Two days ago, we left Berlin to drive to Lübeck, the marzipan capital of the world. We rented a car that came with a navigational system. It was programed in English to get us smoothly from point to point. A lovely female voice came on to direct us out of Berlin. I named her 'Helga'.
Helga was amazing. I barely had to be concerned with where I was heading and could enjoy the thrill of driving the Audubon. I maxed at 160 kilometers per hour, due the presence of my interpreter and her white knuckles. Had I been alone, I would have cranked that Opel mini-van into the fast lane with the Mercedes and Audis. At 160 klm, they passed me as if I was standing still. I found it takes much concentration to drive on a road with no speed limit. The speck of a car in the rear view mirror can be on your ass in two breaths. There is no daydreaming on the Audubon.
Helga escorted us safely and flawlessly into Lübeck. It is a gorgeous, old German city. Medium size, but quaintly compact. Cobblestone streets, old churches, friendly people. Simply endearing and what one imagines Germany to be.
We walked directly to the Dreamland of sugar and almonds, Neideregger Marzipan store and restaurant. I heard a choir of angels in my head as we stepped into the store. We first had lunch and dessert upstairs. The selection of cakes and tortes was a scene out of my personal heaven. I settled on a slab of marzipan torte. Because, when in Rome...After lunch and pictures of the Pope reading the menu, we headed back downstairs and loaded up with confections to bring home. We strolled through the city and headed back to program Helga to get us to our next stop, Wobbenbüll, 2 hours north.
Helga got us easily to the Audubon again. But somewhere along the highway, Helga abandoned us. She simply went to sleep. When I heard the faint snoring, I knew something was amiss. Then suddenly we were speeding into the city of Hamburg. And Helga snored on.
Hamburg is an unfriendly place to drive if you know the language. If you don't know it, one is quickly reduced to a surge in blood pressure and language that becomes gutteral- whether or not you are traveling with the Pope. By dumb luck, or divine intervention on the Pope's part, we landed at a Eurocar rental station and had Helga slapped awake and reprogrammed. Then, even when I continued to take wrong turns, because every red light seemed to have 2 rights, Helga guided us back to the original point('make a U turn now').
So before it was completely dark, Helga had us safely parked in the driveway of cousin Johannes of Wobbenbüll. I hate Helga. I love Helga.