This is a blog about our recent trip to Germany. Perhaps our experience will help somebody who is planning to visit this wonderful country.
Every year we alternate continents for our vacation destinations: last year was "home", the North American year (we went to Cape Cod and the Bahamas). The year before we visited Asia (Japan for vacation and India for a business trip), and in 2013 our son Daniel, our friends and I went to South America (Peru).
So, this year it was a Europe's turn, but which country? We've already been to Spain, the UK and France, we are aslo planning a trip Italy in December to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday, so what else? Well there were plenty to choose from! It was an easy pick for Dmitry. Being a neat freak and perfectionist in whatever he does, he respects Germans for the same qualities: work eithics, quality and discipline. Visitng Germnay was his long-time dream, and it was time for the dream come true.
When to go?
Last year our sone Daniel started college and we became empty-nesters, so we were no longer limited by school breaks and could go during "shoulder" season when prices are cheaper, crowds are smaller but weather is still nice: either May or September. Well, that was an easy choice: May was the month when 71 years ago one of the bloodiest and most sacred wars in the World history ended in Berlin. We are originally from Russia, where that war has a special place in everyone's heart, so we decided to pay a tribute to our grandfathers and grand uncles, who fought and lost their lives in that war.
Where to go?
3 weeks in Germany: is it too long or too short? On the one hand, everyone was asking me "What are you going to do in Germany for 3 weeks?!", and many suggested to visit neighboring Austria and France. On the other hand, when I started to do my research, I realized that 3 weeks to see everything we want to see is not enough... In the end, we decided to exclude the north of the country (with the exception of Cologne, if it can be called north) and came up with the following itinerary:
PART I: Welcome to Germany!
Day 0, Apr.29 - Night flight Lufthansa New York - Frankfurt
Day 1, Apr.30 - Cologne
PART II: East Germany
Day 2-5, May 1-4 - Berlin
Day 6, 5 May - Dresden
Day 7, 6 May - Meissen, moving to Nuremberg
PART III: Romantic Road, Franconia
Day 8, 7 May - Nuremberg
Day 9, 8 May - Würzburg
Day 10, May 9 - Rothenburg
Day 11, 10 May - Dachau, Munich
Day 12-13, 11-12 May - Munich
PART V: German Alps
Day 14, May 13 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Day 15, May 14 - Fussen
Day 16, May 15 - Allgäu
PART VI: Black forest
Day 17, May 16 - Freiburg, the road through the Black Forest
Day 18, May 17 - Baden-Baden
PART VII: Mosel and the Rhine valley
Day 19, 18 May - visit to the Mercedes plant at Stuttgart, crossing in Bernkastel-Kues
Day 20, 19 May - the Moselle valley, Koblenz
-- End car --
-- Boat --
Day 21, May 20 - a river cruise along Rhine from Koblenz to Bacharach
-- a train --
PART VIII: So long, Germany!
Day 22, 21 May - Frankfurt
Day 23, May 22 - flight Frankfurt - New York
How to communicate?
There was absolutely no problem communicating. Typically, before a trip to a new country I attend the relevant language course. Not just for practicality, usually locals appreciate the attempt and help with more enthusiasm. But for whatever reasons I had more difficulties with German than I had with Japanese. At the end I memorized essential "Wo ist die toilet?" and I decided that this should be enough. Local most likely will not be too enthusiastic after this hopefully will point me to a right direction.
As it turned out, none of this is necessary. In western Germany, 95% speak good English, in the East not so much, but. to our surprise, a lot of people especially in their 40-s still remember Russian. One way or another, being fluent in both, there were almost no problem communicating.
What to bring?
As it turned out, we had to pack a lot. Weather in May can vary from region to region, plans included from hiking and biking to visiting casino and fine restaurants with a dress code. We had two big suitcases with absolutely no extra room for souvenirs in our way back.But the day before the trip Lufthansa has made a gift upgrading us to a business class for a small fee , which means we can bring 4 pieces of luggage to the plane. The problem was solved!
Everything was ready, it's time to start having fun!
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Germany, May'16: Four seasons in three weeks.