For the first time since we boarded the Maria Theresa near Amsterdam, the Ramblers were going directly to our second tour without returning to our ship. We didn’t understand why then but the reason would be revealed to us later that day. Although we missed our lunch, the driver distributed water on board the bus, which was definitely appreciated. Uniworld supplies a pitcher of fresh water to each cabin every morning and we all got metal water bottles with the Uniworld logo to fill and take with on our outings. However, the Ramblers must confess that they never used their water bottles on the cruise, preferring to take along a plastic bottle that could be discarded. They did make nice souvenirs though.
The Regensburg BMW Plant is located on the outskirts of the city and I enjoyed the drive through the streets of the ordinary neighborhoods, a change from the historic sites we visited. Would have liked to check out their supermarkets but we went directly to the plant which was indeed as large as had been reported. We disembarked from our bus at the welcome center and found that we would have a tour limited to our Uniworld group with an English speaking guide. BMW offers two kinds of tours, a mixed group or an exclusive guided tour. The Ramblers were glad that we were on an exclusive tour as on the regular tours the guides are German-speakers. Before we started, we had to place all our belongings in lockers as we could bring only ourselves into the plant. Unfortunately no photos were allowed. This was disappointing for the Rambler who missed a lot of great photo ops, I have compensated by putting up a few excellent pictures from the BMW website. This is the first post in which I haven’t used any of my own photos.
Our guide told us that to make getting around easier, sometimes we would take our bus to the next plant. Even so, we were warned that there was lots of walking on this tour. More than 25,000 people from all over the world, take the tour every year.
Our first stop was the press shop where lots of metal was stamped into auto parts. We learned that the Regensburg plant has been in operation for twenty years. It has a workforce of 9,000 in the plant with approximately 300 apprentices who all wear some form of blue uniform. Jobs in this plant are much prized and there is considerable competition for them. We were there during the beginning of the shift change and the large groups of workers heading for the plant, certainly looked happy to be there.
BMW now employs both men and women although this was not always the case, but women are in the minority in certain areas, particularly the press shop.
Here they produce more than 1,100 BMW’s every day. The models that are built in Regensburg include the BMW 1 Series, BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, BMW 3 Series Sedan, BMW 4 Series Convertible, BMW M 4 Convertible, BMW X 1, and BMW 24 Roadster.
My favorite part of the tour was the final assembly plant where the cars were put together by humans and robots on a series of assembly lines. BMW uses many different kinds of robots which work alongside human workers in what looks like a stylized ballet. It was very impressive.
Everything was choreographed for efficiency but also for safety as no one would like to be clobbered by one of those robots. By the time the tour was over, we were all ready to go home and order a BMW, so impressive was our experience. The company does an excellent job of selling the superiority of their product during the tour, but for most visitors, the glow wears off eventually. I am still driving my Jeep. LOL
At the end of our tour, we were offered cold drinks which were much appreciated after our long hike. We did get a bathroom break during the tour, for those who wonder about this, as the tour itself took several hours. Tired and hungry, we boarded our bus for the drive to the Maria Theresa at the Regensburg quay. Much to our dismay, construction in the area forced the our bus to stop a long way from the ship. When we finally got to the quay, we found that we had to cross over a rafted ship to board the Maria Theresa. The Ramblers and their fellow tour members were not the only ones climbing up and over to get to the Maria Theresa. We shared space with a long procession of the kitchen staff, each carrying boxes of vegetables and other kitchen supplies to the galley. Wish I had taken a picture because it looked like a scene out of a film, , but I was hot and tired and didn’t think of it until later. Drat!
Back on board, we gravitated to the Leopard Bar for a cool drink, trying to decide if we had the energy to walk back into town to get a bite to eat, as we had missed lunch and dinner wouldn’t be until 7. There were always snacks available, of course, but we were pretty hungry. After a very brief discussion, the Senior Rambler refused to walk anywhere else as some major body parts were aching. I must confess I wasn’t too eager to go anywhere either, since I had done the full tour while he had stayed on the bus for a few of the stops. Wish I had worn a fitbit to see just how far we walked that day.
What we didn’t know was that it wasn’t really that far to the alstadt, The Maria Theresa was now tied up on the opposite bank of the Danube opposite where we had been dropped off early that morning for our historic Regensburg tour. We wouldn’t have had to cross that 1,000 ft. bridge to reach the historic center. We didn’t learn this until I starting work on this blog entry. I always try to place our location with google maps, and I searched for our quay for long time on the wrong side of the Danube before I realized this.
As it turned out, the high stone wall of Die Konigliehe Villa, blocked our view of the alstadt
Even if we had known it was close, we were pretty tired of walking, so we just sat there looking very droopy. The MT’s hotel manager for our cruise, Carmen Mladenovic, noticed us and asked if we needed anything. We confessed that we didn’t have the energy to go to town to get something to eat, and we had missed lunch. She frowned and asked us why we hadn’t ordered food from the bar, since it was available all day and into the evening. Before we knew it, she had handed us bar menus and almost ordered us to get something. Of course, we were pleased to follow her orders and enjoyed our impromptu lunch. We did appreciate Carmen’s kindness and concern very much; just one of the many reasons we cruise with Uniworld.