One drives at a sedate 120 kmph along the Danish motorway to the border with Germany. Not so long ago there were guards controlling this boundary.
One stopped or came to a rolling halt. If you were sufficiently ethnically correct you’d be waved through. Or, if they didn’t like the cut of your jib, a quick look at the passport might have been required.
Either way, one usually had to go from standstill or walking pace back up top speed (unrestricted on the German side). At this point I commonly experienced a shock as a car doing light speed would zoom past, seemingly having accelerated from near-zero (just like me) to 220 in the time it took me to get to
the third and work out where to put my driver’s licence. Such cars always bear German plates and are invariable high-end Mercedes or Audi’s. While the laws of physics allow for these remarkable accelerations, it feels like the missile has emerged from empty air as if from a rift in the fabric of time. As I snick into fifth gear the car has arrived in Hamburg.
A similar experience can be had as one leaves Switzerland: this time it is commonly Swiss motorists off to have a cheap lunch in the many pleasant hostelries a hop away from the border. I base that theory on the number of Swiss cars parked out restaurants in Markgräflerland. It is always unnerving because no matter how much attention I give my rear-view mirror, the cars always seem to appear in the half-second it takes for me to look elsewhere and back in the mirror.
As a counterpoint, arriving at the German border with anywhere else is like stepping into a vat of treacle. Brakes, decelerate and stop: sanity returns and all of a sudden one steps back into a calmer version of oneself.