Taking the Scenic Route

Leaving Attendorn, on to Frankfort for our Last Night in Germany

24th August 2008

Leaving Attendorn, on to Frankfort for our Last Night in Germany

The hotel in Frankfort was the picture of modern efficiency.  I was impressed by the technology, but after a week with such charming hosts in a smaller town, it felt very sterile. 
When we got to the room this was on the tv

The key had to be put in the wall slot in order to turn on any lights.  It keeps guests from leaving lights on when they leave the room.  It might also tell the desk when a guest isn’t in the room any more, but that is just speculuation on my part.

You could buy internet access for $5 Euros and hour.  Uh, no.  It takes a good 10-15 minutes to connect to anything, so we didn’t mess with it.

The bed was softer than the one we had in Attendorn, but still not very comfortable.  Notice the quilt is smaller than the bed.  It’s a good thing we don’t mind sleeping close together.  lol.

If you opened the windows, the air conditioner shut off.  Pretty clever. 

The view from our window.  The hotel was once the city’s airport (we deduced from the pictures on the wall).  I suspect the orginal building was the gray part, like the section we were in. 

Supper in the eveing was so overpriced that we were appalled.  Clearly dealing with a captive audience here and taking advantage of it.  We finally settled on a four cheese pizza and a ham and cheese sandwich.  Everyone who worked there seemed to speak English like natives, and most of the tables that surrounded us were filled with Americans.  It felt sort of weird after the experience we just had.  Service was paced much more like Americans would be used to also. It was like we were being broken back into “American Life” and we hadn’t even left Germany. 

The breakfast was in the area straight ahead, on the first floor.  It was a buffet breakfast and you had to use your room key to enter the area.  Breakfast was bountiful, but much more geared towards American tastebuds rather than German.  Lots of eggs and bacon, and in the areas with more German foods, it was still good, but clearly not top quality like we had experienced in Attendorn.  One bonus was the coffee machine.  Instead of serving you coffee, you went to a machine and pushed a button of what kind of coffee you wanted…everything from lattes to coffee, to expresso…about 8 or 10 kinds of coffee.  It took about 5 “servings”/press of the button to fill a cup with expresso.  Zach was well wired before leaving.  lol.

If we do this again, we will stay in Attendorn and just deal with the two hour drive the morning or our flight out.  The hotel was fine, but it was a let down after the previous weeks.  It lacked the personality and intimacy we had come to enjoy in Attendorn.

posted in Attendorn, Autobahn, Frankfurt, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

18th August 2008

Leaving Cologne, The Autobahn, Part II

As we were finding the highway, I saw this out my window

The navigation system, again, didn’t really know where we were for a while and kept trying to get us to turn into buildings. Eventually, on one of the more major roads, it started working correctly.

Over the Rhine

And this made me feel right at home.  (except that the driver had to be completely insane to drive a long hayrack, pulled by a tractor, through the city of Koln)

Once again Ms. Navigation Lady was leading us back to Attendorn on the curvy countryside roads. They are lovely, but we were hoping to get back there before dark, and really didn’t want to go down hairpin turns at night, so we pulled over to see if there was another setting that would direct us back to the autobaun instead of through the countryside. After flipping through the settings, we guessed that “Fast Route” might be what we need. After some anxious minutes trying to follow where it was taking us on the map, it finally lead us back to the Autobaun and we were off.

The sun was behind us and the road stretched out in front of us and it was fun. Great weather, great driving. Not so great navigation system. As we neared the intersection that would lead us on another short jaunt on a different autobahn highway before turning off towards Attendorn, the navigation lady told us to “Prepare to stay in the left lane in 300 meters”, (is she worried we will ignore her again and giving us a bigger warning now?), “…200 meters”, then “Stay in the left lane” and we watch what we thought was the exit go by on the right hand side. Just as we wiz pass the only exit, she insists “Turn Right NOW”. Um, lady, we are in the left lane, and the only thing to the right is through the barriers, off the bridge and down the hill. Not gonna happen. She then starts her “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in her sing songy voice again. She keeps repeating it to the point Zach and I are laughing as we argue with her that there is no place to turn around. Then she starts with “Off Road….New Route, Make a U-Turn”. Eventually, her meltdown turns to begging us “Off Road, Please Follow Arrow” (little arrows on her screen). More of the “Please follow arrows” and “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in that same sing-songy voice has us laughing so hard we have to slow down.

We find a place to turn around. She seems happier. She is now “Calculating a New Route” and we are back on the highway, cruising along. Pretty soon we are getting the warnings that the turn off is coming, except that when we come upon the exit, it is closed. Navigation lady doesn’t know it’s closed and is throwing another hissy fit. “New Route, Make a U-Turn” (a phrase that is now so stuck in our head that we know Zane is going to pick it up anyway because it is becoming part of our lexicon). She was convinced we were off roading again (clearly, she doesn’t know what off roading actually is, but if she is as autistic as she sounds, she wouldn’t like the dirt much). Nine KMs down the road we can turn around again, and she recalculates again.

This time, as we approach our intersection, when she tells us to “Prepare to stay in the left lane” we tell her where to put it and go into the right lane, get off the exit, and wonder of wonders, are actually able to follow her desperate plea of “Turn Right NOW” when she says it because we ignored her earlier.

She does a good job the rest of the way, except that we don’t follow her directions into the center of town (off roading again, apparently) and after a few more “New Route, Please make a U-Turn) we shut her off. We know where we are going and don’t need her any more.

Up the hill and to the castle festival for our last stop of the day.

(just a note, we are in no way being critical of autstics here…it was just our experience of the sing song repetitive phrases that autistics often have as they are scripting or using delayed echolalia. We could clearly hear Zane’s voice in our heads repeating the exact phrasing she used, and we found joy and humor in it, as only other parents/caregivers of an autist would probably relate to so well)

posted in Attendorn, Autistic Life, Autobahn, Cologne/Koln, Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

17th August 2008

The Autobahn, part I

There are no pictures.  There is no way to show visually how much fun it is to drive on the Autobahn.  (more acurately, there was no way to grab the camera in time to get the pictures….”look at that”  “what?” “never mind”.)

One of the interesting sights on the way to the Autobahn were the myriad of biker bars and biker gangs hanging out on the scenic overlooks.  I wouldn’t want to mess with them or anything, but they looked like a higher caliber of biker than I generally see.  lol.

Once on the Autobahn, we had the humourous, anticlimatic, experience of a traffic jam.  We nearly stood still and inched our way forward for a while as we edged around construction.  *sigh*  This is NOT the Autobahn experience we were looking for.  lol

Eventually we got past the construction and the road opened up.  As I watched everybody pass us, I asked Zach if he was planning on going any faster.  This is the Autobahn, you don’t need to go speed limit.  Everybody is passing us.  So, he sped up.  A few more miles down the road, I made the comment “You are SO not Steve” (my brother, who builds and races cars as a hobby) and we laughed.  He said “I’m Going 100….do you really think it is ok to go faster? Last time I went faster I threw a rod”.  I told him that “ 100km per hour is only about 60 miles per hour…we go faster than that on the interstate, and we are driving a new car meant to go fast, not an aging 1969 clunker.  Plus, people hauling trailors are passing us.  You can go a leetttle beet faster”

So, eventually, he started punching it up to a more “reasonable” speed of 160km/hr.  “Honey, do you notice that even the minivans are still passing us?” Eventually, he kept up with traffic.

It wasn’t until the ride home though that he really felt comfortable enough to be the passer instead of the passee.  Now that was some serious fun.  He described it as feeling like we were in a video game. Even getting up to the faster speeds (not gonna say how fast, but we were booking it), where we were doing most of the passing, we still had the uncanny experience of discovering in the middle of a pass that the vehicle that was just a speck in the mirror at the start of the pass was suddenly riding our tailpipe halfway through. Now that person would be Steve.

Later, I will add more about the fun of an automatic navigation system on the autobahn, but the story is better after some of the in town navigation experiences.

posted in Autobahn, Germany, Travel | Comments Off

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