The first time I went to the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, near Stuttgart, I had the place all to myself – literally. The newly-opened version of the museum (at that time, in 2009) is shut on Mondays, so naturally that was the day I picked to visit it. Thankfully, being a motoring journalist has its perks – a word to the right people and arrangements were made to let me in. A nice lady greeted me, gave me a quick run-down about the place, handed me an audio guide and said 'OK, enjoy!' - which I proceeded to do in no small measure. As a lover of museums in general, I was enthralled by the fabulous collection of Porsches in there, and to be able to walk around all by myself, taking my own sweet time about things, was a fantastic experience (if a little eerie – the place is rather large).
The second time around, it was a completely different scene altogether. It was a Sunday, so the place was packed to the rafters (as much as that is possible in Germany) with local and foreign visitors alike. I have to say that it was an agreeable experience. Kids ran about, as they're programmed from birth to do, and were chased by laughing parents (who're also programmed to do this); visitors gaped in awe and chattered excitedly about this car or that, cameras firing non-stop; a couple of Russians who had obviously been loose with their alcohol collection sat inside various cars and had photos taken of themselves (this is strictly disallowed, by the way); a group of ridiculously attractive women brightened up the place just by being there; the smells from the cafe in the lobby wafted up to the upper reaches, making me hungry; Porschephiles thronged the museum shop and emptied their wallets, stocking up on all manner of memorabilia (I contributed a small amount to Porsche's coffers, too).
The cars, as always, were fabulous. I had seen most of them on my earlier visit, but there were a few new ones this time around, since the exhibits are rotated now and then. A Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1, in classic Martini Racing colours, was simply out of this world, as was the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Coupe; my favourites, of course, continued to be the amazing 356 and 550 – those two cars are to die for. A special exhibition on the life and times of Ferdinand Porsche (the father of the 911),who passed away in April of this year, was highly informative and inspiring. My favourite part? The display case with some of the cameras that he used to use – an Olympus OM-2, a Contax with a superb Carl-Zeiss Planar 50/f1.7 and the legendary Leica M6, shod with the equally great Elmarit 28/f2.8, among others – the man had taste and class!
Rounding off the experience was a steak dinner at Restaurant Christophoros, inside the museum premises. I had heard great things about the eatery, and after I ate my first morsel of steak, I understood why – it was one among the two best steaks I've ever had (the other being in Japan). They had achieved the seemingly impossible task of taking a slab of beef, grilling it to absolute millimetric perfection on the surface yet leaving the inside incredibly tender – legendary stuff! Another visit to the museum is in order, just for that steak...