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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have finally sorted through all of our pics since we returned from our ED trip May 3rd-11th. I have previously posted 2 small trip reports/updates while traveling. I'll now try to give a more complete summary of our trip....with a link to all of our pics as well.

Thanks again to Irv Robinson for all his great work with helping us prepare for the trip. The sales/negotiation process was harmless. Irv was a pleasure to work with. He's a true enthusiast and knows a ton about the cars...and the ED process. Thanks, Irv!

Also many thanks to all the contributing members from Bimmerfest. I had been considering our first BMW for some time, but was thoroughly un-impressed with our local Milwaukee dealer knowledge. It was through Bimmerfest that I learned all that I needed to help me realize...I must have the 335xi:yummy: It was also the Bimmerfest forums that opened my eyes to the European Delivery process. What an awesome experience it was (despite delivery troubles). I'll do it again...and again...and again......
Thanks to everyone for their stories, pictures and advice. What a trip it was. Here goes...

May 3rd - Left our 3 boys (3-1/2, 2-1/2, & 1) with Grandma at our house in Milwaukee and sprinted for General Mitchell Airport. Halfway to the airport, I realized that I had not packed my power cord for my laptop. Not enough time to turn around...what to do? Thankfully we passed a BestBuy on the way to the airport and was able to purchase a universal travel cord so I could make some picture posts on the trip. The 20 minute flight from Milwaukee to Chicago O'Hare seemed kind of crazy, but it was actually cheaper to fly Milwaukee-Chicago-Munich, rather than to drive to Chicago and then catch the plane. We used the Lufthansa 2-for-1 and paid $1284 round-trip. They explained that "local incentives" made it cheaper to actually fly further. All of our flights were actually on United and at the airport we were able to upgrade to Economy Plus for about $80 each. It was well worth it :thumbup: to have the extra 5 inches of legroom for the 8 hour flight since I'm 6'2". Everything ran on-time and the flight from O'Hare to Munich was rather harmless. We were surprised by the quality of the food and enjoyed one movie. I tried to read one of my medical journals and my wife and I both took a dose of Ambien. I'm not sure if the journal or the Ambien made me sleepy first, but we slept for 5+ hours each and felt very fresh when we arrived in Munich.

May 4th - We arrived to Munich at 950am. We had no problems with our luggage and easily found Rolf. After stocking up on Euros at the airport ATM we headed directly for the Delivery Center. As previously mentioned, Rolf was great. He gave us a great tour and some great advice about Munich during our drive. His advice to buy gas in Austria was right on - it's about 0.30 Euro/liter cheaper for all grades.

As we arrived to the Delivery Center, my heart started thumping and my wife couldn't believe the giant grin on my face. It was finally about to happen!!! We checked in without problems and sat down with Rolf to discuss the Munich scene and have some Weißwurst. Despite a packed Delivery Center Bistro, my name was called within 5 minutes. Uh oh!:eek: Rolf said he had never seen anyone called that quickly, so something must be wrong. As I've mentioned before, my worst nightmare become reality. My car was not ready. Someone had "forgotten to order vehicle preparation" and my car was stuck in the factory only miles away. Since it was Friday, they offered to deliver my vehicle on Monday. We had already made plans to be in Italy by Monday, so they offered a 530 loaner. Since I had read about this happening before, I wasn't totally surprised and tried not to blow my lid. I politely asked if I could get a 335 since I wanted to experience the twin-turbo on the Autobahn. They told me that they did not keep any 335 vehicles for loaner use, but they would see what they could do. Within 30 minutes they had located a 335i sedan in the Munich-sport Euro version. It was nearly identical in color and features - and also had the Nav (which we had not ordered). The vehicle would be loaned from the BMW VIP rental fleet within a few miles of the Harms dropoff point so Rolf immediately offered to take us directly there. While at the Delivery Center we briefly met [email protected], Redadair and WilliamX.

Although is wasn't "my baby" it still felt great to finally get into the 335 and start our trip. Thankfully my wife speaks some German and was able to figure out the Nav which was in German - and switch it to English for our trip. Since I had brought my Garmin Streetpilot 2610 with full Euro maps, routes and waypoints, we still used our own GPS and enjoyed the many other features of the iDrive. It really wasn't hard to use after a few minutes of orientation. The only disappointment was that the Euro version 335 did not have a USB port for my 4GB of music we had brought. We made due with local stations.

We easily made it to the local BMW dealer with Rolf's directions and bought our Austrian safety vests. We also walked across the street to the ADAC to get our vignettes for Austria and Switzerland. Yeah, it cost a few extra dollars to get these - but I brought some of the removeable window sticker film so we could easily remove them and put them in the scrapbook after our trip.

After some fun on the Autobahn we found our way to the Dachau prison camp. We had 3 hours to tour the camp and as most have mentioned previously - it was definitely powerful, thought-provoking and well worth the visit. Very educational and eye-opening.

From Dachau, we made our way to the Munich Marriott which we had booked through Priceline as suggested. We got our room for $70. The room was not very large or super fancy, but still very nice. After some brief rest, we walked to a cozy local restaurant, Stengelhaus and had some great weinerschniztel, wurst and sauerkraut - and of course some great beer. I don't remember what I had, but in included some dunkel and some lager. My wife liked the raddler. We turned in relatively early in preparation for our early start in the morning.

May 5th - We awoke to pouring rain - just in time for our longest day of driving. Oh well, we had to go. Rain wasn't going to hurt us. We had some fresh juice and pastries from a local bakery and got on the road by 8am. We made our way to Schloss Neuschwanstein by 10am. We hadn't packed an umbrella so we had to buy an over-priced tourist umbrella and started our way up the hill. We visited Mary's Bridge for some incredible views of the castle. Despite the great view, I couldn't coax my wife more than 5 feet out onto the bridge because of the wet, bouncing wooden planks. It probably didn't help that I was bouncing a little bit on purpose. We then took the tour of Neuschwanstein and loved it. We're not castle aficionados yet, so we were thoroughly impressed by the massive size of the structure and the incredible engineering and craftsmanship that went into all the stonework and woodwork. On our way down to the car, the local vendors were just firing up their outdoor grills and we couldn't resist the smell of some fresh grilled bratwurst. There's no doubt - the bratwurst in Germany are better than Milwaukee. (I think I may lose my Wisconsin citizenship for saying that.)

The rain continued and we made our way toward Liechtenstein. We gassed up in Austria to save some Euro. We were waved through by Austrian border patrol as we left Austria - maybe because we had true German plates on our loaner vehicle. We were checked much more closely as we entered Switzerland and they took their time checking our passports, but ultimately entered without difficulty. We stopped in Vaduz, Liechtenstein to have lunch. There was a children's running race occuring throughout the downtown streets. We got a kick out of seeing the small kids run around in the rain. They were having a great time. We had on OK lunch, but mainly just wanted to be able to say we had lunch in Liechtenstein.

We continued our way towards our goal of Bellagio (Lake Como), Italy. The rain and fog continued all day. It made for some rather tense driving at 38degrees Fahrenheit through the twisting Swiss mountains and tunnels - with the locals flying by at ungodly speeds considering the conditions. They obviously knew what was around the next turn - I did not. We made it to Cadenabbia, Italy by dusk and boarded the Lake Como ferry which took us and the car across the lake to Bellagio. The rains ended and it was a great end to a long day. We checked into Hotel Bellagio after securing some decent street parking (free overnight). The room was very clean and modern. The bathroom was almost brand new. We opted for the full lake view and ended up on the 3rd floor with an AWESOME view of Lake Como overlooking several nearby buildings. The only negative was a rather uncomfortable old mattress. We had a great dinner at Baba Yaga at the recommendation of our hotel night manager. Fresh squid-ink linguine with prawns & scallops; great pizza; awesome proscuittio, salami and cheeses; and great house wine. We ended the night with some awesome gelatto sitting on the lakeshore at midnight.

May 6th - Still in Bellagio. We had an awesome time here and will definitely return in the future. Parking during the day was rather tough to find and would have required feeding a meter all day. We had reserved a garage spot for 9Euro/night throught the hotel, so I moved the car into the garage first thing in the morning. What a tight spot. As I drove into the garage, I thought I was entering a walk-in self-storage area. I couldn't believe there were cars in all the stalls. It was definitely safe & secure.

We spent all day walking through the town and along the lakefront. The cobblestone walkways and old buildings are beautiful. The fresh mozzarella with tomatoes & basil - and the fresh gnocchi were spectacular. We spent the afternoon at an outdoor streetside cafe just relaxing. Of course...more gelatto.

May 7th - We left Bellagio late morning and headed for Venice. The scenery driving along Lake Como as we left was unbelievable. We got very lucky with some traffic along the way - it always seemed to be backed up in the opposite direction. We cruised through everything. Weather was great and the Autostrada made for a great ride. We were to Venice in about 3 hours and parked at Tronchetto garage. There is quite a bit of construction with a new garage being built currently, but overall not too hard to figure out where to go. We didn't bother with a VIP spot and found a very comfortable parking space protected on one side by a concrete wall.

We took the water bus (vaporetto) to the Accademia Bridge stop and contacted the host of our hotel, Casa de Uscoli, which is right on the Grand Canal. Since Venice floods frequently in the fall, the first floor of many buildings are abandoned and unmarked. He offered to meet us and help us find our way to the correct building. It was a good thing he did - because we had to pass through several dark, musty corridors, gates and archways to arrive at a delapidated old, unmarked wooden door. As he guided us up the stairs, I seriously started to question the Trip Advisor reviews. Amazingly, as we reached the 2nd floor, everything was modern and new. Our hotel was actually a bed & breakfast and we had a wonderful large room called the "library room". It was filled with old italian books and a hidden private bath behind the bookcase. The ceiling was covered with incredible original Venetian plasterwork. Our room looked over a courtyard to the local music academy, so all day we were serenaded by wonderful violin music. The common area of the bed&breakfast offered amazing views directly onto the Great Canal. I was mesmerized watching ambulance, police, construction, delivery and UPS boats zip by all day. We loved Casa de Uscoli and would definitely consider staying there again in the future. Breakfasts were very simple croissants, jam, juice & coffee. The location was excellent for reaching all the common tourist areas - and still easy to take a walk and get lost in the inner neighborhoods of Venice.

The first night we visted St.Mark's square and my wife couldn't resist playing with the pigeons. We were absolutely awestruck by the incredible architecture of every building in Venice. Incredible decorative statues adorned every building. We had another great italian meal - fresh meats & cheeses appetizer - followed by great pizzas.

May 8th - We spent all day in Venice - wandering through all the neighborhoods - admiring the beautiful buildings, canals & churches. I don't really know where we were - but we had another amazing Italian lunch in an outdoor cafe on a small courtyard. I happened to find a Venetian computer store and bought a male-to-male headphone cord - and also a blank CD-R. I burned as many songs as I could in mp3 format onto the CD that afternoon in hopes of having some better tunes in the car the next day. That evening, we took the typical nighttime romantic gondola ride and then ended the night with a bottle of wine at Caffe Florian in St. Mark's Square while listening to the dueling classical music stages. What a beautiful night.

May 9th - We got up early to beat the crowds into St. Mark's Church. I'm not Catholic, but the religious history as well as the architecture, artistry, and engineering that went into the building over the 800 years of development are truly amazing. We left Venice by early afternoon and headed for the Dolomite mountains.

We finally had some good tunes in the car. The headphone cord allowed me to plug my iRiver mp3 player into the Aux In port - and the mp3 CD worked beautifully. Our drive through the Dolomites was amazing. We took the long road through Cortina d'Ampezzo and arrived in Lienz, Austria by 7pm. We checked into the Romantik Hotel Traube and were very pleasantly surprised by the small, modern town and the very modern and comfortable hotel. I was perplexed by the Austrian toilet design (see the pics). They had affordable LAN internet access and provided the necessary ethernet cables since I was only prepared for Wi-Fi access. We had a great typical Tirolian dinner - and too many beers. Another great night.

May 10th - We got up early to take a swim at the hotel. The overflow-style pool is located on the top floor surrounded by full-length glass window/walls overlooking the town and the mountains. What a way to start the day. We got on the road rather early because we were heading back to Munich to get our own car!!!

We had planned to drive the Grossglockner highway this morning and then travel via Salzburg back to Munich. Since we had to be to the Delivery Center by 3pm at the latest, and we had heard the Grossglockner could take a long time, we decided to skip it. I was very disappointed:mad: because it was going to be my driving highlight of the trip - but I couldn't take a chance of missing my own car on the 2nd attempt at delivery. So, we instead took the local Austrian roads directly to Munich (good thing for my Garmin GPS once again). We had seen a show on the Travel Channel before our trip that had shown the summer time roller-luge sleds in Austria. We happened to drive right by one of them in Walchsee, Austria. It's called the Sommerrodelbahn - and it was a blast!:thumbup: You take the chairlift halfway up the slope and then ride down a stainless luge chute while sitting on a wheeled plastic sled with a lever braking mechanism. They were so fast that I actually felt like I might flip out of the track around a few of the turns. It was an incredible diversion and somewhat made up for missing the Grossglockner. Despite not going through the national park, the ride through the Austrian Alps was still awesome.

We had a great time again on the Austrian and German Autobahn. We cruised at 95mph - 110mph and had several bursts to 135mph. What an awesome roadway with very courteous and respectful drivers. There were definitely too many trucks, but they stayed in their lanes most of the time and weren't a bother. We arrived to the Delivery Center at 230pm just as planned. I was a little paranoid and had called Maggie at the Delivery Center around noon, just to make sure my car was really ready this time. She assured me everything was ready to go.

Even though it was my second visit to the Delivery Center, my heart started pounding once again as we pulled into the BMW wonderland. We settled into the Bistro, had a great sandwich and signed the Bimmerfest book (again). We met Chris(?) from Hawaii who was taking delivery of his 335i coupe. We were the last delivery of the day and Vanessa was a great delivery specialist. She was aware of our original delivery mishap and took great care of us. She explained all of the paperwork and then took us to meet our baby. What a feeling walking through those doors into that immaculate delivery garage. She was more beautiful than I had expected!!!!

Vanessa gave us a great introduction to our vehicle and all the details. She seemed super excited about the 335 and pointed out the extra horizontal bar embedded in the airdam up front. She said all German drivers can recognize this unique feature which indicates the top-of-the-line 335 when looking in their rearview mirror. I had not been aware of this. After plenty of pictures we were on our way. The ride was definitely a little different than the 335i M-version Euro Sport sedan we had been driving, but overall I think the 335xi was more comfortable and yet still plenty sporty. My wife was getting pretty tired of the tight sport suspension all week. I finally got to test out my USB flash drive and it worked beautifully - although I'll probably simplify my folder arrangements. We got the non-Nav vehicle and scrolling through all the music folders on the radio screen gets a little cumbersome.

We made our way to Platzl Hotel. It is very near Marienplatz and Hofbrauhaus. The rooms are on the smaller side but immaculate and newly renovated. The hotel lobby is the only drawback - rather old and smoky. I briefly parked on the street across from the hotel. While parked there I noticed multiple locals briefly pause to admire the car. The bellboy at the hotel recognized and complemented the 335 (I think he knew by the aforementioned horizontal bar on the front airdam/grill because he never saw the rear of the vehicle.) He suggested I park in the Platzl garage which I quickly did for 18E/night.

We walked around Marienplatz that evening but there was a very loud band playing and we weren't that impressed. We still enjoyed the walk and picked up some extra pieces for our Henckel knive set, directly from the Henckel store.

We had an awesome German dinner and too many biers at the Paulaner outdoor bier garden. We had intended to make a stop at Hofbrauhaus for one beer, but we wanted to get up early to take the car out on the Autobahn as much as possible in the morning before dropping it off at Harms. We decided to turn in early.

May 11th - We checked out of Platzl by 8am. We headed to the Autobahn for some fun morning driving in our own 335xi before we had to drop her off. We got to Harms by 930am. Rolf was not available so Peter was there waiting for us. Thomas was very friendly and helpful. He packaged up my plate for me and we had the paperwork all finished within 10 minutes. It was hard to leave my car there - especially since I only had her for 18 hours and only got to drive her for 40 miles.

Peter got us to the airport very easily and we had no problem checking in and getting on our way. Once again we upgraded to Economy Plus for the extra legroom on United. It was well worth it for the long flight. We had one snafu in Chicago when the track caught fire for the train/shuttle from the International terminal to the connecting flights. The shuttle was shut down for about 1 hour and we ended up missing our connecting flight. Fortunately, there was another flight to Milwaukee 1 hour later and we made it without a problem. It wasn't much fun to then drive home in my Yukon XL on our wonderful US highways. Get out of the left lane, people!!!:mad: Ultimately, it felt good to get home and have my 3 boys come running into my arms.

Overall...my wife and I agreed that this was one of our favorite vacations ever - despite the delivery snafu. Things happen. We still got to drive a great car on some great roads and saw some great sites. This was my first trip to Europe. My typical vacations have always been to sunny locales for some beach time and some deep sea fishing. This trip may have beaten them all. Now we have plenty of ideas for our future trips. We felt that we could easily spend a full vacation in each place we stayed - Munich, Bellagio, Venice & Lienz. I will definitely do an ED again - I just don't think they'll let me book for 2010 yet, when my lease expires. I need to get back to drive the Grossglockner!

I took about 900 pictures over the 9 days. I weeded that down to about 600 pics. They're all posted here:

http://www.szat.com/bmw/

It's a private server so it might take a few minutes for all the pics to appear. I hope you enjoy. We sure did.

Thanks Irv Robinson. Thanks Bimmerfesters. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
 

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weissbiermeister
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Good for you Doc! Another successful and memorable ED adventure chronicled for the forum.

I don't see any shame in the Miliwaukeeans Brats not standing up to the Bavarian offerings. Now you just need to get Miller to step it up and brew something inspired by Paulaner/HP etc!
 

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Thanks for the photo link. I was amazed to see the teracotta painted palazzo building on the Grand Canal we will be staying in featured in one of your shots of Venice. It is the former "palace" residence of the 19th century Italian painter Giacomo Favretto. In your photo you can see a red banner with the words CA Favretto hanging from the center balcony. (20070509054109.jpg) It is the photo sandwiched between the shots of the garbage barge and a rather wide bridge across one of the canals. The "hotel's" name is Hotel San Cassiano CA 'Favretto. I'd love to get a photo print of it if possible. (I'll send a PM) Looks like you had an exciting time.
 

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Freude am Fahren
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Nice photos and report! :thumbup:

Good use of black-and-white also.
 

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Bayerische Motoren Werke
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Excellent report! We must have missed you at the delivery center.

We stayed at the Platzl our first night in Munich before picking up the next day. Great location, friendly, clean and an excellent breakfast including eveyrthing from Weisswurst to champagne. Plus with the station right around the corner it was an easy 5 minute train ride to the delivery center.
 

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Great write-up, and awesome photos! Especially the black and white's from Dachau. I'm surprised UPS boats weren't all brown? Too much of an eyesore I suppose. I'm sorry we didn't get the chance to meet, I'm glad you had such a wonderful time. If you really like the Sommerrodelbahn, we have a bunch in Colorado including one in Denver.

Erik
 

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Ich liebe mein BMW
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Wow! What a write-up. Awesome! Thanks for sharing..
 

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Don't be a left lane hog
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Thanks for the report. I enjoyed your comments as we will be going to some of the places you pictured. Good to see that the initial non-delivery did not ruin your trip. Good man! :thumbup:
 

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Beemin' in my Bimmer ;-)
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Glad you got to drive your new bimmer in the place of her birth. Great report and beautiful pics. Thanks! :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
:D Looks like you had an amazing time. Great pictures :thumbup: :thumbup:
Did that slide go all the way down the mountain??? :)
It went about 1/2 way down the mountain. It looked like the lift went much higher to the peak. It looks kind of cheesy, but we had a blast and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great writeup and pics. I really like the wheels on the loaner. :)
I really liked them as well. If I weren't leasing my car, I would have considered trying to get the same wheels on my car in the US.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow! What a write-up. Awesome! Thanks for sharing..
Thanks for all the great comments. I was worried it was too long-winded. I guess many people are like myself - addicted to reading about everyone's trip. Even though my trip is over, I can't get it out of my mind. I come home every day anxious to read about someone else's new report. Does it ever stop? Based upon the repeat EDers that I've read about, I doubt the excitement ever wanes.
 

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Running around in circles
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Great writeup and pics :thumbup: Only 600??!?!?! :rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great writeup and pics :thumbup: Only 600??!?!?! :rofl:
Thanks again. I know it's crazy, but you have to love the 4GB compact flash cards out there nowadays. One card all week in our 8megapixel Canon 20d. We just kept taking pics left & right and never ran out of space. Why not?
 

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Does it ever get old

Does it get old? No, it doesn't. (16 years later) This is my favorite forum for that reason.
I loved the detail of your "diary".
I related to a bunch of things you did and saw.
We had the fortune of traveling with natives and so we got to meet a lot of the locals and they are a large part of our most memorable events.
We still find ourselves recalling events like:

"Remember when we were in that biegarten in Kunchen and the waitress asked our friend if he wanted water?"

His response "Wasser? Wasser? Nein, it has no foam!"

Anyway, great job on your report! You get an A from me for "What I did this summer"
 
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