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Trip Report Black Forest, Bodensee, and Rhine

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A more detailed report is at Bavaria Ben's site - http://www.bensbauernhof.com/bigtyke2013.html

I was surprised one day when out of the blue, Tykewife said "We could take a trip to Germany". I replied "This year?". "Yes". So the planning began for our trip which we took Sept. 24 to Oct. 12.

Flight - Used Frequent Flier miles. Booking rather late, I needed 180,000 miles (total). Our trip in Dec. 2011 had only cost us 160,000 for us and the two kids! Taxes were $297.40

Accommodations - booked over the internet, mostly from town websites. Two required some snail mail.

I booked train tickets for the initial and final long legs of the trip on IC and ICE trains in advance (92 days in advance). Since our last time with no seat reservation we had to change seats 2-3 times, I thought the 8 euro was worth it.

We flew American Airlines to Miami. At Miami we had a long, long walk from the gate to Terminal F. I will never change planes in Miami again!

The plane to Berlin was late and we would miss the connection to Frankfurt. The Air Berlin staff was on top of this and had us rescheduled before we even checked in in Miami.

In Berlin passport control was easy then a not-too-long walk to the next gate. A short flight to Frankfurt where I collected the bag and went through without seeing anyone in the "Nothing to Declare" customs area. Bus to the Fernbahnhof.

Since the train for my pre-bought tickets was long gone, I had to buy tickets for the train to Gengenbach - 106 Euros. The ICE train was crowded and we had to stand between the cars until the first stop in Mannheim. At Offenburg we changed from the ICE to the local train system with its light rail type cars [Ortenau S-Bahn (OSB)].

We walked 10 minutes or so to the apartment in the altstadt. Dr. Wink checked us in, gave us our KONUS card, and we went to our apartment - up 46 steps on the third floor (as Americans count).


GENGENBACH
Ferienwohnungen Wink
www.urlaub-ratskanzlei.de
36 E per day plus tax (2.20 per person per day).

While we stayed in Gengenbach, we visited the open air museum of Black Forest farms (the Vogtsbauernhof) and the nearby Rodelbahn Gutach. Lots of fun riding the toboggan.

A day trip to Strasburg, France using the 'Europass 24H' ticket (12 Euro for the two of us). We went to the Cathedral but it was closed (we were there just after noon). I think they close it for a while and then charge a special price for the clock tower tour. We went to the 'Batorama' dock to find out about the boat trip around the old city. The next several trips were in covered boats and we wanted to go in one of the uncovered boats, so we got our ticket for a later tour and then went back to the cathedral.

The cathedral was nice but not as elaborate as many. The 70 minute boat tour was nice, seeing not only some of the oldest parts of the city - Petite France - but also the new buildings built for the European Union.

Saturday in a big city meant lots of tourists. The city seemed very crowded.

In Gengenbach, we went to the Niggelturm to see the Narrenmuseum. The museum is only opened a few hours a week. It cost 2.50 E each and was well worth it. The museum is about Fastnacht ( the pre-Lenten carnival) during which people don grotesque masks. Later we went to the Flösser Museum (2.50 E each). This museum, another of the museums with limited opening hours, is devoted to the rafting of timber down the Kinzig river. It is a small museum with not too much in it. I found it of limited interest.

We really liked Gengenbach. Looking out from our apartment window, it was a scene that screamed 'THIS IS GERMANY' - half timbered buildings, medieval towers, nice fountain. Gengenbach would also be interesting during the Advent season as the Rathaus becomes the biggest advent calendar in the world.

Next we took the train to Neustadt which is next to Titisee. We chose it because the accommodations seemed less expensive than the resort Titisee.
Arriving at Neustadt, our landlady Frau Heitz greeted us as we exited the bahnhof's underpass stairs. She drove us the 200 yards or so to the house.

WALTRAUD HEITZ
www.heitz-titisee.de/

62 E per day plus tax of 5.40 per day.

One of the days we went to Titisee. It was cloudy and cool so we decided against renting a boat and took the large boat trip around the lake (5 E each). We stopped in a cafe and had some Black Forest cake. The sun started to shine so we decided to play a game of miniature golf.

We made a day trip to Freiburg im Breisgau. It was a short walk from the bahnhof to the cathedral. There was a farmer's market around the cathedral, lots of flowers, fresh food, and cooked food. We went inside the church and admired the stained glass.

We had originally planned to stay in Ravensburg, but we couldn't find any place with a reasonable price so we looked at nearby Meckenbeuren, which is on the train line from Ravensburg to Friedrichshafen.

I chose a scenic route via Tuttlingen, Beuron, and Sigmaringen through the upper Danube valley.

Our zimmer was perhaps 200 yards from the bahnhof where Frau Boos was waiting for us.

Famile Franz und Ulrike Boos
www.haus-am-geissbock.de
50 E per day. Room only, no breakfast but use of a refrigerator/stove/oven.

Several days we used got daily passes for the BODO system (Bodensee-Oberschwaben Bahn) for train rides and also bus #7395 which visits many of the towns on the northeast shore of the Bodensee. We visited the Zeppelin Museum in Friedricshhafen, the Pfahlbauten ( an open air museum of the stone age and bronze age lake dwellings ), and the nearby Reptile House in Unteruhldingen.

Also via bus 7395 we visited the church Birnau ( WOW, what an inside ) and the castle at Meersburg.

One of the days we used the Euroregio Bodensee East zone ticket ( 17.50 E each ) to visit Lindau and to take the ferry to and from Romanshorn, Switzerland. Lindau has a nice harbor and roccoco church. The trip to Romanshorn was so Tykewife could say she went to Switzerland. It was like we were in the Twilight Zone - all the streets were deserted, the stores were closed. We took the next ferry back.

For the final 4 days we went to Bacharach.

Haus Irmgard Orth
Contact via the Bacharach Tourist Office
www.bacharach.de/tourismus

20 Euro each, nice breakfast included.

We visited St. Goar (Burg Rheinfels), Cochem on the Mosel, and rode the KD boat from Bingen to Boppard.

Flying out of Frankfurt, we took the 6:31 AM train to the Airport. The flight to Dallas was long. The plane to Denver was slightly delayed plane made us just miss our Super Shuttle connections, causing us to wait two hours for the next. Uneventful bus and van ride to home, arriving about 25 hours after we had awakened that day.

Observations and lessons learned.

Well, at the end of my Christmas 2011 trip report, I mentioned that I would not plan anything on the first day except get to a hotel. I sort of broke that rule by planning to take a train to the first city. And what happened? For the SIXTH time my flight did not land on time.

With Tykewife's bad knee (and mine having recent problems) we made a special effort to use the elevators that are available at many of the train stations, even smaller ones. This probably saved us at least 60 trips up or down stairs, a big help to the knees.

Why don't Germans use window screens?

Several of my trains were running late. It only really affected me on one day, but I was surprised that it happened so often.

Trip cost - 2328 Euro plus $378 plus whatever the ATM and conversion fees were. The Euro was about $1.35 during the trip.

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