|10-24-2013, 04:47 PM||#1|
17 Day 1700 Mile European Delivery
On February 9th, I gave the dealership the go ahead to place the order. I worked with Yi-Wen Ting and his associate Derek Dicker. I have referred many people to Yi-Wen over the years and they've walked away happy customers. Yi-Wen and his team made this purchase and the ED process extremely easy.
My delivery date was set for April 29th. From the middle of February, my wife and I started planning our trip all the way until the middle of April. We did lots of research on where to stay, where to go, and where to eat. I only had a few requirements:
1. Hotels had to have parking.
2. I had to visit BMW Welt, BMW Museum, and take the BMW Factory tour.
3. I wanted to drive through the Swiss Alps.
4. I wanted to take my new M3 on the Nurburgring.
Now the break down of our ED Trip:
We left Tucson, AZ at 4am for a flight out of Phoenix to LAX. We arrived at LAX and checked into our Lufthansa flight early. We then left the airport to have lunch with my sister, who was watching our dog during the trip, and a couple of friends.
We got back to LAX and go through security. The anticipation of getting to Europe at this point was killing me. The next day and a half was just a really long travel day. We had to change planes in Frankfurt because this actually allowed us to get to Munich 3-4 hours quicker than the direct flight from LAX to MUC.
Arrival in Munich
We arrive in Munich at 12:55pm. My wife and I were surprised at how welcome the Germans make you feel when you get off the plane. They hand you a chocolate bar and there is a self serve coffee/espresso bar. We were impressed by how clean the coffee/espresso area was with all of these people helping themselves. After helping ourselves to a couple of cappuccinos(at this point I had been up for 24hrs with 2hrs of sleep the night before), we set off to grab our luggage and meet Rolf Raffelsieper, who we hired to pick us up. <firstname.lastname@example.org> He was highly recommended on the bimmerfest and M3post forums. Rolf greeted us at the terminal and we walked to his 3 series touring. For less than the price of a Taxi to our hotel; Rolf drove us to the hotel, waited for us to check in, then sat down with us at the lobby to give us tour suggestions and answered our questions. He then drove us to BMW Welt. Rolf was very friendly and passionate about BMW and Germany. We found his tips quite helpful. He talks a little bit softly so you have to pay attention to hear him and he moves a bit slow, but the guy is about 70 years old! Overall, we thought he was great.
BMW Museum and Welt
We spent the rest of the day exploring the BMW Museum and Welt. The museum was quite busy and it was pretty cool to see all of the generations of the BMW. It took us about an hour to get through the museum. We did a quick walk through of Welt before heading off to dinner.
Dinner at Hofbrauhaus
Afterwards, we went to Hofbrauhaus for dinner. We had read that this restaurant was mostly a tourist spot and that the food wasn't that great. We found this to be true, but being tourists, we figured it would be nice to see what all the hoopla was about. The food wasn't the best we had during the trip, but it was decent. We ordered a couple of beers and they were enjoyable. There were people dressed up in traditional German clothing playing music. The atmosphere was great and the place was absolutely packed. There is no hostess to seat you, and it took us awhile to find a spot to sit down. I would recommend Hofbrahuas to any tourist as it is a great place to go and feel the vibe of the Bavarian people. Our biggest complaint was the service--the restaurant was crazy busy and the service was quite slow.
Hotel-Westin Grand Munich
We got really lucky with our hotel in Munich. Using our Starwood Preferred Guest #, we were able to book a room at the Westin Grand Munich for 99 euros a night. This was a great deal. The rooms were what you would expect in the US--very clean, fairly large for European standards(bathroom had dual sinks and separate shower/bathtub), and complimentary bottled water each night. The only problem we had was that we couldn't figure out how to turn on our TV. This really didn't bother us as between our activities and our jet lag, we didn't have much spare time for television. We later learned at a different hotel, that you have to push the #1 on the remote to power on the TV and that the power button is to turn it off. Strange, I know! The front desk was very friendly and helped us with whatever we needed. While parking is available at this hotel, there is a charge of 20 euros/day. We were strategic and only parked the car here for one night and left the car at Welt the first night after delivery, as there is no charge to park there. Our hotel was also located about a 2 minute walk away from the subway station.
Day 3: DELIVERY DAY!!!!
Getting to BMW Welt
Rolf taught us how to use the subway system in Munich. Basically, for about 7 euros, you can get a day pass that is good for unlimited trips on the subway for up to 5 people. We ended up taking the subway to BMW Welt from our hotel. The subway system is super efficient and very clean. We were somewhat surprised that there weren't many "suits" on the subway like you would see in New York city. It seems like business dress codes in Germany are generally more casual. The other thing about the subway system that surprised us, was that there is no machine or attendant to check/collect your ticket. The system operates completely on the honor system and we didn't notice anyone during our time in Germany who took advantage of the system. It appeared that everyone would stop at the ticket machine and pay the necessary fare.
Delivery Day! The delivery time was set for 1pm with a check in time of no later than 11am. We arrived at the Welt much earlier than 11am to have breakfast and check in. During the check in process, we talked about coming back to Welt the next day for the factory tour. To our surprise, our delivery time was then moved up to 10am so that we would be able to make the only English tour of the day at 11:45am. This freed up more time for us to explore Munich the next day. The BMW Premium lounge is quite nice. There is complimentary Wifi and iPads and computers you can use. Food and beverages are also provided throughout the day. The food is nothing spectacular, but it's free and not bad at all.
During breakfast in the lounge, my wife said that I really couldn't sit down and eat. Apparently, I was too excited and kept going to the window to check if they had brought my car out. Then it was finally 10am and time for me to greet my new car. Delivery was awesome and they lead you down to see your car and answer any questions and show you the features of your car. Our delivery specialist was very friendly and enjoyed seeing our excitement. As part of your delivery, BMW also provides you with a photo of you with the new car. Also part of taking delivery there, is taking your "Victory Lap" or two. I parked the car at Welt for the night since it was free and I didn't need the car yet.
BMW Welt-Gift shop
After parking the car downstairs, we continued to the gift shop. With delivery, there are some discounts provides at the gift shop. Basically, the discount applies to most of the BMW Welt merchandise. Also, as part of delivery, you get a free personalized engraved key-chain. Tip: Make sure you ask them to process your purchase here with a tax refund form if you are going to spend over 50 euros. This will allow you to get about 12% cash back at the airport.
BMW Factory Tour
We then proceeded to the factory tour. They do not allow pictures inside, but it was a really cool tour and worth checking out. The tour is about 2.5 hours long. After the factory tour, we decided to grab lunch back at the Premium lounge.
Munich Olympic Park
After lunch, we decided to take a walk through the Olympic Park-where the 1972 Olympics took place. The park is located within walking distance of BMW Welt. It is nice to walk through the park, but it was much smaller than we expected. The Olympic swimming pool is still being used today and is open to the public.
However, the most entertaining part of Olympic park for my wife, was probably the 5 minutes I spent in a human bubble on the water. She coined the phrase, "human hamster" to describe what I looked like as a tried to move across the water in this giant bubble. Words really cannot describe this--you just got to take a look at the pictures.
We then proceeded to take the subway to the Munich Residenz, the palace of the Bavarian kings. However, we arrived very close to 5 pm and couldn't find the ticket office as the building is very large. As a result, we weren't going to have much time to look around. We decided to save the Residenz for the next day and proceeded to go the Englishcher Garden. We had heard from a Rick Steves video that there was a part of the Englishcher Garden where people go surfing. According to the map and people we talked to, this area is within walking distance to the Residenz. However, it took us awhile to find it. Once we did, it was pretty cool to watch the surfers for a few minutes. Most of them were pretty good and it was interesting to see that people would surf in such a narrow canal with waves. I would recommend seeing this if you are in the area.
Now, it's dinner time. We had also heard about this deli on Rick Steves. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed for a private party this night. The best way to describe the rest of the deli is that it is very similar to Dean and Deluca, with more chocolate and wine. The deli is quite famous for their chocolates and at one point served the royal family. Nothing in the actual deli really interested us for dinner so we bought a few chocolates and proceeded to continue walking.
Dinner at Ayingers
We ended up having dinner at Ayingers which is directly across from Hofbrahaus. My wife had read good reviews about it on tripadvisor so we decided it was worth a try. This restaurant was still busy but much quieter than Hofbrahaus. Both the food and the service were significantly better than Hofbrahaus. After dinner I was craving gelato.
Day 4: Exploring Munich
Munich Residenz and Treasury
First thing in the morning, we took the subway back to the Residenz and bought tickets to tour both the palace and the treasury. Note: You are not allowed to take any backpacks or phones into this museum and are forced to check them in at the front. A hand held audio guide is provided for you so you can tour the museum at your own pace. The treasury was pretty interesting with crowns, jewelry, swords, and all sorts of artifacts from the Bavarian palace. We found some rooms to be more interesting than others. It took us about an hour to get through the Treasury.
We then headed over to the palace part with our audio guides. Initially, we were quite entertained as many of the rooms are beautiful with hand crafted furniture and paintings on the wall. However, the palace is so large, that the rooms start to look the same after awhile. The highlight of the palace is the last room, which is called the gold room. It is truly a beautiful room decked out in gold. It truly makes you think about how rich Bavarian royalty once was, and it makes you think twice about how parts of the kingdom once lived in poverty. It took us about an hour to get through the palace.
If you are not that interested in seeing old artifacts, I would recommend only visiting the palace. If you are very interested in Bavarian history, I would allocate more time to this area as there are many other rooms you can purchase tickets for to visit.
Lunch at BMW Welt
We then took the subway back to BMW Welt so that we could have lunch for free and pick up the car.
We drove from BMW Welt to Dachau Memorial, which is one of the first concentration camps used. The drive to Dachau was fairly easy and took us about 30 minutes. There were quite a few signs and with the navigation in the car, we found the place with ease.
There is no fee to tour the memorial. There is quite a bit of walking involved as the grounds are quite large. We found the memorial and museum to be quite interesting and very powerful. You will see the barracks, where the prisoners were once kept, as well as the gas chamber and furnaces that were once used.
If you are in Munich, this is good to see. It gives a great glimpse into German history and how people once suffered and truly makes you more appreciative of your life.
It really made me feel even more appreciative, when we walked back towards our car and saw two young boys checking it out. I guess no matter where you go, boys just love their cars.
After the memorial, we drove back to the hotel, parked our car and walked through the Englishcher Garden by our hotel. Note: The Englishcher Garden is very large and would probably take awhile to walk through the entire area. We only had time to see two parts.
The first place we went in the Englishcher Garden was the Chinese Pagoda. There is a fairly large beer garden next to the pagoda and a small restaurant. We got there in the evening and were somewhat disappointed to see that the pagoda was locked up and we couldn't climb to the top. It was also a bit too chilly to sit out in the beer garden, plus we were hungry for dinner and the beer garden didn't serve food. We also found the restaurant here to have a very limited menu and were not interested in eating here.
Dinner at Seehaus in the Englishcher Garden
However, the hotel did recommend a restaurant in the Garden by the lake, called Seehaus. We decided to go there for dinner, but the restaurant was pretty far out and it was a very long walk to get there. The restaurant was very nice and we got a table by the window with a view of the lake. This was the highest end restaurant thus far into our trip. It was also the best German food we had tasted since we had been in the country. Service was great-we really didn't know what we wanted and they were friendly and able to give some great recommendations.
We also noticed that there was a large dog at dinner at a table close to ours. The wait staff brought out a doggie bowl of water. We noticed dogs in many restaurants throughout Germany. Obviously, there aren't any health codes prohibiting them and all the restaurants we saw dogs in were very clean.
After a great meal, we realized that we had walked very far away from our hotel. Our waitress also told us that there really wasn't any public transportation close by. She ended up calling a taxi for us. We were in the taxi for less than 5 minutes and it cost us 10.7 euros, which amounts to almost $15. That was the most expensive cab ride we have ever taken in this lifetime. However, it was well worth it was we were tired and it got us back to the hotel in no time.
Day 5: Salzburg, Austria
Drive to Salzburg, Austria
We woke up early in the morning to drive to Salzburg, Austria. The drive there wasn't bad as we pretty much took the autobahn to get there. Many people were flying on the highway, but I couldn't go over 100 mph as my car hadn't been broken in yet. It took us less than 2 hours to arrive in Salzburg. I was warned to be careful with speed limits in Austria as they are much stricter than Germany. I definitely didn't want to get a ticket and pay a huge fine while on vacation. We got lucky as we arrived in Salzburg on 5/1 which is a holiday and parking was free all throughout the city.
Breakfast at Heart of Joy Cafe
We arrived early in the morning, checked into our hotel and decided to have breakfast. Food in Austria is more expensive than food in Germany. We had a nice breakfast at Heart of Joy Cafe, which serves mostly organic food. I also tried a Mozart coffee, which was basically sweetened hot coffee with caramel. It was served with what is called a mozartkugel, a round ball of chocolate. Because Mozart was born in Salzburg, these are famous foods in the city.
Sound of Music Bike Tour with Fraulein Maria
After a nice breakfast, we went to the meeting point of the Sounds of Music Bike Tour that my wife had reserved. It was about a 4 hour tour by bike and a great way to see the city of Salzburg. The guide points out all of the places the movie was filmed and the talks about the history of Salzburg. Tip: It is helpful to re-watch the Sound of Music movie if you have not done so recently. The tour was great and cost about 35 euros/person, but was definitely worth it. We were very lucky that it was a nice day for riding. We would recommend this tour to anyone. The only downside is that the website says that anyone can participate, but in reality, the bike riding can be a bit intense with a couple of steep hills. If you are really not in shape, I would stay away. We managed the tour just fine, but were somewhat tired at the end of it.
The tour guide also takes pictures of you throughout the tour and posts them on Facebook for everyone to enjoy!
Lunch at Cafe Sacher
We then proceeded to lunch at Cafe Sacher, which my wife also read about on Tripadvisor. We were tired of German food so opted for hamburgers, fries and pasta. The food was decent but expensive. We started noticing a pattern that wine and beer pretty much cost the same as soda and water. We also tried the famous Cafe Sacher chocolate torte for dessert. We thought it was good but overrated. I wouldn't recommend anyone else to order it.
After lunch, we decided to go visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We walked as Old Salzburg is really not car friendly. Many areas are pedestrian only. To get to the fortress we walked through streets with tons of shops. We had read that the climb to the fortress really isn't as hard as it looks, but as we were tired from the bike tour earlier, we opted to pay for the cable car to take us up. The museum tour was short and informative but nothing to write home about. The best part of the fortress is the breathtaking view you get of the city. Salzburg really is a beautiful city and we got some great pictures. There is also a restaurant at the fortress. However, we were pretty tired from a long day and decided to buy sandwiches and eat them back in our hotel room. We bought sandwiches and snacks from a shop on the way back to our hotel and they were really quite good.
First of, the Hotel Mozart is not a luxury hotel. However, we chose it because it was close to Old Town Salzburg and parking was available for a fee of 15 euros a night. The front desk is friendly and the rooms are basic, but very clean and comfortable. We got a fairly large room on the fifth floor, which is the top floor, with a sitting area. I joked around saying that we had gotten the "penthouse suite." This is a good hotel for the price. If you are looking for a five star hotel, this is not it.
Day 6: Exploring Salzburg
Again, we woke up early and headed to Werfen, the largest ice cavern in the world. It took us less than an hour to drive there. It is pretty high up in the mountains and your drive through some winding roads. Once again, I wished my car was broken in.
We arrived at the visitor center and bought tickets for the tour which were about 20 euros a piece. Note: If you are not in good shape, this is a very physical tour. After purchasing tickets, there is about a 20 minute hike uphill to get to the cable car station. After getting off the cable car, there is another 20 minute hike uphill to get to the opening of the cave. Tip: the temperature inside the cave is 0 degrees so dress warmly. The cave tour lasted about an hour and the guide gave the tour in both English and German. The ice cave was quite beautiful and unlike anything we have seen before. However, once inside the cave, you have to climb up over 700 steps to tour it. Some steps are quite steep. No photos are allowed in the cave. Bottom line, if you are fit, this is a great place to visit as the caves are beautiful and the hike up is gorgeous as well.
Lunch at McDonald's
We didn't have much time for lunch as we wanted to get to the saltmine. We drove from Werfen to the saltmine area in about 30 minutes and decided to grab a quick bite at McDonald's as it was very convenient. The learning here was that Europeans charge for condiments. I ended up paying .20 euros for a packet of ketchup and my wife could not eat her fries without it.
Salzburg is a city whose history and wealth is due to salt, so we thought it would be appropriate to visit a salt mine. I parked my car and later noticed a large school bus pull in a bunch of boys gathered around to check out the car.
The salt mine tour was interesting. They make you put on a white coat and pants and take you underground into the mine. The guide and videos were quite informative and there are some cool slides, which were used by the miners to help them transport salt. However, tourists today can slide down them. There is also a point underground in the mine where you can stand in both Germany and Austria as it covers the border. Overall, we enjoyed this tour.
We discovered a grocery store called Billa and bought some snacks, fruit, and wine. FYI--European wine in the grocery store is super cheap and we stocked up and bought 3 bottles figuring we would drink it at some point during our trip.
First Car Wash
Of course I had to keep my car clean.
Dinner at Esszimmer
After going back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we walked to a restaurant in Old Town Salzburg called Esszimmer. It has one Michelin star and we opted for the tasting menu. This was the most expensive meal we had during our entire trip. The food and service were great, but for the price, we probably wouldn't go back. We have had better tasting menus in the US for less money.
Day 7: Drive to Innsbruck
We left Salzburg in the morning and drove towards Wattens, a small town in Austria near Innsbruck, where the Swarovski museum(Kristallwelten) and factory are located.
Note: Before we left the USA, some sales people at a local Swarovski store convinced us to purchase a SCS membership so that we could get into the museum for free an into the VIP lounge. If you are not a huge Swarovski fan, I would not recommend this. The SCS membership only allows you one free entrance ticket, not two like we were led to believe. They do serve snacks and sodas in the VIP lounge, but really the lounge is only good if you want access to buy special Swarovski pieces not available to the public. Bottom line, I don't think we would have purchased the SCS membership if we could do it over again. We did get a free gift with the membership, and the VIP lounge also gave us a free picture frame for visiting Kristallwelten.
The museum itself was interesting but didn't take us long to get through. The coolest room was the Crystal room. Overall, I thought that museum to be somewhat overpriced and don't know if we would have done it knowing what we know now. If you are a huge Swarovski fan, it is definitely worth checking out.
We also had lunch at Swarovski which was decent, not great. We ordered spaghetti and a cream based pasta.
Munze Hall and Castle Hasegg
After visiting the Swarovski museum and having lunch, we had some free time. We decided to go visit Munze Hall, which is a mint museum and Castle Hasegg which are located in Burg Hasegg near Innsbruck, not too far away from Swarovski. Because we had the SCS membership, we received a small discount on admission. Both places provided audio hand held tour devices. The mint tour was quite interesting and we learned a lot about the history of the dollar. In 1486 the first high-grade silver coin Taler, the precursor of the Dollar, was coined here. No pictures are allowed in the mint. The castle wasn't as exciting as it was very small although you could climb to the top and get a view of the city. The climb wasn't too high and was fairly easy. Tickets to the mint and castle are sold together. If you are not crazy about museums, I would not necessarily come here.
Dinner at Nordkette
This was probably the highlight of our short time in Innsbruck, although it was fairly expensive. We paid 16 euros/person to take a cable car on the Nordkettenbahn up to Nordkette. The view was absolutely stunning. We were there in the spring, so we still saw snow-capped mountains and greenery below. It was impressive to see mountain bikers and hikers traversing up and down the mountain. At the top, there is a nice restaurant to have dinner, Restaurant Seegrube. My wife had made us a reservation prior to us leaving the US, so I am not sure if you can get a table without one. We had a nice table by the window and the food was quite good. The portions are huge though, so be careful with how many appetizers you choose to order. We ordered soups and entrees and that turned out to be way too much.
Second Car Wash
After dinner, I decided to wash the car again. It had been raining on and off throughout the day. I wanted to make sure the car looked nice for photos the next day in the Swiss Alps.
Grand Hotel Europa
For our one night in Innsbruck, we chose to stay at Hotel Europa, a very nice luxury hotel, where many celebrities and royalty have stayed. Apparently Bavaria’s King Ludwig II, builder of Neuschwanstein Castle, stated “This is the most beautiful place in Innsbruck to celebrate festive events.”
The rooms were very clean and spacious and the service is extremely attentive. We were surprised to see a walk in closet in our room. Complimentary water and chocolates were provided. This is where we learned to turn on the TV as the power button didn't work. We called the front desk for help and within seconds, some one was at our room showing us how to work our remote control. Wifi and breakfast are also included at this hotel. Parking is also very convenient at this hotel, although there is a charge, about 16-20 eruos. We had read some reviews online that some people didn't feel like this hotel was located in a safe area because it was in the heart of downtown and close the the main train station, but we found it to be fine. We really enjoyed this hotel and would recommend it to anyone.
Day 8: Drive through Swiss Alps
Breakfast at Grand Hotel Europa
This was the first hotel during our trip where breakfast was included with our room and was the best hotel breakfast we had while we were in Europe. Unlike the other hotels where we had breakfast, this one had a much larger selection of food besides the usual cold cuts and cheeses. This one had American eggs, bacon, and sausage, as well as a small section for Asian breakfast items. We did notice a diverse group of tourists in the morning at breakfast and the hotel obviously knows how to cater to all of them. During breakfast, we also had soft boiled eggs, which we later found to be quite popular in Europe, although not every restaurant made them as good as the Hotel Europa. Service during breakfast was also impeccable, truly "white glove."
Drive to Lake Como through the Swiss Alps
It basically took us all day to get to Lake Como. We probably left around 8:30 am and arrived in Lake Como around 4pm. I didn't take the most direct route as I wanted to drive through as many switchbacks as possible. The drive was a ton of fun, although my car still wasn't fully broken in; I had to keep the RPMs low and couldn't go as fast as I wanted. The alps are amazingly beautiful and we got some great photos. At the bottom of the alps, the weather is fairly warm, but as you get to the top, they are covered in snow. We have a great picture of us in our flip flops with the car, and snow covered peaks in the background. This is probably one of our favorite photos we took on the entire trip.
We stopped for lunch in a small town in Switzerland called Andermatt. We wanted to get to Como so we wanted something quick so we stopped at a restaurant right next to a gas station. It was clean and while the two ladies didn't speak great English, they really tried to help us figure out what we wanted to eat. The hamburger we had here was really good and you could taste that the ground beef was very fresh. It was nice, because although the national Swiss currency is the Swiss franc, the accepted our euros.
Once we got near Italy, the driving became a bit more confusing because the streets continuously change names and curve every which way. By following signs, though, we were able to get to Lake Como. While it was tough to navigate, the last hour of our drive was beautiful as well, even though it wasn't the Swiss alps. We drove by a lake and enjoyed the view as we got closer to Como.
Once we got to Como, it took us almost an hour to find our hotel(didn't come up on the navi and many buildings are not numbered), even though our hotel ended up being huge. There just happened to be a couple of buses blocking the very large sign with the hotel name. We drove by the hotel several times not knowing it was ours.
Como is definitely not a car friendly city as the streets are very narrow and parking is extremely difficult. After arriving at the hotel, we did not take our car out the entire time we were in Como.
Dinner at Ristorante Belle Isole
After checking into the hotel, we set out to have dinner and figure out where to buy ferry tickets for the next day. We found the ferry ticket station within a 5 minute walk of our hotel and a very nice attendant there helped us figure out which tickets we needed.
Very close to the ticket booth, we found a restaurant where the owner was greeting customers outside. He was extremely friendly and spoke great English, and we read good reviews about the restaurant online, so we decided to try it. We ordered a bottle of wine, which really wasn't expensive compared to US standards and some pasta and ravioli. The food was pretty good and the owner was so nice. We sat outside with a view of the lake and Bellagio on the other side of the lake.
The Grand Hotel Caddenabbia
This hotel was a nice surprise. We got a great deal on this hotel on Expedia.com and did not expect the rooms to be as big as they were. Our room was decorated in an old Victorian style with dual sinks, a sitting area, and outdoor balcony area overlooking the lake. We also had a traditional bath tub right next to the bed. While the building was older, the rooms were very clean and luxurious. It was also nice because parking was free here. Breakfast was also included.
Day 9: Exploring Lake Como
Breakfast at Grand Hotel Caddenabbia
Breakfast at this hotel was fine, but could not compare to Hotel Europa. We didn't complain as it was included in our already very reasonable hotel room rate. The perk to having breakfast here was the view of the lake. We did find the service to be somewhat slow and lacking and we thought that certain linens and cups could have been cleaner, especially for a 4 star hotel.
We bought an all day ferry pass first thing in the morning and set off to explore the different small towns along the lake. The day pass price was very reasonable, although we found the schedule grids to be very confusing. We ended up just asking people to figure out what time we had to be back on the ferry because that was much easier than trying to figure out the grids.
We got off at Lenno and took the hike up to Villa Balbianello. There is also a small speedboat you can take for about 5 euros each way. We found the hike to be nice and the trail was beautiful. It wasn't too tough of a hike, although most of it was uphill. We got to the villa and purchased tickets for the gardens only, as we had heard that the inside of the villa was not that worthwhile to see. At the entrance of the villa, there was nobody to collect/check our tickets. Again, it's about the honesty policy.
The villa was absolutely beautiful and we got some amazing photos. It was cool to see that part of Casino Royale was filmed there, although it didn't look like it did in the movie.
We would definitely recommend this to villa to visit if you are in Como.
Lunch at Bar Sport
After hiking to and from the villa, we were hungry so decided to try this pizza place called Numero Uno, that had been recommended to us the previously night by the owner of Belle Isole. However, when we arrived at Numero Uno, they said that the restaurant was now closed. We were disappointed and made our way to Bar Sport for pizza and pasta, which was right on the lake. We ate inside as outdoor sitting was full. The food was just ok and I wouldn't eat here again if I had a choice. The restaurant was also very busy so the service was somewhat slow.
La Fabbrica Del Gelato
After lunch, I stopped here for some gelato, which was really good and perfect on a warm day. Best gelato the entire trip, possibly best ever.
We then got back onto the ferry and left Lenno to get off at Varenna. This was a fairly small town and we walked around to get a feel for it. There wasn't much to do here so we sat down at Varenna Caffe to have some coffee and enjoy the view of the lake, while waiting for the next ferry. The cafe service was friendly, and free WiFi was provided.
We then took the ferry to Mennagio which was a much larger town. We enjoyed walking around and there were a lot of cars driving around honking their horns--it seemed like a soccer game had just been won and people were out in the streets celebrating.
Now, finally time for the famous Bellagio. We took the ferry here and it was beautiful. We walked around the shops and came to find a restaurant called Bilacus, which the owner of Belle Isole had also recommended. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a lovely bottle of wine and some great Italian food.
The service here was great and we found this to be a great way to end a fantastic day exploring the towns of Como.
Overall, we would recommend this restaurant to others as well as recommend that you spend the day exploring on the ferry.
Day 10: Day trip to Milan
My wife wanted to take a day trip to Milan and do some shopping. Since I got a car, and this was her only request, I decided to forgo my day trip to the Ferrari factory so that she could go to Milan.
We learned that the easiest way to get to Milan was to take the ferry from Tremezzo (the next town over from Cadenabbia, within walking distance) to Como, then from Como to take the train to Milan. Again, these schedules were very confusing and there were multiple Milan stops and we had to constantly keep asking people where to get off to do some shopping. Between the ferry and the train, it took us almost 2 hours to get to Milan.
We got off at the main Milan train station, where we had to pay to use the restrooms. This was the first time we had to pay for restrooms in Europe and found these to be the dirtiest public restrooms we had used. Once we left the train station and asked for direction to head toward the oldest mall in the world, Emmanuel Vittoria, we immediately noticed that Milan was much dirtier than the cities we visited in Germany and Austria. The architecture throughout the city was beautiful.
My wife's first order of business was to buy a bag a Prada, which by the way there were about 6 Prada stores all within walking distance in Milan. We have been to major shopping districts such as Rodeo Drive, Fifth Avenue in New York City, and Hong Kong. Milan put all of those cities to shame. My wife had a great time in the Prada store where they gave her great service and she was able to find a bag she liked. FYI-because of the tax refund possibility for tourists, it is cheaper to buy a Prada in Italy than it is in the US.
After Prada, it was my turn to shop. I headed to the largest Armani store in the world and bought some stuff for myself. Then it was time for lunch. By this time we were no longer at the Emmanuel Vittoria. It had started to rain so we picked the first lunch place we found that looked appetizing and ducked inside to escape the rain. The restaurant was super crowded and it was very hot. It was as if there was no air circulating inside. The food was decent, but the prices were quite high for what you got. We wouldn't recommend this restaurant to anyone. Had it not been raining, we would have probably walked back towards Emmanuel Vittoria, where the restaurants looked bigger and much more affordable.
Once lunch was done, we walked back to the train station to head back to our hotel.
Dinner on Our Patio
After a long day of shopping, we decided not to go out to dinner and have a nice meal on our hotel patio overlooking the lake. We went to the local market which was within walking distance from our hotel, and bought supplies.
We had a great meal of sandwiches, cold cuts and melon, and a great bottle of Barolo, with a fantastic view of the lake.
Last edited by E92M3WestLA; 12-19-2013 at 07:44 PM.
|10-24-2013, 05:03 PM||#2|
ED Part 2: Including Nurburgring portion
Day 11: Back to Germany through the Swiss Alps
We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel again and set off to find the site where Mussolini was executed. My wife had read online that it was a cool place to see and the lady at the front desk at the hotel told us it was about a 20 minute walk, so we figured why not?
Turns out, this site was about a 40 minute walk away from our hotel and it was not easy to find. We must have asked a half a dozen people how to get there along the way and surprisingly, not everyone knew what we were talking about. At the end we finally found it. I think we were happier to have finally found the place, than we were impressed with the site.
The site is located in Mezzegra so if you are close, I would recommend you see it as it was a key point in history. If you are further away and not a super history buff, you can skip this one.
Lunch at Albergo Corona in Vicosoprano
We then left Como and set off for Fussen, back in Germany to start our drive along the Romantic Road the following day. Right before crossing into Switzerland, I stopped at a self car wash-car wash number 3. During the drive I gassed up once in Switzerland and another time in Austria just before entering Germany. Gas is cheaper in Austria compared to Germany.
Again, I had fun going through the switchbacks of the Swiss alps. Of course I plotted out the longer route, ensuring extra time through the Alps. For lunch, we stopped at this little restaurant and hotel called Albergo Corona in the very small town of Vicosoprano in Switzerland. It was somewhat late for lunch, and nobody was in this restaurant, but the lady welcomed us, opened the restaurant, and took our orders. We were surprised at how good the food was and how friendly the service was. If by chance, you are in this small town, this place is great. They also accepted our euros, despite the national currency being the Swiss franc.
After a day of driving, we made it to Hotel Hirsch. We found the hotel rooms to be clean, but very basic. The reviews of the hotel on TripAdvisor made it seem much more luxurious than we found it to be. We also booked one of their higher end rooms, so I wonder what the more basic rooms were like. My wife complained that the hotel had a towel warmer, but didn't provide shampoo. We ended up having dinner at the hotel as it was more convenient. The food was ok and the soup was bit too salty. They also might have been having an off night, as it took them forever to bring out our dessert at the end of our meal.
Day 12-Romantic Road
Breakfast at Hotel Hirsch
Breakfast was again included in our hotel room rate. It was very basic and didn't have much hot food selection. It was pretty much all cold cuts, cheese, and bread.
Our first stop along the Romantic Road was Neuschwanstein Castle. My wife reserved our tickets for the English tour weeks before we actually left for Europe. The tickets for the tour were almost 20 euros/person, although we did end up getting a discount of 1 euro/ticket from our hotel. However, the tour of the inside of the castle lasted less than one hour. Because the castle was never completed by King Ludwig II, there isn't much to see inside. There are some amazing hand crafted wood pieces and beautiful paintings. This ended up being our favorite castle that we visited but my wife and I debated whether or not we would recommend that people tour the inside.
The outside of the castle, however, is beautiful. We would definitely recommend the hike to Marienburg, which is a bridge, where one has the best view of the castle. We got some amazing photos here. On the way to Marienburg, there is also a spot where you can take pictures of the older castle, Hohenschwangau.
We literally stopped her for less than 10 minutes as we didn't have much time. The church is much prettier on the inside, that it is on the outside. I was able to take a few pictures inside. If you don't have much time and aren't into churches, you can skip this one.
Landsberg a Lech
This was our third stop along the Romantic Road. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant called il Lago Digarda. There were no English menus, but our waitress was really nice and helped us figure out what we wanted to order. The food was great and she then gave us directions on how to walk to the prison, where Hitler was once incarcerated in 1924.
The prison is hard to find via driving and much easier to find on foot. However, because the prison is still in use today, they do not allow photos. It was a cool spot to see, but not a must see.
This is one of the oldest projects in the world and is still in use today. There were quite a few tour buses at the front, but we didn't really have much time to go in. Plus, I didn't want to pay 4 euros/person to go inside the projects. We took a couple of photos in front of the Fuggerie and headed off to our next stop.
This was a pretty cool spot to stop along the Romantic Road. Parking here was not easy, though. We parked and went to visit the tower called Daniel, which is part of St George's church. It was a few euros/person to get in and over 300 very steep steps to get to the top of the tower. The climb was somewhat tiring, but what a view from the top. The city of Nordlingen is a perfectly round circle and the view we had from the top of Daniel tower is supposed to be similar to the final shot in the old version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Apparently, that last shot was filmed in Nordlingen.
We left Nordlingen and wanted to check into our hotel before heading to Rothenberg. There was a section of the drive where we drove through the country side. Most of it had no speed limit, with what seemed to be endless miles of rolling hills, and miles of continuous S turns. It was such a picturesque drive and I had tons of fun. Unfortunately my Contour action camera was temporarily down. After the road mellowed out a bit I realized I could try and capture part of the drive with my DSLR. At this point the road wasn't as winding anymore.
Rothenberg was our last stop for the day along the Romantic Road. We got there just in time to take the Night Watchman tour, which lasts an hour. We were only there for the first 30 minutes, as we were hungry and the tour seemed to be moving slow. The tour was interesting though, and we probably could have stayed through the entire thing. If you are not into medieval history though, you will not enjoy the tour.
We ended up having a great dinner at this restaurant called Alter Keller. It was one of the better German foods we had during the trip. Service was great and we would recommend this restaurant as well. The owner came by and is a big fan of BMW. He saw that we were paying with our BMW card, and noted he had a BMW too. Later, he brought his phone over showing us pictures of his 3 series touring, and photos he had taken at BMW Welt/the museum.
We were also in Rothenberg during a holiday weekend, so there were a lot of people dressed up in traditional costumes. There was a group of young children dressed up who came up to us yelling, "photo, photo, photo!" I figured they were excited to be in their costumes and wanted a tourist to take a picture of them. Immediately afterwards, they each extended their hands for money. I was surprised but started handing out euro coins. Almost immediately afterwards, a lady, who I am assuming was some sort of parental figure to the kids, came over to yell at the kids, collected the coins I had given them, and gave them back to me. My wife and I found this to be extremely entertaining. I actually told the lady that the kids could keep the coins, but she insisted I take them back.
Castle Colmberg Hotel
My wife really wanted to stay in a castle during our Europe trip. We did some research and found the Colmberg Hotel. It is about a 20 minute drive away from Rothenberg and is pretty far off the beaten path. If you don't have a car, this hotel is probably pretty tough to get to. The hotel was quite pretty from the outside and the room was quite nice. We both thought it was pretty cool to stay in a castle, that was built around the year 1000 AD. In the late 1900s, the owners converted it to a hotel. The only downside to this place is that there is no elevator. We stayed on the 4th floor, which meant I had to carry our luggage up 4.5 flights of stairs. Also, the front desk is not open 24 hours a day so you must check in by 8:30pm. After 10pm, the exterior lights of the castle turn off. I happened to be grabbing something from the car, and it was a little scary walking around a deserted castle in the dark. Once inside, all the lights were off as well except for a few small night lights here and there. Other than that, we would recommend this hotel.
Day 13-Romantic Road continued
Breakfast at Castle Colmberg Hotel
Breakfast was also included in our room rate. We were getting somewhat tired of European breakfasts though as they really don't believe in hot food. It was more cold cuts, cheese, and bread. Although, this hotel did have those soft boiled eggs we like. After breakfast we walked around the castle.
Rothenberg-Walk the Wall
Rothenberg is one of the few medieval cities, where part of wall surrounding the city is still up. We decided to walk the wall, which took us less than an hour and was pretty cool to not only see the city, but get a perspective of how they protected the city during the medieval era.
My wife then wanted to buy some Christmas ornaments, as the idea of the Christmas tree was invented in Germany and Rothenberg is famous for its Christmas shops. However, it was a German religious holiday, called Feiertag, so all of the stores were closed. I ended up asking around and figured out that the only way for my wife to buy ornaments was to pay for admission at the Christmas museum and then go to the gift shop. This satisfied her and we are now the proud owners of a very expensive Christmas ornament from Rothenberg.
A friend had recommended we stop here, we got there and realized it was a very small basic church and cemetery. We were probably here for about 10 minutes and then left for Wurzburg.
Once we arrived in Wurzburg, we were quite hungry and tired of German food. We found a pretty good Italian restaurant called Le Candele, where we were able to grab a quick bite and then headed off to see the sites. We realized immediately that Wurzburg was probably going to be the largest city we visited along the Romantic Road.
We then walked on over to the Wurzburg Residenz and took some photos from the outside. We had already toured in the Residenz in Munich and were not in the mood to tour another one. The Wurzburg Residenz was quite pretty from the outside.
Then we visited was St. Kilian's Cathedral. It was very large and very pretty and it seemed to accommodate all faiths. We hadn't really explored a cathedral since we had been in Europe as we aren't really religious, but enjoyed walking through this one.
We enjoyed walking around the town and ended up on a bridge where many people were drinking and socializing, probably due to the holiday.
We then decided to take the car and drive to the other side of Wurzburg, where the Marienburg Fortress was located. The fortress was very large and provided great views of the city. It did require a lot of walking. The fortress pretty much looms over the city and is so large, that we thought that anyone would be crazy to try and attack the city.
25Hours Hotel Levi's
From Wurzburg, we drove to Frankfurt to our hotel. We chose the 25Hours Levi's hotel for several reasons:
1. Parking was available for 20 euros/night
2. It has a super convenient location with the main public transportation station right across the street.
3. It was very reasonably priced compared to some other hotels we had researched in Frankfurt.
The rooms were very clean and unique looking. However, we did find them to be a bit small. We had dinner at the hotel's restaurant called Chez Ima, which was very delicious. The highlight of our meal were probably the lamb chops. Chez Ima seems to be a really popular dining place for locals. It was packed every night, and one of the nights they had a live band playing.
Some people online found this hotel to be too close to the red light district, although we didn't mind. We did see a fight break out during the day, people who were high as a kite at night, and a group of people getting ready to get high with one person using a knife to cut up the drugs. Again, this hotel is not a luxury hotel, but we found it quite good and very convenient. We would recommend this hotel to tourists looking for the same things we were.
Driving around Frankfurt is also not easy as the streets are not labeled well and parking is very challenging.
Day 14: Exploring Frankfurt
BMW Frankfurt Dealership
At this point, I had driven over 1100 miles and it was time for the break in service. I had done the research before and knew that BMW North America would reimburse me for this service. I had tried to make an appointment at the dealership for service while I was still in Munich, but they told me they were completely booked and suggested I try showing up early with my car and they would try getting me in. I arrived right when service opened and they said that there was no way that they would get me in. However, once I explained that I had an M3 that needed break-in service and that I really wanted to drive it on the Nurburgring the following day, they contacted their service advisor and suddenly were able to fit me in. I later found out that this was not the original Frankfurt dealership that I had planned to go to and was actually a dealership located at the outskirts of town. That's probably why the lady looked at me funny initially and asked who I had spoken to over the phone(she told me they didn't have any guys that answers the phone at this dealership, so I must have contacted a different one). I also got very lucky with the break-in service because I met a guy at the Nurburgring the following day, who went to the same dealership for break-in service for his M3, and they turned him away even though he had an appointment.
While I took my car to the dealership, my wife went McDonalds to buy breakfast and we met up at the Dialog museum. The public transportation system in Frankfurt is slightly more complicated than the system in Munich and it took us a bit longer to figure it out. However, it is based on the same premise that you buy a unlimited day pass and it is good for up to 5 people-very affordable.
The Dialog Museum was pretty interesting although it is quite expensive for an hour. We went in and had a guided tour. Basically, for an hour, your are in complete darkness and led by a blind guide. It really makes you appreciate your ability to see as it is not easy to get around. I do not want to go into details of the tour as I think it will ruin the experience for others. All I can say is that this is a good museum for all ages and I would recommend it.
After the Dialog Museum, we took the subway towards downtown Frankfurt and walked around. There were tons of museums in Frankfurt, but other than that, there really isn't much to see. It's basically like a New York City with less to do. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn't have spent an entire day in Frankfurt. We would have stayed in Frankfurt and driven out to explore areas outside of the city. Rather than spending an entire day exploring the city, we should have just gone to the Dialog Museum, and then driven out to see Baden Baden. Majority of what we saw on our own was part of the Walking Tour.
Lunch at Seoul
We were really in the mood for something not German, so we decided to try this Korean place in downtown Frankfurt. Again, ordering was a challenge as the menu wasn't in English but the waiter was helpful. However, the food was definitely not traditional Korean, despite the restaurant being run by Koreans. We were quite disappointed and wouldn't recommend this place to anyone.
Frankfurt Walking Tour
We thought that a guided tour would be a great way to see the city. However, because the tour is conducted in two languages, the pace of the tour is very slow. There is some good information, but we found the tour to be somewhat boring during the German speaking portion. It would have been better if they just conducted the tour in English.
The cool part of the tour is that you end at the top of the Main Tower and the entrance to the top is included in the price of the tour. There is a great view of the city from the top and is a place worth visiting if you are in Frankfurt, but I would recommend going there on your own without the tour.
After the walking tour, we went back to the BMW dealership to pick up my car and then headed to have dinner at the wine festival. We got pretty lucky as the wine festival went from 5/1 to 5/12, so we were there just in time to catch the tail end. This was actually quite fun. It was an outdoor event with tons of wine, beer and food booths and music playing. We were able to drink some great fruit wine and try some amazing German dishes. There was also a great crepe stand we stopped at for dessert.
We had heard that the Frankfurt nightlife was worth checking out but we were so exhausted at the end of each day that we never had the energy to stay up that late. We did walk around the area for bit after dinner. The Wine Festival was close to the Zeilgalerie(huge mall). The promenade was packed with all sorts of people.
Day 15-Nurburgring Nordschleife, The Green Hell!!!!!
Finally, the day I had been waiting for. We grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonald's (it was actually really fancy, quite large and a separate McCafe section) and then drove for almost two hours to get to the Nurburgring. It was like going to adult Disneyland for me. The anticipation was killing me. I've known about the Ring for many years and have watched videos and read articles about it. I knew I wanted to drive it one day, but by no means am a like some of the die hard Nurburgring fans, who make pilgrimages to the Ring or who fly to Europe just to go to the ring yearly. For me, going to drive the Ring was a great byproduct of doing ED. I thought it would be cool to drive the car where it was tested and I'd get to check off an item on my bucket list.
After my ED was confirmed, I started doing research on available public days, what I should know about the Ring, and how to prepare to drive it.
This a great site: http://www.heiser.net/documents/nurburgring/
The Ring is also discussed on many forums with tips.
To prepare, I watched a lot of videos, read up on other people's experiences, and played Gran Turismo to try and memorize the track. Unfortunately, I didn't log in as much time as I wanted on Gran Turismo as I only got about 8 hours of seat time.
I prepped myself mentally by not setting a time goal and not caring if I was the slowest on the track and everyone was passing me. I chose to not have an ego and think of myself as being a great driver. I decided to just to drive the Ring at a pace I was comfortable, as it was my first time. With only 2 track days under my belt and no AutoX experience and no professional driver training, I knew I shouldn't be driving like a veteran race car driver especially on the Ring.
As I drove and I got closer to the Ring, I saw numerous spots where people were spectating. I couldn't contain myself anymore and needed to get a first hand look at the Ring. I got out of the car while it was raining, climbed up some scaffolding, and watched the cars go by for a few minutes.
I then continued driving and looked for the entrance to the course and ended up at the visitor center. This was pretty cool to see, but I had wanted to get to Nordschleife ASAP. After a little drive, I arrived at the paddock. The feeling when you pull up in there is unbelievable. There are so many cars and enthusiasts--you truly understand why it's considered a mecca for gearheads.
After parking, I found out the track was closed due to an accident. I took this time to walk around the paddock and explore the area. Then I figured out the different packages being sold to drive on the Ring. I opted for the four lap package. I knew one lap wouldn't be enough, but nine laps may have been a bit much for one day.
Shortly after buying my four lap pass, the track reopened. I pulled up to do my first lap. I drove it at about 4/10ths. I wanted to get familiar with the track get a feel for how other drivers responded/did their passing. The course keeps you on your toes. There are lots of turns, and you need to be alert for the blind turns and crests. I only passed cars that were going really slow and signaled right acknowledging me to pass them. After one lap, I exited and my adrenaline was pumping. I had a blast and was ready for more.
Lunch at Devil's Diner
The track ended up being closed again right around lunch time(for over an hour due to an accident), so I decided to take a break and grab some lunch. Basically, this is the only restaurant along the track so everyone eats here and the menu is pretty basic. It's basically a burger and fries place, and like most other places in Europe, they charge for condiments. Their portions were quite large though and the food was good. It was tough to get a seat here though as they were really busy.
They do not take cash or credit card though as payment. Instead, you have to prepay on a Devil's Diner card before you enter the restaurant, and the Devil's Diner card is the only form of tender the restaurant accepts. After you are done, any left over money gets refunded to you at the counter where you originally picked up the prepaid card.
After lunch the track re-opened and just about everyone rushed back on the track all at once. The rain was coming down pretty hard and the track was packed, so I decided to wait about 15 minutes so the traffic on the course could dissipate a little.
Since it was raining, I played it safe and didn't really push the car. I had seen enough crashes on YouTube. Being a little more familiar with the track I drove a little faster then my first lap, but held back because of the rain, driving at between 4.5-5/10ths. However to my surprise, after a couple of minutes, I started to pass people. I doubted myself for a bit. I wondered why most of the cars were going so slow. Did they know something I didn't? They must have more experience with the course than I do... Regardless I just went my own pace and if I felt comfortable passing, I did. But just as before, I generally waited for acknowledgement before passing or at least passed at an area where I had enough room to avoid a collision. It's a good thing I did, because by doing so I avoided a few accident throughout the day. Some people were not aware of their surroundings, and as I started my pass being right next to their fender, they would suddenly cut into my driving line.
After a full lap in the rain and not pushing the car that hard, I decided to do a second lap without exiting for a cool down. The rain had let up a bit and this being my 3rd lap now, I was a little bit more comfortable with the track. I drove it at about a 6/10ths. The 3rd lap was definitely faster than the previous two. I was still playing it safe though and mainly focusing on finding the right gears and learning the lines. Afterwards, I exited for a cool down.
About 20 minutes later I went back for my 4th and final lap. This was by far the fastest of the day according to my butt dyno(and later confirmed via video). Once again the goal was to go my own pace and learn the course. I drove this lap at about a 7/10ths. Even though the rain had basically stopped, the majority of the course was still wet. I did slightly kick out the rear once or twice. After getting home, I saw some YouTube videos of spin outs and crashes the same day I was there. They occurred in the rain and also in the condition I just mentioned. The Green Hell will bite back. Towards the end of the lap I had to slow down for a safety car, then a flatbed tow truck--yet another reminder how many accidents happen here. I do wish I would have gotten a chance to drive a dry lap after getting more familiar with the track.
I had a blast and wished I had more time to spend at the Ring. I will definitely be going back again one day. To drive it at full speed, you should have the course memorized. I however did not spend enough time memorizing it so was not able to safely drive faster.
I guess I still had a need for speed after leaving. On the Autobahn headed back to Frankfurt, I decided to see if the top speed of my car was limited to 155mph. I waited for a long straight stretch with minimal cars. I managed to hit right around 170mph before having to slow down for a speed enforced zone. The car was still pulling too before I had to slow down!
Dinner at Im Herzen Afrika's
This place had great decorations and some unique seating arrangements. We didn't have a reservation so we sat at a regular table, but there were some cool beds to sit in as you eat your dinner. The decorations really made you feel like you were in Africa.
The service and prices were great. The food was decent, but I think we decided we weren't super into African food. We ordered the sampler platter and ate with our hands and had a good time. We were glad we came to try this place as it was a great experience, but don't think we would come back again as the food wasn't amazing!
Day 16: Rhine
Breakfast at Park Hotel Rudesheim
When we were in downtown Frankfurt a couple of days before, we bought these combo tickets for a tour of the Rhine. We got a great deal as the guy sold us train tickets to get to the Rhine from Frankfurt and tickets to a boat on the Rhine, where we could hop on and hop off.
It took us about an hour to get to the Rhine River area by train. We left at around 6 am so once we got to the Rhine, we were hungry for breakfast. Not a lot of restaurants were even open so we ended up eating a typical European breakfast buffet at a hotel. It was decent and similar to all of the other breakfast buffets we were used to eating.
Rhine River tour
The Rhine River boat tour is a pretty cool way to see the main part of the Rhine River in one day. There isn't enough time to stop at every stop to get off and look around but most of the scenery can be seen from the boat. It was pretty relaxing and the boats were nice and you were able to order food and drinks. You really don't even have to get off of the boat if you don't want to. There is also a per-recording on the boat to describe each of the stops you pass by in all different languages and does a nice job of giving you some history.
We were fascinated by one of the stops called Assmannshausen. We didn't have time to stop there but were amused by the name. I know, we were somewhat immature, but we found it funny.
We ended up getting off at St. Goarshausen and walked around a bit. One of the main attractions there is the Loreley statue. It sits below the Loreley rock which marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea.
We were having a very nice walk until it started to pour out of nowhere. We basically got caught in the middle of a storm and rushed back to wait for our boat. Spring in Europe is tricky as it can be sunny and beautiful one minute and then be raining the next.
Lunch at Historische Weinwirtschaft
We decided to stop again at Oberwesel, as it has one of the largest vineyard areas and we thought it would be a great place to stop for lunch and wine. We knew we couldn't come to the Rhine and not try some of the wine. We loved this lunch spot. It looks like the owners converted their house into a restaurant--it was such a cute place. We also really enjoyed our German food and the wine was served chilled in a clay vase. This was great place to stop as the service was also very friendly. We would definitely recommend this place.
After lunch, we headed back onto the boat and didn't get off on any more spots. We just relaxed, enjoyed the scenery, and shared an ice cream for dessert. After getting off the boat we did a little souvenir shopping in Rudesheim while waiting for our train back to Frankfurt.
Dinner at Jade
After having German food for lunch, we were definitely craving something different and ended up at a Chinese restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. This place was seriously authentic as it was packed with all Asians, and ran by a very nice Chinese lady. We thought the food was great and ended up being a nice way to end our trip.
Day 17: Return home
Drive from Frankfurt to Munich
The drive from Frankfurt to Munich rained pretty much the whole time. The average speed of cars driving in the rain was about 100 mph. Some higher performance vehicles were traveling 130+mph. At one point I was traveling about 120-130 mph (the car was very stable and no hydroplaning the entire drive) when a police vehicle pulled up behind me. Naturally coming from the USA and not use to being able to drive this fast, let alone in the rain, I thought I was done for. I slowed down and switched one lane to the right. Immediately the police car sped past me, going 130+ mph. I really wanted to try and break my previous top speed record of 170mph but felt it was unsafe to do in the rain.
BMW Drop off
My drop off point was at the Munich airport at Log In Out. The location is perfect since it is literally at the airport. The car is parked outside the building, after some paperwork you walk less then 3 minutes to the terminal. The car needs to be dropped of with nothing in the car (including removing the emergency triangle and first aid kit) and washed of road debris in order to clear US Customs. If the car has been driven in dirt they ask that you wash the wheel wells. I washed my car just down the street from the airport at a gas, auto car wash, self car wash station. The gas station is pretty much part of the airport loop.
While there, in about one hour, I saw about 10 Audi R8s going through the auto wash and gassing up. After washing the car I ate lunch at the gas station. European gas stations actually serve decent food.
The wait for redelivery was torture. I waited a couple days short of 11 weeks to get my car back. For some reason it sat in customs for weeks. The car was unloaded on June 27th and I wasn't able to pick up my car from the dealership till July 26th. Originally I was going to have my car trucked back to AZ from Cali. After waiting for so long, I decided I didn't want to wait longer to be reunited. On July 25th I booked a flight for the next morning. I arrived just as the dealership was opening. Then I ran some errands around LA and had lunch with friends. Afterwards I prepped the car with temporary paint protection for the 500+ mile drive home.
Although the wait was longer then average, I would do ED again. It's a great experience.
-Try to map out your drives before your trip if possible. The navigation in our car was helpful, but not all of the words in English/German translate like you would expect them to, making places and streets hard to find in the navi.
Last edited by E92M3WestLA; 12-19-2013 at 07:55 PM.
|10-25-2013, 08:51 PM||#5|
Drives: E92 M3
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bergen County, NJ/Y.O, NY
Nice pics....barely read anything unless I was really interested in the pics...one day I'll do ED
What did you prep the car with for the drive home?
'08 E92 M3 6MT | IB | FR | RAC RG63's | VRS Ti Exhaust | Fabspeed HFC & Xpipe
'09 X5 35d SG/SB
'11 X3 28i AW/CN/FW (wife's car
|10-25-2013, 10:05 PM||#6|
Join Date: Sep 2005
Thanks for sharing, OP. looks like you had a blast!
I am hoping I can do ED in a year or two. It was a very informative write up, and hope I can use it for my guide when I am lucky enough to do ED of my own.
|10-25-2013, 10:37 PM||#7|
Drives: Awaiting '16 F10 M5
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Toronto, Canada
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Must have been amazing. I hope to be able to do ED one day. A lot of tasty food too and I bet the beer is just bliss...shit, I would have gained 10lbs during that trip. If I do this one day I will have to plan gym time too hahaha
2016 BMW M5 MCB/Full Silverstone - "Marina" (in transit)
2013 BMW M3 E92 DCT - "Brynhildr" (Sold)
2012 Audi S4 B8 6MT - "BlackBird" (Sold)
|10-26-2013, 01:59 AM||#8|
|10-26-2013, 02:01 AM||#9|
|10-26-2013, 02:05 AM||#10|
|10-26-2013, 04:18 PM||#11|
Drives: '13 AW ///M3 E92 MT Comp Pkg
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
I didn't do the ED when I ordered mine. Even then, it was well over two months. But to wait another two months after your ED is just nerve wrecking and the hassle of custom. Can't trust those workers as they molest your car or possibly taking it for a joy ride!
|10-27-2013, 08:13 PM||#12|
|10-28-2013, 10:18 PM||#14|
|10-30-2013, 03:16 PM||#17|
Olympic Lifting Junkie
Drives: '15 M4
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: On 2 wheels clipping an apex!
Yi-Wen is a long time friend of mine, and I've purchased all of my cars through him (..or he worked the deal and ushered it down to Derek, Axel or Ron......all 3 are great guys). For as long as he's/they're with BMW, I'll buy cars through him/them. He and the crew take good care of people.
|10-30-2013, 03:31 PM||#21|
Drives: '13 E92 M3
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: British Columbia
335i Cabriolet Jet Black/Coral Red - Retired but will never be forgotten
M3 Coupé DCT Competition Package Mineral White/Fox Red
E9X Picture Game: 2 points (Slow sign, Leaves)
|10-30-2013, 03:34 PM||#22|
Drives: 335rwd Dinan S2
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: London, ON
What day did you drop off?
I think that's my white 335i in the picture with your car outside log in/out.
I think we saw you guys in the office while we were doing our paperwork.
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