How much luggage can I bring?
What should I pack to wear while on tour?
What is the time difference?
What about jet lag?
What’s the weather like?
Do I need a visa to go to Europe?
Do I need an International Driver’s License?
How does driving in Continental Europe differ from the US or Canada?
In Europe, when I make a purchase in a store, do they take credit cards?
Europe adds a 16％ (value added tax – VAT) sales tax to anything I buy – can I get a refund?
Can I plug in my curling iron, laptop, etc.?
I’d like to bring my sales team on one of your tours as an incentive. Can you handle a group like this?
The dates for your tours don’t align with my vacation dates. Do you have other options for me?
I have ordered a car by my dealer for EURO-DELIVERY? May I bring my own car on the trip?
Do women enjoy this trip?
Who is Fast Lane Travel, Inc.?
Peter, you’ve been organizing these trips for 45 years – why do you keep doing them?
I had a successful career in the travel & transportation industry. I was the founder and CEO of the $2.4 billion USTravel Corporation with 4,000 employees, 540 offices from Barrow, Alaska to Key West, profitable every quarter. My investors sold the company in 1994.
In retirement, some people paint, some create sculptures . . . I create enjoyment. Our Company Motto is: “It’s our business to do pleasure!” My goal is to provide the perfect travel experience to PORSCHE and other luxury automotive enthusiasts. Designing, organizing, managing and conducting these trips is an art, not a science. Responding to the various requests by participants, coordinating the interaction of the various service providers in Europe and nurturing the relationship with PORSCHE and PCA has been rewarding. I invest about 2,000 hours of my personal time to do this for the PCA. Read the participants’ comments on the bottom of the Home Screen and you see why I enjoy doing this. When you fly back home after one of my trips you will appreciate the thought, preparation, work and long hours that have gone into the creation of my “work of art” the Fast Lane PORSCHE travel experience, because “it is my business to do pleasure.” Peter Sontag, President and Treffen- and Festmeister and Chief.
On Trip Questions
When I arrive in Stuttgart, how do I get to the hotel?
How do I take a train from the FRA Airport Terminal to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main train station)?
After you land and are by the luggage belt, place your luggage on one of the free FRA luggage carts. The carts have rubber teeth in the undercarriage which lock onto the escalators and, therefore, can be taken up and down escalators! You can take the carts directly to the train. There are also elevators. The trains from FRA leave directly from Terminal 1 which is where typically international flights from the US and Canada arrive.
The signage is clear. As you walk towards the trains, there is a ticket office in the center of the hallway and several counters to the right. I booked a 2nd class (Economy) seat on Train #517 ICE 12:54 – 14:08 (1 ¼ hour ride) for €64.00 paid with AmEx. The train left from Track (track = Gleis) 5. There is a map of the train layout every 50 feet on the platform as well as a sign displaying the destination of the next train and the train number.
Before you take the escalators down to the track there is a little coffee shop where you can relax and wait. There is no reserved seating – but plenty of room. The train is very sleek and long. About halfway the train makes a 2 – minute stop in Mannheim. All announcements on the train are easily understood in German and English. The trains are virtually silent gliding along quietly and very smoothly, as they approach speeds of 100 mph+. I worked on my laptop all the way.
Once in Stuttgart, the Hotel Graf Zeppelin is directly across the street. If you need help with your luggage, call the hotel for a porter – local call: 20 48 0; from Frankfurt 0711 20 48 0; from the U.S. 011 49 711 20 48 0. Be sure to tell them the train # you are on so they can find you. It’s smart to call ahead and not when you get into Stuttgart.
If you purchased your train ticket through our Fast Lane Luxury Travel subsidiary, we’ll make sure someone meets you at the train. Please NOTE: we’ll be happy to assist you with your train arrangements – we operate a fully licensed Travel Agency as part of our company. Susan will be happy to help with all your arrangements, including River or Mediterranean Cruises, Safaris or PORSCHE trip extensions. You may reach the ladies at: 813 475 5989. The key advantage of using our travel service is that if something goes awry with your bookings, for example, it’s much easier for us to help you.
There is also a meet & greet service in FRA we can arrange for you, where you are met at luggage claim. They will take you to the correct train and load your luggage on the train for you. In Stuttgart one of the hotel bellmen will meet you at the track and take you across to the hotel.
I have never been to Germany, is language going to be a problem?
German is a very literal language; each letter is pronounced. For example, the word “knee” would be pronounced “kah-nee” in German. That’s also why your car is a por sha not a “porsh.” Also, some of the names we use in English for destinations do not coincide what locals call them; for example: Nuremberg = Nürnberg; Munich = München; Cologne = Köln; Vienna = Wien; Austria = Österreich; Germany = Deutschland, etc. Please be aware of these differences when reading road signs! We are there with you to guide you.
What if I need to cancel my tour reservation?
What PORSCHE will I drive?
You may also rent a Factory PORSCHE through the PORSCHE Museum in Stuttgart on an individual basis. If you choose to do that, we will deduct the cost of the AVIS PORSCHE from the trip price, however, the cost of the gasoline, parking, mountain tolls, Autobahn permits, navigation programming, roadbooks, walkie talkies and drive guides are still included in your tour price.
What is the dress code on the trip?
Consider packing a sweater and windbreaker in case there are rapid changes in temperature. The higher in elevation we go, the cooler it will be – a sweater and windbreaker then will feel great! We will be driving into the Alps, including mountain passes that could have snow on the ground in May or September. I’ve seen snow on the Grossglockner in July. You might also want to pack your sweater in your carry-on luggage with you on the airplane, especially since the cabins on long plane trips can get quite chilly.
Then a couple months before departure, typically with the second deposit invoice, you’ll get additional information on your trip, including a day-by-day “dress code” matrix.
What if I get sick or injured while on tour?
If you wear glasses, bring your extra pair. You may also want to bring along your prescription (but sometimes it is difficult to get glasses made up quickly in Europe). If you use any medicines or special items, bring a supply sufficient for the trip. If you suffer from any sinus or allergy ailments or are in any way susceptible to respiratory infections, please ask your physician for a prescription before leaving on the tour. Long transatlantic plane trips, air-conditioned tour buses and hotels, coupled with jet-lag, fatigue and late hours, sometimes produce conditions that can make your trip uncomfortable.
Is the airfare included in the price?
Why is Europe so expensive?
The current U.S. Government policy appears to maintain a low value of the Dollar vs. other currencies. This policy helps our exports. For example, it puts Boeing in better competitive position vs. Airbus Industries. It also attracts visitors to the U.S. to come here and shop or buy U.S. assets, like real estate assuming our Homeland Security doesn’t stop them at the border. On the other hand traveling to Europe is, therefore, much more expensive because it takes more Dollars to buy Euros. The Euro (€) was introduced on January 1st 1999 to further expedite the unification of Europe. Most European countries went along with it and gave up their currencies, some did not, like the UK, Denmark, Switzerland etc. In 1999 you could buy one Euro for $.86 vs. approx. $1.25+ today. In other words, you pay almost twice as much for the same Euro today as on the day it was introduced in 1999. That means you roughly pay twice as much for everything but unfortunately you are not getting any more in return.
Why are prices so high in Germany?
The current U.S. Government policy maintains a low value of the Dollar vs. other currencies. This policy helps our exports. For example, it puts Boeing in better competitive position vs. Airbus Industries. It also attracts visitors to the U.S. to come here and shop or buy U.S. assets, like real estate assuming our Homeland Security doesn’t stop them at the border. On the other hand, traveling to Europe is, therefore, much more expensive because it takes more Dollars to buy Euros. The Euro (€) was introduced on January 1st, 1999 to further expedite the unification of Europe. Most European countries went along with it and gave up their currencies, some did not, like the UK, Denmark, Switzerland etc. In 1999 you could buy one Euro for $.86 vs. approx. $1.20+ today. In other words, you pay almost twice as much for the same Euro today as on the day it was introduced in 1999. That means you roughly paying one-and-a-half times as much for everything but unfortunately you are not getting any more in return.
Where is the best location to change my money, i.e., purchase Euros with Dollars?
If you prefer to exchange Dollars for Euros prior to your departure – which I highly recommend, you should do so at your home bank (you must pre-order them from your bank at least a couple weeks before departure). You can also exchange currency at the airport in Stuttgart or at the bank at the Hauptbahnhof (railroad station) – but their fees are a little high. Most ATM cards issued by U.S. banks work in Europe and there are plenty of ATMs everywhere – just as there are here in the U.S. – with multiple language options including English. When you use an ATM in Europe, you will receive your cash in Euros and the exchange rate is usually much better than at exchange offices or banks.
Why is there a single supplement charged by hotels in Europe?
The hotels in Europe have this peculiar system where they don’t quote the price for a room but they quote the price for a room based on double occupancy. For example if a “double” room costs €300 per night (€150 per person). Thus, trips are calculated on a per person basis, which include the cost of €150 per person per night in coming up with the total trip price. But the hotels’ policy is that if only one person stays in that room they can’t charge the full €300 because it would be unfair but they can’t also charge only the €150 because they lose half the revenue. So they roughly split the difference and charge €225 Euros for the room if only one person stays in it (€150 + €75 = €225). This is called the Single Supplement. Accordingly, following the European model, our tours are designed under the assumption that at least two people will occupy a room and a car. While our tours are designed for double occupancy, be assured we accommodate single travelers almost every trip.
The PORSCHE rental cost is also cut in half on the assumption that two people share the car. If only one person uses the PORSCHE then a “single supplement” is charged to cover the full cost of the rental. It’s irrelevant who drives.
How do I avoid the single supplement charge?
Avoiding the single supplement is easy with Fast Lane Travel, Inc. We offer a “PORSCHE driving buddy” finding service. This service allows you to avoid paying a single supplement for the PORSCHE if you sign up to share a PORSCHE with another solo traveler, but still are able to have your own room by paying the Hotels’ Single Supplement charge.
Be sure to reserve your PORSCHE trip early, it gives us more time to match you with a like-minded traveler.
Other options for avoiding the single supplement include bringing a friend or joining a singles travel network that can help you find travel partners or finding a roommate on your own.
Is my trip deposit refundable?
Please review the Terms and Conditions on our website and on the back of your invoice. Depending on the circumstances, our goal is to give you the maximum refund possible or credit for future travel with us. There are exceptions imposed on us by certain premium properties that requires a non-refundable deposit or full payment as much as a year in advance. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to cover medical contingencies or other non-medical issues that might prevent you from taking or completing the trip. Please call Susan at 813 475 5989 to get a quote on travel insurance.
Why do you require a deposit per person to secure our trip slots?
In our experience on average 5 – 10% of participants cancel prior to departure, mostly for business or health reasons. The cancellation rate for non-deposited reservations (which we permitted in the 70’s and early 80’s) is in excess of 85%. Our experience underscores that reservations without deposits are wannabes. In order to secure accommodations in Europe we must reserve hotel space, restaurant reservations, PORSCHES, entertainers etc. They all require deposits and a participant head count, in some cases a year in advance! This can only be accomplished with deposits. For example PORSCHE Leipzig wants to know a year in advance exactly how many participants will be on the track a year later. The European service and accommodation providers only want to know “How many participants do you have under deposit?” That’s the guideline.
Can I pay my deposit with a credit card or can I pay for the trip with a credit card?
You may pay for the balance of your trip with a credit card; however, we must add on the 3% to 5% service fee charged by the credit card companies. Thus, paying your deposit or balance of your tour cost with a check is preferred. The credit card number we ask for during the reservation process is also used to secure your PORSCHE from the car rental company to pay any traffic fines, any damage deducible, additional non-included kilometers and additional vehicle insurance you may want to purchase.
Is there a chance that the quoted price may change?
Will I need to pay for anything once I’m on tour?
The rental price of your PORSCHE is NOT included in the price of the trip, in the absence of AVIS rentals, and responding to our customers’ preferences, we have reduced the price of all the trips, and you will now have the advantage of selecting the PORSCHE model of your choice, directly from the “PORSCHE Drive” entity at the PORSCHE Museum in Stuttgart.
However, the tour price also includes premium gasoline, currently $12.20/gallon, throughout the tour, parking fees and tolls… etc.
Can I pay in Euros to minimize the currency risk?
Will I need to pay anything for my rental PORSCHE once I’m on the tour?
The daily base rental price of your PORSCHE is NOT included and the cost as been deducted from the price of our tours. We will facilitate your PORSCHE rental from PORSCHE Drive in Stuttgart. Click here for pricing and options.
However, we do include the following:
- Gasoline at roughly 3 to 4 times per gallon than the prices in North America
- Autobahn Permits
- Mountain Passes Roads Tolls per the itinerary
- Tunnel Tolls
- Venue and overnight parking
What Could Be Additional Charges?
- For kms over the daily rental allocation at €1.00/km – for example: if the routing of the trip you are on is 1,300 kms and the trip is planned for 6 driving days. Then, 200 kms x 4 days = 800 kms; plus 150 kms x 2 days = 300 kms; for a total of 1,100 kms included “free” by AVIS for 6 driving days. However, since the tour routing is planned for 1,300 kms, the additional 200 kms over the “allowed” included kilometer portion will be charged to your credit card, which in this example is, €200.00 or roughly $250.00.
- €25 per driving day for the mandatory CDW that limits your financial liability for damages to the vehicle to €1,000. The tour price also includes gasoline throughout the tour, parking fees and tolls.
- The additional insurance that we recommend you purchase for €27/rental day reduces your liability for damages from €2,500 to €1,000. As you probably know, even minor repairs to PORSCHES can be quite expensive and you will be responsible for paying for any damages to the vehicle up to €1,000. Common damages that most often occur are scratched rims, paint chips, windshield dings, etc., all of which will quickly eat up the €2,500 deductible.
I’ve never been through Customs before. What happens if I want to bring back items I’ve purchased in Europe to the U.S.?
When returning to the U.S., the duty-free limit is currently $800 per person. When you return to the U.S., declare absolutely everything that you buy or receive as a present. If you are over the $800 per person, U.S. Customs charges 3% on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. If you exceed $1,800 in merchandise, you must pay a tax of up to 25% on the amount that exceeds the limit. Be sure to have all your receipts handy for the stuff you bought in Europe.
Hotels – Accommodations
Do the hotels we stay in have Hair Dryers and which brand of electrical converters should we purchase?
Yes, hair dryers are provided. To plug in your computer or mobile phone all you need are adapter plugs to plug into the European socket. Bear in mind that their electrical current is twice ours at 220 volts. Therefore, whatever you’re plugging in from the US must be able to run on 220 V. For example, my laptop transformer runs on both 220 and 110 just as my camera and i-phone recharger does. Personal appliances are inexpensive therefore, for example, it’s cheaper to consider buying a German curling iron than to carry a heavy transformer.
Do the hotels have Internet access?
Yes, they do.
Do the hotels that we are staying in have Televisions?
Yes, but the programs are in German, except BBC, FOX, and CNN. They also typically have programs in Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and French. For a cultural experience watch one of the Arabic or Russian stations for a few minutes. It’s fascinating to learn what’s important to them.
Will I be able to do laundry in any of the hotels?
Yes – all hotels have laundry facilities. All hotels will do your laundry overnight for you for a charge.
Should I leave my jewelry at home?
On any trip, not just a Fast Lane Travel tour, I recommend leaving your most valuable items at home. There is no safety concern at our hotels, but we know people often lose or misplace things when they are out of their normal routine, like on a trip. Hotels also feature safe deposit boxes where you may story your very valuable items.
Driving in Europe
Do I need a special driver's license?
Is driving in Europe the same as the US or Canada?
I have never driven over 100 miles per hour – will that be a problem?
Can my 16 or 18-year-old son drive the PORSCHE too?
We had a father on the trip who purchased a Macan for his 16-year old daughter and had it delivered in Germany. She drove her car all over Europe. Thus, the US driver’s license was OK.
Can I drive another car?
Yes, if you have an open budget, we can accommodate you with other cars such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Bentley, Rolls, etc. We occasionally have also been able to get a TechArt or RUF PORSCHE Twin-Turbo for our participants. Please bear in mind that there is substantial additional cost for “exotic” or “high performance” vehicles. We rented a McLaren for one of our customers at roughly €2,000/day plus about €2/kilometer over 200/day.