During our travels throughout Europe, we visited quite a few large cities. Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, and Berlin were the largest cities that we spent spent a lot of time in. The whole time we were in these large cities, I kept thinking about how they are so different from large cities in the United States. The main differences I noticed between big cities in the United States and Europe were the buildings, roads, and sounds.
The most obvious difference when comparing cities was the age of the buildings. A lot of the buildings in Europe were hundreds of years old and made from brick and stone. This was always awesome to see because in America most of the buildings are newer and made metal with large glass windows. Also, the size of the buildings were very different. In Europe, the cities were usually large sprawling areas with 2 or 3 story buildings. In the United States, every large city is mainly made up of hundred story sky scrapers.
Another major difference was with the roads. When I think of American cities, I think of large grid like road systems. Most of the time they are packed with cars and pedestrians and traffic moves very slow. In Europe, most of the roads are very old and we’re not built in a grid like fashion. Because of this, there was never crazy amounts of traffic in the cities. Many people walked, biked, or took public transportation instead of taking cars.
The last major difference I noticed was the sound. Throughout our trip, it was very obvious that European culture is a lot quieter than American culture. People talk quietly in groups and this leads to quieter cities. Also, I heard only a few car horns while in Europe. In places like Chicago or New York, you can hear a car horn every few seconds. People are always in a rush and want to get wherever they are going as fast as the can. Because the European culture is much more laid back, I think that people have more respect for each other and don’t really care if they are going to get to their location a few minutes later.
Before coming to Europe, I thought that the big cities in America would be very similar to what we saw in Europe. After spending a lot of time in Europe, I learned that this is not true. European culture is much more laid back and not so urgent, and it leads to a pleasant experience.
Our group toured the Mercedes Benz plant in Bremen a few days ago. We were warmly welcomed by an awesome showroom and shop. After a few minutes of looking around, we met our tour guide who showed us an introduction video to Mercedes. The video focused on the craftsmanship and extreme detail they put into every car. After the video, we were each given ear pieces that would allow us to hear the tour guide in the loud shop and from far away. From here we hopped on the bus and headed towards the body shop.
On our way to the body shop, our tour guide gave us some statistics about what goes on there. He said that there are over 4000 robots that manufacture 1800 cars per day in this plant alone. The fact that stuck out most to me was that 95 percent of this manufacturing process was automated. It was astounding to see how smooth their process was in putting together and welding the main frame of the car. Though many of the cars going through this process are similar, they are not all exactly the same. Things like right vs. left hand drive and if the car had a sunroof or not varies from car to car in this process. Robots were working all over the place and doing everything perfectly. There were thousands of spot welds on each frame, and the robots were doing them exactly right each time.
After the body shop, we got back on the bus again and drove to the assembly plant. The car frames move from the body shop to get painted and then eventually to the assembly plant. In the assembly plant, the majority of the work is done with manual labor. Workers exam each car and place the needed interior and exterior parts on the frame. The assembly shop is mostly man labor because it would be way to complicated for robots to know exactly what details to put on each car like trim packages or interior details.
Our visit concluded with us heading back to the main showroom where we took a group picture under the Mercedes sign. It was awesome to see the mixture between automated processes and skilled labor that is put into the manufacturing of each Mercedes car. It is easy to see why Mercedes is thought of as one of the best luxury vehicles.
We began the day by leaving the hotel bright and early and heading to our next destination. The first leg of our drive was along a part of the autobahn. Unfortunately there are speed regulations for buses and semi trucks so Joop was not able to let the Mercedes bus eat. After about an hour, we exited the autobahn and began driving down a beautiful road along the Mosel River. We passed by old towns sprawled along rocky hillsides and lots of vineyards. We eventually arrived in the town of Koblenz, Germany.
The main attraction in the town of Koblenz is the Deutsches Eck or “German Corner”. The Deutsches Eck is the corner of the town where the Mosel River meets the Rhine River. A massive statue of William 1 stands at the corner overlooking the rivers. The statue was originally constructed in 1897 to celebrate the unification of Germany. During World War 2, the statue was destroyed by an American artillery shell and wasn’t reconstructed until 1993. After visiting the statue, we had a couple hours of free time to find lunch and explore the city.
A group of guys and I enjoyed a delicious lunch of döner. The workers in the small shop we stopped in spoke minimal english. Fortunately, Drew Smits has taken multiple years of German class and he was able to help us understand the menu and speak to the workers. After lunch, we wandered around the historic city and riverside. Overall, it was a great morning in Koblenz.