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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
European Delivery trip, BMW 335i M-Sport

Trip prep

High school German class was a long time ago. To try to brush up a little, I downloaded several podcast language lessons from Deutsche Welle (www.dw.de) and spent probably a few hundred hours listening to them. It was an enormous help. Even more helpful was that my younger daughter was a lot closer to her high school German, and had spent a month in Nuremburg a few years ago. Between the two of us we made out okay.

After reading a lot of posts on this forum, we got the Marriott Rewards chip & signature card from Chase. It served us well, and there were a few places that my daughters were unable to use their mag stripe cards, but the chip & sig card always worked fine. I would sometimes get asked about a pin, and had to explain "kein pin, unterschreiben", and that always resolved the confusion.

Thursday, May 16 - Departure

We caught an evening flight on United from Washington Dulles to Munich. The flight was fine and the food was actually pretty decent. Sleeping on a plane is always tough for me, so I probably only got about 4 hours of sleep.

Friday, May 17 - Arrival in Munich

We arrived in Munich at 7am. Rolf met us right outside immigration, and we sat down at the airport McDonalds to review the trip plans. Rolf had a lot of advice and suggestions of things to see in Munich. As it turned out, by the time we were back in Munich at the end of our trip, I didn't remember what all the marks were that Rolf wrote on the map! Rolf also explained how to use the U-Bahn (subway system) to get to the BMW Welt.

Rolf drove us past the Welt and down to our hotel, the Marriott Couryard City Center. Along the way, he dispensed some valuable advice, including "Don't speed!", and answered a few questions about speed limits and traffic signs. An important tip: NO right turn on red.

To our surprise, we were able to check into our rooms early. Against my daughter's advice, we took a short nap before heading out. We walked much of the pedestrian zone around the Marienplatz, then went to the Hofbräuhaus for lunch.













Before the trip, most people I spoke with said "oh, as soon as they hear you speak, everyone will answer you in English." That turned out NOT to be my experience. Even in the Hofbräuhaus, which is perhaps the ultimate Munich tourist location, our server spoke very little English.

Courtyard by Marriott München City Center
Schwanthalerstraße 37
80336 Munich, Germany
+49 89 54884880
marriott.com

Hofbräuhaus
Platzl 9
80331 Munich, Germany
+49 89 290136100
hofbraeuhaus.de


Here at our first meal in Germany we ran immediately into one of our consistent challenges -- tipping. We paid the bill by credit card, and when the receipt came back it lacked the typical (for the US) tip line. Too tired to think about it very hard, I just left a tip in cash.

After lunch we walked to the Deutsches Museum, a museum of science and technology. I enjoyed it, as did my engineer daughter, but my wife and older daughter didn't get much out of it. It didn't help a lot that all of the signs and descriptions were solely in German. I'd have enjoyted it more if I wasn't completely jet-lagged, but really the whole point was to burn off the day until it was time to go to bed, so I'd chalk it up as a success.



Deutsches Museum
Museumsinsel 1
80538 Munich, Germany
+49 89 21791
deutsches-museum.de


On the way back from the museum the cloudy day turned to fairly heavy rain, and we weaved our way from overhang to overhang along the Marienplatz back to the hotel, where we asked the desk staff for dinner recommendations. The Courtyard staff members were very friendly and helpful, and all spoke excellent English. American travelers will feel right at home here.

The concierge recommended a small Italian restaurant a few blocks away, and since the rain had let up we walked over. Although we didn't have a reservation, we were on the early side and they were able to seat us right away. Our waiter at first seemed a bit cross with us, perhaps because we were taking so long to work through the menu, and he knew he'd be needing the table for a later reservation. In my halting German I told him we'd just arrived early in the morning and were all very tired, and he slowly warmed up to us. The food here was quite good. By the time we got to the end of the meal and I asked him how to best pay the tip, he was chatting with me about a relative who had an Italian restaurant somewhere in Virginia, and we were buddies. Lesson learned: it's WAY better to plug along in mangled German than to "expect" English! The tipping secret, by the way, is simply to tell the server how much you would like to pay in total -- "fünfundsechzig in total, bitte". He had a final chuckle when I had to run back into the restaurant to look for my wallet that I thought I had dropped under the table, only to then find it in my pocket. What can I say, I was tired.

Osteria La vecchia masseria
Mathildenstraße 3
80336 Munich, Germany
+49 89 5509090
lavecchiamasseria.de
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Saturday, May 18 - BMW Delivery Day!

We were up early for our 10:30am delivery, and on the U-Bahn with all our luggage before 8am. We struggled a little to understand exactly which ticket we needed for the U-Bahn, and ended up over-paying significantly because we bought a full-system ticket rather than the 1-zone or 2-zone ticket that we needed to get to the Welt. We did at least buy the group ticket that allows up to 5 to travel for essentially the cost of 2. Remember to validate your ticket as you head toward the train platform; having an unvalidated ticket can result in a hefty fine.

We arrived at the Welt and checked in. The very friendly receptionist took all our luggage and sent us upstairs ("just follow the red carpet") to the premium lounge for breakfast and a few last bits of paperwork. I took the opportunity to sign Das Buch and drop off the Bimmerfest stickers that Tim had sent me.

Breakfast was a very nice spread of cakes, yogurt, cold cuts, sausages, and pretzels. It was quite delicious! We then walked around the Welt and did a little shopping in the gift shop, including picking up my engraved keychain.









At 10am we met our delivery specialist, Sven. Actually it was about 10:03, since we took a little longer than planned in the gift shop, and the German penchant for timeliness was showing as Sven was more-or-less standing there tapping his foot waiting for us. Oh well, stupid Americans...

Sven took me through a presentation of some of the technical features of the new car, then put me in the driving simulator to demonstrate the effectiveness of traction control and stability control. That was entertaining, but not actually all that useful in my opinion. Finally it was time to head out to the grand staircase, and the lights turned on and the car started spinning on the turntable below us. Wow, that's a good-looking car!

















Okay, time to get on the road! A quick lunch in the premium lounge, and we got started to Nuremburg, about a 2-hour drive up autobahn A9. Mostly we cruised between 80 and 90 mph switching between 5th and 6th gears to keep the engine revs varying, but I did sneak in a quick run-up to about 110. Yuck, 110mph bugs all over the car... We checked into our hotel, the Hotel Deutscher Kaiser, which was right on the edge of the Nuremburg pedestrian zone -- a perfect location. There were a few parking spots in a narrow alley behind the hotel, a very nice feature for a city-center hotel.









Hotel Deutscher Kaiser
Königstraße 55
90402 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 24266 ext. 0
deutscher-kaiser-hotel.de


We spent the afternoon walking the extensive city center in Nuremburg, including the massive Kaiserburg castle. The zentrum area is very lovely, with a lot to see and many charming shops. Best of all, from my daughter's perspective, were the Nürnberg bratwurst stands! My personal favorite was the little boy fixated on the fountain of women streaming water from their nipples.

From the Kaiserburg we spotted a nice looking restaurant right next door to the Albrecht Dürer house, and ate dinner outside in what was to be the last nice day of the trip. Dinner was delicious! Again, our waiter spoke a bit of English, but it was easier and more fun for us to order the meal in German.



















Gaststätte Zur Schranke
Beim Tiergärtnertor 3
90403 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 225474
augustiner-zur-schranke.de
 

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Saturday, May 18 - BMW Delivery Day!

We were up early for our 10:30am delivery, and on the U-Bahn with all our luggage before 8am. We struggled a little to understand exactly which ticket we needed for the U-Bahn, and ended up over-paying significantly because we bought a full-system ticket rather than the 1-zone or 2-zone ticket that we needed to get to the Welt. We did at least buy the group ticket that allows up to 5 to travel for essentially the cost of 2. Remember to validate your ticket as you head toward the train platform; having an unvalidated ticket can result in a hefty fine.

We arrived at the Welt and checked in. The very friendly receptionist took all our luggage and sent us upstairs ("just follow the red carpet") to the premium lounge for breakfast and a few last bits of paperwork. I took the opportunity to sign Das Buch and drop off the Bimmerfest stickers that Tim had sent me.

Breakfast was a very nice spread of cakes, yogurt, cold cuts, sausages, and pretzels. It was quite delicious! We then walked around the Welt and did a little shopping in the gift shop, including picking up my engraved keychain.









At 10am we met our delivery specialist, Sven. Actually it was about 10:03, since we took a little longer than planned in the gift shop, and the German penchant for timeliness was showing as Sven was more-or-less standing there tapping his foot waiting for us. Oh well, stupid Americans...

Sven took me through a presentation of some of the technical features of the new car, then put me in the driving simulator to demonstrate the effectiveness of traction control and stability control. That was entertaining, but not actually all that useful in my opinion. Finally it was time to head out to the grand staircase, and the lights turned on and the car started spinning on the turntable below us. Wow, that's a good-looking car!

















Okay, time to get on the road! A quick lunch in the premium lounge, and we got started to Nuremburg, about a 2-hour drive up autobahn A9. Mostly we cruised between 80 and 90 mph switching between 5th and 6th gears to keep the engine revs varying, but I did sneak in a quick run-up to about 110. Yuck, 110mph bugs all over the car... We checked into our hotel, the Hotel Deutscher Kaiser, which was right on the edge of the Nuremburg pedestrian zone -- a perfect location. There were a few parking spots in a narrow alley behind the hotel, a very nice feature for a city-center hotel.









Hotel Deutscher Kaiser
Königstraße 55
90402 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 24266 ext. 0
deutscher-kaiser-hotel.de


We spent the afternoon walking the extensive city center in Nuremburg, including the massive Kaiserburg castle. The zentrum area is very lovely, with a lot to see and many charming shops. Best of all, from my daughter's perspective, were the Nürnberg bratwurst stands! My personal favorite was the little boy fixated on the fountain of women streaming water from their nipples.

From the Kaiserburg we spotted a nice looking restaurant right next door to the Albrecht Dürer house, and ate dinner outside in what was to be the last nice day of the trip. Dinner was delicious! Again, our waiter spoke a bit of English, but it was easier and more fun for us to order the meal in German.



















Gaststätte Zur Schranke
Beim Tiergärtnertor 3
90403 Nuremberg, Germany
+49 911 225474
augustiner-zur-schranke.de
Willkommen in Deutschland! :)
Hope you enjoy your whole stay. And, of course congratulations to your wonderful new car!
What will be your next destinations in Germany or Europe? Or left you home already after your visit in Nuremberg?
Oh, let me say one thing: ich bin beeindruckt das Du versucht hast das Essen in deutsch zu bestellen :thumbup:
Best wishes, Markus
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Sunday, May 19 - Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber

In the morning we visited the Nazi Party colliseum and parade grounds, including the Dokumentationszentrum (Documentation Center) museum. Germany is still struggling with how to tell the story of its past, but the museum presented some very thoughtful and interesting information about the Nazis' rise to power. Most of the presentations were in German, but handheld audio tour devices were available in multiple languages.





After a sobering morning we drove to the medieval walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We'd been informed a few days before by our hotel that there would be a historical event in the city today, so cars would not be allowed into the city until after 7pm. We parked outside the city in lot P2, struggled for a bit trying to figure out the Parkschein Automat parking machine (we ended up spending 5 Euros for a 2-hour camper permit rather than an all-day car permit, but I wrote a note on it and stuck it in the windshield anyway), and then walked into the crowded city. Rothenburg is like a living postcard, charming and beautiful along every street and alley.











We checked into the Hotel Eisenhut and had what was probably the finest meal of our trip. The hotel staff here was friendly and helpful, but not as fluent in English as we'd found in Munich and Nuremburg. I did manage to get one burning question answered -- when you're off the autobahn and the speed limit is not listed, how fast should you go? Answer -- 50kph in town, 100 kph out of town. Later we found that this was prominently signed at the border crossings.

After dinner I fetched the car from the remote parking lot, and a valet at the hotel took it to garaged parking in the former stables on the edge of the city. "Sein Auto is zehr schon!", he commented. "Es ist ganz neu, bitte vorsichtlig sein!" I begged as I smacked a couple Euro into his hand. He chucked, and at least he didn't peel out right in front of me. The car was returned unharmed in the morning. Then it was time for the excellent and entertaining Night Watchman's Tour and some evening photography around town. Georg the Night Watchman has carefully constructed a quirky personality that he uses for his tours, but it's obvious that beneath that act he's a very interesting guy with a deep love of history and of his town. Thanks to those 'Festers who recommended the trip to Rothenburg, I think it was my favorite location of the trip.



















Rothenburg ob der Tauber Night Watchman
http://www.nightwatchman.de/
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Monday, May 20 - Castles

An early start put us on autobahn A7 heading south towards Füssen. We stopped off in Ulm for breakfast, and found the city rather deserted -- this day was the Pentacost holiday. We eventually found a small bakery that was open, run by a fellow from Iraq who spoke no English and only about as much German as we did. It was a comical exercise, but we ended up with a very delicious breakfast and got back on the road.

The weather was still good, with fine visibility and dry roads, and the holiday morning traffic was light. We cruised at about 100mph for 15 minutes or so, and then I let the car loose a little and rapidly got up to 132mph. That's really a very fast speed, especially with the whole family in the car and a trunk full of luggage, so I only held that for a minute or so before backing off again. It was perfect timing, since we where then right into a speed limited area around Memmingen, and after that the light rain began and the roads were wet for the rest of the day -- and for the most part, the rest of the vacation.

We first stopped off in Hohenschwangau, where we parked and hiked up the road to Neuschwanstein castle. We had decided not to take the time for an inside tour, and ironically it tuned out that there's really not that much to see when you're actually up at the castle! Perhaps we would have been better off taking the alternate path to the Marienbrücke bridge, which supposedly affords a nice view of the castle.

Back down the hill in Hohenschwangau, we ate lunch at the Hotel Lisl, where I had my first schweinehaxe (pig's knuckle). It was pretty good, but the rest of the lunch order was entirely mediocre -- perhaps it was unreasonable to expect more in such a tourist spot.

I had planned to visit the official Bimmerfest Neuschwanstein photo spot, but from the castle it was clear that the intersection was chock-full of cars and people, so we headed on to Linderhof palace instead. (The Venus Grotto... apparently just because King Ludwig could.)





















From Linderhof we headed to Mittenwald, where we had booked two nights at the Hotel Alpenrose. The hotel was conveniently located right in the Mittenwald pedestrian zone, but immediately proved to be something of a disappointment. Checking in was a very disorganized process, and the hotel lobby and hallways positively reeked of cigarette smoke. The rooms themselves were decent enough and were non-smoking, but you could hardly help but be saturated by it just on the way up to the rooms. Parking was a bit of an adventure, with a large garage that fit about 10 cars but was very difficult to maneuver into. The extra money spent on the all-around-view cameras paid for itself right there!

Hotel Alpenrose
Obermarkt 1
82481 Mittenwald, Germany
+49 8823 9270 ext. 0
hotel-alpenrose-mittenwald.de


We had planned to have dinner at the hotel, but since it was so smokey we walked down the rainy street to the Post Hotel, where we had an excellent (if somewhat pricey) dinner but had to rely heavily on our German skills. Which by this point had become part of the fun; I started to get disappointed when I received a menu in English.

Post Hotel
Obermarkt 9
82481 Mittenwald, Germany
+49 8823 9382333
posthotel-mittenwald.de
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tuesday, May 21 - Up the Zugspitze, or not

On the advice of some Bimmerfest members, we had booked two nights in Mittenwald so we could adjust local plans to suit the weather. We had three possible plans for our two available days: go up the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak; explore Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ettal, and Oberammergau; and take an extended drive through the Austrian Alps. Tuesday looked to be the best weather choice of a series of fairly poor weather days, so we headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to take the long cog railway trip up the Zugspitze. When we arrived, we found that tickets were 50 Euro each (!), and the weather was very iffy. We decided to shop a bit in G-P and see how things worked out. I found a nice locally-made wool fedora, and my daughter purchased a beautiful dirndl -- both transactions completely in slowly-improving German. Garmisch reminded me of Boston, in the sense that the streets are wide to be one lane but too narrow to be two lanes, and were often not marked either way. We tucked in close behind other cars and just did what they did (and found it was typically used as a very cozy two lanes).

For lunch we drove down to Eibsee, a beautiful blue glacial lake immediately at the foot of the Zugspitze. We ate a very forgetable lunch at an unforgetable setting on the shore of the lake while the clouds steadily lowered. We checked at the cable-car station in Eibsee, but the trip up the peak was still 50 Euro even without the train ride, and the live camera was showing solid cloud. So much for the Zugspitze! On our way back out of Eibsee, we caught sight of the only other Zoll plate we saw on the trip (except for at the hotel and airport), a black 335i belonging to Derwin.

From Eibsee we reverted to Plan B, and headed to Ettal to visit the abbey and its brewery and distillery. The abbey was interesting, but we never did figure out how to see the brewery or distillery. One tiny sign said to stop by an office, but that office was locked with nobody around.

Instead we went to Oberammergau (is that not the coolest name?) where we shopped in some of the wood carving stores. Again our rudimentary German was invaluable here.









Oberammergau -- I'm pretty sure that's the Grinch's Mount Crumpet in the background:


With a bit more time remaining in the afternoon, we drove to Wies to see the famous Wieskirche on the advice of several 'Festers. Wow, we were surely not disappointed! The Wieskirche is a fabulously ornate church. We snacked at the restaurant nearby, then returned to Mittenwald. Dinner was at a nearby Italian restaurant, where the extremely friendly and outgoing owner served up some delicious pizza with conversation in an equal mix of English, German, and Italian. My only unpleasant experience was ordering a Radler to drink, thinking it was a beer brand I hadn't tried yet, only to find that a Radler is a mix of beer and lemonade. Horrible. Our happy restauranteur gladly swapped out that abomination for a fresh Augustiner Hell.







An interesting note on Bavarian rococo -- a hallmark of the Bavarian variety is the transition of ceiling frescos to stucco work, like the leg of this cherub.


Amalfi Ristorante Pizzeria
Albert-Schott-Straße 1
82481 Mittenwald, Germany
+49 8823 936630
amalfi-da-francesco.de
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wednesday, May 22 - Austrian Alps

The rain was heavy overnight in Mittenwald, and the morning dawned with the promise of more to come. There seemed little point in trying the Zugspitze again. We were glad to leave the smoky Hotel Alpenrose, and in general I'd have to say that Mittenwald was something of a let-down -- I was expecting a quaint village tucked between the mountains on both sides, and it was that in a way, yet it failed to really charm us at all. Perhaps the weather didn't help the situation.

The updated plan for the day involved a drive through the Austrian Alps to Innsbruck, Kufstein, and possibly Kitzbühel and as far as the Grossglockner Pass before ending up on the outskirts of Salzburg for the evening.

I'd done my homework on Bimmerfest, and knew that I needed an Austrian vignette. We stopped at a gas station south of Mittenwald just before the Austrian border. As it turns out, I didn't do my homework quite well enough, because I inadvertantly purchased the 1-month sticker for some 25 Euro, rather than the several-day sticker for much less. Oh well.

We arrived in Innsbruck at about 9am, right in the middle of commuting traffic. After a lap or two around the inner city looking for a good place to park, we gave up and got back on the highway. Our next stop was Rattenberg, famous for its glass blowing. The town is quite small, but there were a number of interesting shops. We fed the Parkschein machine several additional Euros as our stopover grew longer and longer!

After Rattenberg we went just a few kilometers further to Kufstein, without any clear idea of what we planned to do there. We ate lunch at the Inn Cafe Hell ("hell" meaning "light"), a pleasant coffee shop on the banks of the rushing Inn River -- again, little to no English spoken here. Curiously, the restrooms were downstairs in what appeared to be an old tunnel, with curving walls on either side.

Inn Cafe Hell
Unterer Stadtplatz 3
6330 Kufstein, Austria
+43 5372 63446
inncafe.at


After lunch we toured the Festung Kufstein, the old fortress on the hill above the town. The Festung was very interesting and scenic, and was well worth the time. On our way out of town, we paid for the garage parking, then sat in the garage for about 10 minutes while we planned the rest of our drive. Then when we tried to leave the garage, the gate wouldn't open. We weren't able to understand what the message on the gate said, but in retrospect I think maybe we waited past the next time increment and it wanted us to go back and pay more. I hit the call button at the gate, and when I got somebody on I couldn't understand a word they said -- those speakers are bad enough when I'm fluent in the language. I told them "Wir haben fünf Euro bezallen, aber das Tor offnet nicht!" (we paid 5 Euro, but the gate won't open!). I again couldn't understand what they said in reply, but the gate swung up and we zoomed out of the garage!









From Kufstein we drove through Kitzbühel, then Zell am See, but decided it was getting too late for the Grossglockner Pass. I was also concerned about making my back-seat passengers vomit, never an attractive option in a new car. Instead we drove through Bad Reichenhall, then on the tiny one-lane Römerstrasse through the mountainous woods into the outskirts of Salzburg.

Our destination for the night was the Pension Bloberger Hof, about five kilometers outside of Salzburg. We received a very warm greeting, and found that we had a large multi-room apartment-style suite. The hotel is very thoughtfully designed, and nicely finished with beautiful woodwork and simple but comfortable furnishings. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner there, and also enjoyed abundant parking space that we hadn't seen since leaving the States. I highly recommend Bloberger Hof, as long as you're okay with being outside the city.

Pension Bloberger Hof
Hammerauer Straße 4
5020 Salzburg, Austria
+43 662 830227
blobergerhof.at
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thursday, May 23 - Salzburg

In the morning we drove to the Salzburg Süd (south) parking area, and picked up a bus that took us into the city center. We could have also gotten a bus right outside Bloberger Hof, but we wanted to have the car closer at hand. In the end I'm not sure we really made out any better, but it all worked out fine.

In Salzburg we enjoyed the famous fountain in front of the Residenz, the tour of the Residenz itself, the Salzburg Cathedral, and Mozart's birthplace. We at lunch at the Cafe Mozart just up the street from Mozart's birthplace, then visited the Mirabel Palace gardens, which were just being planted and so were not all that interesting. Interesting sticker observed on a building wall -- roughly, "If you want to understand the risks of far-right politics, read a history book or ask your grandparents."

















After lunch we took the bus back to the Salzburg Süd park-and-ride, then drove to nearby Hellbrunn Palace. The palace is famous for its water gardens, and while the tour was rather cheezy, the water-powered mechanical devices themselves were rather interesting. Back at Bloberger Hof for dinner, we were surprised to see beer being delivered by a horse-drawn wagon.



 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Friday, May 24 - The Eagle has not landed

The plan for today included a visit to Hitler's Kehlsteinhaus near Berchtesgaden in the morning, then a return to Munich in the afternoon. We bid "Auf Wiedersehen" to the staff at Bloberger Hof and drove through Berchtesgaden, but as we climbed the mountain toward the Kehlsteinhaus the rain changed over to snow. With summer tires on the car, we turned around and headed back down the mountain. I discovered later that I was only a few hundred meters from the bus to the Kehlsteinhaus, but also that the site was closed that day and the next due to heavy snow on the peak. The Kehlsteinhaus goes back in the jar for the next ED trip.

Instead we stopped in Bad Reichenhall for some shopping, and purchased a few pairs of shoes for the ladies and an additional piece of luggage to hold the things we'd bought on the trip on the flight home. Again, all these transactions taxed our limited German skills to their limits, but we got through it fine. Also in Bad Reichenhall we found the Reber Mozartkugeln store. My wife has been a Mozartkugeln fan for many years, and had been disappointed in Salzburg when she bought Mirabel brand Mozartkugeln and found them lacking. Later we learned that both Mirabel and Reber are actually knock-offs of the original Mozartkugeln, which is only available in a storefront in Salzburg. The Reber version, at least, proved quite satisfying.





When I filled up the car for the second time, I carefully calculated how much fuel we'd need and then filled it. The third time I just wasn't thinking, and filled the tank before realizing that we actually didn't have that much further to drive, and I needed to return the car in Munich with a quarter tank or less. Solution: road trip! We drove the back roads of Austria in the general direction of Passau. Somewhere along the way, I have absolutely no idea where, we stopped for lunch at a brewery restaurant well off the beaten path. We had a very friendly server who spoke not the slightest bit of English, but we enjoyed an excellent lunch including an peculiar but tasty hops sorbet with malt chocolate mousse dessert. When I tipped her 5 Euro on a 45 Euro bill, she reacted as if I'd just given her my car keys. It was pretty nice to brighten somebody's day like that!

We continued on to Passau, and then crossed briefly into the Czech Republic to the village of Strážný, really just to say that we'd been to another country, before turning around back into Germany, then finally heading back to Munich to the Marriott Courtyard.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Saturday, May 25 - Car dropoff

In the morning we drove up to Munich airport and washed the car at the Agip station there before dropping off at LogInOut. Parting was difficult, but we left the car next to a nearly identical white 335i M-Sport owned by eazy; my daughter joked that they'd be pals and would keep each other company on the trip over to the States.



In the afternoon we strolled the Marienplatz again, but Munich was overrun by football (soccer) fans of FC Bayern München, which was playing Dortmund that evening for the European championship. As the day wore on and more and more beer was consumed, the atmosphere on the Marienplatz started to shift a little from festive to a little dangerous around the edges. We elected to walk to a very nearby restaurant, but found it closed. A couple walking by asked us where we were trying to go, then switched to perfect British English to tell us about the best nearby pub, Augustiner Bräustuben. When we arrived they were fairly busy, but they cleared a reserved table for us and served us right away. Our host again spoke little English, but we were starting to get pretty good with the German by this point, and we were even able to appreciate a few simple jokes. The food was delicious, and Augustiner Hell has definitely become my new favorite beer!

Augustiner Bräustuben
Landsberger Straße 19
80339 Munich, Germany
+49 89 507047
braeustuben.de


Sunday, May 26 - Heading home

Early in the morning we checked out of the Courtyard and walked two blocks to the Hauptbahnhof, passing a few still-drunk FC Bayern fans in their red shirts and lederhosen, and took the S-Bahn train to the airport. So long Munich, until next time! Wow, this was simply a fantastic trip, even if the weather wasn't very cooperative. Somehow it seems very wrong to be thinking "I can't wait for the lease on this brand new car to be up, so I can go back again!"

Things we learned along the way

Know at least a little German, and don't be afraid to stumble through it. I was a little concerned that I might offend people with some pretty poor use of the language, but quite the opposite. It was very easy to engage people by speaking German, and reverting to English words, gestures, or my smart-phone dictionary app when I got stuck. People seemed to warm up to us much more quickly when we were speaking German.

Say hello. Almost every time we entered a shop or restaurant, we were greated with "Guten Tag" or "Grüss Gott". Respond in kind, don't just smile or nod. Even responding in English is better than saying nothing. Likewise, I found that I could almost always get a smile by saying something polite as we were leaving. For whatever reason, "Schönen Tag" seemed to get a great response.

Get a chipped credit card. Our Chase Marriott Rewards card worked flawlessly everywhere we went, though we did occasionally have to explain that it required a signature, not a PIN. My daughters' mag-stripe cards caused some confusion, and even after we explained how to swipe them they sometimes did not process. The only place we couldn't use the chip card was at a Parkshein Automat, but whether that was because it needed a PIN or just because it was broken, I can't say.

Keep some cash. We did run into one or two restaurants that didn't take credit cards. ATM machines were generally pretty easy to find, but you're best off to have a day's worth of cash on hand all the time.

Keep some coins, too! It seemed like we were always searching our pockets for 1 and 2 Euro coins. Parking at interesting places is rarely free, so we were frequently stuffing coins into Parkschein Automat machines to get our parking receipt for the dashboard. Also, we found it very common to have to pay for toilets; often 0,5 Euro but occasionally on a more free-form donation system (drop something in the jar). Most restaurants had free use of the WC, but there were a few places where I was pretty annoyed to drop 45 Euro on lunch and then have to pay to pee. I can only assume that using the bushes is highly frowned upon.

Keep the plans flexible. Good advice on any trip, I guess, but the weather made us re-think some of our activities. Since I always had an extra day's worth of backup activities on hand, we were never left without something to do.

Tipping on a credit card: As I said earlier, in general credit card receipts in Germany and Austria did not have a line to add a tip afterward (except for I think the restaurant in Nuremberg, where the waiter explained that of course all restaurants did this!). We found the easiest way was to either leave the tip in cash (handed to the server with a "Danke zehr" rather than left on the table), or to tell the server how much to ring the card for in total when handing over the card. We generally found that a 10% tip was highly appreciated, though I think the larger cities like Munich are tending more toward higher American-style tipping. Of the beaten path, any tip at all seemed like a real treat.

Speed limits: It took me a little while to figure out speed limits. I would have expected the fastidious Germans to abundantly sign the roads, but in fact they relied mostly on the default speed limits of 100 kph out of town and 50 kph in town. It took me a little while to realize that the speed limit change was demarcated by the yellow town name signs (or, on the way out, the same yellow sign with a slash through it). The other problem I consistently had was that I would miss the sign indicating the end of a speed zone. Those signs have a gray circle rather than a red one, with three narrow slashes through them, and were often on the left side of the road (on the back of the speed zone sign for the opposite direction). I tended to drive along for a little while thinking "you know, it feels like I should be going faster than this" until I finally gave up and resumed 100 kph.

Many, many thanks to all the frequent contributors and ED veterans on the 'Fest who gave me tons of information, reviewed and commented on my evolving itinerary, and just generally made me a whole lot more comfortable about doing this adventure. The result was simply fantastic!

-Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Willkommen in Deutschland! :)
Hope you enjoy your whole stay. And, of course congratulations to your wonderful new car!
What will be your next destinations in Germany or Europe? Or left you home already after your visit in Nuremberg?
Oh, let me say one thing: ich bin beeindruckt das Du versucht hast das Essen in deutsch zu bestellen :thumbup:
Best wishes, Markus
Vielen Dank Markus! Alles war wunderschon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The Car

Wow, what can I say, this car is amazing. First, it is very, very fast, not only on the highway but also in passing trucks or farm equipment on the smaller country roads.

I loved the heads-up-display, especially since I was trying very hard not to speed, and I'm not too accustomed to KPH. The navigation system was also excellent, was very quick to recalculate after our fairly frequent wrong turns ("Hey, I did that on purpose, I'm just trying to show you the real Germany!" :angel:)

The feature I appreciated the most was the all-around camera view. Most of the parking we encountered was on the small side by US standards, and not really having a good feel yet for where the edges of the car are, the cameras were a life-saver -- or at least a scratch-saver. They paid for themselves already.

Sport mode vs. comfort mode (with the DHP suspension) made quite an obvious difference. I mostly drove in comfort mode (comments from the back seat: "my kidneys would like you to switch back to comfort mode now, Dad") but the change in handling and throttle response were very pronounced. I'm looking forward to pushing the car a little when it get it back.

I was getting stared at all over Bavaria in this car. I realize that the 335i is a pretty high-end 3-series in Germany (320d E46 and E9x versions were everywhere, but not too many F3x), but I got repeated comments particularly at hotels. "That's my dream car" was said by more than one person on this trip. "Mine too" was my usual response.
 

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Very, very nice trip report. THAT's how you repay this forum for the useful information it provides.

Also very thoughtful to include your useful travel tips at the end. Even though many of them have been stated before, it's always good to refresh them for newcomers.

I wholeheartedly agree that speaking to the locals as much as you can in the local language is always better and oftentimes leads to wonderful encounters you wouldn't have had any other way. Forget about your embarrassment or lack of confidence. In anywhere but Paris, the locals will appreciate you trying. If you "expect" English, it tends to just reinforce what they already thought (mostly negative) about Americans.
 

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Excellent write up and pictures. Seems like you had a great time. Brought back memories as you hit just about every place we did. Congrats again and good luck with your redelivery!
 

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Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing. I'll be making my pilgrimage in mid-September, can't wait!

I bet Munich was intense on the 25th. The CL final was a heck of a game. I'm surprised you were able to leave on the 26th, I'd have thought everyone would have been partying too much :)
 

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Do you have a pic of the other m sport you saw at loginout =) by the way nice trip report


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