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Home beckons
2008-01-20 01:00
by Bob Timmermann
If all goes smoothly, I should be back home around 7 pm PT. I'm waiting for my connecting flight from Munich to Frankfurt and then presumably back to my own bed.

Germany did not acquit itself well from a service standpoint on my last day.

I had a late train that got to Munich after 1 am. I took my proof of a prepaid reservation to the desk clerk at the hotel. The clerk told me that I needed the few extra lines at the bottom of the voucher or else I would have to pay.

"But I made a reservation and you got the money off my credit card. Here's the whole email (showing him the full email I had saved on BlackBerry).

"But I need the paper. You can go to an internet cafe to print it out."

(Cultural tip: Germans do not respond to people banging their head on the counter in frustration.)

But the guy let me have a room and I called Orbitz back in the States and eventually (at a cost I refuse to contemplate until I get my Verizon bill) a supervisor told me that she would call the hotel and set them straight.

So at 3:30, I finally fall asleep and get up at 7:30. The morning clerk said no one called, but it didn't matter. They knew that I had already paid. I waited for my apology. And waited. And waited. But I was hungry, so I went to get breakfast.

Most of my foreign travel has been to Japan, the land of the Profuse Apology. Apparently that is not the case with Germany. Even the hotel in Vienna apologized for failing to make up my room.

I will say that the Czechs and Slovaks were nice and helpful, especially to a visitor who couldn't even figure out how to say thank you.

I have been to Germany before, but it was mostly in the north, where people seemed much friendlier and likely less drunk.

Despite my whining, I liked Central Europe. I just didn't care for Munich, a city predicated on drinking heavily and nothing else as far as I could tell.

I will remember fondly Prague's medieval charms, Vienna's copious amounts of great chocolate, Bratislava's best efforts to get me to like their city. The Alps also more than exceeded what I expected of them in terms of scenic beauty.

But I guess it is time to get back to the workaday world. Oh well.

2008-01-20 06:14:38
1.   al bundy
I hope you've got a comfortable seat on that long flight to CA.

Don't totally write off Germany until you've visited Berlin. It's remarkable.

Prague is brimming with tourists 365x7, or so it seems. It's a remarkable and memorable city but a typical tourist doesn't get much of a sense of what it's like to live there today. However, there are lots of jobs for the young people and more memorable sights to see than any tourist can handle.

Bratislava sees the lion's share of it's tourism in the summer months. Many of them are there only for the day as part of a Danube River cruise or bus tour. It was never as wealthy as Prague, has far fewer historical sights, suffered more at the hands of the communists, and took far greater of a beating from Allied bombs.

2008-01-20 08:03:17
2.   Sam DC
Is funny, I once spent a few days in Munich and, akin to my Astronomy Clock crack, I'd intended to ask after a favorite tourist site. But I couldn't remember any (except Dachau, which is sort of immune to wisecrackery).
2008-01-20 14:26:55
3.   ToyCannon
I guess it is to late to ask you to bring home those gummi type snakes that was my favorite candy in Germany. When real Gummi finally made it's way to the US I gorged on them but the snakes have never made it across the Atlantic. Probably full of things that the DEA won't let us import in.

Berlin scared the crap out of me when I was a child. The wall seemed like it was created from someone's imagination.

2008-01-20 17:27:02
4.   Charenton
Of course, Berlin is part of the friendlier (although I don't know about less drunk) north. And virtually another country when compared with uptight Munich.

It's also been my experience that Munich is where the least friendly Germans live - it's no mistake that the most notorious 20th century German had his first strong following in Munich. And to this day, the most right wing politicians in Germany come from Munich (Franz Josef Strauss…).
And it's not a "south thing"- it's a "south-east"(Bavaria) thing.

My favorite area of Germany is in the south west near the Swiss & French borders in the Black Forest(Schwartzwald). In the main regional city, Freiburg, there used to be 6 different jazz clubs which as anyone who follows jazz can tell you, is a quite amazing cultural feat for a city of about 150,000 people. As well as very friendly people (at least friendly by German standards…)there is great mountain hiking(although not as stunning as the Bavarian Alps) 15 minutes from the center of town. As it's a thriving somewhat counterculture university town, Freiburg has a reputation as being Germany's "Be(ze)rkeley"

2008-01-20 19:31:32
5.   ToyCannon
Cool, my grandmothers maiden name was Freiburger and we were told that we were French/German from her side.
2008-01-20 20:14:16
6.   bhsportsguy
Hopefully you are reading this in the good ole USA.
2008-01-20 20:25:50
7.   das411
Heh, French-German, sooooo hard not to make any 1870s-1940s jokes...

ps: i have it on good authority (aka his facebook status) that Bob is indeed home! Everybody who was eagerly awaiting word can now rest easy...unless of course they live near his library...

2008-01-20 20:33:18
8.   Bob Timmermann
I am home and, more importantly, I have taken a shower.

Trust me on that part.

I will likely be up late tonight as my body clock is all screwed up.

2008-01-21 00:11:40
9.   Eric Enders
Perhaps you can occupy yourself with the Tivo recording of USC-UCLA game.
2008-01-21 09:39:11
10.   D4P
That's second in the queue behind the East-West Shrine Game.

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