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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

June 13th: Prologue

We took a Supershuttle to the airport, which fortunately wasn't doing too many pickups as we pretty much used up all their cargo space for the tandem, which was split up into a Trico Ironcase and a Co-Motion Co-Pilot case. One of the panniers was emptied and stuffed into the Co-Pilot case, which contained the wheels, rack, and stoker handlebar parts, as well as Bowen's shoes and a bunch of gel packs as well as the tools required to put the bike back together. The Trico Ironcase contained nothing but the frame. When packing, I had carefully weighed the cases so they fit under the airline mandated 50 pound limit. To supplement all this, the second pannier was packed with our clothing, and then packed into a rolling carry-on suitcase. The carry-on was wheeled so that Bowen could push it along while I wrestled the Ironcase as well as the Co-pilot wheel case. On top of that I had a backpack which contained mostly the airplane necessities: a tablet for Bowen, noise canceling headset, charging equipment, camera, bike computers, toiletries and the like. Bowen carried his Camelbak (emptied of water), and inside the Camelbak, as a last minute decision, he had decided to bring his stuffed bunny, even though he knew the bunny couldn't possibly fit in the pannier.

All that weighing and careful compliance with airline regulations came to naught, however, as at the United counter, the airline employee looked at the case and immediately charged me $150 for the bike! I was quite miffed but paid it anyway, as experience had taught me that arguing with the employee on such matters was futile.

Once everything was checked in, we ate lunch after clearing the security check point, and then boarded what would turn out to be a fairly uneventful flight. One hack which you may or may not consider is that I'd pre-ordered special meals for both of us: a Hindu meal for me, and a Kids meal for Bowen. This does two things: first, I've noticed in the past that the Hindu meal was usually more tasty than the bland default meals. Secondly, because it's a special order, the meals usually arrive ahead of everybody else's. This might not be a big deal for most adults, but giving Bowen extra time to eat was always a good idea as he's not a fast eater at the best of time, and tends to be even more finicky when stuck in an airline seat.

Once in Munich, we cleared the passport control in typical highly efficient German fashion, and picked up our bikes with no problems. The main reason for booking direct flights when on a bike tour is that every flight change was a chance for your bikes to get lost, and so making the effort and paying extra for a direct flight was well worth the cost. The Munich airport hotel is the Hilton, and I had pre-arranged with the hotel to store our bike cases while we traveled. What I didn't realize, having never visited the airport hotel before, was that the hotel lobby was a great place to assemble the bike, and that hotel management didn't mind me doing so there. The entire process took a good 90 minutes, but after I took it for a short test ride I deemed the bike good to go, and checked it into left luggage with the hotel, got the keys to the room, and then moved in to wash up. It wasn't even 2:00pm, so I asked Bowen if he would like to visit a castle in Munich, since he wanted to see Neuschwanstein badly enough that I'd rearranged the entire tour schedule at the last minute and booked a place in Fussen the next day.

The Munich's public transit system is complex, mostly because of the interaction between zones and rings. But when traveling with a child, it's even more complicated, because rather than a group ticket, the cheapest way to get a day pass is to buy a separate day pass for an adult, and a day pass for the child, because child tickets are much cheaper than group tickets. On the way downtown, we visited the Shuster in downtown so we could buy an extra pair of smartwool socks. For whatever reason, I thought Bowen had 2 pairs be he only had one at home and it was too late to make an REI run by the time I found out, so paying European prices was the only alternative.

A quick stop to the Euraide counter at the Munich main train station on our way to Schloss Nymphenburg revealed Alan Wissenberg working at the counter. He didn't have time to talk, and we were leaving tomorrow, but indicated that we should arrange to meet for dinner when we got back to Munich, with arrangements being made over e-mail.
We took the tram to Schloss Nymphenberg, and paid my entry fee to enter the castle to look around. Bowen was free, of course. It was drizzling and we actually ended up putting on our rain jackets. The weather was cold, but Bowen gamely walked around until he got hungry and then we went back out to first get ice cream, then bought a to-go dinner to take back with us to the airport. At our hotel room, we ate our dinner, and then went back out to the airport supermarket to buy breakfast the next day so we would have something to eat and not have to pay for the hotel's buffet breakfast.

I took a melatonin pill and went to bed at 8:30pm, hoping that I wouldn't wake up at 2:00am. But all things considered I felt pretty good about how the trip was going so far, as the weather was scheduled to turn fair mid day the next day.


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