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snow-covered peaks in the Bavarian Alps snow-covered peaks in the Bavarian Alps

Where in the World Is Peter Bender? Germany and Austria

By Elevate

May 7, 2018

Culture

This is the first of a series of blog posts about my adventures traveling the world. It’s a great example of how Elevate has given me the opportunity to “live balanced” (see our President’s blog post for more on that topic). I’ll be sharing thoughts and pictures from the places I visit.

Travel has reminded me of the incredible amount of design and engineering involved in transit. Much like in the work we do at Elevate, little details in transportation have the ability to make a big difference, and often some of the best design work goes unnoticed because it does just that: it works. It gets you where you need to go and makes for a painless experience. This means that it’s that much easier to focus on the other parts of the experience.

I’ve found this to be especially true in both Germany and Austria, which has some of the cleanest and most efficient transportation I’ve seen. I’d always heard that, but after visiting Munich, Frankfurt, and Salzburg, I’ve now seen it first-hand. The airports are modern, clean, and organized, with all security processes running like a well-oiled machine. The trains are consistently on time and can get you nearly anywhere. The roads are in impeccable shape and, despite the lack of official speed limit on many highways, it feels surprisingly safe and comfortable to drive. During one trip, we drove from Salzburg to Neuschwanstein Castle and it was truly amazing.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany.

The snow-covered peaks of the Bavarian Alps.

The snow-covered peaks of the Bavarian Alps.

It’s funny to contrast this with what someone from Germany must think when they get on the Blue Line train in the basement of O’Hare. Or heaven forbid they try to rent a car, only to sit in traffic on the Kennedy and then dodge the minefield potholes on every street in the city. I love Chicago, but if the CTA is someone’s first exposure to public transit in the U.S., I’m not so sure they’ll have glowing reviews. It does, however, certainly provide an “experience.”

That’s all for Germany and Salzburg, but I’ll be back next week with some thoughts from another adventure.

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