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Trip Report Trip Report - Germany (& 3 days in Paris) with mistakes!

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First, let me say thanks to so many Fodorites who helped me to plan my trip, both directly and indirectly. I honestly can’t imagine planning a trip without this resource.

I’m way too verbose and boring to do an entire trip report. So I thought I would just jot some notes from our recent trip. By way of background, we arrived May 1 in Dusseldorf, departed May 13 from Frankfurt and spent three of those days in Paris. The rest was spent in various destinations in Germany.

My husband and I traveled alone, but met up with our daughter aged 21 for a good part of the trip. She has been spending a semester studying in Trier.

We managed to do carry-on only for the second time. It was a bit more of a challenge as the weather would be cooler than when we went last year, but still doable.

I checked 6 different sources, including German websites for the weather forecast before we left. The weather was expected to be in the 60's and rainy off and on for most of the trip. Well, that forecast was accurate for the first two days. It then turned sunny and warm to very warm for the rest of the trip. We were truly fortunate, but I guess I didn’t need the three jackets I packed!

May 1 - 6 Mosel, Rhein, & Trier

We spent the first three nights in Cochem, a night in Boppard, and a night in Trier. We also visited Burg Eltz, St. Goar, Bacharach, and Bernkastel while in the area. Of the towns, I’d have to say my favorites were Cochem, Bernkastel and Bacharach. Cochem’s riverfront promenade was a delight, as were the pretty streets of the town. This turned out to be a very busy time in Germany due to holiday schedules. We probably saw 200 German tourists for every English speaking tourist we encountered in this area.

In Cochem, we rented an apartment from the couple that run the Schlossbergkeller weinstube. We dealt mainly with Helga Weiskopf. She was very pleasant, helpful and accommodating. Here’s a link to the apartment we rented: http://www.schlossbergkeller.de/Ferienwohnung/3_Etage_Grundriss/Fotos/fotos.html The cost was €42 per night plus €20 for the end cleaning fee. Considering the apartment is in the heart of Cochem and this price was for 3 of us, I thought is was a great bargain.

From Cochem, we toured Burg Eltz, sampled lots of wine, walked up to the castle Reichsburg, and attended the Falconry show. We also did a daytrip by train to Trier to meet our daughter’s roommates and see a bit of the town.

After Cochem, we intended to spend 2 nights in Boppard, after which we would return to Trier, pick up our daughter again, and head to Paris. We enjoyed the ride to Boppard from Cochem. But I have to say that Boppard was less compelling than Cochem. In Boppard we stayed at the Rheinlust Hotel. It’s on the riverfront and very convenient to nearly everything in town. Our room was in the annex that they call the guesthouse. It was fine, and the breakfast was plentiful. We drove to St. Goar for dinner, and then drove up to the Rheinfels castle afterwards to look around and take some photos.

We had an interesting conversation with a bartender at the Best Western Bellevue in Boppard. He showed us the hotel’s wine cellar and the spot where they were intending to expand the wine cellar. But as they attempted to dig, they found remnants of tunnels. They had to postpone the digging and call in an historical expert to determine if anything of historical importance was in the path of destruction.

After one night in Boppard, we decided to take a leisurely drive to Trier and stay in Trier that night, as the following day’s plans were to drive to Paris. We drove south along the Rhein and stopped in Bacharach for about an hour. We walked all around and took some wonderful photos. We walked up around the base of the ruins of the Werner chapel. It was very interesting. We also did a bit of shopping.

After Bacharach, we stopped briefly to take some pictures of the Lorelei, and then headed west toward the Mosel. We stopped for lunch and a walk around town at Bernkastel. I would have to say that Berkastel might have been my favorite town in the entire region. It was large enough to have lots to explore, but laid out so that exploration on foot was very possible and rewarding.

From Bernkastel, we ignored the GPS and followed the Mosel south to Trier. Our daughter was not expecting us until the next day, so it was quite a shock for her when she bumped into us on the street. That night we stayed at the Altstadt Hotel. It’s a short block from the Porta Nigra. It’s sister hotel (which is directly across a tiny street) is the Romisher Kaiser. I have to believe that the Altstadt Hotel is a better bargain than it’s swanky sister.

I’m not good about keeping track of restaurant information, but one of the best meals we had in Germany was in Trier at the restaurant in the Hotel zum Christophel, basically just north of the Porta Nigra.

May 6-9 Paris

Contrary to all forms of wisdom, we drove to Paris. We already had the car reserved for our entire trip and it seemed like too much trouble to turn it in, train to Paris, train back to Germany and pick up another car. Plus, with three of us, it was cheaper to pay for the gas and parking than for the train tickets. And we actually had no problems. We drove straight to our hotel, the Eugenie in the 6th, and then found the parking garage at the end of the block without issue. Here’s a link to the hotel: http://www.eugenie-paris-hotel.com/pages/hotel_1.html

I don’t intend to bore you with details about all of the sites we visited in Paris, but I will make a few observations.

In hindsight, I might have preferred to stay in the 5th or perhaps the 3rd as opposed to the 6th. The 6th is lovely and convenient, but also feels a bit touristy and is very expensive.(see my later paragraph entitled Rookie Mistakes)

The Metro is a joy and we had no trouble using it from the very first day.

The Parisians we met were all very gracious and kind to us. My only other observation is that Parisian waiters prefer that everyone know exactly what they want when they come to take your order. In a few instances, if I would waiver for a second, they’d be gone! But they were very pleasant and helpful.

May 9-13 Back to Germany - Kallmünz, Rothenburg, and leaving from Frankfurt

It was nearly an 81/2 hour drive from Paris to where my Aunt & Cousin live in Kallmünz. Kallmünz is a tiny town of about 2500 people. It’s beautiful but not really on the ‘tourist track’. In Kallmünz, we always stay here: http://www.zum-weissen-roessl.de/ We visited with family until the 11th and then headed for Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Paris and Kallmünz were an interesting contrast as we encountered an entire restaurant dinner near Kallmünz (ie salad, meat and side item) for less than the cost of a beer in Paris. My wallet was certainly glad we were back in Germany!

Come to think of it, Kallmünz was also an interesting contrast with our next stop, Rothenburg. It’s nearly as pretty as Rothenburg, but it’s the real thing. I love it there.

I wanted to go to Rothenburg because we’d been there once, but only for about an hour on the way to the airport, and I was dying to go back. I’m kinda sorry we did. Rothenburg was the only place in Germany where my attempts to speak in German were scoffed at. And my German is not that bad. I managed in other parts of Germany, and with people who spoke no English. It left me with that Disneyesque feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the town is beautiful. We had a chance to walk the wall for quite a distance and walk a good portion of the quaint streets. But my interactions with Germans in this town left me saying I’d never return. By the way, we stayed at the Gastehaus Raidel in Rothenburg. It’s inside the wall and we paid €58 for a very nice room with private facilities ensuite and breakfast. The house is fascinating as it’s very old (about 600 years old I believe) and a bit creaky. But everything was wonderful. Here’s the link:
http://www.romanticroad.com/raidel/

We had no plans for our last night in Germany. Our daughter had returned to Trier and we were on our own. We first decided to spend the night in Bingen, but as we drove there and passed the airport, we realized we wouldn’t want to drive that far in the morning. So we had a nice leisurely lunch in Bingen, and headed back to the Steigenberger Hotel near the airport. We checked in, returned the car and shuttled back to the hotel for a quiet evening of rest.

Summary: The Year of the Mistake

This was our 4th trip to Europe in the last 5 years, and yet I managed to make a few very dumb mistakes. The mistake making began early, but we learned some lessons!

Lesson #1: Check your equipment!
We were flying on miles and I had to go to some lengths to get us on the flight we took to Dusseldorf. Most of the low mileage ff flights from OKC, our home airport, leave very early in the morning with a long layover in Atlanta. Well, I found a flight that left OKC at 4:50 in the afternoon, had a short layover at DTW, and then continued on to Dusseldorf. So I pushed for that, and finally got it. It was then that I realized that the flight from DTW to DUS was not on a wide body! So we ended up flying over 8 hours on a 3&3 seat configuration plane next to a woman with a 5 month old baby!

Lesson #2: Check the prices!
After our first day in Paris, we were exhausted when we arrived back at the hotel at 10PM. But I knew I would not be able to sleep unless I was able to wind down a bit. So I convinced my husband to walk down to the corner and sit an have one beer and relax before we went off to bed. So we picked a nice looking little place right in the Place St. Michel. The waiter inquired if we’d like a small beer or a medium one. We each ordered a medium beer. When the tab came, it was €22 for the two beers. Ouch.

Lesson #3: Converters are still very useful in Europe!
This mistake is particularly embarrassing to admit, so be kind. I chose not to bring a hair dryer on this trip because my daughter had one and most of the places we stayed had them as well. So the only electrical appliances we had with us were two iPhones, an iPod, a laptop and a curling iron. I actually left my camera battery charger plugged in at home (I guess that’s another mistake!). So on our last day, my husband had left the room to go do something an I plugged in my curling iron to spruce up for dinner. Only since all of our other appliances don’t require converters, I forgot to use it. Well, let’s just say that my husband could smell the burn odor coming down the hall! And I absolutely ruined my good curling iron. Luckily I chose to start curling the back of my head first and not my bangs!

Hope this wasn’t too boring for those of you who actually made it through to the end!

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