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A Bigger Continent Than We Thought

June 28th, 2020 · No Comments · France, Germany, Road trip

It is not unusual for Americans to look at a global map and say, “Gee, Europe isn’t all that big, considering how often we talk about it.”

By U.S. standards, Europe is semi-dinky, especially if you don’t include the European half of Russia in the Euro lineup. The U.S. is a bit shy of 10 million square miles. Europe (minus Russia) is about 6.6 million square miles.

With a little imaginative planning, a person could drive over half a dozen European countries in a day. Thinking Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France. Or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia.

But, if you look again, and consider a drive that involves covering nearly the length of France, the biggest nation in Europe that isn’t Russia or Ukraine … well, that’s a pretty long ride. Which is what we did today.

It took 10-and-a-half hours.

That was going from our home near the Mediterranean Sea, in the south of France, to a suburb of the southern Germany city of Stuttgart.

We went to see three of the grandchildren, after a couple of months of being expected to remain in place, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe doesn’t seem so small when it’s a 10.5-hour slog that includes driving rain over the final hour.

Part of what makes parts of Europe seem small are fast trains. Such as France’s TGV system, which would have taken us from France to nearly the German border in about six hours.

But during the Covid-19 pandemic, we dismissed the notion of faster forms of travel. At the moment, planes don’t fly from here to there, and a rail trip is based on sitting in crowded conditions with lots of other commuters. And doesn’t include time lost to renting a car in Germany.

So, note to self: When considering driving from southern France to lower Germany … figure on not getting anything else done that day. Europe is a pretty big deal, after all.


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