Monday, April 17, 2000

Woke up at a reasonable hour, and showed up at the dealership not long after. The process of picking up the car was very simple. Visited the BMW museum and took a plant tour while I was in München; that was very interesting.

Drove on the A8 most of the way to Stuttgart. Experienced driving 100mph (the suggested limit for the first 1200 miles). Experienced being passed by a car going about 145mph while going 100mph. When I was nearly to Stuttgart, I took a random exit and drove randomly around the beautiful countryside around Stuttgart. Cute, twisty little roads going through large hills, and got to enjoy driving hairpin turns.

I learned how to make progress through the countryside, too. My map is very coarse scale, does not identify roads very well, does not have most of the smaller towns, is barely sufficient for the autobahn, really. However, German roads are very well marked. I had only to pick a series of towns that went in the direction I was going and that were marked on my map; those were the larger towns. From each large town, there is clear signage to large towns up to about 20km away.

Found my way into Stuttgart and spent a few hours driving around several parts, just looking around. Purchased gas for the first time (didn't really need it yet). Despite purchasing only a half tank of gas, I was really hit by sticker shock. Over 70 DM for about 40 liters of gas. Fortunately, the car seems to have reasonable gas mileage; between 24 and 25 mpg when going 100 mph, and about 31-32 going 60-80 mph.

My first day, and already my first ding. :-( Someone swerved to avoid a pedestrian (I think), and I swerved slightly to avoid them, and scraped the wheel (not tire, that wouldn't be so bad) on the curb. Felt sick. Kim laughed when I told her. Cruel!

Procrastinated looking for a hotel, and the obvious way did not occur to me--find Stuttgart Hbf, park nearby, walk in, go to the tourist information desk, and ask for help making a hotel reservation. In the dark, I had trouble finding a hotel, and more trouble finding one that seemed to have a parking garage (something I wanted for the car on its first night). In the end, like the confused tourist I was, I ended up at the Hotel Intercontinental (help!) paying at least twice as much as I had expected to pay for a hotel room (help! help!) but I swallowed and parked. Too tired to keep looking.