101 places Rick Steves doesn't know

Old Nov 29th, 2010, 01:47 AM
  #41  
 
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@ hsv:

LOL! Thanks, I enjoyed that !

Lavandula
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 02:02 AM
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OK, what about Bad Kreuznach? It's in Rheinland-Pfalz, not too far from Mainz and Bingen. Very picturesque town, lots of Fachwerk and has a bridge with houses built on it. Many German visitors. Sorry about the size of this link:

http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgu...1t:429,r:7,s:0

It has the Dr-Faust-Haus, a house owned by the man upon whom Goethe's story of Faust was based. It also has a spa with curative properties.

I will offer one caveat - we drove from Wiesbaden via Mainz, and it's quite a drive, not much pretty scenery on the way. It's also quite isolated in its location. Maybe if you were on your way to somewhere else in Rheinland-Pfalz it would be a worthwhile drive. I hear Idar-Oberstein, which is nearby, is significant in the gemstone industry, so maybe one could combine the two cities.

Lavandula
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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Ok, my 2 (US) cents. The OP wasn't putting down RS, just stating the obvious, that he's partial to Bavaria. And he is useful in small doses. I don't follow anyone or any forum 100%. I like the earlier buffet comment. I have to admit that I've done 90% of my Germany travel in Southern Germany, but now I'm ready to see the rest of Germany, which I know is alot. Please all post your places I should see north of Würzburg. I wonder how many folk visit the south of Germany because they can tie in visits to Austria, Italy, Switzerland also?
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 06:11 AM
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A few old houses and a local beer makes for a tourist destination? Or, God forbid, another 'important' church sets town x apart from town y? Could it be that so many of these places are overlooked because they are so interchangeable?

RS might over-edit but, to me, that is far preferable to the Lake Wobegon line of thinking that every destination is above average.

Hamburg - a bustling city with great shopping, dining and a fascinating harbor district; the harbor tour is not to be missed!

I've been to Hamburg. I have friends from Hamburg. I kind of like the city. I'd no sooner travel 5,000 miles to visit Hamburg than I would travel 5,000 miles to visit Houston.

And this isn't meant to single out Hamburg. It is just emblematic of the importance of distinguishing between audiences and editing accordingly. Most tourists have limited time and limited money. They need some help in winnowing the possibilities. When they come from 5,000 miles away, when flights cost $1,000, and when they can only spend 2 weeks at a time, their choice of destinations will differ from someone heading out on the train for a quick overnight.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 08:22 AM
  #45  
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I agree with Travelgourmet, Hamburg dazzled me when I arrived by train from Copenhagen even though I've been there a couple times before. Hamburg breathes more energy and sophistication, but more importantly it feels comfortable to stay and explore. Plenty of great value accomodations and good food to enjoy. It is a conglomeration of small districts with different flavors of their own which makes it fun to discover for the young and old.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 02:07 PM
  #46  
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DAX, in fact you do not agree with travelgourmet, who believes it's pretty much of a waste of time.

Personally I think there is a reason why Hamburg continuously fights for the top spot among popular domestic destinations with Berlin. While I agree that it doesn't have as many obvious sights such as museums and grand squares as Berlin, it still is one of Germany's most beautiful cities and certainly offers a lot of different choices for different lifestyles.

As a foreign tourist I'd always allocate a lot more time to Berlin than Hamburg, but missing Germany's second largest city completely over a preference for Bremen, one of the Harz towns - or even more bizarrely Hanover (as I once read here before) for example, always appears a bit weird to me. More so if one considers that Hamburg can so easily be combined with Berlin by using the excellent 90-minute ICE train between the 2 city centres. But then it's different strokes for different folks, I guess.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Duderstadt, Stolberg, Hoxter and Weserbergland.

Plan away
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 05:00 PM
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The problem I would have with Hamburg, or even Berlin, is that it is a BIG city and when I travel to Germany I do not want to visit big cities. About as big as I want is Bamberg and I would much prefer places like Dettelbach, Iphofen and Gengenbach.

I know many, many people like big cities and that is perfectly fine. It's just not my preference when I visit Germany, or even Austria or Switzerland.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 07:20 PM
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Lower Saxony:

Agree with Lavandula on CELLE; also near Göttingen is HANNOVERSCH MUENDEN, whose half-timbered buildings are numerous and eyepopping.

I'm sure most have heard of HAMELN. Nice place. I like nearby RINTELN's Weserrenaissance buildings even more.

Bavaria:

Rick's book (my older version at least) overlooks stunning BAMBERG entirely. EICHSTAETT, WEISSENBURG, and PAPPENHEIM are additional unheralded Franconian gems in Northern Bavaria.

Rhine:

For every North American tourist Rick has sent to Bacharach, there's someone who hasn't seen LINZ AM RHEIN, which is even more charming.

Black Forest:

SCHILTACH, CALW

I'm pleased that Rick doesn't try to be comprehensive; his popularity and his guru status yield crowds that tend to overwhelm his recommended spots and drive up prices. I'm not posting websites for these places in the hope that only the truly interested will look into them.
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Old Nov 29th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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I love getting off the "Rick Steve's" path but he is great for a certain type of traveler. Basically, those who only have memorized one sentence in another language, "do you speak English?"

Of course in the large cities it's easy to get by in English but let's face it, if you want to practice German in Germany you have to get off the popular path. So before people start running off to little towns, "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"

One piece of advice I read in a Rick Steve's book was when you get to Germany, slow down. The best way, imo, to visit Germany is with a car and open itinerary.

I agree with Russ about posting websites.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 02:43 AM
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DAX, in fact you do not agree with travelgourmet, who believes it's pretty much of a waste of time.

I don't think it is a waste of time. I simply think that it caters to a different demographic. Houston would make a nice weekend destination if you are coming from Oklahoma City, but less so if you are coming from Rome. Similarly, Hamburg makes a nice weekend destination if you are coming from Copenhagen, but less so if you are coming from San Francisco.

Personally I think there is a reason why Hamburg continuously fights for the top spot among popular domestic destinations with Berlin.

Twelve million people visit Niagra Falls each year and I still wouldn't recommend folks fly 5k miles to visit it.

As a foreign tourist I'd always allocate a lot more time to Berlin than Hamburg, but missing Germany's second largest city completely over a preference for Bremen, one of the Harz towns - or even more bizarrely Hanover (as I once read here before) for example, always appears a bit weird to me.

Would it appear odd to you if someone recommended visiting New Orleans or Charleston, rather than Houston? Houston is, after all, the 4th largest city in the US and bigger than Hamburg.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 04:09 AM
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The Northeast of Germany
The Brick Gothic, Amber and Rockets route.

Berlin makes a good starting point.

Rheinsberg
Romantic Castle and gardens, quaint old town with local potteries

The Land of 1000 Lakes (Müritz National Park)
Birdspotting, hiking, biking, canoeing
In English, just a leaflet can be downloaded
http://www.mueritz-nationalpark.de/c...ional_Park.pdf

Rostock and its port town of Warnemünde
Hanseatic old town and quaint waterfront village

Fischland-Darß-Zingst
The "hook" type (pen)insulas which are typical for the southern Baltic seaboard. Ahrenshoop, and old artists "colony" with old thatched houses and many artists selling pottery, glasware, paintings.. and artsy trash.
http://en.ahrenshoop.de/

Stralsund
UNESCO world heritage, and another big hanseatic town with a nice old town and a rather new big aquarium/ maritime museum
http://www.en.stralsundtourismus.de/

the island of Usedom
Mainly just many seaside resorts - but not of the ghastly kind since many towns have renovated the Imperial architecture.
If interested in WWII history and the beginnings of missile-based warfare, Peenemünde, is worth a stop.
http://www.peenemuende.de/index.php?id=40&L=1

Usedom is 2/3 German, 1/3 Polish now. Don't miss the opportunity for at least a sneak preview of our neighbor. The biggest city in the region is Szczecin.

On your way back to Berlin you can visit the old boat lift at Niederfinow
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niederfinow_boat_lift
and Chorin monastery.

This is most certainly not a "first timer" tour.
But it is as much "quinessential Germany" than the half-timber houses in the Harz mountains, or the quaint little villages of Upper Bavaria.
You just should know what you like.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Lavendula
I have friends who adore Bad Kreuznach and Idar-Oberstein. I have been to both, but would not recommend anyone make a special point of going to either one. If it's on the way and you need a place to stop for lunch, perhaps.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 09:03 AM
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Let's get back on track

In the Frankfurt area, near Idstein is Limburg with many 1/2 timber houses, a beautiful church, a nice shopping area.

On the Romantic Road - Dinkelsbuehl and Nordlingen are both walled towns that are nicer alternatives to Rotenburg.

On the Rhine - Eltville, especially in the summer when the roses are blooming

Although I think Weimar is worth a few hours, in the same area, Erfurt is a better alternative.

Near the Black Forest - Maulbronn Monastery and Babenhausen
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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OK I just got back from Germany last night (as some of you have seen from my other posts) and have 6 guidebooks to Germany in front of me including Rick Steves. I will comment on both the original question regarding destinations in Germany as well as his guidebooks.

Re the guides, I use different guide books for different things. I do not use Rick Steves to select my destinations initially but find him helpful once I already have my ideas. Rick tends to ignore things that don’t appeal to him and to focus on things he likes. He then gives you significantly more info on those than you will find in other books. On one hand, perhaps he guides you too much and you might not discover things on your own or have “your own” experience. On the other hand, I really get a lot more info than I do elsewhere.

For example, I am very interested in WWII and, in his recommendations on Nuremberg, Rick gave 4 pages on the Nazi Documentation Center. This compares to four SENTENCES in other guidebooks. Also, he also provides estimates as to how much time WWII buffs will need to feel that they have seen it adequately – which helped me plan my time.

A personal comment is that often find his style annoying – it really seems targeted to junior high school students. I find it entertaining 5% of the time and insulting the rest of the time. I’ve managed to accept it b/c his information can useful but an upgrade to high school level would be appreciated….

Re Germany, my 10 day Thanksgiving trip (yep – we celebrated (twice!) in Munich) was to Weimar, Erfurt, Bamberg, Munich and Nuremberg. Bamberg was originally not included but due to a change in plans I was going to have a day between my planned 4 days in Thuringia and my 5 in Bavaria and was thinking of Goslar (Christmas market would just be opening on my free day), Jena or Bamberg. I decided to choose while I was in Germany depending on how my trip was progressing. While I would have liked to have spent another day in Thuringia (and I note that others here recommended Goslar and Jena on this thread), I chose Bamberg mostly because it was in the right direction headed to Bavaria – also as a bigger town, it had much better train connections. I really liked it and logistically it was a much better choice – but I would like to visit the other Thuringian towns on another trip.

Of these 7 destinations (those I visited as well as those saved for another time), Rick covered only Munich and Nuremberg. To answer the OP’s question, I would have to agree with Lavandula and Wanderfrau (BTW thanks for your comment on my Christmas market thread!) and recommend Weimar. I had always wanted to go there b/c I studied the Weimar Republic in school (long before I heard of Goethe or Schiller). Ironically as I prepared for this trip, there really isn’t that much related to the Republic there but many other things there. I spent 2 ½ days there and had little downtime. I bought the 24 hour museum card for 14 euros which got me into FIVE museums for free (Bauhaus, Schiller, Goethe, castle art gallery, Neue Museum) and then spent the other afternoon at Dachau. Also saw a great concert at the Weimarhalle – somehow they gave me a 2nd row center seat for 6 euros??

When I travel, I photocopy sections from multiple guidebooks about my known destinations (you wouldn’t believe the different information that different series provide!) and then carry one or two guidebooks with me to have information for unplanned “add-on” destinations. Lonely Planet can be helpful here because they cover almost every small town where you could possibly stay. For this trip I took both LP and Fodors and they were both helpful for Bamberg which I had not copied in advance.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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travelgourmet, your comments about Hamburg bewilder me. Obviously every traveler is going to choose their destinations based upon their personal preferences, and not every traveler is going to want to visit Hamburg. But not every traveler wants to see Neuschwanstein either. That doesn't mean that either one should be left out of a guidebook about Germany.

I happen to have grown up in the San Francisco area (in reference to your SF comment). I WOULD visit Hamburg again from the U.S. and I would love to spend more time in northern Germany in general. No, I wouldn't visit ONLY Hamburg, because I am not a big city person, but my husband and I really enjoyed our brief visit there and it is certainly worthy of a mention in any Germany guidebook. Hamburg has an enormous amount of history and culture and I could imagine it being the cornerstone of a great northern Germany trip.

DAX, I think you were actually responding to my post when you raved about Hamburg.

bettyk, I know that you and I have similar travel tastes, especially when it comes to Germany. I am not a big city person either, but Hamburg was one big city that really surprised me!
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 07:38 PM
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"Also saw a great concert at the Weimarhalle – somehow they gave me a 2nd row center seat for 6 euros??"


Culture is subsidised by the state to a greater extent in Germany than some other places; certainly in Australia it costs an arm and a leg to go to the opera, for instance. It's good value to attend concerts in Germany.

Lavandula
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 09:37 PM
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More complaining about why various individual's own personal preferences have apparently been snubbed by a guidebook writer - sigh.

You all know the best (hidden, secret, untouristy, under-appreciated, special ) places better than anyone else - congratulations.

Now, if we put everyone's places all in one guidebook, allotting them each the space they so richly deserve, I believe we have....yes, yes, it looks like a...a..an encyclopedia of Germany. I think I'm going to need a bigger suitcase.

Does anyone else ever tire of the "you should like the places I like" undertone to many of the posts in here?

You know who you are.
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 09:49 PM
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Aramis, I agree with you.

Re Hamburg, all I can say is that we did a day trip there and had a less than delightful experience. But so many people praise it that perhaps we'll give it another try. Perhaps ;-)

Our favorite places that are not especially well known to American visitors include:
Hattingen - one of the few places in the Ruhr valley not bombed during WW II
Muensterland - a great place for people who like to bicycle but who don't like lots of hills
Bremen - if you happen to be up that way
Detmold - we found it extremely pleasant - but would I recommend someone go out of their way to visit it? Probably not, and
Sylt - beautiful and elegant. The best part? The house owned by our German cousins that allows us to avoid expensive hotels. ;-)
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Old Dec 1st, 2010, 08:02 AM
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hsv & hausfrau: My mistake in not reading the posts more carefully, thanks for pointing it out.  

Travgourmet:
I currently live in San Francisco and honestly I would compare Hamburg to Boston, never to Houston.  Hamburg has many river/lake waterfront areas plus a network of canals and bridges, I fail to see any similarity to Houston.
 
I just want to say to those who are curious about Hamburg that the city is multifaceted.  It has the contemporary modern Hafencity right next to the gentrified old town shopping district but beyond them, there is a chain of real neighborhoods with contrasting atmospheres: port, leafy, conservative, bohemian, edgy.   It doesn't have rows of souvenir shops, but there is plenty of real neighborhood establishments with different flavors. I have been there with my parents in law and my kids on our way to the Harz mountain and they all liked the contrasting experience of Hamburg.             
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