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European Delivery
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  #1  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:00 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Trip report - Lindau and Alsace

Having been to Austria just a few years ago, we chose an itinerary a bit different from what seems to be the default run to Salzburg. Our new 335i was ordered with the factory sport suspension and high performance tires, so I was suitably spooked by the possibility of wintry weather crossing the Alps in March. So, we opted instead for a short run to southern Germany and then west to Alsace in France.

We have absolutely no regrets, and this was a superb trip in many, many ways.

Day 1. We arrived at the Munich airport about 10:30 am Sunday from Philadelphia on US Airways, an on time arrival. Having visited here before, we were actually looking forward to taking the S-Bahn (subway) into the center city. The biggest challenge, as with many European trains, is finding the "English" button on the automated ticket machine. Hint – it's the one with the Union Jack painted on it. Once that obstacle is overcome, the ticket machine is easier to teach who's boss. Crossing over the Airport Terminal 2 courtyard to the S-Bahn station, we spy an impressive display of new BMWs in glass cases - if the signs are to be believed, a 2007 M Coupe can be rented for something like 125 euros per day ($150) from SixT.

A short 45 minutes later the S1 train has us arriving at the Hauptbahnhof – and just a few blocks walk later, at the King's Hotel. Our room was not yet ready, so leaving the luggage with the desk clerk, we headed out on foot to explore Munich. Retail stores are definitely not open on Sunday, and so a museum visit offers one of the few options for something to do. The Pinakothek (group of art museums) is just a few blocks from the Kings Hotel. Discovering we are not necessarily in the mood for viewing art without having lunch first, we press on for a few more blocks in search of a suitable cafe. And what a find the Café Luitpold was! A live string quartet was serenading a small crowd in their Palm Garden, which was designed as a tribute to the original café destroyed during the war. Brushing up on our limited German (as learned from a Berlitz CD on the airplane) we managed to order soup of the day, a pastry and some of the local "weisser Wein" .

Returning to the hotel at about 5 pm, much to my glee German television is broadcasting -- live -- the 2007 first round World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race from Brazil. BMW E90's take all three podium positions. Way to go Augustus, Jorg, and Andy! We end a perfect day perfectly with a cold, but short walk to LowenBrau Haus, a litre of beer, and the best bratwurst and wienerschnitzel we've ever found.

1. Palm Garden at Cafe Luitpold
2. Marienplatz on Sunday
3. WTCC on TV
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  #2  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:05 AM
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Day 2. Finally, pick up day! Rolf was not available for chauffering us but he had referred us to his friend, Peter. Peter, who picked us up in a new X3, (who we would use two more times during our stay) is a 35 year veteran at BMW. He turned out to be punctual, courteous, knowledgable, and just plain fun to talk to. (We have a long debate over whether or not MINIs are for girls – each of us being a MINI owner). After a short driving tour of the Schwabing area he takes us on to the European delivery center. Everyone there seems to know him quite well. Our assigned customer representative, Patrice, walked us through the German zoll registration and insurance paperwork -- and finally out to the garage to see the new car for the first time!

After a quick stop at the local BMW dealer for a few souveniers, we find our way ontp onto the autobahn southbound towards Lindau. Our portable GPS (a TomTom One) had us running the autobahns most of the way, but Peter had suggested instead turning off at B17 (the Romatic Road). We were very pleased to findunexpectedly beautiful scenery along this stretch of road, and the suitable quaint village of Fussen for a late lunch stop. Here we started our collection of chocolates – Ritter and Mozartkugeln.

Our original plan was to swing by Neuschwanstein castle for a few photo ops but with the late stop at Fussen and the sun already setting, we cut out the last 5 or 6 kilometers and instead head off to the Hotel Linferhoff in Lindau before dark (understanding from the maps and the GPS that we could not just drive up to the hotel and would have to leave the car several blocks away).

Lindau is built on a spit of land, an island actually, on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) where German, Austria and Swizerland meet. Our hotel room offered unsurpassed views of the Swiss and Austrian alps at the bargain rate of 100 euros per night. Most intriguing was the impressive lion statute at the entrance to Lindau harbor – the symbol of Bavaria. This place once represented the entrance to the Bavarian Empire from many ports south. We did have to leave the car in the street over night, but just about a block away. I imagine in the summer things are far more hectic here as the many ferries use Lindau as a port. The Hotel Bayereichserhoff down the street has enclosed parking and I guess that might be worth the extra cost for those suitably nervous about leaving their day old car unattended in a strange city. But we found the Linderhoff, a family run hotel, a most inviting place to stay.

1. One new Space Gray 335i -- to go please!
2. On the Romantic Road
3. Lindau
4. Lion at Entrance to Bavaria
5. Looking back from Lion towards Lindau
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  #3  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:09 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Day 3. The desk clerk at the Linderhoff suggested we could easily find the required Swiss and Austria “autobahn vignettes” at a Shell Station (which has an ADAC office) right at the Austrian border. A mere 30 euros for toll stickers plus 35 euros for ½ a tank of gas later, we were ready to cross into Austria. Sure do hope these completely awesome (and redicuously expensive) toll stickers remain stuck to the windshield at redelivery in the U.S. We then made a mandatory stop in Bregenz, Austria to beef up the chocolate collection before driving the next short 20 kilometers on to Switzerland. This turns out to be the one border crossing we have to stop at and show credentials (I’m guessing that the tourist plates were the trigger), but the customs agent waives us on through quickly after we flash the U.S. passports.

Having remembered it fondly from a business trip years ago, this time I found the Swiss autobahn and scenery through Apensell a bit of a let down after the Romantic Road and Germany. So much industry has grown in this part of Swiss countryside. Wanting to avoid the congestion of Zurich (or worse Basel) we stopped for lunch at Winterthur – a small Swiss city – at a wonderful outdoor café with temperatures in the 60’s and the sun shining brightly. Found some Lindt chocolate here as well as the impressive, “sporty chick” special Easter edition Kindereggs --- a must take home.

After lunch it was on to France. After about an hours drive, the flat plains along the Rhine and the Swiss border abruptly change to the rolling hills of the Vosages mountains, where grapevines cover every square inch of available real estate. Here, as everywhere we went in Alsace, was ample opportunity to sample idyllic scenery and the local wines from uncountable vineyards. We stayed three nights at the Hotel Le Schoenbourg, a modern facility that is smack dab in the middle of the medieval village of Riquewihr.
Arriving at Le Schoenenbourg, we are pleasantly surprised to learn that there was an underground garage available with 24 hour security. We gladly pay the extra 8 euros per night on top of the 100 euro daily tariff for the room.

1. View from Linderhoff across Bodensee to the Austria Alps
2. Cafe in Winterthur
3. Hotel Le Schoenbourg
4. Overlooking Riquewihr
5. Posing by the barn
6. Streets of Riquewihr
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  #4  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:14 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Day 4. After a morning walk through Riquewihr past the 13th century houses, and numerous tasting cellars, we’re off to Ribeauville, another small village of Alsace. We take a small unmarked road (off the official Alsace Wine Road) through an even smaller village to get there, and are not disappointed. At Ribeauville, we are drawn to a magnificent castle on the hill, and stumble across the access road to what turns out to be the famous Koenigsbourg Castle. The access road is a challenging uphill run with many switchbacks and hairpins -- offering the first real chance to test the E92 coupe in one of it elements – anything other than a straight line. A true test of the twin turbos in its other element, the straight line, will have to wait until after break in and re-delivery in the U.S.

Spring is definitely arriving in Alsace today, with daffodills blooming, trees budding, and storks nesting everywhere. At one particular spot along the Alsace Wine Road there must be a hundred stork couples nesting in the already leafed out willow trees. In the afternoon we find the Beauville French table linen factory. While my wife is off shopping there, another E92 coupe in space gray with French plates pulled in the spot next to us. I manage to exchange a few pleasantries with the owner, who only speaks French (and I who speaks absolutely none.) He assures me that there he has had no mechanical problems whatsoever with the 328 engine, but is intrigued by the 335 twin turbo engine and the sports suspension, neither of which he apparently seen before.

1. Snug as bug in the locked underground garage
2. Best parking space at Koenigsbourg Castle
3. Ribeauville and stork's nest
4. Another space grau in France
5. Winery along the back road to Ribeauville
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  #5  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:18 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Day 5. Our last full day in France, we venture a longer day trip out to a chocolate factory near Strasbourg. TomTom steers us to the correct neighborhood, but it is an absolute nightmare trying to find the entrance to the place. We circle around several times, and reenter the French highway, before spying a narrow driveway. We are rewarded for these efforts with the biggest chocolate score of the trip.

Dinner this evening was at a small family run restaurant back in Riquewihr with local Germanic cuisine and of course Alsacian wine.


Day 6. Alas, it is already time to leave this fantasy world and start heading home. We get a 7 am start for the expected four hour straight shot back to Munich. Returning to the German autobahn is thrill once again, as we are now more accustomed to the car than on the first day. The run through the Black Forest and then Stuttgart saw a stretch of 90-95 MPH, but still in the middle lane as one must make way for the 130 MPH+ left lane commuters!

Drop off with Thomas Heumann at E.H.Harms was fast and efficient. Peter is already waiting for us upon our arrival, as planned. We owe another thank you to Peter for tipping us off about the very small E.H.H. sign and the up-ramp at the end of Robert Bosch Strasse – that was clearly the biggest navigational challenge of the entire trip. Reluctant to say goodbye to the car, Thomas helps us remove the front license plate as a souvenir, as well as the first aid kit and the warning triangle. I realize later that day that I left a Fleetwood Mac disc in the CD player. Wonder if will still be there at re-delivery?

We are next scheduled for a tour of the BMW Munich factory, and Peter wisks us the several miles from E.H.Harms back to Munich central. He assures us we will be able to leave our luggage in a secure area while on the tour. We are a bit surprised when we learn this requires lugging the bags up a narrow two story spiral staircase – which we manage to do, and which might actually have been fun when we were ten years younger….

The tour is highly recommended for any BMW enthusiast. I’ve taken the Spartanburg, Sourth Carolina factory tour and impressive as that is, the Munich tour is more involved and what I’d call “close up and personal”. At Munich one gets to witness every stage of production of the 3 series sedan from metal stamping to weld up through paint, finish, and final dyno testing. At the end of the tour, my wife announces she’d like a job as a dyno tester, much to my surprise!

1. Saying goodbye to Riquewihr
2. Schaal chocolate factory near Strausbourg
3. Munich Re Walking Man
4. Chocolate inventory time
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  #6  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:19 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Days 7, 8 and 9. The next morning Peter meets us early, taking us back to the Munich airport. I confirmed the flight departure as we leave the Kings Hotel, but while waiting for the US Airways gate to open we learn for the first time the flight (and many others) have been cancelled due to storms on the U.S. east coast. After a 90 minute wait for the re-ticketing counter to open (we arrived early and by a stroke of luck we were just fourth in what eventually became an epicly long line with hundreds of passengers) we are given two options. First, we can stand by for flights the next day, which might not open up. Second, we can take two available confirmed seats on a Lufthansa flight to JFK on Monday, two days later. We take the second option, book a rental car at JFK to get us home, scoop up our bags, and once again hop the S-bahn back to the Kings Hotel, where the room is still waiting for us.

The extra time in Munich, while causing some havoc at work and at home gave us the chance to this time visit the Alte Pinakothek and the impressive collection of Rubens, Rembrandt, and lesser artists' works. We do find time for the Deutches Museum, and their curious European spin on who invented the telephone and the lightbulb. But best of all, we are given yet another chance to enjoy Café Luitpold and the Lowenbrau Haus.

I hope you have found this story of some interest and an encouragement to try a trip to southern Germany and the nearby Alsace region of France. To those with bit more time or wishing a more aggressive schedule, once could take in other nearby regions of France, including the Champaigne region.

Last edited by DJ; 03-25-2007 at 07:42 AM.
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  #7  
Old 03-25-2007, 07:48 AM
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Thanks for the great trip report! Gotta ask, how much of the chocolate is still around?

Erik
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  #8  
Old 03-25-2007, 08:08 AM
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Wow! Looks like you had a wonderful trip. The new car looks beautiful too. Thanks for the writeup and pics.
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  #9  
Old 03-25-2007, 08:34 AM
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that's a great write up, especially on the munich tips.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2007, 08:39 AM
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What a great report!!! THANKS!!!

Cheers,
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  #11  
Old 03-25-2007, 09:53 AM
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Great writeup and Pics!
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  #12  
Old 03-25-2007, 10:01 AM
mrbelk mrbelk is offline
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Nice writeup and pics.

Your itinerary into Alsace via Lindau is almost exactly what my wife and I are doing this coming May. We are going to stay in Strasbourg, though, since we want to take a day trip up into Lorraine to see the battlefield at Verdun and the town of Nancy (and possibly Joan of Arc's birthplace. We will definitely take the time to drive the "Route du Vin" in Alsace. We got the Frommer's "France's Best Loved Driving Tours" and intend to drive the Alsace tour in it's entirety.

After Alsace, it's up to the Eifel region and a couple days at the 'Ring and driving the Mosel and Rhine valleys.

How did you find the availability of petrol stations in the small towns and backroads of Alsace?

-MrB
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:27 AM
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Excellent writeup. Thanks!
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  #14  
Old 03-25-2007, 10:38 AM
DJ DJ is offline
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Thanks for the compliments!

One week later, the chocolate is only 1/4 gone.

There should be no problem at all finding gasoline along the Alsace wine road -- I distinctly remember a Shell station with the required high octane blends at Benewihr and another open 24 hours at a rest area near Selestat. Several small villages in Alsace tended to have a station open during daylight hours.
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  #15  
Old 03-25-2007, 04:41 PM
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Nice writeup.

FYI, you were stopped at the border since you were leaving the European Union, not because of the Ausfuhrkennzeichenen per se.

In addition, they probably don't stop locals (i.e. cars with plates from the Bodensee area). I recall that, when I used to visit my friend Bernd in Lindau where his family lived, we would drive from Germany (Lindau) into Austria and the border guard would wave his car or his father's car right through (this is before Schengen borders of course).
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Old 03-25-2007, 05:06 PM
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Fantastic trip! Thanks for all the time you took in telling us all about experience. Would you mind PMing me with the address or directions to the BMW dealer? I can probably get them from someone at the ED center but will really be pressed for time due to my late flight arrival and need to go by MADA before they close. I am hoping the dealer will be open on Saturday. Would you happen to know if they are? Thanks.
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  #17  
Old 03-25-2007, 05:27 PM
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Great report!

Great pics!!

Great car!!
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  #18  
Old 03-25-2007, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3series101 View Post
Great writeup and Pics!
+1! Thank you for sharing!
Peter was our guy too. Very nice person.
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:47 PM
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Mine is still listed as "On Order", but it was just done this weekend.

What hotels are you guys using? I have not booked one yet.

Erik the ride over the pond is about the only thing I'm concerned about.
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Old 03-25-2007, 08:52 PM
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Erik the ride over the pond is about the only thing I'm concerned about.
Let me know if you'd like me to check our loads. Of course it's way too early, but when it's closer I'm more than willing to check it out for ya!

Erik
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  #21  
Old 03-25-2007, 10:32 PM
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Great report. I've been through that area of France on a previous ED though not via Switzerland, only via southern Germany; Lake Constance and Friedrichschafen. This is a viable alternative to traveling the Swiss (expensive) way.

Your french friends were from Paris btw (75 license plate).
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:22 AM
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Great report and pictures! I love seeing the cars in their native enviornments.
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