We set off for our adventure on Wednesday, July 19th, 2023, from our airport to Dulles. Our first flight was delayed, and when we landed we only had about 15 minutes before our flight to Munich took off. We ran through the terminal to the train which took us to the A terminal, then ran through the A terminal to the B terminal to our gate. It was exhausting and stressful, I think we may have been the last ones to board. Paige was super fast and got there first, Connor stayed with mom and I made sure they didn’t close the gate before we all made it aboard.
Our flight to Munich was on a Lufthansa Airbus plane and after our Iceland flights we made sure to get seats that fully laid flat. Connor fell asleep almost immediately. Paige, Andrea, and I stayed up to enjoy the steak dinner together which was hot and delicious. We also got a small cup of Hagen das ice cream for dessert. Connor was out the entire flight, he was pretty comfortable and had no problem falling asleep. Andrea slept fairly well, but woke up many times during the flight. Paige watched Sing 2 on the plane’s entertainment system and then fell asleep. I had a heck of a time sleeping. The seat was motorized and it gave you a little private are when fully reclined. If I stretched out, my feet ended up in a tight little cubby area and I couldn’t really get comfortable. My sleeping mask helped block things out, but while I was adjusting my seat at one pointy mask fell in a crack next to the seat and I couldn’t find it. Eventually I gave up on sleeping and just played on my iPad.
When we landed in Germany, I checked on our bags and the AirTags showed that they’d never left America. We went to a Lufthansa desk to fill out all the paperwork for the lost bags and took a taxi to our hotel. Upon checking in, we realized that Andrea had accidentally booked four rooms for us on the hotel’s website and although they refunded us for the following nights, we got stuck paying for the extra rooms that first day. After checking in, we washed up and then collapsed in our beds and took a long nap which was much needed.
In the afternoon on Thursday, we left the hotel to explore Munich. The part of the city with our hotel was a very multi-ethnic area with Arabic shops and restaurants. We walked to a historic area and went to a Lululemon store to buy a few clothes, then we ate dinner outdoors at a local German restaurant. I had meatballs and everyone else shared a couple burgers. The outdoor seating was fun and European, but we quickly realized that smoking is extremely prevalent and we were constantly inhaling smoke during our meal.
Friday, July 21st, we were supposed to have our family photos done by a local German photographer, however we tracked our bags and saw that only one bag had made it to Germany so far. We decided to go to the Dachau concentration camp for the day and took a train and bus to the memorial site. I was proud of us for figuring out the route, buying the tickets, and navigating our way there. The Dachau Memorial area was larger and more sprawling than I expected. We rented audio devices that we could use to hear pre-recorded audio snippets about each point of interest, and we wandered through the concentration camp area to learn about the history. The Dachau camp was one of the oldest camps in Germany and housed everyone from political prisoners at the beginning of the Nazi reign through prisoners of war, through the end of the war. We saw the barracks which housed the prisoners as well as the crematorium and ovens where the dead were burned.
When we got back to the hotel, we were happy that one of the girls’ suitcases had arrived, so Paige and Andrea were able to clean up and change their clothes. The kids ate some McDonald’s in the room, Andrea had a bagel sandwich, and I decided to get out and try something interesting locally. I tried to get a gyro from two of the Middle Eastern restaurants nearby, but they didn’t speak English and were not very friendly, so I found a German pub and ate some schnitzel. As I was finishing up, one of the other patrons was told that the bar didn’t accept credit cards, and my heart sunk as we hadn’t gotten any cash yet. I’d read that everyone took cards in Europe, so we’d hoped we wouldn’t have to mess with getting Euros. I explained my predicament to the staff and thankfully they let me leave to go find some cash. It was pouring rain at this point, and it was quite an adventure to make my way back to the hotel, get our US dollars, exchange them for Euros at a currency exchange business, then walk back to the bar to pay my tab.
In the evening, we all got out again and went in search of some ice cream. Paige got some boba tea, and the rest of us got some ice cream.
Saturday morning, we all set out in search of some clothes for Connor. I got a new shirt and we got Connor a few shirts and fresh socks. We ate a late breakfast at Mr. Pancake and then walked to our bike tour meetup spot.
Andrea found a highly rated bike tour online and we thought that maybe it would be a great way to see the city. Munich is a super bike-friendly city and it seemed like a good idea, but it was a bit stressful. Munich was densely populated and on a Saturday with nice weather, everyone was out and about. Our bike tour group only consisted of a dozen people or so, but it was almost impossible to stay together for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Especially initially, when we were in a more urban area, there was a lot of stopping and waiting on people. We considered quitting at one point early on, but we stuck with it and the later part of the tour was more enjoyable as we biked through the English Garden and the Chinese beer garden. We had a few stops and watched some river surfers that surfed in front of a few hundred spectators.
We all survived the bike tour, but it’s not something we would recommend unless you’re a very capable biker and aren’t scared of getting in to a collision. There were so many other bikers, pedestrians, cars, and obstacles on the ride. Afterwards we went back to our room and we’re happy to find that the rest of our luggage had arrived. Connor and I washed up, shaved, and finally put on some of the clothes we’d packed. For dinner we had some Mexican food and then we got some boba tea for dessert.