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A test drive to Ballenberg

I never thought I would be into cars, nor into convertibles. Actually I am one of those who prefers riding real horses, but that must have been because I never drove the right car. Now all of that is already past. Things have changed over a weekend: one sunny Saturday in May on the road from Cham to Ballenberg. But let me tell you how it all started: had this fantastic idea to organize a joy ride for its fans to Ballenberg in brand new cars, provided by dealers in the area. Not only that, but Ken Reist, the managing director of found the right dealers to support his idea with the right cars: BMW Schläpfer, Zimmerman Garage Cham and
There were three meeting points where everyone could choose their car, drive the 120 km to Ballenberg, have a pre-arranged lunch and visit the 66 hectare open-air museum with more than 100 historic buildings from all over Switzerland. I arrived at the Zimmerman Garage in Cham to find 3 couples already having croissants and coffee and waiting for the others.

Just before 10 am, everybody drew a random ticket and I had the Volvo C70, coupé convertible, model 2011.  It was the perfect day for a drive with a convertible, sunny and warm and the only thing I worried about was my hair. Remember the scene in Brigitte Jones’s diary with Hugh Grant in the convertible, and the scarf flying off Brigitte’s head? If you’ve seen the movie you know what I am talking about. However I was consoled by the Zimmerman manager Mark Shires, that this model was designed with a special net at the back of the front seats, that protects from the wind and allows you to travel with style (not ending up with that 80s-Bonny-Tyler-look). I was relieved and now could easily focus on the car. 

Did I mention the model is January 2011?  Yes I did, which reminds me what they say about cars: the best car is the new car, but what else do I have here? The coupe and the sportiness of the coupe; the exhilaration of driving under an open pristine blue sky; the ultimate sound system that comes with 12 loudspeakers, a 900-watt digital amplifier and iPod or USB connectivity.

As far as I am concerned I had everything, but I also understand the car has a few other improvements regarding the safety and the impressive 30 seconds needed for the roof to close or open. In such a car I could only enjoy the ride and forget about everything else.
Receiving our keys we couldn’t wait, but to get on the road. Each car had a navigation system with the final destination already set. Only the V6  Mustang didn’t, which I could easily forgive to such a model.
By 12 o’clock we were all in Ballenberg, enjoying a delicious lunch at the restaurant in front of the museum. Everyone was still jittery with the feelings from the drive on the scenic road. It was time to see the museum. It wasn’t only me, who came here for the first time and we were all impressed by the unique concept of preserving a country’s history through saving old farmhouses, stables and barns, pieces from centuries-old houses, folk costumes and even farmers’ and craftsmen’s traditional tools. We had the chance to walk and see a Protestant Baroque church from the 18th century: an old loom, preserved together with the entire house set in a house from 1568; even a baby crib and a wooden juice maker. There were a couple of beautiful watermills from the 19th century and five preserved summer houses from 17th and 18th century. Each of the residential houses and buildings, even the restaurant at the end of our trip, came from a different region in Switzerland, carrying hundreds of years of history. One of the houses, however, was very different from everything else. Four years ago the museum tried an experiment with it, creating a completely modern interior, but keeping the outside parts, the walls and the windows just as it was built in 1568. In that way the museum proved that contemporary living standards are achievable in old houses.
On the way back everyone had a second chance with the cars. We could try a different model and this time I drew the Volvo XC 60 crossover, “the most desirable car at the Zimmerman garage”, and no wonder why. First the car has been safety-rated with 5 stars. It has technology that can brake for you, stabilize the car or warn you if you are getting tired. This car is not only clever, but very practical: it has 17 cubic feet of trunk space. You can fit your hockey equipment, camping gear or just all the shopping bags from a weekend in Milan. The best thing of course is about how this car makes you feel. It gives you a smooth and easy ride, and appeals to the driver who appreciates modern, but unfussy layout and a well built, stylish cabin. Believe me the experience from that day was rare and special in many ways. It was one of the best Saturdays I’ve spent since coming to Switzerland, absolutely free of shopping lists and chores to run, easy and warm like a prefect spring day in May.
Think twice before you miss that next event on the ZURICH4YOU schedule. If you register at the website you will receive the newsletter every month where you can read about the up-and-coming events and may be even end up as lucky as me that day.

For more pictures click here
Tsitaliya Mircheva

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