Just about caught up on the blog as we recover from having literally no internet access in Berlin.
Once again we have another beautiful day with temperatures between 27-31 C.
We drove through some heavy down pours on the way to Berlin, but we haven’t had our raincoats out since a couple of brief showers in London. Our weather has been spectacular!
We plugged in our Tom Tom 920 GPS once again this morning and it guided us out of Berlin on our way south through Dresden and then into the Czech Republic to Prague. For anyone contemplating driving while on a trip to Europe I would list a good GPS device as mandatory for piece of mind and occasionally a good laugh. Richard, thanks for the excellent advice!
As an example, look at this picture. It’s a little tough to see, but between the field on the left and the trees in the center there are two wheel ruts in the grass from the road that runs up the ridge (that makes the horizon), down into the slight gully and up to the pavement in the foreground. After some sort of an accident on the Autoroute from Koln to Koblenze, on our way to Burg Eltz, we got off the Autoroute and asked Tom Tom to find an alternate route several times. Eventually we wound our way cross-country and followed a one lane paved road that got narrower and narrower and finally told us to make a left turn in 200 metres, then 100 metres, then “TURN LEFT”. We looked at this cart track from the ridge and followed it up to the road this picture was taken from. Burg Eltz was about 1/2 kilometer from this point. Since that time we never underestimate Tom Tom’s ability to get us out of a jam if we miss a turn.
Another nice feature is that you can tell the GPS that you don’t want to go on Toll-roads. You will then be guided through more rural roads that expose you to routes and scenery you’d never imagine if you were trying to do it by maps alone.
Our drive from Berlin to Prague took us through the Germany city of Dresden. Being loyal Volkswagen owners we decided to stop in Dresden to see the factory that makes the very expensive VW Phaeton. It just so happens, one of the U16 Boys soccer teams from our club was in Dresden for 10 day training program from July 20 to 30th. Unfortunately, they happened to be sightseeing in Nuremberg the day we drove through.
Although this plant had just suspended production for summer holidays, we were able to watch a series of recordings that stepped through the assembly of this $90,000 vehicle. All Phaetons are assembled in this glass building and a new owner can watch the assembly of their vehicle as it moves along the production line. Once a car with a confirmed owner is completed, it is stored within the 14 level, circular storage area that can be seen in the middle of the photo.
After learning how the care was made, we all took turns driving the simulator that allows you to take the car on a virtual track and run it up to 260 km/hr. After Andrew took his turn he called “shot-gun” for Mom’s run and managed to direct Mom onto the “Mountain course” which the employee warned could make someone feel pretty queasy! Deana is now holding this over his head for the rest of the trip.
As we left the VW facility we captured yet another example of how the Europeans had the foresight centuries ago to set aside large tracks of land (and maintain it) in the centre of their cities to ensure that people had a place to go for long walks, away from traffic. You can barely see the building in the distance and this stands in the center of the park!