As Americans we don’t see “Die Autofahrt” but instead…Die Auto Fart. They are really stinky. (And please, unless you are the person to have passed the gas, do not “cook” it. For the Germans, “cooking a fart” entails locking all the windows closed so no one can roll their own window down and turning up the heat to really make your passengers suffer once the smell reaches them.)
If I’ve grossed you out, please still continue below because you have now passed the worst part.
***Original Article Begins Below***
The first time I saw an “Ausfahrt” sign, I immediately thought of my brother and his “pull my finger” stunts.
Like the time he told me to pull his finger because it would smell like Strawberry Shortcake, and although I knew his fart really wouldn’t smell like Strawberry Shortcake, for some stupid reason I pulled his finger anyway.
As a child I giggled at my brother’s smelly joke and was thoroughly disgusted; as an adult seeing the “Ausfahrt” sign, I was still giggling, but puzzled all at once wondering, “What does ‘Ausfahrt’ mean?”
Because I hadn’t seen the sign before, I asked Kay what the sign meant while trying not to laugh. I didn’t want to offend him or disgrace the German language in any way. (Riiiiight.)
“Ausfahrt” is the German word for “Exit” from the Autobahn. I don’t think as a German, Kay would have really gotten the joke at the time since words like pimple, zit, and booger were still yet to be learned.
A fellow expat-friend of mine told a story in which her American friend said, “Ah, Ausfahrt makes sense because a fart exits the butt. So like a car exiting the motorway.”
Ok, so “aus” is the exit part and “fahren” is the car driving; with Germans changing the ending of words in order to conjugate the verb “fahren” becomes “fahrt.”
Wow, I didn’t think I would be taking intellectual terminology like “conjugation” and turning it into a kindergartener’s topic about farts.
But the sign started it. And raise your hand if the word “conjugation” also makes you laugh.
Sorry to disappoint though, Germans don’t use signs to warn of oncoming farts.
They do, however, use signs for these other things…
This is a speed limit sign that changes based on monitoring current traffic conditions (100 kph or 60 mph).
The middle part means that trucks must be in the right lane and are not allowed to pass.
Please note that the three black lines indicate that whatever is in the center is now canceled.
Means that 80 kph is no longer effective and the speed limit is now open. (Yeah, another open speed sign).
This only means that passing for trucks is no longer forbidden. (I repeat, this is not an open speed sign.)
Sorry for the cruddy pic, but this shows two different speed limits posted and underneath the numbers it says, “Lärmschutz 22-6h.” This means that regularly the speed limit is 100 kph, but between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the speed limit is 80. This is for noise reduction purposes for the surrounding areas.
Another, not so great pic (hey, it’s hard taking pics while driving. Just kidding, I was the passenger, but still hard taking pics while on the motorway at the speed Kay drives… huh-hmmm which are of course the proper designated limits).
On the far left, just under the crack in the windshield, there is a red triangle with three little white cars. This indicates that on the 555 motorway, there is heavy traffic (stau). Which means you will probably be stopping.
And while in traffic, if you see someone with their hazard lights flashing, this isn’t because they are about to break down or are having car troubles (as often used in the US). It means that they are breaking because of traffic and please don’t rear-end them (a.k.a. Stay off my a§§, Donkey!)
Although not as exciting as the speed limit signs, this sign indicates that there is a gas/fuel station, which is obviously just as important.
These stations are similar to ones that I’ve seen in New York that are immediately next to the motorway and often times, you can’t get to them any other way than from the motorway.
The fuel at these stations are always going to be more expensive than while driving through town. But, as you can see, there is also a Burger King at this station.
When fueling, LPG indicates Liquid Petroleum Gas. Once you enter the fuel station, follow the PKW signs. PKW is for passenger vehicles and LKW indicates fuel for commercial trucks.
On a side note, the church symbol means that a chapel is available.
And lastly, while not as important as the other signs, immediately to the right in the picture you can see a construction sign and a merge left sign.
When you see a yellow city sign like our Krefeld one, this indicates that the speed limit is now 50 kph, unless otherwise posted.
The blue sign with the red strike-through slash indicates the end of the motorway…and the end of this article.
Safe travels, fellow expats, speedy drivers and to all Autofahrt-ers.