If you're anything like me (if you're reading this you're at least a tiny bit like me) visiting and driving the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife is probably on your list of "thing I really want to do." It has certainly been on my mine ever since YouTube came into being and bringing with it clips of Top Gear. I usually try to go on at least one big trip every year, and this year Germany and the Nordschliefe were up to bat.
First off let me say, Germany is a spectacular place. Everything seems so logically thought out, every meal involves meat/bread/beer, there's castles everywhere, and people behave intelligently on the roads for the most part. We flew into Frankfurt which is about an hour away from the track. The region Nurburg is situated in is chocked full of castle ruins and wineries which makes for an extremely pleasant place to stay. Upon our arrival we were greeted with our rental - a brown diesel hatchback manual Citroen DS4 - which would make for a decent traveling companion. Normally I don't care for GPSs, preferring instead traditional maps, however in this case the GPS proved to be very valuable, even if we never figured out how to switch it to English.
When we finally arrived at the track it was it was rainy Monday evening, and not surprisingly a bit of a ghost town. I had made arrangements to rent a car at the track rather than risk totaling my uninsured 33.000 Euro rental Citroen. The track rental in question happened to be a Suzuki Swift, not the first car that comes to mind when attacking arguably the greatest track on earth, but I honestly can't say I would've had much more fun in anything else. After signing my life away I was given the keys and told to wait for the buzzer to signal the track's reopening (from rain). After waiting patiently in the rain for my dreams to come true the buzzer went off, and I drove to the gates. I pressed my pass to the reader, the gate lifted, and I... stalled. My crippling embarrassment was quickly shrugged off when I realized I was, indeed, on the Nurburgring. The only thing that could be greater was if I discovered that Jurassic Park was real, and that I was at said park riding a Gallimimus.
A BMW e36 (possibly an M3) came out of the gates shortly after me. I let him pass thinking "surely he's faster than me," then my thoughts turned to "actually he's keeping a good pace," then "hey I'm faster than him" to "why wont he let me pass?" and finally "holy crap I overtook on the 'Ring my life is complete." All the while I got passed by a Seat Leon, Mercedes S class, and another Suzuki which nearly clipped me as it went by. The whole ordeal cost around $137, which is a lot of money for ~10 minutes of joy, but then again how often are you on the world's greatest go kart track?
The rest of the trip was filled with other treats like the Black Forest, pub crawling in Munich, and ritzy ski resorts in the Alps. Stelvio Pass wasn't set open for another couple weeks (today actually) so I settled for exploring the Fluela Pass, Bernina Pass, and Ofen Pass. I considered checking out the BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes museums, but decided they weren't worth the time and money. I instead chose to merely drive by them, something I regret since driving in Stuttgart was a huge pain in the ass.
When all's said and done, I'd highly recommend a pilgrimage to Germany for any gearhead. The entire trip cost a bit more than $2k, which is slightly more than I paid for my 944 last year (of course I was able to sell that for what I paid for it). I think when I look back I'll more fondly remember my week in Germany than my months with the Porsche but who knows.