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My wife and I recently returned from our first Volvo overseas delivery adventure. I thought that it might be useful to those of you who will be picking up your Volvo soon to relate some of our experiences and lessons learned.

Before leaving the states you might want to consider getting a Chip and Pin credit card from your bank. Only a limited number of banks are offering them here in the states, but they are the standard in the rest of the world. We got ours from Bank of America. You can get by with regular credit cards in Europe, you just have to sign the slips like you do here in the states. However, if you want to use machines to purchase train and subway passes you will need a chip and pin card along with a password. We got the card before we left the States and tried to get a pin from the B of A call center. The two representatives we talked to assured us that we wouldn't need a pin unless we were withdrawing money. That is not true. If you want to make machine purchases you need a pin. Insist on it.

At the time that we made our flight reservations we decided to fly SAS rather than British Air. We've flown both airlines before, and both do a good job. However, several years ago I flew round trip on British Air from Seattle, WA to Johannesburg, South Africa and received only 25% of the frequent flyer miles that I actually flew. I don't know if British Air still has the policy of awarding only partial miles on certain ticket classes but it is worth checking out before deciding on which airline to fly. Many European airlines do not award miles on some classes of tickets.

It is always a good idea to print your boarding pass at home to avoid the long lines at the airport. However, even though they are partner airlines United will not print SAS boarding passes for you on their website. Even at the airport we got only the SAS boarding pass to Copenhagen but not all the way to Gothenburg. You can, however, print all of your SAS boarding passes yourself on the SAS website beginning 22 hours before your first SAS flight. If you don't do this you will need to deal with it in Copenhagen. United will allow you to print your boarding pass 24 hours before your flight.

Our flight was routed through Newark. In Newark they have an Air Train that will take you from the domestic to the international terminal. The problem with this is that the train takes you out of the secured area and you will have to go through security again in Newark. Newark just recently opened a bus service that is located down the concourse as you walk towards the Air Train. Look for a sign over the door that states bus to other terminals. This bus will take you directly to the SAS terminal without leaving the secured area, saving you time and hassle.

There is a beautiful botanic garden next to the Raddison. We had heard about it before we left but didn't know where it was located. Unfortunately, the staff at the hotel had never heard of it. Simply go out the hotel doors, turn right, cross the bridge and the gate to the garden is on your right. It is less than 100 yards from the hotel. Even if you are not into plants, this is a nice garden to stroll through. The brochure says that it is the best example of a 19th century garden in Sweden. There are two greenhouses plus numerous flower beds scattered throughout the grounds. We were there the last day of September and the garden was still beautiful.

There are two castles, or fortresses located north of Gothenburg that make a wonderful day trip. The first, Bohus Fastning, is a 13 century castle built by the Norwegians and only later controlled by the Swedes. The second, Carlsten's Fastning, is located on Marstrand Island that is a short 5 minute ferry ride from the mainland. The castle dominates the village and the harbor and overlooks an idyllic setting with beautiful scenery, quaint houses and spectacular views of the archipelago and the sea. Neither castle is open on weekdays in the fall but both are easy to get to and the area is well worth visiting.

The best investment that we made in preparation for our trip was a portable GPS unit. The unit cost around $200 but we also had to purchase the map of Europe for another $70. Please be aware that the GPS unit in your new Volvo will not have European maps loaded in the unit and it will be worthless in Europe. Our portable GPS unit was invaluable to us as it took us everywhere we needed to go with confidence. Alexandra, the receptionist at the Volvo delivery center is happy to provide you with addresses that you can input into your unit. We not only got the address for the ferry to Kiel, Germany that took us directly there, but she also deciphered the address for us so we knew how to properly enter it. The GPS unit also came in very handy when we dropped off our car in Frankfurt. It has been our experience that these drop off places are generally located in hard to find industrial areas but the GPS unit took us directly there.

In many places in this forum people talk about driving maximum speed on the German Autobahns. I always thought this was crazy ,not just because of the speed involved but I assumed that it was a good way to ruin your brand new engine, since it would not be properly broken in. However, Leif, our delivery representative at the Volvo Delivery Center assured me that the engine was broken in at the factory and that the oil had already been changed once so that it indeed was OK to open it up on the autobahn. Be aware, however that there is considerable construction occurring on the Autobahns at this time. In the 16 years that I have been driving the Autobahn I have never seen this much construction.

My wife and I had a great time on our Volvo European adventure. Hopefully, these few things that we learned will help you have a wonderful adventure as well.
 

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Great advice!

We picked up a Garmin Nuvi with European maps. Worth every penny!

We did not go to the gardens becaues of the weather (rainy/cool). We did get to the big gardens outside of Amsterdam and had some nice weather. We just got the bulbs we ordered from there last week and got them in the ground.

We also encountered the issue with boarding passes from Copenhagen to Gothenburg. They took care of it at the gate. (Philadelphia - Chicago - Copenhagen - Gothenburg). We got routed through Chicago rather than Newark because seats were limited.

I am one of the folks who maxed out the limiter on the Autobahn. We had already had the car a few days and drove it a ways before going fast. I had read the manual looking for break-in instructions and asked Marcus at FDC. Even on the highways, I didn't just go from 35MPH local road to 130MPH autobahn speed, it was in increments. I also can read car data using Garmin's OBD reader ("ECO HD") and the GPS. So I could see engine load, throttle position, spark advance, temperature. Based on the way the car handled at 130MPH, I would've been comfortable going up to 150MPH (if the computer let me). This was not my first time driving on the Autobahn -- the last time was in an Opel GT wagon where the engine topped out at 100MPH.

How long was your trip? How many miles? Where did you go?
 

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Before leaving the states you might want to consider getting a Chip and Pin credit card from your bank. Only a limited number of banks are offering them here in the states, but they are the standard in the rest of the world. We got ours from Bank of America. You can get by with regular credit cards in Europe, you just have to sign the slips like you do here in the states. However, if you want to use machines to purchase train and subway passes you will need a chip and pin card along with a password. We got the card before we left the States and tried to get a pin from the B of A call center. The two representatives we talked to assured us that we wouldn't need a pin unless we were withdrawing money. That is not true. If you want to make machine purchases you need a pin. Insist on it.
I called and recieved a PIN from Capital One. I also was told I would not need the PIN except for cash advances, but recieved confirmation that if I used the PIN for a purchase, that transaction would be treated correctly - not considered a cash advance which adds a fee. They told me they dont offer a card with a chip.

Will I have any challenges using a chipless card with a PIN?
 

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I called and recieved a PIN from Capital One. I also was told I would not need the PIN except for cash advances, but recieved confirmation that if I used the PIN for a purchase, that transaction would be treated correctly - not considered a cash advance which adds a fee. They told me they dont offer a card with a chip.

Will I have any challenges using a chipless card with a PIN?
Most likely not...the machines still have slot card readers, I believe...but good call to request a PIN...you never know if there will be anyone at the automated gas station to offer a slip to sign...
 

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My wife and I recently returned from our first Volvo overseas delivery adventure. I thought that it might be useful to those of you who will be picking up your Volvo soon to relate some of our experiences and lessons learned.

Before leaving the states you might want to consider getting a Chip and Pin credit card from your bank. Only a limited number of banks are offering them here in the states, but they are the standard in the rest of the world. We got ours from Bank of America. You can get by with regular credit cards in Europe, you just have to sign the slips like you do here in the states. However, if you want to use machines to purchase train and subway passes you will need a chip and pin card along with a password. We got the card before we left the States and tried to get a pin from the B of A call center. The two representatives we talked to assured us that we wouldn't need a pin unless we were withdrawing money. That is not true. If you want to make machine purchases you need a pin. Insist on it.

At the time that we made our flight reservations we decided to fly SAS rather than British Air. We've flown both airlines before, and both do a good job. However, several years ago I flew round trip on British Air from Seattle, WA to Johannesburg, South Africa and received only 25% of the frequent flyer miles that I actually flew. I don't know if British Air still has the policy of awarding only partial miles on certain ticket classes but it is worth checking out before deciding on which airline to fly. Many European airlines do not award miles on some classes of tickets.

It is always a good idea to print your boarding pass at home to avoid the long lines at the airport. However, even though they are partner airlines United will not print SAS boarding passes for you on their website. Even at the airport we got only the SAS boarding pass to Copenhagen but not all the way to Gothenburg. You can, however, print all of your SAS boarding passes yourself on the SAS website beginning 22 hours before your first SAS flight. If you don't do this you will need to deal with it in Copenhagen. United will allow you to print your boarding pass 24 hours before your flight.

Our flight was routed through Newark. In Newark they have an Air Train that will take you from the domestic to the international terminal. The problem with this is that the train takes you out of the secured area and you will have to go through security again in Newark. Newark just recently opened a bus service that is located down the concourse as you walk towards the Air Train. Look for a sign over the door that states bus to other terminals. This bus will take you directly to the SAS terminal without leaving the secured area, saving you time and hassle.

There is a beautiful botanic garden next to the Raddison. We had heard about it before we left but didn't know where it was located. Unfortunately, the staff at the hotel had never heard of it. Simply go out the hotel doors, turn right, cross the bridge and the gate to the garden is on your right. It is less than 100 yards from the hotel. Even if you are not into plants, this is a nice garden to stroll through. The brochure says that it is the best example of a 19th century garden in Sweden. There are two greenhouses plus numerous flower beds scattered throughout the grounds. We were there the last day of September and the garden was still beautiful.

There are two castles, or fortresses located north of Gothenburg that make a wonderful day trip. The first, Bohus Fastning, is a 13 century castle built by the Norwegians and only later controlled by the Swedes. The second, Carlsten's Fastning, is located on Marstrand Island that is a short 5 minute ferry ride from the mainland. The castle dominates the village and the harbor and overlooks an idyllic setting with beautiful scenery, quaint houses and spectacular views of the archipelago and the sea. Neither castle is open on weekdays in the fall but both are easy to get to and the area is well worth visiting.

The best investment that we made in preparation for our trip was a portable GPS unit. The unit cost around $200 but we also had to purchase the map of Europe for another $70. Please be aware that the GPS unit in your new Volvo will not have European maps loaded in the unit and it will be worthless in Europe. Our portable GPS unit was invaluable to us as it took us everywhere we needed to go with confidence. Alexandra, the receptionist at the Volvo delivery center is happy to provide you with addresses that you can input into your unit. We not only got the address for the ferry to Kiel, Germany that took us directly there, but she also deciphered the address for us so we knew how to properly enter it. The GPS unit also came in very handy when we dropped off our car in Frankfurt. It has been our experience that these drop off places are generally located in hard to find industrial areas but the GPS unit took us directly there.

In many places in this forum people talk about driving maximum speed on the German Autobahns. I always thought this was crazy ,not just because of the speed involved but I assumed that it was a good way to ruin your brand new engine, since it would not be properly broken in. However, Leif, our delivery representative at the Volvo Delivery Center assured me that the engine was broken in at the factory and that the oil had already been changed once so that it indeed was OK to open it up on the autobahn. Be aware, however that there is considerable construction occurring on the Autobahns at this time. In the 16 years that I have been driving the Autobahn I have never seen this much construction.

My wife and I had a great time on our Volvo European adventure. Hopefully, these few things that we learned will help you have a wonderful adventure as well.

I believe if you have the GPS in your volvo you can ask for the EU version for your trip or a Garmin .. you have to ask for it ahead of time. Same with winter tires.
 

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Some good words above - here are my thoughts:

1 - Chipped cards. I wish the US would just get inline with the rest of World and go to chipped cards. It is also a pain using non-chipped cards at gas stations as well.
2 - SAS - I have flown SAS countless times through Copenhagen and onwards to (usually) Oslo. Everytime I've had the necessary boarding passes to get me to my final destination. Maybe there was a hiccup in the system that day?
3 - GPS...absol****inglutely!! European cities are O L D! The streets are not always logically placed for cars. I can't imagine driving around without a proper GPS. A must in my opinion.
4 - Autobahn -unlike engines from years ago, break-in periods are less frequent. Thanks to modern tolerances it is not always required. Honda, for example, doesn't have one.
When I drove my new 2006 S60R through Germany, I had already put about 400 miles on the car. While 400 miles is not long enough for a traditional break-in, it does give the parts of the engine some "time together"
Off the record, I am with you! I still believe in at least a partial engine break-in period


And OSD rules! Can't wait to do number 3!!
 

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Great advice......thanks for sharing.

Lynn......how do you like your new XC90???
 

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Sound advice Lynn. How many kilometers did you put on your new XC90 in Europe?

We ordered our S80 with the Garmin GPS option and I had bought a Scandinavian maps chip to install but foolishly I left it at our hotel on the day we took delivery. After lunch and the factory tour we picked up tickets and a sketch map for the Volvo museum which is tucked away in an industrial area near the waterfront west of Gothenburg. Without GPS we proceeded to get lost not once but three times and had to stop and ask locals where we were and which way to go. At one factory I stopped as rough-looking workers were streaming out at the end of their shift through locked gates and I asked a well dressed female executive for directions. She allowed me inside the factory and had the security guard print up a Google map of the surrounding area so I could get oriented again. At last we discovered the Volvo museum and spent several hours looking at historic models, prototypes, trucks, farm vehicles, and even outboard boat motors. By sheer luck we managed to drive back to central Gothenburg and take the correct bridge across the harbor to the Radisson Hotel. That night I installed the maps chip in the Garmin and set up our first destination, Oslo. From then on the GPS guided us successfully each day.

So trust your GPS or be very good at using real maps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We were gone for just over two weeks, traveling nearly 1500 miles. Two of our children live in Europe so we spent the time traveling to southwest Germany, picking up my oldest daughters family and driving to Belgium to see my middle daughters new baby. The seven passenger XC90 was the perfect size for our family.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I called and recieved a PIN from Capital One. I also was told I would not need the PIN except for cash advances, but recieved confirmation that if I used the PIN for a purchase, that transaction would be treated correctly - not considered a cash advance which adds a fee. They told me they dont offer a card with a chip.

Will I have any challenges using a chipless card with a PIN?
Standard US cards limit you when you try to use machines to purchase subway or train tickets, etc. Usually there are ticket windows that you can go to as an alternative, but often the lines are long. In addition, unless you are purchasing something at a tourist site, some attendants are confused concerning what to do with the card.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great advice......thanks for sharing.

Lynn......how do you like your new XC90???
The XC90 is a great car. Despite what Consumers Report says about the car it rides and handles much more like a car then an SUV. I have two Minis, a new Mini and a classic Mini and although it doesn't handle like a sports car, the handling is very good. It is also a very comfortable car to drive and ride in. One of the reasons that I chose the XC90 was because it offered so much as standard equipment that were additional cost options in other models, such as full leather, sunroof, backup sensors, etc. etc. What I don't like about it is the fact that its technology has not been upgraded as much as other models. We wanted keyless entry, but that's not available on the XC90. It would also have been nice to have the new Volvo Sensus system, but again it is not available on the XC90. All in all, however, we are very happy with our new car.
 

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The XC90 is a great car. Despite what Consumers Report says about the car it rides and handles much more like a car then an SUV. I have two Minis, a new Mini and a classic Mini and although it doesn't handle like a sports car, the handling is very good. It is also a very comfortable car to drive and ride in. One of the reasons that I chose the XC90 was because it offered so much as standard equipment that were additional cost options in other models, such as full leather, sunroof, backup sensors, etc. etc. What I don't like about it is the fact that its technology has not been upgraded as much as other models. We wanted keyless entry, but that's not available on the XC90. It would also have been nice to have the new Volvo Sensus system, but again it is not available on the XC90. All in all, however, we are very happy with our new car.
Nice to hear.......are you listening Volvo???
 
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