What do non-Germans think of when they are asked to name one thing German? Do they think of beer fests with liter mugs of beer, pork roasts and potato dumplings? Do they think of Christmas markets with steaming-hot, sweet spiced wine and Lebkuchen? Do they sing a song from Nena? Or maybe they think of anything having to do with the hundred-odd years between the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. (I know I certainly do.)
Or do some think of the cool German cars cruising along at the speed of sound on the Autobahn? What great brands we have for the eyes to feast on: BMW, Audi, Porsche, and my favorite, VW, specifically the Golf. Occasionally a Ferrari escapes across the border to go for a run, or a Maserati. At unlimited speeds. Anyone can drive as fast as they want. Or can they?
Richtgeschwindigkeit–advisory speed limit or reference speed on the Autobahn is 130 kmh. That means that one can drive faster, but if an accident occurs, one could be held liable. But over the years, more and more speed limits have been enforced because of Massenkarambolage—Massive Freeway Pileup. I love language.
My most memorable Autobahn moment: I was driving along, doing my 130 kmh, just minding my own business and two zippy cars came up behind me at a terrifying speed. Everyone should experience this just once in their lives: looking into the rear-view mirror and seeing a Porsche and a Ferrari approaching and instead of ramming me or forcing me from the road (the A3 is two lanes here in my area) one passed me on the left and the other passed me on the right, on the shoulder. Those two men (I’m sure they were not women) left a lasting impression on me for life.