08 July 2011


Occasionally, you have to step outside your yard to learn new things and enjoy life.  (philosphy according to agg79).

We lived in Germany for 5 years back in the '80s, so my road trip to Hanau wasn't a total paradigm shift.  We lived on the local economy (off post), ate the local food, drank beer & wine with Germany friends, spoke a little German, toured the region when able.  Some asked me if I had a hard time adjusting to the cultural differences and honestly, I didn't.  I loved our time in Germany and last week's road trip was a chance to go back to see some of the sights we experienced 25 years ago. 

First out of the box, driving the autobahn.  I've always found it a thrill to conquer the German roads, both autobahns and back roads.  They have different rule, regulations, requirements than you will see stateside (old terms coming back from my expat days).  Right of way, pedestrians & bicycles have priority over cars, traffic signals, street directions, caution signs, and, oh yea, speed limits are different.  Not insurmountable, just an interesting challenge. 

My ride

The wine road
Pedestrians and cyclists have the ultimate right of way.  You must yield/stop whenever someone is crossing the road.  I know it is the law over there, but I've been in New York and if you step off the curb in heavy traffic, there ain't no one whose gonna slow down, much less stop. 

A lot of people walk & ride bikes over there so people outrank cars on the road. 

The autobahn is as much fun as I remember.  Despite rumors to the contrary, there are posted speed limits in sections near major cities and interchanges.  If you see a round sign with a 100 or 120 (KPH) posted, you best pay attention, cause they do have traffic cameras that will take your picture and mail you a souvenir.  Outside of the cities, it's a whole new ballgame.  Certain spots on the open road outside of Stuttgart there was no limit and I got to see how fast my little car would go.  At one point, I was up to 180 KPH (kilometers per hour).  Anyone care to do the math?  Even at that speed, I was still getting passed by a number of Mercedes, Audis, and Porschses. 

As much fun as the autobahns were, I really like the back roads.  Once you get off the autobahn, there are little towns that dot the countryside that are 5-10 km apart.  Nice little twisty roads between each town make it fun to roam the countryside.  On several occasions, I broke from the main road to explore the country.  No map, no GPS.  Just a general sense of direction and follow the signs to the next town.

The wine region is a good place to get lost for a while.  Lots of little towns, vineyards, bike trail to explore.  The one thing to remember that a lot of these towns were build back before there were Excursions, Suburbans and F150s,  You will learn quickly why most Germans drive small, zippy little cars when you are trying to squeeze yourself through narrow cobblestone streets with cars park on the curb on both sides.  My KIA wasn't the sexiest car on the road, but it did come in handy in those towns.  Besides, I made more than a few "tactical course corrections" (aka u-turns) that would have been impossible in anything larger than a minivan.  Was fun to explore the economy like we used to.  You uncover unique sights that you don't get on the tour on the when you get off the grid for a while. 

BTW - 180 KPH = 112MPH 


Rock Chef said...

One of my neighbours has a huge Buick that must date to the 70s - a real monster about 100 feet wide - you know the sort of thing. He can hardly use it! It just won't go into some areas!

Glad you had fun revisiting your old stomping grounds - looks like a nice area.

Abby said...

Very Purdee! And yes, I did the math to confirm your math. I'd like to go 112 m.p.h. just for fun someday.