Day 13 – Sleeping, packing, driving and finally Cologne

The plan was to sleep in this morning after a night of dancing at the Abiball with Ellen and her family. I think we made it until 9:30am, which was probably just enough sleep. We needed to pack up to leave and the room we were staying in was a disaster. Something about living out of a suitcase tends to do that if you stay in one place for more than a day. I still hope that we didn’t leave anything behind.

When I came downstairs the second time Ellen was awake and talking with her parents. I later learned that she had come home and went to bed about 5am, about the time of sunrise here. I joked that she had probably gotten enough sleep, but as I write this in the car on the way to a Cologne she is sound asleep in the back seat behind me.

I booked our car from Mainz to Munich for later in the week via the Internet, but instead of confirmation of the reservation I got a confirmation of the request for a reservation (with a note that someone would contact me later). When I hadn’t heard anything in a few hours I called the rental company in Mainz. It must be very funny to hear me try to speak to a German whose English is only nominally better than my German. Eventually she got me to central reservations who confirmed that the reservation was all set. The whole time I was having this conversation Layla was showing off her doorframe climbing skills to Britta and Ralf.

We were going to take the train from Osnabruck to Cologne, but found out that train station in Osnabruck was too small to sell German Rail Passes (something a tourist would use to travel multiple days at a reduced rate), so Britta offered Ralf to drive us to Cologne. We said our goodbyes and we were all a little sad to be leaving. The Strakeljahn’s were such great hosts and good friends to us, but it was time to leave.

Along the way Ralf explained the speed limits and no speed limit signs on the Autobahn. In case you are a typical American and think that the Autobahn is a road in Germany with no speed limit you are only partially correct. The Autobahn is the German freeway system. Das autobahn ist the same as a freeway. He explained that it is important to keep a proper following distance when traveling very fast or else the police will ticket you. There are markings on the road near bridges to show you proper spacing. While a Passat is a nice car, I can say that 180km/hr in a Passat wagon with 5 people and a full load of luggage is not the most settling feeling in the passenger seat.

Another nice thing that the German VW navigation system does that mine does not is provide you with the current speed limit. This would have been an excellent feature in the UK where I don’t think we had a constant speed for more than 10 miles on most days.

A bit later the car made a noise and I noticed a coffee cup symbol in the binnacle in the info display. Ralf told me that the car told him, “you are tired, have a cup of coffee.”. He says he wasn’t tired and doesn’t know why the car thinks he is tired, but whenever it tells Britta she is tired it is right.

That’s all for now. I’m going to try to work on the posts from the last few days that I began but never finished.

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