I don't usually do this, but I wanted to have a memory of this amazing trip and sat down over the last two weeks and added bits and pieces. I wanted to share with all of you our amazing experience.
On May 6th
my fiancee and I left Los Angeles International to travel to Munich for European Delivery of a 2013 BMW M5. As usual my choice of airlines was Lufthansa since I always use them for International flights. Since it's a 12 hour flight and we had 2000+ miles to drive in Europe we splurged for business class tickets, which was totally worth it. The service was excellent as well as the menu and open bar on the flight. We got to turn our seats into beds, but due to the extensive movie selection and lots of alcohol we did not sleep at all. Luckily we had 3 extra days in Munich to rest, relax and get over the jetlag, and meet my parents, who were able to enjoy the experience with us.
We were picked up by Rolf from BMW AG. His service is cheaper than a typical taxi cab. He has been at BMW for 40 years and is extremely knowledgable, and has a cool sense of humor. Since he had no other pick ups after us he took us on a sightseeing tour of an old park and palace in Munich. He also spent some time with us at the hotel explaining how public transportation works around Munich and highlighted important places around town on the map. I will always use Rolf's services going forward.
On May 8th
we went to the Welt, visited BMW museum and did the factory tour. I wanted to makes sure that the actual pick up of the car was the only highlight of the day and I was happy we did the factory tour and museum tour 2 days before. Inside of the Welt was amazing, but I was slightly disappointed with the number and types of cars inside. I wish they showed off more rare versions, more M models and maybe something from BMW motorsport department (DTM car). The store was just ok, I was expecting that they would have more selection of items that we cannot order via the catalog in the US. The prices were high as expected. We did end up buying couple shirts, a gift for a good friend and a BMW Welt hat. The bill came up to over a 100 euros, which at the time was about $130. We decided to go upstairs to the ED lounge and find out if we can start on the paperwork. We were greeted with German hospitality and invited to the complimentary buffet. We confirmed our delivery date and time and signed some paperwork. All four of us were able to enjoy the buffet, which included beer and champagne. I loved that part. The food was good, fresh and healthy. No wonder most Germans are so fit.
We did the factory tour, which was interesting as we got to see the production of the new F30 (The only car made there). I probably would not do it again because it was lengthy and it seemed like a very robotic presentation from the tour guide, but one time was enough. Right after the tour we went to visit the museum, which I thought was much better than the factory tour. The setup was very interesting and the cars/bikes that were in there were rare and showed the company's true colors and history. I loved the architecture of the museum inside and the fact it was convenient to walk through and enjoy the history of this great company.
We stayed in Leonardo Royal Hotel in Munich, which was about 3-4 minutes away from the Welt by underground. The hotel was very nice and clean and they included breakfast buffet in the price as well as discounted hotel rooms for ED customers. We used metro to get around Munich, which was very convenient, cheap and easy to use as long as you knew what station to exit on.
was a holiday in Germany and most stores were closed. We caught a train to Marieen Platz, which was the city center with some beautiful cathedrals and nice cafes. There was a lot of tourists and people walking around and enjoying local beer and architecture. We took a lot of pictures, had lots of beer, ice cream and tasted local cuisine. It was warm and sunny and we had to stay hydrated (I have a beer belly as proof). On the way back I wanted to see if maybe by any chance I can stop by the Welt if it was opened and it was. We walked around the Welt once again with the anticipation rising before the next day.
Day of the pick up.
> My pick up was scheduled for 10:40AM, but we got the Welt by 9am to finish the paperwork and enjoy complimentary breakfast in the Premium lounge.
> I was trying to get a sneak peek to see if my car was outside waiting for me, but could not locate it. We then decided to sign the guest book that is located in the lounge and my fiancÚ wrote a nice long essay for the Bavarians to enjoy. After that back to the terrace to look for the car. I leaned over and I thought I saw an M5 wheel. We proceeded to walk towards the museum side to see if we can take a look whether my car was actually parked underneath the premium lounge terrace. It sure was, waiting graciously for the 10:40 departure. We took pictures and headed back.
> 10:38, our delivery person shows up ( I love German punctuality) and we proceeded to walk down the stairs. At that point he hit a button on his remote and the lights above the car turned on and it began to spin. Lots of excitement and anxiety. Marcus (our delivery consultant) showed us the car and all the options, but we didn’t take too much time since this was our third M5 and we have another car with the 2011 idrive. We took pictures, videos and drove 3 times around the Welt before having my parents jump in and taking off.
> We went back to the hotel said our good-byes with my parents and hit the road. First stop, Neuschwanstein castle. Beautiful location and very green. Unfortunately, it was raining, but that did not stop us from taking pictures outside. We did drive up to the little town where you start your castle tours. I believe they had 3 other castles to explore around the same mountain. Since it was raining, we had no umbrella and were not dressed for the hike to the castle we decided to hit the road after taking pictures and walking around.
> Our next hotel was downtown Bolzano, Park Hotel Laurin. The drive was spectacular and we took a lot of pictures of different castles, mountains, gorgeous lake and local scenery.
> The hotel was really amazing and carried a piece of history. Located right downtown Bolzano, which is a skiing resort during winter time. We went out to taste some local cuisine and beer, and found a cool little spot. Ordered some food and local beer and proceeded to enjoy the surroundings. Interesting observation was that everyone was smoking, even our waitress when she was taking our order and then delivering food. It’s a very social thing in Europe.
> Next morning
we proceeded to the breakfast buffet area, which was included with the hotel since Courtyard travel company put us as BMW VIP clients and the selection and foods were exquisite.
I will mention more of the travel agency in my write up, but for those that are planning ED they are excellent, they work with BMW clients a lot, the owner is a BMWCCA member and they book gorgeous hotels with great discounts and spectacular locations.
Here is the contact I used:
Courtyard Travel Ltd.
1010 Northern Blvd.
Great Neck, NY 11021
Ph: 516 773-3700
> We took more pictures before departing and headed towards the next stop, Genoa, Italy. The plan was to drive through Stelvio Pass in the mountains (Those that watch Top Gear BBC know what I am referring to). With my luck, the plan did not work as due to the weather, still snowing in mid May, the pass was closed. We were not going to give up and we tried to enter the pass from the Swiss side, but mean border patrol turned us around really quick.
> We still got to drive through a lot of curvy mountain roads, but it wasn’t the Stelvio Pass. There is always the next time. J
> We got to Genoa in just 3 hours and it was another beautiful city right on the coast of Mediterranean. We walked through the little brick paved alleys, had some authentic Italian pizza, local beer and took more photos. The city seems to be flooded with illegal imports of products from Africa along with annoying sales people on the street. We tried to walk around them, but they definitely outnumber the tourists there. Courtyard Travel booked us in a gorgeous hotel, Grand Hotel Savoia in a suite with 5 rooms, 2 bathrooms, lots of champagne and very vintage look. It was a top floor of the hotel so we were able to capture the whole town and the coast. Breakfast in the morning was buffet style and once again the selection of foods exceeded our expectations. The street in front of the hotel was very tight and buses were inches away from the M5 without slowing down. I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible only because of the car.
> Next stop, Monte Carlo.
We took highways all the way there and we drove along the coast. The roads are full of tunnels and more architecturally interesting buildings. French people, just like Italians love to tailgate, but they dont do it in a mean way. It's their every day driving style. We were slowly getting used to it.
After taking the Monte Carlo exit we took the windy road down to the coastal city, which was very narrow, but provided beautiful views. We took lots of pictures and a video.
The streets of Monte Carlo are small, but the cars that drive through there are definitely some of the most expensive cars in the world. We saw couple Zonda's, lots of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Mclarens. The place makes you feel very poor, but at the same time it is breath taking. We were there on my Birthday and it was a week before the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The streets were being setup for the race and I was able to drive through the exact course that the F1 cars will be driving the weekend of May 24th. We drove to our hotel and once again Courtyard travel found a beautiful hotel Metropole right on the F1 course overlooking the coast. French employees of the hotel were very pleasant and professional. After giving us a tour of the hotel we decide to go walk around and buy the famous Monte Carlo gelatto. We went to the beach and grabbed a quick lunch, which was delicious. The weather was great and water in the Meditterean sea was warm enough for a lot of people to swim in. Unfortunately, we were not clothed for a swim, but being that we like to observe, we just dipped our feet and watched people. Men in Monte Carlo definitely prefer speedos as a bathing suit so it was amusing to watch.
Gelattos were definitely to die for, but with all the beer and food consumed we had to make sure to walk it off and the hilly streets of Monte Carlo definitely help you burn some calories. We celebrated my birthday dinner at the hotel, which ended up being extremely pricy and the portions were smaller than a fist, but at least we got to try it.
The following day we had breakfast with coffee at a local bakery and took off towards Lyon. The drive was very boring as there is not much to see on the way. We did see many different fields with yellow flowers all along the highway. The highways in France are very expensive and you have to make sure you have enough cash as you have to stop every 10-15 mins to pay for the highway. Of course all the inpatient drivers did not give us a chance to figure out which lane to be in and couple times I had a nice line of cars behind me with people being frustrated. Oh well, tourists bring a nice amount of revenue so give me a break.
We got to Lyon and what a city it was. Once again, amazing architecture, old buildings and river flowing throughout the center of the town. Our hotel, Villa Florentine, used to be a convect that housed nuns and it only had 14 rooms. The hotel was still labeled as a 5 star hotel and it overlooked the whole city. It was located right in the center of the city on top of the hill. We were welcomed on the terrace by drinks and cookies. Right after, we got a tour from the front desk and a little bit of history on the hotel. Following our check-in we walked down to the city and decided to try the local Crepes, which were delicious along with coffee. We went to several stores and visited couple cathedrals. Very impressive city. We decided to head back to the room and call it a night after ordering room service.
We headed towards Trier, where I scheduled the break in service for the M5. The road was less than eventful, but once we got to Luxemburg it became hilly and more interesting. Trier is the oldest town in Germany and it was founded before 16 BC. Once again, lots of castles and cathedrals. The town itself is small, but it's very cool as you can walk around and enjoy the local scenery and they have lots of little stores, cafes and restaurants including the most popular Mcdonalds as it's located inside of a historic building. We tried local Mcdonalds and it does taste very different from the american one. They also have a very classy coffee spot inside, clean up your tables and deliver your food to you. My fiance is vegeterian and she was happy to see that they serve veggie burgers.
My service was scheduled at Kloppenburg BMW and they took very good care of us. They gave us a driver, who delivered us to the hotel along with our luggage and picked us up the next morning to get the car. The service was spectacular and everything was done as promised. The driver showed up on time and gave us a little tour of the town as well. Once again, I love German punctuality and very welcoming attitude. We picked up the car, explored the German dealership, which seemed much bigger than our usual US locations along with their store and we hit the road towards the next very exciting location, Nurburgring and our hotel Domit Am, which was located on the final corner of this 17 mile long race track. Getting there was a blast because the unlimited part of the Autobahn was very empty and I felt more than comfortable to push the car to its limits. It was drizzling, but Germans were were brave maxing out their cars. The surface of the road still has lots of traction because of the type of asphalt that they use for Autobahns. Moreover, there are no paddles of water accumulating and it is less dangerous. By the time I knew it the car was doing 170.2 mph on the gps and everything became very blurry. I slowed down to about 130mph when we approached a soft turn and was caught by a BMW X6 50 (V8 twin-turbo). I moved out of his way and he kept on going into the turn at approximately 160 mph. I did not know the M5 enough to push it that much on a wet surface, plus his car had awd. I was catching him easy on every straight away. We played the game for about 10 miles and then my exit came up. I can definitely appreciate the manners on the Autobahn where everyone follows unwritten laws of the left lane being the "fast" lane only. There were no annoying Priuses crowding the fast lane. I loved it.
The road to the race town was exciting as well as it was hilly and curvy. We passed by many race shops on the way filled up with Bimmers and finally approached the main part of the track. It seemed like a little town that was all about cars and racing. It was heaven on earth. The hotel was all about racing ,with actual race cars inside, trophies, pictures and souvenirs. There were 24hr LeMans cars cruising through the main street and making lots of noise. LeMans race was scheduled to start 2 days after our arrival and the place was crowded. Our hotel room and bathroom was decorated with race cars and the balcony was feet away from the track overlooking the paddocks, where all the race cars were preparing for practice runs. It was raining on and off, but we were so excited that it didn't bother us at all. We went downstairs to the hotel bar that was covered in car memorabilia and as we sat down the tv was showing an interview with a local celebrity Sabine Schmitz, ring taxi driver and track specialist. She was on my car shows aired on TV, such as Top Gear and many more. My fiance said "omg that's her" I responded " I know, I saw the tv" and she said "no, she is sitting at the table". I turned around and it was her drinking a beer with other race car drivers. We drank our beers and as Sabine was getting up we chatted for couple minutes and took pictures with her. We finished our food and headed upstairs to rest for the next day's 6 hr trip back to Munich. I could not sleep as adrenaline was flowing through my blood and the sky was bright blue at 11pm. Next morning I woke up with a sore throat and we decided that my fiance will be flying behind the wheel of the M.
The road was not very eventful because of traffic and road work, but we got more than few long stretches where she got to experience the full capability of the M5 at 160 mph and raced her first 911 Turbo S. She did well and the 911 could not pull on the M until she let off at 160 and let him pass. I did see a lot of cars we do not get in the States and most of them were diesels. We got to Munich, drove by the Welt again and went straight to Hotel Kempinski, which is conveniently located on the airport grounds and right next to the car drop off location. The hotel was very nice and once again people were very welcoming. We received a free upgrade of the room and champagne just because we waiting for the bell boy for more than 2 minutes. Love it. We had another day in Munich so next day we drove downtown to Marienplatz and walked around some more. We bought few more souvenirs and had food. At that point we said our good-byes and left the beautiful city of Munich. My car drop off was scheduled at 4pm and we got there at 3pm, where the pleasant lady at the front desk helped us with the paperwork. She was very happy about the fact we showed up early and we chatted for a bit about the 4 M6 GC's parked in the front. The car was inspected and I had to let her go. We relaxed for the rest of the time and enjoyed the hotel's buffet. The hotel gave us an option to check in our extremely heavy suitcases the night before the flight, which meant we didn't have to struggle with them early in the morning. In the morning we walked 100 feet to from the hotel to the check in window and got on our way.
With sadness and empty wallets we watched Europe vanish on our GPS screens and we talked about the next possible trip and what places we would like to visit. I wanted to thank Courtyard Travel for helping us plan the trip and book all the beautiful hotels for us. Our experience would not be possible without their help and expertise.
To summarize the car
, 2013 BMW M5 is an amazing machine and technology really shows off on this model. I have gone through e39 M5 and e60 M5 and e39 was the last example of mechanical engineering. The F10 is all about computer engineering, it has a heavy feel in a good way and is more spacious than the e60. The long nose took a bit to get used to, but it was not a problem at all. One thing that bothered me the most was numb steering feel on twisty roads and I tried different steering setting, but it seems that BMW settled for comfort more than road feel. I liked the suspension and I feel it did the job in a 4500 lb saloon. Now to the good things, brutal, brutal acceleration of the v8 with the twin turbos. It makes the car feel like a small hatchback with a jet engine. Acceleration on the freeway is neck breaking and I have never felt so much power and control under my foot. I quickly forgot my naturally aspirated 10 cylinder. I love the styling and the aggressive shark nose of the car. Interior is also very well built and organized and except the hideous steering wheel. The seats have massagers, air conditioning and heating. Massager is useless because it doesn't massage your lower back and it probably adds 40 lbs to the weight of each seat. Overall, extremely happy with the car aside from couple little things, but the time will show.
Big Thanks to Chris Marino at Century West BMW for arranging all of this and staying on my side
*Edit* When Nurburgring was being setup for the 24hr Lemans Race I was on the balcony taking pics and noticed that BMW building was also being setp for the event. I saw a Monte Carlo "something" parked on a tow truck next to it. It was too far and I grabbed my long distance lens. I just opened the picture and noticed it was LCI F10 with the comp pack before BMW released the pics and specs. PIc included.