Saturday found us having breakfast at 9:00 and finally getting on the way to Essen around 9:30. I can recommend the Holiday Inn Express at Berlin City Centre on Stresemannstrasse 49. Although not as cool and hip as the chic hotels that are so abundant in this city, this one was priced right,was excellently located, smelled nice and was cheap at 78 Euro per night. And, it had the requisite covered and secure parking garage.
We made a stop at a hardware store, Bauhaus, to pick up some bailing wire and duct tape, the best two items I know of to deal with unexpected breakdowns along the way. We fueled up and were on our way.
The trip from Berlin to Essen was about 540 kilometers, or 335 miles, most of it on the Autobahn including many ‘unlimited’ sections, meaning no set speed limits. On this sections, we saw a regular flow of left lane inspirational high speed runs. However, this was not to be high speed trip for us. Even though the 1800’s top speed is rated at exactly 100 MPH, hot stuff for 1966, I r e a l l y didn’t want to stress this recently-cranky vehicle. Sheepishly starting out at speeds no faster than 80 to 100 km/h, I gradually settled on a cruising speed of 120 km/h where the 1800 (and its driver) felt reasonably confident. The fastest speed we pushed was 140 km/h for brief passing bursts. During those, the car actually felt very solid and the engine didn’t complain but quite the opposite, it felt as if it actually thrived on the brief rush of high RPM’s.
It is eye opening to me is how efficient travel is on the Autobahn, and that holds for many highways in North Central Europe. There is a high level of discipline and rigor (certainly in Germany) surrounding lane speed hierarchy. Now, we all know about slow traffic occupying the right lane so as to allow faster traffic to pass on the left lane (we do, don’t we?!). On the A-bahn however, this is a highly choreographed ballet where the drivers are highly alert and quick to move off the lane immediately after passing. It’s my observation that this is the only way that these highways can carry the amount of traffic they do at the rate they do. The speed differential from left to right lane was often as high as 50+ MPH.
Although we saw many noteworthy vehicle on the autobahn, the best were too fast for us to capture on a photo. Chris captured some but he’s off to sleep right now since he returns to the US tomorrow but I’ll retrieve some his photos before he does and update this post with additional photos so check back soon. Here’s the only R8 we saw and a hippie van from the UK. When I passed the van I glanced at the driver and saw a woman reading a book and just about choked — how can she drive the autobahn while reading!? I thought that was exclusively the domain of the bored US driver but a moment later I saw the UK registration and its corresponding right hand drive position and was relieved.
We arrived into Essen around 3:15, happily without incident, found the convention center where Techno Classica was taking place and paid our 8 Euro to park. It turns out the parking lot is a car show of its own with many, many interesting cars. Upon entering the show we landed right into BMW’s display of some of their classics.
There is a lot more to say about Techno Classica as it is a show like no other. It is staggering in its size and breadth. I’d like to report on that and give everyone a feel for what it’s like to be there. I also would like to post on the great people that we met; however… I need to drop off the car at the shipping dock tomorrow morning and I need to get some sleep, so… I will come back and continue this on another post tomorrow. The best is yet to come!
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