Heading for Customs and ImmigrationThe Germans have always been more clever than us Yanks. Instead of isolating incoming international passengers like we do here, the Germans direct incoming foreigners past a variety of shops and other moneymaking enterprises. For those dieing to light up ASAP after the 8 hour flight accross the Atlantic, they set up this area where one can get a couple of puffs in before facing the Immigration Man. Cassie and Jess might go no farther than here if they had the choice.
Even though that flight over snow-draped fields had us thinking we might be arriving into a Winter Wonderland the airport complex itself seemed totally devoid of snow. In fact, after going into the Munich air terminal we were beginning to sweat. We had been reading about severe cold plaguing Eastern Europe for the past few weeks and had come prepared with heavy woolen socks, long undies and heavy sweaters. Two days before we flew in Munich had been hit by a big snowstorm and parts of the Alps had received close to twenty inchs of snow. We soon found out that the storm had been the start of an equally severe warming trend. For the duration of our visit temperatures were unseasonably mild and even warm. Much of the time we didn't need coats and I never wore my gloves even once.
We had hired Rolf, an ex-BMW employee, to pick us up at the airport and drive us into BMW Welt in Munich where our new car awaited. He was to meet us just outside the customs and immigration area. We were off the plane quickly and found our way to the immigration area easily, but long long lines
BMW Is EverywhereNow that I feel like we're in the club, I am seeing BMW ads and products everywhere. They seem to own the town of Munich and the airport in particular.
seemed to hold us up forever. From there we went to the baggage claim and as expected, we went to the wrong carousel. We were probably the last people from our flight to collect our bags. Then we needed rest rooms. Then we needed the ATM. By the time we reached the Arrival Hall and found Rolf, we were close to a half hour late.
The rest of the day can best be narrated through our many, many photos.
My wife and I met thirty-five years ago when we both worked for the airlines. We got out of the business when deregulation "ruined" it. Now she takes me with her students on her educational trips abroad.
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As Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20t...more info
Stepping Out Into the Balmy Munich AirAfter taking forever to clear through all the legalities of being a foreigner like walking half a mile through the arrivals area, showing our passports, getting our luggage, using the WC, and withdrawing money from the ATM (Customs checkpoints weren't even manned), we met up with Rolf just outside the supermarket housed in the airline terminal. He grabbed our bags and put them on trolleys and led us out into the German winter.
Photogenic Munich AirportHere's another thing Europeans do better than us: present an architecturally and esthetically pleasing airport environment. No cars can park anywhere near the terminal and cause security concerns because this big public square opens up just outside the front doors. Rolf informed us that it's like a party here in the Summer.
Biergarten at the AirportIn the open square there is even a German beer garden doling out Gemutlichkeit during the warmer, busier months.
Rolf RaffelsieperWhen we committed to leasing this car I also committed to the Bimmerfest website which has been an absolutely invaluable source of information about this entire process. One of the first bits advice I got was to secure the services of Rolf Raffelsieper, who has worked for BMW since 1967. We contracted him for far less than the cost of a taxi to take the 4 of us and our bags from the airport to BMW Welt in Munich.
On the Way to Our BMW Station Wagon Ride into MunichAfter giving us travel tips and some suggestions for safe driving in Germany, Rolf led us out of McDonald's and across the plaza to his illegally parked vehicle that would transport us and our bags to the BMW Welt.
Arrival at the BMW ComplexRolf really enjoyed cranking up that 3-Series BMW wagon. We went from the airport to BMW headquarters in a flash. For an older gentleman he certainly had a lead foot. a couple of interesting notes: when we got to his illegally parked car he told me he couldn't afford to pay for parking in the parking garage because then he'd have to jack his rates up to cover the added expense. Then he'd be more expensive than a taxi service.
BMW HQ Building Looks Like Engine Cylinders also found it a little odd that he pulled off the road a block from the Welt where he asked us to pay up before we drove into their parking area. Methinks Rolf is doing this off the books. I have no problem with entrepreneurship so we gladly gave him €50 or $65 and considered it a bargain.
Rolf Is Earning Those EurosI didn't even get a chance to unload the bags as Rolf jumped out of his wagon and immediately uloaded. Some nicely groomed and smiling BMW receptionists came out to greet us on our arrival and tagged our bags then stowed them. Better than airport service!
Look Where We're HeadedLast time we visited the Welt was on an EF trip in 2008. That time we were just interested tourists relegated to seeing what BMW had to offer just at their ground floor display area. Now we had been given the pass to tkae the special elevator up to Premium Land.
The Premium LoungeGail and I have been fortunate enough to have had a couple of experiences of living like the upper crust for just a few hours, but this experience with BMW just may have topped the list for me. They really made us feel special and important as they ushered us into the lounge area and instantly set us up with ID cards, tour tickets, a gift certificate and of course, all the paperwork we'd need for driving around in Germany. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.
Our Moms Get ComfortableAs soon as the paperwork was done we headed into the immense customer lounge. Our mothers made themselves at home right away. Little did they know they'd be spending most of the rest of the day on these leather sofas. No complaints from them.
Almost More Interesting Than the CarsNaturally my eyes immediately wandered over to the refreshment area. It had been almost two hours since our last bite on the plane. The beer was tempting, but at 9:30 am it didn't seem like a great idea. Besides, I was getting too excited to partake.
Breakfast of ChampionsBut no one was gonna stop me from enjoying one of Munich's special culinary delights -Weisswurst.
We Need One of These at HomeHow they can call both these soft delicious salted treats and those skinny long hard sticks they store in a glass bottle "pretzels" is beyond me. And the mustard made them even tastier.
Loading UpA real German knows to peel off the outer casing and just savor the pork inside, but I threw caution to the wind so to speak and devoured the entire sausage. Supposedly that outer casing can induce a severe case of flatulence but I felt I could live with myself.
Oops! Too LateThroughout the trip I continually forgot to snap photos of my food until after I had eaten some of it. That Weisswurst was long gone by the time I remembered to take a photo. Of course that was only the first of my sausages for the day.
More Food ChoicesI barely noticed the delicious desserts when Wurst and Brezels (pretzels) were already in play.
Gail's Happy TooI'm not a coffee drinker and it was so warm inside the Welt that I had no interest in the hot chocolate, but my wife was suddenly loving this whole European Delivery thing when she saw the choices available from this monster.