TD’s boss Mr. M, invited us to go for a day trip to Hamburg with him for a work-related event. It was going to be our first time in Hamburg and on the famous German Autobahn. Why is the German Autobahn or the Bundesautobahn so famous? It is a dream for those with a need for speed, since generally there is no speed limit (more on this later).
We left at about 6am so that there weren’t to many cars yet. It was a 3 hour drive and we saw a lot of really fast sports cars along the way. Even a fun run of about 10 or so sports cars. Probably a club of cars meeting up and driving out of town to maximize the speed of their cars.(I remember going to a few of these with car obsessed friends in Manila)
HISTORICAL STOP-OVER: GUDOW
A great place to stop for breakfast and a toilet break is Gudow, this was the border between East and West Germany, where cars and passports were checked before they could cross over.
They have clean toilets in the basement. You have to pay €0.70 cents but you’ll get back €0.50 in the form of a voucher which you can then use in the store/cafe.
While I was in the toilet I made the mistake of activating the button on the toilet bowl itself, instead of the one on top affixed to the wall, and I was surprised to see a small faucet pop-out of the back of the toilet, and the toilet seat started to slowly spin, while the faucet cleaned it. This I learned is the sanitize function! I wonder how effective it is? So facinating for someone obsessed with cleanliness like me!
We then went to use our vouchers in the cafe. I was impressed by the selection. There were more substatial dishes, soups, and sweets. We ended up with light snacks, an apple turnover and a chocolate muffin, with a cappuccino. It’s basically self service, then pay at the cashier. After eating, we cleaned up after ourselves and deposited the trays onto a tray tower.
NEED FOR SPEED
When you start talking about cars, someone will inevitably mention the Autobahn. People who like to drive fast will enjoy driving here. The road is wonderfully maintained with no potholes and in general there is no speed limit, except for some portions that are under repair. But that’s not the only reason why one will enjoy driving here, for most part drivers are educated and follow driving rules and etiquette. And There are many signs that regulate the autobahn The signs that regulate highway are very big and are repeated a few times, so you can’t miss them! I know it sounds like common sense, but we really must apply this in our roads in Manila – there should always be BIG visible and repetitive signs so that despite being very fast, drivers can read it and be aware of upcoming blocks or diversions ahead of time.
These two things combined really makes driving a lot less stressful. You can predict how other cars will act. Unlike in the Philippines, wherein even in the NLEX and SCTEX there are still some people who don’t realise that the left most lane is for overtaking only. In the Autobahn, people really follow this or else other drivers will shout at you or give you this sign: pass you by slowly and point to their temples (meaning: ARE YOU CRAZY?), which is what happened only once in the 6 hours that we spent on the Autobahn that day. This guy was over taking and he overtook too slow. This is very dangerous since there are other cars on the left lane that are running at very fast speeds like 190kph. The potential for disaster is great. The guy shouldn’t even have attempted to overtake if he was too slow to overtake anyway – just stay on the right side and drive at your own pace.
I learned a few more things from Mr. M during this road trip:
- Watch out for the speed signs. Though generally there is no speed limits, there are some sections that need to be regulated for whatever reason (i.e. repair) and there are special signs for the speed. Once the speed limit is lifted, there is also an appropriate sign -with 3 lines crossing it. If there is no number inside that means all limits are lifted. However if there is a number, then only the specific speed stated is lifted.
- Different road textures – and what it means. For example they are currently testing a different texture on the shoulder of the road in a stretch of road. This texture is supposed to make a sound when you hit the shoulder – which will warn a sleepy driver who is veering to the shoulder and wake him up. How cool is that? Hitting the shoulder of the road is very dangerous, especially at high speeds.
- When a car in trouble pulls over to the shoulder of the road, passengers must exit their car carefully (mindful of cars coming up from behind) and climb over to the other side of the fence. Stay on the other side of the fence, while waiting for assistance! This is something new for me.
There is much more to learn for me, if I want to drive in the Autobahn in the future. I am really amazed at how smart the German Autobahn is run!
The drive in the autobahn is very serene and relax – which can also be dangerous because it can make whoever is driving sleepy. It’s no wonder some people like to driver very fast and keep on overtaking – it keeps their senses alert. We hardly realized how fast we were going inside the car. We kept the chatter going all along, to prevent the person driving from getting sleepy.
Now I know what all the fuss is about! Personally I love to drive! My dad started teaching me how to drive in the province when I was 11 years old. I drove inside our compound with a stack of books so I could see where I was going haha! I even do 4×4 off-road driving when I am back home. So driving in the Autobahn is definitely on my Germany Bucketlist!