Day 3: Genk to Boppard
After breakfast at the hotel in Genk, I checked out ahead of a day which would see me driving – for the first time – in to Germany.
Before I left the Genk area, I stopped off at the Hoge Kempen National Park and went for a walk. In the full heat of the day it wasn’t to be a terribly long walk. Just 40 minutes in total, followed by a milkshake in the café.
At about midday I made my way back to the car and headed for the motorway. There wasn’t much of Belgium left before I crossed in to the Netherlands – and then just a few kilometers until the German border. It only took 30 minutes before I was at the German border.
I refilled with petrol while still in the Netherlands: Today being Sunday, just about every petrol station apart from those in motorway service stations was closed. This did mean I probably paid more than I should have done, but no problem.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but the petrol station was right on the Dutch/German border (I’d not seen the decimal point in the sign which said how many km to the border, and thought it said 10). So almost immediately after pulling out of the services, I was on the German Autobahn.
It took a while before it finally clicked that I was on the Autobahn, in an unrestricted section. What on earth was I doing trundling along at 120km/h – the speed limit of the Dutch A76!? I put my foot down and slowly increased the speed.
After passing a set of roadworks and then returning to a bit of de-restricted Autobahn, I found that with no HGVs on the roads (I do love Sundays) the traffic was light enough that I was able to get up to 145km/h (90mph) in the slow lane. There was the odd caravan – all but one of them British – but they weren’t a problem.
In fact at one point I was in lane 1 keeping pace with the car in front, with an indicated speed of 97mph on my dashboard. I’d lose my license in the UK but in this country it’s relatively slow: I was being overtaken by Audis and BMWs all the time – they go like bullets!
So 90mph became my cruising speed – jumping up to 160km/h (100mph) in lanes 2 and 3 but for no more than a few miles at a time. The top speed I reached – according to my sat nav – was 170km/h which works out as 106mph. I could probably have gone faster if I had the inclination – but I stuck at a speed I was comfortable with.
It wasn’t all high speed driving; There were many sections with speed limits, particularly around big junctions and through roadworks. The journey was uneventful and I felt very „at home“ on the Autobahn! Despite what you might think, the German Autobahn isn’t aggressive: It’s just fast – and surprisingly enjoyable.
I’m don’t think it will be like that all week though: There will be HGVs to contend with, along with rush hour traffic. Germany’s roads get very busy, very quickly.
As I moved through Germany the scenery changed quite considerably. My only previous experiences of driving abroad have been the North of France, Belgium and the Netherlands: Very flat areas. As I moved South – and particularly when I crossed from Nordrhein-Westfalen in to Rheinland-Pfalz, the scenery changed and even from the Autobahn I could catch glimpses of the very nice looking river valleys down below.
Away from the Autobahn: I stopped in Brühl – just over half way between Genk and Boppard – to visit the Falkenlust Castle. Very grand looking! Unfortunately it decided to pour with rain not long after I arrived. There were 2 sharp but short thunder storms. Then, almost as quickly as the rain started, it stopped and the Sun came out again!
I arrived in Boppard at about 16:30. The last section – driving from the Autobahn junction in to Boppard and my hotel – was almost like being in Greece – all those hairpin bends as I came down in to the valley.
After checking in to the hotel I went for a walk in to Boppard. It was quite hot and humid so I didn’t take a coat or jumper with me. I walked for miles along the river (the Rhein): Clearly all this time in the car is having an effect on me!
Returning to the hotel – the same hotel I stayed at on my first visit to Germany in 2006 – I had my evening meal in the renovated bar: a simple Schnitzel + Chips was simple enough for me.
Tomorrow, not so much driving – and I’m staying in Boppard for 2 nights so no need to pack everything in to the back of the car again! I’ll stick to the local roads as I head towards Koblenz and on to Cochem.
Today’s Milage: 161 Miles
Accumulative Milage: 531 Miles