When we had made it out of Cologne and were steadily making our way down the freeway, I looked down at the electronic display on the dash and read: "Die 07 April 2009." Seriously, die? Here we had just survived a one-way street, shifting issues, German hand gestures, sketchy directions, map phobia and this Italian Fiat's dash read: "Die 07 April 2009." We thought at the time that surely it meant "date" until we took off the next morning and looked down to see that it had changed. None-the-less, we survived, so it must have merely been a horrific translation coincidence. By the way, die means "the" in German.
Other things we learned the day of the Fiat:
Roundabouts are everywhere. They're actually everywhere in Europe. Very intimidating at first.
The posted speed limit is a suggestion only - and not like it's a suggestion in the states.
Locals faithfully abide by the slow lane/fast lane. If you are going the suggested speed limit, stay to the right!
Roads are VERY narrow. Do not mistake them for one-way streets. Grip the wheel, hit the gas, hold your breath and brace for oncoming traffic.
Castles are around every bend on the Rhine river. Literally.
Neighbors of castles are most castles. My husband, a man, posed the thought: "I wonder if it was like - who can build the biggest castle?"
Mirrors are posted on sharp corners to let you know if there is oncoming traffic. Pay attention!
Be patient going up a hill to see a castle, especially in a manual. Take it slow, speak kindly to your car, shift with confidence and think happy thoughts.
I think I only killed the car three times total?
Monty Python's Spamalot is playing in a theatre next to the Cologne train station. This was the sight we saw that guided the Fiat back to its home.
At the train station, you have to pay one Euro to use the bathroom. That goes for both men and women.
The Subway (sandwich shop) in the Cologne train station does not have pepper jack cheese. They do, however, have cream cheese.
My journal thoughts of Germany: "Rough edges but green inside."
Needless to say, we have some of the fondest memories of this stint on our vacation. We did make it from Burg Eltz to our hotel along the Rhine somewhat effortlessly. We drove through Bacharach, our homestead for the night, several times and ended up asking for more directions to find our hotel, however, when we did, one of the nicest hosts in the world poured us the greatest glass of Riesling, ever.