After our first day disrupted journey around Lille, our journey east through Germany to visit our friends near Altenburg was pretty much unhindered, save for an exit that Sally Satnav wanted us to take but which was inconsiderately gesperrt [closed]. Our journey back west, so far, couldn’t have been more of a contrast.
Our first major westward step a couple of days ago to get to Dinkelsbuhl should have been a doddle at a mere 130kms/85mls most of which was on autobahnen [motorways]. It was everything but. we slammed into two massive queues caused by two sets of roadworks which, in total, lost us 60 minutes. When attempting to plan journeys to take in the accursed mittagsruhe, a closure that generally runs from 13:00 to 15:00, the last thing one needs is a journey almost doubling in length. Sally Satnav knew about the first delay but seemed blissfully unaware of the second which is curious considering that it was quite clearly a long term engineering project: “delays until 2020” and it felt as if it would take us that long to get through it.
After Dinkelsbuhl we embarked upon our next westward step, a journey of about 210kms/130mls to get to Wachenheim in the Pfalz wine area. Our fortunes were no better than on our previous leg. This time Sally Satnav came up with stationary traffic and a 20 minute delay (diversion not recommended) caused by a multiple vehicle accident. Much of the autobahn system is 2-lane and, when a major incident occurs the road tends to be completely blocked. The delay went up to 60 minutes (diversion recommended).
Driving in France and avoiding the péage autoroutes is reasonably easy because there is usually an N-road, a route nationale, running in a similar direction. We have now realised that the same is not true in Germany where the autobahn system, being free, really is the equivalent of the N-roads; avoiding them can be very tricky in many places. In this case there was a side-road alternative but it took a long delay to make Sally Satnav think that the diversion might be a good idea.
The diversion, which we were happy to take, followed a road with three sharp hairpin bends down into a village in a valley. We were surrounded by a long stream of trucks which had similarly turned off the autobahn to avoid the stationary traffic. The line of trucks must have been in excess of a kilometre – we could see the solid line down the hill and up the road climbing back out of the valley. Each truck had to pause at each hairpin to allow traffic coming up the hill to round the bend. The line on the opposite side of the village was occasionally static, then moved before coming to a halt again. That road did not have hairpins. What it did have, we eventually found out, was a small traffic light controlled roadworks with alternating flow. Brilliant.
We eventually re-joined the autobahn beyond the accident and sailed into another mega-queue caused by yet another long term set of roadworks. The Germans really know how to cause maximum chaos. On both our recent journeys, the roadworks have been positioned at an autobahn kreuz, the coming together of two autobahns. I have never seen so manty static trucks in my life. Major disruption was caused in both directions. Some trucks, perhaps because of the tachograph, pull over onto the hard shoulder and just sit. The traffic doesn’t clear but maybe they stop breaking any driving limits. [Just a thought, maybe wrong.]
Once again, on what should have been a straight forward journey, we lost 65 minutes and just about arrived on the dot of 13:00 when mittagsruhe was about to start. Phew!