There is nothing better when your childhood dreams come true. No matter how silly or childish they are. Mine always been to drive around on autobahn in my own awesome car. My dream came true summer of 2005.
It all started one day when i opened my mail and saw a wedding invitation from my friend and coworker Andrey and his soon-to-be wife Kai. Except this was no ordinary wedding ivitation - they were going to get married in Tuscany, Italy.
I decided that since I never been to Italy, I absolutely must go. I also decided to look into getting a new car via BMW European Delivery program. My current '03 745 was getting over 40,000 miles and new '06 750 just came out with faster engine and bunch of new cool features. And so new 750i was ordered for Monday, June 20th pickup in Munich. I was planing to drive down to Italy for the wedding which was on Thursday, the 23rd of June. So i hop the Delta flight to Munich on Sunday 19th in early morning and with a brief stop in Atlanta the adventure begins.
I arrive around 10am in Munich airport, where my friend Israel picks me up and we go to the BMW European Delivery Center in Munich. I show them my passport and they tell us that i can go to the cafeteria upstairs for cofe and snaks, which we do. About 20 minutes later, my car is ready. At this point i am shaking with excitement like a little kid waiting for his christmas presents. I sign some papers and start the car. It has 2 miles on it. We drive up to Munich BMW dealership where Israel helps me buy some parts for the car i can't get in the USA and after that we go to a Seehaus beer garden to celebrate.
After the beer garden Israel takes off and i go back to the BMW dealership again to look and buy some more BMW stuff. While at the dealer i noticed that my Navigation stopped working. I can't even eject the DVD. So i go to the European Delivery center where they put a new DVD unit into the car and give me a new Navteq disk.
Now all set with a working navigation i am off to Nuremberg to see my relatives. First time on autobahn, but since the car isn't broken in yet, i cant floor it. I spend a couple of hours in Nuremberg and around 9pm take off to Stuttgart to see my other relatives and crash at their place for the night.
In the morning i wake up and discover that i parked under a tree (it was around 11pm when i got to Stuttgart) which was dropping glue-like sap all night long. Doh! With my relatives gone to work and without a word of german i embark on an adventure to find a car wash. Luckily i discover a good car wash which doesn't scratch the car at the near-by gas station which also had a russian speaking attendant. I actually washed the car four times to really make sure all the tree stuff is gone. This caused some fat old german guy come up to me and judging from the situation scream at me that he also wanted to wash his car. I tried to explain to him in russian and english and also using hand gestures that my situation was more critical, that my car was new and tree sap was bad for paint. Mumbling something in german he walked away and waited for my 4 car washes to finish. With car washed and full tank of gas i am now off to Italy.
The drive through the Alps was awesome and i arrived in Rignano toward the evening. Andrey and his wife Kai met me at the train station and i followed them to the villa where together with other guests i had some food and drinks. That night i slept like a baby.
When i woke up and looked out the window of my room, i understood why people always say how beautiful it is in Tuscany. We hanged out at the Villa for a bit and headed down to Florence for dinner toward the evening.
The day of the wedding. But since the wedding is at 6pm, i decided to go to Florence. Not only did i want to drive around and see the sights, but i also wanted to stop by a jewelry store and look at some watches. The store was located in the center where it was car restricted area: only cabs and people who lived there could drive in. But since it was very hot and i am not a big fan of walking during a record heat wave, i decided i will drive. So with AC on, windows down, music up and CCCP t-shirt on, I drive through the center, trying carefully not to run over sweating tourists with bags of crap they bought from a street vendor. I finally get to the store, but they dont have the watch i want: Carlo Ferrara silver sport. So i go across the street to get a snack and an espresso. While there, the owner of the place comes out to look at my car and after a while comes back, turns to me and says "Diplomatico?" - "No, Russo turisto" i answer. Turns out the European Delivery license plate that i was given in Munich looks very similar to diplomatic plates. This would also explain why carabinieri didn't care i was driving inside the zone restricted to autos.
Back to the villa for the wedding.
Everybody was planning to leave the villa saturday morning, but i decided i should just pack and go. Which i did. In the evening i met up with a few Russian girls who took me to an awesome club with an awesome VIP parking.
I was planning to go to Rome, but instead went up to Lake Como. It was about 3 hour drive and on the way there i started to rain with hail so i stopped under the overpass and waited about 30 minutes for hail to end - i was afraid it was going to damage the car. I got to beautiful Lake Como and stayed at Villa d'Este. After crazy driving in Florence and Tuscan heat, it was a welcome change of pace. After dinner i drove up to Switzerland to hit up the casino at Campione d'Italia
Lake Como is simply awesome and Villa d'Este resort is one of the best in the world. Spending the day relaxing by the pool, shopping and catching up on some stuff. Very nice dinner at Gatto Nero which overlooks the lake and adjacent mountains. Unfortunately for a young single guy that place is hell, and so on Monday morning i took off for Monte Carlo and French Riviera.
I am off to Monte Carlo. The stretch of the autostrada between Lake Como and Genoa is so straight and smooth that i was able to hit 155mph for minutes at a time before needing to slow down. The drive From Genoa to Monte Carlo is along a coast line and gives you breathtaking views. Arriving to Monte Carlo, checking in at Hotel De Paris. The city was full of Bentleys, Rolls-Royses, Ferraris and tourists. The heat was insane. We went out for dinner at Eden Roc with another set of breathtaking views and food to die for. French really know their food.
One day in Monte Carlo was enough, and now to Milan. I wanted to do some serious shopping there and stay for a couple of days but... turns out Milan is full of models. And as my luck would have it, most of them speak russian being either from russia or from new EU countries such as Latvia, Litva and Estonia. So I ended up staying in Milan until Friday morning. I really liked Milan and the shopping/clubs it had to offer. There weren't as many tourists and the city is full of beatiful girls who speak russian. The weather was awesome. I really didn't want to leave this city, but it was time to make a drive back to Germany. Before i did leave, i had an awesome dinner with new people i met at very popular Milan restaurant.
While driving back through the Alps it was raining a little and the mountains looked really good with clouds hugging their peaks. Friday afternoon i made it to Munich. Our company has a small office there, so i went there and met some people. Among them was a russian speaking guy Sergej who helped me get to the store where i was able to buy clean socks and underwear (can't really do laundry at the hotels). Sergej was cool really cool and we agreed to hang out on Monday when i come back to Munich. And so i went to Stuttgart where my relatives were planning to take me to a russian club/bar that night.
Left Stuttgart and went to Nuremberg again to see relatives. Around 5pm i took off for Hamburg to see my friends i went to school with in Ukraine. I got to Hamburg around 9:30pm including a couple of stops on the way (gas, food, etc.) We went out for dinner and i crashed and their place
On Sunday we went to the Port, ate seafood and around 5:30pm i left for Munich. I arrived to Munich around 11:30pm and stayed at Bayerischer Hof right in the center of Munich.
Drop off the car, visit BMW museum, walk around center of Munich, take lots of pictures and run into a Russian Celebrity back at the hotel who was kind enough to have his wife take a picture of us together.
Time to go back. I really didn't want to go since i had so much fun (especially in Milan), but i put on 3700 miles on the car and was getting a little tired from gas stations snaks, hotels and constant packing and un-packing.
On the car:
Switching from "Li" and no sport package to "i" with a sport package made a huge difference. Can also feel the difference between the engines. Really love bluetooth (had razr paired with the car), convinience access and comfort access packages. Can't wait to re-unite with the car (should be here early September). The car was really built for autobahns and high-speed travel. It will be hard to keep it under 80mph here in the states.
Update: I was re-united with the car on August 25th, traded in my 745Li and was on my way. There is also a forbes article on European Delivery Programs.