31 May 2012

Driving in Germany. Revisted.

How did it go you ask?
Pretty damn well I think.

I came back in one piece and not a single dent, scratch or even bird poop on the car.  I don't know if anyone remembers but I was not feeling confident about driving in another country.  Check it out, some in town driving while listening to music.

I'm not gonna lie, this was later in the trip.  After I had gotten comfortable with driving in Germany. At first it was a bit daunting.  After a long bus ride and an even longer plane ride I was feeling a bit tired.  It was cold and a little rainy and I had to orient myself to the car I would be driving for the next few hours.  I ended up having to drive a VW Golf which was good.  I had owned a Jetta a few years back so I understood the mechanics of how to properly shift and where the lights, windshield wipers and locks were located.  The defrost, heater, a/c unit was a whole other can of worms.  I let my trusty co-pilot figure that out while I tried to figure out how the hell to get away from the airport and on our way to Füssen.  Let's say from early on we were ill prepared, we had to make a pit stop in Munich because both of our phones were on the verge of death.  We were also running late so we figured we would check in to the hostel and then head to Füssen.  The drive there was beautiful after I was adjusted to it.

 Looks just like driving around here except their grass was greener.  That I was in awe over, I am used to seeing the hills green after some nice rain around here.  But this, THIS was so green and lush!  The pictures do not do it justice  It was so pretty.

 I tiny town we drove through on the way to Füssen.  Seriously it was a very slow 2 minute drive through the place.  The buildings were really cool though.  If we had not been running so far behind schedule I would have liked to stop.

 Shortly after passing the above sign we knew were we there.  You could see a little snow at the top of the mountain and off in the distance...
 A castle!!! It was Hohenschwangau Castle!
A few people were pulled over to get some pictures from the road.  We were running several hours behind so we opted to get to the castles and see if they would honor our tickets even though we were HOURS late.  They did much to our relief.

Freeway driving in Germany is much like freeway driving here.  See no big deal!  The only difference was that I wasn't getting pulled over for going super fast AND people actually moved over to the right instead of hog the lanes.  If only that logic would apply here, driving life would be so much easier.  Oh the first world problems I have *sarcasm*.  My sister was supposed to drive back towards Munich to return the car.  But since it was going to be night soon and I had already mastered the car and roadway; I drove.  It was a pretty ride on the way back too!  We took a different path back than on the way there since we didn't have to drive into downtown Munich on the way back.

And now the precursor video to my little guilty pleasure. 

No, no.  Not bridges!  Shortly after this bridge we drove through a tunnel.  I love driving through tunnels.  I like the way the sound and lighting changes.  But the real reason is it gives me a wash of happy thoughts related to my grandpa.  My grandfather had to live his last few years in a convalescent home in Goleta, California.  Between where I grew up and Goleta is the Gaviota Gorge Tunnel.  On the way back from visiting grandpa we would drive through the Gaviota Tunnel.  Every time on our way back we would beg my mom or aunt to honk the horn while my siblings and I yelled through the entirety of the very short tunnel.  So tunnels ultimately remind me of taking trips to see grandpa, of simple, silly times when acting a buffoon was okay.  On occasion I still act a fool in the comfort and privacy of my own car driving the Gaviota Tunnel; honking my horn and yelling like a loon (sometimes I even flash my lights when no one else is on the road)!  So as I drove I asked my sister to snap shots of the tunnels as we drove through them.

I admit I did do a little yelling in Germany, not too loud.  I didn't want to startle my sister or rattle her nerves any more than they may have been after a very, VERY long day.  So for those who are curious a little Q&A session.

Did you have to drive on the wrong side of the car and road?
Negative; in Germany the driver sits on the left side of the vehicle and drives on the right side of the road.  Just like we do here in the US.

Did you drive the autobahn?
Yes.  It was rather anti-climactic.  It was much like driving the 101 here, just a little greener and a little faster.  Also all you assholes that pass on the right; in Germany that's a no go.  So the flow of traffic was logical and smooth.

Will you drive again if you go to Germany?
If I go with Sylvia, it is her turn to experience driving in a foreign place.  But I don't see why I wouldn't drive in Germany another time.

What did you hate the most about driving in Germany?
The damn placement of stop lights!  You have to stop way behind the line because the lights are right above you if you are right at the line.  Even the ones that are placed to the side are hard to see because they are concealed by signs and trees.  So I think logically and financially it would be a good idea to move the lines further back so people can see the light.  Really though I am sure they are used to that over in Germany so it's nothing at all to them.

What did you like the best about driving in Germany?
The street lights.  I know I know!  But wait let me explain.  When you are at a stop light (red) the light will begin to flash amber before you get to go (green).  I found this quite helpful because it allows a person driving a manual transmission time to prepare.  I have driven a manual transmission in San Francisco and damn you gotta do it just right so you don't stall out or roll back onto the bloke behind you.  Your leg may get tired of holding the clutch in that perfect limbo so having this little clue to get ready is wonderful.  I didn't experience any hilly terrain while in Germany so this was not a problem.  However, after years of not driving a manual transmission car it was handy to know when to get ready to go from being at a full stop.

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