Train travel to Paris

For ~$600, we bought sleeper train tickets from Munich to Paris. It was a fun way to travel and not too much more than a hotel room plus a flight back to Paris. It was a 10 hour train ride and I was looking forward to seeing some of the German and French countryside. Tickets have to be purchased and reserved pretty well in advance for the sleeper trains. I think we bought these tickets in March or April for our trip in mid-June.

Our train arrived about 30 minutes before the scheduled depature and we jumped on, trying to figure out where our room was, looking at our confusing ticket. Our ticket was for a first class private double sleeper room with a shower.

We wandered into the wrong room and frowned at the lack of shower. The (assistant?) conductor took a look at our ticket and informed us that yes, we were in the wrong room and directed us next door.

In our room, there were two single beds mounted one above the other (with heavy-duty roll bars and seatbelt straps to prevent someone from rolling off — similar to this, but more heavy-duty) and a separate bathroom. The bathroom had a toilet, sink, and space for a shower. The sink and shower used the same sprayer. The sink was on a pole and swiveled over the toilet to allow space to get to the shower — you just had to raise up the sprayer.

The conductor spent a few minutes with us. He informed us that to turn on the water, we had to push the red button and it would turn off automatically. He told us that he would wake us up at 0745 and bring us bags of breakfast, and asked if we would prefer coffee or tea.

“Coffee, please.”

He took away our ticket and said he would return it in the morning.

N thought there was a dining car on the train and went out to find some beer before we took off. No luck — so he quickly ran out to get some beer at a vendor just down the way in the Hauptbahnhof and ran back.

I took a shower shortly after the train pulled away and I had adjusted to the movement. I would push the button and the water would spray for about 45 seconds, then stop (just as the conductor said). I didn’t count, but it took many pushes to get the shampoo out of my hair.

After my shower, I clambered up into the top bunk — it was a little treacherous on a moving train! — and lay down to go to sleep. I was fairly tired and don’t have difficulty sleeping on planes or trains, so I fell asleep quickly.

I woke up when the train stopped at one of the earlier destinations and had some trouble getting back to sleep.

I woke up again when my phone buzzed to tell me that I had crossed into France.

I went back to sleep to snooze until it was daylight because I really wanted to take some photos from the window. When the sun came up, I got up excitedly to try taking some photos. I didn’t have much luck thanks to the speed of the train and the fact that I forgot my polarizing filters so I got reflections in the window.

train

From the train:

train

Like from a movie:

town

At 0745, the assistant conductor came by the room with our bags of breakfast and coffee. I wasn’t expecting much and neither was N. Oh, were we surprised:

train breakfast

Orange juice, yogurt, two rolls, a croissant, butter, honey, meat paste, fruit, creamer, sugar.

I got ham paste! Delicious:

mmm

Even the coffee — though there wasn’t much of it — was good.

train coffee

The train arrived in Paris exactly on schedule at 0923. Amazing! Oddly I found myself really nervous as we pulled into Paris – I hadn’t felt nervous since the trip started.

Sunday in Munich

We woke early on Sunday thanks to our travel-induced comas and wandered downstairs to partake of the (included) hotel breakfast.

The hotel breakfast was absolutely fantastic and delicious. Lots of juices — including the best orange juice I’ve ever had! — coffee (a fancy machine where you picked what you wanted, pressed a button and it made it), yogurts, tea, soft-boiled eggs, many different delicious crusty breads, meats, meat pastes, butter, cheeses, nutella, pastries, cereal. Delicious! I asked N why American breakfast wasn’t like this. He noted that it reminded him of brunch at his mom’s (yes, very much so!). I am still dreaming about it.

We packed and checked out. Our train to Paris was scheduled to leave at 22:30 that evening, so we had an entire day to spend in Munich. N asked the hotel about whether they knew if Hauptbahnhof (the train station) still had lockers available for rental, since they got rid of most of them in the US after 9/11. The hotel suggested instead that we leave our luggage there, and we could pick it up later. This was much more convenient since the hotel is in the center of town and the train station is on the opposite edge. We thanked the hotel, left our luggage behind and headed out.

We wandered down a few roads we hadn’t walked down the day previous. Everything was quiet and still — Sunday morning, after all. I spied a yarn store that looked great, though of course closed on Sunday (good for my wallet).

quiet Sunday

Walking back, We paused at the edge of Marienplatz to watch the Bavarian Pretzel Horse guy getting situated and for still-dehydrated me to drink another bottle of water and return the bottle for my deposit back. I was still full from breakfast or I would have bought a pretzel (bretzel)!

pretzel man
Munchner Bretzel

We continued on. After walking for a while, N mentioned that he really wanted some more coffee, so we ducked into a place called Treeman’s Coffee and he got a huge mug of coffee.

nick coffee

I used their facilities, impressed with the ‘big flush, little flush’ button. Germany has a reputation for being innovative and on the cutting edge especially when it comes to environmental issues. I found it interesting that they have solutions for various things — deposits for glassware/plates/bottles (something we had here and still do, on a smaller scale), big flush/little flush — that I haven’t really seen as extensively elsewhere. Guess what? They don’t seem to have any problems functioning with these things in place, and neither did the tourists.

big flush, little flush

Afterwards we did some more wandering, including entering Frauenkirche and looking around in there. I liked the stone carvings outside.

pigeon

skull

Afterwards we continued to wander and saw a Michael Jackson memorial:

Michael Jackson Memorial

A neat fountain:

fountain

Tourists bicycling:

bikes

Cool buildings:

windowboxes

I have to say that I really loved all of the window boxes on buildings in Munchen.

We paused at the Fischmarkt and looked around around lunchtime. I saw a number of things that looked tasty, so we decided to have lunch here. I had fried herring and paprika potatoes and N had a bacon and onion super thin pizza. It was all tasty.

my lunch

Oh, and beer, of course!

N's lunch

Then we wandered down towards the other end of town and ran into Sommerfest. There were lots of street vendors and more live music — live music everywhere in Munich!

crochet booth

We wandered back towards Marienplatz and the Hofbräuhaus, which was on our list of things to do this day. We entered via the back entrance, where I almost accidentally walked into the men’s bathroom (oops). We sat down and eventually N ordered himself a beer while I was still feeling out of sorts, and ended up asking N to ordering me some coffee.

hofbrauhaus

Hofbräuhaus is such a huge tourist destination and so huge — there were so many people in there! There were some college guys behind us — from Georgia Tech, my alma mater! — and a really drunk guy wandering around arm wrestling women. There were a few men in full Bavarian getup — lederhosen and the whole deal — that intoxicated women asked to take photos with. It was a collosal fun drunken time and while I know it’s SO touristy, it was fun and our waiter was awesome. N had three or four different beers here. I tasted each of them but I was still dehydrated from all the travel.

more beer

Upon leaving the Hofbräuhaus, we decided to go back to Marienplatz.

more pink

It started to rain and so we ended up at the Museum of Hunting and Fishing (Deutsches Jagd und Fischereimuseum). Most of the museum was in German but it was fascinating to me, even if I couldn’t read anything. And yes, there were Wolpertinger in the museum! It’s worth an hour or so of your time — the kids inside seemed to really enjoy it. My favorite part was the fishing section with all of the different hooks and hand knotted nets and ornate poles.

sled decoration

After the museum, we paused at a beer garden in Marienplatz to enjoy a beer and plan our evening.

beer garden

We decided to pick up our luggage at our nearby hotel and wander down to the train station, planning to eat there. I had some crazy idea the train station was a lot further away than it was. We got there in about 15-20 minutes and … well, we had many hours to wait until our train was scheduled to leave. We locked our luggage up in a locker and took off to find something to eat. I started to really get cranky from hunger and foot pain, so we stopped at the first place that looked good. We ended up at a little Italian style food cafe. N had some pasta and beer, I had pizza with proscuitto and mushrooms. It was delicious, and I was smiling again once I finally got some food in me.

pizza

We wandered back to Hauptbahnhof and still had a couple of hours to wait. On the way in, a guy walked up to me and rattled off some question about directions in German. I stared at him in complete and total “I have no freaking clue what he just said, no clue AT ALL!” I’m usually able to pick up on a word or two in other languages, but not this time. I felt pretty lame but hopefully someone else helped him.

Upstairs in the Hauptbahnhof there was a coffee stop that had the Germany-Australia World Cup game on, and plenty of comfy seating space. N bought me more water and he had some coffee, and we sat down to enjoy the game, which Germany won, 4-0! It was pretty awesome to watch German World Cup in a train station in Munich, especially when Klose scored and all of the Bayern Munchen FC fans erupted in cheers!

About an hour before our train was scheduled to depart, we retrieved our bags from the locker and headed back to our train gate. The train still wasn’t there. N went outside to smoke and I stood around with our luggage, once again having someone come up to me and ask me something in German. I really have no knowledge of German other than hello, please, thank you, wool, sock, and cherry. This person got really upset at me when I shrugged at them. Sorry!

We went back and sat down at the gate waiting for our train to arrive after a long but nice and comfortable day in Munich.

[more photos in my Munich 2010 set on flickr.]

VS 2010 & SSMS 2008 Job Activity Monitor

We recently got new development machines at work. 64-bit, Windows 7. We’re primarily a Windows shop. Most new development is in .NET and the databases are all various versions of SQL Server.

We recently did a big upgrade from SQL2000 to SQL2008, so we get to use the shiny new SQL Server 2008 Management Studio which does a whole lot of things that the SQL2k tools did not do well (though I still miss certain things and have all of the tools installed).

Well, Visual Studio 2010 just came out and since we were installing new software on our new development machines anyway, we decided we may as well bite the bullet, install it and convert our applications to VS2010. This went fairly well for me, though I know one of my teammates had to rewrite a lot of code for VS2010.

Except. There’s always an except, isn’t there?

For some reason, we are now getting an error when we try to launch the super-useful Job Activity Monitor in SQL Server Management Studio 2008. It was working prior to installing Visual Studio 2010. It is no longer working. When we attempt to launch it, it throws this error:

Cannot show requested dialog.

Additional Information:
Unable to execute requested command.
jobs (SqlManagerUI)

There are a couple of mentions of this error here and here.

I believe what happened is that VS2010 installs (either by default or we selected it) some SQL tools as part of its install. Those tools whack out the preexisting full version of SSMS either by replacing DLLs it uses or registry tweaks or something else.

In attempts to fix it, one of my teammates attempted to run a “repair” of SQL Server Management Studio 2008 which did not solve the problem. Then he uninstalled just the “Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (64 bit)” program through Add/Remove Programs and re-installed it… which also did not work.

I went through and uninstalled everything listed as “SQL Server 2008″ in my programs including but not limited to: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (64 bit), Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Books Online (English), Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Native Client, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Policies, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Setup Support Files (English), Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Data-Tier Application Framework, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Data-Tier Application Project, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Objects, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Objects (x64), Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Transact SQL Language Service, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Setup Support Files.

I rebooted (though it did not suggest I do so) and re-installed SQL Server 2008 completely. My job activity monitor was again functioning properly. So, install Visual Studio 2010 first, then install SSMS if you want to have a functional SSMS Job Activity Monitor.

[aside: I installed SQL Server 2008 SP1 afterward and the Job Activity Monitor still works.]

I have no idea if this is going to re-break when I install the next VS update or if this is all bad practice but it is working for me.

Arriving in Munich (Saturday Afternoon)

I’m an airplane window type. I love to look out the window and see things from the sky. I think I still enjoy flying as much as I did as a kid on my first flight.

Flying into Munich, I noticed that many of the houses had solar panels. I noticed a few wind turbines and lots of farms. It didn’t seem very densely populated, and didn’t look to have a lot of sprawl. It seemed odd to me for the third largest city in Germany (1.5 million in the city proper; 5+ million in the metro area).

The airport was clean and neat. We did not have to go through passport control or customs since our flight came from France. We picked up N’s bag at baggage claim and headed to the main terminal where we converted some US dollars to Euros, then tried to decide how to get to the hotel.

After some discussion, we decided to take the S-Bahn since I had directions for how to get to the hotel from the S-Bahn station. We did have a small issue buying tickets for the train because N tried to use an ATM card and failed due to the S-Bahn machines at the airport only taking chip-and-pin ATM cards. We picked the final destination, selected (2) passengers, paid with a €20 bill, and the machine spit out two small rectangular paper tickets.

munich
munich

We followed the signs to the S-Bahn entrance nearby and watched someone else go through, putting his small ticket into a machine that stamped it with the time. We copied him, punched our tickets, and went down the escalator to the trains. Just like metros in other cities, trains arrived on either side of the platform, each going in opposite directions. I motioned to N that our train would be on our righthand side and we noted that the digital sign above said the train would arrive in 15 minutes.

At this point I turned my cell phone back on, forgetting that I had not turned off twitter SMS and data sync and data roaming before I turned it off in Seattle. When I turned it on, 30 $.40 SMSes came pouring in. Crap! Ah well. Vacation expenses! T-Mobile was everywhere in Munich and my phone had a strong signal everywhere in the city.

After 10 minutes, the train arrived and we all clambered on. The S-Bahn was very clean and empty at this point. I pulled out the map of Munich I had packed and pointed out where the hotel was to N. The train had luggage racks above the seating but N’s luggage was so large and heavy he did not put it up there (infuriating many people in the process, I am sure — I was embarrassed). No one checked our tickets at any point but I guess they could have.

Once we were a few stops from Marienplatz (at Ostbahnhof, I believe), the train got very full. The trip time from the airport to Marienplatz was about 40 minutes. At Marienplatz we hopped out and made our way up to the street from the station.

We came out into the center of a huge festival and pedestrian center. It was packed and hot and smelled delicious. I saw people wandering around eating pretzels topped with cheese and bacon! We eventually made our way to the hotel. N had some issues dragging his huge rolly bag across the cobblestones.

hotel
the hotel

We checked into the tiny but clean hotel room on a very quiet street (Hotel Falkenturm), showered our travel funk off, and headed back out into Munich.

room 104
room 104

We walked and walked. I was so incredibly grumpy and cranky. It was my worst day. I just shut down and didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to eat or drink or take photos. I was incredibly thirsty but when I tried to drink anything (water, beer) I just felt so full I couldn’t finish it.

half-metre
half-metre

N finally stopped at a street vendor and bought two half-meter weissewursts on baguette with spicy mustard and handed me one. I pushed through my crankiness and ate a bite. It was delicious. N finished his long before I finished mine, but finish mine I did!

deposit
deposit

Then he bought me a bottle of water and the vendor explained to him that when he bought the bottle of water, he was paying a deposit for the bottle. The vendor handed him a paper ticket (other vendors used plastic coins or other items) and told him to bring it back with the empty bottle to get his deposit back.

We wandered back to Marienplatz and took up residence at a beer garden so N could get a Paulaner Salvator. I had one as well but I actually did not like it at all — too sweet for me. He also ordered a snack from the menu that included a few pieces of dense dark bread, butter, and a spiced-herbed Camembert. It was the color of salmon (paprika?) and was quite delicious with some slices of onion on top.

At this point I was still very tired and grumpy and N was tired of dealing with me, so we went back to the hotel.

We lay down on the hotel bed sideways “just for a second” and we both just passed out for three hours! We woke up for a while and then went back to sleep for a full night’s rest, which I thought was a good plan for waking up and having a full Sunday in Munich.

Travel Day

N had to travel to Bangalore, India for work and suggested that I fly to Europe and meet him on his return for a vacation. I agreed. We went to Munich for a couple of days, taking an overnight sleeper train to Paris where we stayed for three days. It was a short and sweet trip.

I tend to be a bit of an overplanner. I stress and research and come up with backups to my backups. I usually relax once I am on the road — because I’ve planned for problems and know I can handle them. Getting to that point is the hard part for me.

I slept horribly Friday night — the dogs were at camp, N was in India, I was worried I wasn’t ready for the trip. I woke up at 0600 after falling asleep around 0300.

The airport shuttle picked me up early and I checked in at the Air France desk with no problems. Security at Sea-Tac was freaking insane — the line stretched across almost the entire main terminal. I waited and waited and waited and made it through security with no issues and headed to the South concourse with a couple of hours to spare.

plane plane
waiting on board (CDG)

I took up shop in a bar, having an early lunch of a sandwich and salad and a couple of Stellas. I was mistaken for Canadian by a friendly older couple (I took it as a compliment). We boarded on time and I settled into my window seat with a French woman next to me who reminded me of my mother-in-law.

They fed us a warm meal — dinner — within the first hour of boarding. I had specified a vegetarian meal (when I was a vegetarian I learned that the vegetarian meals are usually more consistent than the meat ones, so I usually specify a vegetarian meal if I remember) and received a tasty meal of penne with tomato sauce, mixed steamed vegetables (including my one hated vegetable — lima beans — I did try eating a few of them) a tasty curried cold salad with cucumber and orzo, tapioca pudding (I gave it away), and cheesecake. I was momentarily amused by everyone ordering the (free) champagne with dinner — I had a gin and tonic.

I tried watching Invictus on my entertainment unit but they were having some sort of issues with playback on the plane, so I took an Advil PM and went to sleep.

I awoke about seven hours later with an awful headache. I forgot that Stella, if I have more than a single beer, gives me an awful hangover. Little sleep at home + bad sleep on plane + air travel + stellas + gin&tonic = wicked bad hangover. Not a good thing on a transatlantic flight!

I snoozed through the rest of the flight until the cold — breakfast — meal. This meal included plain yogurt, fruit, bread with chocolate bits, butter, juice, and a croissant. Plus coffee. Mm!

I wouldn’t understand until I got to Paris why the French flight attendant kept asking me incredulously why I didn’t want any sugar for my coffee.

The meal did a good job of waking me up and making me less cranky. Landing in Paris, I thought to myself disappointedly that airports pretty much look the same from the plane. It wasn’t until we drove over a highway and I saw some distinctly European signage that I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore and got a little bit excited.

In researching my connection in Paris to my flight to Munich, I discovered that I would have to exit CDG Terminal 2E, go through passport control and exit into an insecure area, then go back through security to get to Terminal 2D. Internet reports indicated that this was a complete mess that usually took an hour or two to get from one to the other. I was worried about meeting up with N and making my flight to Munich since I had less than two hours between flights.

2E
CDG, 2E

In reality, it was a really long walk from 2E to 2D, but passport control took mere minutes and there was no line at security.

Security wasn’t entirely easy — first the man managing the bags on the conveyor belt told me to take off my “veste” — which was actually a very lightweight cardigan (Eddie Bauer Long-Sleeve San Juan Cardigan). I understood that (knitting has helped me learn clothing terms in other languages!). Then I walked through the human scanner, which beeped (it had not in Seattle).

The security woman on the other side of the scanner started barking things at me in French. I stared at her and raised my arms to let her wand me. I pointed out the snaps on my pants (Eddie Bauer Adventurer Ripstop Pants) as a possible culprit. She shook her head and continued to yell at me in French. I still have no clue what she was saying and I probably looked really stupid as I stared blankly at her in a mix of travel exhaustion and cultural/language confusion. She eventually gave up on me after yelling at me about the American cash in my pocket and waved me through.

Once through, I spied N across the way and shouted to him since he was scanning and rescanning the crowds for me. He took temporary control of my Tom Bihn Tri-Star and I ran off to the restroom where I dealt with a bloody nose — 10+ hours on a plane will do that, next time I’m travelling with nasal spray.

I returned to the gate, and it was already time to board!