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Old 21st November 2013, 10:44   #16
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Default Re: In the oven: A road-trip of Europe

Wonderful travelogue and well written. Especially liked the Car rental part. Did you require an IDP for driving the car or the standard card type Indian Driving license was sufficient?
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Old 21st November 2013, 12:08   #17
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Default Re: In the oven: A road-trip of Europe

Thanks Rahul.
Requirements for car rentals vary significantly across rental companies and geographies. In my case, just the normal Indian driving license was enough, though we did have an IDP. You know, just in case

Last edited by toothless : 21st November 2013 at 12:09. Reason: Typo
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Old 24th November 2013, 20:53   #18
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After a not so adventurous day one, we went back to our hotel to rest and prepare for a long day of driving. Plan was to start early morning and reach Frankfurt by afternoon. With little to no idea about the journey time, the route and detours to take or even a hotel booking, we decided to get some much needed shut-eye time. All these minor issues would be tackled tomorrow.

Day Two
As planned, we got up early and headed straight for breakfast
Having had our fill, we packed and made our way to the reception to be greeted with a huge grin and an even bigger bill. Turns out, parking of vehicles was not free. The hotel charged us at an hourly rate, which meant that the car parking cost us as much as 50% of our room tariff! Lesson learnt. From then on, each hotel booking had two simple criterions. Free parking and free WiFi. We will compromise with location, food and most other things but we need our daily dose of cyber-time and a free parking.
With that in mind, we booked a conveniently placed hotel with free parking and WiFi, looked up the route and estimated travel time for Frankfurt on Google Maps, entered the location in the Audi’s navigation system and we were on our way!

Driving along...
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-2.jpg
.. with the help of this
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-3.jpg

Some pics of the road
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-1.jpg
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In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-5.jpg

View from a rest stop on the way, the German countryside
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-10.jpg
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In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-12.jpg

Since we were staying next to the airport and close to the highway, pretty soon the speed limit increased from 50 kmph to 130 kmph on the in-car display. The Euro-Drive was well and truly on! Driving on the Belgian highway (like most highways in Europe) was a breeze. Just stick to your lane, drive at around the speed limit, use indicators and you are fine. Now we were munching miles, driving at the speed limit, enjoying the scenery, getting used to the car, its controls and its navigator when suddenly, the navigator lady shouted “Attention. Border crossing in 20 kilometres”. It had been hardly an hour and we were pretty certain that Germany was still far off... where did this border come from? Were we on the correct route (we were yet to figure out alternate route options)? Was the navigator broken? Or just bonkers? We quickly spotted an approaching petrol station exit and got off the highway and stopped the car in the parking. Then we looked up the navigator details and figured out that we were, infact, on the correct route. Just that the route to Germany goes through Netherlands! That was the border which was coming up. Relieved that the car and its navigator was fine, we made our way back to the highway and started to keep an eye out for the border.
For the border, we were expecting a queing of traffic to pass through a toll gate kind of a structure. Maybe even a random security/passport check. Even though I had travelled across European border before, it was the first time I was doing so on road. Previous times had been either on train riders or flights. But the border that came up, we were not ready for that at all. It was literally just a blue board on the side of the road which read something like “Welcome to Netherland”. I can’t be sure. It went by so quickly!

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[Source: Google]

And that was it. We were in Netherlands! We had crossed our first international border and did not even realize it when we did! A little while later, we crossed into Germany with pretty much the same no-fuss border. Except for one small difference...
As we crossed into Netherland, there was a board with all the signage and speed limits... there was a similar one for Germany. There is one road sign in Germany that is held more sacred (Ref: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2...20-mph-germans) than most others...

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[Source: Google]

When you see this sign on the road, it means one thing, floor the pedal! There is no speed limit... legally! We in India don’t normally bother with speed limits on highways or city limits. But for someone who observes speed limits even on the Yamuna expressway, this was the opportunity to let the car sing. And boy did it sing! We were easily cruising at the speed of ~180 kmph. A number of cars (mostly Porches) were overtaking us during the no speed limit zones. I suspect some of them were doing more than 250 kmph per hour and I am pretty certain there was one car, most probably an SLS AMG that was doing close to 300 kmph! If such a thing was to happen in India, my guess is that there will be utter chaos with people driving at all kinds of speeds, changing lanes with no regards for anyone else... leading to massive pile-ups or utter slow pace. But not in Germany. Most people were happy driving at around 130-140 kmph (the normal speed limits on Autobahns for sections where there are speed limits), occasional high speed runs to overtake a few cars or to get the speed bug out of their system. The whole traffic was orderly to the extent of being eerie! Cars were driven right in the centre of the lanes as if controlled by computers, indicators flashed for each lane change move, people let others get into lanes as they joined the highway, no tailgating, no flashing of lights even if someone was in the overtaking lane for long. I can go on for quite a while praising the German drivers but it is something that everyone should get to see for themselves.
Anyway, back to our Euro-Drive. So we were cruising along on the Autobahn, stopping a couple of times to take in the views and get some grub. By the time we were close to Cologne, the navigator shouted that there was massive traffic build-up and it was now showing an alternate route. We turned on the radio to the highway station (most highways have a radio station playing music and frequent traffic updates). In between all the German words, we managed to pick up a few key words. There was apparently a 10 to 12 km long traffic hold-up on the highway due to breakdown of a truck or an accident. Unfortunately, it was on the same carriageway as us, Cologne to Frankfurt. And since it was close to Cologne, traffic was beginning to build up on highways leading to Cologne as well. Soon the navigator told us to go off the highway and onto a B-road. We were more than glad crossing villages and the German countryside, atleast initially. Soon, we found ourselves as the back of a long lane of cars, moving very slowly through the rolling hills of Cologne (or some village close to Cologne). It almost became like the evening rush hour traffic of Gurgaon in a very German way. The single lane of cars remained a very long single file of cars. Not even a single car broke the lane! Even when someone had to turn into a village road, they waited till they reached the intersection and then took the turn. Eventually, we reached a traffic signal where three such long winded lanes were merging into a single lane and soon we were back on the highway and up-to speed.

View on the left
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-20.jpg
Noticed the rolled hay above?

And view on the right
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-21.jpg

Because of our de-tour through the B-roads of Germany, we lost about 2 hours and eventually reached the Frankfurt hotel by around 4 pm. We quickly checked in, unloaded our luggage and headed to explore the city. We went to the central district of the city which is around the opera house. On one side, there are huge modern buildings which form the financial hub of Europe and on the other side, there is the opera house lined with a number of shops and cafes on the street. It is quite a contract and difficult to capture in words.
Some photos from Franfurt

The modern and the classic, side by side.
In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-30.jpg
The opera house
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A night shot of the opera house
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While roaming around the place on the Friday evening, we saw a number of cafes and pubs by in the small lanes around the area. Dinner, drinks and loud conversations all around us but what caught my fancy was this, the SLS in all its glory.

In the oven: A road-trip of Europe-40.jpg

Our next stop was Stuttgart and we saw many more drool worthy cars. Details and photos coming soon!

Last edited by toothless : 24th November 2013 at 20:59.
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Old 24th November 2013, 21:44   #19
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Default Re: In the oven: A road-trip of Europe

Greetings, and congratulations on your trip! The pictures of the German highways are too good! eagerly waiting for the next part

Safe travels,
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Old 26th November 2013, 15:27   #20
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Default Re: In the oven: A road-trip of Europe

Hey There,

So far, this Tlog has all the makings of another epic Euro trip... I am eagerly waiting for the next installment of pictures and events to unfold...

Way to go man... Great. Itching to rate this a 5 starrer...


Mod Note : Please avoid typing with excessive dots.........like................this.


Last edited by khan_sultan : 26th November 2013 at 15:36.
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