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Old 16th October 2012, 01:35   #1
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Default A Ferrari Weekend

The Trip Almost Never Happened
It was all coming undone at Madrid’s Barajas International airport. I had arrived on a Turkish Airways flight from Bombay to Madrid via Istanbul. This was for a week long work assignment in Spain. But I had arrived 3 days earlier so that I could fly from Madrid to Munich, have some fun and fly back.
But due to a strike by airport staff in France the skies above that country were closed and on the information boards all over the Barajas airport the ‘STATUS’ was spinning from ON-TIME to DELAYED to CANCELLED at a furious rpm.
Four hundred and fifty horses were sitting idle in the crankcase of a V8 in Munich waiting for me to whip them into action the next morning and here I was twiddling my thumbs at the airport with nowhere to go and no available flights out until two days later.

It was at 3am in the morning when sitting huddled on the terminal floor with hundreds of other stranded passengers that I found some stray free Wi-Fi and booked one of the last seats on a 7am flight to Munich.

The First Day - Mostly Autobahn towards Southern Bavaria
It was at finally at noon that I reached the Mandarin Oriental on the Neuturmstarsse in Central Munich. Standing there, dressed in Scuderia Red, was a Ferrari California that was to be mine for three days on a road trip to explore the superbly scenic countryside of Bavaria in Germany and Tirol in Austria. The car came with a GPS that had routes marked along little country roads that served a dual purpose – they provided a constant dose of breathtaking scenery and also, more excitingly, afforded undiluted driving pleasure at the wheel.

Purists might turn their nose up at the Ferrari California and some would agree that they have reason to do so. First of all its engine sits in front of the driver rather than behind. And, this engine makes 30bhp less than the Ferrari F430 (the new 2013 California has 480bhp as compared to 453bhp of the 2011 model here). Secondly the rear is more chubby-bum, than lean bikini-bottom and it has soft curves rather than the sharp angles of its stable mates. But it still is unmistakably a Ferrari. The nose of the car that starts from the gaping grille and flows upwards in a graceful curve to meet the sharply raked-back windshield makes the California quite attractive and in true Ferrari tradition it exudes the sensation of speed even when it is parked.
The cabin appears small but the seats and the steering wheel are generously adjustable and the foot wells extend a fair bit beyond the dashboard and I soon found a comfortable driving position. My Dutch friend, Peter, who is 6’4”, was quite comfortable in the passenger seat too.

Now Neuturmstarsse is quite a quiet street – that kind of quaint cobbled street where the whir of a cycle chain in need of oiling would be frowned upon. So you can imagine what happened when I hit the ‘ENGINE START’ button on the steering wheel and the car roared to life with an automatic blip of the throttle. The pair of twin exhausts emitted a rampant V8 snarl that made everyone on the street turn back and look and I hadn’t even touched the throttle – my right foot was still on the brake pedal that required to be depressed for the car to start. For all its fanfare at ignition, the engine, while I was negotiating the crowded Munich roads, was just a gentle hum. In fact I could drown out the exhaust note by turning the volume of the radio to a quarter. But that was because I was just caressing the throttle through the city and the Manettino switch on the steering was set to ‘COMFORT’. The following three days over mouth-watering roads through Bavaria and the Austrian Alps, the radio didn’t stand a chance, this Ferrari’s engine was raucous, rude and outrageously aural when I was giving the 453 horses in the crankcase a loose reign – more so since the switch was now set to ‘SPORT’. This makes the car hold engine revs longer between gear shifts, firms the dampers and gives more latitude to the stability and traction-control systems. There were plenty of tunnels en route and inside them the California was thunderous with the top down. The sound took months to fade from inside my head.
On the first day we headed south from Munich to get to the border between Germany and Austria where we would cross over into Tirol where the fantastic driving roads were. The quickest way to do this was to take Autobahn 96. Speed limits restrict the maximum speed on many European autobahns, but many German autobahns are still derestricted and it is on the A96 that the car showed me its muscle by doing 200kph quite effortlessly.
But Autobahns get boring after a while and we pulled off it just before the border to take in Neuschwanstein Castle above a village called Hohenschwangau.

Built by Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, better known as Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria this is the most famous of the many extravagant fantasy castles he commissioned. As we drove up to it, the castle seemed to rise up like an apparition from one of the stories by the Brothers Grimm – thick and low clouds adding to its ethereal appearance. It is a known fact that its extravagant Romanesque Revival style of architecture served as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. In fact the similarity between Neuschwanstein and the Disney Pictures logo is quite stark.
Ludwig built this castle as a retreat for himself and as homage to his friend Richard Wagner, the German composer who wrote thunderous music. One of his most stormy pieces - The Ride of the Valkyries – is about mythical creatures from Norse mythology. That rainy day with thunder providing a constant drum roll, I almost expected Wagner’s Valkyries to launch themselves from the tall turrets of Neuschwanstein.

Our first night halt was about 90km from Neuschwanstein in a small Austrian village called Buchen near the little market town of Telfs in Tirol. We had sheets of rain and streaks of lightening throughout. Most of the route was over a series of tight bends and the California had to be kept on a tight leash. A little too hard around the corner and it would throw its bum out even though the ESP was engaged. It was scary the first time it happened but then with a little anticipation and opposite lock it became quite interesting going around corners a little hard.

The village might have been small but the Interalpen Hotel Tyrol was splendid luxury with bathrooms big enough to park the car in. That night we ploughed through five courses served on fine china while looking out at the snow capped Alps.

The weather forecast for the next day said 50 percent chance of rain but we hoped for the best and called it a night. I had my first fitful sleep in over 48 hours.
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Old 16th October 2012, 08:26   #2
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Default Re: A Ferrari Weekend

Great Travelogue..I suppose there's more to come. More Ferrari action?

Very Lucky to drive these wonderful cars
I must say, the Photography is brilliantly done on the above posts.

Last edited by agambhandari : 16th October 2012 at 08:37.
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Old 16th October 2012, 08:31   #3
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Brilliant stuff! Have to read through yet, but the snaps are superlative, so by extrapolation the narration would be very interesting too.

The first snap with the mountains the background is absolute wallpaper material.

Finally, Mods, don't we have a smiley for 'jealous'

Kidding! Lucky you!
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:29   #4
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Absolutely fantastic !! Now this has been a dream for me for a long long time. Hope to realise it someday soon. Please don't mind my asking but did you rent the Ferrari and if so how much did it cost to rent?
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Old 16th October 2012, 09:58   #5
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 16th October 2012 at 11:18.
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Old 16th October 2012, 11:29   #6
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Default Re: A Ferrari Weekend

First post and bowled.
Locations, Photographs, Writing all equally wonderful. Thanks for sharing, and waiting for you to wake-up!

I'm really clueless about the parking (sorry, if it has some other name!) lot entrance as seen into the second last picture. Curious to know is it like, oneself can drive upto the restaurant entrance rather than handing over the keys of those beauties for valet parking?
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Old 16th October 2012, 11:38   #7
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Post Re: A Ferrari Weekend

Staggering, breath-taking, jaw-dropping...hooked!

The California looks wicked against the backdrop of those snow-capped Bavarian Alps in that 1st picture. As a mater of fact, the new California 30 is indeed inspired by the numeral '30' - the mean V8 belts out 30 more horses while weighing 30 kg less than its predecessor.

Can't wait for the 'prancing horse' travelogue to unfold...
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Old 16th October 2012, 12:41   #8
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Super pictures, Rishad! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

For those who don't know Rishad, he's a very Senior auto / travel writer, photographer & journalist. Has been part of the auto journalism industry for over a decade. Loves to travel and is living his dream.
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Old 16th October 2012, 13:25   #9
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The Second Day – The Top goes Down
The next day it got even better, when I stepped out on the balcony of my room the sun was out in strength and the clouds were rapidly retreating leaving a deep blue sky in their wake. This was supreme driving weather. We rapidly gobbled down breakfast which, now in hindsight, was a pity since it was such a marvellous spread of designer croissants, platters of cold cuts, a cabinet full of cheeses, baskets of fresh hot baguettes and a smiling chef ready to make fluffy customised omelettes with freshly dug up truffles.
But we were hungry for the road and I fired up the Ferrari, which probably rudely woke up the entire village, pressed the button that took its top down in a 14-second graceful mechanical ballet and headed in the direction of Innsbruck.

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The rental company, Elite Rent, had given us a route that had been meticulously and painstakingly researched. Rather than the big fat autobahn A12 the GPS took us through little country roads past picturesque villages. But before that we had to look for fuel. This would become a regular occurrence over the next two days. The California can be quite frugal with fuel if driven with a gentle foot on the throttle and keeping the revs way down. But why would anyone do that? For us it was accelerator-buried-in-the-carpet whenever possible with the rev meter near the red line.
Result: Bankruptcy inducing mileage!

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The first that compelled us to stop was Götzens since its church in the centre of the village made a superb photo against the deep blue sky. Known as the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, it was built by Franz Singer in the 18th century and is a marvellous example of Rococo style of architecture. The church is right next to a school that had just been let out. Many of the kids, the little boys especially, made a beeline for our car and asked their parents to take pictures of them with the car on their phones.

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The next village we stopped at was Mutters with its symmetrical houses beautifully decorated with fresh red flowers. Here the car received adulation from a group of village elders. From seven to seventy, this Italian charmed men of all ages.

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It was after Mutters that being at the wheel got even better. The road we followed was very sparsely trafficked with delicious corners and unblemished Alpine views. The car of course revelled in being given a loose reign and the exhaust was a loud growl of happiness that retorted with a gunshot like bang every time I shifted into the next gear and surged ahead thanks to 483Nm of torque which kept squashing me into the seat’s backrest. There is also no lag between gears, the double clutch, seven speed transmission goes from one gear to another quicker than the blink of an eye. And, as I mentioned before it was in the tunnels that everything reached a crescendo.

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And then there were the corners – hairpins, chicanes and ‘s’ bends that were either tight, lazy or challenging and it is around these corners I realized what it is about corners and a big-capacity rear-wheel-drive sports car that together deliver such a heady adrenaline rush.The California goes around at neck wrenching pace feeling well balanced thanks to its 47/53 (front/rear) weight distribution.

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There is so much power to play with that overtaking was easy - add to that the Indian perception of adequate space to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic and I was pulling out and passing by all the time. I did get a few angry blasts of the horn and a some rude gestures but they were drowned out by the snarl of the car's exhausts and quickly faded away in the rear view mirror respectively. Peter, bred with European standards of overtaking, of course had quite a few scary moments, but then got quite used to it and pulled a few 'Indian' maneuvers himself when at the wheel.
Because overtaking was child's play and getting stuck behind a long line of slow moving traffic was never a problem, we could often pull off the road and pose with the Ferrari.

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The weather too was perfect as the pictures will tell. There was just enough chill in the air to warrant a light sweater with the top down. On that second day the GPS directed us towards the Zillertaler Höhenstrasse (Highroad) - very narrow and very high with lots of tight bends.

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Here we stopped for lunch at a local Alpine inn called Hirschbichlalm owned and run by the Fankhauser family since 1973 and sampled local delicacies like knuckle of pork in sauerkraut and apple strudel.
Of course, since the sun was out and the day was bright the general mood of the restaurant was quite merry and sure enough soon out came the local musical instruments. The waiters stuck their pencils behind their ears, put down their napkins, untied their aprons and started an impromptu jam session. Being the 'visitor' from overseas I was soon hauled up to help.

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Throughout that afternoon good roads, fine weather and stunning scenery peppered with the typical onion domed churches of the region kept us company all throughout as we crossed across from the Tirol region into the Salzburg region.

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Towards the evening we arrived at the Krimml Waterfalls. Known locally (and signposted as) Krimmler Wasserfälle, these falls drop a total height of 1,247 feet and are a big tourist pull. There were campervans, walkers, bikers and cyclists all taking a break here to do the 20 minute walk to the view point of the falls. There are longer walks too, but when you have 453 horses champing at the bit in the car park, time consuming walks are not an option.

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The next evening's stopover was at Kitzbuhel, officially called a village but no stranger to affluence. This is a very pretty Austrian Alpine resort with numerous hiking and mountain-biking trails all around. In winter, it is here that the swish set comes to ski.

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The weather forecast for the next day again said there was a 50 percent chance of rain but I went to bed hoping that we'd be as fortunate as we were today. It had been one adrenaline packed day.
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Old 16th October 2012, 13:43   #10
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Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Please don't mind my asking but did you rent the Ferrari and if so how much did it cost to rent?
Well, since this was a work assignment I was given the Ferrari. But it can be rented. It would cost between Euros 1300 to 2000 a day to rent a supercar.
For example the 458 Italia Spyder is Euros 1850 a day when hired for two to six days.

Originally Posted by iSpoke View Post
I'm really clueless about the parking (sorry, if it has some other name!) lot entrance as seen into the second last picture. Curious to know is it like, oneself can drive upto the restaurant entrance rather than handing over the keys of those beauties for valet parking?
The hotel has a unique check in reception area. You can drive right upto the desk and finish check in formalities. Your luggage is taken to your room and you then park your car in the adjoining garage and take an elevator to your room from the garage itself.

Last edited by moralfibre : 16th October 2012 at 14:43. Reason: Back to back posts.
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Old 16th October 2012, 14:21   #11
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
For those who don't know Rishad, he's a very Senior auto / travel writer, photographer & journalist.
Thanks for letting us know GTO. I often wonder if we could have a sort of biography section for some interesting people, their career and how they had been all the way for what they are now.
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
...living his dream.
yeah, we all see that.

When Rishad said he was given a Ferrari (just a Ferrari) just because of assignment, I almost guessed him be a Transporter!

Originally Posted by Rishadm View Post
Well, since this was a work assignment I was given the Ferrari.
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Old 16th October 2012, 14:32   #12
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Default Re: A Ferrari Weekend

The car and your travelogue are mind blowing. But its your pictures thats doing all the talking. The landscapes are very beautiful and the pictures are really vibrant

Please do update the thread with more of your experiences.

Oh, and by the way, Welcome to T-Bhp
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Old 16th October 2012, 15:31   #13
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Great travelogue! nice Photography, Ferrari looks great. The landscapes are really beautiful. Thanks for sharing

Last edited by sameerpb : 16th October 2012 at 15:34.
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Old 16th October 2012, 20:36   #14
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great read! The pictures are mind blowing, and so is the narrative. Thanks Rishad for sharing this. Waiting for the rest of the log to unfold.

Thanks to GTO for bring us up to speed on the author. Brought in a whole new perspective to the reading.
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Old 17th October 2012, 00:45   #15
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The Third Day – A Trio of Lakes
That morning I woke up to a cloudy sky. It sort of reflected my mood because it marked the beginning of the end. Today we had to point the nose of the Ferrari towards Bavaria and head back to Munich to hand over the car and its shiny red key.

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It was a pity because the California was starting to fit me like a glove. I no longer needed look at the LED lights on the top of the steering that indicated when I had to shift up, I now knew when to just by the sound of the engine. I was also beginning to find the right amount of torque to take with me around a corner with the Manettino set on the CST mode (Cancel Stability and Traction) so that the car would go around the corner with just enough slide to thrill but not kill.

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We took the road back to Munich driving past three stunning lakes – Achensee, Sylvenstiensee and Walchensee.
The scenery continued to astound and on this day we drove through even smaller villages, some of them comprising of just 4 houses, a pub and a post office. Most of the houses were decorated with flowers on windows or balconies and murals on the walls.

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Today was also a day when we had to watch out for cattle on the road. I remember going hard around a corner only to find a nice big cow calmly chewing cud in the middle of the road. Once again I guess the Indian in me subconsciously always expects a cow or a truck around a corner so I could take instant corrective action.

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Walchensee is one of the deepest Alpine Lakes in Germany with a maximum depth of 631 feet. And within its depths lie the wrecks of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 and a British Avro Lancaster bomber from World War II. Besides the planes, near the shore of the lake two cars too lie at the lake bottom – a Volkswagen Beetle and a Ford – quite understandable since the road goes quite close to the lake at places.

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The last 63km to Munich was along the A63 which was ‘Unrestricted’ for majority of the way and it is on this road that I had the final blast with the California.

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After we'd returned the car we went out onto the street and chased away the parting pangs that giving back the car had induced with some very hearty and meaty full sized Germanic lunch.

Last edited by Technocrat : 17th October 2012 at 01:19. Reason: We do not allow mention or posting pictures of Alcohol, thanks
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