Val Ease Central Railroad by Jeffrey MacHan
The Sinsheim Chronicles: Episode 21
A Fond Farewell...Terry and I were on our own for the last 3 days of our trip and we were determined to make the most of them. Originally we thought that we might have the time to make a run by train to Basel or St. Galen in Switzerland. However Munich was so inviting, the hotel room so comfortable and the weather so cooperative that we decided to spend a relaxing time in the capital of Bavaria.
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Although the sky was clear the temperature was on the nippy side. I was very happy to have taken my son's advice and brought gloves and a scarf. We put the morning hours to good use making return visits to our favourite hobby shops and a last tour around the central market.
The tower of the Rattskeller seemed to solemnly bid us adieu as we passed by for the last time.
Before leaving for Germany, we had planned a day trip to the Dachau Camp Memorial if the weather and time allowed. The 6 hour tour left from the Hauptbahnhof at noon. Forty-five minutes later we were gathered around our New Zealand-born guide on her first official solo tour.
For the next 5 hours the 35 people in our tour group walked through the barracks and grounds of one of the most infamous of the hundreds of WWII internment camps. It was a sobering experience to say the least. The huge sculpture depicting the prisoners committing suicide on the electrified fence was the only picture that I took while in Dachau.
Rather somber following the Dachau tour, we opted for convenience rather than style and returned to the Loewenbraukeller for supper. The service was good, the food came in copious quantities and the prices were reasonable. Even better, we were only a minute or so from our hotel.
Friday, March 29th, Good Friday.
Sure we knew that it was a holiday but we underestimated the extent of closures in Munich, i.e. no museums...which we only discovered after making the trip all the way to the door of the Deutches Museum along with several dozen other tourists!
OK, the cultural activities were out. In a flash we came up with plan B. Being train lovers, and any type of train would do, Terry and I decided to squeeze the utmost mileage from our municipal tram pass. For most of the afternoon and into the early evening we road the tramlines from one end to the other. Of the 12 lines on the city map, we travelled over every one except lines 15 and 25, the two southerly lines. As one might expect, the ridership was very light so our choice of seats was excellent. Indeed, it was actually a great way to see the architecture and neighbourhoods of the city.
We eventually got off at the Stiglemeirplatz stop for our hotel and took the path of least resistance...
Saturday, March 30, 2002.
We had separate flights home leaving from Frankfurt. By now the fact that German trains ran on time had finally sunk in and I was confident that we would make the first connection of several on the way to the airport. The tram was right on schedule...
and the airport connection at Frankfurt-Mainz waited for us although our ICE arrived 5 minutes late!!!
Although we tried to get seats together on the flight home as instructed by the ticket agent in Toronto, we were unsuccessful. Terry would arrive in Toronto 4 hours later than me and he had already planned to rent a car at the airport and join my wife and me for supper later in the evening. And that is exactly what happened...no hitches, no surprises...just a long, dull, flight home with excrutiatingly awful movies designed to provide headaches to us poor flyers strapped into our seats pinched between two overweight and hygiene-challenged tourists!!! and did I mention the crying baby two rows over and the flight attendant with the bad hair and attitude to match?
Hey, the dream trip couldn't be perfect, right!
Three days following my return from Germany I received news that the VECRR would arrive on April 27th! I was in shock...I had a train show in Akron, Ohio on April 13th! A furious exchange of emails later I learned that the message should have read March 27...whew! Once customs had finally cleared the shipment, the case was delivered to my door by Schenker. The case had suffered only slight scratches on the return trip. The layout was in exactly the condition I had packed it in Sinsheim. Mission accomplished.
Terry had a chance to recount some of our adventures to Marthe as we drove him to Buffalo International Airport for his trip home to Vancouver, Washington. From what I hear, his wife, Helen, still is receiving bits and pieces of Terry's side of the story!!!! One thing is certain, we're ready anytime for a return engagement ;-)
And that, dear readers, is the end of Jeff and Terry's Great European Z Adventure. Thanks to the sponsors and individuals who helped us along the way. Travelling with Terry made the trip even more enjoyable. It would not have been the same without him. Thanks, my friend.
It's been GREAT reliving the trip over the past 21 (22 counting the prolog) episodes. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the telling of the tale as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.
There's lot's more FUN including the Great 2003 AdventureZ to Eurospoor.