Those were the days, mein freundWritten by Roger Holliday Claudia Fischer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a right old kerfuffle going on in the southern German city of Stuttgart. It’s “Family Feud,” David and Goliath and “Board Room Brawl” all rolled into one.
In case you haven’t heard, tiny Stuttgart-based sports car maker Porsche was on the verge of taking control of giant Volkswagen, having amassed some 51 percent of VW shares.
Now, all of a sudden, labor unions, politicians … and the downturn in the global economy … have conspired to turn the tables. And if press reports are correct, VW may be about to take control of Porsche instead.
This isn’t just your typical automotive takeover. It’s far more complicated than that, as VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech is a grandson of Porsche founder (and Beetle creator) Ferdinand Porsche, and a major Porsche shareholder, while his cousin, Wolfgang Porsche, is the supervisory board chairman of Porsche!
Jeffrey Archer couldn’t have devised a better script, and blood will be flying in the respective boardrooms. Stand by for news …
All this would be only marginally interesting to us if it wasn’t for the fact that Roger worked for Porsche in Stuttgart from 1960 to 64 in the so-called good old days, when it took two weeks to build a car. Daily production was a massive 30. And the Porsche 356B cost between $3,200 and $4,000, depending on engine size and accessories!
All of this helps transition to another less volatile story about German travel sent to us by Toledo Free Press travel correspondent Stephen Dodds, who lives and works in the Black Forest, teaches “proper” English to German businessmen and plays in a rock band.
He also tells a very good story …
“Germans are predictable. Right?
“As a long-term resident here, I am usually keen to dismiss the stereotyped image people have of the Germans. No, we don’t all eat sausage every day no, not every woman is called Helga or Heidi. And we only wear our lederhosen on special occasions.
“However, when it comes to vacations, then there’s no denying the Germans are sun-loving creatures of habit, and vast numbers will make their annual visits to the same German-friendly destinations. Some travel to Majorca, where you can buy schnitzel, pommes-frites und salat and Weizenbier in the German parts of town just as easily as the Brits can get their bacon and eggs and a pint of John Smith’s best bitter in the British quarters.
“For others, it’s the North Sea that calls and huge numbers go up there, especially to the islands off Denmark.
“For us in southwest Germany, however, the destination of choice is Italy. And each year during the five-week school summer holidays, parents of school-aged children will stuff their Opel, VW, Audi or Mercedes estate cars with kids’ clothes, food, bikes, pots and pans and whisk their children off to colonize whole areas of Italy like Lake Garda or Lake Maggiore.
“Here you’ll find German food, newspapers, radio, even road signs. And so many people make this trip that when driving during the first and last weeks of the season, I am often reminded of those disaster films where the roads are full with cars packed to the gills with refugees, all desperately trying to flee the city!
“So, if all this sounds like pretty lousy travel advice so far, here’s our insider’s tip.
“At this time of year, the wonderful Alpine ski resorts are a real treat. The views and scenery are simply magnificent; the leisure facilities are excellent and cable cars and ski lifts are available to get to the top of the mountains. Accommodations are readily available, too, and the prices surprisingly good, especially weekends or mid-weeks, for those hopping from place to place.
“So instead of following the herd to the islands or down to the Italian lakes, why not try exploring some of the beautiful locations at the foot of the Alps in Allgäu or Bayern? There are some beautiful places like Oberstdorf, Kempten, Füßen and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.”