Some days, we just go with the flow. Today was that day. With a relaxed departure for Ljubljana, we were able to spend a little more time in Munich this morning, so we headed out around 9:00. I wanted to take a look at St. Lukas – a Lutheran Church on the Isar River. We’ve learned that Bavaria has been very much pro-Catholic and that this Lutheran Church has succeeded in spite of this fact. What trip to Germany would be complete without romping around some of Martin Luther’s remnants. The church was not dissimilar from the Cathedrals we’ve seen, but had some wooden decking mixed in and as large an organ pipe set up as we’ve seen.
The church was a few blocks from the old town center, so we ventured back. The kids were interested in the Milka chocolate shop that we visited earlier. And Scarlet wanted one last gelato. As the rains came in, we headed back to the apartment via the U-bahn to eat lunch and prepare for our train ride. This is where the fun began. The train was to leave at 14:12, have one transfer at Village (a seven-minute layover) then head south and arrive at Ljubljana at 20:40 where our host would pick us up and drive us to the flat. Here’s how the trip unfolded:
We were at the train station an hour early and found a train to Villach that would give us some more breathing time at the layover. We hopped this train and spoke with the attendant who told us the the rear cars (in which we were sitting) would be hooked up to another locomotive and would be going directly to Ljubljana. What a stroke of luck! The Eurail gods were smiling upon us this day! Regrettably those smiles turned to frowns at Salzburg, where we were asked to leave the train as it would not be continuing today. (We did as we were told, but Smoking Helga didn’t leave so quietly; more on Smoking Helga later). But no worries, our original train would be coming through Salzburg, so we’ll just go back to Plan A. We spent some time in Salzburg, where Brenna was able to pick up that postcard she forgot to buy on our prior trip. Scarlet says that Providence always smiles on Princess Brenna. Sure enough, our original train chugs into the station and we board. The warm and fuzzy feelings end soon as we’re told the tracks are out near Villach, so we’ll be getting off the train at Sprocket-Schplitz where we will board a bus to points unknown. This causes a bit of concern, but the guttural speech of the natives are commanding, so we did as we were told. But this sends Smoking Helga over the edge. We’ve not defined her as “Smoking” because of her attractiveness, but because she, like 90% of Europeans, smokes. As we’re boarding the bus, I take some time to go over our itinerary with the driver. He informs me that the bus will take us to the Boeckstein Station where we will travel to Villach and keep our original plan. In fact, he told us that all we needed to do was follow Smoking Helga as she was going the same way. This created a conversation event between Smoking Helga and me that I might have otherwise avoided. And while she smoked during this event, she wasn’t so bad, just a good ol’ girl from Hamburg.
While the bus ride may not sound like the best means of travel, it actually turned out to be beautiful. While we were enjoying a sunny, 70-degree day, we could watch the snow covered mountains with a number of ski runs. I thought it was much like I-70 through Colorado, but this time I didn’t have to white-knuckle drive. I took some pictures, but they are through dirty bus windows.
We made it to Boeckstein with minutes to spare and boarded the 115 (Smoking Helga made it as well). The short trip to Villach was uneventful save for the cadre of Jehovah’s Witnesses who, surprisingly, dress exactly like they do it the states (way to stay true to your brand).
There were seven minutes worth of transfer time at Villach and we easily made our final train under the leadership of Brody, who has taken to interpreting departure boards very well. We made the final train with enough time to help Smoking Helga’s mother carry her suitcase to her seat.
In summary, our day was planned for a morning tour of Munich, then two trains to Ljubljana. This turned into a tour, two trains, one bus, two more trains, and one Smoking Helga. Priceless!