Ultimate European Road Trip Series, Part 3: The Lead-up in Stuttgart to the Big Day

   

“Inspiration 911” Sculpture – Porscheplatz Stuttgart Germany

We began part 1 of this adventure by selecting and purchasing a Porsche Macan S for our road trip of a lifetime, and continued in part 2 by developing an inspired travel itinerary for the entire month of September.

This segment of the series is focused on some last minute fine tuning, and the lead up to the "big day" - picking up the car at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany.

Ready… Set… Go!  Well, Almost

Once an itinerary has been decided, we usually step back and review it for the less obvious elements.  Are there any components that we can take care of here at home before we step on the plane?  Our logic is simple… get stuff here and save time there!

A Few Things to Consider

Road Tax Stamps:  Driving a car in Europe, a rental or your own, is going to require road tax stamps and/or toll.  A suggestion is to purchase the mandatory road tax “vignettes” in advance via the www.tolltickets.com web page.  They processed our order and had the stamps in our hands in less than seven days.

Check your car rental agreement to find out if they are included (we used Hertz a few times and they were not included). You can also wait until you get there and purchase the stamps at the border crossings. Your call and your time.

For pure Italian flair, Italy still uses paper tickets, toll booths and people to create bottlenecks where ever possible... viva Italia!

Navigation Tools: Update your GPS device(s) with the latest version of mapping software and bring an old-fashioned paper tour guide (sometimes there is no WI-FI access), as well as an actual paper map on which to highlight your driving routes.

Tickets for Special Venues:  Secure tickets for unusual events such as a Zeppelin Airship Ride at Lake Konstanz, Germany or the Salzburg Marionette Theater for a Sound of Music performance in Austria or for special concerts or venues that are limited.  They may not be available when you get there; arrange to pick them up at the box office or have them sent electronically.

Carry-On Luggage Rules: Rules for airline carry-ons luggage rules have changed, so double check with your airline that your bags will be in compliance, and avoid the hassle when you get to the airport; some are strict and while others are not.

Day One in Stuttgart

The flights were on thankfully on time, so that the initial stage of the adventure went as planned, and Delta maintained its excellent reputation in our eyes. Customs at the Stuttgart airport was extremely efficient, and we cleared in them a few minutes (note to fellow travelers; if possible, consider smaller airports as points of entry and avoid arriving at the mega locations with their related hassle factors). Thus we were off to a good start already, and the taxi to hotel was also fast as well as surprisingly less costly than we were told it was going to be.

The Hotel Schlossgarten is one of Porsche’s selected hotels, and has a great location in a park just adjacent to the old town. We just got off our flight (15+ hours of travel time) and it was 8:30 AM… you got the picture, we were anticipating a rough first day. The Schlossgarten accommodated our request for an early check-in and had our room ready - and our love affair with this establishment began then and there. The entire staff - everybody - was exceptional, accommodating and sincerely considerate.  We stayed a total of four nights and they were consistent throughout.

Stuttgart Wine Festival and Swabian Food Delicacies: We did a little pre-trip research to find out about any local events and discovered that we were arriving just in time for the annual wine festival which is the lead in to the Oktoberfest celebration near the end of the month. Turns out to be an exceptional way to unwind and refocus. Car? What car?

German wine is so underrated, and we found excellent new varietals to enjoy, with or without food.  Speaking of food, we enjoyed the region’s Swabian heritage.  The festival had food vendors and wine tasting kiosks all over a 20-square-block area. It took us two days to cover it, but being diligent reporters we carried on for the team.

A few favorites…

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Schwabenpfannle (Swabian Skillet): 
pork tenderloin, veal chop, Swabian ravioli, and cheese spätzle in a black-beer gravy.

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Schweinekrusten Braten: crispy pork shoulder with a potato dumpling and Cabbage in black beer gravy.

Day Two in Stuttgart

We are almost completely over jet lag and functioning pretty well.  The sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Hotel Schlossgarten helped tremendously.  A great way to start the day.

Porsche Museum Tour: Porsche helped coordinate a tour of its museum (bwloe) for us, and we had the good fortune of meeting up with lead guide Henry Friedrich.  His pride, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the Porsche organization and its product history made our tour more of a journey into the culture behind this innovative engineering company and their sports cars. We got so involved in our conversation and the numerous exhibits that we over-extended our time slot, but Henry actually moved things around to accommodate our many question, and generally made our visit very special for us. Danke, Henry! We recommend investing in this private tour (60 Euro), as the personal touch and knowledge transfer more than offsets the cost.

 

Porsche museum

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Dinner at the Christophorus Restaurant: An exceptional dining experience overseen by world famous chefs in a lovely second-floor dining room with expansive glass windows overlooking the Porsche Museum and the Porscheplatz. For Porsche enthusiasts, it's a terrific two-fer; high-end gourmet dining at ground zero where their favorite sports cars and engines are created.  This one is on you, but it does add to a great build-up to the “big day”.

In Summary

Well, we're finally about to realize the special event, and are hours away from taking physical possession of a new Porsche for a roadtrip of a lifetime.  All the planning and coordination leading up to this night has us so spun up that the thought of getting a good night’s sleep before the big day is pretty much out of the question.

Reminded us of a few Christmas Eve nights of long, long ago… really, it did!

Please stay tuned for Part 4 of the series: The Big Day.


After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.|

© 2015 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar

© 2015 Photo Credits: Bob & Janice Kollar

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