Munich BMW Museum
My husband is a car nut, so he was in his glory when we lived in Germany. The Porsche and Mercedes museum are in Stuttgart, and since we lived outside of Stuttgart, we felt we could see those museums anytime. We missed out visiting the state of the art VW plant, I’m sad to say.
But on this early spring day; we visited the BMW museum in Munich. The Germans pronounce it “Mewn-chin”. I don’t know where the Americans got their pronunciation but I digress.
Originally, my husband wanted to visit the actual plant but was told the BMW people schedule those tours six months in advance so we settled for the museum.
Upon arriving, we thought the building we were in was the museum but it was actually the BMW factory showroom with a high-rise office building attached. The pristine showroom is modernistic in design and huge.
What fascinated us about the factory was if you buy a BMW and pay an extra 400 Euro (about $650) they will bring your new car up through the factory floor on a round dais to the factory showroom, spin it around so all the spectators and visitors can admire the new car and then allow you to drive it out of the building. An extraordinary and cool process to watch. Sadly, I only had a camera and didn’t get a video.
The museum was across the street from the factory and they had a walking bridge overpass to get to it. I snapped a photo of the building but couldn’t get the whole thing in because it was so big. I’d have needed a panorama camera to get it all in.
While I’m not a huge fan of the motor aspect of the cars, I like the history, the looks and the technology that has gone into making them. There’s also a bit of romance with the design of the cars. Guys are especially enthralled with all of it!
One element of the technology is the study of air flow. The first room we visited had silver balls hanging from clear wire (similar to fishing wire). This was the air flow room and the balls would move according to however they programmed the air to flow. It was uber cool to watch, but a photo doesn’t do this exhibit justice.
The old models were particularly fascinating, and I found them beautiful (and romantic). I particularly like the paint job on the 1934 model. I would drive that car! There weren’t many (at least I didn’t see them) from 1939 to 1950. I would imagine they curtailed the cars made for public consumption to work on war machines and were re-building their country and infrastructure after the war ended.
For those that don’t know, BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works. BMW originally designed airplanes. The insignia is a circle with the blue (the sky) and white (propellers). The museum contained virtually nothing about heir airplane production. The Germans glossed over the war years. I believe they are ashamed of their country’s part in the annihilation of so many Jews.
I loved the little blue and black model that never went into production. It is SO cute! I don’t remember the year it was supposed to go into production but judging by the style, I believe it was the late 30s probably around the time World War II started.
They also had not only a chronology of cars but motorcycles (road and racing). The road cycles were stacked in a plate glass case that went from the bottom floor up to the top floor of the museum. This one reminded me of the one Harrison Ford and Sean Connery used in one of the Indiana Jones movies. Can you guess which movie?
This 1956 model was one of my husband’s favorites. Its sleek lines would attract anyone!
If you thought the “Smart” car is one that’s brand new. Think again because this tiny little car was built in 1955! It was called an Isetta. Notice that there are no side doors, it opens from the front and the steering is attached to the door! And it is super tiny!
Another favorite of mine is this Red job. I don’t know the year but notice the driver’s door. I would imagine the passenger door does the same. The door slides down but doesn’t open like a conventional car door. My husband seems to think we never saw it in the US because of safety reasons. I don’t know. I just like it!
Another of my husband’s favorite cars is this Z8 model. He can drool all he wants, he’ll never afford it! It’s over 235k Euros which is about 300k dollars! I can’t believe people would actually spend that much money for a car. Nice or not, to me it’s just not worth it! Of course, I can’t afford it either.
Remember that bowl-shaped building from the photos at the beginning of this blog? Well, there was a circular ramp with an open center so you can see to the bottom floor. I didn’t even count the floors because it made me dizzy but there were a LOT of them!
As we walk up the ramp on either side of the ramp, there are these big ball like structures attached to the handrails. They depicted the history of vehicles including the plastics and other elements of the production throughout the years. As we reach the top, there’s an incredibly long escalator, but it only goes ONE way – down, so we continue our trek to the top. When we get there, there’s a bevy of concept cars.
The very last exhibit had a video but no car on the dais. The video depicted the use of ultra-lightweight material allowing a person to open the door and it would bunch up (like skin). There were no openings where the door hinges should be. That’s the best description I can give for what we saw. It’s called the Gina. I would love to see the Gina (probably named for someone’s daughter or wife) in production but it won’t be for years.
Another building housed ONLY Z-4s! I spent at least 30 minutes playing with the onboard computer system which includes navigation, phone, contacts (probably downloaded from your phone), radio, DVD and CD’s. It was SO cool to play with.
As we were leaving, there was a gentleman who worked at the museum who had been standing around I think he had been eavesdropping our conversation. We were looking for the exit and he escorted us and we had a lovely conversation. It turns out he had spent a year in New York and traveled the southwest for 6 weeks. He loved the States and was curious about what we liked about Germany. During our long conversation, he finally admitted to speaking four languages, one of which was Italian! With a name like Damato, I would think so! Sadly, he no longer had any relatives in Italy. His grandfather had immigrated to Cairo no less.
We also visited the main plaza in Munich but that’s for another day. Enjoy the cars…I sure did!
Fairy Tale Lichtenstein Castle
The last adventure on my adventure page was the first castle we toured while living in Germany. This time it’s the last castle we toured. It was the weekend we found out we had to vacate Germany within 30 days (another story for another time).
We decided we wanted to visit one last castle before the stress of moving began and we wouldn’t have time to do much sightseeing. This one is Castle Lichtenstein (not the country of Lichtenstein, of course.) It is in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. That probably means nothing to you but it’s near Stuttgart—where Mercedes and Porsche have their headquarters (also another story for another time.) It’s about 40 kilometers from where we live but Julie (our GPS guide) was not helpful. I had printed out a Google map because I didn’t have an exact address. We knew it was west of Reutlingen. So we plugged in Reutlingen and then stopped when we got there and try to find it using the Points of Interest feature on the GPS. It worked. The GPS listed the castle. Thank goodness!
As expected, we traveled up a hillside to get to the castle, parked the car and trekked the rest of the way to the entrance. Enchanted by the German castles, as always, this last trek was no different. “Castle Hopping” which military personnel and ex-patriots (those who were in the military or civilians who live in Germany or any other foreign country) call visiting castles was our most favorite thing to do while living in Germany.
I’m always amazed at the size of the grounds and this castle was no different. The outer bailey had more out-buildings than the other castles we visited. They had converted one building from a lodge to a restaurant for visitors. The Tudor type building housed a museum of sorts and a place to buy cold drinks.
The castle itself is a “fairy-tale” castle. One that easily could have been the subject of a dark fairy tale given where it sits. It’s on the edge of a cliff and to get to it, we had to walk a bridge to the keep. It’s smaller than most of the buildings on site but the beauty of the rooms and the artifacts were amazing. Weapons mounted on walls along with various shields captured my husband’s attention. These remnants of the past are irreplaceable.
What surprised me was how small the rooms were but they were so ornate. Every available wall and ceiling was gilded or painted or a combination thereof. The detail and intricacy of the work made me stop and stare. I didn’t know where to look first. The other thing I noticed was how many stained-glass windows were in this castle but in the other castles, there weren’t many, if at all.
I didn’t have the heart to take the picture but our guide showed us bullet holes where the German army in WWII took over the castle and shot up the walls. They didn’t see the value in the castle. Such a waste and so sad.
After the tour, we had a bite to eat at the cafe. We sat outside under an umbrella. We split an order Maltauschen (a rolled up ravioli with spinach – the Germans call them ‘noodle bags’) with egg and a salad. It started to rain as we started to eat but we thought we could wait it out and sure enough, the rain was just a drop here and there.
Thank you for allowing me to share this adventure with you and taking me back down memory lane for an enjoyable and lovely day!
Hohenzollern Castle, Germany
The first castle my husband and I visited in Germany was Hohenzollern Castle in Hohenzollern, Germany. Where else?
We had been in Germany for less than two months and we were still getting over what my husband’s colleagues called the “German crud”. But it was a Sunday afternoon, and we wanted to do something but we needed to stay close to our apartment in Bonlanden, Fielderstadt (outside of Stuttgart). There were three castles to choose from less than an hour’s drive. We chose Hohenzollern.
I misspelled the name when I entered it in the GPS. Goodness but those German names are hard to spell! I was not yet proficient in spelling the cities and didn’t think I’d ever be proficient. Difficult was an understatement, German was nearly impossible to learn even though English has its roots in the Germanic language!
It was one pm when we arrived and we could see the castle in the distance. It was magnificent. This was the first castle my husband had ever seen. I’d seen a few when I was a teenager and traveled to Italy with my grandparents but this was different. These castles were high on hills in a defensive position and not in the center of a village.
We felt it was in our best interest to take the shuttle to the top of the hill where that majestic castle stood. The trip in that shuttle was a nail-biting horror. The road was narrow, and the shuttle was wide. There were shuttles going back and forth not to mention people who chose not to ride the shuttle walking up to the top of the hill. But the driver was skilled and took the road’s hairpin turns with ease. With a sigh of relief, we got out and walked toward the arched opening that perhaps had been the drawbridge centuries ago. Going through that arched opening led us to a road that had high walls next to it.
What’s exciting is you don’t know how long you’ll have to walk to get to the actual castle and you don’t know how high you’ll have to go. Upward we climbed on the cobblestone “road” walking through various archways. My romantic imagination thought those on horseback may have hidden under those archways waiting for severe rainstorms to subside.
As we walked on we went through another archway. This time, it was a tunnel of sorts. It was May, but that tunnel chilled us. On one side the tunnel had small windows that let a little light in but not much warmth and the other side had small gated cells. I thought they housed the horses but my husband seemed to think that’s where the castle kept their prisoners. Think dungeon and creepy.
We kept moving in a circular fashion until we finally saw sunshine and the castle rose above us. Seeing that huge stone castle made the walk through the cold, creepy tunnel worth it.
The Germans had transformed the gardens on the side of the castle into an area where people could buy a meal and sit outside. There was live music that day, too.
We took the tour of the castle even though we couldn’t understand the tour guide. At least we could see the inside of the castle.
The German castles are exceptional and so well-maintained. It’s a tourist attraction but still, there are many castles in Europe which are not well-maintained. Plus there’s a large army base right there in Stuttgart to bring in even more tourists. Like us.
We ambled along and realized the tour would take a good hour and hoped the tour would end so we didn’t miss the bus. We did not want another escapade like the one we had in Heidelberg. (That’s another story for another time.)
Anyway, we climbed the stairs into the castle. We were the last ones in and the tour guide shut the door behind us with a loud kerthunk.
We walked into an extraordinary room. There were about fifty or sixty people crammed into that small room. We sat on wooden seats attached to the wall. My husband pointed out the tourists were all wearing felt slippers. I didn’t see where or how they got them and since we didn’t understand the language we were at a loss. It’s confounding when you can’t communicate!
I snapped photos of the room (the family tree on the wall) then I noticed the ceiling was all wood and the chandelier had real candles in it. I couldn’t imagine trying to light those things every night, not to mention the fire hazard and being burned. But it was gorgeous.
Buying a tour book in English would have helped us follow along with the tour guide but we didn’t even know where to buy it. The tour guide droned on and on and seemed to describe the castle’s heritage and the family ancestry. The tour guide said something to me but I didn’t understand him and kept shooting photos.
An elderly woman with a cane pointed it at our feet and motioned we should have slippers on. Well, we would have if we had known where to get them. She realized we didn’t speak German, turned and pointed to the room behind us. At that point, we saw the large wooden boxes hidden from our view when we crammed in the ancestry room. I trotted back to the box and pulled two pair out. We weren’t being disrespectful, we just didn’t understand the instructions.
Back in the Dining Hall that same elderly woman turned to us and motioned to the camera and said, “Ist verboten.” We understood she meant taking photos was forbidden inside the castle. Now that bummed me out!
I apologize I don’t have photos of the many rooms we saw but the craftsmanship of the woodwork was extraordinary. The cost to repair or replace any of the woodwork details or the fine furniture and artifacts would be astronomical today. We were told the camera flashes have a negative impact on the tapestries and fabric so that’s why no photos were allowed. I wonder if that’s still the case especially with phone cameras.
We came to a room with a small door. Inside that small room was a small bed (a twin size but very short) and a dressing table with a mirror. I told my husband it must have been the King’s bedroom, but he thought it was the Queen’s bedroom. The tour guide who said he could only speak a little English told us it was the King’s bedroom. I would have thought it would have been more palatial, but it wasn’t. Three or four centuries ago maybe it was palatial. I had to wonder how the lower-class people lived and I shivered.
We toured more and more rooms and ended up on an enclosed circular stairway that led outside but the tour guide escorted us back into the castle’s first floor where suits of armor and various kinds of weapons were on display. What struck me was how heavy those suits must have been. How cold in the winter and how hot in the summer? I can’t even imagine it. Perhaps that’s one reason soldiers died young. Who knows?
Gold chalices, silver pieces, and place settings were on display. It’s amazing those priceless pieces have endured all these centuries. But in the final room, we came to a glass case with the King’s crown covered in precious jewels. Magnificent. I asked my husband if he thought the jewels were real. He said he thought so because it was an electronically monitored case.
Once back outside in the courtyard, the band had moved to the outdoor dining hall, and it was curious to hear a Simon & Garfunkel song in such an ancient setting. We had a snack in the courtyard to tide us over before dinner.
While having our snack we noticed the castle had dog bowls with water. The Germans love their dogs and allow them in restaurants and all stores except grocery stores. And those dogs behave themselves, too. I loved the sign above the doggie bowls. It translates to “Doggie Bistro”. Funny.
The wind picked up, and we took the shuttle back to our car and another work week then another adventure in the lovely country of Germany.
Lovely Savannah, Georgia
On the way home from my husband’s birthday bash with his siblings, we took a side trip to Savannah, Georgia because it was on the way home.
OH MY GOODNESS! I really never thought about Savannah as a place to visit! My cousin went to art school there, and I knew from his descriptions that it was beautiful but his descriptions did not do it justice!!
While we only had a few hours to tour the city, I fell in love with it. We took a horse carriage tour of historic Savannah. Our guide was entertaining with a fun sense of humor! And it was a gorgeous, pleasant day for such an outing.
Savannah is known as “The Hostess City of the South” with incredible Antebellum architecture. The city hosts millions of visitors every year! It doesn’t seem big enough to host that many people. America’s first planned city, the city’s forefathers, plotted and set up the city on a grid system with 24 public squares of which there are still 22 of them today. The squares are quaint with beautiful landscaping and gardens.
After our historical tour, we had lunch at Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady & Sons. The fried chicken blew my husband away. He said it was the best he’d ever eaten. I had a chicken salad sandwich which was wonderful. What surprised me was we had the option to do the buffet or order from the menu. I stopped in her little shop and bought several tea towels I just had to have!
There are museums galore from history museums to specialty museums and cultural and themed tours, plus sites and landmarks, no doubt there’s something to suit anyone’s taste. We enjoy riverboat cruises and they have a combination Land and Sea tour which we will take advantage of the next time we visit. We both love history, so Fort Jackson will have to be on the agenda the next time we visit.
One of our favorite ways to get around cities and visit various landmarks is the Hop-on, Hop-off buses that allows you to take as much time as you want to visit various places on a specific tour. We did them throughout our trips in Europe and in the U.S. We love being able to park our car and catching the bus to take us to various places. Awesome way to see the city. In Savannah, it’s a trolley which would be fun.
We would have liked to spend more time but look forward to returning every year to learn more about Savannah, its history and taste the culinary aspects of the Old South.
We liked it better than Charleston, South Carolina and that says a lot! If you’ve never been to Savannah, plan to go!
05-18-2019 Moving to Germany
Imagine my consternation when the company told us we’d live in a couple’s home for three months until our household shipment arrived. What? I had visions of us trying to communicate to the owners the toilet didn’t work or trying to prepare meals while being underfoot with complete strangers and an entire slew of other daily issues that could arise.
Despite those reservations, we boarded a plane at Washington Dulles Airport for the long trip overseas knowing we would not see our family for at least three years. Thankfully, we brought our VoIP phone system with us and use the internet for overseas telephone calls. But I digress.
My husband’s mentor greeted us at the airport. How he became a mentor to my husband when he had just arrived in Germany a few months before, I’ll never know. We dropped our luggage at our temporary residence not in Stuttgart proper. Instead, our mentor escorted us to a small village called Bonlanden in Filderstadt. The mentor told us we would have to “stay awake” until bedtime to reduce the effects of jet lag. Well, super. It had been an exhausting month, and I needed to sleep.
Since I had been in small villages before I wondered about the home we would live in for three months. Three months is a long, long time. But when we dropped off our bags, we were elated to find our housing was an attic apartment in the couple’s home with our own entrance, kitchen, and bath.
It was small. Tiny. But I was thankful we didn’t have to share a bathroom, kitchen and living spaces with them and the unit was relatively new so that was a bonus.
The other bonus was the owner’s wife spoke some English and would change our towels and bed linens every week. Maid service too? That was awesome.
My husband’s boss stopped by when we were unloading and wanted to know if the unit was acceptable to us. The bedroom and living room had a vaulted ceiling, but the boss’ concern was the twin beds. We both were fine with the sleeping arrangements. The headboards were at the lowest end of the vaulted ceiling. We couldn’t even stand up straight at the head of the bed and we are short people. No matter, though, we’d make do for three months. After all, we were living in Germany. A place neither of us had been before and it was an adventure in the making.
And while the living room only had a day bed with a few hard chairs–no comfy sofa for us – but the bathroom more than made up for it.
The kitchen was adequate, and we even had a little balcony overlooking their cute garden. We knew God took care of us with our housing needs. Has God ever met your housing needs in a great way?
Moving to a Foreign Country?
Over the years, my husband and I have traveled all over the world. Moving to Germany proved to be the most arduous moves of all time. We had moved several times in the nine years we lived in California including a cross-country move from Ohio to California.
I thought I knew all there was to know about moving but this time, there would be an international mover and a language barrier. Speaking fluent Italian would not help in Germany, or so I thought. But I digress.
When my husband lost his job at the end of 2007 and couldn’t find work, his job became looking for work but there were few positions in his field. We knew we’d have to move at some point but neither of us dreamed we’d be moving out of the country.
After praying for months for a position, the sale of our home was on the horizon. When the house sold, we placed the bulk of our furniture and household goods in storage and moved to a small apartment near the house we sold. I continued to work my part-time job, and he continued to look for work. One job kept presenting itself and included a move to Germany for what would be five years or longer. Neither of us wanted to move to Germany. But when every opportunity fluttered away except the German position, we knew the solution was clear.
We had two things in our favor: we didn’t have a house to sell and our passports were current. But we needed to sell our cars and put more things in storage. In the space of a few weeks, we considered what was important to ship because we could only ship five thousand pounds. Sounds like a lot but it’s really not. Basic household goods and clothing add up real fast.
The international movers explained our possessions would be in transit for three months. Three months? Now I had another dilemma. We were moving in March which meant we technically were still in winter and would be well into summer before our possessions reached us. Thus, we packed our suitcases with clothing for two seasons.
Since we had already pared down our possessions to two storage pods, I went through our apartment and determined once again, what I could take with us, what we could sell or pitch and what needed to go into storage. Another daunting task.
Next, I realized I needed a whole slew of documents to take with me and luckily I had time to track down all the documents. Planning an international or even a national move? This is a must-have list.
- Travel documents
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce papers
- Child custody papers
- Adoption papers
- Driver’s licenses
- Medical records
- School/university transcripts
- Insurance policies and your insurance agent’s contact information
- Be sure to research international health care coverage at least three months before departure
- Tax records and your accountant’s contact information
- Power of attorney, last will and testament and your attorney’s contact information
- Bank statements and your banker’s telephone number
- Shipping company documents and contact information
- Storage facility documents and contact information
Download copies of moving checklists if you know your move is soon and work through the checklist. Some items on checklists that movers provide will be not applicable to your family but the lists are invaluable.
If you have planned or have moved across the nation or across continents, what are some things you wish you’d have known to make your move go smoother?