While driving the Autobahn, we noticed a very effective campaign on the side of the highway – ‘Runter vom Gas’ stated each grim billboard. I couldn’t entirely work out the phrasery with my limited German understanding, but knew there was a ‘death or kill’ theme.
I assumed the photos were of those who had died on the Autobahn, perhaps in a drinking or speed related incident. They were all of happy, smiling younger people, teenagers even, who still had a lot of life to live.
When we were able to connect with internet, I looked it up and found ‘Kill your Speed’ (yes, runter vom gas), a successful campaign aimed at younger drivers with a lead foot and access to the autobahn. There were a LOT of billboards along the way.
Some depicting large families missing their sons, some of young fiances missing their grooms, even a twin holding the photo of her now deceased sibling. Very, very sad and very, very effective.
Even without understanding the language, it was very clear to us that the message was (at the very least) ‘slow down, drive with caution’.
The best and worst thing about travelling across European Union countries is the lack of ‘borders’. Sure, often the old set up still exists, but the guards are not there, nor are the line ups.
What’s the negative? A lack of stamps on your passport! I used to love collecting the mark of the countries I visited, and kept my passports as souvenirs. Sadly, there will be no government proof of my trip to the Netherlands, no stamp – but no interrogation and no line up either!!
Immediately I knew that driving was not going to be good for us – not only is Amsterdam famous for it’s cycling and walking, they are also famous for partying – and partying they were!
Thousands of people milled about, many drunk, spilling into the streets in celebration. Every store, bar and tourist trap decorated in bright orange (Hollands colour), people holding hands and yelling chants, music and dancing all around – it was madness, we were immediately overwhelmed.
We quickly parked in an underground lot at the edge of the city that I remembered from a former visit. Perfectly situated in an easy to remember, walkable location below the ‘Van Gogh Cafe’, the main parking lot for drivers and cyclists to Amsterdam is absolutely HUGE and always filled to the brim.
I have never seen so many bicycles in one place, I am shocked on every visit. Stacked four high in some places, there must have been close to a million bikes in the parking lot – maybe more – who could count!
And it isn’t cheap, even parking your bicycle there costs a minimum of ten euros a day, and we would be looking at about 250 CAD by the time we planned to pull out less than 24 hours later… ouch!
I took some photos of our location, street names and shops, so that we could find ourselves later if we got lost – which I already knew was a possibility! On my previous visit to Amsterdam, I definitely got *lost*, but that is a different story! I wasn’t going to have a repeat (or so I told myself…)!
The cost of parking would be the least of our worries by the time we left!
Additional photos in the slideshow.
- Runter vom Gas
- Amsterdam attractions: what to see and do in autumn/winter (telegraph.co.uk)