European Delivery – Part I

DISCLAIMER: This is a VERY LONG write up. Beginning from what drove me to BMWs and ultimately European Delivery(ED). It also has lots of pictures(selected from over 6,300 taken) and videos(sorry about the wind noise, haven’t had time edit videos). The daily itineraries are broken down with thoughts/reviews in hopes that it will help others who plan on doing ED in the future. You’ve been warned.

Why M3?
Perhaps it all started in 1986 when my dad came home with a new E30. I was six years old and it was the coolest thing I had seen in person. Of course, most boys see pictures of Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, but the E30 was the first nice car I had actually been in. In 1994, my best friend, at the time, and I spent the summer together; we both loved the BMW 3 Series. He in particular loved the vert. We ogled over them the entire summer. I still remember him seeing a girl driving in a 3 series and he yelled out to her from the sidewalk, “Nice Car!” Unfortunately he passed away that fall at the young age of 13. Part of me told myself I would get a 3 series one day for the two of us. Since the late 90’s I started noticing the M3s. An older friend of mine had an E30 wide body M3 and another friend’s grandfather had an E36 M3. The seed was planted in my head: I’d love to own an M3 one day. In 2001 after seeing the E46 M3 and then reading about the M3 heritage; I REALLY wanted one. Unfortunately, due to other priorities, I never got one brand new before they ended production. Fast forward 9 years to 2010, I finally got my first M3, a 2010 E92 Silverstone Metallic. This was made possible by my now, wife, who was my long time girlfriend at the time. She went to the dealership with a friend of mine, the morning of my birthday dinner. Later that evening my friend drove the car to the restaurant in Hollywood. After dinner, the plans were to go to a Hollywood club for drinks. I was told to go get our car from valet. I didn’t even notice that the rest of our group had already gone out to the valet. I waited behind as my wife was settling the bill. As I walked out, I saw my group of friends waiting around the valet area, and sitting right there was a brand new E92 M3 with a giant red bow on it. Everyone was staring at me, including some paparazzi that just happened to be there. I didn’t know what to think–I wanted it to be mine, but wasn’t sure. My brain basically just froze. Then, my wife turned to me and said, “Happy Birthday!” I was in shock! Everyone else wished me a happy birthday as well and wanted me to go check out my new ride. I heard in the background a bystander say “Wow, he’s lucky.” My friends tell me as I was walking around the car to admire it, I almost got ran over in the street. Months later, in the fall of 2010 I asked my wife to marry me. I figured she was a keeper. LOL

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I took great care of it and always kept it clean. It was a dream come true. My wife called it “my mistress.” I finally got a 3 series. I finally got an M3. But I never kept it as a garage queen. I’m a true believer in driving a car the way it was designed for. For example, I would take 4x4s offroading, not just to get groceries. During the three years I had my silverstone M3, I took it to the drag strip a few times, road course track days a couple of times, and numerous scenic canyon drives. I would definitely like to go to the track more often in the future.

The thought of one day doing ED on a BMW had crossed my mind a few times. Towards the end of 2012, I highly debated keeping my current M3 or selling it and picking up one of the last produced E92 M3s with ZCP(not available in 2010). If I did pick up a new one, I would also consider doing ED on it. February 2013 rolls around and I’m still on the fence about getting a new car, let alone doing ED(due to the many tax increases that took effect in 2013). After getting the final numbers on how much I could sell the 2010 M3 for, and what I’d pay for the 2013 one, I decided to go for it.

On February 9th, I gave the dealership the go ahead to place the order. I worked with Yi-Wen Ting and his associate Derek Dicker. I have referred many people to Yi-Wen over the years and they’ve walked away happy customers. Yi-Wen and his team made this purchase and the ED process extremely easy. I purchased the vehicle out of state. Most of the process was done via email. We happened to be in California one weekend so we went in to sign the Purchase Order and Customs paperwork. Ten days out from delivery, the dealership FEDEX’d the rest of the paperwork that needed to be signed.

My delivery date was set for April 29th. From the middle of February, my wife and I started planning our trip all the way until the middle of April. We did lots of research on where to stay, where to go, and where to eat. I only had a few requirements:
1. Hotels had to have parking.
2. I had to visit BMW Welt, BMW Museum, and take the BMW Factory tour.
3. I wanted to drive through the Swiss Alps.
4. I wanted to take my new M3 on the Nurburgring.

Now the break down of our ED Trip:

Day 1:

We left Tucson, AZ at 4am for a flight out of Phoenix to LAX. We arrived at LAX and checked into our Lufthansa flight early. We then left the airport to have lunch with my sister, who was watching our dog during the trip, and a couple of friends.

We got back to LAX and go through security. The anticipation of getting to Europe at this point was killing me. The next day and a half was just a really long travel day. We had to change planes in Frankfurt because this actually allowed us to get to Munich 3-4 hours quicker than the direct flight from LAX to MUC.

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Day 2:

Arrival in Munich

We arrive in Munich at 12:55pm. My wife and I were surprised at how welcome the Germans make you feel when you get off the plane. They hand you a chocolate bar and there is a self serve coffee/espresso bar. We were impressed by how clean the coffee/espresso area was with all of these people helping themselves. After helping ourselves to a couple of cappuccinos(at this point I had been up for 24hrs with 2hrs of sleep the night before), we set off to grab our luggage and meet Rolf Raffelsieper, who we hired to pick us up. He was highly recommended on the bimmerfest and M3post forums. Rolf greeted us at the terminal and we walked to his 3 series touring. For less than the price of a Taxi to our hotel; Rolf drove us to the hotel, waited for us to check in, then sat down with us at the lobby to give us tour suggestions and answered our questions. He then drove us to BMW Welt. Rolf was very friendly and passionate about BMW and Germany. We found his tips quite helpful. He talks a little bit softly so you have to pay attention to hear him and he moves a bit slow, but the guy is about 70 years old! Overall, we thought he was great.

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BMW Museum and Welt

We spent the rest of the day exploring the BMW Museum and Welt. The museum was quite busy and it was pretty cool to see all of the generations of the BMW. It took us about an hour to get through the museum. We did a quick walk through of Welt before heading off to dinner.

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Dinner at Hofbrauhaus

Afterwards, we went to Hofbrauhaus for dinner. We had read that this restaurant was mostly a tourist spot and that the food wasn’t that great. We found this to be true, but being tourists, we figured it would be nice to see what all the hoopla was about. The food wasn’t the best we had during the trip, but it was decent. We ordered a couple of beers and they were enjoyable. There were people dressed up in traditional German clothing playing music. The atmosphere was great and the place was absolutely packed. There is no hostess to seat you, and it took us awhile to find a spot to sit down. I would recommend Hofbrahuas to any tourist as it is a great place to go and feel the vibe of the Bavarian people. Our biggest complaint was the service–the restaurant was crazy busy and the service was quite slow.

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Hotel-Westin Grand Munich

We got really lucky with our hotel in Munich. Using our Starwood Preferred Guest #, we were able to book a room at the Westin Grand Munich for 99 euros a night. This was a great deal. The rooms were what you would expect in the US–very clean, fairly large for European standards(bathroom had dual sinks and separate shower/bathtub), and complimentary bottled water each night. The only problem we had was that we couldn’t figure out how to turn on our TV. This really didn’t bother us as between our activities and our jet lag, we didn’t have much spare time for television. We later learned at a different hotel, that you have to push the #1 on the remote to power on the TV and that the power button is to turn it off. Strange, I know! The front desk was very friendly and helped us with whatever we needed. While parking is available at this hotel, there is a charge of 20 euros/day. We were strategic and only parked the car here for one night and left the car at Welt the first night after delivery, as there is no charge to park there. Our hotel was also located about a 2 minute walk away from the subway station.

 

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Day 3: DELIVERY DAY!!!!

Getting to BMW Welt

Rolf taught us how to use the subway system in Munich. Basically, for about 7 euros, you can get a day pass that is good for unlimited trips on the subway for up to 5 people. We ended up taking the subway to BMW Welt from our hotel. The subway system is super efficient and very clean. We were somewhat surprised that there weren’t many “suits” on the subway like you would see in New York city. It seems like business dress codes in Germany are generally more casual. The other thing about the subway system that surprised us, was that there is no machine or attendant to check/collect your ticket. The system operates completely on the honor system and we didn’t notice anyone during our time in Germany who took advantage of the system. It appeared that everyone would stop at the ticket machine and pay the necessary fare.

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BMW Welt-DELIVERY

Delivery Day! The delivery time was set for 1pm with a check in time of no later than 11am. We arrived at the Welt much earlier than 11am to have breakfast and check in. During the check in process, we talked about coming back to Welt the next day for the factory tour. To our surprise, our delivery time was then moved up to 10am so that we would be able to make the only English tour of the day at 11:45am. This freed up more time for us to explore Munich the next day. The BMW Premium lounge is quite nice. There is complimentary Wifi and iPads and computers you can use. Food and beverages are also provided throughout the day. The food is nothing spectacular, but it’s free and not bad at all.

During breakfast in the lounge, my wife said that I really couldn’t sit down and eat. Apparently, I was too excited and kept going to the window to check if they had brought my car out. Then it was finally 10am and time for me to greet my new car. Delivery was awesome and they lead you down to see your car and answer any questions and show you the features of your car. Our delivery specialist was very friendly and enjoyed seeing our excitement. As part of your delivery, BMW also provides you with a photo of you with the new car. Also part of taking delivery there, is taking your “Victory Lap” or two. I parked the car at Welt for the night since it was free and I didn’t need the car yet.

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BMW Welt-Gift shop

After parking the car downstairs, we continued to the gift shop. With delivery, there are some discounts provides at the gift shop. Basically, the discount applies to most of the BMW Welt merchandise. Also, as part of delivery, you get a free personalized engraved key-chain. Tip: Make sure you ask them to process your purchase here with a tax refund form if you are going to spend over 50 euros. This will allow you to get about 12% cash back at the airport.

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BMW Factory Tour

We then proceeded to the factory tour. They do not allow pictures inside, but it was a really cool tour and worth checking out. The tour is about 2.5 hours long. After the factory tour, we decided to grab lunch back at the Premium lounge.

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Munich Olympic Park

After lunch, we decided to take a walk through the Olympic Park-where the 1972 Olympics took place. The park is located within walking distance of BMW Welt. It is nice to walk through the park, but it was much smaller than we expected. The Olympic swimming pool is still being used today and is open to the public.

However, the most entertaining part of Olympic park for my wife, was probably the 5 minutes I spent in a human bubble on the water. She coined the phrase, “human hamster” to describe what I looked like as a tried to move across the water in this giant bubble. Words really cannot describe this–you just got to take a look at the pictures.

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Englishchner Garden

We then proceeded to take the subway to the Munich Residenz, the palace of the Bavarian kings. However, we arrived very close to 5 pm and couldn’t find the ticket office as the building is very large. As a result, we weren’t going to have much time to look around. We decided to save the Residenz for the next day and proceeded to go the Englishchner Garden. We had heard from a Rick Steves video that there was a part of the Englishchner Garden where people go surfing. According to the map and people we talked to, this area is within walking distance to the Residenz. However, it took us awhile to find it. Once we did, it was pretty cool to watch the surfers for a few minutes. Most of them were pretty good and it was interesting to see that people would surf in such a narrow canal with waves. I would recommend seeing this if you are in the area.

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Alios Dallmayr

Now, it’s dinner time. We had also heard about this deli on Rick Steves. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed for a private party this night. The best way to describe the rest of the deli is that it is very similar to Dean and Deluca, with more chocolate and wine. The deli is quite famous for their chocolates and at one point served the royal family. Nothing in the actual deli really interested us for dinner so we bought a few chocolates and proceeded to continue walking.

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Dinner at Ayingers

We ended up having dinner at Ayingers which is directly across from Hofbrahaus. My wife had read good reviews about it on tripadvisor so we decided it was worth a try. This restaurant was still busy but much quieter than Hofbrahaus. Both the food and the service were significantly better than Hofbrahaus. After dinner I was craving gelato.

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Day 4

Munich Residenz and Treasury

First thing in the morning, we took the subway back to the Residenz and bought tickets to tour both the palace and the treasury. Note: You are not allowed to take any backpacks or phones into this museum and are forced to check them in at the front. A hand held audio guide is provided for you so you can tour the museum at your own pace. The treasury was pretty interesting with crowns, jewelry, swords, and all sorts of artifacts from the Bavarian palace. We found some rooms to be more interesting than others. It took us about an hour to get through the Treasury.

We then headed over to the palace part with our audio guides. Initially, we were quite entertained as many of the rooms are beautiful with hand crafted furniture and paintings on the wall. However, the palace is so large, that the rooms start to look the same after awhile. The highlight of the palace is the last room, which is called the gold room. It is truly a beautiful room decked out in gold. It truly makes you think about how rich Bavarian royalty once was, and it makes you think twice about how parts of the kingdom once lived in poverty. It took us about an hour to get through the palace.

If you are not that interested in seeing old artifacts, I would recommend only visiting the palace. If you are very interested in Bavarian history, I would allocate more time to this area as there are many other rooms you can purchase tickets for to visit.

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Lunch at BMW Welt

We then took the subway back to BMW Welt so that we could have lunch for free and pick up the car.

Dachau Memorial

We drove from BMW Welt to Dachau Memorial, which is one of the first concentration camps used. The drive to Dachau was fairly easy and took us about 30 minutes. There were quite a few signs and with the navigation in the car, we found the place with ease.

There is no fee to tour the memorial. There is quite a bit of walking involved as the grounds are quite large. We found the memorial and museum to be quite interesting and very powerful. You will see the barracks, where the prisoners were once kept, as well as the gas chamber and furnaces that were once used.

If you are in Munich, this is good to see. It gives a great glimpse into German history and how people once suffered and truly makes you more appreciative of your life.

It really made me feel even more appreciative, when we walked back towards our car and saw two young boys checking it out. I guess no matter where you go, boys just love their cars.

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Englishchner Garden

After the memorial, we drove back to the hotel, parked our car and walked through the Englishchner Garden by our hotel. Note: The Englishchner Garden is very large and would probably take awhile to walk through the entire area. We only had time to see two parts.

The first place we went in the Englishchner Garden was the Chinese Pagoda. There is a fairly large beer garden next to the pagoda and a small restaurant. We got there in the evening and were somewhat disappointed to see that the pagoda was locked up and we couldn’t climb to the top. It was also a bit too chilly to sit out in the beer garden, plus we were hungry for dinner and the beer garden didn’t serve food. We also found the restaurant here to have a very limited menu and were not interested in eating here.

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Dinner at Seehaus in the Englishchner Garden

However, the hotel did recommend a restaurant in the Garden by the lake, called Seehaus. We decided to go there for dinner, but the restaurant was pretty far out and it was a very long walk to get there. The restaurant was very nice and we got a table by the window with a view of the lake. This was the highest end restaurant thus far into our trip. It was also the best German food we had tasted since we had been in the country. Service was great-we really didn’t know what we wanted and they were friendly and able to give some great recommendations.

We also noticed that there was a large dog at dinner at a table close to ours. The wait staff brought out a doggie bowl of water. We noticed dogs in many restaurants throughout Germany. Obviously, there aren’t any health codes prohibiting them and all the restaurants we saw dogs in were very clean.

After a great meal, we realized that we had walked very far away from our hotel. Our waitress also told us that there really wasn’t any public transportation close by. She ended up calling a taxi for us. We were in the taxi for less than 5 minutes and it cost us 10.7 euros, which amounts to almost $15. That was the most expensive cab ride we have ever taken in this lifetime. However, it was well worth it was we were tired and it got us back to the hotel in no time.

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Day 5-Salzburg, Austria

Drive to Salzburg, Austria

We woke up early in the morning to drive to Salzburg, Austria. The drive there wasn’t bad as we pretty much took the autobahn to get there. Many people were flying on the highway, but I couldn’t go over 100 mph as my car hadn’t been broken in yet. It took us less than 2 hours to arrive in Salzburg. I was warned to be careful with speed limits in Austria as they are much stricter than Germany. I definitely didn’t want to get a ticket and pay a huge fine while on vacation. We got lucky as we arrived in Salzburg on 5/1 which is a holiday and parking was free all throughout the city.

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Breakfast at Heart of Joy Cafe

We arrived early in the morning, checked into our hotel and decided to have breakfast. Food in Austria is more expensive than food in Germany. We had a nice breakfast at Heart of Joy Cafe, which serves mostly organic food. I also tried a Mozart coffee, which was basically sweetened hot coffee with caramel. It was served with what is called a mozartkugel, a round ball of chocolate. Because Mozart was born in Salzburg, these are famous foods in the city.

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Sound of Music Bike Tour with Fraulein Maria

After a nice breakfast, we went to the meeting point of the Sounds of Music Bike Tour that my wife had reserved. It was about a 4 hour tour by bike and a great way to see the city of Salzburg. The guide points out all of the places the movie was filmed and the talks about the history of Salzburg. Tip: It is helpful to re-watch the Sound of Music movie if you have not done so recently. The tour was great and cost about 35 euros/person, but was definitely worth it. We were very lucky that it was a nice day for riding. We would recommend this tour to anyone. The only downside is that the website says that anyone can participate, but in reality, the bike riding can be a bit intense with a couple of steep hills. If you are really not in shape, I would stay away. We managed the tour just fine, but were somewhat tired at the end of it.

The tour guide also takes pictures of you throughout the tour and posts them on Facebook for everyone to enjoy!

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Lunch at Cafe Sacher

We then proceeded to lunch at Cafe Sacher, which my wife also read about on Tripadvisor. We were tired of German food so opted for hamburgers, fries and pasta. The food was decent but expensive. We started noticing a pattern that wine and beer pretty much cost the same as soda and water. We also tried the famous Cafe Sacher chocolate torte for dessert. We thought it was good but overrated. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else to order it.

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Hohensalzburg

After lunch, we decided to go visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We walked as Old Salzburg is really not car friendly. Many areas are pedestrian only. To get to the fortress we walked through streets with tons of shops. We had read that the climb to the fortress really isn’t as hard as it looks, but as we were tired from the bike tour earlier, we opted to pay for the cable car to take us up. The museum tour was short and informative but nothing to write home about. The best part of the fortress is the breathtaking view you get of the city. Salzburg really is a beautiful city and we got some great pictures. There is also a restaurant at the fortress. However, we were pretty tired from a long day and decided to buy sandwiches and eat them back in our hotel room. We bought sandwiches and snacks from a shop on the way back to our hotel and they were really quite good.

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Hotel Mozart

First of, the Hotel Mozart is not a luxury hotel. However, we chose it because it was close to Old Town Salzburg and parking was available for a fee of 15 euros a night. The front desk is friendly and the rooms are basic, but very clean and comfortable. We got a fairly large room on the fifth floor, which is the top floor, with a sitting area. I joked around saying that we had gotten the “penthouse suite.” This is a good hotel for the price. If you are looking for a five star hotel, this is not it.

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Day 6

Werfen

Again, we woke up early and headed to Werfen, the largest ice cavern in the world. It took us less than an hour to drive there. It is pretty high up in the mountains and your drive through some winding roads. Once again, I wished my car was broken in.

We arrived at the visitor center and bought tickets for the tour which were about 20 euros a piece. Note: If you are not in good shape, this is a very physical tour. After purchasing tickets, there is about a 20 minute hike uphill to get to the cable car station. After getting off the cable car, there is another 20 minute hike uphill to get to the opening of the cave. Tip: the temperature inside the cave is 0 degrees so dress warmly. The cave tour lasted about an hour and the guide gave the tour in both English and German. The ice cave was quite beautiful and unlike anything we have seen before. However, once inside the cave, you have to climb up over 700 steps to tour it. Some steps are quite steep. No photos are allowed in the cave. Bottom line, if you are fit, this is a great place to visit as the caves are beautiful and the hike up is gorgeous as well.

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Lunch at McDonald’s

We didn’t have much time for lunch as we wanted to get to the saltmine. We drove from Werfen to the saltmine area in about 30 minutes and decided to grab a quick bite at McDonald’s as it was very convenient. The learning here was that Europeans charge for condiments. I ended up paying .20 euros for a packet of ketchup and my wife could not eat her fries without it.

Salt Mine

Salzburg is a city whose history and wealth is due to salt, so we thought it would be appropriate to visit a salt mine. I parked my car and later noticed a large school bus pull in a bunch of boys gathered around to check out the car.

The salt mine tour was interesting. They make you put on a white coat and pants and take you underground into the mine. The guide and videos were quite informative and there are some cool slides, which were used by the miners to help them transport salt. However, tourists today can slide down them. There is also a point underground in the mine where you can stand in both Germany and Austria as it covers the border. Overall, we enjoyed this tour.

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Billa-Grocery shopping

We discovered a grocery store called Billa and bought some snacks, fruit, and wine. FYI–European wine in the grocery store is super cheap and we stocked up and bought 3 bottles figuring we would drink it at some point during our trip.

First Car Wash
Of course I had to keep my car clean.

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Dinner at Esszimmer

After going back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we walked to a restaurant in Old Town Salzburg called Esszimmer. It has one Michelin star and we opted for the tasting menu. This was the most expensive meal we had during our entire trip. The food and service were great, but for the price, we probably wouldn’t go back. We have had better tasting menus in the US for less money.

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Day 7

Swarovski Kristallwelten

We left Salzburg in the morning and drove towards Wattens, a small town in Austria near Innsbruck, where the Swarovski museum(Kristallwelten) and factory are located.

Note: Before we left the USA, some sales people at a local Swarovski store convinced us to purchase a SCS membership so that we could get into the museum for free an into the VIP lounge. If you are not a huge Swarovski fan, I would not recommend this. The SCS membership only allows you one free entrance ticket, not two like we were led to believe. They do serve snacks and sodas in the VIP lounge, but really the lounge is only good if you want access to buy special Swarovski pieces not available to the public. Bottom line, I don’t think we would have purchased the SCS membership if we could do it over again. We did get a free gift with the membership, and the VIP lounge also gave us a free picture frame for visiting Kristallwelten.

The museum itself was interesting but didn’t take us long to get through. The coolest room was the Crystal room. Overall, I thought that museum to be somewhat overpriced and don’t know if we would have done it knowing what we know now. If you are a huge Swarovski fan, it is definitely worth checking out.

We also had lunch at Swarovski which was decent, not great. We ordered spaghetti and a cream based pasta.

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Hall Mitte and Castle Hasegg

After visiting the Swarovski museum and having lunch, we had some free time. We decided to go visit Hall Mitte, which is a mint museum and Castle Hasegg which are located in Burg Hasegg near Innsbruck, not too far away from Swarovski. Because we had the SCS membership, we received a small discount on admission. Both places provided audio hand held tour devices. The mint tour was quite interesting and we learned a lot about the history of the dollar. In 1486 the first high-grade silver coin Taler, the precursor of the Dollar, was coined here. No pictures are allowed in the mint. The castle wasn’t as exciting as it was very small although you could climb to the top and get a view of the city. The climb wasn’t too high and was fairly easy. Tickets to the mint and castle are sold together. If you are not crazy about museums, I would not necessarily come here.

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Dinner at Nordkettenbahen

This was probably the highlight of our short time in Innsbruck, although it was fairly expensive. We paid 16 euros/person to take a cable car up to Nordkettenbahen. The view was absolutely stunning. We were there in the spring, so we still saw snow-capped mountains and greenery below. It was impressive to see mountain bikers and hikers traversing up and down the mountain. At the top, there is a nice restaurant to have dinner, Restaurant Seegrube. My wife had made us a reservation prior to us leaving the US, so I am not sure if you can get a table without one. We had a nice table by the window and the food was quite good. The portions are huge though, so be careful with how many appetizers you choose to order. We ordered soups and entrees and that turned out to be way too much.

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Second Car Wash

After dinner, I decided to wash the car again. It had been raining on and off throughout the day. I wanted to make sure the car looked nice for photos the next day in the Swiss Alps.

Grand Hotel Europa

For our one night in Innsbruck, we chose to stay at Hotel Europa, a very nice luxury hotel, where many celebrities and royalty have stayed. Apparently Bavaria’s King Ludwig II, builder of Neuschwanstein Castle, stated “This is the most beautiful place in Innsbruck to celebrate festive events.”

The rooms were very clean and spacious and the service is extremely attentive. We were surprised to see a walk in closet in our room. Complimentary water and chocolates were provided. This is where we learned to turn on the TV as the power button didn’t work. We called the front desk for help and within seconds, some one was at our room showing us how to work our remote control. Wifi and breakfast are also included at this hotel. Parking is also very convenient at this hotel, although there is a charge, about 16-20 eruos. We had read some reviews online that some people didn’t feel like this hotel was located in a safe area because it was in the heart of downtown and close the the main train station, but we found it to be fine. We really enjoyed this hotel and would recommend it to anyone.

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Stay tuned for part II which will be released in the upcoming weeks!

 

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