April 28, 1999
In Germany. After a restless, uncomfortable, endless train ride from Naples. About 700 miles. A scheduled twelve-hour journey. Took about thirteen. At night. In a crowded compartment. With functional restrooms only in other cars. Not the most fun I had on my journeys.
At the Munich airport, after screwing up my train connections from the city to the airport, I rented a Volkswagen Golf (stick shift—so glad I’d always owned such devices) and drove to Karlsruhe, about 190 miles northwest, a trip that took me only about three hours on the Autobahn, an experience I wrote about in my journal a little later that day.
The speed limits on the Autobahn are 120K [about 75 mph], but the only vehicles which move more slowly than that are vehicles which simply can’t go 100 mph.
Oh yes, the Autobahn. Here’s a duh-comment: Things happen swiftly at 100 mph. There’s no looking in your outside mirror, say, seeing behind you a car at what ought to be a safe distance, pulling out to pass or change lanes. That approaching car is by you while you’re making your mental calculations.
Oh, and when I was there, the Germans did not seem to have (or to be enforcing) emission standards. Trucks and buses stank, reminding me of the long car trips I took in boyhood with my family, inhaling rank (and cancerous) exhaust from trucks or a Greyhound ahead of us on an upgrade.
Anyway, I arrived safely in Karlsruhe. And why was I there? My journal says: The weather looks decent for the next couple of days, so I planned out some leisurely activities along the Rhine.
Among those activities: A drive to Ingolstadt, home of the university attended by Victor Frankenstein—and where he created his creature. Mary had been in Germany twice—once on the return portion of her elopement misadventure with Bysshe in 1814, a second time, with her son Percy Florence Shelley, in 1842. On neither journey did she visit Ingolstadt.
I also planned a Rhine boat cruise. And, of course, a visit to Gernsheim and its nearby castle once occupied by the family Frankenstein.