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 Fine Living: A Driving Tour Of Germany

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Male Number of posts : 528
Registration date : 2007-07-01

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PostSubject: Fine Living: A Driving Tour Of Germany   Fine Living: A Driving Tour Of Germany Icon_minitimeTue Jul 31, 2007 12:01 pm

Fine Living: A Driving Tour Of Germany 22c_travel_tips
Begin your driving tour in Munich, Germany
VITAL INFORMATION Population 82,420,00
Languages spoken German (official), English
Currency 1 EUR = 1.35 USD
Average temperature Summer: 55°F to 75°F; fall: 46°F to 66°F
High season July and August

Are we products of our environment? When it comes to German cars, the answer is an unequivocal ja!
The country’s varied, challenging terrain and prevalence of speed have
factored into the equation of fine cars engineered to run hard. Three
days in Germany may not seem like much time, but considering some of
the nation’s best cars are produced in the lower regions, you will have
ample time to sample them, push them and immerse yourself in their
makers’ heritage.

All prices are listed in U.S. funds.

Day 1: All about the bimmers

BMW M6 Coupe

Your first stop will find you at the multi-brand, multi-vehicle BMW
headquarters. Just as they continuously improve their vehicles, they
don’t let their facilities slip much either. BMW Welt is designed to
leave a strong impression on its visitors. Pronounced velt
(meaning world) the multipurpose complex promises to astound with its
design and contents. This may also appease some critics who feel the
historical displays don’t measure up to the superior factory tour,
which even attracts non-car enthusiasts.

Being steeped in BMW
culture will no doubt leave you yearning to unleash one of these
incredible cars. This is understandable and the company enables you to
do just that with their Driver Training series. Varying greatly in cost
from about $130 to over $1,100, courses cover subjects from everyday
driving safety to advanced techniques or even defensive driving for
chauffeurs -- just in case. Only instead of Kevin Costner with a bad
haircut, you’ll learn from pro drivers
who take this sort of thing very seriously -- even by German standards.
After learning how BMWs are built and the proper way to experience the
ride, enjoy a light bite to eat from one of the restaurant choices
within BMW Welt as you reflect and re-energize for the rest of the day.

Although there’s much to see and do in Munich,
our ambitious itinerary suggests we keep moving. Besides, you’ll be
itching to explore the M6’s capabilities, especially now that you have
the driving know-how. Head out on the A9 for Ingolstadt about 45 miles
north. You’ll find it a charming old-world city, but tonight you’ll be
staying in one of its most modern buildings. Hotel im GVZ strikes a
nice chord between contemporary and inviting with spacious and
well-appointed rooms for about $170. Even better, it’s conveniently
close to the Audi complex, where you’ll start your day tomorrow.

For dinner, drive to the central city where you’ll find Maximilian
Restaurant at the Hotel NH Ambassador, which rewards the eye with warm
tones throughout the dining area. The international and regional meals
are all satisfying, but you’ll really enjoy the Mediterranean dishes.

About the car: A
lot of luxury coupes match their owners’ profiles: sporty at heart, but
a bit soft on the outside. Although the standard 6 Series is no
Bavarian cream puff, the M6 manages to achieve even greater heroics. At
the heart of it all is a 500 bhp V10 that launches you from 0 mph to 60
mph in 4.5 seconds and swiftly reaches its governed top speed of 155
mph (rumors suggest 200 mph is no problem without the limiter) with
grace and poise.

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Day 2: Audi and Hasselhoff VWs

Audi R8

As you begin
your second day, you’ll appreciate being close to the Audi
headquarters. Starting at around $400, Audi Driver’s Day programs give
you the VIP treatment through the Audi Forums (the extensive museum
will definitely impress), the factory and, best of all, a guided drive
through the area. If you had more time, you could spend an entire
vacation here as packages are numerous and flexible. Tempting as that
may be, grab lunch at the Forums then fire up the even more alluring
R8. Point it toward Dresden and cover the 230 miles or more in short order. It’s time for a close look at a misunderstood marvel.

We can’t help but wonder if David Hasselhoff owns a Volkswagen Phaeton.
Given their similar fan base, it would only be natural. Like the Hoff’s
musical career here in the States, the luxury sedan was coolly received
before quietly fizzling out. Back in Europe, both are big hits. In
Dresden, you’ll tour the car’s luxurious home. Known as Die Gläserne
Manufaktur ("the transparent factory"), the facility is architecturally
and philosophically unique. The dominant glass façade represents
transparency, authenticity and openness. This is carried through in the
build process as well. Had the U.S. market previously been more aware
of the Phaeton’s roots, it may have fared better in North American
sales. Tour hours conveniently extend into evenings, and it’s worth the
$120 or so for the exclusive tour. Though, we can’t be sure whether the
same would apply for a Hasselhoff show.

While you ponder that,
don’t wander far for dinner. The factory happens to house the pleasant
Resto-Bar Lesage. Though entrées are in the $20 range, they are just as
impressive as the factory and the architecture. Best bets here are the wild boar or the veal.

Since you’ll be starting your final day with a decent stint at the
wheel, get a good night’s rest at Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski.
They happen to manage Lesage, so you know you can count on first-rate
accommodations. For spaciousness and a touch of class, book a Regent
Suite for about $575.

About the car:
Audi has always
built fine sedans and coupes, not to mention the TT sports car.
Significantly hotter than them all, the new R8 coupe was built to run
with the exotics. The aggressive, mid-engine design is a delight to
view and rewarding to unleash with its 420 bhp V8 sending you from 0
mph to 62 mph in a mere 4.6 seconds, and it will top out at around 187
Day 3: The Green Hell

Car: Porsche 911 GT3

You’ll have to wake early and start the day with a 300-mile trek to
Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, but considering your car is the white-hot
Porsche 911 GT3 and your destination is its birthplace, how could you
possibly sleep in?

With such a legendary presence, it’s easy
to envision Porsche headquarters being at least as sprawling as BMW’s
or Audi’s -- perhaps even more so. Like meeting a celebrity who’s much
shorter in person than perceived on the screen, the Porsche factory is
something of a small miracle. Inside, the cars come together partly by
human hand and partly by robot, but it’s all done with precision and
efficiency. So given the modern build methods and commercial success,
why isn’t the place bigger? Local restrictions dictate the plant remain
at more or less its near-original size (the last significant expansion
was in 1988 and, before that, in 1969). This isn’t to suggest property
growth is at a total standstill. Porsche is busy preparing a new museum
that promises to be as impressive as the vehicles within. It won’t be
complete until 2008 however, which presents a compelling excuse for a
return visit. In the meantime, the small but significant museum
collection is staffed by docents who are genuinely enthusiastic about
the marque.

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Fine Living: A Driving Tour Of Germany 22b_travel_tips
Nürburgring in Germany

Now that you know how your 911 came to be, let it loose on the A6 and
A61 as you hurtle toward Nürburg and the legendary track that bears the
town’s name. For 2007, the historic Nürburgring is in its 90th year of
challenging drivers’ limits with blind turns and alarmingly little room
for error. Incidentally, 2008 will mark the 90th anniversary of the
first death on the track. Apparently, Jackie Stewart wasn’t kidding
when he nicknamed this circuit The Green Hell.
It’s probably not a bad idea to part with $250 and ride a lap in the
BMW Ring Taxi to get a feel for the course before heading out on your
own. Once you’re ready to try it yourself in the GT3, it’s only a
question of how many laps you want or how many you can cover before the
track closes. For starters, a four-lap pass is about $85. But for
approximately $475, you can have 25 laps on the beast. There are also
8- and 15-lap options available.

With your car and pride
hopefully intact, the adjacent Dorint Novotel is a welcome hotel in
which to come down from your adrenaline rush. For about $255, the
Comfort Room will do nicely. Likewise, Restaurant Grüne Hölle (to the
keen observer, yes, it does mean "green hell") is a ‘Ring tradition and
an ideal place to reflect on your visit -- it’ll likely be anything but

About the car: Essentially a well-appointed
track car that won’t shake your fillings loose, the GT3 is capable of 0
mph to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and a top speed of 193 mph. What
impresses drivers the most is the undiluted driving experience
delivered by its naturally aspirated 3.6-liter, flat-six engine.
tips for the trip

  • Not
    only is Germany’s blood-alcohol limit of .05 strictly enforced, you
    will be punished if you are involved in an accident, regardless of
    fault and blood-alcohol levels.

  • Plastic is less fantastic there than in the U.S. and smaller establishments may not accept credit cards, so have adequate euros in reserve.

  • Tips
    are typically factored into your bill, though 10% extra is acceptable
    for good service and is also the norm for taxi drivers. Hotel staff
    members typically receive a euro per bag handled and one or two euros
    per day for housekeeping.

  • Contact the
    manufacturers in advance to verify factory tours will take place during
    your visit, as well as their times since it’s all subject to change. If
    you don’t speak German, verify if and when English tours are conducted.

  • The
    ugly American habit of clogging the passing lane is less tolerated in
    Germany and actually punishable by fines. If you come upon a rolling
    roadblock remember tailgating and passing on the right are illegal as
    well. If you happen upon the rare slow German driver,
    it’s customary to blip your horn and flash your lights to encourage the
    offender to return to his rightful lane. By the same token, you should
    only drive in the left lane when passing.

  • Despite
    the accessibility of the Nürburgring race course, it is still possible
    to be cited for unsafe driving on the track. Police monitor drivers
    from helicopters and ticket accordingly.
ich bin ein Autobahner

Just as Germany’s finest cars are products of their environment, you
will come away from your driving tour positively affected by your
surroundings and experiences. Such an aggressively paced holiday is not
for everybody -- that’s why they make slow lanes and all-inclusive
resort packages.


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