Abenteuer In Europa

THE SECOND UCR-ORGANIZED PORSCHE GERMANY TRIP (thanks Stefan) was to occur in the fall of 2020. For reasons we are all aware of, the trip was postponed. Twice. While the trip originally sold out very fast with 30 club members and guests, over three years some had to cancel for various reasons, while others took the opportunity to jump on. Ultimately 23 travellers were happy to finally get to Germany, Austria and, for some on the available extension, the breathtaking country of the Czech Republic.

Although there were a couple of changes to the original itinerary — no Frankfurt auto show — the replacement, visiting the Porsche Experience Center at Hockenheimring, was outstanding.

Everyone had their own highlights, some of which are shared in the stories here. I think most would agree though that the day spent at the Porsche Museum was special. We had tours of both the new Taycan factory and the older 911 factory, and the guided museum tour was excellent (although too short for your editor). Porsche hosted lunch for us in the Christophorus Restaurant. This was amongst the best meals during the whole trip. I understand we are one of the few PCA regions that come in a group, which was also afforded this delicious meal.

As a non-drinker, I was apprehensive about Oktoberfest, but it was one of the highlights of the tour. My fellow travellers laughing, both before and after their one-litre steins of beer, and the top-notch chicken meal, were definite pluses. The chicken hats were fun too. Singing along with the band, the wait staff, and other party goers on benches chugging their beers, added to the Oktoberfest atmosphere. Coming in from outside to the excited good-natured buzz was exhilarating.

Jürgen Sahl, our EF Go Ahead Tours director for the entire trip, was awesome, and our Polish driver could back the bus up safer and faster in parking lots than some cars going forward. We covered a lot of kilometres on the bus and some of us really welcomed the extra sleep.

We had some repeat UCR members who attended the previous tour including Stefan Walther, John and Susan Shaw, Peter Wassmer, and Al Lomax who returned with his wife Dawn. The others on our tour were myself and my wife Janet, Caroline and Dave Keighley, Rob and Roxanne West, Eric Wang and Cris Jaw, Mark Lowrie, Vern Schaeffer, Guido and Wendy Gallomazzei, Mel and Joyce Shannon, Mark Vaughan, Dave Harding and Ekkehard Herling. It was delightful to meet and get to know everyone, and share interests and tour experiences. I share the following anecdotes from our UCR members, which brings you a unique tour flavour.

Should there be another trip, I encourage you to go. It is interesting to go on a tour with people who you may not know but have a common interest, which makes introductions easier.

Introduction by Dave Walker

In a word the trip was fantastic. I came back from the first (2019) UCR trip to Germany so pumped that I immediately put my name down for the next one, and showing a few photos from that trip convinced my wife Dawn that she would also enjoy it, and so we both were signed up and ready to go for the next one. Alas, COVID put a chill on the whole thing for a couple of years but finally there we were in 2022 and were able to partake and we were not disappointed. There were so many good memories and highlights, it is hard to begin, so I will just pick one event to convey which for us was the Zugspitze excursion. We had no real prior knowledge of this and so did not know what to expect. As the tour guide explained, the Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, it is located very close to the Austrian border in the Alps, and we were about to go to the top where there is a viewing platform, a restaurant, and a glacier to walk out on.

Arriving at the car park and looking up, we could hardly believe we were going all the way up there. We found out after that the tower for the cable car was over 120 metres tall and that the span from there to the top was over three kilometres. The view on the ascent was spectacular to say the least, but perhaps not for the faint of heart. The truth is the ride was really smooth and much more so than I expected. Due to the scale of the whole thing, there was very little sense of speed as we were going up. That is, right up until the moment we passed the other cable car coming down. I think everyone realized at that moment we had just passed it with a closing speed of around 100 KPH. Approaching the top now and our ears were popping as the air pressure had dropped. The view outside was awe-inspiring. We had crossed above the tree line, and whereas it had been very pleasant and mild when we left a few minutes earlier, there was now snow down on the rocks far below us. After spending time on the outdoor viewing gallery, we decided to head indoors and so feeling on top of the world, we decided to enjoy some of the views from inside, with a suitable snack of course.

For the ride down we spiralled down the inside of the mountain on the cog railway system, very neat but not much to see. —Al and Dawn Lomax

The tour was not just about Porsches, although they were pretty sweet. There were also Mercs and Bimmers and schnitzels and beer. I had the best schnitzel in the Schottenhamel-Festhalle at the Munich Oktoberfest. Hard to stop chugging two litres of beer side by side with my fellow Porsche lovers while swaying to German drinking songs. Our session ended with an impromptu arm-wrestling match between our kellenier (waitress) Tanya and yours truly. Tanya might have won the match, but we all walked away winners. Good times all around. We bid you Auf Wiedersehen, Munich, until we meet again! Thank you so much, we had a wonderful time. —Cris Jaw and Eric Wang

On Sept. 17, 2022, after a delay of two years, we were finally on our way to Germany! The trip was everything we expected and more. There was an abundance of sightseeing, history, food, beer, shopping and camaraderie. A highlight of the tour, without a doubt, was visiting the Hockenheimring Porsche Experience Center, only to be topped the following day by a tour of the Porsche Taycan and 911 factories in Stuttgart. Our lunch at Christophorus Restaurant was spectacular, followed by a guided tour of the Porsche Museum. And who could leave Germany without visiting the Mercedes-Benz and BMW museums too! Kudos to Stefan Walther, EF Go Ahead Tours, and our amazing tour guide Jürgen Sahl, for putting together a truly memorable experience where many friendships were forged. What a non-stop exciting trip!

—Guido and Wendy Gallomazzei

Our story has to include how much we enjoyed travelling with the others from the club. It was great to share the time with them. It was a great start to sit next to Cris and Eric on the flight over. Jürgen was a great guide and had many fascinating tidbits of information. I did teach him something he didn’t know.  A group of us went to the Mercedes Museum on the Stuttgart subway. We asked the staff at the info booth at the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof how to get there. Not only did they show us which train to take, they also sold us a day pass for five for 11 euros and 50 cents. Jürgen didn’t believe that was possible to get it so cheap until I showed him the ticket.

Highlights include ducking into a café in Sankt Goar to avoid the rain and ordering a tasty strudel and hot tea. Another highlight is the Porsche Experience Center drive in the 590-horsepower Taycan GTS, ending with a slide sideways through a wall of water. We both were fascinated by the assembly lines we saw on the factory tours. The precision and automation was eye-opening. I was so engrossed in watching the Taycan assembly that I forgot to watch out and a little robot about the size of two Roombas bumped into my foot. It stopped and started blinking red while the tour guide and factory workers rushed over to make sure I wasn’t hurt.

Our children enjoy receiving old-fashioned postcards from around the world, so I mailed two from the Zugspitze glacier station. They arrived in Canada a little more than a week later. The station on the glacier is the stop for the cog railway that takes you back to the parking lot. The ride is quite steep (the cars are built at an angle) and is mostly inside the mountain. Quite cool.

Our trip ended unexpectedly when we got COVID-19 but we were well looked after by the tour company. We are looking forward to going again. —Rob and Roxanne West

First of all, this was our first-ever bus tour and by the second day our group solidified as a bond of people with a lot of common interests. Unlike a day tour when you never know when you will see your fellow members again, we saw each other every day. Of course, the trip was fabulous with several highlights but it would have never happened without the planning and, to us, the wild-card factor was our tour director Jürgen and bus driver Cheesecake. I thought Jürgen was amazing especially when, on his day off, there he is calling a meeting giving us options on what to do and how to get there, to me this is above and beyond.

It’s really tough to pick a favourite moment. We went through our pics and thought about the laughs we all shared. The three Daves, the chicken head, Oktoberfest, stories from Jürgen, the fabulous food (just how many schnitzels did Stefan eat?!) and the stunning scenery.

The shared love of the Porsche product was very evident. See you on the road again soon.

—Caroline and David Keighley

I booked into the Ultimate Porsche Germany Trip in December 2019, soon after the trip booking opened, and started the countdown to September 2020 for the trip to run. What I couldn’t foresee was a global pandemic that delayed the departure of the trip not by one year, but by two. Finally, in spring of 2022 the pandemic restrictions eased and the trip for fall 2022 was deemed a go. Fantastic!

I had not been on a group tour such as this one, so I was concerned as to how it would be, touring around Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic with a group of strangers. My concerns were unfounded, and that group of strangers soon turned into a group of great friends.

What an amazing trip. We cruised the Rhine, spent time at museums dedicated to Porsche, Mercedes and BMW, inspected the assembly lines of the Taycan and the 911, raced a Porsche around the track at the PEC Hockenheimring, learned about beer brewing (and lots of beer tasting), and during an off-day, checked off a bucket list item that involved the Autobahn, a Porsche and no speed limit. The trip was kept on schedule by our dedicated tour guide, Jürgen, as we cruised the countryside from the comfort of a coach bus.

The highlights of the trip for me were many — high in the mountains at Zugspitze, Oktoberfest in Munich, pedalling a Porsche E-bike at the Porsche Experience Center, and the camaraderie of my fellow travellers. The Ultimate Porsche Germany Trip lived up to its name.

—Mark Lowrie

In early 2019 my mom suggested that, as my involvement was steadily increasing with our Porsche Club, I should organize a group trip to Germany and to the heart of Porsche in Stuttgart. This sounded like a tremendous amount of work and I had only so much time. I was already hosting numerous driving tours, volunteering at socials and signature events, I was running for vice-president and on track to be president. But my mom assured me that she would help and, with the assistance of a professional and vastly experienced travel company like EF Go Ahead Tours, the logistics should be seamless. I reluctantly agreed.

As a retired high-school teacher and an avid world traveller, my mom had taken many student groups to Europe and beyond, often with EF Go Ahead Tours (the EF stands for Education First). To organize and offer a private custom trip through the company, we require a minimum 14 travellers. The higher the number of travellers, the lower the price is for each. Once we have over 25, we reach our lowest price. We were able to secure this lowest price for both the 2019 and 2022 Ultimate Porsche Germany Trips, even though our traveller count fell slightly below for the latter, which was due to pandemic complications and the trip being postponed twice.

My mom joined me to promote the just-organized first trip at our club’s winter social at Porsche Centre Downtown Toronto in February 2019. The trip sold out fast. She also joined me and led the slideshow presentation at the Gute Fahrt trip social at Hansa Haus that August. Many would agree her enthusiasm and exuberance were infectious.

When asked for my highlights, the whole trip was one big highlight. 

Even with EF Go Ahead Tours taking responsibility for flights, accommodations, bus travel, transfers and more, the trip requires an incredible amount of organization and coordination, with a lot of communication and planning between the tour company, tour director, Porsche AG in Germany, the Porsche Experience Center at Hockenheimring, and with our group of travellers.

When Provinz Editor Dave Walker asked me for my highlights, the whole trip was one big highlight. Each day was full of highlights — whether it be seeing our dream sports cars being put together so diligently and so precisely from a vast array of parts, ascending the highest mountain in Germany, seeing so many incredible castles (one on pretty much every hilltop), drinking one-litre beers with thousands of others (and that was just in our one “tent”) at Oktoberfest, spinning around in a 911 and tearing around Hockenheimring in an electric Taycan, cruising down the Rhine River as picturesque villages, castles and vineyards drifted by, or just enjoying a schnitzel (or three) and enlightening conversation with friends and fellow Porsche fans.

One request that I had made with the tour company is that we wanted its top tour director — and they certainly delivered with Jürgen Sahl, who was so insightful, knowledgeable and witty, and took the absolute best care of our group. It turned out that Jürgen and I used to live down the road from each other, in the Black Forest in the mid-‘80s, when my mom was employed by the Department of National Defence and taught on the Canadian Forces Base in Lahr. Small world indeed.

The 2023 Ultimate Porsche Germany Trip just opened for registration earlier this month and is filling up fast — join us for this trip of a lifetime. —Stefan Walther

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