Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getting from here to there in Europe.

After 3 weeks in France and Germany we are now home, with a few hundred photos, lots of great memories, and general impressions about the countries (and people) we visited.
But first a bit of a rant.
Due to unforeseen circumstances we had to drive from Paris to Hamburg, which gave me the extra thrill of trying to interpret French and German highway markings, or lack thereof. Let’s just say, if you ever want to test the strength of your marriage bonds, try driving in Europe with your spouse as navigator. Half the time you’ll think you’re lost; half the time you will be lost; and most of the time you’ll be arguing.
Highways change numbers frequently and in the middle of nowhere, and the highway numbers are often posted in 1” (pardonnez moi – 2.5 millimetres) high letters on low wooden posts on the opposite side of the road. Direction signs will point you to the next hamlet 5 kilometres down the road, but are silent on whether you are still on the right highway to a major city 100 kilometres away. The names of towns and villages can often be spelled differently than on the road maps. City street names? Let’s just say you’re lucky if you can find them. And what’s with having traffic lights on the near side of the intersection so they are only visible if you’re driving a convertible with the top down?
If it was just the French I’d say they do it just to piss off the tourists, but Germany was no better. It’s like they are still in the Middle Ages when one only rarely ventured outside one’s village, and then only to the nearby abbey. And miniscule highway numbers on low signposts worked fine for someone walking or on horseback but are damnably hard to read at 130 kph. Let’s just say we made it – barely.
Aside from the frustration of driving over there we had a great trip (I’ll post a few of the better photos as I work my way through the collection), but it’s nice to be home. Now, hopefully the weather will give us a few more riding weeks and I’ll be able to wrap up the season in proper style.

12 comments:

  1. So, tell us how you really feel about the road signs in France & Germany.

    Actually, my son and I went to Ottowa we felt the same way when we arrived at night. Neither of us could pronounce any of the street names so the GPS was of minimal help and after circling through town several times, we finally found our hotel.

    Maybe it's just familiarity.

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    1. Richard - Familiarity is part of it but I think there's a different mindset when it comes to travel generally. We think nothing of getting in the car and aiming it 1000 kilometres down the road. Over there anything beyond 100 kilometres or so is a multi-day trip. (Gross generalization I know, but the number of people who's jaws dropped when we told them we drove from Paris to Hamburg in a day was amazing.)

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  2. Here's some advice.... NEVER DRIVE IN OR NEAR FLORENCE!!

    ... but the rest of Italy was just fine with navigation basically a breeze whether on the autostrada or regional stradale.

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    1. David - Noted. And a GPS is a must-have the next time I drive over there. That was usually the first question when we stopped for help: "Don't you have a Navi?"

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    2. Too true, we had two cars and each had GPS we brought with us, plus I took the precaution of bringing walkie-talkies. No multi-car road trip should be without them.

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  3. Sounds frustrating. Glad your back safely. You're still married, right? Lol

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    1. Gary - Yeah. We've wallpapered together so this was, in comparison, a piece of cake.

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    2. LOL wallpaper... if ever there was a test for a marriage, that's it :)

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  4. Sounds like quite the adventure. Maybe it is a reality show in Europe. Take a married couple, drop them in a foreign country with a rental car and see if they and their marriage survive. Did you notice any video crews as you were driving?

    Glad you made it home safe. Looking forward to the trip reports.

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  5. Hm, I never realised our road system could be confusing for North Americans ;-)
    Glad to hear that your marriage did survive the challenge.

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    1. Sonja - Elisabeth's cousin, whom we visited up near Hanover, seemed to take great joy from our confusion over the various types of highway markings whether local, provincial, or state roads. I think he even got a bit confused trying to explain it, so I don't feel so bad. :-)

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