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Driving, Eating, and Exploring in Europe – Fall of 2013

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In October, I had the good fortune to fly with a friend of mine to Munich Germany and accompany him during the European Delivery of his new BMW 435i M Sport.  The trip was filled with lots of exciting points of interest including visiting the BMW Museum, the Porsche Museum, and the Mercedes Museum.  We also spent a day in Nürburg and raced on the famous Nürburgring race track.    Having written reports on each of those adventures, I wanted to put together a separate trip report documenting all the things we did and saw “in between” the main points of interest.

We arrived early in Munich (7am) and headed straight to the BMW Welt for the delivery of my friend’s car, followed by a tour of the BMW Museum.  After all that activity on our first day, we were ready for a good German style dinner in downtown Munich. We parked the car at our hotel, and took the S-Bahn:

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The S-Bahn has a stop on Marienplatz right in front of the famous Glockenspiel in the heart of downtown Munich – only about 3 stops/5 minutes from our hotel.

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Having been to they typical Munich tourist restaurant Hofbräuhaus before, we chose another nearby restaurant called Weisses Bräuhaus. Much like Hofbräuhaus, it has a traditional German “beer hall” feel and was also extremely crowded. The food however was superb. I started off with an appetizer of German meatballs and German potato salad :

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I had a traditional German Schnitzel with some side pasta for the main course:

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The next day we drove to Stuttgart Germany and visited the Porsche and Mercedes museums.  Depending on traffic, Stuttgart is only about a 2 hour drive from Munich.  Driving on the German Autobahn is no small part of why I like to visit Germany – it’s how God intended people to drive. We were blessed with several sunny Fall days and the driving was very enjoyable:

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Because my friend’s car had less than 1000 miles on it, we  tried to drive not much faster than 100 MPH or about 4000 RPM on the tachometer.  That’s hard to do in a BMW on the Autobahn – we occasionally cheated:

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After we had a great day touring both the Porsche and Mercedes Museums, we checked into a hotel just outside Stuttgart (Sindelfingen) and walked to dinner.  It was roughly a three mile walk but it was a nice night and it gave us the opportunity to do some sight seeing:

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We chose Italian this evening and picked a restaurant called Zum Rad:

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The food was fantastic.  I had an appetizer of beef Carpaccio followed by a wonderful pasta ravioli dish:

IMG_3778Little known fact – many people bring their dogs with them in restaurants in Europe.  It’s perfectly acceptable there, which I think is way cool:

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The following day we drove from Stuttgart to Nürburg.  I was a longer drive (largely due to an accident on the Autobahn) but we made it to the Nürburgring race track in the early afternoon.  We spent most of the day in Nürburg, and drove on to Cologne to grab a hotel and dinner.  It rained that night, and we had trouble finding a restaurant that didn’t have a wait (Saturday night…go figure) but we finally settled on (yet another) Italian restaurant called Enoteca La Cantina Ivia Zingale.  I ordered some lamb and a side pasta dish that was excellent:

lambI was initially disappointed by Cologne – the city seemed annoyingly expensive.  Our hotel was…pretty crappy yet among the more expensive we stayed in while in Germany.  Parking in the diminutive parking garage was akin to playing limbo in your car – I had to get out to help guide my friend in and out.  But if I have any regrets from the trip, it’s that we didn’t spend more time in Cologne sightseeing.  But the following morning we had to again rise early, eat breakfast and drive on to Amsterdam.  This was the only photo I got during the day of Cologne – taken from the car while we were driving away:

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It was about a 3 hour drive from Cologne to Amsterdam.  I always thing it will be a big deal when driving from one country into another, but it never is.  If you blink when crossing from Germany to The Netherlands, you might miss the sign:

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We picked Amsterdam as a city to visit due to it being on BMW’s list of cities where you could drop off your car during a European Delivery for shipment back to the United States.  Neither myself or my friend had yet visited anywhere in The Netherlands so it was a good opportunity to check another city in Europe off the list.  There are several cities in Europe I could go back to again and again, but Amsterdam just isn’t one of those cities.

We arrived in the late morning and drove straight to the hotel – I had reserved us a room at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel using Marriott points.  It was ideally located in the heart of downtown Amsterdam.

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One of the many peculiarities of Amsterdam are the bicycles.  Amsterdam is the most bicycle friendly capital city in the world – estimates place the number of bicycles in the city at around 500,000.  They’re everywhere:

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My friend and I couldn’t help but notice all the bikes look alike – and look like pretty crappy bikes.  I would think that if I lived in Amsterdam, and would be using a bike often, I’d have a nice bike.  Apparently however there are roughly 50,000 bikes stolen every year.  So I suppose no one buys a nice bike because of the high probability it will be stolen.  We theorized that the people in Amsterdam who are high on pot or mushrooms can’t tell which bike is there own and just take one.  It would be easy to do – all the bikes look alike.

Speaking of “getting high” Amsterdam has a reputation for being a crazy city because both drugs and prostitutes can be easily and legally obtained:

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It was not uncommon while walking through the city to turn a corner and smell the unmistakable and disgusting smell of marijuana smoke.

After we checked in to the hotel, we did some sight seeing.  Amsterdam is a canal city and has many canals running through it:

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FY7A0668-EditCanal river boat tours of the city are prevalent and took an enjoyable cruise to take in the sights:

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Here’s a photo of my buddy in front of the restaurant we stopped in for lunch:

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Amsterdam has a significant Jewish district – on the other side of town from the infamous “Red Light District”:

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FY7A0673-EditThere are also some protestant Christian churches in the city:

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There were many parts of Amsterdam which were certainly pretty, but again it’s not a city I’d care to go back to.  The next morning we flew from Amsterdam back to the US.  It was a whirlwind trip through five cities – my second time experiencing a BMW European Delivery.  The beauty of the European Delivery is having a car and being able to drive wherever you’d like in Europe – being able to experience Europe more like a European.

I hope you enjoyed the photos half as much as I enjoyed the trip!  All photos were taken with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and processed using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, Adobe Photoshop CS6, and OnOne Software Perfect Photo Suite.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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