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UR MOTHER IS AN ASTRONAUT
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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
More pics day 9

1. Crematorium info sign
2. Crematorium stone marker
3. Crematorium
4. Crematorium black & white
5. Ovens that were used to burn bodies. The rafters above were used to hang people
6. Ovens in black & white
7. Gas chamber sign
8. Dead bodies where placed here
9. Gas chamber
10. Gas chamber. Ang took with her camera.
11. Gas chamber. Ang took with her camera
12. Gas chamber sign
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
More pics day 9

1. Fumigation chamber.
2. Fumigation chambers.
3. Sign showing bodies waiting to be cremated.
4. The old crematorium. The new brick crematorium was built because the old one could not keep up with the amount of bodies.
5. Statue reminder of dead: To honor the dead; To admonish the living.
6. Cold, hungry & tired waiting for bus back to train station.
7. Happy and hungry waiting for bus to train station.
8. Radler & Riesling. On any drink you are served there is a line to let you know you are getting the correct amount. This was the only restaurant where someone seated us. In the other restaurants you seat yourelf or people may look at you weird as to why you are standing around.
9. Spatenhaus - an excellent restaurant and highly recommend. On the Max-Joseph-Platz across from the National Theater.
10. me & Ang in front of the Nationaltheater.
11. Nationaltheater & statue of Maxmillian Joseph under cool sky. NO this is not Photoshopped, in fact none of my pics are. LOL
12. Different look for statue and Nationaltheater
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
More pics day 9

1. Bunch of 7 series outside Residenz. They were waiting for people to leave an event at the Nationaltheater
2. 7 series & Nationaltheater
3. 7 series outside Residenz
4. How their taxi roll. Not Crown Vics, but Mercedes, Bimmers and Audis
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
Day 10

27 Oktober 2007 - Allow me to introduce you to your car
We left the hotel around 0545, so I would have time to take pics of the Welt before my check-in time of 0700. By the way they ask that you arrive 90 min before your pick up time. On the ride to the Welt, two plain clothes guys boarded the train and asked to see everyone's ticket. This was the first time in the three days of riding public transportation that we needed to show proof of fare paid. They did ticket one girl for not having a valid ticket.
After showing my passport to woman at the reception desk, I was led up to the Premium Lounge. When you first see the Lounge it is decorated in a modern style. The leather sofas line the room with large yet tasteful art adorning the walls. Attention was given to every detail in making sure you would be beyond comfortable during your stay. There was one couple there before me. I was greeted at the check-in by another woman. After checking the system for my name I was then greeted by Herald. We were then seated at one of the many desks to begin going over what would take place today. He went through all the paperwork with me and showed me my zoll plates. At this point is when my first real feeling of this is really happening after a year delay and order cancellation due to injury. I had this big Jack Nicholson as The Joker smile that would not go away no matter how hard I tried as I signed a few documents. He gave me and my girlfriend our access passes to the Premium Lounge. Once I signed the Bimmerfest book, Herald showed us to another area where you have your choice of pastry, fruit, sandwich and whatever coffee creation you want while waiting. There are also a few PCs with web access to use while you wait. Off to the side of this lounge area is a balcony area that overlooks the delivery area and part of the main floor. My girlfriend kept saying, "All this for a car. This is too funny".
The card you are given not only has to be shown at the elevator to gain continuous access to the Premium Lounge, but it also has 15 euro for the food area on the main level and 10 euro for the BMW store on the main level. For those whom always knew their names would be in lights one day, BMW has granted your wish. After about 10 minutes (your wait time may vary), Bernhard, our delivery specialist, greeted us and sat with us while we finished our coffee and pastry. We then proceeded downstairs by a different elevator to a room (forgive me but I am still in information overload so I can´t remember what it was called), but just know that you cannot take pictures in this room. It is where they have these cool touch tables to familiarize you with your new baby. This part of the introduction to your car takes under an hour. The simulator demonstrates how your car will react with and without ABS and DTC. You will also see how the headlights work when you turn the steering wheel.
Once finished we headed back up to the Premium Lounge and out to a staircase. There is an access gate that only staff can open. As the gate open it was as if I could hear music being played as we descended the stairs. I think it was the same music ADC heard at Friemann (LOL). At this point my hands got a little sweaty and my heart beat little faster as a year of planning and postponements were all coming to a grand end. Berhnard was asking me questions as we walked down, but I feel really bad because I was pretty much on auto-pilot. I just remember shaking my head and muttering responses. (I interrupt here for a special message...as you descend the stairs this is a perfect vantage point for a picture of the BMW HQ and (the soup bowl) BMW Museum. As we turned the corner for the last flight of stairs, there she was in all her Barbera Red glory, spinning on her turnstile beneath a spot light reserved only for her. I approached and gave her a hug. My girlfriend just looked at me with an I'm not really with him look while saying "IT'S JUST A CAR!" Yes to the uninitiated it is a just car and about the three letters on the roundel, but to car nuts and true lovers of the marque it is more about the engineering and performance that comes with that roundel.
After all the going back and forth about interior colors and adding HD radio, I could not have been happier with the color choice. Berhnard even gave me kudos for standing out and not getting the usual black, grey or silver color (no offense to those with these colors). He was with us for about another hour going over how the Comfort Access, pair the bluetooth phone, opening the trunk, nav and other assorted functions. By this time the Welt was filling up with visitors as this is still a public building for people to come and learn about BMW history and engineering. Across on a separate bridge, the building designers set up an area where other visitors to the Welt can watch as you take delivery of your vehicle, as if they were an audience for you and other EDers.
The area where the cars are stored is nitrogen-filled five stories below ground, which brings me to my next PSA. The car will only come with eight liters of gas, because of fire regulations. The cars are bought to the elevator by robot since a human cannot breathe in the nitrogen chamber and then come to a prep level where the cars are prepared for the customer. Only then is the car able to make its public debut on the delivery floor.
After loading in our hotel location into the nav off we went, but before I pressed the "Start" button I had to ask for complete silence in the car, as so I could hear her come alive. When you press the button and feel the energy flow from you to her and that deep throaty exhaust note come alive with the 300 horses and twin-turbo you cannot help but give a mischievous smile and become even giddier. (FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME I AM A CAR NUT AND DAMN PROUD OF IT. I start my C.N.A (Car Nuts Anonymous) meetings next month.
You can do one lap around the delivery floor before exiting. At the bottom of the ramp as the door opened to the outside world that music that only I could hear in my head started again, but then I my girlfriend interrupted my moment and yelled, "HEY, SNAP OUT OF IT! It's over and time to go. The challenge here is to drive out of the building." As I drove out I replied, "How rude", still with a big grin on my face.
As we made the right onto the street the guards standing at the light gave me compliment on the color and choice of car. The Germans are just as much cars nuts as we are here in the U.S. The nav (from here on out will be known as Alice, a name chosen by my not a car nut girlfriend.) advised me that she recognized my position. With a light tap of the throttle we were thrown back in our seats. At this time I would like to welcome you to Cooper Airlines).
It is worth mentioning that if you park in the garage be sure to bring the parking ticket back inside with you as you do not have to pay for parking. Go to the information desk and let them know you have picked up a car or you can be smart unlike me and go to the desk first for a parking pass. I was also told by Herald that you no longer need the "D" country of origin sticker.
So the entire experience for me lasted about 5.5 hours. This included taking pics of the car, eating at the bistro on the main level and shopping in the store. BMW has outdone itself with the delivery experience. The only issue is that everything seems to fly by so fast that you hardly get to stop and take it all in. I advise not scheduling anything that has a time restraint on your delivery day.
After heading back to the hotel to check out and a quick stop at a Deutsches bank, off to Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau we went. That feeling I had before we left home of maybe this is too much luggage, well let's say I should have listened to that voice.
I have made sure to keep the car under 4500 rpm because of the break-in for the first 1200 miles, while being able to get up to 120 mph. My first impressions of the car can be summed up in two words, "HOLY CRAP". The acceleration is quick, but smooth as butter as it keeps you glued to the seat through all six gears and taking a corner is jaw dropping. My only complaint out of the gate is that the RFTs are loud (I will be selling these as soon as the vehicle is re-delivered. All interested parties PM me). The I-Drive is not as bad as some people complain about. We were acclimated to its use by the time we arrived in Schwangau. As I was flying down the Autobahn I almost forgot that I needed to get gas. My first fill-up was 76€ which converts to about $117. If you look under vehicle information and scroll down to gas stations you can see all nearby gas stations and as the car changes direction the arrows on the screen shows what direction the stations are in relation to which way the car is travelling or choose one and it will give you directions. My girlfriend is in love with the heated seats, so she keeps them on "HELL". The heat that emanates from the seat requires me to keep my side of the car on cool and it is still warm on my side.
We took A96 West to 17 South, which is part of the Romantic Road. The people here really do take driving serious and traffic laws are followed without condition. I saw no one using a cell phone, texting, eating, reading, putting on make-up, changing clothes, reading the newspaper, hanging in the left lane, passing on the right, weaving in and out traffic, changing lanes without signaling or dog riding in their lap. If I missed your driving pet peeve nominee for the Darwin Driving Award I apologize. There are many rest areas where people pull off to eat and drink or even have a smoke and then hop back in their car to continue their trip. Meanwhile, in another "why don't we do that in the US" moment (I think I am up to over 20 of these moments), the traffic lights turn yellow before turning green, thus warning you to get prepared to go. (BRILLIANT!!!)
As you get your first view of the Alps from the ground it really is an awe inspiring and breathtaking experience. My girlfriend damn near made me crap my pants as she shrilled the first time we saw Neuschwanstein Castle. I thought I ran over someone or something. NOT COOL, SOOOOO NOT COOL!! I will admit that the castle does appear suddenly as you come around a slight curve. At least on this day it did because of the dense cloud cover. The area around Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles were quite crowded when we arrived with tours buses and many people. If you drive past the first parking lots you see and drive past the souvenir shops there is another lot to park. We arrived a little late so we could not visit the castle today. We did ask at the ticket office if we needed to wait in line for a ticket because we had the castle and gardens pass (the one we purchased in München). We were told that we did not have to wait in line. Since this was one of the sites we both really wanted to see, we decided to come back tomorrow. This would put a small crinkle in our plan, but oh well we are enjoying the journey. We figured that we would not be able to go to peak of Zugspitze and with it being so cloudy we would not be able to see much.
This was the first time I have paid to eat and then paid to use the bathroom (I'm still laughing about this as I am typing). The bathrooms by the tour bus pick up area cost ,50€. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
The Alpen Road to Garmisch gave me my first real chance to see what Cooper could do on some twisty roads. I'LL TAKE ENDLESS FUN FOR A 1000 ALEX! My girlfriend did not take too kindly to my "spirited" driving. So since she is a huge Mariah Carey fan, I used that to keep her occupied and somewhat sane. We stopped at a little place in Garmisch called Ristorante Venezia. Again our taste buds were not disappointed. We made reservations at the Dorint SportHotel. And with that another end to a great day.

Pictures:
1. BMW Munich plant. The white line you see is a car I waited for to cross in front of the lens so it would blur.
2. BMW HQ
3. BMW HQ using a longer shutter speed.
4. BMW Welt.
5. Flags out in front of the Welt
6. One end of the building with the flags fluttering in the wind.
7. Other end of the building.
8. BMW HQ next to the BMW museum (known as the soup bowl).
9. Taken from the bridge that crosses over to the museum.
10. Taken from under the bridge. The building looks like a tornado dropping out of a cloud.
11. Welt welcome sign
12. The guard at the elevator is there to check for the card that is given to customers picking up a vehicle. This gives you access to the lounge area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
More pics day 10

1. Waiting area for customers until they meet with a rep.
2. Reception area
3. Premium Lounge
4. Bimmerfest book
5. I always knew my name would be in lights one day. I thought it would be bigger, but I'll take it.
6. A tile mosaic to form the world. There are four PCs for customers to use.
7. I snuck a peek before I was supposed to see the car.
8. As you come down the stairs you can't see anything, but as you round the corner the Delivery Specialist has a remote which cast a spotlight on you car and the turntable starts to revolve.
9. Another pic of Cooper on the turntable. I did hug my car. Hey after a one year delay this day was finally here.
10-12 Cooper
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
More pics day 10

1. It will never look this good again
2. Ang over in the corner on her Carckberry
3. Menacing but beautiful
4. Somewhat bad pic of interior
5. Obligatory dash shot
6. My Delivery Specialist Bernhard going over more features. Ang took with her camera.
7. Still going over features. Ang took with her camera.
8. Taking it all in. Ang took with her camera.
9. As you can see there are other customers taking delivery of their cars. Ang took with her camera.
10. It's a beautiful thing. Ang took with her camera.
11. 300hp, 300ft/lbs torque, twin turbo, inline 6cyl.. 0-60mph 5.3 sec. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Ang took
12. Ang taking me shooting Cooper. Had no idea. Ang took with her camera.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
More pics day 10

37. This is the elevator used to bring the cars up to the delivery area.
38. 1 series hatchback. Not here yet.
39. BMW motorcycle display.
40. BMW HQ from the steps we came down from Premium Lounge.
41. BMW HQ from the staircase landing.
42. Soup bowl museum
43. The view from the balcony of the Premium Lounge.
44. The view the public has of the delivery area as customers get their cars.
45. Public watching deliveries.
46. Pic of the restaurant. They will ask you if you want to make a reservation for dinner or lunch. You pay.
47. E92 Alpine White.
48. BMW F1 car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
More pics day 10

1. Learn about BMW technology and engineering.
2-3. New M3
4. Carbon fiber roof of new M3
5. M3 interior
6. What you see as you drive out of the Welt. It was hard to say goodbye. But Europe awaited.
7-8. Interior shot. The color is Dakota Saddle Brown. I forgot to turn on the vibration reduction. Ang has already started to make a mess. Good grief.
9. How not to pack for Europe. Trust me.
10. These prices are per liter, not gallon. If I did my math correctly that 1.40 euro for super is roughly $8.39/gal. And we are complaining about $3.50/gal.
11. My first fill-up 76 euro = 119.75.
12. First time we see Nueschwanstein Castle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 · (Edited)
More pics day 10

61-62. This is the castle Walt Disney modeled the Magic Kingdom after.
63. First time I had to pay to use the bathroom. ,50 euro
64. I'm a bit loopy after the days experience. My parents did teach me how to act in public. LOL
65. I'm ready to go, she wants to take pic....I oblige.
66-71. Pics are self-explanatory. That remote for the camera came in handy.
72. Baroque Benecdictine Abbey in Ettal
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Day 11

28 Oktober 2007 - Palaces, mountain passes and panicky woman…OH MY!!!
We took the southern route (23 to 187 to 179 to 17) through Österreich (Austria) back to Neuschwanstein Castle. If you do not see a blue sign welcoming you to Österreich, then you will know you have left Deutschland because the price of gas will drop a bit.
We decided to walk up the hill to the castle rather than ride the horse drawn carriage. In case you are wondering there is more than one carriage to take you up and the cost is 5€ each way. We figured we would take in the views and enjoy talking about what we had experienced thus far on the trip. The lines for the carriage were kind of long anyhow. By the time we waited for a ride we could have been ¾ of the way up. It is not a bad walk if you take it easy.
Once you reach the top of the hill there are some great views to enjoy either before you enter the castle or after. We did not have to wait in line for a ticket because we had the 14 day pass. The office you need to go to is through a door off to the right once you enter the courtyard. We showed the lady our pass and she gave us our tickets. She told us the time to come back to the window, which was basically the next tour time. You enter through a separate entrance than the general public. Be sure to tell her you want an English-speaking tour. Tour is about 45min and photography of the interior is verboten. You can take pictures of the outside through the windows, but of nothing on the interior.
The interior is not as gaudy as the Residenz. It is a bit more calm, but still grandiose and every attention is given to detail. You will walk a lot of steps while on the tour. After purchasing a few souvenirs, we began our descent. After a chicken schnitzel sandwich and pommes frites (french fries) off we went to Schloss Linderhof. I went back the way we came and took a route ( 17 to 179 to Kreckelmoosstraße) along Plansee. Great road for driving and scenery. Along the way to Linderhof we saw an Audi R8. Of course I went nuts trying to stop the car and grab for the camera. I stopped in the middle of the road (no other cars coming nor was I on a blind corner) and snapped a shot of the car. The driver pulled over and gave me thumbs up as I took the picture.
Once we arrived at Schloss Linderhof it was the same process as before. Show pass, get tickets. I was a bit disappointed that the gardens were closed for the season. Do a Google search and you will see why. This tour is about 30 minutes and again photography is verboten. We did meet a family from Ohio. The father was a fellow car nut and was very interested in the buying process for ED. I was all too happy to oblige him. One interesting factoid about the palace is this is where King Ludwig kept his mistress.
Here is where the sayings about hindsight and listen to your inner voice ring true. All of the advice of trying to do too much on your trip and to be flexible should be heeded. By the time we left Linderhof it was around 1530. We talked about checking back in at the Dorint and heading out in the morning for Lake Como. We would have only needed to call a couple of hotel and move our reservations to a day later, but no big deal. Well we decided to go ahead and drive today. Stay with me the story gets better.
We stop just before the Österreich border to purchase the road tax sticker and one for Schweiz (Switzerland). Now at this point I know that I am taking Stelvio Pass and then over to San Bernardino Pass down to Lake Como. I figure if I get tired of driving we'll just spend the night in St. Moritz (so if this my thinking now why did we not just stay in Garmisch). So I head down the A22 through Brenner Pass and exit toward Merano on SS44 (can't remember exit #). By the way, try finding Stelvio Pass on I-Drive it is a PITA. Luckily I bought print outs of each destination from Viamichelin.com. So I just input the next major little town into I-Drive that the directions showed.
The road that I took toward Merano goes through Passo di Giovo/Jaufenpass and St. Leonardo Pass. What I did not know was this is an awesomely ridiculous road. I am sure it would have been an even more scenic ride had I been able to see my surroundings. My passenger was not so thrilled about the roads. So on goes Mariah again. We get into Merano and decide to stop for a bite to eat. So we find a little café and decide to have pizza. We're in Italia, why not? Imagine our shock when the guy pulls out a frozen pizza. You know…the kind that we buy at the supermarket. We could not stop laughing. So we continue on to our destination.
SS44 will turn into SS38. As we're driving along SS38 it is a clear night and the full moon is casting a shimmering light on the peaks of the Italian Alps. We are commenting on how majestic the mountains look, not realizing that I am looking at Stelvio Pass. We make the left onto Via Principale which is still SS38. There is a sign that gives you the road conditions and everything is green on the sign. So I take off for the top. I can see why this is a driver's dream road. The road was bone dry all the way and it was cool to see off to your left as we got higher the transition from green pasture to snow-capped mountain. About half way up my girlfriend begins to freak out. This takes the fun out of the rest of the ride to the top. No, I was not drifting the corners or driving excessively fast!!! I never got out of second gear on the switchbacks. We make it to the top and I have to inquire what the hell is wrong. She rides any roller coaster I ride, flies on planes a lot…I need to know what happened. She is freaking because it is dark and she can't see the road level below us. All she could see was us getting higher and higher with a mountaintop getting closer. Now… I did laugh, but I was feeling like a true schmuck. I thought I could enjoy the ride and she could take in the view the full moon was providing. In hindsight the ride would have been more enjoyable during the day, I will admit that much. I tell her that I am also in the car and last I checked not suicidal. So I would never do anything to endanger our lives. But I really had noooooooooooooo idea that she would have a full blown panic attack. And yes I showed her a pic of the road on the web.
After calming her down, apologizing umpteen times and getting a good laugh out of her, I venture out to take the obligatory picture from the top. It was 50 degrees at the bottom, but at the peak it is a nippy 25. Even with my shutter set to 30 seconds and my flash mounted, I could only get a faint pic of the road below.
Now wait there is more to this story. We begin to drive down the other side of the pass; the road is still bone dry. I take the first three or four switchback then comment to her that they put a lot of salt on the roads. Remember the peak is snow covered, but the road was dry on the way up and when I got out for the picture. She comments that I don't think that is salt, but in fact ice. Remember, if you get the sports package the car comes with summer performance tires. So I am going like 5mph and let the car slow even more before hitting the brake a little hard. Sure enough we slide about a foot or two. WTH!!!! There was no posted advisory about these conditions. There is no way we can continue down this way. So I back up and the traction control tries to keep the wheels from spinning. I should note that at each switchback there is a run-off area. I back up into one of these areas and turned around. If you have not figured this as of yet we had to go back down the way we came. Back through Merano and Bolzano to Lake Como. OK YOU CAN LAUGH NOW!!!!! Over three hours wasted (depending on who you ask), a panicked woman, but it was still a great road to drive. Would I do it again? Affirmative, but only during the day.
We arrived in Como around 3am. My girlfriend still loves me.

Pictures:
1. Sign on the exit door of our hotel in Garmisch. Pretty funny
2-3. Dorint SportHotel. Great hotel. Bigger than the usual European rooms.
4-5. Ski jump that was across from the hotel
6. Not only were the people friendly, the goats were nice enough to pose for a photo op.
7. Restaurant we ate at the previous evening. Great food and staff. Just up the street from the hotel.
8. Gotta give Ang credit. She took these pics with my camera as I was hitting close to 90-100mph. If you look close you can see the mountain peeking through the clouds.
9-12.. Austrian Alps at 90mph.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
More pics day 11

1-3. Ang went a bit shutter happy with the mountains. But you can't help it.
4. Something other than the Alps. Not sure what castle ruins these are.
5-10. Austrian Alps all around us
11. Nueschwanstein Castle. We had to come back on 10/28/07
12. These are the carriages that you can take to the top of the mountain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
More pics day 11

1. A stream down the mountainside as we walked up.
2-4. First views of Nueschwanstein Castle as we walked up.
5. Not sure why I am making the ugly face with fake smile. Ang took with her camera
6. MAGIC KINGDOM AIN"T GOT NUTHIN" ON NUESCHWANSTEIN CASTLE. Oh sorry I had a Training Day moment.
7-8. Almost to the top. Ang took with her camera.
9. The view from above to the valley below
10. Nueschwanstein entrance
11-12. View as you enter the courtyard. Ang took with her camera the second photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
More pics day 11

1. Nueschwanstein against the Alps
2. Valley below
3. Nueschwanstein is taller than Ang. She is 5'9"
4. Magical against the autumn backdrop
5. We had to do a double take on our way down. At first look we thought the kid was carrying the backpack by herself.
6-8. Hohenschwangau Castle is on the opposite mountain
9. Finally back at the base of the mountain. I never did find out what the blue & white pole were for. We saw them in each village we drove through. Anyone?
10. It's that way
11. Cheaper than yesterday (10/27/07). ,30 euros, but damn still.
12. I know enough already with Nueschwanstein.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
More pics day 11

1. Ok last one.
2-3. The mothers in Germany had these little bundle thingys for the babies when it gets cold and they have to go out. Ang took with her camera.
4. Austrian & German Alps
5-6. Austrian & German Alps. Plansee below. Ang took with her camera.
7. Just beautiful...the mountains I mean.
8. Screw it Cooper is beautiful too.:rofl:
9. Other end of Plansee with Austrain Alps
10. An Audi R8 we saw on the way to Schloss Linderhof.
11. A look from Schloss Linderhof. The little cottage in the corner brings the picture to life.
12. Landscape leading to Schloss Linderhof.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 · (Edited)
More pics day 11

1-2. Schloss Linderhof is were King Ludwig II kept his mistresses. Photography inside was verboten
3. Exterior Schloss Linderhof. Ang took
4. Gilded doorway Schloss Linderhof
5. Gardens were closed for the season at Schloss Linderhof. Ang took
6. top of Schloss Linderhof gardens
7. The cat on the tree was chasing either a squirrel or preying upon a bird. Can't remember which, but it was a crowd stopper.
8. Top of Stelvio Pass. It is a loooooong story concerning the drive to the top of this mountain pass. This is eveidence that I did the deed.
9. You can't really see the road in this picture. It is the twisty line to the left of the snow covered mountain. If you adjust your monitor up or down you can see it a bit better. Google Stelvio Pass and you will see what I am talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Day 12

29 Ottobre 2007 - Lake squeeze; I can hear them; is that a street?
We spent the night at Hotel Marco, which is at the lake's edge. After a somewhat filling breakfast we headed to Bellagio. The drive to Bellagio along the lake is not for the faint of heart with a new car. It is not dangerous, just very narrow. When people step out of their homes they don't step onto a step or porch, they actually step out into the road. And they do it with no fear.
At one point we drove pass a café sitting at a left radius turn and there was a truck coming in the opposite direction. The men broke out in laughter as I yell "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey man, don't hit the car" at the truck. You are literally inches from the mountain face at some points when you stop to let cars pass during the drive. But the scenery is well worth it. Funny thing is my girlfriend did not freak out about being on this twisty narrow road with other cars. She said it was because it was during the day. Go figure.
The funniest sight was a dog walking along the road. As he walked, he stayed only a few inches from the wall. If he were having a conversation in his head it would have gone something like this: "Stay close to the wall, stay really, really close to the wall. They see me, they see me!! Dude, I was hanging out with George and Stanley last night on this same road and they didn't make it home".
Bellagio is a bit pricey, but it is well worth a short stop. There are a few gardens that you can visit and the beautiful vistas are endless. After spending a couple of hours here we headed out to Marenello.
Keeping with my consistency I seek out the most scenic route to A1, which was down to Lecco along the lake. It was nice to hear my girlfriend, ohh and ahh again. The Italians drive similarly to Germans. A few exceptions, even when you are coming down the left lane at a good rate of speed cars will pop out into your lane at the last second. They speed up to pass a car and then move back over. You will also come across cars straddling two lanes. The farther south we travelled the driving became a bit more crazy, but still fun. The A1 has few curves and the average speed with traffic is 100+mph.
We arrived in Maranello around 1700. The only point of this stop was so I could see the Ferrari factory. I could only take pics as tours are restricted to customers. I could hear the supercars being tested on the track and did pick up a scale model of a F430. After that we drove over to Modena to visit Lamborghini. The drive should have taken less than 30 minutes, but we were caught in a replica of Washington, DC traffic. After photographing the factory we set out to find something to eat.
We were in need of bottled water also, so we ended up finding a mall with a Carrefour (love this store when we had one at Franklin Mills in Philadelphia) in Bologna. The nav was useless in finding the store. After stopping for directions we found what we were looking for. But, not until we came to one of the many circles with like forty signs for businesses and attractions with arrows going in different directions. This would not be so bad if not for the 1-2 seconds you have to find what you are looking for. After going around the circle about three times and each time we came to the signpost me saying, "Here it comes…READY!!!" My girlfriend would stretch her neck to read the sign as we zoomed by.
With our stomachs full, two 12 packs of acqua and multi-grain granola bars we were off to Firenze. My girlfriend is convinced that we got too much water. Such the glass ½ empty person. LOL!!
I should note that I am thoroughly convinced that Italia, not New Jersey, my home State, is the capitol of tolls and circles (roundabouts). It makes the Garden State Parkway look like an amateur.
We arrived in Firenze around 2100. When you arrive it throws you just a bit, similar to the reaction we had when arriving in Como. The area looks a bit suspect, but it looks better as you near the city centre.
All those whom have visited Firenze or for that matter other major parts of Italía, that are in favor of them hanging signs that say "You figure it out" and "Is it a street or is it not?...go ahead take a chance" raise your hand. I drove aimlessly around the Duomo, but I am sure it was for buses only. A few more possible illegal left turns and I was a block from our hotel. We were not sure if the street was a pedestrian only area or not. We found a couple of police officers that confirmed it was indeed ok to drive down the street.
We decided to see if the Westin Excelsior, our second hotel, would hold our bags. They were in fact gracious enough to hold our bags since we were checking-in the following days. As I was taking the suitcases out of the trunk, the bag with the tour guides in it was open and everything fell out leaving a nice one inch scratch on the bumper. As I'm using quick detailer and a microfiber to clean the area, my girlfriend slithers away as if all of a sudden she is interested in the facade of the hotel. The hotel recommended Garage Europa for parking for 20€/day.
After walking back to and checking-in at Hotel Axial, we went out to find gelato. A little explanation is in order concerning the two hotels. When we originally made our reservations they were for three days at the Westin, but then we decided to add an additional day. We could not get the Westin for the fourth day, so with the help of tripadvisor.com, we chose the Hotel Axial.

Pictures:
1-2. View of Lake Como from our hotel room
3. Cooper resting in the lot after a hard night
4. View to the left of the balcony
5. View from room. Ang took with her camera
6. Hotel Marco's. great mom & pop hotel, breakfast included and extremely clean. Nothing fancy, but what you need. Will stay here again
7. View behind hotel of homes in mountainside
8. Mountainside construction
9. Mountainside living. Ang took with her camera.
10-12. Using a circular polarizer on camera was able to get shot of life beneath the surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
More pics day 12

1-2. Mallard ducks on Lake Como
3. The drive to Bellagio from Como. Very narrow road. Credit to Ang's somewhat steady hand.
4. Yes this is two-way.
5. Thought I was definitely going to trade paint in some sections.
6. Yes I did yell like a you know what. Inches from the wall and side mirrors folded in. Kind of funny then, but still worried about the car. Gotta give the Italians props for their driving ability. Not as crazy as their southern Italy counterparts.
7. Ferry coming to port in Bellagio
8. View of opposite side of lake from Bellagio.
9. View across lake. Ang took with her camera.
10. One of the shopping areas in Bellagio.
11. Farther up the steps in Bellagio.
12. Bellagio shopping area. Ang took with her camera.
 

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More pics 12

1-3. Bellagio shopping area in black & white. Ang took with her camera. I know the shoppes looks closed but the area was definitely open for business. black & white.
4. Shopping areas in color. Ang took with her camera.
5. Not sure how she got this effect, but it is cool. Ang took with her camera.
6. Home in Bellagio. Ang took with her camera.
7. I thought this made a cool looking pic of a water fountain. I may make it a black & white.
8. A look back down the shopping area.
9. A random shot I took. Trying to be artistic. Fail.
10. The handle of a cane I saw in the window of a shop.
11. Ang under a palm tree. It finally began to warm up.
12. Look down street in Bellagio. Ang took with her camera.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
More pics day 12

1. Ferry coming into port. Ang took with her camera.
2. Bellagio waterfont. Ang took with her camera.
3. Italian flag against mountain backdrop.
4. This is in Maranello. There was bunch of trffic in front of us. Everyone turned off and this is what was holding up all the cars.
5. But this is what I saw behind me, Ferrari Scuderia. NIIIIIIICE!!!!
6. Ferrari factory. You could hear them testing the cars on the track. Quite exciting.
7. Ferrari main gate. Cost of admission...purchase a Ferrari.
8. I did get into a Ferrari building after all...the Ferrari Store.
9. An Ferrari F1 made of legos.
10. A real Ferrari F1 on display in the store. They also had past F1 engines in the window.
11. Lamborghini Factory with my usual effect of blurring car as they pass. There was a speed trap to the right of this photo. The police were raking in the dough.
12. Front of Lamborghini factory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 · (Edited)
More pics day 12

1. There is a showroom on the Lamborghini factory site.
2. Hotel we stayed at our first night in Florence. Don't let the hall entrance fool you, the hotel is on the second floor.
 

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