8 August 1999
Gayle put us up for the night on Sunday and Jay took us to the airport on Monday -- we waited in a LONG line (1 hour 15 minutes) to check in and after that everything went smoothly. The flight from Seattle to Toronto was long, but ok -- beautiful scenery. The flight from Toronto was easy. Our friend Britta met us at the Airport in Frankfurt and the Ben & Jerry's ice cream we had brought on dry ice for her was still hard!!!!
We drove through a hard rain about 4 hours to Munich... where we found out that our other friend, Sonja, who was returning home to Germany from South Dakota, was bumped from her flight and was in the airport in Denver, along with the person with whom we were going to spend the night.
We spent several hours with Britta calling many friends, and driving through small villages around Munich, before we finally found a floor to sleep on in central Munich. We stayed with Ingo, Britta's former roommate. It was a small, but very nice little flat in the west of the city. We even had time to walk around downtown a little... in a daze of course. Britta and Christina and Cherlyn and i sat in the rocks along the Isar river across from the Deutche Museam looking at the water, and the steeples and skipping rocks and talking and trying not to fall asleep. Then we went back to the apartment and Cherlyn fell asleep standing up! Everyone else went out for a few beers, but we cooked some veggies, showered and got in bed around 10pm... it was HARD to wait that long!
Next morning Sonja and her friend Lisi arrived ... TWO DAYS late. We thought WE were jet lagged! I was worried because Sonja, Britta and Christina (Britta's friend) were not very serious about the eclipse. Also it had rained all day Tuesday. At 6:15 am Wed it was clear. By 8:00 it was very cloudy and calls around southern Germany revealed the same. We talked about going to Stutgart, but Ingo's dad called us while we were talking and said, 'It is raining in Stutgart, should we come to Mnchen?' Oh no.
But Lisi was very driven to find a good site and we all piled into the car and drove north. We drove through Munich in the rain, there were huge crowds at the Olympic Stadium, hoping to see totality! We also passed small groups of people in fields and parking lots and even on a trail in a nature reserve -- usually there would be 4 to 10 people gathered around one large telescope, trying to keep the rain off of it. We wound up in to a tiny village called Ottersdorf, just outside of Eching, where we walked out on to a wheat field on the top of a small hill. Lisi had chosen this hill because it faced westward and we hoped we could see the shaddow racing towards us.
Soon after we arrived it started to rain, not Seattle rain, but really hard. There were a few people with telescopes, who covered the scopes and ran for the cars. My watch beeped. The the Moon's disk had just begun to cross in front of the disk of the sun. This was first contact: solid rain clouds. The tiny German Village 8 km away had sun.
But after about 15 minutes the rain stopped and soon we even saw Der Sonnen. WITH a small bite taken out of it. Everyone on the hill (about 50 people) cheered as we looked at them through aluminized mylar -- which i had brought for the purpose. (Most people had paper glasses with mylar lenses bought for 3DM).
As the eclipse progressed the sun peeked out now and then. It was very dramatic. Sometimes the clouds were thin enough that we could see the partially eclipsed disk of the sun through them without any protection. The rest of the time we could look at the countryside, the tiny German village and the rain. We also could hear cheers on the radio when the sun would briefly peak out in Munich and the 20,000 people at the stadium could catch a glimse of the advancing eclipse.
Soon a small hole appeared in the clouds to the west. We all started hoping and hoping it would move towards the sun. The hole grew and grew and at 2 minutes before totality it reached the sun!!!!! We watched as the last portion of the moon covered the sun. It was a magical feeling, the whole countryside was dark, but it was an eerie light. The corona was amazing. I can't express how thrilled, awed, and overwhelmed I was. I just stared. It was stunning. I want to see another eclipse! The birds were flying around very confused. Then we saw the light on the nearby village and rushing towards us!
When the light came back we noticed a HUGE traffic jam on the Autobahn in the distance. We decided that, even though it was very nerve racking, it was much more exciting waiting for that hole in the clouds!
The two villages in the distance, to the south and north, could not see the eclipse. The people we saw along the road also could not. We heard that almost no part of Germany had clear skies, near us or far from us. The people in Munich saw nothing. That hillside was blessed -- Britta said it was like winning the Lotto!
We were very lucky. Not 15 minutes after the end of totality, the clouds returned. We did see the pinhole effect through the trees -- hundreds of little images of the eclipsed sun projected onto the ground, but then the rain started again and we never saw last contact. We went and had a traditional Bavarian meal in a VERY classic Bavarian ale house. We were eating Spatzle in the Gastehaus when the time for last contact arrived. I went out in the rain for a moment, but there was no point. They are not used to giving 'doggie bags' here, but we talked them into giving us the uneaten portion of the YUMMY Spatzle (kind of dumpling like noodles in sauce) in a RAMA margerine container. We ate it later that night and the container continued to travel with us for a long time after!
We drove long into the night to get to Bonn. The radio kept saying it was the worst traffic in the country's history!!! Lots of backups! It took 12 hours to make a drive that normally takes 5 hours -- we were exhausted. But we made it.
We have now spent 3 days exploring Bonn, visiting with Britta and trying to getting over jet lag.
Next week we head to England for 3 to 6 weeks.
© Copyright Mark Canizaro 2000
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