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When people asked me how we’d planned to get around Germany once we’d arrived, I told them what my husband told me: train. We would be in cities the whole time and everything would be either walkable or bus-able but trains would be our main source of transit. When we decided to take a day trip last Saturday to see my in-laws, however, we decided that a road trip by car was the way to go.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. My dentist was disappointed that we’d be missing an Autobahn experience on our trip so much so that I almost felt compelled to call him & let him know of this new plan. I know my husband to be a careful driver who always spoke of those on the Autobahn as “driving like idiots” so I was surprised when he got right on there with the rest of the (date I say it?) idiots people early Saturday morning when we set out. I may not look it but I’m a car freak – a holdover from my first real job at Skip Barber Racing School– and I have to admit, I was a bit thrilled by this. Our rented BMW was snazzy enough to include a feature that indicated the speed limit below the mileage. So once we got going, the indicator flashed the no-limit sign. We were off!

the "no limit" sign (a white circle with dark lines through it) is above the mileage indicator

the “no limit” sign (a white circle with dark lines through it) is above the mileage indicator

But not for long. Elisabeth woke up hungry & I was too. We pulled into at a rest stop that was quite nice. A gas station, cafe & cafeteria seem to be the standard at such places in Germany, at least where we were. If the cafe had been a Lavazza, that would have been a different story.  I definitely would have had a cappuccino but this one wasn’t so I settled for a coffee from a machine which wasn’t terrible. We split an apple pastry & a “side” (meaning approximately 3/4 of a pound) of roasted potatoes. I’ve learned from my previous trip to Germany in 2011 to always get a second pastry in case your first one isn’t great so we also chose a slice of plum cake. I’m such a smartie! This lesson has yet to be proven wrong and true to form, the plum cake was boring & dry. Luckily the apple cake was passable. Germans do their potatoes well & ours were excellent.
We made good time, due to the urgency both of a restless baby and the frequent lack of a speed limit. The bulk of the day then was spent sitting, talking and eating with my mother and father-in-law who had never met our daughter.  To say that it was quite the special day is a huge understatement.  As everyone knows by this point, I don’t speak any German, aside from the occasional “thank you”, “cheese” and “2 apple turnovers, please.” so I mainly listened to what was said and tried to pick up on a few words.  Some moments were more successful than others but I didn’t need to know German to recognize the song my father-in-law sang to our daughter; it is one of my husband’s go-to’s for a bedtime lullaby.  Worked like a charm then too.
Never one to pass up another opportunity to eat, in spite of having consumed two massive slices of cake (a blueberry cheesecake-y & a creamy apricot) just a few hours earlier, we stopped again at one of the cool rest stops. This time it was close to dinner and there was a salad bar out with an assortment of cold salads.  IMG_2591Luck was on my side: a “farmer’s salad”, cold mini penne, sliced red peppers, more potatoes (this time with parsley) and a cole slaw like dish.  Carbs aplenty so why not add a dinner roll? Needless to say, it was all delicious.
After Elisabeth fell asleep, the rest of the ride home was quiet.  I watched the cars zoom by us and thought of other road trips that I’d taken.  This was the first one in Germany but hopefully not the last.
What are your favorite road trips?  Heading somewhere familiar or new?  Leave me a comment and join the conversation.  All comments are confidential until approved by me.
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