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Just got back from two weeks in Germany, Austria and Italy wrapped around a 5/17 delivery on an '05 530i. Loved the sights, the culture and food & wine, but the Autobahn was, I think, a bit overated, at least from a safety/design veiwpoint. Admittedly, we only drove 180-190 miles on it and that probably is not a fair sampling of the overall system but, interchanges, on/off ramps, cloverleafs and quality and visibility of signage seemed to be inferior to our own Interstate highway system here at home. Oh, and fully grown, mature trees standing 30'-40' from the shoulder....won't see that over here.
In all fairness though, the Autobahn did deliver on its best known attribute....SPEED! To be passed while doing 100+ MPH is quite an experience, one that we sadly will never have here.
We did a combination of driving/public transportation while there: the new BMW, night trains, milk trains, U-bahn, S-bahn, vappereto,and water taxies. We sought out small privately owned hotels and hole-in- the-wall eateries without english menus. Those of you planning your first trip to Europe, I would urge you to not to try finding the United States while there, but to throw yourself into the local culture as much as you can. Those interactions, (and your new BMW, of course) will be your fondest memories.
Having said all that, here are a few PICS from our trip.

1. Pulling out of the ED center.
2. The obligatory shot in front.
3. It's called a "Stecherlfisch"..smoked monkfish on a stick. Englischer Garten, Munich.
4. They get started young on those giant pretzels. Marienplatz, Munich.
5. Get a good parking spot and keep it...walk everywhere in Rothenburg, Germany.
 

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jcrose19337 said:
but the Autobahn was, I think, a bit overated, at least from a safety/design veiwpoint.
Hehe, you should try the Autostrada in Italy for comparison... There were sections in the norther hills which had extremely tight and bumpy curves, no emergency lanes, unlit tunnels... you name it, all the no-no's were present.

adc
03 330 ZHP
 

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but the Autobahn was, I think, a bit overated, at least from a safety/design veiwpoint
I'm not sure I agree. I watched a documentary on the history of the autobahn; and it's designed pretty well.

Unlike the US interstate highway system, the road bed of the entire autobahn network is 27" thick, which makes it virtually immune from frost heave and other geologic deterioration. When a section gets damaged, there is no "spot repair," the completely remove and rebuild that section. From what I've experienced, the quality of the road surface itself, on balance, is superior to the US interstate system, on balance. In fact, except in Italy, the quality of every road I've driven on in europe is equal or better to the best roads I've driven on in the US. (that's what $5.50/gal gas will get you)

The radii and bank-angles of the curves were designed so that a driver wouldn't have to slow down to take them. The entire network is monitored in real-time and the speed limits can be adjusted based on weather, construction, traffic volume, etc.

I think that European road signage, while different, is more effective. Now, I have roughly 8000 miles of driving experience on european roads; so that might impact my opinion of their effectiveness.

I don't find that the interchanges are too bad; but consider that almost the entire landmass of Europe is owned by one private party or another, and that they might not have the same kinds of government-friendly eminent domain laws that we do in the US, forcing the designers and engineers of the system to have to make judicious use of space when building up interchanges and on/off ramp complexes.

I also love their rest area concept where the rest areas have gas and food without having to exit the highway and hunt for something.

I will agree that the Italian Autostrada network is significantly less impressive than the Autobahn (and in worse condition, to boot), but Italy is a significantly more rugged country than Germany, especially in the northern part. That said, the drive along the Ligurian coast is a beautiful example of civil engineering, with the roadsurface alternating between tunnel and bridge for miles and miles.

-MrB
 

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mrbelk said:
I'm not sure I agree. I watched a documentary on the history of the autobahn; and it's designed pretty well.
I don't have as much experience, but I agree that overall it's better designed. Pavement quality is better, interchanges are generally better. Signage is at least as good (although the fact that it's different means it may not seem as helpful). The best thing about them, I think, are the interchanges. In the U.S. there's often a lot of merging where people are getting on and off at the same place. In many places at least that I saw, the merging/exiting traffic was separated onto a lengthy ein/ausgang, so that one could decelearate or accelerate without merging immediately. Of course, the fact that people comply much better with basic traffic safety rules also markedly improves things.

Now, I see that you're from ohio (well, you, the original poster). Having driven a fair amount in parts of hte country with more land and less population, I think the roads are closer to autobahn quality--there's less need to jam interchanges into restricted urban areas (although obviously the cities are a problem). Farmland was cheap 50 years ago, so they could build it right. I don't think the pavement quality is all that, even so, but I'd say it's somewhat closer to Germany in places not right on the urban parts of the coasts.
 

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It isn't only the roads that are better in Germany...it is also the drivers. It is very expensive and time consuming to get a driver's license in Germany...it is downright free and takes zero time here, comparison-wise.

German's autobahns are designed to be travelled at high rates of speed (200 mph might be a theoretical max) and so a lot of planning must go into them to make is safe to travel that fast.

The US has a helluva lot more people, a helluva lot more cars and big trucks, and a helluva lot more miles of roads. Also, we pay a lot less for gas than Europe does. So I bet if you did a ratio of dollars spent per licensed driver per mile of road (say a typical interstate of divided lanes), Europe's ratio would be quite high compared to the US. Of course, I'm just guessing...I really have no clue but that is my educational guess. :)
 

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Ågent99 said:
So I bet if you did a ratio of dollars spent per licensed driver per mile of road (say a typical interstate of divided lanes), Europe's ratio would be quite high compared to the US. Of course, I'm just guessing...I really have no clue but that is my educational guess. :)
I think the special on the Autobahn (on the National Geographic Channel) mentioned something like $1M/mile-year, which is double (or so) what they said the US spent. Of course, the US has something like 43k miles, whereas Germany has 8k miles (again, I could be way off--this is memory). So, the US would have to spend about $22B/year more than it does to have equivalent spending. Who knows what that would buy us, though.
 

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Every time I go to Europe it takes me a couple of days to get used to the signs. Initially I need to concentrate a little bit more and remember how they are all posted. After that it's a walk in the park.

I do however hate the on/off ramps here in the US. When I first came to the US I almost wrecked a couple of times by trying to decelerate only using the off ramp. Plus I do not remember of any highway entrance in Germany where you had to merge into 80mph traffic from a stand still.

.Trex
 

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I think the most confusing thing to most inexperienced Autobahn travellers is the fact that there are no directions (N,S,E,W) on any of the directional signs. You have to know the next moderate to major city in your direction of travel (e.g. from Garmisch "A9 Munich" vs. "A9 North to Munich"). Think of it as a forced geography lesson every time you take a road trip :bigpimp:

Other than that, with AutoBahns and Bundesbahns, you just have to familiarize yourself with the meaning of the sign (e.g. circle with a grey "80" with a slash through it would bring a WTF? from most non-european drivers).
 

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gesoffen said:
I think the most confusing thing to most inexperienced Autobahn travellers is the fact that there are no directions (N,S,E,W) on any of the directional signs. You have to know the next moderate to major city in your direction of travel (e.g. from Garmisch "A9 Munich" vs. "A9 North to Munich"). Think of it as a forced geography lesson every time you take a road trip :bigpimp:

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Certainly agree that directionals would help.

Of course, in some cases it might not--I've been living in DC for nearly 10 years, and I still can't keep track of what's meant by "east" and "west" on the beltway. :eeps:
 

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I found the Autobahn quite bumpy in some areas at 155.
The autobahn always has a divider between opposite direction traffic:)

There is a lot of traffic on the Autobahn.:thumbdwn:

I luv the Autobahn.
 

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Ågent99 said:
It isn't only the roads that are better in Germany...it is also the drivers. It is very expensive and time consuming to get a driver's license in Germany...it is downright free and takes zero time here, comparison-wise.

German's autobahns are designed to be travelled at high rates of speed (200 mph might be a theoretical max) and so a lot of planning must go into them to make is safe to travel that fast.

The US has a helluva lot more people, a helluva lot more cars and big trucks, and a helluva lot more miles of roads. Also, we pay a lot less for gas than Europe does. So I bet if you did a ratio of dollars spent per licensed driver per mile of road (say a typical interstate of divided lanes), Europe's ratio would be quite high compared to the US. Of course, I'm just guessing...I really have no clue but that is my educational guess. :)
Drivers are better for sure and the Germans are taxed highly for their driving pleasure...but they get their moneys worth. If you doubt me, come take a look at the concrete work just done on my street or visit Kansas City and I'll take you for a ride on I-35 downtown...voted the "worst stretch of Interstate in the United States".
 

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Driver's ARE better, yes. Driver behavior is WAYYYYY better than the US though. The protection of the left lane and obligatory decency to move immediately to the right after passing is something I crave over here. Especially in Washington state and here in So. California.
My observation in both Italy and Germany was that there was virtually NO debris on the Stradas and Bahns. Certainly nothing large or dangerous, ever, even on the shoulder. I did not even get a rock chip!
Sorry about your experience, e36M3!

BTW, congrats JCROSE on the completion of your ED experience!
 

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Thanks! :p

Yes I agree, and despite my running into a stupid cell phone talkin', left lane blockin, 105mph drivin, non-rear view watchin' Italian biatch, yes, they are much more respectful than here. Here it appears to be a blow to your macho to move right to let the faster car pass. There (except Austria) they seem to dive out of your way! :thumbup:

I see people post how they long to blast down the autostrada/bahn at 170mph, that is not the true joy, the real joy is driving to your destination at 120-140 mph cruising at these speeds. Its amazing how much ground you can cover, in a short time. We could do LA -> San Francisco in 3 hours. That would be a huge difference.

emdreiSMG said:
Driver's ARE better, yes. Driver behavior is WAYYYYY better than the US though. The protection of the left lane and obligatory decency to move immediately to the right after passing is something I crave over here. Especially in Washington state and here in So. California.
My observation in both Italy and Germany was that there was virtually NO debris on the Stradas and Bahns. Certainly nothing large or dangerous, ever, even on the shoulder. I did not even get a rock chip!
Sorry about your experience, e36M3!

BTW, congrats JCROSE on the completion of your ED experience!
 

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e36M3r said:
... the real joy is driving to your destination at 120-140 mph cruising at these speeds. Its amazing how much ground you can cover, in a short time. We could do LA -> San Francisco in 3 hours...
... and stay awake. Perhaps, that's a bigger problem when driving across the U.S.
 

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trex said:
Every time I go to Europe it takes me a couple of days to get used to the signs. Initially I need to concentrate a little bit more and remember how they are all posted. After that it's a walk in the park.

I do however hate the on/off ramps here in the US. When I first came to the US I almost wrecked a couple of times by trying to decelerate only using the off ramp. Plus I do not remember of any highway entrance in Germany where you had to merge into 80mph traffic from a stand still.
Aaahh, now I get it. So that's why you USians are all obsessed with hp and 0-60: nothing other than raw self-preservation. Quite understandable :D
 

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It is also why people buy huge cars and trucks. As someone from 'de South Side of Chicago explained to me, all the extra metal keeps them away from the "axe-e-dent."
 

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Tanning machine said:
Of course, in some cases it might not--I've been living in DC for nearly 10 years, and I still can't keep track of what's meant by "east" and "west" on the beltway. :eeps:
There is a model of efficient road design!!! Left exits/entrances galore, confusing road signs, shared entrance and exit ramps for high volume traffic :loco:

One other thing that gets inexperienced drives in trouble - the right of way sign (the little yellow diamond). That and the yield to the right when the right of way sign or other traffic control is not present bit - those ALWAYS confuse people.
 
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