Friday, November 19, 2010

Driving the German Autobahn.

The Germans are great at building roads, but they're even better at tinkering with them. Of the 900 kilometers I've driven about 880 were on single lane auxiliary roads, doing 80. That’s 80 kilometers per hour, which is about normal in the States but in Europe people drive twice as fast and the roads are three times as full.
But then, getting a driver’s license in Europe involves months of intensive training and costs a fortune. Driving in Europe is like flying the space shuttle though an asteroid field.
The well-prepared traveler brings music; lots of loud music. Tom Petty is excellent traveling music, although usually after ten minutes in Germany I switch to heavy metal. That is, normally. My CD player won’t eject when it gets warm, so I get stuck with my initial choice until I pull over for gas, which is every five hours.

Just as it time to get some I get pulled over by a couple of border boys, all gunned up with nothing to shoot at. The first thing they want to know is if I have a gun.
     “No,” I say, “But I just did six hundred kilometers with Blondie’s Greatest stuck in the slot. So make no sudden moves and we all can walk away from this.”
     “Got any other weapons?”
     “Nope,” I say, hand in my coat pocket, fondling a three-inch switchblade I use in Poland to ward of bears in the Tatra Mountains.
     “Reason for traveling?”
     “Vacation. What’s Border Patrol doing in the middle of Germany?”
My German is rusty as an old Studebaker, but the officers decide to find it charming. German and Dutch are cognates, much closer relates to each other than English is to either one, and English is also a Germanic language. For some reason all Dutch speak German, but no German speaks Dutch. Many English speakers don’t even speak English, I’ve noticed.
     “The border is everywhere,” the man firmly asserts.
And all this time I thought the borders were nowhere anymore.
They bid me good day. I pull off, reach 150 kph for a minute, then drop to a 70 kph trot.
     “Danke für ihre Verstandnis,” blinks a sign.
     “Don’t mention it,” I say.
     “Bear left,” says my TomTom.
     “Where?” I yell, grappling madly for my knife.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...