A strange (but productive) day trip to Munich

As part of the “work” portion of this “family+work” trip to the UK, I was scheduled to do a business trip to Munich on Thursday. We’ve been staying at the Jury’s Inn close to the end of runway 27L at Heathrow, so getting in to the airport for my 6:05am flight was simple: walk across to Hatton Cross station and take the free all-night bus. Check-in was fine, ditto boarding, but then we sat at the gate for 20 minutes before we pushed back. En route to Munich, the pilot advised us that snow in the Munich area might delay things, and our approach pattern seemed to take us all over Bavaria. We parked at a remote stand, and were bussed in to the terminal, so by the time I emerged from the terminal at 9:30am I was half an hour late. Good start.
The meeting had been scheduled for 10-12. based on Google Maps estimate of a 45 minute taxi ride, plus 15 minutes for contingencies, so I jumped into the first taxi, gave the driver the address, and settled down to SMS my colleague and host that I would be late. It was snowing, but we swung onto the autobahn and were soon zipping along at typical German speeds. And then we hit a wall of red brake lights. From the chatter on the car radio, it was clear that there were numerous snow-related accidents and traffic jams around the city. My driver muttered, and then snarled, and then cut across three lanes of traffic to take an exit onto a minor road. I got used to the muttering, but the snarling became worse as we went on. It wasn’t snowing hard, but there was considerable slush even on main roads, and progress was slow. In fact it took 75 minutes to reach the destination: it was now 10:45.
I handed the driver a credit card for the 70 Euro fare. More snarling, and rummaging, and an old paper swipe machine was produced. He positioned my card, inserted the slip, swiped the slider, and ripped the slip. More snarling. Repeat. Same result. Repeat. Intense snarling.
I didn’t have 70 Euros. In fact I hadn’t bothered to get any Euros – taxis all take credit cards, right? So using the currency converter app on my iPhone, I calculated an equivalent amount in GBP and USD, demonstrated this to the driver, gave him the money, snatched a receipt, and exited as quickly as I could.
It was now 10:50am, but the others had waited patiently. Juice and coffee was distributed, and we started the meeting. It was very productive, and although a couple of people had to leave early we kept talking until around 3:00. They called me a cab (with “takes credit cards” clearly specified), and I headed back to Munich airport.
At this point I realized that I was ravenously hungry. I’d had some breakfast at 4:30am (5:30 CET), but nothing since. So when we reached the airport, I quickly verified that I couldn’t switch to an earlier flight (no way – the change fee would have been almost the same as the full fare!), and then found a restaurant and had a good early supper. At 6:30pm I headed over to the gate, to find that boarding was delayed “due to late arrival blah blah blah”. Yeah, whatever. Eventually we were bussed out to the stand, and boarded the A320. LH had screwed up, and allocated two passengers to 14F, but the flight wasn’t very full, so neither of us minded. And then we were told that there was a minor fault with a communications system, and the mechanics were working on it… But eventually we were airborne.
When I had left Heathrow, the weather had been cold (29F) and clear, and I didn’t expect anything different. Was I in for a shock! During the day a windy snowstorm had moved in, and as we descended towards LHR the ride became very bumpy. We were landing on 09L, and coming over Windsor the Airbus was bouncing around like a bronco. It was the kind of approach where passengers glance at each other, quizzically: “Is this going to turn OK? Should I be worried?” My guess is that we had crosswinds of around 15 gusting 30 out of the north, and the landing was hard and off-balance. But we got in OK.
I got the bus back to Hatton Cross and walked the five minutes to the hotel. By the time I got there, the front of my jacket was encrusted with an inch of wet snow. Snow in the morning, snow in the evening. What a day.