Day 4. Today was a travel day, our first within Europe. Our last morning in Rome was cool and perfectly clear, with a slight breeze. We had awesome weather the whole time. A little warm in the direct sun, but ver nice and Mediterranean, which was perfect for walking through the city and exploring the old streets and shops.
Departure time was 8:45 AM. A few people had gone earlier in the morning to do some last minute sightseeing without the throngs of tourists. Breakfast on the roof of the Marriott, and some ventured outside to eat in the open air under larger white canvas canopies. After finishing breakfast, all met downstairs, checked out of their rooms, and then went out to the bus that was waiting. All aboard and the routine Dr. Swensen sound off count to make sure no one was still upstairs in bed.
We left for the airport early in order to make sure that we had plenty of time to get through the security that could be very long at times. Traffic was relatively light, and we quickly made it through the streets of Rome, passing miles of terra cotta colored buildings with terrace balconies and small businesses. Leonardo da Vinci airport is on the outskirts of town, and is located in actually fairly scenic country with fields and modestly sized farmhouses.
The security and check in process was actually very quick and we ended up into the gate area within about 20 minutes from when we arrived. We were grateful to have time to sit and relax in the terminal instead of standing in a security line for an hour two. There were a few stores worth looking at, and a few of us bought some last minute gifts from Italy. The rest of the time was spent chatting, reading, and resting. I think we were all a little sad to be leaving Rome and the great time we had there, but the feeling in the group was also excited to move on to the next leg of the trip.
Our Lufthansa flight left on time, and we were quickly flying over Italy towards Munich (Muenchen). During the flight, we were served an interesting meal of what could be described as thinly sliced sausage with Italian dressing and cabbage. It got mixed reviews. We arrived in Munich after the short flight and quickly got our luggage and were on our way to landberg(?) and Rational. The German countryside was awesome. The roads were clean and smooth and we rode in a nice Mercedes Benz bus with good AC. Lots of little towns to see, and everything looked to quaint.
Rational received us warmly. The main building is rather unassuming from the outside, but was perfectly ordered and of steel and glass. The building inside was very modern, but not showy. The entre facility was spotless, and bathed in daylight from the lines of windows in the roof that consisted of a kind of sawtooth pattern. The assembly area was designed to not have obstructed views for the workers so they could see outside into the woods. I’ll spare all the details, but suffice it to say that the facility is very well run by a kind, caring and supportive management. They are committed to and are succeeding in lean manufacturing initiatives, and are down to a one day lead time for their products, which is impressive.
The demonstration of the combination steam convection ovens was totally amazing. They had the whole group eating out of their hands in more ways than one. They really rolled out the red carpet for us cooking pizzas, steaks, brocoli, shrimp, filet, salmon, chickens, desserts, roasted pork loin, ratatouille, amazing hot croissants, and others. We were all wondering how we’d manage to afford the $8000 for a unit. The magic is in that the oven senses and can cook multiple trays at the same time. It was cooking multiple things at the same time while not mixing favors and achieving perfectly crispy outsides of chicken while maintaining tender insides. It cooked everything so quickly. After we were all thoroughly stuffed, they told us they had dinner for us, which was amazing. We sat at nice tables with china, nice flatware, candlelight, and were served dessert. Really so much fun. We felt like they really rolled out the red carpet.
After the Rational visit, we made our way to our hotel at Munich. 50 min bus ride after eating around 4,000 calories meant that most of the bus was asleep. We arrived at our hotel, went upstairs and went to sleep. The hotel is very nice, and very comfortable.