Monday, August 27, 2012

A Mid-Summer’s Afternoon Dreamin’

Ever daydream about being behind the wheel of a supercar on a sultry summer afternoon, the wind rushing through your hair as you and the car power down an open stretch of highway? On an August afternoon I was “living the dream” near Loveland, Colorado, at a select 2 day opportunity sponsored by Sill-TerHar Motors of Broomfield, Colorado.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks earlier when my husband, Randy, handed me not just one but 3 invitations to test drive a variety of Aston Martins, Maseratis or Lamborghinis at the Loveland Embassy Suites hotel. I knew demand for this test driving event would be HUGE and, since appointment times were limited, I called early the next morning to speak with the event coordinator, Steven Leonard, to make appointments for Randy and myself. As anticipated, Steven confirmed that even though the invitations were mailed only one and a half days earlier, he already had 18 RSVPs to schedule for this auspicious occasion. Within a day or so I received the coveted email confirmation…4:30 PM, Tuesday, August 7, 2012… a date of unqualified anticipation!

On the appointed afternoon Randy, Mom (our official guest) and I drove to the Embassy Suites in our 2005 Redfire Ford Mustang, one of the preeminent made-in-the-USA muscle cars. Upon entering the hotel’s conference center parking lot a bright yellow Lamborghini caught our collective gaze, followed in swift succession by a dark grey Aston Martin Vantage. While parking the Mustang we immediately spied a gorgeous red (with black convertible top – Mom’s favorite color combination!!) Maserati parked nearby. We exited our car and promptly walked over to mentally salivate over the sleek and sporty beauty of the Maserati Granturismo S exterior. After our comparison of the three makes of supercars there, the Lambo didn’t stand a chance!

We finally walked into the conference center and found the Lake Loveland room where we introduced ourselves to Steven and Jack TerHar, Jr. After reading and signing a short test driving contract (speeding tickets were each driver’s responsibility – if the police could catch us, that is!), photos were taken of each driver’s license. Steven then suggested that Randy, Mom and I should test out Aston Martin’s Rapide 4 door sedan first.

After escorting us to the car, we quickly discovered this was no ordinary sedan – even the opening of the car door was a unique experience! Once seated inside the 8 way memory power seats, all mirrors were adjusted for maximum visibility and comfort. Placing the car fob into the ignition slot and pushing in brought the 6.0 liter V12 engine to life with an impressive roar. So many buttons and knobs on the full grain leather with walnut facia trimmed console…I was almost afraid to touch one for fear of pushing an ejection seat button, if there had been one. (After all, Aston Martin IS known as the preferred ride for James Bond of 007 fame!)

Randy drove initially while Mom and I marveled at the trez chic ride. Mom was extremely impressed by the full console of individual controls for the two back seat passengers and I enjoyed the comforts from the front passenger seat. After getting a feel for the Rapide’s handling and acceleration capabilities by using the paddle shifters located on the steering wheel, Randy pulled over on a short side street and exchanged seats with me. Once settled in to the driver’s seat properly I elected to use the automatic transmission by pushing the “D” button on the dash and off we went.

The Rapide maneuvered well around several roundabouts and stormed down the straightaway while surrounding us in comfort and luxury. The interior of the car was also very quiet except for those brief bursts of acceleration. The test drive session ended much too soon as we arrived back at the conference center lot.

Walking back inside with HUGE smiles on all our faces, Randy struck up a conversation with Jack about performance cars. BIG MISTAKE!! Noting that Mom and I were anxious to drive another vehicle, Steven asked which car we were interested in driving next. Mom and I simultaneously said “the red Maserati!”. So, with Randy still Conversing with Jack, Steven escorted Mom and me out to the parking lot and opened the doors to our ultimate driving experience – the Maserati Granturismo S!!
Outstanding…Adrenaline…RUSH!!! It simmered the moment the driver’s door was opened on the 2012 Rosso Mondiale red with black convertible topped Maserati. The rush increased when switching on the ignition key and listening to a magnificent symphony of sound as the 4.7 liter V8 engine sprang to life. It intensified upon exciting the parking lot with very responsive handling round the roundabout. In the blink of an eye the 433 hp Maserati roared from zero to seventy mph without hesitation. By this time the engine sounded like “music to our ears” (Thanks, Mom). This supercar’s turning radius was surprisingly stellar as well, making a legal U-turn so very effortlessly. An extended test drive down another side street allowed a little more time to fully enjoy and appreciate this most stylish and powerful car – the ULTIMATE driving machine! Mom summed up the driving experience in the Maserati as “the most fun EVER in a car” and I absolutely agreed.

Meanwhile, Randy, having missed the chance to drive the Maserati, channeled his inner James Bond by driving the grey Aston Martin V12 Vantage two seat coupe. He was suitably impressed by the gear shifter (said it was “great”, which is no small compliment from him) and appreciated the blistering acceleration the 6.0 liter, 12 cylinder engine provided. The agility and handling capabilities of this extraordinary auto, one of the few supercars with an actual manual transmission, really “wowed” my Mustang-loving spouse. To paraphrase the Aston Martin literature, this Aston Martin Vantage was a smart looking, compact sports coupe engineered to perform like an exciting GT!

The sticker prices for the supercars tested by us were not as outrageous as initially thought! The MSRP list for the regal 2012 Aston Martin Rapide was $204,670 with a top of the line interior; $198,820 was the MSRP pricing for the athletic and sporty Aston Martin V12 Vantage. The price tag for the most perfect Maserati Granturismo S was a mere $157,000. So I guess maybe I’ll play Powerball the next time the big bucks roll around…

A huge “Thank You” to Jack TerHar, Jr and Steven Leonard of Sill-TerHar Motors from Broomfield, Colorado, for inviting us to test drive these incredible, truly elegant supercars! They both were gracious and informative hosts for this event. (Hopefully we will receive another invitation again next summer!)

Again, TallyHo! And I’m off…. to work on more travel tales to tell you about!


Sil-TerHar Maserati
125 Alter Street, Broomfield, Colorado 80038-0344
Phone: (303)469-1801 X769
Sil-TerHar Aston Martin
125 Alter Street, Broomfield, Colorado, 80038
Phone: (303)469-1801

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kaitlin's Successful Steps for Obtaining a German Work Permit

Note from the TallyHo-Traveller: TallyHo introduces our first guest writer, relating her experiences with recent German governmental processes...Forward Ho!

From January to May 2012, I completed my student teaching internship in Berlin, Germany. As an American citizen, I was allowed to stay in the country for 90 days with my passport, but since I was staying longer than 90 days (and the school I was interning at wouldn’t let me begin until I had all of the documentation), I needed to obtain a residence permit.

Note: from what I found, the term “residence permit” is more or less synonymous with “residence visa” or just “visa”

The process is not too terribly difficult, especially if you have your employer working on it. Even if you have to go it alone, it’s not so bad. The following steps, gained from my experience of obtaining proper documentation needed to reside legally in Berlin, Germany for the 5 months I was there, are as follows:

Step 1: Obtain your work permit.
You must do this, even if you are participating in an unpaid internship. My employer (the school I was student teaching at) still had to have this permit, even though it stated that I was getting paid a monthly salary of €0.00. Your employer should file the paperwork to obtain this permit for you. You will generally need to submit the following to your employer so that they can file for the permit:

Verpflichtungserklärung (Formal Obligation) -- this form proves that you have monetary funds to support yourself during your stay

Immatrikulationsbescheinigung (Certificate of Enrollment) -- this form proves that you are enrolled in a higher education institution and requires the seal of your college/university, along with an authorized signature, both of which can be obtained from your university registrar’s office

Copy of your passport

Step 2: Find a place to live

Before you can continue with the rest of the visa process, you must find a place to live. It is a good idea to have a copy of the lease or a letter from your landlord stating that you do have a place of residence.

Step 3: Register at your local Bürgeramt

Before you venture to the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Authority), you have to register at your local registration office (Bürgeramt). You must fill out the Anmeldung form. Since it is printed only in German, it is best if you look it up on-line and translate it beforehand (or take a German translater along) if you do not know German. Your employer should be able to tell you which Bürgeramt you should register at.

Some websites say that this process takes hours, but that was not my experience. Here are some tips to help expedite the process:

Arrive early, about 15-20 minutes before the office opens

If you can’t arrive early, go during the hours when most people are at work

Try to avoid going right before holidays or the week between Christmas and New Year’s; everyone tries to get into the Bürgeramt before the holidays

Notes on the process:

When you walk in, walk up to the desk and ask for the Anmeldung. You will receive a number and will have to go sit in a waiting room. Keep an eye on the number board because it will tell you which room you must go to.

Important Note: You must return to the Bürgeramt at the end of your internship to deregister, or else your employer may be fined. The form you fill out in this case is called the Abmeldung. After you deregister, take a copy of the paper to your employer.

Step 4: Apply for (and obtain) your residence permit from the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Authority)

Note: You can apply for your residence permit before you get to Germany at your local German consulate, but if you are told that you are fine with just a work permit, this is not true—you MUST have a residence permit. A residence permit is NOT a work permit; these two are NOT synonymous!

Ultimately, it is best if you can make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde. These appointments usually need to be booked on-line more than 2 months in advance. If you can’t make an appointment, show up VERY early, at least a couple of hours before the official opening for the day. When I was there, the first person in line showed up at 3:00 in the morning. If you are a student, you will get sent to building B, along with most everyone else who is waiting in the queue.

When you get into the building, find the correct floor and then head for the nearest silver box on the wall. This box gives you your number; after you obtain this, take a seat and wait for the number board to flash your number. Note: the silver boxes only give out a certain number of tickets. If you don’t get one initially, you can wait because sometimes more tickets are issued during the day; it depends on how fast everyone waiting is processed. If your number is not called, keep your ticket and it will be called the next day.

Things to bring:

€50 cash

Work permit

Visa application

Passport photo

Formal obligation

Proof of health insurance

Certificate of enrollment

Contract with employer

Passport—you need two blank pages in your passport for the visa

The proof of health insurance, formal obligation, certificate of enrolment, and contract with employer were not necessary when I applied for my residence permit, but it’s better to have the documents with and not need them, than to need them and not have them.

The first time your number appears on the board, you hand over all of your documentation, including your passport, to a man behind a counter. After this, you go back and sit in the waiting room. The second time your number appears on the board, you go into a room and talk to the visa agent. In my experience, the visa agent spoke excellent English, so if you don’t know German very well, don’t worry. You will be asked a few questions, such as “what do you plan to do after your visa expires?” and “how long do you need your visa for?” and then you will be given a plastic card. You will load your €50 onto this card via a machine that is found in one of the waiting room areas. Take the card back to the Visa agent and then he will print out your residence permit and stick it into your passport, sign, and stamp it.

Congratulations! You have completed the process and now have your German residence permit!