3 December - Wandering Aimlessly

The Lufthansa crew gave us some snacks about an hour before landing.  After getting off the plane, we were momentarily confused about the terminal lettering (we expected we’d be in Terminal Z), but then we remembered we were in Munich, not Frankfurt.  When Lufthansa reinstated the flight to San Diego post-Covid [yes, we know it’s not really “post-Covid” but we don’t know what other term to use], it changed from the Frankfurt airport to Munich, and whilst we’d been to Frankfurt close to 10 times in the last 5 years, we’d been to Munich only once (and very briefly, back in 2018).  The airport terminals were very similar in their layout and appearance, which amplified our confusion.

Once we remembered where we were, we got situated and checked for where to find the exit and the train station.  Seemingly no one from our flight was leaving the airport, as we were with one other couple walking down various escalators, corridors, and trams, before reaching baggage claim.  The signs to the train station weren’t easy to find, like in Frankfurt last year.  We actually had to go outside to walk across a small plaza, but interestingly there was a Christmas Market there.  Just on the other side of the market was a separate building with the train station, rental car offices, etc.

Inside this building the signs to the train ticket office weren’t that easy to locate, either; eventually we found it and Crystal got us two tickets to Salzburg.  We decided before we left that she’d be the designated “talker” in Germany, Austria and Hungary and that Justin would be the designated talker in Italy.  We had about 30 minutes to wait until our train into Munich left, so we just sat and decompressed.  The train ride from the Airport to the Munich Ost station was sort of boring, through an ugly forest (none of the trees had any leaves) with poor cell and wi-fi signal.  Justin was attempting to set up his VPN and the Fox Sports app on his phone so he could watch the USA-Netherlands round-of-16 match, but the signal kept coming and going.

At the Munich Ost station, we got off and went to go get something to eat and drink, as we had more time than we had at the airport.  It was quite cold inside the station, and we didn’t have all our layers on (e.g. long underwear) because it wasn’t feasible for us to have already changed, given that we’d just landed.  We got some paprika chips, some wine, and some water.  The “inner” part of the station was barely warmer than the tracks area - it was covered, but there were no doors and seemingly no heating.  When we came back up to wait for our train, we saw a legit steam engine train that must have been quite old; we'd never seen one before.  On the train to Salzburg, the view was again not much to look at.  Justin eventually got his phone set up, and watched about the first 25-30 minutes of the USA game before the internet signal was too poor to keep watching - it was probably for the best given how the game went.  Crystal read her Kindle and had a more relaxing train ride.

In Salzburg, we left the station and decided to just walk, since we knew where we were going and we also knew that a drive would be difficult since our hotel was in the heart of Old Town, across the river.  The walk was about 25 minutes, fairly brisk (both pace and temperature), with more people than we recalled seeing in 2018.  There were low clouds everywhere, so not much of a view.  In Old Town it was especially packed, almost shoulder to shoulder, and we wanted to get to the hotel walking at a pace much faster than all the tourists that were just loitering the streets.  At our hotel (Altstadthotel Weisse Taube) we checked in and asked what time the Krampus Run started - the woman told us 17:30.  We looked at our watches, and it was already about 17:00, so we quickly dropped our stuff and headed out in search of the Krampi (we checked, Krampi is plural of Krampus).

We couldn’t readily find anything, and we were wandering around aimlessly in a huge throng of people, again basically shoulder to shoulder all throughout Old Town.  Eventually we found a bunch of people lining both sides of one of the main streets, and figured that was the spot, so we got situated and anxiously waited.  Both of us, but especially Crystal, had really enjoyed the Krampus run in Salzburg in 2018, so we wanted to come back.  We planned to come last year, but less than two weeks before departure Austria locked down due to exploding Covid cases, so we had to cancel the portion of the trip going to Salzburg, and we traveled to Trier and Cologne in Germany instead.  So we were very very much looking forward to seeing our second Krampus run after many years in the waiting.

But about 5 minutes before the Krampi came through, Crystal left because her parents arrived at the hotel with her dad’s cousin, and her parents wanted us to meet him.  They were joining us for the entire trip, and they’d arrived a day or two before us in order to meet some of Dewey’s family members.  They’d apparently succeeded in this endeavor, and we were happy at that, and also happy to meet new relatives, but the timing was awful - it was like getting invited to meet someone at 23:55 on New Year’s Eve when you’re in Times Square waiting for the ball to drop.  Justin responded he was just going to wait for the Krampi, but Crystal made her way through Old Town to get to the hotel to meet her parents and her dad’s cousin Roland.  

She found out that Roland had used to work for Coca Cola, and through his work he had lived all over the world, and he told Crystal that his favorite city anywhere was Vienna.  This was welcome news, as we are planning to move to Vienna for at least part of the year, with Tenerife the other part of the year.  In fact, we are planning to visit neighborhoods in Vienna later this trip, to see which neighborhoods we most prefer.  Roland no longer lives in Vienna, he lives in some small town near Munich.  Roland, Crystal, Dewey, and Clarita saw the Krampi when they walked over by the ice rink at Mozartplatz.  Meanwhile, Justin had been following the Krampi around; since they were moving slowly through the crowds, by going to other roads and then doubling back, he could see the procession from another spot.

We probably ended up by one another at the east end of Mozartplatz, where the Krampi finished their procession, but we didn’t see each other.  Dewey, Clarita and Crystal went to eat at Cafe Tomaselli, and Justin walked around on the northeast side of the river.  He tried to eat at Johanneskeller, but they were full, just as when we tried to eat there in 2018.  We had considered making a reservation here, but they were set to be closed our second night, and on the first night (tonight) we had no clue when we’d be ready to eat before or after the Krampus run.  Oh well, maybe the third time will be the charm.  Justin ended up at Zwettler’s - a place we’d eaten in 2018 - which thankfully had one seat left at the bar.  Eventually he ended up back in our room, where Crystal already was.  Both of us were exhausted and went straight to sleep.

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