Fake! OK. Now we're really off . . . - From Munich to Spain to France - CycleBlaze

April 23, 2024 to April 24, 2024

Fake! OK. Now we're really off . . .

OK, this tale falls into the best laid plans category. Jill and I enjoyed having a rare mid-afternoon departure time from Bend. Typically, our flights start from Bend  (our airport is actually in Redmond, 15 miles east of Bend)  around 5:00 to 6:00 am which allows time for connections to/from major hub cities like Denver, San Francisco & Seattle. Instead of getting up at the crack of dawn, we enjoyed a leisurely morning doing our final preparations. We got to the airport and immediately boarded and settled into our seats, excited to get our trip underway. 

Happy to be on our way. What could go wrong?
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The plane was full but boarding proceeded without incident. We were somewhat concerned about the gaggle of ramp personnel huddling in the cockpit. It looked as though they were working some sort of problem. We then learned what that problem was. The captain came over the intercom and announced that he was going to re-boot the airplane to fix a computer anomoly. Nervous laughter ensued, the plane went dark for a moment then came back to life. Onward!

Not so fast. Turns out, ctrl-alt-delete on an Airbus 320 isn't a cure all and they had to continue to work the issue. The computer that manages the flight controls was acting up. Among the problems associated with starting a trip from a small regional airport like Redmond/Bend is that there are no airline specific personnel onsite. All ramp, gate and ticketing resources are shared among the various airlines that fly from there. Consequently, there was no qualified United mechanic to work the issue with the flight crew which in turn necessitated the pilot confering with experts in Chicago.

 After about an hour of this, an announcement was made that they were going to give anyone who wished to deplane the opportunity to do so and wait in the terminal until they fixed the problem. We guessed that maybe 3/4 of the passengers deplaned. Jill and I were comfortable in our seats and were being plied with drinks, so we decided to stick it out. After about 2 hours, when we were starting to lose hope, there came an announcement that problem had been fixed and that we were good to go.

It took forever to re-board everyone. Turns out many of the passengers had rebooked flights for the next day and when they realized that this flight was going to leave, they needed to change their reservations back. There was but one agent at the gate who had to manage this task and the passengers came back on board in dribs and drabs. Then, after about 3 hours on the plane, the captain made a final announcent. "We are terribly sorry to announce that the problem has recurred and I do not feel that this plane is air worthy. This flight is cancelled."

One hundred fifty passengers then descended on the United ticketing desk and its one agent, everyone desperate just to get out of Redmond. Jill got in line and was third. She told me to call United while she waited for her turn. Good move. I got a very solicitous agent who was frustrated from the fact that there are only a few flights a day from Redmond and that there was going to be no way she could get us out of Redmond, let alone find a connection to Munich.  After 30 minutes of her working the problem (meanwhile Jill hadn't budged and the line of very upset passengers was out the door), the agent finally found us a flight, two days later, to San Francisco and then on to Munich. Not only that, she was able to let us keep our business class seats. We called an Uber and went back home, leaving more than a hundred passengers still waiting for a resolution to their scheduling hassles. What a mess!

It was a drag having to go back home after thinking we were leaving for a few months.  Our house was clean and we had two nights at home to mess it up again!  But we managed okay. We arranged for our extremely generous neighbor to pick us  up at 3:45am and take us to the airport. (Springy, we owe you big time!!). Another neighbor fed us cocktails and apps on our unexpectedly free evening (thank you Eric and Melinda) which was much appreciated since our fridge was bare.  And our trainer, John, squeezed us in for a bonus workout;  so our unexpected free day was not a total loss. 

On Tuesday, in a happy reversal of fortune, our flights departed and arrived on time. After a 12 hour flight to Munich from San Francisco we had a more complicated day in Munich due to our compressed schedule. We  boarded the rapid transit from the airport (which is marvelous here in Munich) and went to our bike shop to make reservations to have our bikes serviced at the end of trip. This is actually more complicated than it sounds because our bike shop (Zwierad Stadler) only lets you book reservations for service online, and the service form is in German and asks lots of random questions (in German).  Because of that, we felt like we needed to go in and see someone face to face to assist us. Coincidentally, the guy that helped us today, Herr Staller, was the same dude that baled us out of a jam last year at the start of our trip when we broke a key off in our bike battery lock and needed help with an extraction.  He remembered us and we all had a good laugh recalling that little drama. 

Dave working the problem with Herr Staller
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We then took a bus (a first for us) to our storage unit. (That sounds so simple but it wasn’t; we didn't know how much it was or how to pay and there was no ticket machine at the stop.  When we boarded the ticket machine on the bus was dead so we rode, accidentally, for free).  At our storage unit we changed out of our airplane travel clothes in the hallway and packed our panniers and then rode to our hotel. We were  pretty exhausted. We catch a train tomorrow with a dreaded transfer and will ride about 16 miles to spend the night in Rastatt, Germany.

So. We're finally on our way. No really!

Bags are packed and we're ready to roll!
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Jacquie GaudetLooks a little chilly!
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonNice that you’re still able to muster smiles! Hope things go more smoothly from here.
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4 weeks ago
Laura ClarkWhat a beginning! I had wondered why you started with one blog and nothing followed for days. Now I know. Good thing you padded your bicycle start date in Munich. But as Scott says, all smiles still! Safe travels and you know I will eagerly await your next entry.
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4 weeks ago

Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 5 km (3 miles)

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