Was training to Munich a money saver? This has not been proven yet, but time will tell. We initially decided to book our flights to Panama from Munich since the difference in fare between there and Budapest as a departure point was significant. MÁV the Hungarian train company offers a special for €29 Euros each person to travel between the 2 cities. Reservations cost another €5 more according to the site, but we were charged €58 total with assigned seating. Way to go!
At 6:50 am we were at Keleti station and so was our train. Boarding according to the car, we found our seats without issue. This train did not have the cozy compartments shared by 6-8 others in second class. They were spread throughout the car, some two-seat configurations on each side of the aisle and some foursomes with two by two facing each other separated by a narrow table. This is where we were placed, a foursome with two seats opposite two other seats. Unfortunately, the train was filled beyond capacity. Not only was every seat filled, but hordes were standing in the aisles and by the restrooms creating a wish list with a place to sit as the number one priority. That said, we were squeezed into this foursome with less mobility than a chicken being raised by Perdue. Adding to the misery was the cold. The air conditioner was blasting out of the vents with an outdoor temperature of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. It seemed like the Hungarians were torturing the traveling masses as a punishment for emigrating. Truncated and freezing, we had dreams of warmer and roomier times ahead.
By Vienna, three hours later, the train emptied out. Oxygen returned to the cars; you could feel the contracted sides of the cars expanding once again as they were filled like expanding lungs. Three hours down and three more to go, but we could move our legs, once the cramping pain subsided. Austrian conductors are less immune to complaints. Once we were in Vienna, the A/C went off and the heat came on.
Finally after arriving in Munich, we had to hunt down the tourism office for directions to our hotel. We specifically chose an airport hotel due to our early morning flight. The assumption was they would have shuttle transportation to get us to the terminal on time. Ron booked a Mövenpick hotel using Priceline.com, starting his bids at $45. He scored at $65 for the one night. To get there was a hassle, which we did not realize. First, we took the S-Bahn for umpteen stops after paying €10.20 each for a one way, one use ticket. Once we reached our stop, we had to wait for a bus. This was included in the ticket, but a freezing rain had started. After a ten minute wait, the bus arrived. This bus stopped at significantly more stops than the schedule showed, but luckily, there were display signs showing the stops. Almost directly across from the stop we were told to get off at, was the hotel, set back a football field distance from the road.
Settled in the room, which was more than adequate, we realized we were held hostage here. There was nothing the area, so a car or bus ride were required to escape. Dinner was at the hotel, expensive, but delicious. Shuttle rides to the airport are €8 per person. Breakfast is extra, but we chose to bypass it.
When we ventured to the lobby at 6:30 am on Sunday, there was a coffee machine and croissants set out. Once we had our coffee and took a croissant, the machine was turned off and the pastries were removed. No distractions from buying breakfast, I guess.
After arriving at the airport and having checked in, we looked for the Diner’s Club lounge. It was not to be found. This was a dedicated Lufthansa and United terminal, so the only lounge was Lufthansa. The DC lounges were in the other two terminals, but not one we could access. A minimal breakfast ran us €27.