It was foggy as Dad, Mum and I journeyed to Berlin on the 1st of December 2015 – we were headed to the Northern part of Germany to visit a couple of lovely people and. Rain was dibble dibble dopp dopp-ing on the windows, Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World” was playing on the radio, and Dad was telling my Mum about how much he loved radish. I rested my head on my arm which I had propped up on my seat’s armrest and looked back every now and then at the empty seat at the other side of the car. My sister could’ve been seated there if she didn’t have school to attend. I missed her so terribly.
The fog thickened up by quite a bit as we reached a stretch of our road trip which involved driving through a valley, and it certainly felt as though we were driving into a field of cotton buds. We could barely see anything beyond a 5-metre radius and it was getting a little dangerous to maintain the 120km/h speed (considered slow on a highway which does NOT have a speed limit), so Dad slowed down to a comfortable speed of 90km/h along with the other vehicles around us.
As we were approaching this particularly foggy valley, I thought out loud, “I wonder how drivers see in such conditions…”
Dad then shared with us that some cars in Europe have special ‘fog lights’, which basically are lights which help other drivers to see one’s car better. They have a unique beam shape – flat and wide, and they are positioned low on the car (usually near the front bumper). That got the ball rolling me – I began consciously looking out for cars with fog lights and I realised that although the presence of the fog proved the necessity for them in Europe, not many cars are fitted with them.
Also, I found out that there was once a massive collision that once happened there in that very valley. It involved about 150 cars and it happened due to the very fact that speed limits were non-existent along this highway. Drivers kept on speeding despite driving into the ‘cotton bud’, not knowing that an accident had taken place ahead… so a collision between 2 cars grew to 33 and eventually to about 150. It was insane!
This was when I saw little blinking lights in the distance – on and off, on and off they went. A row of houses had their lights switched on and they reminded me of the string of ocean blue fairy lights I envision to have hanging above my bed in my new room.
Every now and then, I’d look out of the window to catch a glimpse of something peculiar.
During one of those moments, I spotted a sign indicating that a village called “Erfurt Lederhose” was located at the next exit. “Lederhose” translates to “Leather pants”!! Hahaha! Ah and another instance was when I spotted a village called “Wedding”!
After kilometres of driving past farmland and forests, I knew we were getting closer and closer to civilisation when I saw blinking red lights in the distance – on and off, on and off, on and off they went. They were approaching us, or rather we were approaching them. A sign which read “Naumburg” sped past us, or no… rather we sped past the sign. I’m clearly getting a little sleepy as I type this…
Moments later, we drove into a section of the highway which had a field of hundreds of gigantic windmills on either side. It was a very very strange scene – a rather uncomfortable one too. It looked so metallic, so mechanised, so futuristic and so so… foreign. It reminded me so much of those scenes in movies like Maze Runner or Hunger Games where everything was wiped out after bombs and such to leave behind the metal infrastructure and the metal infrastructure only. There were no houses in sight. Of course, the windmill fields weren’t in any way run down or trashed or anything. They simply had the feel of unfamiliarity and as though giant robots with red eyes were looking down upon us and watching our every move. It was rather eerie…
It was a loooong looooooooong circa 6-hour ride and I felt so much relief when we finally drove into Berlin at around 6 pm. My legs were getting a little cramp-y and my mood a little cranky! I don’t fancy sitting around for long hours and so I was over the moon when we finally got about checking into our humble hotel and walking around Germany’s version of a city which never sleeps.
The lights of the awake city were nearly blinding. Advertisements, signs, and posters hung from almost every building in a dazzling array of screaming colours. The colours weren’t muted, they were neon, the really bright and glaring kind. It reminded me of Las Vegas from many many years ago.
I went to sleep that night excited for Day 2 because oh my my from Christmas markets to the Berlin Wall to the many many art structures all over the city, there was just so much to see and experience!