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      10-08-2018, 11:31 AM   #1
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M3 Euro Grand Driving Tour, or two guys and a car

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The idea started innocuously enough, let's see if we can go see the Monza F1 GP this year. Then the realization that my lease is also expiring, so perhaps there is an opportunity to pick up a car while doing that, and it all snowballed downhill from there, as things sometimes do. Once we looked at dates and figured out time away from work, we started looking at including a second GP experience, and why not throw in a Nurburgring lap or two, and why not get to Monza via some fine Alpine passes while we're at it, and so on. This ended up being the best car experience I've ever done. But let's start from the beginning... Bandwidth alert, lots of photos.

A huge shoutout to our spouses who have shown the patience of angels and supported us all the way. Spousal support is the only way to do a trip like this if you don’t like sleeping on the couch for a year.

We had fun doing it and wanted to share the experience with you. It ended up being impossible to post all this from the road as it was happening, so our apologies for the delay. I hope other people in the US are inspired by this story and take advantage of the Euro Delivery program, while it still exists. (BMW has been scaling back, reducing incentives etc. and I fear it may go away at some point).

As for the driving logistics in case you're wondering, we tried to split everything in half. Both the exciting stuff (passes, track) as well as the boring sections (highway). We're both adults, good friends and trust each other to not do anything dangerous with the car, while still preserving a certain zest for driving and keeping things on the fun and brisk side. And yes we're still friends.

Here we are on Day 0, call us A and T, luggage nicely decorated with the supplied BMW tags, leaving Dulles towards Munich.


An uneventful flight later, we were picked up via the included Sixt limo service, yes please and thank you we deserve it.



Half an hour later, we arrived at the Welt and checking into the Delivery lounge while waiting for the appointment time. This was my sixth Euro Delivery, but my friend T was new to the whole experience and was soaking it in to the max.

A little food goes a long way after such a long flight, and with a long day ahead of us. As usual, the lounge was impeccable.




We had been warned there was a delay in getting the tags, so we would get the car delivered, and then go to see the factory and museum while they would put the tags on the car, after which we would finally drive the car out later in the afternoon. Since we wanted to do all those things anyway that wasn't an inconvenience.

And now onto the good stuff... Claudia, our delivery specialist took us to the multimedia presentation room, where she would demo the new unfamiliar features (driving assist stuff and cameras mostly).


And then we looked down from the stairs and finally saw it...



Individual Santorini on black M3 ZCP, 6sp, Exec, etc. I thought I was going to like the color but to be honest it blew my mind, exceeding all my expectations.



Meanwhile T was snapping away trying to see what else was happening around us.



But honestly we were both too excited about the car to not go there and start crawling all over it. I was indeed back.







Do I look happy?





Next stop, the factory tour. We don't have any pictures of that for obvious reasons, but it was interesting and I finally got to see the paint shop which had been denied on previous trips. Their new process allows wet application of the various layers (!), thus reducing curing time and cost. Munich plant is special because of the limited available space, they're in the middle of the city basically, so the robot placement is highly optimized and there is a very cool choreographed dance as they pass the workload from one another in those tight confines. Also interesting was that you could barely hear the panel press, and there was absolutely no floor vibration from that. If you've seen these presses elsewhere you would have been impressed too.

After that, we went back to the lounge for lunch and then across the street to the museum, trying to soak in as many things as possible in a short amount of time. We took more pictures there, if there is interest I can post some more later.
First sports cars, and no iDrive in sight.


Ten years later, still no iDrive.



Elegant lines of the period in a 328 streamlined by Superleggera.



M1 procar miniature display case...


...along with the obligatory 70's style PR efforts...



I want it all.



Later still, it was finally time to do the victory lap and come out of the building into a light drizzle. Tired but very happy.





We drove to our hotel and nabbed the last parking spot, a little tight but hey this is Europe.



After a showers and rest, we met with T's cousin who lives in Munich and went for celebrations at the Hofbrauhaus, where we closed the shop after midnight.



I know there are places with better food or beer. But we went there for the authentic beer garden experience and it turned into an evening to remember. Our new friends at the table hailed from Germany, Chile, Italy and Russia, quite a melting pot. In the classic German tradition, you share a table you become friends. Beer loosens tongues and inhibitions, erases language barriers and ultimately makes you wobble back to the hotel and fall into a deep slumber.
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      10-08-2018, 11:32 AM   #2
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Day 2 - To SPA, and The Ring! Yeah, and the Black Forest too

Our slumber may have been deep, but it wasn't very long. We left Munich at 7:30AM sharp, destination SPA Francorchamps where we wanted to see the track and Quali session for the F1 race.

Onto the Autobahn then, and mindful of the break-in limits. Pure torture as you can imagine.



After an uneventful drive we made to the F1 circuit, not without some confusion. I hope nobody from Belgium here on the forum will get offended, but it was the most disorganized F1 event we've been to. Took us forever to find the entrance, the cops that were scattered all around being completely clueless as to where things were.





What surprised us both is just how much elevation change there is to that track. We've driven it virtually in GT but the reality is completely different. It is a grand track, artfully draped onto the surrounding mountain landscape, and a track day there is now on our bucket list.

Now I'm a Lewis fan, and T is a Ferrari/Seb fan. Lewis put in a stupendous qualification lap in the rain, no-one else could touch him, much to my friend's chagrin. But he was vindicated on race day where Seb put in a masterful pass on Lewis, and then sailed away into the distance to win the race. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here because we saw the race on DVR when we returned home. That's because Sunday was a very special day for us, at our next destination, the Nurburgring.

After the quali session, we set onto our new destination for a short 90 min drive. But it took forever to leave the track location, again with no help or inspiration from the local authorities (quite the opposite they made of mess of traffic).

And finally there we were, the car nut's Mecca, the big daddy, the one you will never forget, the one and only Nurburgring. Too late to lap, that would be for the next day.



Putting a little gas at the famous ED Tankstelle.



Checking in at the Linden hotel right across from the GP track, a fun-themed hotel.



Paying tribute to my car's spiritual birth place.



And dinner at the Pistenklause, car in very good company.







The next day, mindful that the new ED insurance doesn't cover the Ring, we had booked a race car from Ring Freaks. An E90 325i VLN race car, fully kitted with stuff, for 10 laps (5 laps each).



All business inside.



All systems GO, T is ready for his first ever Nordschleife lap.



A few pics in action, one of mine and one of T's.





T did 3 laps and mercifully there were no accidents so he got the full experience: being passed by a train of fast&furious GT3/M3/M2/Ferrari/you name it, passing slow moving bikes and cars, the dips, the bumps, the elevation changes. It's absolutely magnificent. Next, I did 3 laps but the track was getting busy and accidents started to happen. What I noticed was that I was completely at ease with the passing rules and the speed - I did do a few Ring laps in the past (and more than a few on the playstation), but no doubt the track experience from the US helped tremendously.

So on a whim, I decided to take the M3 on track, fully understanding that the insurance wouldn't cover any potential mishaps. I wanted the pics from the Carousel and to not get them after having traveled so far seemed unthinkable. So I took it easy, ever mindful of the break-in rules, and was still able to comfortably lap faster than T in the 325. The ZCP did very well on track, all things considered, and I never regretted the decision at all - would do it again in the future if possible.

First pic, after I'd passed a bunch of slower cars and going into the Carousel. Second pic, a lap later I was all alone there.





A big shout out to Ring Freaks, they were awesome. Easy to deal with, no hidden clauses, well prepped car, decent price all made for a great experience.



I have some videos too, and will post a few selections as soon as I edit them.

One interesting thing that struck us both was that in the paddock, a good 40-50% of all cars were BMW's. M3's of all generations, M2's, M4's, in all sort of prep and tune states all the way from stock to full wild wide body monsters.
So without further ado, some gratuitous car porn from the parking lots and surrounding areas.












































The experience of driving on the Ring was exquisite. If you are a car person it must be on the bucket list. Both T and I were absolutely in awe, and we will go back there someday. I figure perhaps for a trackday, or even Touristenfahrten but for more than one day. Can't even begin to scratch the surface in a day, and it is absolutely magical. The M3 acquitted itself very well, and we did it with a trunk full of luggage plus assorted stuff in the cabin.

In the end, took one quick look at the ED Tankstelle miniature store, but unfortunately we were running out of time & energy for shopping.



After we returned the car to Ring Freaks, we set our new destination - B500 or better known as the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse.



Driving through picturesque villages, one after the other, and an amazing road in between as the dusk set in, air full of incredible smells of fresh pine, water, grass and flowers.







The B500 winds its way running on the top of the Black Forest and should be on everyone's bucket list.



We had a late dinner in Triberg, then found our way back on the Autobahn - destination Munch and the break-in service the following day. Ended up overnight at this hotel, a quaint German typical hotel with a nice breakfast (and just 8 min away from the service).

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      10-08-2018, 11:33 AM   #3
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To the Alps! And beyond...

First thing in the morning I took the car in for the break-in service, at the BMW-owned dealer on Frankfurterstrasse.


Went back to the hotel for breakfast and shower, and then we both went to the dealer to pick up the car. We had time to stroll around looking at some nice cars, they had 3 M4 CS in stock. We went across the street and visited BMW Motorrad, drooled over some bikes there and then finally got our car back, serviced and washed and ready to roar.

But first we stopped at the Andechs monastery, beautifully set into a gentle hilly landscape and with amazing beer. We decided to add a little fat to the menu, to go with the beer.








Now that we were all fully restored, the car felt felt a little frisky, so I gave her what she wanted.


Drove south towards Garmisch on beautiful derestricted sections.






Crossed Austria and exited at Vipiteno, for our first of many Alpine passes - the Jaufenpass (Passo Giovo). T's first mountain pass in the Alps, so he got the driving honors.










After a long, and interminable drive through the dark and a million roundabouts and other boring stuff, we arrived at Hotel Madatsch at the base of the Stelvio. Parking lot was full so the owners gracefully allowed us to park the car on the restaurant's patio. The car made new friends there, people peeking around and asking questions. But first, a couple of beers for the weary travelers.





The hotel was amazing, a 4 stars in the middle of a narrow valley with all the comfort and amenities you could expect. We'll be back there someday for sure... In the morning, the car picked up a new friend, a beautiful and gentle mountain shepherd dog happy to nap near it.









And now, the Stelvio awaited and so we set up early around 7:30 to avoid the heavy traffic later in the day.

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      10-08-2018, 11:34 AM   #4
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The Stelvio, St. Moritz, St. Bernardino and St. Gothard

So we set to go up the Stelvio, on the most amazingly clear beautiful day.







We made some new friends at the top.



Then bought the obligatory T-shirts to commemorate the event.



Then over to the other side.



Where cows were happy to share the mountain with cars, without interference (due to electric fences, and ask how we found out).



As interesting and characterful the road is going up from the North, the surface is better and more flowing coming down on the South side.



You do have to stop for various traffic every now and then.



And drive through tunnels...



We left the Stelvio behind, heading to St. Moritz and then Andermatt.



Driving through beautiful valley and villages.





Purple wildflowers were everywhere.



Glacial accumulation lakes...



We finally arrived in St. Moritz.



Very pretty, very upscale.





We had an excellent albeit extremely expensive lunch, without forgetting the dessert.



Had some guests at the table too...



As we left, water activities driven by wind were unfolding everywhere.



Where do they find the time to paint the graffitis in the tunnels I am not sure.



Big dams throughout these mountains. We did the Slpugen pass as well, sorry no pics as we were a bit in a hurry...



A lake at the top of St. Bernardino pass (sorry no pics of the pass itself).



Where to go next? St. Gothard beckoned...



Dusk was falling as we started on the old St. Gothard pass, cobblestone surface and not a soul in sight. Pure driving magic...

















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      10-08-2018, 11:35 AM   #5
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Andermatt

Andermatt is conveniently located in the middle of three gorgeous passes, which we would do the next day. We arrived late and grabbed our room in the middle of town, car securely parked underground.





Then we had a wonderfull dinner at our hotel, all local specialties - goulash and tarte flambee.





Our hotel and the town square scene, all very peaceful and pretty.





We ended up spending two nights in Andermatt, doing a full day of more passes and other fun destinations. Strolling through this tiny city and snapping pics of the streets.







Even found a house with a pool.

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      10-08-2018, 11:36 AM   #6
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Furka, Grimsel, Luterbrunnen and Susten

Bright and early the next morning, leaving Andermatt to drive some more passes.



These guys had driven through town the evening before, not sure what they were about but I respect horsepower no matter what form.



Furka beckons... Amazing drive.



Big wide valley that could seemingly swallow the whole world, and another perfect day.







And a driver who can't believe his luck to be there.



Some photos by Samsung, others by Nikon.





Abandoned hotel Belvedere, and the start of the hike to a local glacier walk attraction. We drove on.



On the other side, the Grimsel pass beckons.



Local cog railway going up to the top.









Driving on, Switzerland is an incredible destination for hiking.



Onwards we drove, destination Lauterbrunnen. It is at the end of a narrow and beautiful valley, with massive cliffs on both sides and pedestrian-only villages on top of those cliffs. There is a cog train that goes to the top of Europe, the Jungfrauhoch. We didn't have time for that and so just made do with some smaller attractions.

Waterfalls that dissipate in mid air.











Then we visited the Trummelbache Falls, a glacier melt that goes on all year long and has, over time, carved a huge cave/slit into the mountain.









Picture perfect houses and surroundings.



We took a light snack, then later lunch and the weather turned on us.



We left the valley in a rainstorm, and the rain stayed with us all the way to the Susten pass. It was one of the best passes if not the best, weather notwithstanding and I have to say the M3 did incredibly well in the conditions.













We ended the day back in Andermatt.



To the end of a very successful day.

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      10-08-2018, 11:37 AM   #7
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Maranello here we come

So far so good, you may have followed our adventures and if you're a car person, you would agree it was awesome so far. So let's see, can we top this? Or at least come close?

I say, onto Maranello we drive!

The next day, we crossed into Italy where the change in culture was immediately apparent. We were very wary of speeding in Switzerland, where they may have an 80kph limit on both highways and super tight treacherous mountain passes. Who says they have no sense of humor. But in Italy, the speed limit still seemed to be more of a suggestion, which some people chose to ignore completely. We played it somewhat safe, in the middle.

We arrived in Maranello and the excitement starts to build.









We had a tour of the factory at Ferrari (such as it is), then a museum visit, and a simulator drive. Plenty of that later in the day, but in the parking lot and adjacent business (a supercar experience thing), plenty of hot Italian supercars to drool over. Now Maranello seemed full of such businesses, and I realize they are somewhat of a tourist trap, still I had fun taking these pictures and I hope you will enjoy them as well.













We visited the factory but I had the distinct impression I knew more about the history of the place than our your guide, and they don't really show you anything that's worth seeing. Compared to the rest of the trip, this was the most disappointing event and I would urge you to give it a pass, do something else with that hour. Like, sip a few cappuccinos.

Onto the museum. Some gorgeous cars from earlier eras, lots of racing history and passion packed into that building.







You might see this as an evolution of the lids and F1 car safety over the years, and you wouldn't be wrong. I look at these as a shrine of sorts, some of these heroes died for Ferrari in the pursuit of speed, glory, and immortality.









We couldn't resist an opportunity to make fools our ourselves, here I am driving the F1 simulator. It was hard to do, and according to one of the techs there some people come back, over and over again to try to improve their skills.



Ferrari visit now over, we drove to our hotel, appropriately named Maranello Palace. This is what showed up 30 min after we pulled in.











The Ferrari factory was literally over the wall. We ended up having dinner at a local osteria, which was absolutely incredible. The next morning we found out that our room was frequently reserved by a certain Finnish driver when he is in town, so T happily slept in Kimi's bed I guess.
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      10-08-2018, 11:38 AM   #8
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Let's visit Mr. Pagani

If you're ever in the area, I urge you to visit the Pagani museum and factory. It is a much more intimate affair than at Ferrari, and the level of craftsmanship and obsession are on a completely different level.

To get the juices flowing, this was outside.





From humble beginnings...



...to this!















Even the office door handles are exquisite.



Both T and I were blown away by this experience. The factory as you may have read elsewhere is like a cross between a small Italian village (complete with cobblestone "streets" and lampposts) and a high tech manufacturing emporium. Every detail is a work of art. The (titanium of course) bolts have the Pagani log laser etched onto them. The only other car creator that I'm aware of that did things this way was Ettore Bugatti.

I would also recommend the factory tour, it gives you a sufficient view of their operation to understand just what a monumental achievement Mr. Pagani has managed. Bravo!


There are around 50 or so Paganis roaming the roads of the world right now, so we were privileged to witness the completion and loading of 2 new Huayra's, both destined for the USA. Someone got a very very nice present indeed.
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      10-08-2018, 11:38 AM   #9
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It would be rude to ignore Mr. Lamborghini

Having paid our respects to Mr. Ferrari and Mr. Pagani, it would have been unthinkable not to visit Mr. Lamborghini's emporium, so away we went.

Certainly Lamborghini likes to do things a different way, but they manage to imbue their cars with a combination of passion, engineering acumen, and inspiration that seems to be unique to Italian automakers.















And let's not forget some of the older, but no less passionate fore-bearers.
Miura artfully hidden door handle.



Original Countach before they added wings and things to it.





Offroad study (with US V8 engine) for the US military. The project failed but it led to the LM002, the first high performance SUV.





Must have awesome aero, this one stuck to the wall.

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      10-08-2018, 11:39 AM   #10
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Monza Battle Royale

After having filled ourselves with all this exotica, which made the M3 seem super mundane and shy, it was onto the next (our last) adventure - the Monza F1 GP.

Even though I'm a Lewis fan, I had decided to honor the country and their passion for automobiles by going full Ferrari fan for the race. Turns out Lewis doesn't need my help, he managed to win that race on his own.

Here we are. We had decided early on we would use public transit for the race, and I have to say that despite the fact that we are worldly travelers (hah!) the Italian train experience was exciting, unpredictable and sweaty. But, it got us there (and back) in the end so there's that. We have some useful tips for anybody who may want to go there, PM me if interested.



Lots of fans, much more crowded than Spa but at the same time the crowd felt more benign, there to enjoy themselves not necessarily to pee on someone else's parade. Why there wasn't even proper booing when Lewis won, and we had a grand old time at the track there. The atmosphere was incredible, lines for food/drink acceptable, and everyone behaved with a certain grace and hospitality when under pressure. Bravo Italia!

Lewis' old car was on display.



This is our corner, and here he goes for the formation lap.



Let's not forget the Ferrari cars, and some colorful (Kimi?) fans. I would like to mention that it seemed to me that Kimi has more fans in Italy than Seb has - maybe because he did win a world championship for them and Seb hasn't for the time being, I am not sure.



Ferrari logistics was well represented.



Some fans had improvised seating.



How can I express the thrill, the nostalgia and attraction of the old Parabolica? Imagine that cars were racing 150mph here in the 1950s, and you can barely stand on it, and it takes a concerted effort from a fit person to get to the top edge.







Fans having a bite to eat and a drink in the park.



I should mention that Monza is in the middle of a huge park, it's all lush and pretty but there is a *lot* of walking. On practice day we walked 1 hour from the bus stop to our seats. On race day we were lucky that the train stopped much closer to the track (at Lesmos) so we only had to walk 30 min to get there.

The old parabolica right under our seats, and the Alta Velocita corner view.





As Lewis is about to hold his victory speech, fans are let loose on the track.





I wasn't kidding.



Logistics for crashed cars.



We had a wonderful time at Monza and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.
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      10-08-2018, 11:40 AM   #11
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Milan and the return trip

I wanted to show you a few pics of Milan. We just scratched the surface really because we didn't have time to visit the center, but of what we saw, we liked.



Great food and drinks.









And a great youthful vibe to the place.





Now while at Andechs we bought some beers and never got the chance to drink them along the way. So last night in Milan we had to polish them off.



That made the next morning a little bit hazy, and it was very hard to stick with our plan and leave by 7AM. But leave we had to if we were to make our 4PM flight back to the US.

On the way we saw some sort of prototype, had the form factor of an X2.



The final tally (in km).



The car at the drop-off location in the Munich airport. None worse for the wear, this is the first time I dropped off a car without a single scratch on it.



Loginout (the shipping company) even has a wash service (expensive at 40 euros, but it's there if you need it). We said goodbye to the car and went for one final round in the airport.



That was quite an adventure. Prosit!
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      10-08-2018, 11:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by adc View Post
So far so good, you may have followed our adventures and if you're a car person, you would agree it was awesome so far. So let's see, can we top this? Or at least come close?
I'm far from being a car nut (but admittedly closer than many) but I have to agree this is awesome.
I'm taking notes and waiting for your next chapter.

Congrats on the M3! Great color but I could not pull it off driving that around.
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      10-08-2018, 11:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space gray View Post
I'm far from being a car nut (but admittedly closer than many) but I have to agree this is awesome.
I'm taking notes and waiting for your next chapter.

Congrats on the M3! Great color but I could not pull it off driving that around.
Thank you! Post is finished now, except for the videos (hopefully tomorrow).
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      10-09-2018, 03:03 AM   #14
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great journey, thanks for sharing.
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      10-09-2018, 03:39 AM   #15
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Wow. What an adventure. Thanks for taking the time to share it. Congrats on a beautiful car and yeyyyy itís a manual!

I was in Germany this summer too in a rented c230d wagon. Some of these places looked familiar, especially Lauterbrunnen. We ended up staying there for three days. Did the Top of Europe train ride and other hikes. What an amazing town.
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      10-09-2018, 09:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkhm3 View Post
great journey, thanks for sharing.
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy L Garage View Post
Wow. What an adventure. Thanks for taking the time to share it. Congrats on a beautiful car and yeyyyy itís a manual!

I was in Germany this summer too in a rented c230d wagon. Some of these places looked familiar, especially Lauterbrunnen. We ended up staying there for three days. Did the Top of Europe train ride and other hikes. What an amazing town.
Thank you. Iím not sure I managed to convey just how beautiful some parts of Switzerland really are. The air is crisp and fresh and smells of wildflowers and pine, you can hear cowbells in the distance, itís idyllic. Itís also very expensive compared to neighboring countries as you no doubt noticed, and in terms of driving fun you need to pick your battles with care.
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      10-12-2018, 11:10 AM   #17
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Awesome trip and pictures! Thanks for sharing and enjoy the new car!
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      10-12-2018, 12:01 PM   #18
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Driving through all those scenic countries and small towns must have been an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks for sharing, and how cool is it you got to drive your M3 on the autobahn unrestricted, super jealous.

I'm sure you definitely marked some major bucket list items off with that trip.
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      10-12-2018, 12:06 PM   #19
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What an amazing trip and great photos!!
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      10-12-2018, 12:08 PM   #20
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Amazing looking trip. Great pics. Hope to do it one day myself.
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      10-12-2018, 12:14 PM   #21
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Enjoyed that very much. Thanks for sharing! This is on my bucket list.
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      10-12-2018, 12:16 PM   #22
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awesome!
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