June 27, 2019
“Munich? What the heck are you doing in Munich? Last I heard you were in Budapest.”
Just running out of time to make the Tour de France. So, yesterday I took a train from Budapest to Nuremberg. Well, that was the plan. Missed the train. Could not find the correct platform. Had to find another way. The agent was very helpful and found a train with space for the bicycle to Munich. The thought being that from here I could get a train anywhere. That was the thought.
I boarded the direct train after making a contact for a Warm Showers stay in Munich. There was a couple with their bikes and we helped each other get all in order. Smooth ride…..until. At the last stop in Hungary the engine broke down. No problem they told us. Another engine would be along in a half hour. By the way it was about 90 degrees and no a/c. Twenty minuets later and they announced that a new train was coming in 10 minuets. It arrived but only had 4 cars while ours had 10. Oh, no bicycle car.
We all tried to pack our self’s on when a very officious lady came up and demanded, not asked, that those with large bags, baby carriages and of course bicycles get off. We did as she had 3 Austrian police standing with her. It would be at least an hour before the next train, we were told. Not it will be an hour, but at least an hour.
I got on my bike and went for a ride to check out the tiny village. Found there were two places to rent a room, a small sandwich shop and a historic church. All churches in this part of the world are historic, right? Anyway stopped for a cold beer and then rode back to the platform, no station here. Saw 2 men dressed in black pants, white shirts with various belt attachments. I stopped them and asked if they spoke English and were they with the train company. Yes, to both. In fact one, Elvis, yes that was his name, was the train chief.
Could you tell me what the plan is, I asked. He informed me that a train was coming in about 13 minuets. “Will it have a bicycle car? “Sure will.”
Ok, I went to find the German couple and let them know what I had discovered. The train arrived and all was put right. We were back on our way Munich with the bikes safely hooked up. Well……
We stopped in Vienna and there were about 10 people with bikes and only 1 slot open. They did not seem to care and all tried to get on. Pushing and shoving, trying to unhook our bikes to put theirs on. Not a nice experience. Elvis showed up and stopped the whole procedure. He told the couple to move their bikes to a bike car at the rear of the train, me to stay where I was and 3 of the new arrivals to hook up their bikes. The other 7 would just had to wait for the next train.
Ok, off again. Soon I got a email from the German couple to ask the 3 newbies if they were going on to Munich. Turns out the train was splitting a the rear cars were not going to Munich!
What the heck is going on? I thought Austrian trains were reliable. Not true I now know. They often break down in the summer and are not on time as I had imagined. Anyway, the kids did get on the train but not on the bike car. Elvis came to their rescue again.
Did I say he and I had a nice conversation about his family and job? He is a very happy guy with 2 kids, 13 and 21, likes his job and is just an all around nice guy. He gave the couple and I a form to fill out, a note to attach and filed a report so we could apply for a refund,
Finally, almost 3 hours late we arrive in Munich just before night fall. I mount up and ride across town to my Warm Showers (Couch Surfing for cyclists) host’s apartment. A great guy with a wonderful apartment. He had waited to eat dinner with me. He prepared a nice picnic of cheese, fruit, home cured meat and bread. Walked out into the wonderful night, across the river to a beer garden where we sat with many others and talked away until 1 am.
It really was a very good day! Lemons, anyone?