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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It took long to post my report because the drive I used to update my journal somehow got corrupted twice and the hard drive I used for my pics had the same issue. So it took some time to put everything back together and then re-type what could not be recovered. I am accepting critiques from my fellow shutterbugs for improving my photographer skills. They explains why I differentiate when my girlfriend's camera is used. None of the pics have been photoshopped for this reason.
My write-up takes you from order to drop-off.
Enjoy

So here it is:

ED Journey: Over the Hills and Through the Woods

Co-starring: HU '02 as "The NJ/VA Crimson Bandit"
Co-starring: HU '03 as "The Quad Cities Queen"
Starring: 2008 E92 335i as Cooper "The Twin-Turbo Navigator"

Directed by Bimmernupe
Produced by It's About the Journey Productions

Edited by Self Built PC

In Association with
A Whole Lotta Miles, But Not Enough Time

Photography by
Nikon D80
18-200mm VR
12-24mm f/4 wide angle
50mm f/1.4
SB-800 Speedlight
Marumi filters & circular polarizer
Girlfriend's Canon PowerShot A540
 

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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
Joined
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Prelude to my trip

July 2007 - Ordering day
IT'S A 3,571lbs GIRL!! Her name is Cooper…ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, ok, ok,(think Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon) for those that have not figured it out, I'm talking about a car. It's a car lover thing, we can't help ourselves. Anyway…moving on, so I finally decided to take the leap into bimmerdom and order my new baby. After being a forum stalker on bimmerfest.com and e90post.com while adding my .02 to different threads and researching the European Delivery (hereafter referred to as ED) process, I take the plunge.
I called Joern Esser at Passport BMW in Marlow Heights, MD (excellent service deserves a shout-out:thumbup:) in July to let him know that I was ready to come in to place my order. When I arrived he remembered me from last year when I came in to order the car. I know, I know he could have been faking it, but he remembered that my girlfriend was with me during the first visit (she was not with me on that day in July) and he remembered my name.
A little history is in order here. Joern comes highly recommended on Bimmerfest, along with a very select few client advisors from around the country. It should be noted that every BMW dealership is not competent, nor properly informed about the ED process. So use the search function on Bimmerfest and e90post to find those client advisors nearest you that come highly recommended. OK, OK, OK, I digress!!! Back to the bit.
So anyway the first time I came in to see him it was a Saturday which in car sales is a busy day for a salesperson. I advised him that I was not ready to buy, but I wanted to find out more about I-Drive and the other BMW features as well as what he knew about the impending release of the E92 335i. He sat in a 5er for at least an hour going over the system with me. He never seemed rushed about his time which really impressed me, especially after the reception I received at the other two DC area BMW dealers (Fairfax and Sterling, bad service deserves a shout-out also:thumbdwn:).
Fast forward back to the present, we sit down to put together the car and again he is not rushed to get through the order. We even take time to discuss our dogs (he has a Siberian Husky and me a American Bulldog), the vacation he took home to München in March and a few other topics. He is an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic person about the product he is selling, but laid back. He is vested in making sure that you are going to be happy with the car you order. For example, I was still a little on the fence with the interior and exterior colors. He sought out swatches for me to look at instead of using the samples in the catalog. He gave his opinion on different color schemes giving pros and cons of what he has seen and what works and what does not work.
In all I was probably in the dealership for about 3 hours. Be sure to bring your passport. Actual order time was less than an hour. Cooper's (that is the name I have decide to give my car) setup is Barbera Red Metallic, Crème Beige Leather, Light Poplar Wood, Comfort Access, Parking Distance Control, Nav, IPod Adaptor, and BMW Assist with Bluetooth, Cold Weather Package, Premium Package, Sports Package and 6-speed manual tranny. Redelivery is via Performance Center Delivery in Spartanburg, SC instead of at Passport (hopefully). We did speak about the service department and some of the issues other 'festers have had and he said no worries, if there is ever a problem just come see him and he will take it up with the service manager as he has a good rapport with him.
After the order is completed, I told him of my plan to deal with the performance tire issue if it is snowing in Germany. For the uninitiated, it is illegal to drive in Germany or for that matter most parts of Europe with summer tires on your car if there is snow on the ground. He kind of gave me a blank stare:rofl:, while trying to keep his composure from busting with laughter, but he never said it could not be done. My plan is to buy winter tires in Germany if necessary and have them put on the factory wheels. When I am ready to leave, I would have the performance tires put back on before dropping off to Harms or chance leaving them on and bring the summer tires back. Another option would be to check with Harms about putting the summer tires in the trunk and have them included on the bill of laden. Joern did mention this may be possible, but did not go into details. Since the tires weigh between 25-30lbs, I would either box 2 tires together or have two tires wrapped together and check them as the second piece of luggage for myself and my girlfriend. They will be within the 70lb weight limit and within the airline limit for box size. Yes, I know how big the boxes will be. The tires I was looking at are the Nokian Hakkapeliitta (may be overkill for where I live) or the Dunlop Winter Sport M3. I know my plan sounds nuts, but if there is snow forecasted while in Deutschland, then "I'ma make it do, what it do" (in my best Janie Foxx as Ray Charles voice):bigpimp:.

19 July 07
I went to AAA to pick up my international driver's license. It a pretty painless process, took all of about 15-20mins and $30 for two. I know many people have said they never got one and only certain countries require them, but with my luck I'll be the one that gets stopped, not have it and end up in "zie kooler":rofl:.
I did meet a nice woman from Switzerland in the office. She was eager to tell me about the drive from Lucerne to Lake Como and on to Parma when I asked. She also stressed taking some of the local roads as to take in more of the beauty of her country. She did add that Zurich although nice is worth skipping, in order to use that time in the smaller towns.

10 August 07 - Production date
Wait…..I……see…something……..blurry, It's starting……..to come into focus now…WOW it's my production number and pick up date. YEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!:clap::clap:

10 September 07 - Gumby arrives
I received European Delivery packet with the Gumby clock, not much here that I did not already know. But that did not stop me from reading it like umpteen times. What do you mean why? What else is there to do?

14-15 September 07 - Nikonians
Took road trip to Raleigh, NC for a Nikonians D80 class:wow:. That's right NC. The class offered in the DC area is during the time I will be in Europe. :loco:YES, I AM A LITTLE BIT OFF MY ROCKER!!!

18 September 07 - Travel guide shopping
We spent the better part of an evening @ Borders. WHY!?!? WHY YOU ASK?!?! Because my girlfriend and I have different ideas on which travel guides to get:banghead:. I WOULD RATHER WATCH GRASS GROW AND THERE WAS NO FREAKIN' BATHROOM…WTF!!! AND NO THERE WERE NOT ANY TREES TO CHOOSE FROM.:mad::rofl:
We decided to get the Eyewitness Travel Europe, Florence & Tuscany, Germany, Milan & the Lake and Lonely Planet German, French and Italian phrasebooks. Our logic was to get country or region specific guides for the areas we would spend the most days and use the Europe guide for the areas we would spend a day or pass through.

21 September 07 - PO
I can finally feel the trip is becoming a reality after having to delay it off for over a year, as I received my purchase order from Joern. He was adamant about returning these documents to him signed and notarized ASAP. Note for future EDers, these documents have to be returned to BMW by your CA at least 30 days before your pick up date. Any later and your pick up date cannot be guaranteed.

26 September 07
Gave Joern signed and notarized purchase order. This is the last chance to make changes to order. C'mon it just wouldn't be right not to take advantage of the opportunity:bustingup. Changes made: Cream Beige to Saddle Brown interior, Light Poplar Wood to Brushed Aluminum and added HD radio.

28 September 07 - Planning…DONE
All planning for trip is DONE!! Tickets purchased, list made, car service reserved, hotels reserved, dog sitter arranged, guide books-check, check, check, check…you get the idea. Just packing left to do.

12 October 07 - I'm a photo taking ass
I went in today to sign final paperwork. Not much more to sign than a usual purchase. Everything went pretty smooth. I usually do not get the extended warranty on a vehicle. But, this time I let myself get rope into the purchase. I am such a horse's arse:spank:. But on the bright side we have less than a week before leaving..
Later that evening I attended a Photo Safari of Washington Monuments at Night. I know, I know a bit much on the photo classes, but anyone w/ a D80 will tell you it has a steep learning curve. I did not want to spend part of my vacation trying to figure out the camera:banghead:. So for those folks that are buying a new camera, be sure to get well acquainted with the camera or you will be hating life on your trip. Any class you take will definitely be worth the money.

13 October 07 - No warranty
Decided against getting the warranties, after consulting with my fellow 'festers. Gave Passport a call to let them know and Greg told me to bring the old contract back and he would have to do a new contract.

17 October 07 - New paperwork
Went in to sign new paperwork, I felt bad for Joern because he was trying to get home and we could not get there until close to 7pm. I told him to go ahead and leave as what we needed to do is usually done by the finance guys. When we arrived he was still there:thumbup::thumbup:. Definite kudos is warranted. We set down with Mr. Lee and resigned everything. I read through the contract to be sure they matched the numbers on the first contract. As I read the back I noticed the arbitration clause on the back of the contract. I initialed and dated that I did not agree with the clause.
A little side note here. The one thing I hate about the car buying process is that when you sign the paperwork, the dealer always tries to make you feel rushed or that what you are signing is not really important. READ EVERYTHING and QUESTION WHAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND. You are spending your money and if you need to spend a great length of time going over the paperwork, then so be it. I noticed that as I questioned more and more the finance guys get more and more irritated. Oh well….
After I signed the new contract, Mr. Lee signed and gave me my copies. I also asked for a "We Owe" for the money I paid for the warranties, although they tried to tell me that I did not need that paper. I must really look like I fell off the back of a turnip truck:rolleyes:.
Later back at the lair, we have finished packing and I leave at 1am for Richmond to drop off the dogter at a college friend's house.
 

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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
Joined
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Day 1

18 October 07 - Next stop Europe, but things fall apart
What a freakin' day!!! Decided it would be a good time to touch up the walls in my house with paint. I'm crazy like that, not to mention sleep deprived. After getting back from Richmond at 0400 I got a WHOPPING 3hrs sleep. The car service will be here at 1430. Luggage total: two large suitcases, one medium suitcase, two rolling carry-on's, camera bag and one backpack:wow:. DAMN!! Why do I have a feeling that this is waaaay too much luggage.
The car service arrives on time, but this guy was useless. I am expecting a Lincoln Towncar with a huge trunk. They send a Cadillac (can't remember model) with a small trunk, not to mention he has stuff in the trunk. We would have been better off with a taxi. The only reason we ordered a car was because a taxi to Dulles would cost about the same amount. So a suitcase and carry-on had to go in the front seat. He barely helped put the luggage in the car and then kind of argued with me about the best way to get to Dulles Airport. He wanted to take the Fairfax County Parkway with its myriad of badly timed lights to the Dulles Toll Road. I wanted to take the Beltway to the Dulles Toll Road a route with three lights and those lights are from my front door to the entrance of 95N. He tries to tell me that the Beltway will be backed up with traffic. I'm like dude you will run into more traffic on the Parkway. So he takes my way and as soon as we get like 3 miles onto the inner loop of the Beltway we hit traffic. I'm a little perplexed because I travel the Beltway a lot around this time of day and I know traffic does not start to back up on the inner loop until 1530-1545. I can see him smirking in the mirror as he gives me his "I told you so…I drive 300 miles a day….:blah::blah::blah:!!!" speech
I am only minutely concerned. My girlfriend gives me the YOU ARE SUCH A [email protected]#&ING IDIOT :mad:look. I sit back and in my best and usual know-it-all voice, "I bet dollars to donuts that it is an accident and the delay is caused by rubber-necking. Less than 10 minutes later we pass an accident on the shoulder and sure enough the gawkers are what is causing the backup. I look at my girlfriend with a "YOU WERE MENTALLY SAYING" look. As we cruise unimpeded to the airport, I rejoice in my moment of "You guys are IDIOTS and I..…I am a directions god":D. We arrive at Dulles in 40 minutes door-to-door. Again this guy is less than helpful with the luggage. Note to self call American Limo & Bus Service to complain, also do not use service again.
So my girlfriend puts on her what I like to call "I grew up in the Midwest, but I can walk like I am from New York" walk to the gate:rofl:. I find it funny, because she did not adopt this fast paced walking style until coming to college in Washington. I'm asking why are walking so fast. She says that we still have to catch the shuttle to the terminal. Yeah I know that, but why are YOU walking so fast. We speed through security as we did not have to wait in the long line. If you have certain flyer status then you can wait in a shorter line.
Anyone that has flown out of Dulles will probably agree that catching what they call a shuttle, but what resembles something out of a bad '80s sci-fi movie is a pain in the ass to catch. UHH HELLO DULLES, THERE ARE THESE NEW MODERN THINGYS CALLED A FREAKIN' MONORAIL. CHECK WITH NEWARK AND ATLANTA AIRPORTS TO NAME TWO PLACES WHERE THEY CAN BE SEEN.
We make it to our gate with plenty of time to spare and I am pissed because I am a bit sweaty and my back in hurting (remember I am still recovering from a ruptured disc in my lower back)(I know that sound I hear is the world's smallest violin). I make the mistake of not stopping her from using the currency exchange in the airport. The exchange rate sucks big time, but she does not want to have to look for a Deutsche Bank. The $400 got us 220€, of course hindsight being 20/20 I should have gotten just enough for transportation from the airport to the hotel and then found a bank once I arrived.
My day then takes a real s$#*ty turn. I get a call from Joern at Passport. He tells me my contract is void, because I wrote on the back that I did not agree with the arbitration agreement. I'm like well it would have been nice if the finance guy would have said something last night. He says that he told me not to sign on the back. I told him Mr. Lee was a bold face :liar: and if you want to put him on the phone I'll repeat what I just said. Joern kind of takes his side still. I said that he sat there and watch me sign the back and front of the contract and then he signed the front and gave me my copy and I left. If he felt what I was doing was wrong then why did he sign the contract, which only makes it valid with his signature. The only thing he was concerned about was that it would bleed through to the front of the page. As he gets a little more bass in his voice, I too get snippier. Eventually he says well you have to come in and sign new paperwork. I am now having a full blown conniption:mad:. I tell him that there is no way I can do that. I am at Dulles Airport and my flight is leaving for Milano in less than an hour. He still repeats that the contract is void and he needs new paperwork. He eventually asks where I will be in Milano. I give him the address to the hotel and he says he will FedEx the new paperwork. Well, I am pissed and what I have had to go through with Passport only reinforces my belief that dealerships are shady and do not properly train their people. Now this is in no way a knock against Joern. He was not there when I sat down with the finance guy and up to this episode he has been a stand-up guy. But I am pissed to the highest point of pisstivity and have no other outlet to vent but here in my ED journal.
My girlfriend's flight left about 40 min. before mine. We had to take separate flights as she has to do something for her company in Milano which is the reason why we are leaving nine days early. I hope she enjoyed the seat I picked for her. Using seatguru.com to help pick your airline seats is about four or five things down from sliced bread. I got her a seat on the upper level in business class where it is nice and quiet. My flight has boarded and I am not regretting my choice to book business class. My back will definitely thank me later.
 

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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
Joined
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Day 2

19 Oktober 2007 - But wait there's more!!!
OMG!!! Is there anything else that could get this trip off to a horrendous start? My flight landed in Brüssels at 0730 and my connection was supposed to leave at 1000. The flight here was smooth and uneventful. The guy seated next to me ate whatever was placed in front of him like…like…well he just ate really fast. Moving on and BACK TO MY RANT. So I have checked the monitor for my gate and go back through security to head to my gate. I think you can see where this going. Now this not a terminal gate per se it was more like a bus terminal with six or so "gates". So I am going through my camera bag to rearrange things and discover I left my headphones on the plane. So I head back up to my original gate. This is where things begin to go awry. There is no up escalator only a down, but there is a set of stairs and an elevator. (This wee point will come up again)
I wait for the elevator (only because there is no way I am carrying these bags up those steps) and go back the way I came to security. Now this is not the normal security gate It is more like a gate to give you access to my current gates and what I did not know until later was that the escalator and elevator that I just walked past takes you to the rest of the terminal on the upper level. I ask the security person could I go back to my gate to see if they found my headphones. He says they are probably in lost and found, which is through customs and I would not be able to enter Brüssels without a visa:bs:. I'm like dude you have to be kidding me, since when do U.S. citizens need a visa to enter Belgium. But I keep my mouth shut and bite the bullet and chalk my headphones as a lost cause. So as I am walking back across the bridge to my terminal I remember that my mother collects spoons. I head back toward the security gate and then discover the steps that lead to the upper level of the terminal.
After finding a spoon, I hear a somewhat inaudible announcement asking me to report to my gate. I rush back down to my gate and the seating area is empty, so I ask the airline rep where my flight is. He says it has been moved to a different gate. Now keep in mind this is 15 min before the scheduled boarding time (not departure time) on my ticket. So I head back up to the new gate. Here is where the escalator and elevator come into play. I have to wait for the elevator to go back up one level and the other escalator to the upper level of the terminal. I get to the gate and there is no plane, no people and no airline rep, WTF:mad:! I see a plane boarding for Chicago and Prague. I head back down to my original gate, because there is no other gate where I see reps for my airline. I still have about 7 min until my boarding time. I ask at another gate where my flight is, he says that it has left. I'm like HUH:banghead:? The flight is schedule for 1005, it's only 1000. He says it is at gate such and such; I just came from gate such and such and there is no one there and no plane:dunno:. He says well it has departed and you will have to go back to the ticketing desk in the main terminal:bang:. It should be stated that I had not become that stereotypical arrogant American. I was pissed, but surprisingly calm. I kept telling myself I could be in a worse predicament.
I head out toward the main terminal and keep thinking how the [email protected]#$ am I supposed to get through security w/ no visa and DAMN this has to be the longest terminal ever. I get to customs and explain the situation. He says you need no visa to enter Belgium (I already knew this) and then explains how to get to the main terminal. I follow his directions around to this area that has stairs and an escalator that only goes up and I have to go down. I have to laugh because at this point it seems that someone is playing a sick joke on me and I start looking around for cameras. I make it out to the ticketing area. It is the typical European set-up. There is no signage to tell you where each airline is located. So after walking around all the other airlines, I find mine way at the back.
I explain to the rep what is going on and she says you missed your flight and you should have paid attention to the monitors for gate changes:wow:. I'm like hold up, I did pay attention to the monitor how else could I have known where my original gate was located. She says I can't help you. You need to go across to the other desk and see what they can do. Ok fine no problem. I stand at the other desk and a woman comes out looks at me and keeps walking. So I stand there waiting for someone to come. After about 5 min I walk back over to the first rep and ask where is the person to help me. She calls over to the desk and guess who answers the phone…DING, DING, DING that's right the same woman who came out, looked at me and walked by. I again explained what has happened. She, like her colleague tries to blame me for the missing my flight. I now start to defend myself. Wait a second; I went to the gate that was on the monitor. I left for about 15 min with plenty of time to spare for my flight. I heard an announcement paging me to my gate. I went to my gate and was told to go to a new gate (by the way the gate rep could have called the new gate to let them know I was coming, the gates are only 5 min apart.). I went to the new gate, which was empty, had no plane, no rep and no passengers. She then asks why it took so long to get from my gate to her desk. I start to explain what took so long, but then stopped and just stared at her like she was the most completely clueless person I have ever spoken too:dunno::mad::banghead:. She keeps trying to put the blame on me. Finally, I'm like look what happened, happened. Not much to do about it now, but move on. She then goes back in the office for a few moments. She reappears and says there was a bus at the new gate. Miss, at the original gate it was obvious that you needed to catch a shuttle to the plane. The new gate looked like a normal gate with a jet way. She said you should have walked down the ramp to the bus. First, there was no one there to direct passengers and the gate rep at the original gate never said anything about a bus at the new gate. After going back and forth for about 5 min, she says that there are no more flights going out today. HELL NO!!! I am not spending the night in an airport (Did not say this to her). It is 1100 and there is no way that all flights for the day have departed. She looked again and said there is a Swiss Air flight @ 1500 to Zurich, then a 1730 to Milano. I asked about putting me on another airline to Milano. Of course, she says no and I would have to check with those airlines myself. Finally, I relented and took the 1500 flight as long as I was kept in business class as originally booked. I moved on to the ticket counter and was told I had to check my roll-on bag. Wait, I am allowed two carry-on pieces. She says it is overweight. Of course I am a bit apprehensive as with the luck I am having thus far I am worried about my luggage getting lost. Then she wanted to weigh my camera bag. That is where I draw the line. No way was I letting that out of my sight. Off I went to find something to eat and then back to the terminal to find a seat within spitting distance of an arrival/departure monitor.
It is now a little after noon and as expected the jet lag is kicking in. I am bored out of my freaking mind and have no access to the web and no cell service (what did people do before cell phones and the web). So I have no way of letting my girlfriend know what has happened. Note to self, get phone that works on GSM network.
I finally arrived at the hotel in Milano. We are staying at the Meliá Milano. Here is how the rest of my trip went. The trip from Brüssels to Zürich to Milano was uneventful. In the Zürich airport I saw this funny smoking lounge that I will have to get a pic of when we go back through on the 24th. I arrive at Malpensa Airport 5 hours after I was originally supposed to arrive. But you know the day could not end without one last thing happening. The customs area where I came into Malpensa was very, very small, but had about 11 stations to check passports. When I arrived a jumbo jet flight from Tokyo had just arrived and there was a line that stretched and stretched. As we got closer to customs the line would fall apart and we became just cattle being rustled together. It took about an hour before I even saw the security stations and they only had two officers checking non-EU passports and one checking EU passports. When the EU line emptied no non-EU citizens were called over to pass through. As I am standing there waiting, I am quickly reminded from my last time in Europe that their definition of personal space is not in tune with ours here in the US. I have no qualms about it and people are quite friendly. It was just weird having people right up on you. I am watching a bunch of officers come and go, milling around the area and we have been in line somewhere around 90 minutes. Finally as I am almost to the window and 90% of the people have gone through customs do they open two more stations and people waiting begin to applaud (quite funny). After getting my luggage and I am surprised that it all made it, I head to the train ticket kiosk. Using the little Italian I know I ask for a ticket and the lady corrects my annunciation, but gives me points for at least attempting to speak the language.
Note to those using the trains do not forget to validate the tickets in Europe. The machines are at the entrance to the stairs leading to the track. They are really small boxes. The ride to Milano was about 40 minutes for 11€ and then a short subway ride to the hotel for 1€. There was an instance in the subway where the machines were not working and I had a hard time communicating to the station attendant where I wanted to go. I kept saying Lotto (with a short "o" sound), but he did not understand. A few people came over to help and I said the same thing, finally I show them on a map and they all said in unison "ohhh Lotto" (basically with a long "o" sound). Once I arrived in downtown Milano I felt a bit more at home. Having grown up outside of Philadelphia and New York, the subways have a certain je ne sais quoi. The Milano subways had this same character, so I had an "I've been here before moment".
Once I arrived in the room my girlfriend was on the phone with a friend from the US and the airlines trying to find out where I was. She wasn't really worried as she knows that I will adapt to any situation, but she just needed to know I was ok. I told her the whole sorted story and we both had a good laugh with her noting that this could only happen to me.
 

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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Day 3

20 Ottobre 2007 - Finally on the boot, well at least somewhere on the upper calf
The breakfast here was better than I expected. I am not sure if it is included with the room as it was included with the block of rooms her company booked. They have a nice spread from fresh made omelets to cereals, breads, champagne, juices, pastries, fruit and of course strong coffees.
Vonage I must say is the s*#t:thumbup:. I picked up a V Phone unit so I could use my service to make phone calls back home and to parts of Europe w/o charges. The V-Phone unit is a USB drive that you plug into your laptop or any PC that has access to the web. Just don't use the headset that comes with it. This was great because I was able to call home when needed and had my voicemail forwarded to my email. After IMing my brother to call Vonage for me I was in business. You can switch units by logging into your Vonage account, but for some reason it did not work. Once I get back home I can transfer my service back to my home unit.
I spent much of today trying to get my ED situation worked out. I contacted my attorney and faxed my paperwork to him. He will let me know in a day or two what my recourse is as he will be in court. My next call was to BMWNA ED department. I explain my situation to them. As far as they are concerned the issue is between me and Passport. They have already charged them for the car and as long as I have the properly signed purchased order I can pick up my car at The Welt. With this news my attitude has change and the cloud that has accumulated over my trip has cleared and I can begin to enjoy my trip.
 

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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
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1,007 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Day 4

21 Ottobre 2007 - Let's go exploring
Finally, I am able to leave the hotel today:). I found out I was about a mile from the AC Milan stadium and decided I would try to see a game. I'm hoping it warms up during the rest of the trip. This is my chance to really play with my camera. I get to the stadium and I must have read the game times on the website incorrectly, because they were midway through the second half. Oh well, c'est la vie.
I look at my feet and say "feet whichever direction you want to go, I shall follow" (No seriously I really said this). I ended up walking through Parco di Trenno. It was just a regular park, but it gave me a chance to observe life and the comings and goings of the local people (somehow I find myself doing this whenever I am someplace new. I can't help it, I minored in Sociology). One thing of note were these ornate water fountains throughout the park with water running continuously. I walked through a few neighborhoods and ended back at a random subway station. Oh yeah McDonald's are abundant in Milano. No I did not eat there:D. Even at home I probably eat Mickey D's maybe once or twice a year, but the signage for it was everywhere.
People here create their own parking spots. On the curb, the median, even the sidewalk people park wherever. I found this comical as hell. Then I saw it…a Harley Davidson Ford F-150. Why such shock? Because 99.9% of the cars here could have been featured in the micro machines commercials (It was the commercials with the fast talking guy) and the price of gas is crazy.
I eventually found myself at the Duomo di Milano. The cathedral is huuuuuuuuuge. I did not get a chance to go inside, but being able to photograph it just after dusk was amazing. With it's gothic architecture and many sprires with statues topping each you can't help but stand in awe.

Pictures:
01. I was surprised to see an On the Run. This was on the way to the AC Milan stadium.
02. AC Milan stadium
03. Principal mode of transportation. I think there were more scooters than cars.
04. AC Milan stadium. This place is huge
05. Random shot. Not sure what I was trying to convey in this photo.
06. More scooters parked across the street.
07. Euro spec Honda Civic
08. Fountains in the park top for humans and bottom for pets.
09. My attempt to get this effect from the water
10. Notice the ornate spout. A faster shutter gave the water a smoother look.
11-12. Not quite what I had in mind. I was trying to stop action.
 

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1. Neighborhood I found myself in while I was getting lost on purpose outside of normal tourist areas.
2. A compact Mercedes that will never come here because of how we view the make as a status symbol. But it would be a hot car to have here.
3.I must have walk 5-6 miles on this day and every place I went there was a sign for Mickey D's. Quite funny.
4. The Duomo just after sunset.
5. Playing with the white balance to give it a different look.
6.Playing with the white balance to give it a different look.
7. Playing with the shutter to blur the people walking.
8. Playing with white balance.
9. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. There are shoppes and restaurants inside. At it's center is a 154' high glass dome. Beautiful architecture.
10. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II up close
11. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
12. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II window. I may turn it into a black & white.
 

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More Pics

1. Maserati Quattroporte parked outside hotel
2. 1 series wagon outside hotel
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Days 5-7

22-23 Ottobre 2007 - Goods news
Haven't done much the last few days as it was too cold and I was not feeling well: puke:. I spent time rearranging the suitcases and on the phone with my attorney. He told me that under MD law we had a valid contract and that the contract is not between me and BMW, but between me and Passport. Passport's job is to take the contract to market and get it purchased. If they do stop me from picking up my car then they would be guilty of conversion. Since I did not sign the supplemental agreement (spot delivery) then our deal is not predicated on pending financing. He will discuss more in detail once I return, but have no worries they cannot stop your delivery:thumbup:.
I called BMWNA again and they said the same thing as before that they did not have anything in the system saying something different and as long as I had the required paperwork I was good to go:thumbup:.

24 Oktober 2007 - Bayerische, here we come
We were up at the butt crack of dawn for a 0720 to Zürich, then 1215 to München via Swiss Air. We did see the funny smoking lounges again (got a pic) and purchased a slew of Swiss chocolates in a duty free stores. Check the back of some of the chocolate. Some said they were made by Kraft Foods. Although the Swiss Franc is the monetary system, the duty free shops will accept Euros. The best part of the flight was when we flew over the Alps. They are so tall that you felt you could reach out of the window and touch the peaks. It is really a moment when you are able to get a true feeling of how small we are in this world, yet how beautiful it is at the same time:bow:. In some areas you could only see the snow-capped peaks piercing the clouds. In other areas you could see entire mountain ranges as the snow transitioned to lush green pastures.
We arrived in München @ 1310, breezed through customs, took the obligatory pic in front of the BMW kidney grill in the terminal and off to the Lufthansa bus shuttle. MAN, it is (insert adjective here) cold. The bus is easy to find. When you leave the Lufthansa terminal stay to the right and walk out the doors and across the little road there and you are at the shuttle stop. We paid 10€ each for a roughly 30 min ride w/ Michael Schumacher's twin (not really):rofl:. This dude had the bus leaning around corners :thumbup:and squeezing through areas that most people in a normal vehicle would think twice about taking. It was a pretty hilarious ride. We got off at the Hauptbahnhof stop. From here it is a short 5-7 min walk to the Courtyard Marriott Munich City Center. It is easy enough to get to the hotel from the train station. Walk through the train station to the other side, at the light cross over Bayerstrasse and walk down Goethestrasse one block to Schwanthalerstrasse. Make a left and the hotel is about 150ft from the corner.
After checking in we decided to head back out after freshening up. With camera bag, tripod and backpack (Pepto-Bismol, tissue, hat, gloves, travel guide, umbrella, pain killers for my back, water, moleskins and Lysol wipes for the public bathrooms) we walked back down Goethestrasse to find a place to eat and found this middle eastern place that serve some of the best gyros I have had (I know…when in Deutschland, but blood sugar…..low, you get the picture). It was just a quick meal, but it was excellent and cheap. The U and S-Bahn entrance was a few meters away. I knew what ticket I wanted to purchased, but it took a minute or two for my brain to adjust to German. After about three or four minutes a passerby gave us a little help and off we went. DO NOT FORGET TO VALIDATE THE TICKET BEFORE GOING DOWN TO THE TRAIN. We purchased a "Partner 3-Tage Innenraum" ticket for 21€. Trust me you will get your monies worth. This ticket allows for up to 5 people to use the U and S-Bahn, and other public transportation regional to München for three days. Here is where I start to love this city. You do not have to use the ticket to enter or exit the system. The escalators work in both directions, just step on the steel foot plate. There was a woman with a baby carriage trying to go down the steps, so I and another guy I stopped gave her a hand with carrying the carriage down for her. At the next level a woman stopped people from using the escalator as so the woman could use it. Basically once the escalator is empty; it will reverse when you walk on the foot plate. Also if you come upon an escalator that is stopped, again walk on the plate and it will start to run. BRILLIANT!!! Why haven't we thought of this in the US?
I decided to head over to the Welt to see if it would be possible to pick up earlier than the 27th. I will say this once, DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT. I was not trying to pick up on the 24th, but inquiring about the 26th. They are on a strict schedule. Oh by the way I was there the evening of the dinner. I could have walked pass JSpira and Irv and not have known it. Oh yeah, the stop is the Olympiazentrum. There is signage to tell you what exit you should take for the Welt.
Since this is the first time I saw the building, here are my impressions: HOLY S*&^, DAMN, WOW, COOL, MAGNIFICO, STUNNING, CREATIVE, HUGE, JAW-DROPPING, STUNNING. Your opinion may vary. It looks like a huge cloud with a tornado dropping down.
We headed back down to Marienplatz and decided to walk around just to get acclimated to our surroundings. We also went in search of hat and gloves as it was still cold and we were still used to the 80 somethings we left back in N. Va. There are 3 H&M stores within a block of each other and a huge C&A store across from H&M so you will not have a problem finding clothing if you are in a pinch. The hotel will have a map of the city if you ask. My watch has a compass built in to it, but I also had a normal compass, just in case I lost my bearing (WHAT? it's the Boy Scout in me). We end the evening with finding a place to eat. We decided on this little off the path place called La Vita. The pizza did not disappoint. Those people that have said the pizza in Germany is extraordinary were not exaggerating. This statement is coming from someone who has eaten plenty of New York pizza (no offense to people from Chicago. Pizza eaten with a fork…HUH?? Well you guys have your version and we have the truth!! LOL). But the highlight of the meal was the beer. O…M…G!!! The beer is ridiculously good. The Radler is a beer mixed with lemonade. STOP!!! Don't knock it until you have tried it. My girlfriend whom hates beer had some and thought it was good. After leaving the restaurant we continued to walk down through Marienplatz and caught the S-Bahn from Karlsplatz back to the hotel.

Pictures:
1-2. Smoking lounge in Zurich airport. Hilarious
3-8. Alps from plane on flight from Zurich to Munchen
9-10 Allianz display in Munchen airport
11. Audi display
12. Obligatory pic in front of kidney grill
 

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Day 8

25 Oktober 2007 - Babe, let's move to Germany
It was a bit drizzly and cold this morning, but we went forth undaunted by the weather to seek out more of the city. I notice these arches that I saw last night and realized how close we were to Marienplatz. The arch is actually a gate called Karlstor. Just a little info as to how close the hotel is to Marienplatz for those thinking of staying here.
After breakfast at one of the many eateries in Hauptbahnhof, we made our way over to Odeonplatz. This area reminded me of Georgetown in DC or Princeton in NJ. When we first exit the U-Bahn, the Residenz is across the street and Feldherrnhalle and Theatinerkirche, is next to it.
First order of business was to find the Infopoint office. It is located at Alter Hof 1. It is simple to get to from U-Bahn. Walk down Residenzstrasse, it is the street to the left of Feldherrnhalle. Make a left on Maximilianstrasse, at the next street it should be Alter Hof make a right. As you walk down and cross the first street Alter Hof will start to look like an alley and you will through a cobbled courtyard. The office will be on your left just before you exit the courtyard. We purchased a 14 day Family Pass for 36€. This pass will give you access all the palaces, castles and gardens throughout Deutschland. I figured we definitely were visiting the Residenz, Neuschwanstein and Schloss Linderhof. These three alone will pay for the pass; everything after is just savings. They will also give you a booklet with all of the places you can use the pass.
The entrance to the Residenz is next to the National Theater on the corner of Residenzstrasse and Maximilianstrasse. Plan to spend a few hours here. There are signs that tell you how long it will take to tour the Residenz and Treasury. Also they do not allow the use of camera flash and tripods. If you have a large bag you will have to check it. The coat and bag check are free. If you get easily cold and it is during the fall/winter months take your coat. There is no heat in the Residenz. I did ask about the use of flash and was told the reason for prohibiting said use is because tourists tend to take pictures of the same thing. The constant light flash can actually cause fading and wear on the décor. So unless you have a very steady hand then most shot with long shutters will not come out well.
This place is so huge that there have to be parts that the kings did not see for a long time. Every time you think you are done, there is another wing to see. Did someone say steps? There so many stairs in this place that I lost count. My observation is that they were definitely into the gaudy in their design taste. Unfortunately the Curvilliés Theater was closed for renovation. I must give the craftsmen kudos for the painstaking attention to detail in the rebuilding effort after WWII.
After leaving the Residenz we found a little coffee house across from Starbuck's (what? I can get that at home). It is across the platz from the entrance of the Residenz. It was called Casa Del Caffe. I think the only place dogs are not allowed are national landmarks and places of worship. While we were in the shop someone had their dog with them and it was just a normal thing. There were a few other places that we have been where I was like "Oh ok, they allow dogs in here….WOW".
We then walked down to Marienplatz over to Viktualienmarkt to St. Peter's Church. The Viktualienmarkt is a huge old-world outdoor market that has butcher shops, bakeries, fruit and veggie stands, sausage shops and on and on. Now that I think about it I have not seen any supermarkets like we have in the U.S. We then head over to St. Peter's Church tower. The tower is very deceiving in height from the ground. It cost 1,50€ per person to go the top. The staircases are so narrow that no one will be able to pass you while on the steps. As we climb the tower with backpack and camera equipment in tow we did not understand why people were laughing as they were coming down. Finally we reached the top….out of breath with burning legs, but alive.
Although cloudy, the 360° view of the city was breathtaking. The walking area is very narrow and you at times have to walk back in the opposite direction if you can't pass someone. We spent about 30 minutes just taking in the view and taking pics. A few people that came up after us said it was 313 or 316 steps. As we began our descent we began to understand why people coming down were laughing when we were coming up. You really look like you are about to pass out and the people coming up all ask how much farther. Every time we gave way for the people coming up, they would defer to us coming down as to give themselves a chance for a breather. Talk about comedy. After exiting the tower we walked around Viktualienmarkt a bit then head west toward Isar River.
As west walked down Tal we passed one the most chic McDonald's I have ever seen. There were what appeared to leather covered stools and very modern art on the walls. We ended up at St. Lucas Church along the Isar. After taking I don't know how many pics we started to walk along the Isar back toward downtown. We could not figure out why people on bicycle kept giving us looks. After a while we figured out that the sidewalk is split into a pedestrian side and a bike side. Again BRILLIANT and logical.
We decided on Ratskeller for dinner after checking umpteen restaurants. Try the potato soup. After dinner we decide to walk back to the hotel from the restaurant. A very slow leisurely walk took about 30 minutes.

Pictures:
01. entrance vestibule of the Residenz
02. Ang in Konigsbauhof next to styr statue
03. Wittelsbach family portraits
04. porcelain cabinet in Residenz
05. Ecclesiastical head wear
06. Perseus with Medusa's head and standing over her body.
07. This was in a room where they honor their dead
08. One of the glass cases in the room where they honor their dead
09. case with shields
10. Hofkapelle (Court Chapel) in Residenz
11. Reiche Kapelle (Ornate Chapel) in Residenz
12. Mary and Jesus statue
 

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More pics day 8

1.clock tower
2.clock tower
3.waiting room off one of the apartments
4.throne in audience chamber
5.Ornate room inside one of the apartments in the Residenz
6.Elector's bedroom
7.Mirror room. They used alot of mirrors to give rooms a larger feels. Also because of their vanity
8.ceiling of spiral staircase
9.Another throne room
10.queen's salon room
11.ceiling of throne room (Angie took with her camera)
12.queen's throne room
 

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More pics day 8

1. stairs leading down to Schwarz Saal. I thought it would make an excellent black & white
2. statue at the bottom of the steps
3. ceiling of Schwarz Saal (Black Hall)
4. hall leading to Antiquarium
5. Antiquarium
6. Antiquarium
7.rear wall of Antiquarium
8. Grotto made of shells and crystals
9. Grotto (Ang took with her camera)
10. Grotto and yes that is water coming out of the boobs.
11. Grottenhof (Grotto Court)
12. Another Perseus statue
 

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More pics day 8

1. scale model of Residenz
2. crown of a queen in the Treasury
3. crucifix made of marble in Treasury
4. Royal crown, scepter & sword
5. Queen's jewels in the Treasury
6. Dome tops of the Frauenkirche
7. Man playing grinder. There was no monkey with him. LOL
8. Principal mode of transportation other than walking or mass transit.
9. tower of St. Peterskirche
10. tower of St. Peterskirche. It is very deceiving in height from the ground. 300+ steps
11. fountain in Marienplatz
12. Neus Rathaus (new Town Hall)
 

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More pics day 8

1. Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) I know it looks newer than New Town Hall
2. Heiliggeistkirche
3. Some of the shoppes in Viktualienmarkt. This is a huge old world style market. You can get fruit, veggies, there are bakeries, sausage shops and butchers.
4. top of Peterskirche looking SE
5. top of Peterskirche looking ENE
6. Neue Rathaus from Peterskirche
7. Frauenkirche and Neue Rathaus from Peterskirche. looking NNW
8. top of Peterskirche NNW. Frauenkirche to the left. Ang took with her camera.
9. top of Peterskirche looking NW
10. looking down Kaufingerstrasse from Peterskirche
11. top of Peterskirche looking SW
12. Ang top of Peterskirche
 

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More pics day 8

1.me top of Peterskirche
2..steps of Peterskirche. Very narrow
3. Mickey D's in Munich. Nicer than the ones here. Leather seating and tiled walled.
4. Mickey D's coffee menu
5. Mickey D's menu
6. Smartcar. These cars are small as hell
7. Even the dalmation is like damn your small
8. Dome of Lukaskirche
9. Lukaskirche at sunset
10. Ang in front of Lukaskirche. I was trying to get the flash correct. But to no avail.
11. Lukaskirche along the Isar
12. me and Ang on the Isar.
 

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Last pics day 8

1. I am not sure what the building is, but you have to admit the effect is cool
2. Cool effect. cars blurred on one side of street while the other cars are still
3. Door handles of Ratskeller restaurant.
4. You have to try the red cabbage with apple cider, potato soup and a Radler (beer with lemonade
 

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Day 9

26 Oktober 2007 - Fun & Sadness
We headed out today to the tour of the BMW München factory. When you arrive at the Welt go to one of the information desk and let them know you are picking up a vehicle and would like to do the factory tour (be sure to find out when the English tour is held). You do not have to do the tour the same day you take delivery, nor do you have to make a reservation (if you are picking up a car). They will also take your bags and coats to have them checked for you at no charge. The tour was definitely worth it. I was a little disappointed that I could not see the Regensburg tour where the E92 (3 series coupe) is built as they were having some programs. The tour itself was not too short, but just long enough (this according to my girlfriend). There are no cameras allowed in the factory. Seeing the car take shape from raw steel to seeing the paint applied and the finished product on the dyno kept me smiling for a good while after the tour. I did meet one 'fester, hammick from Kansas City and another American couple from Fredericksburg, Va.
After hanging around the Welt for a little longer, we headed out to Dachau (Da-how) Concentration Camp. The 3 day train Pass we purchased was valid for this trip; including the short bus ride from the station total travel time was a little over an hour. Take the S3 to Peterhausen then take the 726 bus to the memorial site. You do not have to take the guided tour, they have little handheld units for each station similar to the Residenz. This was a very solemn place to tour. There was a reverence people showed as they toured the site, but also what can be described as an eerie silence. If not for the handheld information units, the only sound you heard was the sound of the crushed stone under your feet. The ovens and gas chambers are at the rear of the "camp" as well as a few buildings dedicated to each religious faith. With the exception of two barracks that still remain the foundations of the original barracks are marked with numbered stones. As much as I have learned about the Holocaust in books, there was somewhat of a disconnect until I visited Dachau. You will be affected by the experience.
Tonight we dined at Spatenhaus. Again we hit the jackpot in our choice of restaurants. We have not had a bad meal yet in München. We decided to end the evening early, if you call 2300 early, as to rearrange the luggage as so we only needed to take one suitcase out at each city we stopped. Again we take a slow walk back to the hotel.

Pictures:
1. Dachau Concentration Camp
2. Camp layout
3. Prisoner life
4. Barrack layout
5. Camp following the liberation
6. Aerial view of camp
7. entrance to concentration camp
8. Dachau gate. Translates to "Work Power Free"
9. Plaque commemorating the camp's liberation
10. Prison yard
11. yard with barrack off to left
12. Memorial wall
 

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More pics day 9

1. Memorial site in the camp
2. Barrack layout
3. Foundations of barracks
4. Foundations of barracks
5. Camp road sign
6. Outside view of barrack
7. entrance of barrack
8. barrack toilets
9. Barrack sleeping quarters
10. Barrack common area
11. Barrack sleeping quarters
12. Barrack sleeping quarters
 

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More pics day 9

1. Memorial site from camp road
2. Camp road. I call this "the long walk"
3. Camp road. Ang took with her camera.
4. Camp road view to religious memorials
5. Barrack foundations from camp road
6. Religious memorials located at rear of camp
7. Jewish memorial
8. Placed here eternally as a warning! That people should learn. That they are mortal.
9. Another of my favorite pictures. Inside the Jewish memorial.
10. Plaque outisde Jewish memorial.
11. View from rear of camp
12. Each barrack foundation is marked with a numbered stone.
 

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More pics day 9

1. Protestant Church of Reconciliation
2. Gates leading to crematorium
3. Road leading to crematorium. Ang took with her camera.
4. Cremtorium gate in black & white.
5. Sign showing perimeter security
6. Sign showing perimeter security
7. View along fence line
8. View along fence line
9. Stream running along fence line in black & white
10. Stream in black & white. Different shutter speed
11. Stream along fence line. Ang took with her camera.
12. Road to crematorium. Ang took with her camera
 

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