Fahrvergnügen: Or Germany’s Love Affair with Driving Really, Really Fast

Germany is a country known for its high quality vehicles and its essentially speed limit-free Autobahns, or motorways. Germans love their cars and love to drive them so much there’s even a term for it: “Fahrvergnügen,” which means “driving enjoyment.” This past weekend I experienced first-hand what German Fahrvergnügen looks like on the autobahn, and luckily survived to tell the tale. I say “luckily” because I think every time we successfully exit an autobahn from now on I am going to be both amazed and thankful that we didn’t die. Every time.

The Mr. and I decided that a few weeks ago that it might make sense to rent a car so we could check out the surrounding villages around Würzburg more efficiently. We did the patriotic thing and rented a compact Mercedes-Benz, and grew very attached to our “Baby Merc.” It certainly made life easier with the Mr.’s commute, grocery shopping, and being able to explore outside the city so on Friday the Mr. rented another Baby Merc, this time for a month. This one is an automatic, but unfortunately I’m not insured to drive it so my Fahrvergnügen will have to be limited to parking lots.

On Saturday, we drove Baby Merc to Iphofen, a little village about a half-hour’s drive from Würzburg. Iphofen is lovely. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of my own photos to share as I stupidly allowed my camera’s connecting cable to go into storage, but this Wikipedia page has some nice photos of the village. The Mr. found Iphofen to be one of the nicest, most “upscale” German medieval villages he’s ever seen. Our guess is that the town has quite a bit of dosh because of the local factory which produces gypsum boards. In addition to numerous little cafes and bakeries, the town also had some very nice-looking hotels and lots of “vinoteks,” or wine-tasting rooms. We went into one and tried a couple local wines. We had the option to either pay for a tasting (which I think would have been a full glass) or receive complimentary small pours, which we did for a couple different wines. We ended up purchasing a slightly sweet Riesling wine that could work well as an aperitif or as a dessert wine. Afterwards we went to a cafe for afternoon cake & coffee and I pushed my lactose intolerance to the limit with a whipped cream-filled chocolate cake concoction. I’m pretty good these days with being able to handle just about any type of dairy product, but I can’t do too much or else I pay the price. This cake reminded me of this fact later that evening…ugh….After cake & coffee, our sat nav system directed us to the nearby autobahn. The Mr. said, “might as well” and we took off for our first autobahn driving experience together.

Firstly, to set the scene, it was dusk and raining a little. So the conditions weren’t horrible but they also weren’t ideal. This doesn’t stop your average joe German driver, however, from thinking it’s still a good idea to drive 110 mph weaving in and out of traffic. While not everyone drives this insanely (we went about 75 to 80 mph most of the time, which is the recommended speed) they were definitely plenty of suicidal idiots who passed us at these speeds. In the rain. At one point, the Mr. decided he wanted to switch a lane over. He looked. Then I looked, too, to be extra safe. I noticed there was a car in that lane, but it was quite some distance back. All of my previous driving experience tells me this ok – he’s way behind us. Only problem is, we’re not calculating that he’s probably going at least 110, maybe 120 mph. So by the time the Mr. is changing lanes over to the left, this idiot has ignored the Mr.’s turn signal and has to do a quick swerve to the left to avoid colliding with us. I’m practically hyperventilating, can’t believe we almost died, but in reality, THIS IS NORMAL. This is how many Germans like to drive, period. I’m sure he/she didn’t even blink.

Anyway, we survived so on Sunday we drove on the autobahn again about an hour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I visited Rothenburg nearly fifteen years ago when I went to Germany for the first time on a high school trip. I didn’t remember much about it except the medieval torture museum, which I don’t recall actually touring. Rothenburg is one of Germany’s top tourist destinations as it is a marvelously preserved medieval town and is really quite interesting to explore. On this visit I didn’t check out the medieval torture museum but I did visit the German Christmas Museum, which I very much enjoyed (the Mr. complained that it’s March so I toured alone as I love Christmas at any time of year.) The afternoon cake du jour this time was apple & gooseberry with a meringue topping, which was thoroughly delicious.  We also purchased Rothenburg “schneeballs“, or snowballs,  for later as apparently they are a local specialty.  They look a bit like a ball of yarn dipped in chocolate or sugar, and taste something like a crunchy elephant ear. Very tasty.

Our exploring finished, we hopped on the autobahn and thankfully, it was uneventful. And by that I mean there were still plenty of nuts rushing past us at 120 mph or faster and I was still amazed we survived.

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About bittenbythebug

I love travel and have always been fascinated by other cultures. Back in 2004, I began my life as an expat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fast forward 5 1/2 amazing years later to 2010 and the new chapter in my expat adventure: Würzburg, Germany.
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5 Responses to Fahrvergnügen: Or Germany’s Love Affair with Driving Really, Really Fast

  1. Lindsey says:

    What an amazing weekend. I am so jealous! And tell Tom there is nothing wrong with touring a Christmas museum in March – Christmas is fun year round.

  2. Lindsey says:

    Also, it looks like your internet service has gotten better. Didn’t you originally say it was quite limited? (I wish I had an apple and gooseberry cake right now….)

  3. Bonnie says:

    This afternoon cake tradition is brilliant!

    Glad to hear that you survived the Autobahn. I tensed up while reading about your experience.

  4. Fenella says:

    and you know what an elephant ear tastes like?

  5. Lindsey – We have internet, but sometimes it is painfully slow and we often get “power surges” which means we have to disconnect the USB stick that provides internet and reload it. Today I was online for maybe four hours this afternoon, and there were at least five power surges. Luckily up until today, we had had a really good run of super-fast internet which makes a huge difference.

    Bonnie – Yes, it’s brilliant. A high point of German life, I’d say, although not so good if you’re trying to watch what you eat….

    Fenella – hmmm…did you guys have elephant ears at fairs growing up in Florida? Or I was not supposed to take that comment seriously? ; )

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