Flo’s Birthday July 2016- Part 2

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I am solo traveler. I do what I want when I want to do it and well frankly I kind of of prefer it that way. I was little worried about traveling with 20 of my friends.

So how where we getting to Berlin?  Well before moving to Australia, I was very loyal to United Airlines. So I had a healthy amount of frequent flier miles. (If you want to learn more about earning miles, check out The Points Guy.)    Add in my 1k status and the choice was easy, Chicago to Frankfurt on United connecting to Lufthansa to Berlin.I was one of the last one’s to book my ticket. It was primary because I was not sure if I would be coming from Australia or the States.  After booking 6 friends on  one flight from Chicago, I realized it would make sense for me to book myself on that flight. Fun Fact: Lesley was the first one to book.

I’ve been fortunate to be able frequently fly in Business Class, alot. Most airlines provide a in flight amenity kit, some like Qantas and Virgin Australia give pajamas. Since part of this trip was for my friends to experience a “Flo” trip. I made special amenity kits for them. I was even able to include pajamas from Qantas. ( Thanks again Qantas!)

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You probably already know about my love affair with Flight 001. So it should not be a surprise that I choose a Seat Pak for my amenity kit. I included stuff that I found to be helpful on flights. A pen, tissue, toothbrushes, hand lotion, lip balm, electronic glass cleaner, antibacterial wipes and in some cases a battery pack. My friend, Michelle made amazing travel cards that included the itinerary, contact information for the other travels, so Flo travel trivia and a crossword puzzle. She even wrapped them in vintage maps!

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As with any trip, not everything went according to schedule. Apparently the Porsche factory was closed the week were going to be in town. There goes my dream of doing hot laps on the track in Leipzig.  Someone got a new job and had to cancel, another had to change tickets due to a wedding etc. Lots of shifting and organizing up until the last minute, including a last minute cancellation that had me sweating. Let me be very fair in saying, I was very clear to my friends that I would completely and totally understand if they were unable to attend, for whatever reason.  So when one friend, who had been making excuses for months, said that maybe they could not go about a week before, I made the decision to cancel.Only because if we are all being honest, said friend never had any intention of going on the trip.  I had to cancel the ticket, rearrange hotels, update transportation lists, etc. It was not a 2 minute fix. Fast forward to day before departure and I realized, I had no heard from that friend. Oops. Luckily the cancellation text message came in at 28th hour. Whew. That would have been a bit awkward at the airport.

I used my points to book most of us into the Grand Hyatt Berlin. Hyatt has this amazing program called Be My Guest. It allows diamond members to use their points to book rooms for friends and family and they get your diamond status benefits.  So everyone was upgraded to club rooms and given access to club lounge. Which was just ideal given the number of people traveling together. It gave us an opportunity to get together and just hang out. DSC_0052

I had coordinated with the hotel to ensure that everyone’s names where on their rooms and that everything was sorted ahead of time. Then I got an email the morning we were leaving confirming my reservations, minus a few rooms. Nothing like last minute panic. A quick email sorted everything out. And on our way we went.

We were all so excited that we headed to the airport early.I told the group that was traveling with me, that I would meet them at the gate. I was excited but not excited enough to give up my TSA Pre-Check. Stay tuned for the next part of the trip, actually going!

 

Flying to Copenhagen

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When I started car shopping I knew I wanted to do European Delivery, if possible, depending on which car I went with. I also knew that I was planning on attending a party in Germany in July. So when I finally decided to purchase the car, I asked if would be possible to do delivery in July.

Of course, I should have known it would not work out as planned. The party was in Hamburg on July 26th. So I had asked if would be possible to do delivery in Leipzig on July 25th. Well we know how this story ends, due to the new model debut, the track time at Leipzig was all booked up. My only choice would be August 11th, if I wanted Leipzig. Or I could take July 7th or 18th in Stuttgart. Hmm. so I either fly over for the 7th and fly home and then back to Hamburg, or I take the 18th and take a nice summer vacation. Option 2 just made more sense.

Originally I was hesitant to drive around for days on end, so a short and simple road trip was planned. But then I had 5 days before I needed to be in Hamburg, so then what? I thought about various places, like Malta or Greece or Poland, but I had little problem, Baggage. I was traveling for 12 days so I had some serious bags. Too much to be schlepping on the train. And have you seen what airlines charge these days for bags? So my options were limited to flying on Star Alliance. And of course there had to be a Hilton or Hyatt. And I wanted to take advantage of the fact it was summer.

So given all that nonsense, going to Copenhagen checked all the boxes. SAS flew direct from Frankfurt, there was a HIlton, and it’s just beautiful in the summer.

So I corral all my bags and head to check in for my flight in Frankfurt.Where I proceed to make a big stink because they try to tell me I need to pay to check my 2nd bag. Fine, I tell the agent, just charge me, it’s wrong but I am not going to argue. The agent I am not oh wait I am sorry you are correct you don’t have to pay. VICTORY for like 2 seconds. Why would I fight with the agent taking my bags, they may end up in Timbuktu……

I make it to the gate area and I overhear some Americans talking. It’s funny the things people will say when they think those around them don’t understand. It was quite entertaining.

And finally board the plane, luckily it’s a quick flight because I am not sure how much time I could handle having my knees in my throat

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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.

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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”

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

 

 

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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HAPPY CAR DAY TO ME!!!!!!

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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.

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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!