The End

This morning we dropped off the 135 in Munich and took the lonely flight home. Hope you enjoyed the blog -

Update: As always, photography is free to use wherever- wallpaper and such. Download high resolution versions of all of these photos here. (105 MB)

Amsterdam and Nürburgring

Yesterday we drove North to The Netherlands. The atmosphere for the final football match the following day was incredible. We stayed in Amsterdam and took the tram downtown in the evening unfortunately, we only got to explore for about a few hours and it started to rain. We slogged down the Red Light District at about 10pm, which is quite a sight- and decided to call it a night.

The following day was the longest single day drive of the journey. Since the car had finally been broken in at 2,000 miles- we stopped at Nürburgring, considered by many to be one of the toughest race tracks in the world, and drove it. We had to wait for awhile because someone had rolled over on the track when we arrived, but that’s okay. We really tested out the car and drove at full speed alongside drivers with Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris (we got passed). Definitely a highlight of the trip…

Waffles!

Today we left Paris and drove to Belgium. We decided to stay in Bruges, which is another canal city. Most of Bruges was spared from damage in World War II and a lot of its medieval architecture is still in tact. Markt, the center of the city is free of traffic and parking, which keeps the area open and available for events and such. The buildings are predominantly brick and the rooftops have that ubiquitous Belgian stair step look. Most everyone seems to speak French here, but Dutch is spoken among the locals. Bruges isn’t too busy- and we were able to drive right through the city center and park on the street, which has been hard to do here. Somehow, we ended up in a great hotel for pretty cheap – with an outdoor pool in a garden..

Au pieds à Paris

Today was the first day we didn’t drive anywhere. We took the Métro into Paris and walked around from dawn until dusk. You can just barely see most of the big sites in one day if you keep moving. We started at Notre Dame Cathedral in the morning and then walked to Le Louvre.

We stopped and had a Croque Monsieur at a café for brunch and then walked down the Champs d’Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, which is a lot bigger than it looks in photos.

We then walked back South toward the Eiffel Tower and saved some euros by climbing the stairs to the second floor, which has a great view but isn’t even half way up.

We walked and saw a few more important things, as well as Les Invalides – where Napoléon is buried, and the Pantheon. We had some steak-frites and returned to the hotel to relax and get ready for Belgium.

Le Côte D’azure

Today was our last day in Italy, but our melancholy was short-lived as we drove along the French Riviera for most of the day. The houses and resorts along the Mediterranean coast seem to be reserved for the rich and famous. We had lunch in Monaco, the richest per capita city in the world and the 135 drove on the same streets that are used for the Monaco Grand Prix.

We continued along the coast through Nice, Antibes, Cannes, and Marseille, and staying in Arles. We went out to the pub for some beer and caught the end of the Netherlands – Uruguay match. Luckily, the Netherlands made it to the finals, because we’ll be there in a few days.

Tuscany – Pisa e Lucca

Today we drove from the East to the West coast of Italy. The autostrada cuts through the Apennine mountains and driving through, you pass under a mountain and then onto a bridge over a valley- over and over. Before we finished at our destination, we looped South through Pisa.

Lucca has been my favorite place in Italy so far. The city is still encircled within about 4km of wall from the Renaissance era, and there are only a few ways into the city. The walls have since lost their military importance and have become a promenade for jogging and biking. Lucca was quiet but attractive, and had a lot of impressive gardens.

Venezia

In the morning, we quickly looked at the Verona Arena and started making our way toward Venice.

The 135′s GPS freaked out on the way and we lost about 30 minutes, but finally made it and parked at Tronchetto. Instead of taking any of the water taxis, which I couldn’t figure out anyway, we just grabbed our gear and walked to Hotel Bernandi Semenzato. Venice was a little busy for our taste, but we found out that if you stay away from the square and the main walkways, it’s a lot less crowded.

On the Road

Today we took the car out onto the Autobahn and headed South toward Verona, Italy. When you drive a sustained 140 kph, it doesn’t take very long to get where you’re going. The roads in Germany are immaculately maintained. On the way, we drove through the Swiss Alps and up Passo Stelvio, more or less the highest road in the Alps. The pass is essentially a race track with hairpin turns every 500m or so, and the car got quite a workout. It was 90ºF when we started, and when we got to the top, there was snow. We ordered pizza at 9,000 feet from a waitress who knew no English, but luckily she could understand my poor Italian. Our photographer was evidently jet lagged and slept most of the day, so we only have a few photos.

At the Welt

We arrived in Munich at about 11:00am and took the S-Bahn into Olympiapark. We wanted to check into the hotel and relax a little after the long flight, but the Welt was right there and I couldn’t really seem to walk any direction but toward it, so we decided to just check in early. We went through the introductions, signed some paperwork, and relaxed at the premium lounge with free snacks and beer. The Welt building is amazing: Three floors of graphite and glass-

After exploring the Welt, we headed over to the Museum for about an hour (Which is amazing in itself) and then went back to the lounge to catch the Football game, though I couldn’t pay attention because they had brought the car in and it was sitting in clear view from the lounge. We took delivery of the car at about 5:00 and afterward, we drove to the Hotel to finally relax a little.

After a nap, we got lost for awhile and eventually made our way to downtown Munich to the Hofbrauhaus, but it was too busy so we ate next door. We were still partially on Minnesota time, so we zombie walked back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. Here is a video of the 135 on the platform on the Delivery floor.

Obsession

Got a Program Kit in the mail today with some detailed brochures on the process and some nice luggage tags. Though what they really should provide is free counseling to help me deal with acute anticipationitis.

Huh?


What is European Delivery?

European Delivery is a program offered by BMW that combines buying a new car with a vacation. Munich, Germany is the site of the BMW Welt, an exhibition and delivery center to showcase the BMW Brand. Customers who enroll in the program are allotted a two week temporary EU license, pick up their vehicle at the Welt, and are free to explore the continent in their new car. Because the vehicle is purchased directly from BMW NA, the customer avoids fees involved with dealer incentives and saves approximately 7% on the cost of the vehicle, which easily makes up for the cost of the trip. This is what I ordered:

2011 BMW 135i Coupe
Black Sapphire Metallic Exterior
Coral Red Boston Leather Interior
Harmon Kardon Audio
Gray Poplar Trim
iDrive Navigation
M Sport Package



What’s the Plan?

I will be taking the trip with brother and my former college roommate. Our pickup date is scheduled for July 02, and we have ten days to drive a counter clockwise loop through Central Europe, visiting Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, France, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Internet access permitting, this is where we will post updates and photos as the trip progresses.


This is our current route. See the Original at Google.