Whole Lotta Flyin’ Goin’ On

I had another fine flight on Virgin-Atlantic to London – the airline just can't be beaten for comfort and service. As many of you already know, it's relatively easy to accumulate rewards points from various sources and apply them to Virgin's frequent flyer plan to get an upgrade to their Upper Class ticket. So, except for a bit of turbulence here and there, it was another great flight.

One of the other things I like about Virgin is the Revivals Lounge at Heathrow. It consists of 30 private bathrooms with showers, plus a breakfast cafe! So, at no extra charge, Upper Class passengers can shave, shower, and change clothes after a wrinkle-laden, Einstein hair inducing, fitfull night of semi-sleep on the red-eye flight and emerge looking reasonably human.

I spent two hours hanging at Heathrow, busying myself to avoid falling asleep, and then caught a Lufthansa flight to Munich. It's amusing to compare American and European flight expectations: my Lufthansa economy ticket included several inches of free space between my tall man's knees and the seat ahead of me, and free food and drink (even wine and beer). Fabulous. However, there were no food choices. Instead, the stewardess practically raced her cart down the aisle, tossing a one-flavor-fits-all French bread pizza to everyone, without a word. It was mushroom marinara pizza, which I find tasty but it might not have suited everyone. Yet I head no complaining, no demanding to know what other flavors there were, and saw no one acting as if they were entitled to mutliple choices. Kind of refreshing, actually.

Munich's airport is modern and well-laid out and sits atop two rail lines. It struck me as odd though that the trains are express trains. They're locals, making 12 stops over 40 minutes, before reaching the center of the city and adding more time and jammed-in comraderie with other humans to your trip. Hmm… sounds a bit like a rail project that's working its way out to Dulles airport outside Washington, D.C.

See the traditional lederhosen costume at left? As the train made its way into town, more and more people in this traditional dress for Oktoberfest got on board. Women in those dirndl dresses, too. In fact, I arrived into the Hauptbahnhof central train station in a veritable swarm of these outfits. Fighting down the urge to race out and plunk down $300 for a real one, I luckily realized it just wouldn't “go” with anything else I own. Considering that they're made out of rather heavy leather, I don't how I'd have gotten one in my suitcase anyway, without sacrificing the room I set aside the for endless souvenirs I rashly promised everyone I know.

I found my hotel without mishap, and managed to get out to an Italian restaurant for a simple meal, and my first Oktoberfest (only 20-oz.) beer. Yes, everyone in town is serving the seasonal brew. Tomorrow is forecast to be a nice, cool, sunny day and I will devote all of it to worshipping the golden grain product and making my dent in the millions of pints that will be served this year at Oktoberfest. Stay tuned!

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