From: Volkswagen's Autostadt
The Autostadt has a long list of restaurants, cafeterias, and snack bars, which range from the Aqua Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg (which has three Michelin stars) to the EspressoBar at the entrance to the GroupForum, where you can buy newspapers and lottery tickets with your latte.
During my visit, I had an excellent dinner of lamb chops at the Beefclub (don't miss the Rote Grütze for dessert), a gooey slice of cake with coffee at the Lagune Foodhalls (where you charge purchases to a "smart card" and pay on your way out), and a lunch of Currywurst with pommes frites at the TachoMeter in the KundenCenter. (If your fellow customers at TachoMeter look distracted, there's a good reason: They probably have their eyes on the computer displays that show the status of their new cars.)
As I mentioned on our Factory Tours page, the Volkswagenfabrik has its own butcher shop, and the factory's 23,000 workers devour a significant percentage of the 1.5 million Currywurst sausages that are produced each year. (During his term as Germany's chancellor from 1998 to 2005, Gerhard Schröder invariably lunched on VW's signature Wurst during official and unofficial visits to the Autostadt.)
In an era of rising fuel prices, shopping may seem cheaper than driving--and at the Autostadt, which is mostly a pedestrian zone, you can park your car and spend your fuel savings on Volkswagen souvenirs, Sabatini vases, and everything in between.
Two of the most appealing shops are:
If you'd like to buy a secondhand Volkswagen, you can attend the weekly VW employee car market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Volkswagen factory's R&D department. Most of the cars have been used nine months or less and are in excellent condition.
In addition, the employee-run Jahreswagen Web site has a free matchmaking service for VW employees and car buyers. (According to the Autostadt's official guide, anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 slightly-used Volkswagens are usually available for private transactions.) Note: VW employee cars are built to German specifications, so you won't be able to take one home to Toronto or Topeka.
Next page: Getting to Wolfsburg
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