Friday, August 1, 2014

I have a confession.  I have an unhealthy need for speed anytime I drive in Europe.  It all goes back to a European backpack trip when I was just 21.  Back then I was doing a long Eurail travel trip throughout Europe with a friend and we stopped in Austria to drive on the Autobahn from Salzburg to Vienna.

This was at a time when you could actually walk up to a Hertz car rental and get a Ferrari or Porsche to rent!  No, I'm not talking about $3000 per day or some ludicrous cost. Sure, they went for a lot more money than your typical sedan but it wasn't over the top.

You will not see these at your typical European rental car agency
The only catch was that you had to be 25 to rent them and we were only 21.  Damn!  We opted for a BMW 637csi at the time and cranked that baby up to 156mph on the Autobahn. That was as fast as it would go.  I figured out that after about 140mph I get kind of white knuckled to the steering wheel.

The crazy part of the day was that we were getting passed!  We learned our lesson that day about hanging out in the left lane on the autobahn.  Don't do it!  Unless you own a super car you will get passed.  We had a Ferrari, a Porsche and a Mercedes all pass us during that drive.  And we weren't looking to get passed!

I never got the opportunity to drive in Europe again until almost 20 years later.  I was focusing on visiting other parts of the world during that timeframe and when the opportunity to do a work trip in the Netherlands came up, I immediately tagged on three days for driving in Germany.  I was determined to go faster!

But to my surprise, in those 20 years the rental car industry had learned a few things.  One of them was to not offer up super cars for rentals in Europe.  Duh!  So despite my searching and searching, I couldn't find anything really exotic to rent and abuse on the German Autobahn.  Sure, I could rent a Lamborghini but the cost of doing so was so much that only a person rich enough to afford one of their own could afford to rent one so that wasn't an option.

In the end, I dragged my co-worker onto the trip and we ended up with a large sedan.  We thought we were getting a Mercedes but they did a bait-and-switch at the rental place and ended up with a high end Peugeot.  That is an oxymoron.  To be fair though, it did get up to about 140 tops and I spent the better part of three days driving between 120-140mph.

At that speed I also learned that I don't get bored, tired or drowsy.  It's just too exhilarating.  Of course, we set off from Amsterdam and I just couldn't wait to get started so I just pretended all of Europe was an Autobahn.  Miraculously, I never got a speeding ticket on my way to Europe despite all the warnings I was given.  Sure, dumb luck.

Of course, there are only so many true "autobahn" roads and you cannot really drive for three days on them unless you keep repeating them so we did embellish by driving too fast on other roads too.

What did finally get me to slow down was a bit of rain while heading up the Rhine River.  Call me a wimp but I don't like to go over 100mph on slick roads.  We had a convertible BMW pass us during that time.  She was going about 120mph at the time.  About 15 minutes later we saw her car sprawled out all over the road.  Pieces were everywhere and amazingly she was standing with a police officer.  My hat goes off to German engineering after seeing that.

I got one last opportunity to speed ridiculously fast while heading up the Italian Riviera.  I did have a beastly Mercedes at the time and I might as well be driving it because there certainly wasn't anywhere in all of Italy to park it.  It was simply too big!  The thing about driving over 100mph in Italy on the E80 is that there are a bazillion tunnels to go through.  You just get tired of taking your sunglasses on and off after awhile.

Yep, eventually you are driving in a dark tunnel at 130mph with sunglasses on.  And the fact that I'm writing this and not squatting still in some Italian jail or having this inscribed on a tombstone indicates that while stupid and unsafe I am sure, I pulled it off.  I think I can safely say I'm satisfied with my speed binges now.  I think...


  1. reforminggeek - Just don't let your head spin when driving at those speeds...not good!