Written by Jenn
After arriving in Paris with our van load of bike boxes and suitcases, we drove a full day on France’s lovely toll roads south to St. Laurent de la Salanque. We couldn’t have picked a worse day to drive south, because the French were on holiday. Many take their vacation the first 2 weeks of August. We drove through 3 very long traffic areas which added an extra 3 hours of travel on the road. We later found out on the news that it was the worst traffic day in that region in five years!
Finally, we made it to St. Laurent de la Salanque nearing sunset, chatted with our new neighbours Jordy and Marguerite, dropped off our stuff at the house, then headed another 2 and a half hours north to crash at a hotel in Toulouse for the night.
The next day we drove back to Paris to return the moving van and pick up an economy sized mini-van for our drive to Germany the next day. According to Thalia our Garmin GPS, (as named by Susan after a demigod character she read about in the Percy Jackson series), we drove 2000 km in two days!
We drove into Germany late afternoon, welcomed by road re-construction traffic signs as we crossed over a picture perfect river. An air of nervous excitement came over us as we entered the Autobahn -Germany’s system of highways which generally don’t have a speed limit. Cars zoomed past us on the left passing lane running 140 to 150 km/hr. Brian was in his element. His good eye sight and fast reflexes gave him a certain confidence on the road. I on the other hand was happy to be sitting in the passenger’s seat because my fraidy cat square side learned in driver’s ed that ‘speed kills’. When the cars thinned out on the highway, with my hesitant ok, Brian punched it and hit 200km/hr on the speedometer. We kind of stayed on the 200km/hr for a second, then dropped back down to the general speed of 140km/hr with the rest of the traffic. The kids were buzzing in the seats behind us as I let go of whatever I was white-knuckle clutching, and Brian smiled and relaxed from his intense gaze on the road. We arrived in Karlsruhe at around eight in the evening.
Needless to say, we were exhausted once we arrived in our weekly rental apartment in Karlsruhe, Germany that Monday after the additional 6+ hours of driving from Paris. The jet lag, coupled with all the driving we did over three days finally caught up with us in Karlsruhe. Brian and I were exhausted and the kids were unusually whiney and getting on each other’s nerves.
We spent 5 nights in Karlsruhe visiting with my good old high school friend Lisa. She’s been living and working there for the past nine months. On our second night there she had us over for a delicious home cooked traditional German meal of spätzle and goulash. The kids loved her cooking and kept returning for second and third helpings. We met her beautiful friends Ivana, Arabella, Ursel and Larry. They were all so very friendly and hospitable.
During our time there, we invited Lisa to stay with us in our large apartment. Together we spent one day in Ludwigsburg touring the Castle and Fairy Tale Garden. Then drove southeast the next day to Gunzberg on the Autobahn to spend a strikingly hot day in Legoland.
It is unfortunate I didn’t take more photos of Germany. The jet lag and long hours on the highway left me mentally and physically exhausted. It’s a shame though, because I neglected to capture the beauty of the black forest and the quaint architecture of Bavarian houses.
But what pictures did I get?
This one made me laugh.
We all knew this was just the exit sign, but the kids loved reading this one out loud and accentuating the ‘fahrt’ at the end every time we came across it on the road.
And this one because it was so delicious and brought me back to my University years when I’d enjoy a pretzel and coffee on campus.
And this one, because I love coffee, and I found the German coffee to be refreshingly strong. I bought this particular coffee because it read ‘Extra Spezial’ on the label.
So that concludes our snippet of five days in Germany. I look forward to returning one day to explore Munich and Berlin.
In the slide show below there are a couple more German dishes. They were delish!