end when Alan heard about where we were planning to go, he suggested that we went to Schaffhausen, both for less riding in the rain, as well as to visit the biggest falls in Europe. He told us to show up at 9:00am the next day at the Deutsche Bahn counter where he'd look up the weather for us and provide us with suggested routes.

We went back to the apartment, did laundry using the laundry machine and dryer (what a luxury), cleaned up the place, and went to sleep hoping for better weather the next day.



Andreas Sikkema said...

Contrary to popular belief there are TGV trains where a (very limited) numbers of bikes can be carried. Most of these run on the more westerly lines. These are marked with a bicycle in the schedules, the SNCF website also has similar marking in the timetables.

As with all TGV travels, a reservation is mandatory and once you have a reservation for a bike on a specific train you're set, without it the conductors can be very unfriendly. At the head/tail of the train there's room for 4-6 bikes but this space can be quite full with normal, large, luggage.

If there's no official room for a bike in the train, there's always the possibility to dismantle your bike so it fits in the 120x90x60cm large luggage limits and cover it in plastic.

I have done both and have no qualms about taking the bike on the TGV. Note that there's a lot of people, including SNCF personnel, who don't know about the bike capable TGVs and can be quite vocal about the troubles they think you will have. I have never had any troubles with TGV conductors, if the train is already quite full having a reservation is your ticket to full support from them.

Andreas Sikkema

Piaw Na said...

In 2007 while trying to arrange travel from Paris to Hendaye, the TGV refused to take bikes. That might have changed, but nonetheless, dismantling the bike is extremely inconvenient. As a result, my rule for France is: bike in bike out. No dependence on the ability to get long distance trains. By contrast, both Germany and Switzerland offer bike cars and I've never had trouble getting bikes on and off either train system. You will never have to dismantle a bike to get onto a German or Swiss train, and the conductors will frequently help you. By contrast, even local trains in France sometimes require a Chinese fire drill as your conductor tells you to switch cars for no apparent reason.

Andreas Sikkema said...

The coverage for normal bike transport has slowly been upgraded since around 2008 or thereabouts. Last year I took the TGV with my bake (without talking apart) from Lille to Poitiers, the year before that from Dax to Lille.

After looking around on the SNCF pages here's a map of France showing TGV with normal" biketransport, although a reservation is required:

Looks like more or less the whole country is now supported. If you know French, is your friend.


Piaw Na said...

You still can only make a bike reservation by phone. That makes it very difficult for North Americans wishing to make a reservation on the TGV. Until I receive a reliable report of any North Americans successfully negotiating a TGV transit with a fully assembled bicycle, I will continue to recommend that non-French speaking cyclists avoid the French train system.