German Customs Control
So, I had a brand new adventure today. Somewhere on the A-4 between Dresden and Weimar in the small town of Chemnitz, the bus was pulled over by German Customs Control and led to a checkpoint. Apparently, there was a deadly bus accident several days ago, and Germany has beefed up their customs control on buses. They asked Jurgen and our new bus driver, Marchen, a lot of questions. Both Jürgen and Marchen had to show the officers papers.
It already felt as if we had been detained for a long time when the officers boarded the bus and asked if any of us had large quantities of cigarettes, alcohol or weapons of any kind. One of our tour members had a carton and a half of cigarettes and was informed that more than one carton is not usually permitted without a duty charge. However, the officer did not demand payment from him.
Next, they made all of us get off the bus, so that the bus could be driven through an X-Ray machine. As we disembarked, the guy with the cigarettes had to show his passport to the customs officers. While we waited, we watched the bus drive through the X-Ray machine twice! Apparently, they had detected a carton of cigarettes in someone's luggage and were double-checking to make sure there were not large quantities that could have been sold on the black market.
According to Jürgen, he has experienced customs stops on tours before, about once every two or three tours, but, in the 16 years he has been a guide, they were never that thorough. He did inform us that is it the right of German Customs to randomly select and stop any bus at any time. Jürgen did say that the officers were very respectful and kind, allowing us to stand in the shade while they scanned the bus. They were, after all, just doing their job.
As we were leaving the customs checkpoint, we passed another tour bus being led into the checkpoint. Ahh, Germany.