How to kill six hours at Munich airport

How to kill six hours at Munich airport


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2017

From our diarist, Anthea Kreston:


Today I am flying to Aarlborg, Denmark from Munich. It was easier for our family to drive up from the Dolomites, stay together one night in Munich and for them to continue driving up to Berlin while I fly from Munich. 

We enjoyed our breakfast buffet in Munich (I was later so happy to have “packed” a cheese and red pepper sandwich from the breakfast, after I paid a painful 8 Euros for a water and black coffee at the airport), I walked them to the car, said goodbye for two days, and hunkered down at the hotel to practice until the cleaning people banged down my door and demanded I leave. 

I put my practice mute on and started from the most dangerous spots of the quartet concert repertoire for tomorrow. I was only able to practice until 11:35, but I got the basics down – 5 times slowly through my hardest 6 sections, tuning some tricky bits, and a playthrough of a finger-twister of a scherzo by Schumann (love that guy, but man oh man that stuff just wasn’t made for a stringed instrument! Clara – you could have thrown us a bone here!).

I headed to the S-bahn, taking it to the airport, hoping to go standby on the 14:05 through Amsterdam which would get me to Aarlborg by 17:05. I would love a leisurely dinner in Denmark followed by a long walk and another practice session!  But, the stars were not in my favor and I faced the better part of the next 6 hours inside the airport. 

I went through security and started my survey of the area. In the States, you can always find a way to plug yourself in – they have random outlets here and there – by the bathrooms, by the counters, in little kiosks. But not here – it is like they scrubbed the area of any way of stealing a couple of % for my myriad of electronic obsessions. 

But – I have a keen eye, and time was on my side. I looked high and low – and found one, slightly gimpy outlet tucked behind a row of chairs. Now I quickly staked out my territory – plugging in, dragging over something that would suffice as an ottoman, and spreading my stuff all over the adjoining chairs as to make it extremely unattractive to sit near me. Paradise. And – to make it even better – I am next to a row of huge windows and can enjoy a sunbath – and the coffee place is within eye range of my seat (no way am I going to give up the only outlet in this entire area!).

So – now what?  5 1/2 hours to go.  Settle in. I started with a number of obsessively detailed (and, I am fully aware, bound to be ignored) lists to my husband of everything he could do at the house and what I need packed or done while he is home for that 36 hours.  When I packed my backpack a couple of weeks ago I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be returning home before heading to the States, so anything that gets into a suitcase is in Jason’s already full hands. 

Then I moved on to answering important emails (we are turning around our Oregon vacation home for a new renter – scheduling carpet and upholstery cleaning, lawn care, ordering all new linens and towels to be delivered to my friend who watches the house, signing and sending the new lease, having the gutters repaired and garage door undented), checking on our bank and credit cards in the states and our retirement and utility payments, making travel and car rental plans for our upcoming trip to the States, dealing with quartet and university details, reading every single article on today’s NYT app, then eventually moving on to  stale Whatsapp messages, and finally to end in the black hole of Facebook. 

Eyes smarting from lack of blinking/moisture guided me towards the first of my rejuvenating caffeine infusions, as I nervously eyed my prized plug, even choosing the slow line to stay close, ready to shoo off any circling buzzards. 8 euros later, water and black coffee (surrounded by about 1 million creamers) balancing on my tray (this will help my general slovenly plan for my claimed area), I settle down for a nice, long Google Calendar session, triangulating quartet, personal, university, kindergarten/2nd grade, and Jason’s orchestra schedule with a tidy, notification-filled and color-coded family calendar (quintupleating?).  Feels like I just went to the dentist for a full go-around. A minty-fresh family calendar! I unwrapped my stolen sandwich from this morning’s breakfast buffet, and slid down, iPad-pro and iphone double plugged and propped up for a nice long meaningless entertainment session. 

But wait – I don’t even have earphones. Ok – I can be more productive here. Email the manager for the most up-to-date official quartet calendar (through 2019), and update the website. I usually do this on my Mac laptop, but I can try on the IPad Pro.  The only problem – this website is oldschool. Luckily, I taught myself HTML (coding language) about 17 years ago – remember when we had to build our websites from the ground up, the 6 digit color code, the <tr> and <b> etc – one mis-type and your whole site ends up disappearing or stretching super long and thin and being the color of over-ripe eggplant?  But, as I try to cut-and-paste the calendar code (each calendar entry is about 16 lines long of code, relating to font, location, content, and a specific order in order to bounce to the proper location on the website, and it has to be done twice – once in English and once in German), I realize that my IPad Pro won’t copy and paste in the Source page. I take a photo of the code with my phone, retype the whole code in notes, and try to copy past into the source.  No how, no way. 

Oh well, I guess I will just have to be unproductive. A call comes in from Jason – they are at a rest stop and he wants the girls to be able to watch a Lego movie for the last leg. How to get the stick to work, select the right program to play the pirated copy of the movie (I am a bit of a tech nerd – not that I am good at it, but suffice it to say that I won’t be paying for watching Game of Thrones this week, and that I can’t wait to replace Jason’s cracked iPhone screen when we get to Washington).

Ok – the dilemma – continue reading my Leonardo Da Vinci biography (really great read – and thank you, Amy Yang, for my gift of the self-winding Da Vinci-invented wall clock you bought for me in Venice), study my German, or buy earphones and try to (somehow) make the teeniest headway in digging myself out of years of being behind at shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, the Americans, Transparent, Girls, and Game of Thrones.  It’s nearly impossible to have a decent conversation with an American teenager these days – I scrape by on years-old Westeros news. Oh boy am I behind schedule here! Talking about any of the three Baratheon-Lancaster children will only illicit scoffs – that is so last year – Get it together, Girl!

One more over-priced coffee, and the cheapest ear buds put me into utter joy as I watch an episode of “Orange is the New Black” in 6 minute increments, bookended by having to re-up my free airport wireless. Pure Joy!

But wait – my flight is delayed.  They are asking for volunteers and saying only one carry-on – I head to the new gate, ready to check my small backpack and hold on to dear life my beloved Testore violin (1710), carrying my iPad Pro in my hand, my pockets overstuffed with wallet, passport, and other vitals (that second stolen sandwich making my gait slightly uncomfortable).  

I hope I can make my second leg from Amsterdam to Aarlborg. If not, tonight I will be attempting a work-around for Game of Thrones from an airport hotel in Amsterdam! 

Post-note – arrived safely last night in Spokane after 5 flights, all terribly close connections. We missed America – went out to pancakes this morning, then to Goodwill, and spent the afternoon swimming in a lake….



  • Anon says:

    The Munich airport I know has plenty of power outlets in the waiting areas at the gates. Right between the hundreds of back-to-back seat rows there is one outlet for about every other seat. A bit melodramatic for effect I guess. Untypical for a viola somehow, sounds more like a Primarius. 😉

    • Anthea Kreston says:

      Hi – wow – good to know. There was only that one outlet available once I went through security – maybe before security or in a different boarding area? I know the kids you mean, and did a hunched-over search for the between-the seats variety, but no-go for this area. I could have left security I suppose but I ended up in a super spot!

      • Anon says:

        Maybe they are not everywhere, but wherever I waited at the gate (past security) in Munich recently, they are there between the back-to-back seat rows. Good luck with it next time.

  • DAVID says:

    I found portable power batteries to be a real help when traveling. I wouldn’t get anything less than 9,000-10,000 mah. Here’s a suggestion: Enerplex Jumpr Stack 9 — but there’s tons of them out there. It helps when they have the cords embedded in the unit.

  • Bruce says:

    Welcome to Spokane!

  • Cardinal Feng says:

    “It’s nearly impossible to have a decent conversation with an American teenager these days –”
    True are those words. They are mainly brainwashed by the TV series you listed, which are largely spook-controlled propaganda aimed at undermining traditional values such as the self-sufficient family unit, and increasing dependency on the insidious system of government and corporations. I always hope to find that rare occurrence, someone of school age who can actually think critically and objectively for themselves.

  • 2nd violinist says:

    Andrea, please could you share your choice of practice mute? I’m currently looking for something effective, but without the risk of these heavy metal versions which would go straight through the wood if they fell off.

    • Anthea kreston says:

      Yes I know! I got so sick of all my accouterments recently that I bought every possible shoulder rest, practice mute and regular mute and tried them all out. I also don’t trust the weight of the practice mutes and am happy with rubber hotel mute from – 4.99 – e-mute or something. Totally flexible and light. Works like a charm.

  • Jakes McCarthy says:

    The above despatch is longer than a late breakfast, try visiting Middelfart in central Denmark, the gift shops sell mugs, t-shirts and post cards so you can give friends funny presents. There is also a museum of marital aids and appliances.

  • esfir ross says:

    Once had to change plane at Munich airport we had excellent meal at restaurant that was surprisingly unexpensive and timely because on flight to Boston was not enough hot entrée but we could do without it, so full. Also at record shop I bought so many great CD and DVD,s on sale. Pleasant memories. And after working so hard why Anthea shop at Goodwill in USA when we have excellent discount stores?

    • Anthea kreston says:

      Efir- yes it is a lovely airport! Great food and nice and light. Glad you found some good CDs. I love the Goodwill and it is one of the things I miss the most. I love the randomness and the great finds. I found a maroon crushed velvet smoking jacket for my 7 year old and a game of Twister. Score!

  • armishen says:

    How refreshing to read this from a young, open-minded, talented young woman.
    You are the ‘better’ side of America.

  • Dave T says:

    Quite shocked to read about the theft of intellectual property and how cavalier– yea proud– the blogger is about her deeds (“… play the pirated copy of the movie … but suffice it to say that I won’t be paying for watching Game of Thrones this week”).

    But I guess I’m not one to talk: I just ripped my own copies of Artemis Q. recordings and then burned a few copies that I’ll be selling at the flea market this weekend. Ha-ha!

  • Marg says:

    If you regularly travel with the same couple of airlines or their partners, its really worth buying a lounge membership. Decent chairs, tables to work on; food and beverages; agents to help with rebooking if things go south; free wifi and plenty of outlets; papers, tvs and so on. When I have to spend 2 or more hours in an airport (and Ive done 10 hours on a couple of occasions), being in the lounge keeps me sane. Its absolutely worth the money, that is for sure. A United membership for example is accepted by the Star Alliance carriers’ lounges. Anyhow, sounds like you got a ton of work done!