Monday, July 3, 2017

Arriving in the Rain - an Airbnb tale

Hi all,

So this story is about the time that I arrived in Munich, Germany during a downpour. It was summer 2016, and I was on my European Backpacking Adventure. Munich had won my heart back in December 2012, so I was excited to revisit it during warmer months. I was arriving on the Eurail train from Switzerland and had been traveling and journaling all day.

To set the scene, picture me wearing my large backpack on my back and the smaller one on my front. My umbrella is thankfully easily accessible in my backpack's pocket, and I'm wearing a comfortable travel outfit. My train has pulled into the suburbs of Munich and the rain has started to fall on the windows. I've got the directions from the Airbnb host as screenshots and have the apartment's "location" pinned on my Google Maps app.

The train pulled into a tunnel and then stopped at my station. I exited and crossed to the other track to take the short journey to the apartment's local station. I was underground now and naively hopeful that the rain would be light when I reemerged. No such luck.

I vividly remember climbing the stairs out of the station toward a grey plaza. The rain could be heard before I saw it. Sheets of rain. People coming down the stairs were shaking their umbrellas and coats off and looked miserable.

I gathered up my willpower, set my Google Map GPS to show the direction of the apartment, and walked up into the deluge. Okay, that's a little extreme, but my point is that I was really thankful that I had my umbrella. I had to stand at a corner to wait for the traffic light. My sneakers felt wet already. After crossing I headed toward a neighborhood area as the directions instructed. Here's where it becomes a story and not just a soggy arrival anecdote.

I couldn't find the apartment.

The rain continued as I walked up the street and down the street looking for the number and frowning at my phone's directions. (I should note that I've had this happen to me in other cities, so it's me not the directions (mostly), but still.) I found refuge under an overhang and tried in vain to message or call the host. This is a downside of not having (buying) internet access, aka a SIM card, when I travel. Feeling frustrated, I went to the only door on the street that looked open and found a German Kindergarten. It was after 4pm so only the secretary was there.

She was incredibly helpful and let me use the phone to call the host, but there was still no answer. I sadly thanked her and stepped back into the rain, thinking about how my backpack's contents were surely completely wet. Note to self: Don't assume when feeling defeated.

I wandered down the street again and stopped at a cafe to try to use wifi. Again, no luck. The shop was empty and I felt guilty for not buying something, so I exited and started toward the bus shelter across the street.

That's when I saw a tall, lanky guy walking toward me and waving under his umbrella. My host! I admit that I wasn't the most likable person in that moment, but he tolerated my annoyance like a saint and invited me into the apartment. I found that my backpack was not that wet, I let my sneakers dry by the heater, and we had a nice cup of tea together and chatted.

All's well that ends well, as he would say. So that's the story of how I got discombobulated in Munich when trying to find my Airbnb apartment. I did help him write up clearer directions for future guests and I had a great, albeit rainy and cold, stay in Munich in mid-July. We even played soccer one evening! But that's another story.

Until next time... thanks for reading!

Happy travels!

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