Although no more SAAB vehicles have been built since 2011 / 2012, there are still vibrant communities of enthusiasts worldwide. For more than a decade, very well attended international SAAB meetings have been held annually throughout Europe - most recently in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Poland and this year in Riga / Latvia.
Not only three countries and regions border on the eastern corner of Lake Constance, all three riparian countries also have a lively and well-organized SAAB scene. After the South German Saab community had organized three very successful meetings in Southern Germany in recent years, the idea of a joint, cross-border meeting of SAAB enthusiasts from Germany, Austria and Switzerland was born.
We enthusiastically took up this idea of an international SAAB event under the motto "All under one DA-CH" because the proposed date fell on the weekend of our traditional autumn departure at the beginning of September and we were once able to offer and organize an event in Vorarlberg. At the end of 2017, a small team from the three countries met and tackled the planning of this major event. The common goal was to use Bregenz with its gastronomic appeal as the starting point for a day trip to Switzerland, respectively the Swiss Alpine passes.
The passion for the Scandinavian brand and the tourist attractiveness of the region meant that all advertised seats were already awarded at the beginning of April. After all, more than 130 participants with about 70 Saab from 3 participating countries, but also from Holland, France, Luxembourg, Denmark and Lichtenstein, participated in this 3-day event!
Already on Friday morning, the organizational team met at the Hotel Mercure Bregenz City, which is located next to the Festspielhaus and the Seebühne, for the last joint preparations. The welcome bags were filled with small gifts from Switzerland (gingerbread), from Germany (booklets with spaetzle recipes) and Austria (Mozartkugeln), the name cards were prepared for registration, car park management including instruction of participants checked, etc.
With the support of the city of Bregenz, it was possible to park all participating vehicles in the parking lot next to the casino stadium, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. Around noon, the first participants arrived at the Hotel Bregenz City. The registration of the participants, the issuing of the name cards and the welcome bag could be concluded, despite a phased rush to the registry, against 16 clock 45.
The welcome event started punctually at 17 clock in the room "Lake Constance". On behalf of the 3 Country Organization Team, Uwe Seidel welcomed the participants and provided a first overview of the event.
Against 18 PM, we set off in 3 groups for an approximately 1 ½ hour city tour. The city guides offered us an interesting insight into the historical development of the city and the Lake Constance area.
The tour finally ended at the Gasthof Kornmesser, where a rich buffet with regional specialties awaited us.
After dinner, Hanspeter Müller from the Saab Club Switzerland presented the two routes for the Saturday tours. The social evening was musically accompanied by a trio of folk music and lasted quite a long time (some even longer - supposedly)!
On Saturday we met at 8 clock at the car park at Casinostadion, where Oli Deuring and Bernhard Rädler were already waiting for the participants with the "Jausenpaketen".
Our Swiss Saab friends had planned two very interesting tours. They took the slogan "Saab - at home on long journeys" literally. The big tour was given with 483 km length and pure driving time of almost 8 hours. At two shortcut points the distance could be shortened by 1 ½ or 2 ½ hours.
The second tour was a much shorter and more comfortable prealpine tour and through Switzerland (Appenzellerland, Ruppenpass), Vorarlberg (Furkajoch) and Liechtenstein again to Switzerland (Schwägalp, Appenzell). The route offered wonderful views of Lake Constance and southern Germany, Vorarlberg and the Rhine Valley.
Like many other daredevils, Maria and I decided to go on the big tour. Crossing so many alpine passes in one day was a big challenge, but who knows when such an opportunity would come. The weather was at its best and contributed bright blue sky and glorious sunshine.
Here is a "short" route description of the big tour. After the border crossing at Höchst we went over the highway to Chur-Bad Ragaz. At the Davos / Landquart exit, our unit left the motorway and followed the signs to Davos.
After a short break in the district of Davos-Wolfgang (which is already a pass with 1631 m sea level), we took up again.
Just before Davos our group followed the signs to Flüelapass. At the end of the pass road we reached Susch, located in the Engadine, and then stopped in the direction of St. Moritz and Zernez.
In Zernez it was then turn left to cross the next alpine pass. Our route led through a national park area and over the Ofenpass to Santa Maria in Münstertal.
Meanwhile, a small "Austria Group" had formed, which spontaneously decided to make lunch break in this idyllic place. The guest garden of the bakery Meier-Beck provided with parasols an inviting and at the same time shady spot. During lunch, we suddenly heard the sounds of cowbells and hoof-rattles: a herd of festively decorated cows, accompanied by some shepherds, passed through the narrow streets of the village - we had unexpectedly become nazarians of a cattle drive.
Shortly after St. Maria we were rewarded with this view. It was a lot of fun to take these many serpentines under the wheels. The bends were so narrow that you thought you were driving over the precipice. We followed the valley south and crossed the Umbrailpass on the border with Italy.
The route description led us further south to Bormio. Just before Bormio we took the diversion to Livignio. From there we went back over the pass Forcola di Livigno back to Switzerland.
At the pass the "Foresteria 2315" invited for a coffee break. Another group had selected this location as a stop ... the espresso was excellent!
The penultimate Alpine pass on our big tour was the Bernina Pass. Then we went over Pontresina and Samaden to La Punt.
From La Punt we tackled our last alpine pass, the Albula. Via Preda, Bergün, Filisur, Alvaneu Bad, Brienz and Lantsch, the route led to Lenzerheide. The Mountain Bike World Championship was held here this weekend. From Chur, the highway led us again in the direction of Bregenz, where we finally arrived tired but safe against 19: 30 clock.
After freshening up and feeling hungry, we walked from the hotel to the nearby "Wirtshaus am See". In the conservatory we waited for a wonderful buffet with excellent regional specialties. The proud Alpine Pass crossers enthusiastically shared their experiences. So they talked shop late into the night, laughed and closed many transnational friendships, exchanged addresses and telephone numbers.
On Sunday after breakfast the official farewell took place. The participants from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, from Liechtenstein, Denmark, the Netherlands and France were unanimous in the opinion that this Saab meeting in the border triangle Austria, Germany and Switzerland was an eventful weekend, a great success.
The last program point was the visit of a Saab tuning workshop with Saab race cars in Langen near Bregenz (supposedly the village with the highest Saab density in Europe) or alternatively the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen.
Lyrics: Erich Malzer
Photos: André Ruckenbauer, Ulrich Walther, Mike Wieser, Peter Wintersteiger