SJ on the Move

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Autobahn

I think few things are idealicized about Germany more than "The Autobahn". From watching car commercials, one would think the autobahn is basically the world's ultimate driving experience - a single lane highway snaking around curves, beautiful vistas, that you can drive at whatever speed your heart can take.

The reality is far from the ideal, however. For one thing, the German highway system is extremely crowded. Most highways have only two lanes in each direction, and they are incredibly clogged with trucks. Very frequently the highways get stuck in horrendous traffic jams, where people sit for hours stuck in traffic.

The other thing is that you very often have speed limits. That's not the case everywhere, but it seems to be pretty common around metropolitan areas.

This past week I had my first business meeting in Germany, and it was about a 2 hour drive from the office. I went with the president of the company, and he asked me if I wanted to drive, but I decided to pass. I felt that driving the president's Mercedes, on the autobahn, in rush hour traffic would be a little too stressful for my first driving experience in Germany.

If I had driven, it would have taken us twice as long - as there is no way I would have felt disregarding the speed limit as often as he did. BTW, 220 km per hour feels really fast.


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