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Old 21st November 2012, 15:30   #16
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

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Originally Posted by gtonsing View Post
Glued. Please post the next episodes as soon as possible. If you post before weekend, I might actually spend time reading this travellogue as opposed to watching the Brazilian GP
+ 1 to the views above. I am totally glued to this TL. Please do not take long in posting.

One of my life's main wishes is to drive through most of Europe like you did, and I fervently pray that my desire is fulfilled soon.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 15:02   #17
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Dream roadtrip and stunning pictures. The merc taxi lineup is a great welcome.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 09:56   #18
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Excellent write-up and photos. I have been to Europe at least twice to countries line Germany, Switzerland, France, and Sweden. Felt nostalgic after seeing your photos. Whats missing from my previous trips is driving around in a car. I should try that next time.
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Old 24th November 2012, 21:29   #19
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Plans are plans. After the above plan was made, all rested on how the trainings are placed. Though I am blessed with a boss who is more a friend to me, still we lesser mortals have to depend on one more very important thing called “leaves”. So the wait had begun.

Parallely the research was still going on. Apart from where to go, there were other questions too. Food, Accommodations, Packing. I had got somewhat used to the local cuisine but my wife, being a pure vegetarian had her apprehensions. So instead of thinking too much, we went with what Tanveer did and checked out MTR and other ready to eat foods available in the market. Wife liked it so this topic was closed. Now came accommodation. After a lot of browsing, Booking.com appeared the most flexible and reasonable. With a budget of 100 Euros per night booking.com gave the best options at all the places we wanted. With Booking.com, you can book without any booking fee till 24/48 hours before booking date with most hotels. Therefore, I made several tentative bookings for the dates that I thought can be set. So that was closed too.

After this it was the most important part of the trip, the car. Since I had a good overall experience with Sixt, I did not check any other vendor and booked 2-3 tentative slots for CDMR category of cars.

It was end of March 2012 when one fine morning I got the mail regarding the training dates. They were scheduled from 21st till 24th May. Monday till Thursday. Suddenly, it all appeared to be really happening. I had a little over a month to do everything. Leaves were applied. Visa papers were readied. All the bookings revisited.

Leaves that I got were a bit too less than I expected. I was actually to deliver the training to various regional teams asap so the most generous my boss could get was for a week after the trainings. That meant I had to be back by 4th June and squeeze all those places in the earlier route within as many days.

A bit impossible. So after a rethink on the plan this was the final picture that came out.

My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-final_plan.jpg


Pity that so many places had to be chucked out.

Anyways there is always a next time. On the other hand, I had applied for the Visa for Wife, kid and myself as my existing one was expiring just two days before my intended travel dates. The Visa fee was approx 6k INR per adult, no fee for infants. Tweaked all the hotel Bookings according to the dates. Also got to know that our company gets special rates with Sixt so cancelled the earlier booking and rebooked two slots of 2 and 11 days at 26 Euros per day. Isn’t that awesome?

Plan was to take off from Delhi on Friday 18th May reach Augsburg the same night, go out to The Romantic Road till Neuschwanstein Castle and back on Saturday and see around Munich and back on Sunday. Work from Monday to Thursday in Augsburg, and then set off for The Road Trip on Friday morning.

This is the route taken on the weekend.
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Visas done! Bookings done! Food (MTR, Maggie, Baby food and a small travel hot plate) done! Waiting for May 18th!!

Last edited by vinayrathore : 24th November 2012 at 21:34.
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Old 25th November 2012, 14:52   #20
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

very nice. I am planning on one such trip myself but then, I will be driving down from Finland.
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Old 25th November 2012, 16:00   #21
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

One thing I missed telling you was the Child car seat problem. You can’t carry a child or an infant in a car without a proper approved car seat until the time his/she is tall enough to sit in a car with the default car seat belts. That too at the back until a certain age. More info: Although I never found a proper description of height and weight proportion vis-a-vis the type of car seat to be used. Everyone whom I consulted, suggested me to take a car seat along as they are very expensive to hire and indeed at 10 Euros per day with the car, it was. That was 50% more on the very decent rates of 26 Euros per day with 300 Euro Loss damage waiver I got thanks to my company discount. So it was decided that we take along a child car seat. Searched around in the markets and on the net. They were expensive with the cheapest branded available at around 8K. The bigger problem was to carry it around. Another option was a booster seat, which is a seat with just a bottom. From whatever I could find on the net, it seemed that the booster seat will do as my son was above 13 Kgs. Someone suggested I check out Jhandewala Cycle Market and in a heist, I went there a day before the D day and got a decent Booster seat for 1500 INR. The only problem was still its mass. It was a big 2’ x 2’ box.

It was the evening before the D day. Baggage allowed on the Emirates airways is a generous 30 Kg per adult and 10 kg for the infant effectively taking our total limit to 70 Kgs. Ladies being even more generous when it comes to packing, this extended limit made her pack everything she thought we might require. So after the first round, we had one very big suitcase, one medium suitcase and two sky bags and a child car seat box. It was too much to handle. So after a lot of reshuffle, I could do away with one sky bag and made others a bit lighter too.

The D day arrived. The flight was at 11:00 which was to reach Dubai at 12:45 local time and onward flight was at 16:30 that reached Munich at 20:55 local time so we had to reach the airport by 8:30. To avoid the last minute hassles and running around, we had everything ready before we slept the last night. Dad dropped us to the airport. Check in went smooth and we reached the immigration counter. We never knew there is a
trouble awaiting us. With the new T3 at Delhi, everything has become quite grand and big, even the number of immigration counters has increased so the ques are not long. The only hitch is the counters are manned by the same rusty old babus (pun intended). Since past two years, all the passports being made have a bit faded photos. This is true for every passport I have seen which is made recently. In my wife’s case, it was a tad more faded but it was not so bad. The gentleman at the counter flatly refused to stamp it at the first go. I was stunned. He questioned why did we accepted this kind of a passport and why we did not get it remade. We requested and told about how long it takes to get the passport these days but he did not move. His concern was even if he allowed us to pass, we will get stuck at some other immigration (as if India has the most advanced passenger tracking system) counter somewhere and that will in turn lead to problems for the Indian Consulate or the immigration department at the end. He plainly told us to get the passport re issued. We argued about all the bookings, the schedules etc etc, but he did not budge and so did’nt us. Kept on pleading and finally he said let me check with my senior. We had a ray of hope. He went to a cabin nearby with the passport. He came back within 2-3 minutes but it seemed like ages. He came back and nodded positively. Only I had to sign on a note that it’s on my own responsibility. JOY!! Passports were stamped and we were through.

It was a Boeing 777. I had taken the side row of seats instead of the middle one with a child bassinet as recommended on the website as I knew it was of no use. Luckily, the third seat was vacant and my son too had a seat of his own. Flight took off on time and we landed in Dubai. We had approx 3 hours which were well spent in going around at the terminal, lunch at the Burger King and some shopping done by my son. The next flight took off on time and probably the captain had some appointment at 20:30. Yes, we were in Munich some 20 minutes before scheduled time. As soon as you land in Germany, there is this unique pleasant smell that welcomes you. Immigration had long ques but went on smoothly. As expected there were no extraneous issues about the faded photo. After all, it’s all verified during the visa process. They have all your records in front of them as soon as you hand over the passport.

Took a taxi for 140 Euros to Augsburg. It was 10:30 when we reached the Hotel, very late for German standards. As expected, there was no one at the counter and even the front doors were locked. Thankfully there was a checkin kiosk at the door. I had to key in our booking number and was asked to swipe the credit card. In no time I had the receipt and the numeric to be entered to open the doors. All the doors that I was supposed to open including the elevator. Welcome to Germany!!

Last edited by vinayrathore : 25th November 2012 at 16:03.
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Old 25th November 2012, 18:03   #22
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Next morning was going to be our first day and a driving one at that. I was super excited and could hardly sleep. Woke up a bit early at 6, got ready, had breakfast. Sixt office at Augsburg south was a little walk away so while wife and son were getting ready I went to bring the car at 8. This was a big depot of cars and had maintenance facilities too but had just two counters. Both were busy. Germans always prefer to speak in German and expect you to know it too. Even if they realize you are a foreigner, they will always start the conversation in German. So the gentleman there greeted me with a smile and a polite Guten Morgen(Good Morning), it was okay till here so I replied the same. But then he went on; Womit kann ich Ihnen weiterhelfen? (How can I help you?), having headquarters in Germany made me learn some German so I actually got what he said but soon or later I had to switch to English so I replied Ich bin nicht gut in Deutsch (i am not good at german). He then said oh sorry, how can I help you?. I gave him my booking confirmation letter along with my passport, Driving license and the credit card. He checked and confirmed. I was impatiently waiting to hear what car is it. He said let me check, sifted through his folders and took out a key. I could not believe when he told me It was a Citroen C3 Picasso for me too!!. I said What?? a bit too loudly. He looked at me surprised. I looked as if nothing happened. How could he know that a coincidence had happened. People who have read Tanveer's log will know what I am talking about. Anyways, the guy guided me to the car, It was a black one and was kept ready for me. I checked the papers, the warning triangle, and high visibility jackets. There was just one so I request another since I had mentioned about going to Austria and Czech Republic(both countries require atleast two in the car) in the booking remarks so they had to give me at least two. He went inside and brought another one. I said my prayers and cranked the engine. Bid him good buy and started. It was not as the last time. I felt much more confident. Reached the hotel parking in few minutes where wife was waiting. We kept the essentials for the trip, mounted the child car seat, made my son sit on the booster seat and fastened his belts. He looked a bit uncomfortable but we thought he will get used to it and started off. I had got Navigon with Europe maps on my Android phone before I left so punched in Neuschwanstein Castle and started off!

Hardly we had gone a few Kms that Kanishk(My son) started getting uneasy. He even started getting out of the belt. Since you cannot stop just anywhere, my wife somehow tried to calm him but not for long. We had to stop at the first way side parking we saw.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4730.jpg

We tried to explain about how important it was, gave him all his toys, and chocolates. Anyway, we went on and reached the castle and parked the car in one of the parking areas. From there you either take a exorbitantly expansive horse carriage or a cheaper shuttle bus.

Another castle nearby visible from the parking.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4749.jpg

I inquired about the tickets and was told there was no entry ticket to the open areas but the interiors had paid guided tours. We decided onto the free one of-course and took the bus (2.5 Euros per person) which dropped us till about 2 Kms from the castle. There were two options from here, one towards the castle which was downhill and other to the Marie's Bridge, or Marienbrücke which is a bridge on a small stream just behind the castle. So we went to the bridge first.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4753.jpg
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After this we walked till the castle which takes you around the building to the other side.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4771.jpg
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4776.jpg

The flags of Bavaria, the European Union. Can identify the third one
Click image for larger version

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This is the main palace building which greets you when you enter the gate.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4790.jpg

You climb a platform and see the gate from inside
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The board that says it all about the palace
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4795.jpg

Up there some one paragliding from the mountains nearby. You can see such scenes almost every where in the mountains. Sometime 15-20 together.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4798.jpg

Little bit of snow visible on the peaks around.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4799.jpg

Last edited by vinayrathore : 25th November 2012 at 18:08. Reason: spacing redone
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Old 25th November 2012, 20:28   #23
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Marvelous pictures. A virtual 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' experience. Keep posting, please!
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Old 26th November 2012, 14:37   #24
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gtonsing View Post
Glued. Please post the next episodes as soon as possible. If you post before weekend, I might actually spend time reading this travellogue as opposed to watching the Brazilian GP
Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
+ 1 to the views above. I am totally glued to this TL. Please do not take long in posting.

One of my life's main wishes is to drive through most of Europe like you did, and I fervently pray that my desire is fulfilled soon.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kumbidi View Post
Dream roadtrip and stunning pictures. The merc taxi lineup is a great welcome.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hydswift View Post
Excellent write-up and photos. I have been to Europe at least twice to countries line Germany, Switzerland, France, and Sweden. Felt nostalgic after seeing your photos. Whats missing from my previous trips is driving around in a car. I should try that next time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 14000rpm View Post
very nice. I am planning on one such trip myself but then, I will be driving down from Finland.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Marvelous pictures. A virtual 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' experience. Keep posting, please!
Thanks guys! Could not keep up the speed due to sudden surge of work and travel. Will try to step up the pace now.
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Old 26th November 2012, 20:59   #25
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After spending sometime inside the castle courtyard and a little walk around the periphery, we started our descent from the hill. There was a small shortcut passing through a series of shops selling souvenirs and some eateries serving amazing Pizza's and local cuisine. The tempting aroma from the wood fired ovens timed exactly with the lunch time and our hungry tummies. Had our lunch there and started back for Augsburg. Here are some pics of the Romantic Road on way back clicked by Wifey. From now on all the pics clicked in the moving car are clicked by my wife.

My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4801.jpg

And we followed a red Polo for around one hour.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4803.jpg
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4804.jpg

And we reached back to Augsburg enjoying the views around. The hotel had nice large and free parking so the car was parked there. The rest of the evening was spent in the room with MTR's Rajma chawal.

Next day it was Munich. I had already been to the BMW Welt once in my earlier trips and wife was not too keen on it. Also we both are not too fond of Museums either, so it was just going to be a stroll around the streets. This plan made us a little lazy and we had a leisurely breakfast and a bit late start at 10:30. Living at the edge of the town takes you on the autobahn very quickly and here we were on the A8 to Munich.

On the loop taking us onto the Autobahn.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4815.jpg

A 747 can land here.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4816.jpg
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My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4823.jpg

And soon we went no limit!!
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4824.jpg
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4827.jpg

Last edited by vinayrathore : 26th November 2012 at 21:03.
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Old 27th November 2012, 11:44   #26
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One thing I forgot to tell you about the last day's car seat episode. After the tantrums thrown in by Kanishk, I had decided on to discard the booster seat for the rest of the trip and get a proper child seat with 5 point restraint. This will actually make him sit more comfortably and also will keep him properly fastened in the seat. So before starting for Munich, I went to the Sixt office and asked if I can get a child car seat? They immediately agreed and pointed to 4-5 seats lying in a corner. I selected the best one, got it fitted and the cost? It was 4 Euros per day. Yes, they charged me less then the online charges.

Anyways we reached Munich and started searching for a parking. All the Blue parking zones were full. After driving around for 10-15 minutes, decided onto look for a paid one and asked Mr. GPS to guide me to one. It took me to a parking near the Main Train Station. The cost was 9 Euros per hour. Too much, but I parked. We walked through the station towards the Rathaus through the Kaufingerstraße (Kaufinger Street) which is the main shopping area of Munich and the central part of the city. Just as I crossed the station, I found an underground parking at 4 Euros per hour. Here I went straight to fetch the car and got it parked here.

Some pics around that area.

A Cinema Hall.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4833.jpg

The 4 Euro/Hour Parking.
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4833a.jpg

Buildings around
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My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4833i.jpg

The Gateway to the Kaufingerstraße
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My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4833n.jpg

Then we went inside St. Micheal's Cathedral. Amazing interiors. Kanishk bieng himself made sure we were not able to be inside for too long. (He is very naughty at that)
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4846.jpg
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4849.jpg
My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!-dscf4850.jpg

Last edited by vinayrathore : 27th November 2012 at 11:45.
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Old 27th November 2012, 17:28   #27
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Very nice photos! I'll be using your travelogue to plan my European tour, thought its still some way off
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Old 27th November 2012, 17:47   #28
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Arrow re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Living pictures and nice story. Loved the car story more..

Are there many no Limit Zones? Looked like you pushed it towards redline with 4K revv and 200 KMPH!!

--Ramky
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Old 28th November 2012, 12:22   #29
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Living pictures and nice story. Loved the car story more..

Are there many no Limit Zones? Looked like you pushed it towards redline with 4K revv and 200 KMPH!!

--Ramky
======
Usually, the Autobahn doesn't have any speed limit. Unless there are areas which are under construction or accident prone. But the good thing about such places is that the reduced speed limit would still be around 120 km/hr.
People usually get their Ferraris, Lamborghinis etc. from all across Europe to Germany to hit over 300 on the streets.

@Vinay Rathore.

The pics make me nostalgic about my stay in Germany. I had a multimonth rental from Sixt. A BMW 120d M sport which did close to 20K kms in a 8 month period with maximum speeds touching 250 km/hr on my way to Amsterdam within German borders. I think it was the rush to get to Amsterdam .

Awaiting more...

Cheers,
Jagdeesh [Jaaaag]
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Old 28th November 2012, 13:27   #30
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Default re: My European Sojourns: The making of a dream road trip!

Very nice TL indeed and some super pics, keep it coming. About the autobahn, have been hearing it from younger days when my dad used to narrate the history and construction of these super highways.

These pics brought back all those memories and visualization of these motorways and hope to travel in them some time in the future.


Some narration from wiki-

Quote:
The German autobahns form the nationally coordinated motorway system in Germany. In German, they are officially called Bundesautobahn (plural Bundesautobahnen, abbreviated 'BAB'), which translates to "federal expressways". German autobahns have no general speed limit, but the advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) is 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph).
Germany's autobahn network has a total length of about 12,845 kilometres (7,982 mi) in 2012,[1] which ranks as the fourth longest highway system in the world
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