This is has to be the best and the most detailed BMW European Delivery story I have ever read. Paul, a member of bimmerfest, went to Europe with this wife to pick up his Montego blue, BMW 335i coupe on a 19-day vacation. In this article, I am only going to post some advices and observations that Paul shared with us. In my next articles, I will post Paul’s BMW European Delivery trip starting with day 1 through day 19. As they traveled, he kept a journal with details about his trip. According to Paul,
ugh (warning!) it contains a level of detail that goes beyond most bimmerfest trip journals. Since it served as both a trip journal and a blog for family and friends, there’s a lot of chronicling of exactly what was eaten and other trivia that may bore the average reader but will serve as mnemonic triggers for my wife and me. If you want day-to-days (and then some), that’s where to find it.
Now, let me go back to the original topic and share with you the 10 things they discovered in their trip:
- Research & Plan (or know your options) there have been several threads about the advantages of the plan it out vs. go with the flow approaches to travel. I’ve done both, and personally think that what fits best may be a function of age. When I was in college and backpacking around Europe with a Eurail Pass and a few bucks, I was all about the improvisation. Now that I’m 50 with a limited time for vacation, I’m much more into planning it out (imagine that!). Either way, I think that research is a great tool. Whether you have all your hotels pre-booked or go from day to day, it helps to have a good sense of your options are and do a bit of pre-reading, movie watching, map studying, internet surfing, etc. In general, we enjoyed the Eyewitness Guide series of books, with exploded drawings and multiple maps, though we found the Vienna books frustrating in how it divided the city into sectors that were hard to cross-reference.
- Pack light. Even for travel with a car, we were really happy that we had gotten everything into a couple of small roller suitcases, a small backpack, carry-on shoulder bag and a computer briefcase. We checked our rollers, rather than carry them on, because of the whole business with liquids these days. Nonetheless, packing and dragging bags to and from hotels takes a lot of time, and the less one drags, the faster it is. We also followed the advice to not pack any item that wouldn’t be worn several times and had underwear, socks, and clothes that could be hand washed and were quick drying for in-room self-serve laundry.
- Have a GPS. We have a Garmin Navi, and were able to borrow a SD card with European maps which made our lives much simpler (as has been commented upon a length in other threads). Unfortunately, we learned when we were there that the v.8 version of the Garmin/Navteq maps does not include Hungary, Croatia or Slovenia.
- Beer is good nutrition. We drank wonderful beers in all of the countries, and my wife became a big fan of Radler, the mixture of beer and fizzy lemonade (or in some cases, 7-Up). Sounded terrible, but drank much better!
- Breakfast buffets rock! We made the best of the fantastic buffets that were available in most of the hotels. After a while, my greed dissipated and I mellowed out to a few choices, but I continued to enjoy the variety and quantity.
- Keep enough cash on hand. ATMs are usually readily available, and VISA, M/C or other plastic can be used for many things, but always have enough cash for a couple of masses of beer and a pretzel. You’ll probably need cash for that. Additionally, now that the credit card companies are charging an additional fee on top of each transaction for performing the currency conversion, traditional traveler checks are looking good again.
- Germany was not as expensive as we thought it would be, and Czech Republic and Hungary were not as inexpensive as we’d expected.
- Public restrooms in Europe have changed. First, they were almost invariably clean, and secondly, unlike I had experienced in past decades, they were generally free, or only occasionally had the tip obligatory dish and scowling cleaning person.
- Capri pants look bad on 95% of men. Capris on men is a fashion trend that has mercifully stayed mostly outside the continental 48. The older the guy, the worse it looks like baseball caps worn backward.
- Relax and enjoy. In one of his books about European travel, Rick Steves mentions how important it is to stay relaxed and not let stress, expectations or temper get in the way of enjoyment. This was good advice to keep in mind, and on a couple of occasions when I began to get annoyed at something, I reminded myself to chill out, go with the flow, etc. That’s why they call it vacation!