Sottomarina to Munich (Munchen). 9 hours plus but whose counting...my butt remembers every blessed minute. We depart the hotel at 6:30 AM ,15 minutes late (the other 2 Davids are making generous donations to our meal fund). The salty air is crisp, the sun bright, and the road empty and inviting. We shall rise. Today we will climb the Dolomites in Italy, climb higher up the Alps in Austria, and descend the Alps as far the Isar Valley of my beloved Munich. The scenery is stunning, the students are sleepy, the jousting begins. I think I will loose this one, but I’m game. If I scream out the brakes have failed on one of our descents, hopefully I can awaken at least half of them. I must find just the right balance of creativity and deceit. I won’t describe much of this ride lest you tire of descriptions of occasional raindrops and bug parts on the windshield.
One memorable moment was when Marcel went Linda Blair on us. We had stopped for a mandatory break of 15 minutes at an AutoGrill for gas and cappuccino. We reload the troops in the bus, and again begin climbing up the Alps. 100 kilometers an hour becomes 80 then 60 then 30 then...no power (remember we are perched on the edge of the Alps over looking a beautiful valley some 2000 meters below us...we are tightly squeezed into two lanes with crazy Europeans driving like they have gone Nascar on us...and we have lost power). “Lord in you mercy...(and everybody said) “Hear our prayer.” Marcel goes profane and utters unimaginable profanities (I’m assuming) in one or all of his 6 languages. I tell the students he is praying but I don’t think they buy it. Mark was sitting next to Marcel and he bolted to the back of the bus. The Lord had mercy and with seconds a turnout appears around the corner so we could coast to safety. By now Marcel is having his own conversation with the bus itself. I didn’t listen in. I thought it best to stay safely behind Mark. Deja vu--remarkably reminiscent of Venice--the girls are up front and the boys in the back. Marcel asks me if he has my permission to push the bus over the 2000 meter precipice. My response was 1) I don’t think it a good idea but 2) if you do, can we get the students out first. Reason prevails and we decide to pray for rather than rebuke the bus. Marcel goes into his bag of tricks and does something with the electrical system and “Wunderbar” it works!
Maybe this is a good time for some digression. I received an email from Kevin Winter last night asking about asking what kind of bus it is. Is it Italian? And if so is it a Fiat? He informs me that Fiat stands for “Fix It Again Tony.” I check the bus. It’s not a Fiat but it is Italian. It’s a Iveco. I ask Marcel about it and he says something about the Mafia but I don’t understand...probably better that way. I have given the bus a new name, “Wonder Bus” because every morning we “wonder” if it will run. Never a dull moment!
We have lunch high aloft in the Alps overlooking Innsbruck. I think I might have seen The Von Trapp familiy in the distance but I’m not 100% sure. The boys asked how much the buffet cost and I informed them you pay by the plate (3 sizes small, medium and large). You never seen a small plate stacked that high in your life. Imagine a plate 8 inches wide and 4 feet high. The locals got a kick out of this--the cashier was not so amused. Fortunately no one was jailed. Marcel started the bus and we hit the road running. Come on bus don’t fail me now.
We got into Munich just in time for one of those thunder-boomers rolling in off the Alps. We started our Bible Study but no Riley. Earlier Riley had been on mission to find some vegetarian fare when the donner and blitzen began. She missed her rendezvous to walk back together, so me and few guys did the rescue team thing. We found her in short order. There she was with rain in her pockets, wet as a Newfoundland puppy...but she still proudly wore her signature smile. These kids are amazing. I think I’ve said that a few times before...and I’m sure you hear it some more.
Time to get some sleep, for tomorrow we take our second longest drive in the Wonder Bus. Pray for us.
The Alps in Austria. It's difficult to get a good pic through the bus window.
Captain Nemo the singing minstrel. Notice that Stephanie H has her earplugs in.
A view from the inside.
David dreaming about Gelato (it's either that or the malaria pills have kicked in.
Mark's awesome picture of our last night in Chioggia. Pure liquid paradise!