Saturday, October 03, 2015

Tribute to driving in Germany

I'm sitting in the Frankfurt airport right now, having just finished driving two hours on the Autobahn up from Schloss Dagstuhl, in Wadern near the French border.  As an American, I'm used to fairly titanic road networks, but driving on the Autobahn feels different to me: my impression is that while Americans use our roads, Germans really love their roads.

Out in the gently winding hills and valleys of Western Germany, forests and fields flash past traffic freely flowing at 100 miles per hour.  The gentle curves are well designed to encourage speed, and many people take good advantage of it.  Yes, it's true, on much of the Autobahn system there is simply no official speed limit (though you'll still get pulled over if the police think you're driving dangerously), and even where there is a limit it usually restricts you only down to 130 kph (a little over 80 mph).

In my little bitty economy rental car, I cruised along comfortably at 110 mph or so in 6th gear (don't even try asking for automatic in Germany), its happy German engineering not making the least complaint about the speed.  At home, my faithful Toyota starts to get very loud and quite unhappy by the time that I reach 85.  Even so, happy-looking people in bigger cars rocketed smoothly past me at significantly higher speed, bound for who knows where at the highest speed available.  And all I know is that my head has got this song on repeat, and I invite you to join along with me and sing:

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