Driving the AutobahnSeptember 20, 2017 in Germany
Today we had our first real experience of driving on the legendary Autobahn. For those who don't know, this is the highway system in Germany that has no speed limit. And let me tell you, it lives up to the expectations.
We started off in Munich and picked up our rental car. We had pre booked a Mercedes Benz C class (or something similar apparently) but they ended up giving us an Audi Q3 SUV. I was probably a little disappointed at the start since I had my mind set on something already, but it worked out fine and the vehicle definitely really gave 'er.
We quickly got out of Munich and got onto the highway. The speed limit signs slowly built up until finally we got to 120. We didn't really know if this was an actual posted speed limit or the open section that we had heard of, so I kept it to 120 to 130. After a short bit, we got onto a secondary highway where the limit ranged from 50 to 70 to 100 depending if we were going through any little towns. There were also numerous passing lanes where I was able to test out the vehicles acceleration and get a feel for it.
After the short mix up where my navigator missed a turnoff, we began the approach to Neuschwanstein where it became very curvy and tight. The general feel of speed limit is that everyone knows that within little towns it is around 50. And then in between (which can be short stretches) it goes up to 100.
After the castle tour we headed back out onto the highway towards Rothenburg. However since we had barely eaten we needed to stop for some food. Our first idea was to find a small little restaurant in the town below the castle (Fussen). When we were driving through, it looked like a beautiful little town, but I didn't want to deal with (or pay for) parking. Luckily, we saw a sign for......McDonald's! And we both instantly were sold. It's always interesting to see how the menu differs in other countries. Saw a couple of things I hadn't seen for a while (Big and Tasty, McRib) and a couple new things (Happy Fries, McFreezy, and spring rolls).
While we were stopped I was looking at the map on my phone and suggested to Brooke that we take a short detour to see some of the country side. Shortly after leaving we got off of the main highway and headed towards a town called Wald. The countryside was absolutely beautiful and it was lovely to see all of the little German towns. The fields mostly consisted of corn crops and grazing meadows for livestock. The roads we were driving on were incredibly twisty and fairly tight turns. Apparently the speed limit was likely 100 here, but I was barely able to keep it up at 80. I was definitely holding up traffic at times.
After the detour we took another secondary highway and then got onto the A7 highway. This was where it really opened up and we had entered on the no speed limit Autobahn. Some general thoughts / experiences
-It is a double lane highway for the most part. I would say that the average is about 130 to 140. The semi trucks go about 100 in the right lane. And I'm sure I got passed by cars in the 180 to 200 speed range on the left.
-You don't really shoulder check while driving, you more so check a football field behind you to make sure that no one is coming up on you really fast
-You definitely need to only use the left lane for when passing, get back over after clearing the car
-Passing a long string of semis I would stay in the left the entire way and not dart back and forth in between them
-The hardest part was judging when to move into the left lane when approaching a semi. There were times when I missed an opportunity to pass a semi and then got stuck behind them, had to slow way down, and then took a while for an opportunity to merge back in
-Initially I was averaging 130 to 140 comfortably. Later on I was between 140 to 150 at a comfortable rate
-Did not even think of turning on cruise control once because my speed was constantly changing
-The road system really makes it seem that it isn't too crazy. The lanes are wide and the road curves with very wide turns. Brooke even agreed that it was not as crazy as she had expected and that at times the QE2 back home is crazier at times, probably because people are dumber.
-There was one time where a car was coming up behind me in the distance and I noticed him flashing his beams really fast telling me to get over. I wasn't sure what to do since I was passing a couple of semis, then another car darted out behind me in front of the approaching car. Gave me some time to get over to the right lane.
-The most wildest part was shortly after one of the other main highways merged onto the A7. This brought the traffic level up much higher. Then they had a passing lane form on a double lane highway (which I have never seen before). I'm pretty sure it opened up to four lanes and it was quite crazy for a short bit of time.
-You really need to drive with 100% alertness the entire time. I was constantly checking all my mirrors for what was coming behind me, watching my speed, and looking what was coming up ahead. I was quite drained by the end of it.
-On the portions where I had an open and straight section of highway, I decided to see what the Audi could do. I believe I got 'er up to just before 170 before backing off.
Finally we got off the highway onto the approach to Rothenburg. We missed the turn off into the walled part of the city and found our way in another way. The streets are tight cobblestone roads and it was like driving inside of a castle. Definitely got lost trying to find our hotel, and then it magically appeared. Glad to hear that the hotel will park our car for us, because I was not wanting to have to deal with that.
Went and found some German food and a well deserved beer to finish off the day.
Tyler and BrookeRead more