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May 2nd ED trip report (warning:long)

2609 Views 17 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  fishskis
I have been fortunate in that I have traveled all over the world on many occassions, both for business and for pleasure; I am happy to say that my first ED experience was incredible, and was one of the best trips of my life.

THE DELIVERY. I arrived at the delivery center at about 8:30 am on a Monday, and was surprised to see I was not the first one there. Evidently, this was a very busy delivery day. I met up with a few Bimmerfesters, had a bite, and after about an hour and a half, I was taken to my car after filling out the necessary paperwork. The Manager of the Center, Chris (Christian?) was to be my guy. He was very nice, but frankly, it did not seem like he was thrilled to be doing lowly deliveries due to the heavy volume on this day; he was the head of this place, and he was beyond this task. He gave me brief, but friendly explanation of things, and I think both of us were content to make this a relatively quick experience. We took a few pics and I was on my way.

THE CAR. 545i Jet Black/Tan,Sports Package,NAV,Logic7,Comfort Seats,Cold Weather Package,Steptronic,Satellite Radio....

I currently drive a 2002 M3 SMG convertible. I have always owned sports/sporty cars and almost exclusively convertibles (Porsche,Mercedes,BMW). Also, almost exclusively manual transmissions. This is the first four-door car I have ever purchased. So my concern was performance and lack of a convertible.

All I can say is....WOW!! What a gorgeous car. I love my color combo; I think the e60 looks fantastic in black. I also love the interior in beige. So, I'll have to work a little harder on maintaining it, ok; I can live with that. The comfort seats are incredible; by far, the nicest, most comfortable seats I have ever experienced in a car. This was my first experience with i-drive, and I think it is great. Maybe they have made significant improvements to i-drive over the past couple of years, but I find it very user friendly and easy to use. Is it the level of incredible design and functionality of my ipod or my BlackBerry 7100? No. But I like i-drive a lot; and it will only get better with time....The Logic7 system is the best stock audio I have ever seen/heard.....The NAV is far superior to my existing cd-rom Nav in my M3; it is hard to imagine doing the trip I did without it, since I was traveling alone.

DRIVING. The hardest thing about driving was that, as you know, during the break-in period, you shouldn't go above 4,000 rpms or so. I stayed pretty true to this, though I did not limit my speed to 100 mph, as advised. The autobahn is incredible; the first day, I was up to about 130, and the car was incredible. Unfortunately, for the duration of the trip, about 1200 miles total, I stayed out of sport mode (when normally I would be in sport mode the entire time), because it would send the rpms too high when I gassed it. So, while the car performed incredibly, I couldn't really hit it hard - I can not wait to push it when I get it back!!....This car is as nice a driving car as I have ever driven; on the Autobahn, on twisties, in town; just beautiful....

THE DRIVE. I drove from MUNICH to SALZBURG to FUSSEN (Neuschwantstein Castle), to BELLAGIO, to ANNECY, to LYON, to BEAUNE (BURGUNDY REGION), to PARIS.This was my first time driving on the autobahn, and it is beautiful. Definitely the most enjoyable highway driving of my life, with some beautiful secenery on the way to Salzburg and to the castles. Coming back here and driving has been painful. The roads in France were also excellent; and in Italy, it felt a bit more like home.

The HIGHLIGHTS of my drive were driving from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, where Hitler's summer compound was, and driving around the mountains there; beautiful scenery and twisty roads. Driving through SWITZERLAND was incredible; specatacular mountain scenery and winding roads and passes. Driving through BURGUNDY; this wine region in France is beautiful, pastoral, and peppered with quaint little towns. Lake COMO is spectacular, but driving there is a nightmare (see below)

The LOWLIGHT of the drive: driving from LECCO to BELLAGIO. WARNING!!!!!!: Driving around Lake Como is treacherous. I consider myself a good driver, but I was not comfortable driving my new (relatively big) baby here. You are on roads that have room for about one and a half car widths, and somehow, this is a two way road. I am pleasantly surprised I made it out of there without a scratch. There are some ferries you can take to minimize exposure to the worst of the roads, but it is likely you will have some challenges. I am serious: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING GOING TO LAKE COMO, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, AND BE PREPARED FOR BEAUTIFUL, BUT VERY HAIRY ROADS. I would not return with my own car.

THE TRIP. Brief comments from a somewhat spoiled, somewhat impatient, single, jaded traveler.....I had high expectations for MUNICH; and while the city was nice, I was not blown away; two days was perfect. I did not like the food in Munich at all, but I did discover a great, cool Thai restaurant called YUM; I highly recommend it as a break from sausage and beer halls. THE MERIDIEN was fine, but I did not like the location, a bit sleazy, and this a four-star hotel, not a five -star, as advertised.....SALZBURG is a nice little town in pretty setting; but there is not a lot going on, and one day was plenty. I stayed at The Sacher, which was excellent.....NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE and HOHENSCHWANGAU are cool, but a quick stop was enough for me.....BELLAGIO is beautiful, but there is nothing there; it is a tiny town, with little to do, I had planned on staying 3 nights, and left after one night. If I was with my girlfriend, Bellagio and LAKE COMO would have been more enjoyable; incredible natural beauty. Frankly, though I love Italians generally, I did not like the people here at all......ANNECY is a great little city with a charming little old section and a beautiful lake in the French Alps; I would highly recommend a day or two here.......LYON is a fantastic city without the attitude of PARIS. I stayed in one of my favorite hotels in the world, The Cours Des Loges; trust me, an incredibly cool place. If you are into good food, Lyon is incredible; bring your appetite. Two or three days here is perfect.....BURGUNDY is beautiful, though I wasn't crazy about the capital where I stayed, BEANE, just a bit quiet for me. If you are into wine and you are a couple, I highly recommend a couple of days or so here.....PARIS. I stayed in a great little hotel called The Artus, which I highly recommend if you are looking for a cool small hotel in St. Germain. I have always loved Paris, and I still do; incredible. Incidentally, I found the French, in general, to be far more friendly than the Germans, Austrians, and Northern Italians I encountered, though this may be partially due to the fact that I speak some french.

SUMMARY. An incredible experience. I can"t wait to do it again. Thanks to everyone on this board for all of their help and insight. Thanks again to Bee.
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Great write up! :thumbup:

BTW, the RPM guideline on the 545 is 4500 rpm's. :)
Not to nitpick, but if you read my post, I wrote "4000 rpms or so"; the manual says 4500, and at the delivery center, they told me "about 4,000 or 4,500". I tried to keep it below below 4,000, and in practice I got up to 4,500.
arnolds said:
Great write up! :thumbup:

BTW, the RPM guideline on the 545 is 4500 rpm's. :)
Sounds Like a great Trip! congrats.

I am doing a similar trip with my dad at the end of june. I posted our planned route on myBlog

A few questions for you:

how long was your overall trip?
how much time did you spend in the car an an avarage day?
Did you pre-book all your hotels and stuff or did you wing it?
did you do any wine tasting in burgandy, any recomendations?
Pics?

I have to say I don't know how I would cope with the waiting if it were not for this forum. I love reading these trip reports. I feel like a little kid waiting for christmas, I can't remeber being this excited about anything in years
This is basically how I drove my car on this trip. Kept to the 5500 rpm limit, but not the speed limit. I did hit 140 the first day. I keep the rpms below 5500 the whole trip, as I had break-in oil and I didn't want to get the 1200 mile change over there.
fishskis said:
DRIVING. The hardest thing about driving was that, as you know, during the break-in period, you shouldn't go above 4,000 rpms or so. I stayed pretty true to this, though I did not limit my speed to 100 mph, as advised. The autobahn is incredible; the first day, I was up to about 130,
The trip was two weeks, but the driving portion was only 8 days; and this is hard to explain, but it felt like a lot more, in a good way. On my driving days I left early in the morning, and generally the trips were between 3 and 5 hours. Since I left early, I would always get to my destination by about noon, so I always had very full and long days in my new destinations.

I pre-booked, but made some changes along the way. This is an issue that really depends on your individual needs and personality.

I did not do any tasting in Burgundy; I was driving alone, and did not wish to drink and drive (incidentally, France has just passed very stringent drinking and driving laws). I would recommend staying in Beaune, and there are many tasting and touring opportunities in the region; but there are no chateaus (maybe one or two) like there are in Bordeaux. I did not like my hotel, Hotel Le Cep, rated four stars, supposedly the nicest in Beaune - lousy room and very unfriendly staff.

Good luck.
will-san said:
Sounds Like a great Trip! congrats.

I am doing a similar trip with my dad at the end of june. I posted our planned route on myBlog

A few questions for you:

how long was your overall trip?
how much time did you spend in the car an an avarage day?
Did you pre-book all your hotels and stuff or did you wing it?
did you do any wine tasting in burgandy, any recomendations?
Pics?

I have to say I don't know how I would cope with the waiting if it were not for this forum. I love reading these trip reports. I feel like a little kid waiting for christmas, I can't remeber being this excited about anything in years
Same for me. While I would have enjoyed pushing the M a bit more, one can still have plenty of fun below 5500revs. 130mph is also enough speed to feel the car and autobahn work together.
e36M3r said:
This is basically how I drove my car on this trip. Kept to the 5500 rpm limit, but not the speed limit. I did hit 140 the first day. I keep the rpms below 5500 the whole trip, as I had break-in oil and I didn't want to get the 1200 mile change over there.
I picked up the day after you, May 3rd. Chris told me that May 2nd. may have been their highest day for American deliveries ever. They did 20 Monday May 2nd. That was the first day that the new E90 was available. I'm told that they average about 150 per day which includes employee deliveries, etc.
I second Beaune

For wine's (white's) this is a great place to be. Didn't stay in any hotels there but their food and wines are fantastic.
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a lowlight of the trip (our lowlight was getting run off the road and blowing out a tire in Tuscany at 10pm), but it certainly was nervewracking. We drove down from Munich, through St. Moritz, down the eastern shore of the lake, and rather than taking the ferry from Varenna direct to Bellagio, we drove down to Lecco and back up. We had an X3 and it felt huge. Couple that with the fact that Italians like to drive right smack in the center of those little 1 1/2 lane roads, or with their left wheels on the centerline of a true 2 lane road, and you get some serious "oh sh!t" handle grabbing by the wife and some white-knuckle wheel grabbing by the driver. We learned our lesson and when we left Bellagio, we took the ferry.

The LOWLIGHT of the drive: driving from LECCO to BELLAGIO. WARNING!!!!!!: Driving around Lake Como is treacherous. I consider myself a good driver, but I was not comfortable driving my new (relatively big) baby here. You are on roads that have room for about one and a half car widths, and somehow, this is a two way road. I am pleasantly surprised I made it out of there without a scratch. There are some ferries you can take to minimize exposure to the worst of the roads, but it is likely you will have some challenges. I am serious: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING GOING TO LAKE COMO, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, AND BE PREPARED FOR BEAUTIFUL, BUT VERY HAIRY ROADS. I would not return with my own car.
I had high expectations for MUNICH; and while the city was nice, I was not blown away; two days was perfect. I did not like the food in Munich at all, but I did discover a great, cool Thai restaurant called YUM; I highly recommend it as a break from sausage and beer halls. THE MERIDIEN was fine, but I did not like the location, a bit sleazy, and this a four-star hotel, not a five -star, as advertised
We've enjoyed Munich the couple of nights that we've spent there at the start and end of our two ED vacations. It's fun to stroll down Leopoldstrasse in Schwabing, or to go to the Olympic Park.

BELLAGIO is beautiful, but there is nothing there; it is a tiny town, with little to do, I had planned on staying 3 nights, and left after one night. If I was with my girlfriend, Bellagio and LAKE COMO would have been more enjoyable; incredible natural beauty. Frankly, though I love Italians generally, I did not like the people here at all
We loved Bellagio. We stayed 3 nights in the Metropole, overlooking the lake. While Bellagio itself is a very small town; we took the ferry down to Como, over to Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna. I also get the feeling that Lake Como doesn't really come alive until later in the summer when the lake water's a bit warmer. We also didn't experience any attitude from any of the restauranteurs or shop owners with whom we came into contact.

Sounds like you had a great trip, though.

-MrB
fishskis,

sorry we missed you. You were gone by the time I arrived @ pickup. I was able to share a coffee with OnOn and djflp. I'm glad you had a great time on your trip.
Great write up fishskis, can't wait to see pics. I have to agree with you on certain points except Bellagio was one of the nicest places we visited. Unfortunatelly we stayed in Lecco which is no big deal and should have stayed in Bellagio at least that 1 night. The drive from Lecco to Bellagio through those roads was tough specially since those Italian drivers do not slow down. Having been to Europe many times and having high expectations, I still found this trip to be one of my best ones obviously b/c of the whole car experience. :thumbup:

Attachments

Well, let me clarify a bit....Bellagio is a truly beautiful little town, and Lake Como has some of the most spectacular natural scenery I have ever seen. I would gladly return to Como on three conditions: 1) That I was with a girlfriend (or wife), 2) That we would be driving a small rental car with full, no-deductible insurance, and 3) That I would not stay in The Hotel Du Lac, whose proprietors I found unfriendly, and whose rooms were extremely smelly in that moldy humid sort of way.

MRBELK: We did the same route; I missed the turn for Varenna and the ferry, so I ended up taking the same route from Lecco to Bellagio. On the way back I took the ferry, but somehow got lost and ended up an another tough road (though not quite as bad as Lecco-Bellagio), and ended up with a beautiful unplanned drive around Lake Lugano, and through the small city of Lugano.

SHARMA: Sorry I missed you too. I had been waking up at 3 or 4 am each morning, so getting to the center early was easy. I did spend a bit of time with OnOn and DJFLP (and his wife), but I got my car ahead of them, and sped away after a quick goodbye. I hope you had a great trip! Also, best wishes to DJFLP - I hope you guys had a great trip too.

By the way, the weather was incredible!! Sunshine and no rain for two weeks straight.
yamilrx said:
Great write up fishskis, can't wait to see pics. I have to agree with you on certain points except Bellagio was one of the nicest places we visited. Unfortunatelly we stayed in Lecco which is no big deal and should have stayed in Bellagio at least that 1 night. The drive from Lecco to Bellagio through those roads was tough specially since those Italian drivers do not slow down. Having been to Europe many times and having high expectations, I still found this trip to be one of my best ones obviously b/c of the whole car experience. :thumbup:
Sharmabmw, Fishskis & djflp!

Great getting to meet to you on May 2nd. Sounds like everyone had a blast......

My car sailed into NY yesterday on the Takasago (May 22)....now the REALLY hard part begins....just another 220 miles to go!

Cheers,

OnOn
The road on the west side of the lake is not nearly as bad (although pretty narrow in places as well). If you are staying in Bellagio, I would take the ferry from teh west side right to bellagio, park the car and leave it until you need to leave.
fishskis said:
MRBELK: We did the same route; I missed the turn for Varenna and the ferry, so I ended up taking the same route from Lecco to Bellagio. On the way back I took the ferry, but somehow got lost and ended up an another tough road (though not quite as bad as Lecco-Bellagio), and ended up with a beautiful unplanned drive around Lake Lugano, and through the small city of Lugano.
.
I agree, I stayed in Varenna - a city on Lake Como directly opposite of Bellagio and didn't have too many problems driving / parking, although the roads are pretty narrow for a full sized sedan.
Tanning machine said:
The road on the west side of the lake is not nearly as bad (although pretty narrow in places as well). If you are staying in Bellagio, I would take the ferry from teh west side right to bellagio, park the car and leave it until you need to leave.
I think the most alarming thing about driving around Lake Como (and other narrow Italian streets for that matter) is how oncoming cars don't even flinch toward the shoulder to give you more room. The drivers side mirror/drivers side mirror clearance that they are comfortable with seems to be measurable in microns.
The attitude of Italian bicyclists and scooters seems to be 'you've gotta miss me'.
Congrats! Wow, less than 3 weeks. I expect mine towards the end of June; about 7 or 8 weeks (dropoff timing and the west coast (and maybe Paris dropoff adds time?)).

Enjoy the ride!
OnOn said:
Sharmabmw, Fishskis & djflp!

Great getting to meet to you on May 2nd. Sounds like everyone had a blast......

My car sailed into NY yesterday on the Takasago (May 22)....now the REALLY hard part begins....just another 220 miles to go!

Cheers,

OnOn
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