The Race Is Still On ... But Am I In Germany Now?!

There was one thing that had haunted me since the start of the race: it was the regular news that would tell me that in Salzburg the Autobahn was a "wee" "bit" jammed up.

This started innocently enough at 7 AM by getting told that a truck had fallen over and all three lanes were blocked. "That's quite bad," I said out loud. However, I thought it would be all right, since it'd be cleared by the time I'd get there.

After a while the emergency lane was opened and traffic would go through this measly looking space while the ASFINAG was clearing the rest of the road. With still a good 150k between me and Salzburg I thought it'd be fine when I arrived ... no biggy. Right?

When I had my pit-stop I noticed that my phone was already quite keen to divert me via Germany. This did strike me as a bit extreme because when I'd be there it would be cleared. Don't be so dramatic phone ...

I set off again, edging closer and closer to Salzburg, and more and more traffic signs flashed up to tell me that there was a "biggy" ahead. In my hearts of hearts I knew that I had to divert. My phone did too. And so I rolled off the Autobahn, onto the real road and trundled along.

Then I drove underneath the jammed up Autobahn, and it was massive. It looked disgusting! Had I stayed on route it would have cost me a good hour and more of my life.

Instead of losing vital minutes I was making good progress trundling along the B-Road: Austrian number plate in front, German behind, and another Austrian behind them. Then I wondered "Am I already in Germany?"

For an American it might be unimaginable that you're able to cross into another country without really noticing. However, for a continental European it is not a "wild story" when you do this. This is because the borders are hardly noticeable anymore. Instead, it leaves you rather confused. Suddenly the world feels like someone shifted every piece of furniture an inch to the right.

The first time I got this sensation was when I saw a yellow direction sign. Signs are not really something you spend your time thinking about. However, in Austria direction signs are white with a blue frame (ever so fashionable), while in Germany they are yellow full stop (not so fashionable).

"This is a sign ..." I realized. "... I am no longer in Austria, am I?" Still being packed inside the Austrian car convoy, I had to look at the traffic coming the other way. Three cars were driving past me, all plates German.

"Oh for f#*k's sake, I am already in Germany!" I exclaimed, and I had been for a good 10 kilometers until I had noticed. Then I began to realized that the two suspiciously different looking police cars under the Autobahn bridge had not been there to keep the cars on the in check. No, in fact that had been border control ...

The detour did not bother me as much as I thought it would - for one, it was the fastest route at the moment. So I was still convinced that somehow I could win this. Now I was running on the lower edge of my Rookie Bonus, I would have to use it all.

Furthermore, the road was good fun! This is a road that I need to remember, it was smaller, a bit twiddly and went past pretty scenery.

A few more kilometers later I had crossed back into Austria, which had been announced by a measly sign on the side of the road. Not only that, I realized that this detour had probably thrown me onto the same route as Barb was driving on.

This was a game changer .... what if I'd see the Fiesta in front of me? What if I saw it behind me? I had to win this. I could make this! Fueled with bitter determination, water, and Red Bull I pressed on!

Then I had reached Zell ... and I hit traffic. There were only 800 meters to go, and I was stuck! At this point I dared to check my phone and saw a message from Barb. She was also complaining about the traffic. In fact we were in the same traffic jam!

Just that her message had been ten minutes old, and as I replied it turned out that she had already found a sad looking parking spot and was trundling through - getting lost in - the city in search of the café. I thought "if I can find a parking spot near the café, and run ... I could make it!"

Hope shattered because when I could finally move I realized that there was no parking spot near the café, and I had to turn back into the welcoming and deadly arms of the traffic jam. By then, I was ready was feeling a little murderous ...

Another ten minutes and 500 meters later I could squeeze my car into a parking spot when the message from Barb arrived that she had found a nice place to sit at.

A few moments later I joined her by the lake.

Despite technically losing, I called this a victory nevertheless. A moral one. I had a 30 minutes Rookie Bonus. Let's be honest, I messed up sat-nat at the beginning . Then I had to divert via Germany because of no fault of my own, and still, I had only been 10 minutes behind her.

That's a good result all the same and it was so much fun!

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