Things to know about driving in germany - or, cursing the day you didn't get a navigation system

Bad Nauheim Travel Blog

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This week has been devoted to family and friends.  No trip to Amsterdam, not even a little jaunt to a nearby castle.  I blame it all on the weather. As of today, it has been raining for 11 days.  There is a heavy fog that has blanketed the town in an eerie haze, but weather reports state that the sun will show its face again today.  Of course the sun would come back, less than three days before I return to the states.  Irony is that even though I love the sun, and love living in Phoenix, I complain about there not being rain.  Never a happy medium.  Highlight this week was going back to an old haunt, the restaurant Isoletta, which is an Italian eatery.  Anita, my surrogate mother and dearest friend here, joined me in a delightful evening filled with wine, spaghetti al forno, and great banter.  Worst day this week was driving my grandmother to visit friends.  She didn’t know how to get there, neither did I.  The directions we got from her friends were mediocre at best, and I will make a long story short by saying a 40 minute drive ended up taking 2 hours!  I was ready to pull my hair out by the end of that. 


Things to know about driving in Germany

If you are familiar with the names of major cities and their strategic positions on the map, you can probably get around without a navigation system…that is, if you are not heading to a direct destination such as a specific street with house number. 

If you don’t have a navigation system, and you are mapquesting your way through Germany, you best not miss a turn, ever!  Unlike the US when you miss a turn or exit, you can’t just get off at the next one and go back.  Three things will usually happen when you do this:

1)       you drive around in a circle and end up on another autobahn that takes you in the opposite direction you want to go

2)       you end up in a foreign town with signs pointing in various directions to various surrounding hamlets, and a sign for your destination is nowhere to be seen

3)       you curse the day that you didn’t get a navigation system with your rental car and drive to the nearest gas station for help, and they get you more confused because to them a mile down the road means around the corner, and they use the terms left and right instead of street names.

nyprne says:
I agree. Navigation System - good idea!
Posted on: Mar 02, 2011
mypictures4u says:
Hi jacqueline! :-)

>> Unlike the US when you miss a turn or
>> exit you can't just get off at the next
>> one and go back.

Eh, actually you can! Like in the U.S. Otherwise I would have written a lot of letters to the responsible minister of transport! :-D
It is possible at every 'normal' exit (at least every one I have used in my lifetime). Perhaps you ran into trouble at a so called 'Autobahnkreuz' (freeway interchange)? I agree, it is a little bit tricky there:

Anyway, I am a local. And therefore I am not 'authorized' to judge whether driving in Germany is easy or difficult. :-D
It is funny, though. I drove thousands of miles through the U.S. and Canada and found it quite easy. Arizona was dreamlike. Well, hardly spotted any cars. :-D L.A. on the other hand was horrible. And I remember my first day in Seattle. I was cautiously keeping right on a three or four lane highway looking for 'my' exit only to find out that the exit was on the left (!) side. I missed it. :-D

In France I sometimes had problems with these nice little signs reading 'toutes direction' (all directions) and 'autres direction' (other directions) - without any city name given. Miss your exit and you will go on for miles before you find out! I love the traffic circles, though.

I am not going to tell you about my driving experiences in Israel, Kenya or Indonesia! That's another story.
Back to Germany. To be honest: I always found driving in Germany easy. And I still do. But probably it just depends on what you are familiar with. :-)

Take care + be aware of German freeway interchanges! ;-)
Posted on: Jun 19, 2007
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