In Reply to: Request for a list of your favorite stops posted by Dumbo on August 18, 2000 at 16:55:22:
Ah, wish I could be more helpful, but as I was traveling with two kids, it was all I could do to negotiate someplace for meals other than McDonald's! And at the same time, it would have been a complete waste with kids to go search out really fine restaurants.
As it was, though we did have a great time and enjoyed nice rooms and nice meals, I don't believe we did anything at all out of the ordinary.
My experience was if you spent about $130 to $140 a night (except in Switzerland, where it was about $200), you could routinely expect a very nice 3-star or better hotel room with two twins plus a cot and continential breakfast, which worked well for the three of us.
For dinners, what we tended to do was just wander through the town, usually eating at someplace with sidewalk tables where we could look at the menu and actually see what people were eating. If it looked good and wasn't too expensive (and I could overcome the objections of my kids, usually by pointing out it was this or nothing :), that's where we ate.
Generally speaking, we found dinners cost us about $10/person, which I consider quite modest compared to the States. Again, the exception was Switzerland, where we had a nice dinner, to be sure, but not anything I'd describe as exceptional, and paid about $80 for the three of us.
What I would suggest will probably sound rather pedestrian: in Munich, be sure to go to the Hoffbrau house and wander around Marienplatz. Do visit Salzburg. If you go to Vienna, visit the Schonbrun palace.
Perhaps the one thing we did -- just on the spur of the moment, not because we planned -- and which turned out to be fabulous, was to drive through the Alps from Innsbruck to St. Moritz. I warn you that you'll be warned by the navigation system that "you are leaving the digitized road network" but it turns out the road is so well-marked with signs all along the way to St. Moritz that it's impossible to get lost.
The drive to St. Moritz takes you smack into the center of the Alps and eventually through a pass way up above the tree line. There were more motorcycles than cars on this road and when you see them leaning through the turns, you'll understand why.
This leg of the trip rewarded us with what the kids and I all agreed was easily the most exciting drive we had the whole time in Europe. It's very challenging (assuming you're going to try to stay up with the best drivers you'll encounter there) with one hairpin turn after another but an incredible rush.
Did you get a chance to see some of the BMW Individual options that one can have in Europe (but not the US)?
No, sorry, not really. As someone else pointed out, a 540i is really more car than most Europeans would ever buy and I had mine loaded up with essentially every option they offer. So I don't recall seeing any BMWs with more stuff than I had. :)
What I did happen to see in a Mercedes in Paris was someone watching TV on their navigation screen. (I printed out and took with me the instructions someone posted for doing that with the BMW navigation screen but all it did was convince me that capability is not in the US version.)
More interesting than any Euro-only options for BMW was, for me, anyway, the plethora of small cars and all the great motorcycles you never see here. For example, they have something called a "Smart" car that you see everywhere. It's just a 2-seater but designed to be only as long as a regular car is wide so it can be parked head-on into just the width of a parallel parking space. Very cool, very clever, though obviously not something our idiot government would ever let in as it almost certainly would never pass our crash tests.