Time to say bye to car for now

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The driving portion of trip was coming to completion. The car need to be returned so it could be put on the boat for the US. Porsche provided several options for dropping it off, but for a fee. I opted to return it to the factory. So back to Stuttgart I go. My travel companion was flying home from Paris, so took the train from Strasbourg. So I was driving alone back to the factory. I was just a little nervous about the roundabouts, and the pouring rain did not help either.

Strasbourg is located very close to the German border, so I was back in Germany pretty quickly. I hit some serious traffic jams, but the GPS rerouted me thru some amazing little towns.

And the rain stopped, the traffic opened up and the roads were straight and clear. Oh yes, time to open this baby up……. Wait damn tires are speed rated so I only got to about 235 Km’s or 145 mph’s.  The best part? Getting lapped by some amazing works of German engineering.

Bye bye to car for now. I was told it would be heading to the port that same day or the next. So using my goggling skills, I was able to narrow it down to 1 of 3 ships it could possibly be on. So hopefully we are reunited by mid-August.

Now on to the next portion of my trip. I took the train from Stuttgart up to Mainz for one night. Why Mainz? There’s Hyatt.

It’s not a proper trip to Germany without some curry wurst and more wine of course.


And that is point I would like to say that I went sightseeing and did all these amazing things, but no. I spent the evening “working”


Well at least I had a nice view of the Rhine.



Last Supper in Strasbourg

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After barreling thru the French countryside, we headed back to Strasbourg for dinner.  We checked out Petite France, which got it name for having a syphilis hospital in 15th century.  It was a grey and rainy day, so when the sun came out, we decided to celebrate.

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I’v been to France before but do you know that I’ve never had a macaron before? I’ve had a macaroon (and lucky enough had some warm ones earlier in the day).  Now you ask what is the difference between a macaron and a macaroon? I am going to say Google it.

After a long day of cheese, wine, macaroons and macron’s, it was time for dinner.  I blame my wine consumption on my dinner choice….


Yes Beef Tartare, well when in France!

La Route des Vins et le vignoble d’Alsace

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Wait Wine? Yes please……

The great thing about France in the summer is there is a good chance you will find a local festival. Since we were staying in the Alsace region, we were able to locate several wine festivals. Our first stop was in Ribeauville, located on the Route des Vin.

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The Vins and Gastronomie festival ( Wine and Food) was being held in the town center.  The set up was similar to the Christmas Markets, wooden stalls serving different types of wine and food. You purchased a ticket at the entrance that could be exchanged at any of the stalls for different types of food.  For the wine tasting, you had to purchase a glass and a wrist band. Somehow we lost the “need to purchase a wristband” in translation. So we just drank free wine.

And what’s a little wine without some cheese?

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Time to continue on to the next town, which was about 1 minute away. What we then learned was the wine route is better discovered on bicycle, rather then driving. Obvious reasons being, should not be driving while tasting wine and well the towns are not built for large American cars. Did I mention the roundabouts????


**** Just to clarify, there was no drinking and driving, the driver did not have a sip of wine.****


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As you know I travel a lot, so there are few givens to my travel. I am picky about how I am going to get there and where I will stay once I have arrived.

If I were to be honest, my airline of choice would be Lufthansa, but they don’t fly Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, so United is my preferred.  When it comes to hotels, I used to be in committed relationship with Hilton, but Hyatt has since stolen my heart.

Given that there was no Hyatt’s in Strasbourg, we opted to stay at the Hilton. It was located right off the motorway, so it was great because it did not require having to drive thru town.  And due to my status, we were given an upgrade to the executive floor, free wireless, breakfast, and executive lounge access.

After a long day of driving and a really nice happy hour in the lounge, we opted to have dinner at the hotel.  Which turned out for the best given the nice wine selection and dessert options. Can you can say food coma?


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Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France

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5 countries in one day………

After a nice cool rest by the Lake in Lindau, we set off on the driving portion of the trip. Prior to heading into Austria and Switzerland, we stopped to purchase the required Vignettes, toll passes, needed for each country.   So off we go, hitting roundabout after roundabout.

**Apparently the Europeans do not like stop signs as they are disruptive to traffic, so they have roundabouts. I’ve been to Europe more times then I can count and I’ve never noticed them before.  Now? I saw them on the plane during our approach to Frankfurt.**

The beauty of the Schengen Agreement, allows you to pass thru the different countries without border controls.  So we breezed out of Germany into Austria and onto Liechtenstein, without even realizing it.

First stop, Vaduz Liechtenstein. Vaduz is the capital of this small land locked country. I must admit the reason for the stop was so I could get my passport stamp to showed I had been there.  The city center is very compact and after a few stops to pick up some postcards, it was time to move on.  And no, I did not get my passport stamped. Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc for their currency and I had spent all of mine on postcards and postage stamps.


About 5 minutes later, we were in Switzerland. A road trip would not be a true road trip without a stop for some munchies. A little embarrassed to admit, but yes we stopped at McDonald’s. Best darn French Fries I’ve had in a while.  We took the scenic route along Lake Zurich. It was picturesque.  Sorry I was driving so no photos to share.

The original plan had been to stop in Basel, but it was crowded and the streets were confusing with the trams, so we continued on to France.

Now in France, you have to be careful driving because they have speed cameras. But oddly enough the GPS will warn you when you are entering an area with the cameras.  Also the roads were not nearly as pretty as Switzerland or as nice as Germany.

We stopped in Colmar, which is located along the Route Du Vin in the Alsace region in France. For years the German and French had fought over the region, so while it’s technically France, it has a very strong German feel.

The town is amazing. Almost like out of Disney story. We had a nice lunch and walked around.

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When we had arrived in town, there was plenty of open parking spots. It appeared you just paid at the meter and put the slip on the car, or so we thought. We paid for 2 hours and upon our return, I noticed a large suv parking near my car. It was odd because you don’t tend to see large cars like that in Europe. The driver sees us approach signals to me as to say is that your car, I nodded and went about getting in my car.  So we start to fiddle with the GPS, and I hear honking. I noticed the other car had pulled out and was honking at me to move, I put up my hand and ignored her. Oops.  Next thing I know, she’s parked her car, comes around to my car door, opens it and starts screaming at me, in what I think was German. It was not French, I can say that much.  Now I would like to think that I would have behaved differently given the situation, but I just sat there with my mouth open, wondering did she just scratch my car with her ugly purse? I did say back, I don’t understand. But by then, she had run away in a angry huff.  So be careful how you park in France,  just saying, you’ve been warned.

So off we head to our hotel in Strasbourg.  According to the printed map, it was 20 minutes,  but the car GPS was saying more like 50.  We really only had a problem with time/distance in France.

Autobahn and Lindau Germany

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So after all the excitement of taking delivery of my new car, it was time to hit the road. Porsche provided a nice lunch and a factory tour. This factory tour was different then my previous tour, as we got to view the engine shop. Just fascinating.

The first stop on the road trip was Lindau, Germany. It’s an inlet located on Lake Constance in Southern Germany. Porsche provided a handheld GPS, because I had not opted to have the European Maps loaded on the car’s GPS. If you’ve ever driven in an area that experiences seasons, you know that summer is also know as construction season. It was brutal trying to leave Stuttgart, due to my inexperience with German construction as well as my new car.

Finally, one hour later we hit the Autobahn, lets open this baby up. And no, we are going to sit in traffic, what should have been an easy 2 hour drive, was closer to 4.  We were fortunate enough to hit some of the unlimited patches and had some fun trying to see how fast we could go.  But with traffic, we only got to about 115 mph.

Since the car is set for export to the US, it had temporary license plates. Not the normal German sized plates, but more like State side plates due to the configuration of the car. So most people driving knew that we were not local.

Enter the jerk in the Mercedes. I mentioned traffic was heavy right? Well in Germany, you follow the rules of the road, pass on the left, slower traffic to the right. Well since traffic was sort of heavy, we were sitting in the left, passing as much as we could. Well the jerk thought we were just sitting left and tried several times, unsuccessfully to get in front of us.  Until he finally had enough and just cut me off, causing me to swerve into the right lane.  Well my Porsche beat his Mercedes, so I won that game of chicken, but it was a game I most certainty do not want to play again.

We finally arrived safely in Lindau and never have we been so thankful to find out room was freezing cold.

After a nice stroll thru the town, we had a lovely dinner along the lake, where we witnessed a wedding  ceremony. A very relaxing evening after a very fun day.

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Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for 3 years in the making. Back in 2011, I went to Munich over Thanksgiving to visit the Christmas Markets (another post for another day). I had always wanted to visit the BMW factory and figures while I was at it would visit the Porsche factory. Who knew that trip would change my life.

I visited the BMW factory on Day 1. It was interesting. Nothing really great, but definitely worth checking out. Day 2, I took the train to Stuttgart for the Porsche Factory Tour and Mercedes Museum. I had pre-arranged the Porsche Tour, I figured I would check out the Mercedes Museum afterward (did not happen).  So I arrived at Porsche and toured the Museum first. Porsche has an interesting history and they have a lot of different cars on displayed. One in particular stood out to me, the Carrera GT, which according to the audio guide, was a little something designed to go the grocery store. At 450,000 Euro, your not going to the grocery store in that car.

There was also a quote by Ferdinand Porsche, that just stuck with me.


And then I went on the factory tour. They really should make you sign a waiver, that you assume the risk and understand by taking that tour, you will purchase a Porsche. It may not happen immediately, but you will dream of owning one, so much so, that one day you will just give in.

I can recall the exact moment that made me a believer, it was the leather room. Something unique about Porsche, is that their cars are completely customized. So much so that only 1 in 400 cars may have similar configurations. So one option is having custom leather. They actually have a leather room in which there were 2 women, hand sewing leather. Seriously, sitting there HAND sewing the leather. It blew my mind. And in that moment, I thought, I will have one someday. Probably after I win the lotto, but I will have one.

3 years later, 4 months after placing the order, I finally had my dream come true.

I thank God for giving me the ability to dream, the courage to follow them and for keeping me safe to be able to tell the tale. Here’s to dreaming big and having them come true!


Stuttgart and Neckarsulam

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And the journey continues….

With my bag situation, getting on the train was interesting. When purchasing train tickets in some parts of Europe, you have the option of getting a seat reservation.  When traveling at peak times, it’s probably a good idea to ensure you actually get a seat. Or you can be cheap (like me) and take your chances.  I took my chances and got lucky, the train appeared to be empty. I had some fun getting my 4 bags up the stairs……

Again, normally I am not traveling for 12 days, so storing my bag have not been an issue in the past. This time I asked a nice German couple for some assistance and they showed me where to put my bags, in the overhead. Why, yes I work out, I explained as I heaved my seriously heavy bags up top.  And these trip reports would be nothing if I did not tell you about yet another Rookie Mistake, I am losing count of what number at this point.  Some guy heard me speak and was like oh are you American? In hindsight, I should have said No, Haitian, Canadian, Alien, something other then admitting to being American.  If you recall, I was tired but excited, so I said why yes……. And so his life story began. At one point, the nice German couple looked at me with pity. Finally I just smiled and put on my headphones, which were unplugged, and pretended like I could not hear him.  Luckily he took the hint, until we reached Stuttgart.  He, of course, waited for me to get off the train and only after I had cleared all the stairs, said do you need some help? I tried to run away but with 4 bags, was not very successful.  So I stopped to pretend like I was consulting my map and he did not notice, thank goodness……

As part of the European Delivery Program, Porsche pays for the first night hotel, so they put us up at the Am Schlossgarten, which was located right across the street from the train station.  Beautiful hotel, they gave us a superior room on the 7th floor with a balcony. Which was nice, but it was facing west and Stuttgart was having a heat wave. To say it was hot would be an understatement.

We arrived early in Stuttgart so we could go do the Audi Factory Tour in Neckarsulam. The tour was scheduled for 1.45pm, so we quickly got changed and ran over to Sixt to pick up our rental car.  And we got lost walking over, my fault, trying to remember the directions while being jet lagged. Finally arrive at Sixt, and while filling out the rental car paperwork, they ask about additional insurance. ( Cheap Ass Alert). I said no thanks my credit card provides coverage.  Ma’am are you sure, it’s a BMW M6, wait what???? YES give me the insurance, please.

So off we go or so we try, but we not quite sure where we are going and the navigation is in German. Back to rental car office for assistance and now we are off for real.  Even pushing the pedal in the Beemer, we did not make it in time for the tour.  We were still able to check out the Forum though.

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With the heat starting to get to us, we headed back to Stuttgart and had a nice dinner, before attempting to sleep. Attempting being the key word because our room was easily 90 degrees.  Besides who could sleep when we knew was in store for the next day??????



And I am off….

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I guess I should clarify something with my posts, they are not in real time. They are days behind. So if you arre reading this thinking, hmm I think I am going to find Flo in Germany, yeah I am probably already home.

My usual travel pattern, when heading to Europe, is to take a 6:00pm departure,  so I have a chance at sleeping. Well due to the schedule for the next day, I took the 2:20 pm from Chicago to Frankfurt. Rookie Mistake #2.

I also booked my ticket late, so the choice seats where gone. Rookie Mistake #3.

So I ended up in the middle seat sandwiched between 2 men, both who where armrest hogs. The one to my left was  not as bad, elbows touch someone would move. However, the guy to my right? I am pretty sure he was trying to get his cuddle on.

So 7.25 flight time, I watched 3 movies, so maybe 2 hours of sleep? Arrived in Frankfurt at 5:20 am, ready to go to bed rather then face the day.  But the next day, was the big day, and I was way to excited to sleep.

Originally the plan had been to meet up with friends in Frankfurt and we would drive down to the Audi Forum in Neckarsulam. I had booked a hotel room at the airport so we could refresh before fhe drive.  Well plans changed, flights cancelled and I made rookie mistake 4. Don’t prepay your hotel unless your willing to lose it.

So I walked over to the Frankfurt Hilton Airport to refresh and drink about 4 expresso’s.  The Hilton was located in the Squaire, which right next to the train station for the long distance trains. So it worked out great given my bad situation.


I had prebooked the train, at risk, because the price difference was so signficant it was worth it. Next stop Stuttgart……….





Rookie travel mistakes

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I am usually a short haul traveler. I can usually travel with a carryon and I very rarely check bags. So planning for 12 days in Europe was eye opening for me.  Oh boy did I make some rookie mistakes.

1. Overpacking- there is this amazing thing called laundry, you can even pay someone to do it for you.  No need for 12 days of clothes.

2. Trains, planes, automobiles and stairs?- only pack what you can carry because at some point you will encounter a sitaution that requires you to carry,lift, pull your bags.

3. Make a list- less likely to forget something.

4. If packing multi-bags, try to put what you need the first few days in bag 1, so your not having to shift thru bags every day.

I started with my 2 rollerboards fully expanded and very heavy. I ended up with, having to do laundry at some point. But for 12 days it could have been worse.