Can you daily drive a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4? One couple did – across Europe
The honeymoon of a lifetime on a European Porsche road trip
Woman with white Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in snow-capped mountains
The inspiring story of how adventure-loving Swiss newlyweds bought a Porsche sportscar and, across 9000km of countless curves and switchbacks, created an epic driving holiday to celebrate in style
Making plans for a honeymoon road tripTo Joël and Nina Eichenberger, life is a series of adventures. So, when the Swiss couple set out last summer on one of the biggest adventures that anyone can make – married life – they decided to mark it by combining all the things they love into one epic honeymoon that took them across Europe and back. It meant more than five weeks on the road on a journey that took in beautiful mountain passes, windswept beaches, wild animals and new locations. And at the heart of their road trip across Europe was their dream car. For this was a honeymoon where love for each other was joined by a passion for Porsche in the shape of a brand-new 718 Cayman GT4, a car you might expect more suited to track days than daily drives and European adventures. But as the Eichenbergers discovered, appearances can be deceptive.Like so many others, Joël’s relationship with Porsche began at an early age, with the model cars he played with as a young boy and the 911 and 918 Spyder sportscars he used to virtually drive when playing computer games. “All I ever dreamed of was about Porsche,” says Joël, who is a manager of an electrical store. “Every single Porsche I saw would turn my head. I made it my goal to one day own one.”
White Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 on twisting, tree-lined road
Life is a series of twists and turns: Nina and Joël hit the road with their new 718 Cayman GT4 | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
Ever since they got together, he and Nina – who runs a textile laser printing business with her father – have been guided by the wanderlust, says Joël. That’s what happens when you have the majestic Bernese Alps on your doorstep. Whether by cycle or motorbike, car or campervan, they shared a love for discovering new places. New streets to drive down, a new set of curves to negotiate, new scenic routes to seek out. Which is where an idea began to germinate. The wedding date was set for summer of 2021. Like all of us, freedom to roam wherever you wanted had been curtailed for well over a year previously. Their initial honeymoon plan was to take their trusty campervan and see where it took them. But while waiting for Nina’s car to be serviced they decided to stroll over to the nearby Porsche Centre in Bern. “It was a totally spontaneous decision,” says Joël. It would end up being one that would guide the next chapter of their lives.“When the 718 Cayman GT4 was first released in 2016, I thought ‘Wow, that’s the car’,” he adds. “Perhaps, when I reach my fifties, I may own a classic 911, like a 964 or something older, but there was something about the GT4 and its adventurous side that guided me towards it. My wife and I both love exploring twisty mountain roads and speed. The GT4 felt perfectly set up for that.”
Bride and groom next to white Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Nice day for a white wedding: Nina and Joël on top of Switzerland’s Grimsel Pass | PHOTO: David Birri Photography
The salesperson at Porsche Centre Bern initially introduced them to a 911 Targa and the 718 Cayman GT4. But after they took out the GT4 for a test, it was love at first drive. “Nina and I just turned to each other and smiled,” recalls Joël. “We didn’t know whether we could really afford it, but it was how I had planned it in my dreams. When we came back, we said to the salesman at Porsche ‘OK! We’ll give you our campervan. Let’s sign on the dotted line’. I think he was a bit speechless.”That was in April 2021. Three months later, and their brand new GT4 in Carrara White – well, it was something of a wedding gift to themselves after all – was delivered, just a few weeks before their marriage. With an exciting Porsche European road trip ahead of them for their honeymoon, there was one more important thing to do – to ensure that the GT4 was run in properly. Over the course of a week, they drove the suggested 3,000km (plus an extra 1,500km on top, just to make sure) in order to do so by heading down to the Dolomites in Italy – an hors d’oeuvres for their big journey ahead. “It was frustrating that we couldn’t get properly on the gas for those 3,000km, but when we hit that number,” at this point Joël lets out a sharp whistle. “Off we went!”
White Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 outside colourful modernist house
A work of art… and a colourful building in Barcelona | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
Prepping for a Porsche road tripShortly after they came back from the Dolomites – where they swept through 46 different mountain passes in total along the way – Nina and Joël were in the mountains again, this time back in their Swiss homeland. They invited family and friends to a very special wedding location – at the top of one of the great Alpine roads, the famous Grimsel Pass. The 718 Cayman GT4, naturally, made a star guest appearance. “It’s a place that’s very special for both of us,” explains Joël. “Whether on our motorbikes, cycling or in our car, it’s where we go to open up our minds and forget everything that might be happening in the world. At first, our friends and family asked, ‘Why are you getting married up there?’ But when they arrived, they understood.”The day after the wedding, they cleaned their apartment, redirected their mail for a few weeks and packed a small bag each. That evening, they climbed into the GT4… and just drove. And carried on driving. Over the course of the next five and a bit weeks, over another 9000km and well over 80 mountain passes, they headed south west, across France, towards the Iberian peninsula. For the most part, Joël says, they would be guided by the routes suggested by Curves, the magazine title founded by Stefan Bogner that celebrates the love of exploring new dream routes in your car. Their first stop? Barcelona. It was, says Joël, the only stretch of their Porsche road trip across Europe in a 718 Cayman GT4 where they took the fast route, across autobahn, autoroute and autopista. After that? Inspired by Curves, they took the long way round.
Three wild horses, white Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 behind them
Bucket list item ticked: meeting with wild horses on the Col du Lauteret in France’s Hautes-Alpes | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
Seeking out the curves on a Porsche European road tripAfter two days spent resting and walking the backstreets and markets in Barcelona after a hectic wedding week, they headed south, stalking the coastal roads to Valencia, stopping for good food and great views whenever they had the chance. Driving along roads they’d never encountered before, like these, is what really thrills them, says Joël. On they went, through Marbella, into Andalucía and the beautiful mountain roads that cling to the shoreline there, passing through towns built of brilliantly whitewashed walls – los Pueblos Blancos. “We never planned any hotels ahead,” says Joël, underlining the desire to keep things spontaneous on their great Porsche European road trip. “We would just go online around 4-5pm and look for deals nearby.”The trip didn’t always go to plan, but then serendipity often has a habit of providing good fortune. Nina is a big animal lover and had set her heart on seeing the flamingos at a nature reserve in southern Spain, but a heatwave had even defeated these beautiful pink birds and they had found somewhere else to spend their summer. So instead, they set off for Tarifa, where they watched in awe at the kiteboarders and surfers braving this windiest of European locations, before taking a boat trip to watch wild dolphins swim alongside them near the Moroccan coastline. Then it was onto Seville. The beautiful Moorish city was a real highlight of the trip, says Joël – although be prepared to park your car well away from the city centre and take a leisurely stroll in. From here, it’s only a short hop over the border to Portugal.
White Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in misty Pyrenean mountains
At the summit of the Col d’Aubisque in the Pyrenees, a regular destination for pro cyclists on the Tour de France | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
There’s a lot of petrol running through both our veins. The first person to drift the GT4 was Nina, not me. I just smiled and thought ‘That’s my wife!
Joël Eichenberger, Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 owner on an epic European honeymoon road trip
Exploring coastal roads on a Porsche adventureIf there’s one big tip that Joël learned from their Porsche European road trip it’s to be flexible and go with the flow. Stefan Bogner’s travels through Portugal for Curves provided an inspiration, but it’s best to set your own agenda. For example, when they arrived in southern Portugal, Nina fell in love with the beauty of the Algarve coastline. “I was thinking about the next curve in the road with the GT4, but she wanted to swim in the sea for a few days – it was our honeymoon after all,” says Joël with a chuckle.From there it was up through the beautifully rugged Alentejo region of central Portugal to Lisbon, with a detour to Torre in the Serra da Estrela mountains, the highest point in the country. They even got some time to go off-piste on a pair of Enduro trail cycles while en route to Porto. Here, Nina got to show off her skills on two wheels – she used to ride motocross bikes when she was young. “There’s a lot of petrol running through both our veins,” says Joël. “The first person to drift the GT4 was Nina, not me. I just smiled and thought ‘That’s my wife!’”After ending up spending half of their five-week Porsche European road trip in Portugal, they headed across northern Spain, into France and on to Biarritz to spend a couple of days by the ocean again. From there, it was all about linking the Atlantic with the Mediterranean via the switchbacks and high mountain passes of the Pyrenees. Great driving roads, many made famous by the regular visit of Tour de France stages, like the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque. At the latter, they got to roar up the mountain in the GT4 and show off its jaw-dropping levels of grip in damp, misty conditions.
White Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in narrow Portuguese village street
The white 718 Cayman GT4 cruises past white-washed walls in a Portuguese village | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
From here, on they travelled through Andorra and then headed down to the Med where it was time for another equine encounter in the shape of the wild, beautiful white horses of the Camargue, galloping along through the surf. “Although,” Joel says with a grin, “I personally much prefer the horsepower in my white 718 Cayman GT4.” From here, it’s a five-hour ride back to Bern and journey’s end, which Nina and Joel did at night to beat the traffic. It seems that after spending five weeks away driving kilometre after kilometre of open highway on their Porsche European road trip, they weren’t quite ready to join lines of queuing cars just yet.Throughout the 9000km, Joël say they were blown away by the capability of the 718 Cayman GT4 as both a long-distance tourer and a sportscar that puts bends and switchbacks to the sword. In other words, a perfect vehicle for a grand European road trip. “We chose the lightweight full bucket seats for the pure racing experience. And because I wanted to be able to drive it on the racetrack to the fullest, we specified the PDK transmission too. But more than anything what this car means to me is the feelings you get from the sound of that flat six when you press the accelerator.” At this point Joël’s voice tails off, lost in his memories.
White Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 on pink Lisbon street
Lisbon’s Rua Nova do Carvalho, aka ‘Pink Street’: the GT4 loves twisty Alpine roads, but was just as at home in city backstreets | PHOTO: Joël and Nina Eichenberger
“There is a stretch of road in the Pyrenees that’s 45km of non-stop bends. It’s one of my favourite roads anywhere. I drove it first on a motorbike a few years ago. I told Nina then that whatever we did, I had to drive that road again.” The Spanish road in question is the stretch of the N-260 from Sort to La Seu d’Urgel. Joël is right – it’s a seriously great stretch of tarmac that swoops and soars, curves and flows through incredible mountain scenery.Top tips for a grand European sportscar road tripAt the end of an epic journey in a Porsche sportscar like Nina and Joël’s, you accumulate plenty of advice for those looking to experience something similar. Firstly, don’t pack too much. Joël says they learnt this from surviving on next to nothing while on motorbike tours, although he points out that the mid-engined design of the 718 Cayman GT4 means that there are luggage compartments both front and back. Then, to get the real flavour of the place you’re visiting as quickly as possible, eat local produce – and never drive hungry. And just be brave, says Joël, and let things come to you. This means don’t go into overdrive when researching destinations on Instagram, for example. “It’s never the same when you see something for the first time in reality if you’ve already looked at it hundreds of times before on social media,” he says.
Married couple wave from white Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Married life is an adventure. Is there a better way to get to know each other – and your new Porsche – than on a grand European tour? | PHOTO: Jannis Remund
But most of all – especially if you’re in your dream car as he and Nina were – the message is a simple one. We never know what life will throw at us next, so just get out there and enjoy every single moment.
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