The Spontaneous Adventure
I was standing…. standing and freezing in the cold. I wasn’t prepared for this. As I got out of the car, I felt snowflakes drop of my face and in my hands for the very first time. I was so excited, I think I teared… and then realized I couldn’t feel my fingers. I dashed backed into into the Panamera like a man possessed just to warm up. And behold, the digital temperature reader showed ‘-2 degrees’. Wow. Negative 2 degrees!
It wasn’t supposed to be as spontaneous as it turned out to be but it started in the most common way most adventures start out in- I was wearing jeans and a shirt. That’s all. Even my smartphone battery dropped until about 3% before warming back up under my butt. And there I was out in the freezing wild of cold Europe with a drive unlike any other I’ve ever attended. The spontaneity got off to a very random start indeed as on the first day, a group of us media were visiting Stuttgart and for me personally, for the very first time. To make it all the sweeter, I was getting a car for two whole days with no itinerary from Porsche.
Yes, cue the mischievous smile right there. This meant we could go wherever we wanted to, so the group of us sat down and did what most people would do when presented with such a chance with a Porsche; over a few beers the night before, we huddled up with fresh German larger and planned a trip that would justify the privilege of holding keys to three of Stuttgart’s finest: a Porsche Carrera GTS, a Porsche Targa 4S and one of the German marque’s very latest production models, the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid which I jumped into, making it my stallion for this spontaneous drive adventure.
You see, to randomly drive around the European continent, first and foremost, one has to get a hold of a “vignette”, a round windscreen sticker that costs about 10 Euros that grants a driver the access of seamless border crossings across Europe, since most countries are linked by autobahns. And that was how we kicked off the random drive’s proceedings, by hitting the German autobahn and as it was for me, the first time I was getting to drive on this legendary set of roads, it was absolutely fun especially with the Porsches we as a group had to our possessions. It was definitely the most fitting scene.
As we kicked up pace, it was absolutely amazing to set my eyes on some extremely scenic roads with long windy roads, tall pine trees, and crystal-clear waters gushing ever so often when we passed it. As the chance kept presenting itself so much, we just had to stop now and then to capture the moment as the beautiful German countryside kept calling for some photos. Among the prominent places we made stops like these at was the serene-looking Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, approximately in southwest Germany. From there we drove on up to the Berghof Hills for dinner at this quaint little restaurant that was all decked out in typical German cosiness.
While the first day was a relative breeze and pure amounts of driving pleasure, day 2 got off to a moody start as we got caught in a long line of traffic after refuelling our loaned German steeds. The mood lifted though in no time because on this second day, we were going to drive into Austria where an iconic person came from. Who? Ferdinand Porsche. As you can imagine, traffic can make the most excited of tummies go real hungry and so we stopped by Harlander Das Restaurant for lunch before heading for Timmelsjoch, a high mountain road-link through the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy.
It was at Ötztal Alps where I encountered that momentous experience I used as this story’s teaser. As we stopped along this mountain pass through the Alps, it hit me so beautifully how this was definitely the best drive route I’ve had of 2017. Sensing the special moment, it was, we jumped back into our Porsches and drove together all the way up the alps until we reached its peak, and it in all of its snow and freezing cool, I think I also peaked with euphoria. It was nothing short of amazing to behold and I can assure you that these pictures can’t even come close to recapturing the magical aura that The Alps have. I just couldn’t believe it and felt truly lucky to be in that moment. Driving on this stretch through The Alps was an experience like no other, as it was probably some of the best roads in the world and it took up most of our second day with our trio of Porsches.
So great was the experience that we didn’t feel the time pass us by… until we heard a loud thump and immediately felt the Panamera we were in go slightly off balance. Yes, one of the worse things that could happen on a media driving experience took place right out there in the middle of The Swiss Alps- a f lat tyre. When did it actually happen was up to anyone’s good guess. In fact, we didn’t even realise it but we had actually hit Italian soils before turning back and much to our surprise, we were quite amazed how the Panamera was able to traverse through it all without a change of tyres through all the snow as we stopped for more photos. But it was the gradual lack of grip at certain areas which made us turn back too shortly after sensing that something was well and truly wrong. SO yes, we even hit Italy at one point of our random drive with the Porsches.
To our calculations and careful guesses though, the tight-lane roads, with the occasional large vehicle passing by on the oncoming side, might have caused us to swerve too much to the right, which would’ve allowed the edge of the road to bite into the front right tyre of the Panamera which eventually went f lat. Upon the loud thump we heard much earlier, deep down inside I fretted; I knew we were in trouble but I wasn’t really sure until we stepped out of the Panamera upon one of the stops after turning back from Italy. Upon inspection, the cut was deep and there was no way we were going to save the tyre. And, we didn’t have a spare either.
To our surprise, every single Austrian that drove by us at that point, stopped to ask us in very warm fashion, if we were okay and if they could help us. The second person who actually stopped to investigate the scene was our saviour because I think he saw the slight desperation in our looks. “Ah, these tourists!” he must have thought to himself. However, the kind man was with his family but resumed to park his car safely and got down to get a closer look at what had happened. In no time, he drew out his handphone and called the nearest tow truck and told him exactly where we were. And with nothing but a kind smile and a few handshakes to each of us, he jumped back into his car and drove off. What a man and what kindness, something we couldn’t have been more grateful for; such amazing hospitality.
With no surprise, driving to the Nurburgring was emotional affair and by the time we reached the town of Nürburg (yes, the famous town is named after this little place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) I was feeling like a small child allowed to go bonkers. Seriously though, I was truly happy to finally witness, breathe and smell “The Green Hell”. In between all this excitement and feelings of sentimentality, remembering the thousands of cars that have and will always come here to test its capabilities, I was still sad because we didn’t have the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid with us. Needless to say, I had become so attached to it.
We had a quick lunch at the Devil’s Diner, from where we also got to witness almost every driver’s car out there who had just finished their own hot laps around this famous track. Of course, we quickly wrapped up our meals and hit the side barriers in no time, near one of the wide Nurburgring turns, just to get closer to the action and to watch all these cars flash by us at whizzing speeds. It is an orgasmic experience just to watch and I can’t even imagine what it must be like to stretch a really good car out on this legendary track, something like the new GT 2 RS, manual, maybe?
By the time we had concluded our entire road trip across Europe, I was overwhelmed by this whole experience of the Nurburgring, something I have to thank Porsche Malaysia for. It was just truly amazing to see all these cars whizzing by us out on one of the greatest test tracks known to man, if not the best ever; from the Porsche GT3 RS’ I saw blazing down and up to the Mercedes Vans that also drove around the track. Absolutely brilliant! And that it’s free for all and anyone to drive out on was something I wish we knew earlier, because we could’ve made proper arrangements to head out onto The Green Hell for our own experience.
But the one thing that truly encapsulated this whole spontaneous drive with these Porsches was the sight of this elderly German couple who were watching all these cars race by with so much passion. The old man, easily in his 70s, was standing out of his car while his wife was tucked warmly in her seat, probably because of her age that can’t stand the ridiculous cold temperatures outside. Still, even she too had her sights fixated at the many cars that kept passing us by. I could see all the love they had for cars fully in them not just because of the way they stared at each car that came up to the turn we were standing at, but also because of how, when I accidentally blocked off the old woman’s view, her husband let out a shout and told me off in German. That right there, is love for cars that I hope I will have at that age. Who knows, one day I might bring my future Missus back to the ‘Ring again and scold a fellow who gets in my way too.