Thu 26 Dec - Kleinvillars, Germany

Planes, trains and automobiles...

The dismal rainy weather continued today and we went inside, well mostly inside at least. To the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, a small town, less than an hour north of Kleinvillars.

This is what you are met with as you arrive at the museum, planes and more planes rising up towards the sky...

...and these 2 planes were the main attractions, a Concorde from Air France and a Russian Tupolev TU-144, the only two supersonic passenger aircrafts ever built.

But first, we went inside the Auto & Technik Museum and boy, didn't they just have vehicles and more vehicles and a lot more. Two barn like huge buildings filled with, well, toys for boys... And girls. 30,000 square meters of indoor space plus the airplanes on the roof.

The collection is fantastic and includes all sorts of weird and historic vehicles from tanks, to motorbikes, planes, trains, ship engines, tractors and more. The collection is thanks to some gifts but largely put together by a very rich local businessman and enthusiast. According to Roland, the business man made his money with a new scaffolding design which is now used in 70-80% of all Russian construction. Yep, he's very very rich and lucky for us all that he's happy to share his toys. By the way, he has another of these museums, without planes, in Speyer. Overflow?

Most vehicles were plainly very interesting and beautifully restored and still we just didn't have time to see it all in the more than 4 hours we spent there. We have here only included a small cross section of our photos to not go overboard.

This Cadillac Coupe DeVille needs to be included just because Hans once owned one of these, a 1975 model, for a month during his first trip to the USA back in 1984. Bought in Fort Lauderdale, FLA and sold in Washington DC.

The armoured Cadillac Fleetwood below was once the official car of Dwight Eisenhower (US President from 1953-1961 who used it between 1953-1954). It was then given to the Bolivian President Victor Paz Estenssoro, and while he was riding in it there was attempted assassination on his life.

The President surivived but three of his security agents were killed and the scars from that attempt are still visible on the car...

And this car, American La France aka "Funkenblitz" according to the spiel, participated in the Paris to Peking rally of 1907.

Roland posing in front of one of many Lanz vehicles, mostly tractors (which he really likes) on display here.

This vehicle can possibly move mountains... Hmmm what is Hans trying to say here about Di?

You started this vehicle by removing the steering wheel and use it turn the start engine around inside the white round cover. We did watch a filmclip where a bloke did just that. This "car" and quite a few others are still road registered and one weekend every year they are started up and driven around for a show and racing day.

Hippie chick... Just like her mum used to be :-). See yesterday's photo. Anyway, fantastic colour combination on this VW.

This must have been a coup de grace by the Auto & Technik Museum as you would expect this vehicle to be exhibited somewhere in the US, perhaps at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

Yep, Gary Gebelich in "The Blue Flame" did set the world speed record in this very vehicle on dried salt lakes in Utah back in 1970.

This is an absolute rarity. A VW-Käfer 82E was actually a military limousine with only 667 vehicles ever built towards the end of WWII.

Some time after the war, the car was further developed to become a purely civilian vehicle known as... VW Beetle... and the rest is history.

This vehicle belonged to a certain Austrian identity during the first half of the last century, later taking a prominent role in German politics with disastrous consequences for the country and rest of Europe.

The identity could be seen in the photo at the lower right, in the car together with his Italian counterpart at the time. You could probably guess who it was...

This German Panzer tank had been blown up by the German soldiers themselves, presumably so that it wouldn't fall into enemy's hands. Why they did it could only be speculated about according to the spiel.

For 1€, you could get this giant locomotive to run, wheels and pistons all working with sound and light effects. Wunderschön.

Plenty of these around... And you could put a Euro coin in a slot for any of them as well and listen (and see) it play a song. Yep, we did just that a couple of times.

We then moved onto the planes, on the roof, after a lunch break in the museum's cafeteria.

Captain and co-Captain or co-Captain and Captain of this Boeing 747 from Lufthansa or...(hopefully not)

Yep, an authentic Concorde graced the skies outside Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim and as you can see, you can climb up the stairs and get inside the plane (which was the case in most planes on display). Fantastic.

The cockpit of the Concorde.

And the Concorde's long and narrow aisle.

Given today's standards, the inside of the Concorde looked dated and the seats still on display (they had ripped out most of them so that the punters could move around) seamed narrow and uncomfortable.

Then onto the second key attraction... The Tupolev TU-144.

The cockpit of the Tupolev TU-144.

Yes, it was planes galore above the roof as they had crammed in close to 10 planes there, connected via metal footbridges.

Some of the plane are a bit "low flying", in fact so low that taller people would hit their heads on them if they didn't deliberately avoid them. Hans demonstrates here with an old Bulgarian aircraft ...

After 3pm our brains were bursting with all we had learned in the Auto und Technik Museum of Sinsheim. We can only rate it as 5 out of 5, it was absolutely fantastic. Di's brother, Bill, might be time Bill.

Before heading home we had one more appointment with family to

It might look like a guesthouse but it is the private home of Di's cousin, Kirsten. Kirsten is the daughter of Helga in Hamburg, Di's dad's cousin, who we paid an impromptu visit to early in November. Kirsten and her husband Edgar have 7 children, hence the guesthouse for a house next to the railway station in Münzesheim.

It was a quick visit for tea and bickies. Hans was chatting to young Benjamin and Christa was talking to Susanna, the youngest child. Kirsten sits in the background and was chatting to Roland.

Di sat with Edgar (aka Rasputin) and did her best social chit chat in German.

And we all played with their very cute and friendly dog. Hans dubbed him "Schweinhund" as the dog's favourite toy is a rubber pig which grunts and oinks like a pig when the dog chews.

A nice hour was spent together catching up on news.

We finished off the day with a simple left over dinner at home and then watched TV, news and then a circus performance from Monte Carlo which had some amazing stunts including 2 Armenian women who both could fit double / triple / quadruple folded into a small glass box, perhaps 1 x 1 x 1 meter.

Di heard a bit earlier to bed and Hans finished off his weissbier stash, drinking his last 2 bottles as Roland doesn't seem to drink them outside summer.

From our last night in Germany this time around, it is now good night.


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