Sometimes it takes a moment to recognize what is different about a region one is driving through.
Over the Winter holidays, much struck me about the Swedish countryside. In Mongolia, drives through the countryside always offer the promise of delicious herbal smells during pitstops, but also of the realization some hours into a drive that there have been no fences for many kilometers.
For the most part, the countryside of central Germany (i.e. West of Berlin) is not spectacular, nor particularly pretty, in part because it is flat. But then, some hours into a drive you notice what makes this a much more quaint and enjoyable drive than in North America, for example.
Why? No billboards!
What a difference that makes to scenery.
There are lots billboards in Berlin, of course, but the freeways through the countryside are not lined by any billboards other than the brown-background signs for local sites.
Instead, there are trees planted to line highways that make me wonder what the annual tree planting/maintenance budget in Germany might be. Money well spent!