Proposal: Guided Roadtrip of Europe Summer 2013

TDIMeister

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Sorry for my delay in re-posting since my browser crash. It had taken more than a few hours to compose my post, all of which was lost in the blink of eye. You would think after so much experience with browser crashes in the middle of a long post that I would have learned my lesson and written it out in a word processor first as I am now…

Anyway, at TDIFest 2012 I proposed the idea of a guided roadtrip next summer. The plan was to do this trip around Germany and also coinciding with the Le Mans race on the weekend of June 22nd-23rd, so that we can be there for the event as well at the Paris Air Show around the same time period.

In fact, this proposal for a European roadtrip is not the first I’ve made, as I also pitched one back in 2005, not long after having arrived in Germany and barely had time to settle in.

Since returning from TDIFest, I’ve been researching the logistics of organizing such a trip and figuring out a suitable itinerary that would include some highlights of Germany but also leaving for maximum flexibility in case some people want to venture out on their own and allow them to rejoin the group at any time.

Here are a couple of main points and plans that have been pretty firmly established:

  • Recognizing that most people have constraints on available vacation time and work schedules, I try to set the itineraries so that people can depart from their home airports on a Saturday and also be back on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • The arrival airport and meeting city is Frankfurt, because this is a hub and gateway airport from all over North America. Picking up rental cars from here would also be the most straightforward.
  • The maximum number of participants will be capped at 10 people. This is to keep the group intimate and manageable. Availability will be on a first-come-first-served basis with payment of a reservation deposit.
  • The guided part of the itinerary is structured for maximum flexibility and some free-time. It will be about 2 weeks long and participants are free to break away on their own as they wish, rejoin the group at anytime en route on the planned itinerary, leave to depart for home whenever needed or extend their stay beyond the official tour.
  • Participants will be responsible for booking flights to arrive in Frankfurt and meet on the appointed day at the start of the trip. You have full flexibility on your departure location and date.
  • Rental cars will be arranged as a group but each car with be on a separate contract in the name of- and billed to the primary driver. All cars will be requested to have Diesel engines and have the expected amenities, GPS navigation and insurance. Requests can be made but the rental agency generally cannot guarantee specific brands, models and engine choices.
Now, on to the planned itinerary, still subject to considerable revision:

Day 1 (e.g. June 9, 2013): Arrival in Frankfurt. Pick up rental cars. Orientation meeting, dinner and local sightseeing. Overnight in Frankfurt area.




Day 2: Drive to Heidelberg via Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road). Attractions in area: Hockenheimring, Speyer and Sinsheim Museums, Mannheim, Worms, Speyer town, Neckarsulm (Audi factory there). Overnight in Heidelberg area.




Day 3: Drive to Stuttgart. Attractions in area: Daimler-Benz and Porsche factory tours and museums. Alternative: Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Overnight somewhere.




Day 4/5: Drive to Munich. Lots to see and do in the area. 2X overnight in Munich area.




Day 6: Drive to Wolfsburg via Nürnberg. Visit Autostadt. Overnight in Wolfsburg.




Day 7: Participants leaving for home will drive to Frankfurt to catch their flights. Others drive to Berlin.

Day 8/9: Visit Berlin. Lots to see and do in the area. Other attractions: Potsdam, Dresden (VW glass factory). 2X overnight in Berlin (or 1X Berlin, 1X Dresden).




Day 10: Drive to Cologne. Lots to see and do in the area. Other attractions: Nürburgring, Bonn, Duesseldorf, Aachen, Maastricht. Overnight in Cologne area.




Day 11: Drive to Amsterdam. Lots to see and do in the area. Overnight in Amsterdam.




Day 12: Drive to Paris. Lots to see and do in the area. Overnight in Paris.




Day 13/14: Drive to Le Mans. Watch race. 2X overnight in Le Mans area.

Day 14/15: Drive to airport to catch flights home.

So, where do we go from here? First, if you are interested in this, please identify yourself and let me know if you will traveling solo or with a spouse. It would be nice to know the demographics and interests of the participants as it will greatly influence planning things like activities and accommodations – a group of 10 guys traveling with a single-minded interest in cars, beer and machines and also having no problem with roughing it would require different planning than a mixed group with certain expectations of luxury and amenities. The above schedule, and planned stops are still subject to change. If there are other places that a majority of participants would like to see, or if there’s a stop where there’s majority disinterest to visit, I will try to change the itinerary accordingly.

Rooms around Le Mans book up way in advance of the annual race event. Therefore I would need to receive a partial reservation deposit from participants and book a block of rooms by mid-October. The balance of the trip reservation and those who have no interest in going to Le Mans but want to do the rest of the trip will need to pay the trip reservation by the end of the calendar year (again, first-come-first-served until all spots are filled). These details are still being worked out and I’ll get Fred’s input on how best to do this when I meet him in Vancouver next week.

I will also have an estimate of the budget for this trip.

Below is an overview map showing the planned itinerary:


I’m really excited about this!!
 
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bhtooefr

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Is it bad that I looked at 324td Tourings this morning?

(Only found one quickly, and it was an automatic veggie car. DO NOT WANT. (Besides, it was made 1989-06, and any car that I would get has to be made in CY1988 or earlier.))

Speaking of which, how hard is it to register a vehicle for temporary use in Germany, before exportation? I know the automakers do it all the time for European Delivery programs, but is it easy at an individual level? If I were to get something, I'd be tempted to drive it around before shipping it over.
 

oilhammer

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There are just too many to list....
Interesting. I'll have to see if my wife might be interested as we used to live in Germany: Nürnberg, Bremerhaven, and Göppingen. Haven't been there since '88.
Ha, I think the country is twice its size since then (speaking of the reunification of East/West).:)
 

TomJD

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I will be headed to Wolfsburg and Nurmberg at the end of the October. I could be a possible resource if this trip comes to fruition.
 

VW Derf

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Subscribed and moved to the "Events, Gatherings, Clubs" sections since this is not exclusive to those who were at TDIFest.:)
PS, looking at the points on the map, I'm guessing driving to them all would be over 3,000km. Looks like fun. sorry to hear your browser crashed just before hitting posting....
 
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TDIMeister

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Is it bad that I looked at 324td Tourings this morning?

(Only found one quickly, and it was an automatic veggie car. DO NOT WANT. (Besides, it was made 1989-06, and any car that I would get has to be made in CY1988 or earlier.))

Speaking of which, how hard is it to register a vehicle for temporary use in Germany, before exportation? I know the automakers do it all the time for European Delivery programs, but is it easy at an individual level? If I were to get something, I'd be tempted to drive it around before shipping it over.
EXTREMELY EASY. When you've transferred the title of the car into your name, you can obtain 5-day yellow-tag temporary license plates (Kurzzeitkennzeichen) or red-tag export plates (Ausfuhrkennzeichen or Zollkennzeichen) of varying length from 15-days up to 6 months. As long as the car's TüV will not expire within the expiry of either plates, you don't have to get a new one. With yellow-tag and export plates up to 3 months, there's no road tax due. Longer than that you have to pay road tax retroactively to first registration date in your name.

I have bought plates from this online company:
http://www.nesen24.com/

You buy a voucher that gets you the plates and includes liability insurance (the green card of the voucher), which you redeem at any transport office (Strassenverkehrsamt).

You can contact me if you want to discuss shipping it back.

HTH.
 
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TDIMeister

Phd of TDIClub Enthusiast, Moderator at Large
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Subscribed and moved to the "Events, Gatherings, Clubs" sections since this is not exclusive to those who were at TDIFest.:)
PS, looking at the points on the map, I'm guessing driving to them all would be over 3,000km. Looks like fun. sorry to hear your browser crashed just before hitting posting....
Thanks for moving the thread Fred.

You made a very good call! The itinerary as per Google Maps is about 3900 km. It estimates about 370 Euros in Diesel fuel.
Here's a link to the map: http://bit.ly/S6JACB
 
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VW Derf

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TDIMeister

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I love the idea, Fred. For entering into Austria, do you know whether will a toll vignette be necessary just to drive only the on Hochalpenstrasse and not on the freeway?
 

VW Derf

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The vignette is only required if you drive on the Autobahn in Austria and isn't too pricey (8€ for 10 days). If you come directly from Munich you'll leave the the Autobahn before the Austrian border so no need there. You'd only need the vignette if you plan to make it a circle route, but that would add several hours on to the trip and make for a very long day.

The toll up the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße is the pricey part though at 32€ per car. Personally I think it's still worth the € (if the weather is good) and if some are tight on money, carpooling is always a possibly.
 
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TDIMeister

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For the budget, there are some very rough numbers.

Expect to spend about 95 Euros (~$120 USD at current exchange rates) per person per day on average. You can certainly spend a lot more, but I'm going to try to keep the budget reasonable. This will cover overnight accommodations with breakfast; lunch, dinner and organized activities. Accommodations will be generally at B&Bs and budget hotels, again, depending on the demographics of the people participating. I personally have no problems to couchsurf, stay at hostels and have even slept in the car in a remote area with the rear seats folded and me stretched across the trunk rear of the car. :D I have traveled on much less $$, but this trip is not about me - it's for you so you will ultimately determine the budget this trip takes on. :)

Diesel fuel costs about 1.50 Euros per liter and in my experience with driving conditions in Europe, expect about 6.5 liters per 100 km on average with a premium mid-sized Diesel car. If you want to hypermile during this roadtrip, YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND! :D As a rough rule-of-thumb, 10 Euros per 100 km driven is a reasonable estimate. Over the nearly 4000 km of the current itinerary, expect to pay about 400 Euros for fuel and a little for highway tolls in France.

The rental car will be around 300 Euros per week. This is for a mid-sized car (e.g. VW Passat, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz B-class or MAYBE a BMW 3-series if you're lucky to be upgraded). This will include Diesel request, GPS navigation and basic insurance.

Flights are highly variable depending upon departure airport and time of booking. However, fares for direct fllights from major eastern/mid-west US hubs (e.g. New York, Boston, Washington, Philly, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, DFW, etc.) can be had for about $1000-1500 return per person including taxes, sometimes much less! I will assist confirmed participants to secure the best fares I know how.
 

VW Derf

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The numbers and timing seem to be looking good on my side. We'll have to see how many other people want (and can) to do this as well. I'm loving the idea of 24 hours of Le Mans as the finale.
 

n1das

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I'm watching this thread with interest. Myself and g/f Lisa might be able to do this trip! I can probably get the time off from work (I'll use my vacation time for the year) but it's the budget that worries me most. And Lisa and I need to get passports (mine is expired).
 

loganbmx4gt

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I certainly don't mind roughing it, as i did it last year. What i am worried about is two weeks off. A week i could do, 2 weeks im just about certain is impossible for me.
 

splatmatic

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Bump,

I'd be interested as well. But I may be going a month earlier for the Monaco GP!

And you should edit day 10. It should read, "Day 10: Full day of lapping the nurburgring & MAYBE visit surrounding area" :D
 

TDIMeister

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I'm open to suggestions as to where it should go. It was originally in the TDIFest 2012 section but there is still a link there that comes here.
 

VW Derf

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I think it being in the Road Trips section doesn't help, either.
Any suggestions on where to put this thread? The previous redirects are still in place.

As for putting this trip together I think TDIMeister has put together some great suggestions here. Where this goes from here really comes down to who is serious about this. Once we have main part of the group set, some adjustments can be made from that point when it comes to time lines, places visited, ending with Le Mans or starting there. To me, it really comes down to make up of the group and their requirements.

If it weren't for Le Mans, the planning could easily be done in the spring, but accommodation in the Le Mans area are booking up very quickly (I've been looking) so I totally agree with TDIMeister wanting to get that part more solidified and possibly booked by mid October.

That said, I'm in for this, who else is?:)
 

bhtooefr

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I guess if the redirect is still there... Road Trips is almost certainly the appropriate forum, of what choices are there.
 

Rechtsverdreher

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Great idea but for the timing. I see the issue in regard to LeMans. Can't change the date of that event. Problem as I see it lies in the fact that you have a complete "Voelkerwanderung" or mass movement of people in Europe right at this particular time of the year, every year.

Consequently, prices are up, accomodations are difficult to obtain and just an overall crowded nature of events and roads is unavoidable. The upside here is that Paris will be empty of Parisians, a definite advantage! :)

As this is still in planning stages and may not have completely gelled yet, an easier time to get around may be late spring or early fall...May or September/October. The weather is beautiful at both times and the crowds/prices are minimal.

Just food for thought. I do realize the justification of LeMans and if that is the primary reason for visiting, that's one thing. If not, another time may be more appealing.

Ralf W.
 

Stinkyfingers

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Herewith is my expression of interest. I love the Le Mans idea. SheWhoMustBeObeyed has spoken words of approval, or at least, tolerance. Also curious about the buy-n-drive and ship home prospect. Are these arrangements still make sense economically? Lastly, any consideration of saving some accommodation money by staying at hostels? They take "old people" nowadays and the few I've stayed in were really pretty nice and quite inexpensive.
JohnD
 
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