Friday, March 8, 2013

Motoring in Munich

The "Double Cone" Tower and museum
Are fast cars your thing? Super cool luxury vehicles? Vintage wheels? Lucky you if you happen to be in Munich, home to Bavarian Motor Works (aka BMW). Munich was the first stop on our Summer 2012 adventure and we were all very excited to check out BMW HQ.

They have a phenomenal museum on the campus of their world headquarters, known as BMW Welt (Welt being the German word for world), and we set out on our second day to see their collection of rare cars. With so many things to see and do, we quickly realized we weren't going to make it out into the nearby Olympic Park after lunch. We were happy to spend the entire day wandering around, immersed in everything BMW. Fortunately all four of us C&Gs are car fanatics (hello, Top Gear!) so not once did anybody utter the words "Can we go now?".

BMW Dixi, 1927
You can't miss the beautiful and futuristic buildings that make up the campus as you come out of the S-Bahn (metro/subway stop at Olympia Zentrum). We knew we wanted to do the museum first thing, to get a better understanding of how an airplane engine manufacturer (look at the logo, doesn't it look like a propeller?) evolved into the creator of the "Ultimate Driving Machine".

Construction on the BMW Welt building started in 2003, and in 2007 this gorgeous exhibition space was opened to the public. Inside you can admire all the latest that BMW has to offer, watch the motorcyclist make his way up the steep staircase in a daily stunt show, shop the largest collection of BMW branded items, grab a quick bite, or sit back and relax in the more formal restaurant overlooking all the action. And if you're really lucky it's where you can take ownership of your newly ordered BMW, with reservations made months in advance, of course.

The best approach to the museum is through the award winning BMW Welt building, across a sweeping pedestrian bridge, and over to the "double cone" that contains the museum & various BMW offices. So walk through the main building with blinders on, there will be plenty of cool things to check out after you've learned a little history. And had a cocktail in the stylish M1 Cafe.

Look at that work of art!
The museum showcases cars from BMW's 90 plus years of history. It's hard to pick a favorite from this iconic brand, but the sleek lines of the roadsters get me every time. That and the room filled with every iteration of the award winning 3 series was the best. The shiny cherry red convertible circa 1986 was at the top of my sweet 16 wish list way back when. So as I stood in front of my dream car in the museum, I was trying to figure out how to say "It's mine! A belated birthday present" in German in case the security guy saw me trying to make a quick getaway.

Big C&G was very into the racing cars and roadsters as well. But he was also fascinated with all the technology, which is nicely explained on the displays in German and English throughout the galleries. One room had a full size clay model to show how they work out the various design challenges. Interactive kiosks helped explain the many challenges, from wind resistance to interior sound design.

Just the right size for Little C&G, BMW Isetta 1955
While Big C&G was learning about the technology of car design, Little C&G found his perfect match. We all fell in love with the adorable Isetta, the bubble car built for two from 1955. Originally made by an Italian company that manufactured refrigerators, BMW took the idea, upgraded the engine, and made its own version. Sadly they stopped production after only 7 years, but it's very interesting to see that the idea of smaller cars is not something new. The boys remarked it must have been the first Smart Car. They loved the Isetta so much we almost bought out the gift shop supply of little Isettas. Perfect souvenirs for the various cousins. And the perfect sized play toys for the little C&Gs for the rest of our trip.

Ice cream under the Cone
It was very hard work admiring the finest collection of BMWs in the world, so we desperately needed some lunch not too far away. The Euro-chic M1 Cafe is on the first floor of the museum overlooking the campus with a view of the Olympic Park off in the distance. We got to relax with a refreshing glass of rosé and some paninis while the boys were thrilled with the kid friendly hot dogs on the menu. As it was only our second day in Germany we weren't sure what they'd end up with. But they were super happy to be served a bowl with two long skinny hot dogs floating in a bowl of water. In the land of wursts we figured there would be all kinds of hot dogs in their future and they were happy to try anything. After some espresso and a trip out to the patio for some ice cream we were ready to head towards BMW Welt.

The BMW Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Admission for adults is 9 Euros, 6 Euros for children, and 18 Euros for a family ticket of up to 5 people.

Stay tuned for part two of Motoring in Munich, the Welt experience!

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