• Off the beaten track: With the 350 SE in South Africa.
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    Off the beaten track: With the 350 SE in South Africa.

    Guest feature

    Text and photos: Philipp Wente

A metropolis in the middle of a national park.

South Africa. The southern-most country on the continent where the human race began. The mother country. A direct flight to the only metropolis situated in the middle of a national park. With around four million inhabitants, Cape Town is the second largest city in the country after Johannesburg. And a dream destination for generations. Even the landing approach to Cape Town International (CPT) airport is an experience: to the right, the turquoise-coloured ocean and on the left Table Mountain and Lion’s Head at the foot of which Cape Town is situated. Starting from here, I am going to drive through the Western Cape region for the next two weeks. Without a defined destination. Or to be more precise: without a defined travel destination. The aim: just to travel.


W 116 in silver green metallic.

I have arranged to meet Marcus Hoelper at the airport; a German who earns his living renting classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles to tourists, photographers and locals. He is waiting with his 350 SE (W 116) in silver green metallic, but needs to leave soon for the next handover. So his instructions are brief: drive on the left, obviously. It’s a right-hand drive, of course. “Have you ever driven on the left?” “Yes, yes, I’m an England fan and I’ve been to India.” “Good. The spare wheel is in the boot. Oil too. Please check the coolant regularly. Any more questions? No? Fine. Then have an exciting time. Have a good trip. See you in two weeks.”


Sovereign and elegant, almost glamorous.

So here we are; the 350 SE and I. I take a good look at it from all perspectives. Its lines: clear. In contrast to modern bodies, the surfaces are of an almost simple structure. Chrome trims, aluminium, the baroque wheel rims, the wonderfully discreet colour – all that gives it a sovereign and elegant, almost glamorous appearance, even after 38 years. I stow away my suitcase in a boot the size of a cellar and go to the driver’s door … oops, that was the front-passenger door. So over to the driver’s door, I sit down in the armchair-like seats and adjust the mirrors. And start the V8 engine which snarls distinctly for a moment and then turns over rhythmically and almost without vibration. Indicate right and our adventure can begin.


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The V8 is the rhythm section.

Nelson Mandela Boulevard, M2, leaving Cape Town. Past Woodstock. Palm trees waving in the wind remind me of the flailing hair of the hippies during a Janis Joplin concert. The V8 is the rhythm section. A monotonous humming sound, only interrupted by short solos consisting of aggressive snarls when overtaking. The accompanying theme: the rustling of the palm trees in the wind. I pass the exit at Stellenbosch on the left. Maybe I’ll drive to the Winelands later. For the moment, I’m enjoying the smell of freshly burnt stubble from the fields. A pleasant barrique flavour hangs in the air.


Close to Strand, I take the R44 in the direction of Betty’s Bay. On the left the steep mountains, towering up into the heavens. They rise up from the turquoise ocean on the right. In between runs one of the most beautiful roads in the world, which they have named the Whale Coast Route. Spacious beaches, devoid of people, black flags with sharks drawn on them. On the horizon, far beyond the Atlantic blue, you can make out the Cape of Good Hope and the Twelve Apostles in the haze of the day. See you soon, Cape Town.


The shimmering road.

Baboons squat by the side of the road. The older ones gaze stoically towards the cliffs. The ocean doesn’t seem to be their thing. But it is mine. I drive on, mountains to the left, the ocean to the right. After days of sand and sea, of white and turquoise, I am drawn inland. There are many vineyards and fruit plantations and a lot of brown, barren landscape. From the top of the Tradaouw pass, the road is steep down to Barrydale. Putting the automatic into “N”, the downhill race can begin. The 350 SE starts rolling. And gets really fast. The tight bends allow a maximum of 120 km/h. A brief speed rush. And then I arrive in the valley: back to “D”. Drive and dream at around 70 km/h. I drive for what seems like an eternity without seeing a single soul. The road shimmers and my thoughts clear.


One of the most enchanting roads.

“Rise early,” I was advised. While the valleys are still dark, the highest peaks are just being caressed by the first light of the day. To the left lies the Swartberg Pass in the direction of Prins Albert. Gravel. The whole way, uphill, downhill, gravel. For 27 kilometres. Birds are standing aimlessly around on the road with dassies dozing next to them. Gemsboks are startled because usually no car drives this way at this time. The last clouds are disintegrating above the mountain range. The sky is nothing but blue from now on. It is cool up here. It’s an archaic mountain landscape, rough, barren, brown and black only, untouched. Of a simple, almost overwhelming beauty. Zigzagging steep bends, sometimes bordered by stone walls, sometimes with nothing. And then again and again, there is the view. It must be one of the most enchanting roads that man has ever built.


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Into the light, with a star on the bonnet.

In Prins Albert, I treat myself to a copious breakfast as the sun comes up. Afrikaans houses from the 18th century decorate the main road of the cosy, small town. Before setting off back, I drive to the only fuel station. Here in Africa, the following rule applies: always start your journey with a full tank, with enough oil and with at least 5 litres of water. So, back to the Swartberg Pass.


At Eerste Water, a river with crystal-clear, cold mountain water, I have a break. The freshwater crabs as big as a man’s hand and the many small fish which are endemic to the region show no reaction to my feet in the water. Driving uphill, I drive straight into the sunlight: the star on the bonnet seems to melt into the grey-coloured gravel. I’m enjoying every moment.


All statements in this article are personal opinions and impressions of the author and sometimes not of the Daimler AG.

  • Strong combination. The Actros at Block House.
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    Strong combination. The Actros at Block House.

    A new Actros 1840 L ensures that beef and burgers are on the barbecue in time.

    © Sebastian Vollmert

Steakholder.

The rudder blades of a rowing boat submerge into the cool waters of the Alster. The first rays of golden sunshine climb above the roofs of the venerable office buildings, cutting through the mist slowly lifting over the waters. It is probably the most peaceful moment in the otherwise hectic round-the-clock schedule of the Block House steak specialists. But this ends as soon as Michael Walzer steers his new pearl white Actros 1840 L into the cobbled street of the Rathausmarkt square. He makes a stop at the Block House Restaurant on the Jungfernstieg street. The unmistakeable logo with its mighty bull and the bold motto “Best steaks since 1968” is reflected in the windows.


Smooth networking.

Around six million guests are catered for each year in the 38 German Block House Restaurants. Aside from the German Block House Restaurants, the Block Group also operates nine franchise companies, for example, in Switzerland and on Majorca as well as the Jim Block burger restaurants and the Blockbräu brewery inn in Hamburg. In addition to that, the Block House butcher’s in Hamburg, the Block Menü in Zarrentin and the Block Handels GmbH (Block Trading Company) also belong to the Block Group. The logistics behind this enormous range of products is a little complex. It’s not enough just to transport meat and other foodstuffs between the manufacturing sites and to the restaurants, but also all that is required for smooth restaurant operation, too – whether it be the menus, the cutlery, the salt shaker or the paper towels. And, not to be forgotten: crayons, drawing paper and small gifts for the children.

Safe vehicles.

To remain flexible, Block House maintains its own truck fleet with four vehicles, each with its own refrigeration unit. The newest member of the fleet is an Actros 1840 L, which has been there since summer 2016. The vehicle’s configuration was, like many things at Block House, a job for the boss himself. Eugen Block was involved in the decision to acquire the new Actros from the colour of the vehicle right up to the position of the company logo – and, of course, as you would expect from a Hanseatic citizen, with a close eye on costs. In the course of the decision, the safety of the drivers and their comfort on long journeys was important to him. That’s why they ordered a new Actros 1840 L with full air suspension, something which benefits not just the driver but also the goods being transported. The Safety Package provides the finishing touch to the equipment.

Fuel Duel and RoadEfficiency win the day.

After a successful so-called fuel duel, in which a new Actros completed its journey with a much more fuel-efficient reading than the Block fleet had done until then, a detailed analysis of the overall efficiency was enough to convince the Block management. “The fuel duel was the door opener,” says Peter Wichert from key account truck sales at Mercedes-Benz Vertrieb NFZ GmbH Hamburg (Commercial Vehicle Sales), who was the one who put together the Actros package with Block House. “Following that, we were able to demonstrate that, in line with Mercedes-Benz RoadEfficiency, the low overall costs, the high level of safety and a high level of vehicle usage all combine to produce a convincing level of efficiency,” Wichert recalls.

More at RoadStars.


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  • E-Class Coupé – “Respect the Past”.
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    E-Class Coupé – “Respect the Past”.

    Guest feature: Highsnobiety on tour with the E-Class Coupé in Barcelona.

With the E-Class Coupé through Barcelona.

Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, its character balances the past with the present creating a dynamic urban city and historic Mediterranean capital. In our latest video with Mercedes-Benz, we explored the city’s compelling culture through the eyes of Sören Manzoni. Watch OG-Skater and DJ Sören Manzoni take the new E-Class Coupé for a spin through Barcelona.

Respect for the past.

Manzoni experienced and influenced several cultural changes in Barcelona that followed the 1992 Summer Olympics. He played a significant role in growing the skate and surf scenes in the city and continues to help develop its nightlife through his events agency and DJing. As a first generation surfer and early skater in Barcelona, Manzoni had to maintain his integrity when faced with scorn. For him, respecting the past and its influence on the present, and focusing on the positives in his life helped him continue striving.

Sportiness and luxury combined.

Powered by the metropolis, Manzoni tells his story and takes the E-Class Coupé around the city in our energetic new video “Respect the Past”. The E-Class Coupé combines sportiness and luxury into an intelligent and powerful vehicle.

E 400 4MATIC Coupé:
Fuel consumption combined: 8.4–8.1 l/100 km;
combined CO₂ emissions: 189–183 g/km.*

Ten things to do in Tel Aviv

Skyline of Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski
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We visited the most inspiring women in Silicon Wadi’s tech industry – and did not forget to ask them about the city’s most beautiful spots. Watch the video and their tips here.

1. Rothschild 12

The perfect day begins at Rothschild Boulevard, or more precisely at Café Rothschild 12, the hot-spot that serves the best breakfast in the city. Hipsters with laptops, students and families all sit together in the café’s bustling ambience, ensuring an easy get-together with new people. Rothschild 12 is famous for its pleasant cappuccino and diverse breakfast with crispy toast. The menu also includes fresh salads and a range of oriental snacks. A weekend-highlight: The regularly-hosted small live concerts that take place in the back part of the café.

A Mercedes-Benz parked in front of the restaurant Rothschild 12 in Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski

2. Tel Aviv Museum of Art

In early 1932, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art opened its doors and now houses the most significant art classics of the 20th century. Among the museum’s exhibits are the most noteworthy collections of Israeli art since the 1920s, as well as an impressive profile of international pieces from the 19th century up until present day, including works by Chagall, Kandinsky and Picasso. The Herta-and-Paul-Amir building, which opened in 2011, also hosts a restaurant that enthuses art enthusiasts and more.

The Museum of Art in Tel Aviv
© Bettina Theuerkauf

3. Neve Tzedek

Once home to refugees living in makeshift shelters, Neve Tzedek is now the place to be for artists and an increasing number of the city’s billionaires. The neighbourhood continues to be diversified up until today and is perfect for an afternoon stroll through the countless pop-up stores, restaurants and galleries. Food-lovers should most definitely stop by the Suzana restaurant, located in the Shabazi street. Visitors can enjoy a variety of lamb, fish or couscous dishes underneath the fig trees on the restaurant’s beautiful rooftop terrace.

Restaurant Suzana in Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski

4. Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market)

This traditional market is in close vicinity to Neve Tzedek. Both professional and self-proclaimed hobby-cooks love to shop their groceries here. And there is no place better than the Carmel market to experience the diversity of Israeli cuisine. Traders happily offer small samples, allowing to indulge in authentic Israeli dishes, with all its oriental and European influences. A popular favourite: kibbeh, egg-shaped hot dumplings made of bulgur, or pastries with cheese, tomatoes or spinach. Of course, Falafel and Shawarma are also on the list, as well as a wide selection of nuts, vegetables and oriental spices. A must-try dessert is Halva, a sticky sweet made of sesame.

HaCarmel Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski

5. Herzliya Southern Beach

For those longing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and simply relax by the sea, Herzliya Southern Beach is the perfect getaway. The wide beach, hidden behind high dunes, is a beautiful spot to enjoy the magical sunset. Herzliya Southern Beach is regarded as a true insider tip by locals, where families and friends enjoy an evening picnic or couples while away the evening with a bottle of wine in romantic ambience. During north winds, surfers can often be observed riding the waves.

A Mercedes-Benz at Herzylia Beach in Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski

6. Saint Peter’s Church, Old Jaffa

With its walls, turrets and winding alleys, Old Jaffa resembles an oriental fairytale city. Jaffa, also known as Yafo, is the oldest and historically most significant district of Tel Aviv. One of the most impressive sights is St. Peter’s Church that dates back to the 17th century. Visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the Tel Aviv skyline from the walls of the old building.

Adress: 51 Yeffet St., Jaffa, Tel Aviv 61083, Israel

Saint Peter’s Church in Tel Aviv
© Jonas Opperskalski

7. Sarona Market

In the early evening, businessmen and families meet at Sarona for a snack or a glass of wine. With an area of 8,700 square metres and a total of 91 stores, Sarona is one of Tel Aviv’s largest indoor markets. Within the rustic market hall, visitors can enjoy everything from seafood to veal from the Golan Heights to oriental sweets. The district was founded in 1871 by German Templars. Following a 15-year restoration period, visitors can now view 37 historic buildings, characterized by oblique, bright red roofs and little wooden windows.

The Sarona Market
© Eliran Avital/PR

8. Tasting Room

Whether it’s an aperitif before meals, a convivial tasting with friends or a shopping excursion for wine, the Tasting Room is the place to be. Located in a stylishly arranged basement in the immediate vicinity of the Sarona market, the wine store houses a large repertoire of exquisite wines – including 40 variations from Israel.

Tasting Room in Tel Aviv
© PR

9. The Container

Located in a former industrial hall at Tel Aviv’s port, The Container fascinates with its industrial charm. Visitors are not only enthused about the restaurant and the large round bar in the hall, but also value the exhibitions, concerts and readings that take place. A hot-spot for artists, families and students – the container is one of the liveliest locations in Tel Aviv, especially in the evenings.

Restaurant The Container in Tel Aviv
© PR

10. Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar

It is considered one of the best cocktail bars in the Middle East – The Imperial Craft Bar. Bar-lovers get enthusiastic about the style of mixologists, whose drinks never fail to fascinate the taste buds. The bartenders’ secret? Oriental spices that form an exciting symbiosis with the aroma of local fruits. To enhance the culinary experience, the drinks are served with Asian tapas. The happy hour between 6 and 8 pm is a must-do. Due to the bar’s high popularity with locals, a reservation is strongly recommended.

Insider tip: Cocktail bar Imperial in Tel Aviv
© PR

“Respect the Past” Barcelona in the E-Class Coupé.

Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea. Its character balances the past with the present, creating a dynamic urban city and historic Mediterranean capital. In the latest video with the E-Class Coupé, we explored the city’s compelling culture through the eyes of Sören Manzoni. A guest feature by highsnobiety.com

E 400 4MATIC:
Fuel consumption combined: 8.4–8.1 l/100 km;
combined CO₂ emissions: 189–183 g/km.*