One of the first things I noticed on my connecting flight from London to Munich was the presence of quite a few skiers. There was a couple and three different groups of guys (amongst which was a guy with a mohawk and another wearing shorts in February) who were decked out in the latest snowboarding gear for a few days of skiing in the Alps. There are many fantastic ski destinations as close as one hour away from Munich by car. As we began our decent into Munich, the pilot mentioned it was snowing and that we were in for a beautiful snowy day. During the long taxi ride through the snow to the gate, I could see that many of the Air Berlin planes were covered with snow mounds. After quickly clearing customs, I made my way to the S-Bahn where I paid 9.20EUR for a ticket to Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in the city center.
On the ride into Munich, as the snow continued to fall, I saw a cross country skier making his way through a wide open field with his dog. Upon arriving at the third station along the way, I noticed a guy with hearts painted on his face standing with a girl wearing devil horns and beer glasses. Then at the next station I saw two guys dressed in cow suits. What was going on? It turned out to be Fasching, Munich’s version of Carnival. I had arrived at the climax of the Fasching celebrations which take place on Fat Tuesday; a day when most people in Munich get the afternoon off work so that they can go down to the Marienplatz wearing a silly costume. After I checked in to my hotel and caught up on a bunch of work, I made my way over to the festivities at about 7pm. When I arrived, things were messy, yet jovial. Not just the revelers, but the entire area was covered with confetti, broken beer bottles, and snow that had turned into a yucky brown mush. The very festive scene included lots of stands selling beer, Jagermeister, souvenirs, crepes and all things carnival. Overall, this was a total bonus for me and an experience I will always remember.
The next morning I woke up and walked over to the office of NEXGEN Travel Distribution. The purpose for my trip to Munich was to meet with the company that provides the platform for BrilliantTrips.com. On a sunny day in Munich, we worked through our agenda and reviewed some of the exciting things in development. I’m very pleased with how easy it is to book various types of accommodation using interactive Google maps. It can be a very tedious process for customers to pick a hotel from a long list of options spread out across a big city. Therefore, being able to look at a map, hover over a hotel pinpoint for information, and simply book from there is something that brings value to the customer’s experience on our site. During our discussions, NEXGEN’s Product Manager, Rocky, mentioned how much work was involved in plotting and verifying the longitudes and latitudes for each property. I’m confident that the intelligent packaging capabilities of our site, thanks to NEXGEN, will make it very easy for our customers to book their complete travel experience.
After spending a solid day with the team at NEXGEN followed by a typical German dinner that included a few beers, I made my way back to the hotel and set my alarm for 4am. The next morning I awoke and made my way over to Hauptbahnhof Station for my 5:03am S8 train to the airport. This day, my flight was packed with business travelers in suits on their way to London. Many worked feverishly on PowerPoint presentations while I tried to get some sleep. During my brief stop in London I was able to catch a glimpse of a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380, the new double decker airplane. From my vantage point, the terminal connection bus, I was amazed with the enormous wing structure. To me, the plane is so tall that it almost seems to appear stubby. The flight back to Boston, and the entire trip really, went very smoothly. During the long day flight back, I reflected on what an amazing city Munich is while looking out the window at icebergs adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.