What can I say about Munich? I can honestly say that the overwhelming feelings of despair we had here on our first day can be directly attributed to Hertz rental car agency.
A large cloud bank hung over the mountains and it was much cooler this morning. We left Mayringerlehen and decided to take a more scenic route for the morning along the Deutsche Alpenstrasse. This road wanders through some beautiful mountain scenery from Berchtesgaden all the way to Lindau on the Bodensee. In fact, we’d already traveled some of this road when visiting Neuschwanstein, Weiskirke, and Oberammgau, Linderhof, and Ettal . I was again so impressed with the absolute profusion of flower boxes on so many of the homes. It’s beyond beautiful. When I was a girl of around 13; my parents had taken my sister and I on a camping trip through parts of Europe. I think those flower boxes made a huge impression on me. I too, have lots of flowers around my house. I just love the way it looks. If I could figure out how they get those flower boxes in Germany and Austria to stay so lush and gorgeous, I’d probably have Bill installing some of them at Plum Loco too! We had decided to plan our arrival in Munich for around 3:00 p.m. I had the address programmed into the GPS where we were to drop the car.
We drove along the Weitsee and then detoured to the Chiemsee (Keem-zay). This is a large (32 sq. mile) lake about an hour from Munich. We drove from Prien to Seebruck with a stop at a little chapel along the way. From Seebruck we could see the expanse of the lake with the mountains we had just left in the background. Sailboats contrasted the blue of the water with their crisp white sails. The farmers were busy all around us harvesting the last hay of the season. We had difficulty parking our car anywhere for free perhaps due to a special King Ludwig II exhibit at the Herrenchiemsee Castle. Our time was running out so we left the Chiemsee on schedule for our Munich arrival.
Once again we were thankful for the GPS as we decided to attempt to drop our bags at our hotel before returning the car; not due until 5:00 p.m. It did take some doing, some “re-calculating” along the way, but eventually we found the Hotel am Viktualienmarkt in the old town area of Munich. I had looked long and hard for a hotel that would enable us to walk to most of the venues we’d want to see and ended up with this one. We were not disappointed. Our room was very nice. We had gathered everything up from the car, deposited all in our room and took off for the car drop off site at the Bahnhof; the main train station in Munich. Nothing doing. We drove around and around and around. The building was somewhat obstructed by construction but no where did we see any signs of Hertz rental cars. After about 45 minutes of great frustration I remembered a Hertz icon on the GPS. I pulled that up and there was a list of Hertz locations. Aha! There was one at a Bahnhof 7 km away! I must have somehow gotten us to the wrong location. Off we drove to the next location. Again, multiple circling around an urban area before Bill parked the car and I set off to seek the kindness of strangers once again.
In a grocery store about a block away I approached a woman with a kind face and asked for assistance. Her English (thankfully) was very good and she assured me that she had lived in Munich a very long time and there were no Hertz rental car sites at either train station. Peachy. The kind woman then called the Hertz number on my reservation and was able to retrieve an address where we could deposit our car. Apparently, the other addresses were just offices. I will be sure to warn anyone else with the same plans. My reservation clearly listed the Bahnhof as a drop off location. What an absolute “cluster ---!” When we finally found the “alternative” drop off site, it was nearly 5:00 p.m. I made my displeasure well known to the young man at the counter while recognizing it was beyond his control.
From the car drop off we were to partake of our first adventure on public transportation. Without too much trouble we purchased our tickets to Marienplatz and then promptly got on the wrong side of the tracks. Slight correction of our direction and we were on the way to the Marienplatz. Have I mentioned that Bill hates cities and crowds of people? I had tried to plan this to go smoothly. It did not. Bill was already stressed from all of the difficult extra driving thanks to Hertz. I finally demanded we sit at a table in the Marienplatz and have a cold beverage. Soon after the beers were delivered I set off to find a detailed map of the city; a task that was accomplished at a kiosk less than 20 yards away.
Armed with the map we began working our way towards our hotel; we thought. Once again the kindness of strangers prevailed. A nice woman with her young son in tote took pity on these folks studying the map and offered to help. She assured us that once we found the place we could get back and forth very easily and then took us all the way to the door of Hotel am Viktualienmarkt. She was a gem. I was so grateful for her kindness and will remember this always.
Once we got to our room I had a great crying fit in the bathroom. What the hell was I thinking taking us here? While I wept Bill slept. We were both overwhelmed.
As the evening continued to wane Bill got up and began pouring over the maps. We both felt a little better and although we were afraid of getting lost, neither one of us wanted to stay encased in the hotel for the rest of the evening. We decided we’d try to find a little place named the Jodlerwirt. Believe it or not, Rick Steves said they have Bavarian music there on the second floor. We spoke to the hotel receptionist regarding directions. She helped a little but basically said, “If you’ve been walking over a half hour, this is not good. Ten minutes is all this should take.”
Now that we actually had our bearings, we walked right down the street, through the Viktualienmarkt, around Peter’s church and the town hall to an itty bitty street. There it was, the Jodlerwirt! We were both greatly encouraged that we’d actually been successful at finding our destination on the first try and without having to stop people for directions. We proceeded immediately to the second floor where a very tiny room awaited. At the far end were the barmaids and a fellow sitting on a barstool who motioned that it was okay for us to join him. Though I sat on the next stool, Bill slid around to a spacious bench and then I joined him. The room was all covered in wood with pretzels and heart shaped cookies strung from the walls. The ceilings were low and we quickly estimated that it could perhaps seat around 35 – 40 people max. In a very tiny alcove stood an accordion on a stand, along with some electronic stuff and a microphone.
We were really hoping to hear some of the songs that we’d pretended to sing along to at the Almabtrieb festival in Mayrhofen. Surely we’d hear at least one or two. In just a matter of 10 or 15 minutes, the fellow who had been sitting at the bar slid onto his next stool as the musician. There were four of us to listen.
Let me say this, we ended up having a great time. Though I would not recommend sitting up to the bar ever again. Who are you going to talk to? The place quickly filled up with people who were certainly more local than we were. Though we couldn’t understand most of what our entertainer said, it was clear that from time to time he would poke fun at the fellows sitting around the room. A group of around 10 young people came in celebrating a birthday; twenty-fourth birthday as far as I could tell. Several times our man played “Happy Birthday to You”; same tune, different words. I sang along. It really doesn’t take a lot to restore my joy and in no time we were both clapping along and faking our way through at least two familiar tunes we “learned” at the Almabtrieb. We wandered out around 10:30 p.m. and had no problem at all finding our way back to our hotel. Even Hertz could not completely ruin our first evening in Munich!