What can you do in Germany during the winter as a science geek? Visit a few museums, of course! The weather is generally quite gloomy, with dark clouds, cold rain and even snow. Best to stay indoors and visit some interesting museums. Or drink mulled wine at one of the many Christmas fairs. But that’s for later.
Alright, how do we do it? First, fly to Frankfurt Airport. It shouldn’t be difficult, Frankfurt is one of the main aviation hubs in Europe and it is extremely well connected. Second, rent a car. Again, the options are endless as Germany. We decided to ask our Opel friends for help. The car company is headquartered in the nearby town of Russelsheim, just a short S-Bahn ride from Frankfurt Airport. An hour later, after speaking German with most hands with staff speaking only Germany, we were successful and got the keys to a brand new Opel Insignia Sports Tourer 1.6 CDTI.
“What a big trunk! What about an electric tailgate? These were our first thoughts as we filled the back of the car with luggage.
So how do you get to the first science museum? Set the navigation system to Speyer Technik Museum or call Opel’s OnStar service concierge to do it for you, if you’re lazy. Or even simpler, pull out your smartphone and configure the Waze app to do the same. Pro tip: Waze knows where the speed cameras are. Wink!
Seated behind the wheel, we started the journey to the Speyer Technik Museum, the closest to Frankfurt. Only an hour’s drive away, the Speyer Museum is the little brother of the Sinsheim Technik Museum, which we will visit later. These two museums are famous in Germany for science lovers.
The Speyer Technik Museum is tucked away near the small and beautiful town of Speyer. At the exit of the A61 motorway, you cross the Rhine, then, on the left, a huge Boeing 747 smiles at you from the top of a building. We are here !
The Technik Museum Speyer has its roots in the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim. In the early 1990s, when the possibilities for expansion in Sinsheim were almost exhausted, the opportunity to build a second museum right in the center of Speyer on the premises of the former Pfalz Aircraft Company presented itself as a rare opportunity. and happy. The first exhibition hall was the ‘Liller Halle’, a listed factory building from 1913, which today mainly displays vintage cars, motorcycles, airplanes and fire trucks. Today, the museum has over 25,000 square meters of indoor space and an outdoor space of over 150,000 square meters.
Due to the huge outdoor space, the museum made it possible to display very large and unusual exhibits. The debut was made in 1993 with the U9, a German Navy submarine with a length of 46 meters and a weight of 466 tons. In 1999, it was followed by the Antonov An-22, the largest propeller plane to go into series production with a wingspan of 64 meters and a length of 58 meters. In 2003, the museum made history when a Lufthansa Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” was mounted on a gigantic steel scaffolding erected on the museum premises. To date, the Technik Museum Speyer’s Jumbo Jet is the only aircraft of its type that has been dismantled, transported outside an airport and reassembled again. Two other large exhibits that complemented the exhibits at Speyer during 2012 are the John T. Essberger rescue cruiser from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service and a Transall transport aircraft from the Army of German air.
The Speyer Museum also has a large room dedicated to space travel, and here you can see the Russian space shuttle Buran up close. The transport of the Russian shuttle at the beginning of 2008, which took from Bahrain offshore to Rotterdam and from there on a pontoon up the Rhine to Speyer, was an exceptional media event. In order to adequately present the shuttle to visitors, a new room has been built on the premises of the Speyer Museum.
The lunar module and the Soyuz capsule are also there, as well as many spacesuits and even a real moon rock.
Please note that the museum closes at 6:00 p.m., but you can stay at a nearby hotel. Admission to the Speyer Technik Museum is € 16. You can buy a combined ticket for the two science museums for € 21.
This is exactly what we did, and it gave us the opportunity to visit the Christmas market in the beautiful town of Speyer. Cue the consumption of mulled wine.
The next day, a short 30 km jump in the Opel Insignia took us to the Sinsheim Technical Museum. If you have traveled on the A6 motorway towards the Hockenheimring circuit, it is impossible to miss the Concorde and the Tu-144 sitting on a building right next to the motorway.
The history of the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim began at the end of the 1980s. During a meeting between technology enthusiasts, the idea was born to give the public access to all the gems of technological history that had been restored, often over years of attention to detail. A club-museum was founded and a few months later the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim opened its doors for the first time on May 6, 1981. From the beginning, the museum was a great success, and the number still growing. number of visitors quickly expanded the exhibition area from the initial 5,000 square meters to more than 30,000 square meters.
In addition to many other vintage cars from all eras in automotive history and many other exhibits, the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim today presents Maybach’s largest private collection of vintage Mercedes models. Supercharged and Bugatti automobiles in Germany, several hundred motorcycles, airplanes, record vehicles, racing and sports cars, locomotives, military and utility vehicles, engines and much more.
In 1999, the museum club managed to acquire a Russian supersonic passenger plane Tupolev Tu-144. The aircraft was transported from Moscow to Sinsheim by land and sea and mounted in starting position on the roof of one of the museum halls in early 2001. There was enough room for the only other supersonic passenger plane. never built, the Franco-British Concorde, which at the time was still in service. Only four years later, this gap could be filled when a Concorde was donated to the museum by Air France after the withdrawal of its Concorde fleet.
The Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim is the only museum in the world where the only two supersonic planes that have ever flown in regular service can be visited side by side.
The Sinsheim Museum is also a paradise for army enthusiasts. It is filled to the brim with tanks, planes, guns and all kinds of military machinery. Plus one of the biggest collections of Formula 1 cars I’ve seen to date. The Jordan that Michael Schumacher made his Formula 1 debut in is here, along with the very special Tyrell P34, the only six-wheeled Formula 1 car and plenty of other racing cars. Go to the photo gallery to see the full collection.
3. Stuttgart – headquarters of the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museums
And since we were in the area, it was mandatory to stretch our legs from our Opel Insignia ST to the city of Stuttgart, home of two very important car brands. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have beautiful modern museums in Stuttgart and you shouldn’t miss them.
Pro tip: Stuttgart is a fairly busy city and traffic can be quite heavy, so it’s best to use the train to reach the museums. For the Porsche Museum, board the S6 train from the Hauptbahnhof station (this is the main station in German). For Mercedes-Benz, use the S1 train. The entrance fee to the Porsche Museum is € 8, while for the Mercedes-Benz Museum you have to pay € 10. By presenting an entrance ticket to the Porsche Museum, you will benefit from a 25% reduction on the normal ticket price until June 30, 2020.
Second pro tip: In Stuttgart, you might want to stay at the Neotel hotel. It’s based in a converted office building that once belonged to the Neoplan bus factory and it’s filled with bus memorabilia. There is even a small museum nearby, housing some 10 to 12 old German buses.
Now let’s talk about our companion for this road trip. The all-new Opel Insignia Sports Tourer. The D-segment wagon is well suited for driving on German autobahns, even with the 1.6 Ecotec diesel engine which delivers 136 hp managed by a six-speed manual gearbox. Our test car was well equipped with AGR seats, power tailgate, heated front and rear seats, lane keeping assistant, Intelli Link infotainment system with 8 inch touchscreen and head-up display.
The huge trunk and its electric tailgate were the first thing we liked about this car. The cargo space offers 560 liters of flood, enough for a lot of bags. The power tailgate can be opened from the remote or by blowing air under the car where a sensor will pick up movement and open the trunk. A logo will then be projected on the tarmac to mark the location. This feature is extremely useful when your hands are full and you cannot reach the key button.
Inside, the Insignia has distanced itself from the interior of the previous generation. Goodbye buttons, welcome big touchscreen. Everything is where you expect it to be and that’s a good thing. Glossy surfaces aren’t very pleasant to the touch, with a lot of fingerprints and smudges, but other than that the new interior is a huge step forward.
We mostly drove the German autobahns and the new Insignia is quiet and comfortable. Steering is the weak point, with very artificial feedback sent to the driver. Things get better when you press the Sport button. The manual gearbox also has a fairly long stroke. On the plus size, the 1.6-liter diesel engine is very frugal. On our 400 km journey, average consumption remained at 6.2 l / 100 km. Acceleration is good, and Opel claims the 0-100 km / h sprint time requires 10.5 seconds. The torque is sufficient and you can pass quickly. The long sixth gear contributes to the cause of fuel economy when cruising on the highway.