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      01-09-2013, 06:31 PM   #1
llis
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European Delivery experience (Dec 2012)

European Delivery is not something to miss, if you can at all swing it. Since most of the info here about ED seems to be a bit out of date, I thought I'd share some experiences. Maybe others would like to add their own experiences as well?

Flying there from the US

Even though Lufthansa doesn't offer its 2-for-1 deals anymore, it's a trip worth making. However, without any sweet deals coming from Lufthansa, I recommend comparing flights from other airlines.

The Lufthansa coach seats for overseas flights are actually smaller than coach on US flights. Even the commuter flight from Frankfurt to Munich offered more in legroom and elbow room than the trans-Atlantic flight! Lufthansa isn't big on upgrades, either. Don't expect any special deals for last-minute upgrades, because there aren't any. You will pay full boat to upgrade. And you will notice that the Business Class section on their flights is usually quite empty, so they don't seem to be very interested in filling in Business Class by offering any bargains.

Flying coach was miserable. The flight attendants were nice enough, but overworked, with far too many passengers to take care of. The food was nothing special.

To be honest, I've had better experiences flying to Europe on United, even in coach. And there are many airlines that can get you to Germany.

Word to the wise: If you do intend to fly Lufthansa and want to use your miles from a Star Alliance airline like United to upgrade, be sure to order your voucher from your airline well in advance. You need a printed voucher to get your miles to apply on a Lufthansa flight.

Hotel

For hotels, my recommendation is to research online using a service like Expedia or Orbitz to see what the various places are like, and choose one that's to your taste and in an area walking distance from shopping and restaurants. Hotels in Munich range from elegant to kitchy to white-bread American. I stayed at the Charles, which is fabulous but perhaps a bit pricey for some. It's also very understated.

On the other hand, if you like more glitz and gloss for the price, somewhere else like Hotel Königshof might be preferable. But again, whichever hotel you choose, I do recommend finding one in a walking neighborhood with restaurants close by. Anywhere within a mile or so of Marienplatz will do well for you. Walking around town to your meals and shopping is a great way to see the city, and get away from hotel fare.

Which takes us to....

Food ... and Beer!

There are a lot of terrific restaurants around, especially if you like German food. I recommend trying the Schweinsbraten (pork roast) at the German-fare restaurants. They'll all have it -- it's traditional cuisine! I found a number of good places, including Zum Augustiner, which is a touristy choice that still has strong appeal to the locals. Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations, though.

If you like beer at all, you must take time to enjoy German beers. I can particularly recommend "Helles", which is what they call their lager. It's much more flavorful and smoother than any lager you can get in the US, especially out of the bottles. (As for bottled versions in the States, the Hofbräu bottled beer is probably the closest to what you get on draft in Munich.)

If you're flying in, do go to Airbräu Brauhaus at the Munich airport. Yes, it's actually at the airport, and it has some of the best food and beer I had on my trip. The Munich airport itself is rather unusual in that it has a shopping center right there. The people eating and drinking at Airbräu Brauhaus were mostly locals, not travelers. I was there in December, so the outdoor biergarten was closed, but even so the restaurant is pretty big, and bustling with people. How many airport restaurants do you know of that have more diners who are locals than travelers? (Note: It's not a place for a quick bite before catching your flight. Be sure to allow time, though, because it can take some time to pay the check.)

When in Rome....

Speaking of paying, be sure to read up on the local traditions regarding eating and tipping. Water is bottled. It's considered rude to ask for tap water. You choose bubbly or "without gas", and usually have the option for chilled or not. Tipping is usually in the 10% range, and is done by rounding up when the waiter brings you the check. (You can ask for the check in most beer halls by simply saying, "Alles.") For example, he brings you a check for 16.20 Euros; you tell him "18" and give him a 20 and he gives you your change, and you're done. Tips are not left on the table.

The Welt experience

Getting to the Welt for me was a simple cab ride. That said, the trains can get you there pretty easily, I'm told. The Museum is across the street, but there's an outdoor skybridge you walk across to get there. Even a quick run through the museum can take a couple of hours, so be sure to allow yourself some time.

Also be sure to schedule your factory tour (which is booked via email via reply to the confirmation email you get informing you of your production number and delivery date). If you're a machine geek (and I think many owners of "the ultimate driving machine" are), you will love seeing how the assembly line works. Special bonus: Our S65 engines are built there, before being shipped off to be installed in the chassis at another factory.

Okay, so now the actual delivery. Many have written about the process, so I'll review quickly: When you walk in the doors, you can check in at the information desk right there for directions to the elevator you take up to the premium lounge. When you go up the glass elevators, you arrive in a reception area where you do your paperwork with an agent. On the same level is the Premium Lounge, where you can get free cappuccino, sandwiches, croissants, sodas, and even beer. (I would recommend not messing around with beer before you take delivery.)

At your appointed time, you meet a representative, who then takes you downstairs to your car. There's an elevator and a stairway. We took the stairway. Be sure to take the sight of your car while it's lit up, because the spotlights turn off after a couple of minutes. Once you're downstairs, a photographer will take pictures of you with your car, and then your rep will give you a tour of the car itself.

I was mainly curious about the differences of the limited-options 2013 6MT vs. my old fully loaded 2011 DCT. Then I drove my car around the Welt one lap and pulled around to the elevator at the back, where my rep would take my car downstairs to be shipped. (It was snowing. I was not about to take my new baby out in the snow. Been there, done that, I'll wait for the right time.) I took a photograph of the mileage, and then said auf wiedersehen to my new baby.

And suddenly it was over! I'm sorry to have missed out on driving the autobahn and touring the alps, but I'm still glad I took the trip.

Pics are here.
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