Monday, September 28, 2009

Travel Notes from Germany - 9-09

I’ve spent the last week in Germany – Monday in Hannover, Tuesday & Wednesday in Hamburg and Thursday & Friday in Frankfurt. Here are some of my thoughts.

Hefty Germans

We Americans get short shrift. Or, maybe we get fat shrift. Because we are definitely considered the world’s fattest.

But I can tell you now that the Germans have caught up. The reason I know this is that, in an effort to save expenses, I sat in steerage on the way over to Hamburg. And as you know, airline seats in the back of modern planes are built to comfortably fit people approximately the size of Tinkerbell.

So as one enormous German after another lumbered onto the plane and headed toward my row, I found myself silently saying “Oh no. No, no. Please, please no. Please, please no.” I started to imagine eight hours of schnitzel and kraut-fed fat dripping over the armrest into my personal space. I desperately looked into each one’s eyes to see how far down the plane they searched for their row, relieved when they finally looked past my own.

A young, black-clad gothic waif approached. “Oh, yes. That would be good. Please, please let it be her. Come on, now. She’s getting close. Yes, yes! – wait, oh no! No! Come back!” As she passed, I grimly looked back up the plane at the approaching line of giant-sized Germans.

In the end, I was spared. My row-mate turned out to be a skinny Asian fellow who compounded the agreeableness of his size by sleeping the entire eight hours.

But, based on my thoroughly unscientific study, the Germans have joined us on the fat parade.

Optimists

Germans either have a lot of sex, or they’re extremely optimistic about their prospects for doing so. Everywhere one goes in Germany, one finds vending machines sporting a bewildering array of condoms and other sex gadgets. I was amazed to see that a rest-stop on a superhighway could support such a robust inventory of sex aids.

There were even miniature travel-size vibrators. In the men’s room. Now, who in the hell is so hard up that he (she?) needs to purchase a vibrator at a rest stop? “Honey, I’ll stay out here and pump the gas. Can you go into the shop and get me a bottle of water, a Snickers bar and a vibrator? If they don’t have vibrators, a plain ol’ dildo will do…”

Fast Cars

I’ve always been dismayed that Americans can’t seem to make a quality sports car. Oh, we have fast cars alright. I’ve driven a few of them. I raced a Dodge Viper at Limerock once. It was fast as hell, but otherwise it was just a piece of junk. It made all sorts of noises, the interior had a terrible, cheap plastic feel and it just didn’t hug the road like a fast car should.

For some reason Hertz gave me a Kia SUV to drive while in Germany. If I’d remembered what the roads were like, I’d have traded it in for a BMW and paid the upgrade. But I didn’t, so when I got to the autobahn between Hamburg and Frankfurt, I started getting uncomfortable at about 175kph (which is about 105mph). The Kia started to feel unstable and it started making noises.

BMWs and Mercedes were passing me like I was standing still. Many were going well over 200kph – maybe even 225.

And I finally realized why Germans have so many quality cars – they have to. It would be simply unacceptable to have autobahns and nothing stable to drive on them. As a consequence, Germans have been forced to develop solid, fast cars.

Well, I’m running out of battery juice and this plane does not have AC power, so I’ll have to post more later…

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