21 September 2009

Rainy Monday Road Trip

It's a rainy, grey day here in Ames. As I drove the girls to their day care this morning, I thought more than once that it felt as though I were in Ireland again (luckily, I kept my American head enough to stay on the right side of the road).

The thing I love about Ireland - indeed, most of Europe that I've seen - is the way the density of the population leads to a near-bewildering web of roads. Beloved and I discovered this on our Germany honeymoon. Landing in Frankfurt, we set off for Bamberg, thinking it would be an easy two-hour drive on the Autobahn. Unfortunately, our directions were American-style: " take A3-A4-A7, etc." Works great in the American midwest, where you can travel for hours on one road and never vary more than a point or two off the compass direction along which you started. But an hour after leaving Frankfurt, we were lost. Hopelessly lost. Off the map, no idea where we are lost. Looking back, it's hilarious, but at the moment it was more than a little stressful. We learned that planning car trips in Europe means going to towns, not along routes, as in "Rothenburg to Oberdachstetten to Hainklingen to Ammerndorf to Oberasbach to Nurnberg." More or less. Of course, in some cases, the freeways are faster, and you can somewhat direct yourself via routes if you like. But we found that finding our way around Germany by map and town was far simpler AND far, far more scenic and rewarding. Winding your Peugot around those little roads, driving through towns where every house has windowboxes full of flowers in bloom - these are the off-the-track joys of travel in unfamiliar places.

So, consider this post a chance to check out some unfamiliar territory, courtesy of your friendly travel guide. Here are some links worthy of your attention.
I think that'll do for today. Hoping to have an original post worth contemplating tomorrow. For now, you've got your directions - enjoy the open road.

Grace & peace,

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