I apologize if you find this long... feel free to read and watch in chunks. I was quite the trip!
Just four days ago, we returned from an Epic European Delivery trip of my 2014 M5. In 10 days of travelling we visited 8 countries, drove 1800 miles, hit 162MPH, drove three laps around the Nürburgring, took 1200 pictures, shot 15 hours of video, and consumed copious amounts of good German beer and wine.
For my trip, I blended previous experiences, new knowledge learned here, and about 6 months of research to come up with our itinerary. I happily pay if forward and share the experience with you here, so that you might see something that piques your interest for a future European Delivery.
For our hotel reservations, we used Courtyard Travel
who were recommended by a few forum members and are in the ED program packet from BMW. I tended to have all my hotels already chosen, but they were able to negotiate upgrades, free breakfast, free wifi, and most importantly zero/reduced cost cancellation fees.
7 September – the Arrive and Adjust Day.
My wife and I arrive Germany from a direct Lufthansa flight into Frankfurt. Nothing significant to report on the flight, other than the staff was all pleasant and spoke English well. After picking up our bags and easily clearing customs (about 1 hour total), we walked right within the airport and down to the train station for our train ride to Munich. Europeans definitely know how to properly link forms of public transportation. The train ride was about 4 hours and allowed us to catch up on some sleep in comfort. In Munich, we stayed at the Leonardo Munich City Center
. I chose this hotel because its location was 100 yards from the main train station, and we could easily walk down the Neuhauser and Kaufingerstraße to the Marienplatz and beyond. While this hotel was nice and clean, it was right across from some hostels, and next time I will pick a nicer place more central to oldtown Munich. I specifically avoided staying at the Royal Leonardo up by the Welt, because there really is not much around the Welt besides BMW and the Olympic park.
After checking in, our first Munich stop was the Augustiner Keller beergarten.
Considered one of the best in Munich, it was a short walk from our hotel and the main train station, and it did not disappoint:
First of many Liters
The truck used to bring in clean steins
Roasting whole fish
Once we had sufficiently filled our tummies with good German beer, we made our way to our dinner spot. Restaurant Broeding
is a top notch spot focused on Austrian wine and fish dishes. All was fantastic, but the barrel aged Zwetschgenschnaps were simply amazing. Tripadvisor link.
Content after a good meal and good drink
8 September – Explore Munich Day.
Since I’ve been to Munich a few times, and its one of my favorites in Europe, I wanted to spend an entire day seeing sights before picking up my car. This would be the only day we would be able to check out the BMW Museum(BMW Welt/Museum/Factory tour hours
). **A lesson learned. Next time I will pick up sometime mid week. All venues should be less crowded and open,** We stopped into the Welt to make sure all was good to go for the next days’ pickup, took some pictures, and then took in the Museum. As compared to others such as M-B, I thought the BMW museum was a bit smaller, but it was very well put together. Since I own both BMW bikes and cars, I really appreciated seeing both throughout the Museum. Finally, in their special rotational area they had dedicated displays on Rolls-Royce, which is now owned by BMW. It takes about 20 minutes to take the local subway from the main train station up to the BMW Welt.
BMW Welt (pic came on the memory stick they gave me with my delivery photos)
View of the museum and HQ
An interesting colored M6 with black powdered coated 343s
A frozen Silverstone M6GC
upclose on the adaptive LEDs
An individual 5 series in what I think is frozen imperial blue (not my favorite.. and after lots of hands has rubbed it at the Welt, it showed. This pic is taken at 0800 in the morning, right after I watched the cleaning crew finish prepping it for the day).
The front of the S63TU
The back of the S63TU
The 535d Wagon. This car is a bit of a white whale for me; I want one badly… I wish they made one for US customers instead of that horrible 5GT. Better yet, an M5 version instead of an X5M.
The i3 prototype
The i8 prototype
The Welt’s Isetta that they drive around at times inside.
As I’m sure most of you know, BMW started out a plane engine maker
But did you know their radial engine powered the Focke Wulf FW-190 (second most prevalent German fighter of WW2)?
The museum has some amazing BMW motorcycles, including:
The Art Deco Bike
An ambulatory version of my K75
My dream bike (though I would prefer a 1965 /2 with same sidecar)
And pic of my wife on my current motorcycle (the only way she would get on one.. when its bolted to the Welt floor)
A BMW 700LS coupe. They had the rear engine compartment opened by a museum specialist, but I failed to get a pic in time.
The original. The M1 Giorgetto Giugiaro has had some radical designs through the years
A beautiful E30 M3
An E30 cabrio. My first BMW was a 1988 version this exact car in triple black – I never should have sold it.
The current 3-series (F30) in design clay
I remember loving the F10 preview trailer
that featured the amazing Kinetic Sculpture
. It was very awesome to see it in real life.
And a few pics of some nice Rolls-Royces:
After we had our fill of Museum, we started out Munich walking tour.
Walking Tour list:
Marienplatz (arrive by metro)
Altes Rathaus (Old Town hall)
Viktualienmarkt (Lunch stuff and Round 1)
Bier un Oktoberfestmuseum
Bayerische Staatsop Opera House
Karolinenplatz (must find Round 2 here)
Pinakothek (art Museum)
Chinesischer Turm (Round 3 in the English garden)
Haus der Kunst (really surfers on the Eisbach)
Wirtshaus Ayingers (german food dinner - Round 4)
Hoffbrau Haus (Round - wait, have to get car tomorrow at 0900)
Marienplatz (metro to home)
And a map, incase you want to play along on a future trip. Alternatively, if you like pedaling, try Mike’s Bike Tours
– they go to 90% of these locations and more with go info and beer along the way.
Viktualienmarkt - this is the Beer line. Poor planning on my part… most stuff closed on Sunday, but we found Beer and Wurst, so good to go.
Bier un Oktoberfestmuseum – they were closed so went to the next place directly to get beer!
Hofbrau Haus – a mandatory stop, no matter how many tourists
Eins, Zwei, G,suffa!
with a lovely Dunkel
Bayerische Staatsop Opera House
Karolinenplatz – standard city phallic symbol
Konigsplatz- antiquities museums
Pinakothek – we went to the Old side (there is a new and a modern as well) if you like 15-18th century paintings with a religious focus, go here… I doubt I will return
English Garden – a German thing I guess? The locks are engraved with names and a date. Hope all their love lasts!
Chinesischer Turm - Liter 3! switched to the Helles
Surfers on the Eisbach – being from Huntington Beach, CA and surfing a bunch in my youth, seeing this always makes me chuckle.
. (Tripadvisor link)
.I think I got my 4th Liter in here? Their take on Schweinshaxe
was amazing. Go to this restaurant for traditional German food over eating at the Hoffbrau Haus any day.
After the gallon of beer I drank, I’m officially calling the Knock-It-Off
as I feel a dangerous situation developing and I need to get my car tomorrow!
9 September – M5 Pickup Day.
So, the day I had been anxiously waiting for had finally arrived. With a 0800 showtime and 0910 pickup time, the plan was to get the car, prep it, do engine break-in in and around Munich, then load everyone up and head to the Austrian Alps. Our destination for the evening was Heiligenblut, Austria by way of the ski town of Lofer and Großglockner pass.
First priority was to have some weisswurst in the lovely lounge
Pickup time cant come soon enough as I wait for the cars to come out
When all of a sudden, I spy my car coming out of the elevator
They pull my car on the spot, 15 minutes to go!
We finally make our way down the stairs
And there it is!
After finishing our briefings and receiving my USB drives, it’s mine with 3 miles on it
We take our victory lap, and are happy
Here’s a short video of us taking the new car out of the Welt and into the real world
First priority with the new car? Some car protection – I brought a second suitcase full of car care products, oil, and microfiber towels. Unfortunately, there were some residue spots, and some removable marks from the autowash the Welt used. I cleaned it with Chemical Guys Waterless Car Wash
. I then waxed the whole car and wheels with Optimum Car Wax
. Finally, I applied Optimum Opti-Glass
on the windshield – this product is fantastic… think of it as Opti-coat for glass. The Welt let me use their reserved spots out front to do this work. We then went inside to buy goodies at the store and get my keychain engraved while the product set.
Max AB… a flying term for maximum afterburner --WOT for planes
For the engine break-in, I put about 30 miles on the car running the engine up to 5500 RPM throughout all the gears and allowing the engine braking to slow the car down. Once this was done, it was back the Welt to pickup the ladies and head out on our way.
Here is a map of the first day of driving:
The car came with a quarter tank of gas… this was enough to get us to Austria where fuel prices were much cheaper!
We got an early introduction to narrow/single car width roads
Alps, here we come
The first of many very cool open sided tunnels on the way up Großglockner
As we ascend, we begin to enter the clouds
Großglockner pass was completely fogged over
However, on the backside it was beautiful!
The town of Heiligenblut was very picturesque
We even had time to hike up to the top of the Großnitz waterfall
We stayed that night at the fantastic Hotel Chalet Senger
). Herr Senger was quite accommodating, and dinner in their dining room was wonderful
10 September – Alpine Driving Day 1.
This would be the longest day of our adventure… 347km still equaled eight and a half hours of driving if viamichelin was to be believed. Luckily it was a bit less than that when it was all said and done. We left the Austrian Alps early, and stopped in Lienz for coffee and Frühstück. After that it was through northern Italy on our way to Stelvio pass. Stelvio itself was interesting and a challenge, and the road was under repair or needing repair in many spots. Quite a few cyclists and motorcycles were taking on the challenge as well, but luckily no busses. At the top it was quite unreal. People were even taking a gondola ride even further up the glacier side to go skiing. We hiked up to the Rigufio Garibaldi
for a spot of lunch that included buckwheat polenta and sausages, and an amaro made from Bormio herbs grown only above 2000m called Taneda. After recharging ourselves, we proceeded down the backside of Stelvio and continued on toward Lake Como… though interesting, the drive was definitely tedious.. lots of small towns, and Italian driving (slow in the left lane for no reason, no room to pass). While Stelvio was interesting, I doubt I will return to drive it again. We ended up that night in Lake Como…. Upon hitting the north end of the Glacier fed lake, we were caught in a torrential downpour… after popping out of the tunnel near our stop in Tremezzo, the weather cleared, for a little while. Tremezzo was charming, and we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine and cheese at a lake front café until the rain eventually caught us. Luckily the weather was not a factor for dinner and had cleared by the next morning.
Here is a map of our second day of driving
Breakfast in the no-car walking area of Leinz… I wish US towns were like this
I cannot begin to explain the amazingness of the Dolomites and Alps… even out of the passes the amazing hillsides and valleys were a sight to behold. Old houses, chalets, burgs, castles, etc dotted the countryside
and a gondola overhead too!
Finally we reached the Stelvio ascent… seeing this weather, I was worried it would be clouded over like Großglockner
But were in luck, and were able to get clear photos from the top of the pass….
At the top of this photo, you can see our lunch spot
The view from our lunch table. My M5 is almost dead center in this photo; can you see it?
My gopro failed to record on the ascent. After lunch, and with the weather supposedly clearing, I decided to go down about 15 switchbacks solo, and have my family film and photo my ascent. This video cannot fully show the dramatic vertical, or how tight the turn radii were. I am glad that my wife was able to home in on the car by its engine noise
and from my view
On the backside of the pass there were still a lot of switchbacks, but not as aggressive… However, there were a lot of tunnels that luckily did not have any opposite direction traffic!
There were a couple of cool waterfalls
And coming down Stelvio (a bit of language in the music)
After driving through much rain we finally arrive in Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy. We opted to stay at the Hotel La Darsena
)... they had an large loft type space that offered direct views of the lake and a great restaurant in house. I had wanted to stay at the Hotel La Perla, but they were fully booked – our accommodations ended up being great regardless.
The hotel right on the water (with a certain M5 photobombing the pic)
Up the coast from the hotel
A view of Bellagio across the lake from our room
The pool at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, for when you don’t want to get in the glacier-fed lake
A lovely view from the hotel restaurant
A nice enough tasting menu and good local wine (though my wife and I were the youngest in the place, by far)
11 September – Alpine Driving Day 2.
The second day of our Alpine driving would be one of the most picturesque of the trip. We drove from Lake Como up through Italy into Switzerland. On the way we went through St. Gotthard Pass and Susten Pass. We followed on through Interlaken for lunch, then some more alpine driving on the way though Aigle, past Lake Geneva and ended up in Gruyeres. We stayed right up by the Gruyeres castle and enjoyed wonderful Fondue and Raclette.
Here is a map of our third day of driving
Our early morning departure was almost marred by our brief incursion into Lake Lugano (according to the iDrive). Also note the song on the radio at the time
The gopro mix of the passes:
And some great pics along the way
Topping St. Gotthard pass looking back toward Italy
More fun switchbacks to go
Beginning the descent on the back of Gotthard
The tunnels cut into the mountain are awesome!
Picked up some traffic going up Susten Pass
The view looked like a Bob Ross painting come to life
My favorite pic of the trip… South side of Susten Pass
North side of Susten had a bit of snow and frost on the Alpine flowers
The descent down from Susten toward Interlaken
Wish we had time to stop and take more pics of the alpine lakes
Had a great lunch in Unterseen, the ‘old town’ part of Interlaken. Restaurant Benacus
was fantastic (tripadvisor link
Instead of going the most direct route to our next stop, we purposely got off track, hoping to see something great. In this case we were lucky as we drove down to Aigle. Another set of high forest roads and a cool chalet that makes wine
Eventually we spot our next destination, the Chateau de Gruyeres
. It medieval town located on top of hilltop that overlooks valley on all sides.
We ended up staying at Hotel de Gruyeres
, the only place that had private parking, and a lovely view of the castle and valley below.
The medieval village had lots of shops with neat swiss and cheese based items.
The castle gave tours, but we got their too late to go inside.
Most interestingly, there is an HR Giger Museum
and bar there... this is because he purchased and owns the whole Chalet.
But the main reason to be here was to get the most authentic Fondue and Raclette
. We went to the Restaurant le Chalet de Gruyeres
, and it was fantastic!
12 September – Black Forest Day .
Which should be renamed to the very cloudy and rainy day. The plan was to leave Switzerland and head back into Germany. Along the way we were going to stop at a couple wineries a Sommelier friend recommended. Sadly, we were in weather all day, and as we entered into the black forest we were stuck in rain and fog – not too many pics this day.
Here is a map of our fourth day of driving
Tons of grapes growing on the craziest terrain I have ever seen. Great drainage makes great wine I guess. The dry whites and pinot noirs in this region are fantastic
For the next two nights we stayed in Kaiserslautern, GE. It’s a pretty modern town, and due to the large amount of US bases near by, is almost like little America. We stayed at the Hotel Heymann
, and modern and unique boutique hotel that most importantly had a private garage ( tripadvisor link
). Here’s our crazy bedroom that had a remote for the lighting to change it to 8 different colors
They put out quite a spread for the free breakfast too!
13 September – Car Maintenance Day.
After 1080 miles, I had the break-in service performed at Landstuhl Euler BMW. It took about 6 hours, so we rented a car from Buchbinder
for about $100 for the day. We took the opportunity to go do some more wine tasting in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. I also finally let someone else drive =).
Wineries in Germany seem to be a more personal affair than in the states. They also will let you taste anything they sell and do not charge you a tasting fee. It was quite enjoyable and we were able to bring back about a half case of wine.
Why not have a camo M-B at your winery?
For dinner that night we went to fantastic place out of the way called the Landgrafen-Mühle
. Maybe next time we will look to stay here (tripadvisor link
14 September – Battle of the Bulge Day.
Having picked up my car, we put another few hundred kilometers going through five countries this day. Our path through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and The Netherlands loosely followed the Allied forces path during the Battle of the Bulge, and we stopped at a few historical locations. The car was definitely changed post break-in service. Having driven long distances for long times over the past 5 days I was attuned to the limitations in the break-in period, and with those lifted and the ability to take the car beyond 5500 RPM, its true nature showed itself. What an amazing vehicle. Right before we left Germany for France, I was able to get a good Autobahn run, even though it was rainy. Even at these high speeds the engine had a lovely purr, the cabin noise from wind and rain was almost non-existent, and the car was unbelievably smooth and stable – its as if this is what is was designed to do
Here is a map of our fifth day of driving day
Did a quick drive through Metz, France… thought we might be able to park by the Cathedral and get Quiche Lorraine, because it appears cars are doing that on google maps. However, that was not on a Saturday like when we were there… streets were flooded with people. Not sure I was supposed to be driving where I did, but oh well. A couple cool pics:
We then went up to the American Military Cemetery Luxembourg
I took the opportunity to pay my respects to my brothers in arms. For those who haven’t seen an unknown soldier grave, the quote on the marker is moving
This is also where Patton is buried. The only reason his marker is placed in a special location is because people were ruining the field when he was originally placed amongst the other troops
When then proceeded in Belgium and visited Bastogne. This a bit of a touristy location based on its history. You may have seen the Band of Brothers episode about how the 101st got surrounded here by the Germans in the winter of ’44 but refused to surrender. There are a couple museums here, and barracks and motorpool of authentic pieces maintained by the Belgian army and more.
The Belgians built quite a large monument in dedication to US sacrifices. You can go on top, and the 5 points of the stars detail the unit positions and approaches around Bastogne.
Some call the M5 a beast or a tank, but it looks quite small compared to the real thing
A bust dedicated to General McAuliffe, who when asked for his units’ surrender by the Germans, simply replied, “Nuts!”
That evening we pulled into the Dutch city of Maastricht
. This was a very cool town with interesting city fortifications throughout. We stayed at the Hotel Beaumont
). Nice central location with paid secure parking.
Pictures from the town of Maastricht
There were American flags all over the town like in this pic
It turns out Sept 14 was the 79th anniversary of the Americans liberating the town!
The dutch even dressed up in costume and brought out restored vehicles to celebrate
I had to take in some of the local flavor – French fries with mayonnaise and a gravy of some sort
and a local stew traditionally made with horse meat and gingerbread called Zoervleis (this was beef)
and of course Belgian beers with their matching glassware
15 September – Unleash the Beast Day.
Today we made out way down to Nürburg to test out the car on the Green Hell. Thankfully, after four days of varying degrees of rain and storms, the weather broke and it was a beautiful day. But first we started off with breakfast a quick tour a quaint little town left untouched by WW2 called Monschau. The buildings and roads are very close to how they were over 70 years ago. The roads are supposed to be closed to non-resident traffic, and it was a fun stop.
Here is a map of our sixth day of driving day
Parked outside Monschau
An actual Isetta in the wild! An old couple on holiday, complete with their leather suitcase strapped to the back
After that we proceeded down to the racetrack. For those considering taking their car on the Nürburgring, www.bridgetogantry.com
is not a bad place to start your research. We stayed at the Lindner Freienpark
in what was a 3 bedroom, 3 bath townhouse with full kitchen, living areas, and car park. It gave me opportunity to wax up the car and make it look good before going up to the track.
The track complex was something to behold, but as others have commented, looked like a half built amusement park… Hopefully the save the ring campaign works and they get more and more people there. The entry to the track, on the other hand, was madness – imagine a giant cars and coffee, except everyone was queing up to get on the racetrack. When I got there, there had just been a pretty big wreck on the track with a BMW (1er hatch) and some other cars, so the track was closed. The two main parking lots were barricaded and full, but on my second time around the roundabout, the guy waved my car in. I parked it amongst a lot of other powerful and unique vehicles as we all waited for the track to reopen. I ended up purchasing 4 laps for about 96 Euro. Everything runs off a “ringcard” there… so the card that let me one the track for a lap also let me in my hotel room, and let me buy food and drink at the restaurants.
Needless to say, this was the second most exciting part of the trip (after picking up at the Welt). I ended up only getting 3 laps in due to track closures. I saw minor wrecks and downed bikers on every lap, and a Renault crashed in front of my on my last lap. On my best lap I was 9:37 Bridge to Gantry with an average speed of 77MPH and a top speed of 120MPH. It was amazing to sustain speeds faster than the US speed limits throughout a 20 KM course.
Ring Taxi in front of me at the gas station
Long line of cars trying to get near the entrance
Ring Taxis waiting to go.. Im parked about 20 feet away
Next to some nice track configured P-cars
The entrance to the ‘ring with track currently closed
Some cool cars seen in the lot with me
Finally, I’m cleared to go!
Full video of my 3rd lap... watch the clio crash in front of me from about 9:30-9:50
and a quick drive by video shot by my in-laws
Pro photog pics from my laps
After a great day of driving, we went to the the Pistenklause
We enjoyed the fantastic steak on a stone
16 September – Castles and Dropoff Beast Day.
This would be my last day driving with my new car. Unfortunately, the rain came back with a vengeance, and by the time it came to drop off it was in the pouring rain… However, we did get to see a bunch of amazing castles on our way along the Mosel and the Rhine. We had meant to do some wine tasting as well, but since we were already at our limit on wine we could carry back, and I wanted to get a couple more pics of the car, we skipped those.
Here is a map of our seventh driving day
In the morning, the area at Brunchen that was filled with spectators the day prior was vacant, so it was a good opportunity to get a couple more snaps… If you aren’t going to track your car, consider getting a pic here… its cooler than having Neuschwanstein in the background I think.
On the way out of town, there were these signs that translate into “Don’t go so fast!” Got a cool pic under this one (the road was closed for construction up the way)
Some castle and car pics:
The one castle we took the time to tour was Burg Eltz
. This was well worth it, and better than the Neuschwanstein tour I went on during my last trip to Germany. A bit of the hike to get there, and couldn’t bring the car close, but a very neat location and tour. Sadly no interior pics were allowed on the tour.
have fun harvesting these grapes!
I was supposed to drop off at 1400, but didn’t get there till 1500. The place was empty besides me and the lady who worked there; the whole process took a whopping 10 minutes…we waited longer for the Cab to the airport. At the end we put 2900KM/1800miles on the car in just shy of 47 hours of driving and idling. It was definitely one of the best trips of my life.
I couldn’t escape Germany without one more good meal and one more liter… now to work off the 15lbs I gained…