With our air travel booked months in advance from NZ, all that was required on our final day in Germany was to board the train to the airport. Simple! And being organised we even went down to the station the afternoon before and bought our tickets to avoid any mad rush in the morning. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a bit, as it turned out.
That we caught a crowded connection going south of Munich rather than north as originally intended shouldn't have mattered as it made little difference to our arrival time. But in the grand scheme of things it did. Pulling into a station some nine stops from our final destination, and with the carriages at standing room only, we learned there was an electrical fault further up the line. Given the tannoy announcement was in German - which regrettably neither Jas, Bex or I speak - we were forced to ask our fellow passengers what was going on and gauging their reaction it seemed the issue was more an irritation than a disaster. To be fair, some did leave the train, but most stayed put. Some twenty minutes later, and with more and more deciding to find an alternative route to the airport, the authorities finally admitted the train was kaput, as they say. It was also cheerfully suggested we moved to another platform and caught a returning train to a previous station and find a bus to the airport from there. Not that one had been laid on, of course.
Time was ticking away and feeling a tad anxious we decided to join the growing throng hoping to grab a taxi instead. Yeah, right, as we say in NZ! With each arriving cab besieged by angry and desperate travellers clearly a Plan B was needed, and so leaving the concourse and dragging all our luggage behind us, we marched off down the road knowing the only way to get out of there would be to flag down a ride before it got anywhere near the hoards at the station entrance. And that meant leaping into the path of oncoming vehicles and risking life and limb!
That’s how we meant Seb the Kurd. Pulling across three busy lines of traffic and ignoring the furious honking of horns and decidedly rude finger gestures, he threw our bags into the trunk of his taxi and we piled in. Then we were off, crashing through intersections and switching lanes with great abandon, all the time racing through busy commuter traffic. It was like being in the movies! But get us to the airport he did and impressively, with a little under an hour to spare before our flight was due to take off.
Yet every upside has a downside, and for us it was the automatic check-in machines. They simply wouldn't process our details regardless how many ways we inserted our documents. That meant being manually processed and with any number of flights taking off the snaking queues were miles long. Clearly we would still be in line when our plane was soaring over the Atlantic.
But wait... over there, the bulky luggage check in... the counter was empty and the woman behind the desk was looking decidedly bored.
So we scuttled over.
“Bulky luggage,” I announced authoritatively, pointing at our mountain of suitcases and specifically to our bright orange and rather large kitbag.
“Nien,” she said, in turn indicating the overhead sign showing violin cases and baby strollers.
“Yes,” I argued back.
She glared, I glared. It seemed we had reached an impasse. So, swallowing my pride I threw myself on her mercy, explaining the saga with the train, and that our plane was, as we spoke, revving up its engines.
She shrugged. Was it her fault?
Then a breakthrough.
“Passports,” she barked.
Sliding them towards her I wondered if this was the right time to ask for a free upgrade to Business Class? Perhaps not.
Then we were racing through passport control and security, hurtling passed cafe's and any chance of a late breakfast, ignoring the call of Duty Free, and jiggling about waiting for the shuttle train to take us to the other end of the airport. Finally, after an breathtakingly mad dash we found ourselves the last passengers squeezed onto the plane for our twelve hour flight. Jas in row 29, me in 50 and Bex in 53!
I had barely settled down to scroll thorough the in-flight entertainment when I noticed our departure slot had come and gone, and strangely we were still on the tarmac. A cold chill ran up my spine. Surely not? Hadn't we already endured enough? Seemingly not, for a moment later came the dreaded announcement. There was a problem with the air-conditioning in the cabin and while the engineers had tried to fix it it had been decided that, like the train earlier, Lufthansa's plane was kaput! Returned to the transit lounge to await the preparation of another plane we were assured the delay would be minimal. Just two hours, it was hoped.
Ah, the joys of travelling!