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The glamour of business travel - Flying Lufthansa and Driving an A3 on the Autobahn

By Andrew Pollack on 09/23/2013 at 07:37 AM EDT

I opted to take a different route this time to AdminCamp in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The idea was a non-stop flight from Boston to Frankfurt, then over night in Frankfurt and drive the two hours or so the next day.

To begin with, Lufthansa have managed to design the least comfortable cattle class seat ever. It's basically a thin bit of plastic with a semi-padded foam backing and polyester cover. I ended up next to a grossly overweight, hairy east asian man who didn't fit the width of his window seat and snored the entire distance. By the time we were halfway across the Atlantic I was considering an elbow strike to the throat just to get him to shut up. There wasn't another empty seat to move to. It wasn't a good flight. I landed and cleared passport control very quickly, but then took almost half an hour to find where the hotel was. Frankfurt airport is massive and disorganized to the extent that it defies logic. I did finally find the hotel, and after a shower and a nap became human long enough to get dinner and get back to bed - only to wake up at 3am.

The next day I rented a nice little Audi A3 from Europcar. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out the menus enough to get the car to speak English, then I set out on the Autobahn.

Americans think the Autobahn is something like the Nürburgring, but it's not. There are brief areas with no speed limit, but they're interspersed with nearly random areas with speed limits ranging from 80kph to 130kph (50-80mph) and in some cases it depends on which lane you're in. Driving on the Autobahn takes a lot more concentration and attention than driving on the highway in the US. To begin with, while there may be no limit in an area, you cannot simply put your foot the floor and be an idiot. To begin with, even a nice little car like the A3 isn't in the same league as the big road cars from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes and this isn't a perfectly smooth road. The A3 started to feel light and squirrely above about 175kph (105mph) so that was my top speed (though a sticker on the dash claimed the tires were ok to 240kph). Given that I was only doing 175kph, I mostly stayed in the center lane so that the big boys could pass me like I was standing still.

It's Monday now, I'm in catching Paul Money's sessions this afternoon before giving my own sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, it's back to Frankfurt and the next morning back to Boston in the cattle car. Joy.

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re: The glamour of business travel - Flying Lufthansa and Driving an A3 on the AutobahnBy Dwight Wilbanks on 09/23/2013 at 01:01 PM EDT
Hairy east asian man? Must be North East, the South East asian guys don't get
re: The glamour of business travel - Flying Lufthansa and Driving an A3 on the AutobahnBy Andrew Pollack on 09/23/2013 at 01:48 PM EDT
I will leave the mantle of expertise on the subject of which east asian men are
hairy and which are not, firmly in your capable hands.

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