Nestled in the mountainous and sun-bathed south of Austria, Reifnitz - on the shore of the Wörthersee lake - is a picture-perfect Alpine town. The only clue as to the town’s significance is its statue of a Mk2 Golf GTI.
The friendliest enthusiasts in the world, where conversation flows, somehow, quicker than the alcohol; a steady stream of cars with their windows open are taken advantage of by interested passers-by, who lean in to the windows and spark up a chat.
It's not just a bunch of cars in a town, there's a festival atmosphere - food trucks, bars, DJs, the live action arena and the GTI Fan Boat (yes, that's a thing) make it far more than parked cars in a field.
These sort of things are usually ruined by official presence - it’d be like your dad trying to boogie on down to house music after turning up to your house party. Not VW, though; they’ve ingratiated with the Wörthersee scene pretty seamlessly. Maybe because they know they’d be appreciated - it’s a celebration of the brand, after all, but more likely because they know what the people want.
VW even contributes to the car count. Not only are a selection of the firm's cars there, its apprentice cars add to the enthusiast-built element of the meet. It’s a respectful, almost overseeing participation the brand has at Wörthersee, rather than an opportunistic, cynical business presence.
The Wörthersee Treffen is so much more than the sum of its parts, though; there’s a tangible atmosphere that’s both welcoming and bristling with excitement, and short of the rides, Reifnitz becomes the closest thing to a VW theme park which isn’t the Autostadt there is.
So there’s no short answer to the question of what the Treffen is like. I’ll put it to you this way, though - the day after I returned, my name was on a car’s V5 for the very first time. It’s a Lupo.
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