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8-9 day family vacation in Germany

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Feb 20th, 2016, 05:12 PM
  #1
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8-9 day family vacation in Germany

We are a family of five from Connecticut with kids that will be 11, 15, & 18 at the time of our vacation this June. Our family vacations usually consist of Caribbean cruises or road trips to Va Beach, Niagara Falls, etc. Going to Europe will be a BIG trip for us. Hubby and I have been to Europe separately before kids and/or for work travel, but the two youngest kids have never been (the oldest went to Spain on a school trip). Hubby is military and feels that Germany is safe and family-friendly.

After reading through some previous posts and responses, it seems we'd be wise to focus on only one or two locations for lodging and use those as home bases. This was my thinking also -- checking in and out of hotels is tiring for everyone and I don't want to waste too much of our precious time jumping from one place to another.

My thinking is that we'd spend 4 days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and 4 nights in Stuttgart (or nearby). While in G-P we'd visit Innsbruck, Munich/Dachau, Switzerland, and at least one whole day in G-P itself. Then we'd head to Stuttgart and see the sights in that area (I'm not as familiar with it, still researching). To keep airfare reasonable we'd fly round-trip to Munich, so maybe 1 night in Munich at the end, and we could re-arrange our sightseeing to plan on seeing Munich then if that made more sense. I'm open to staying longer in G-P, Munich, and/or cutting our Stuttgart altogether (although hubby has friends stationed there that we'd feel obligated to visit for at least a day). I'd love to have more time to see a castle or two or even head down to Italy.

Just wondering if this seems too ambitious or not ambitious enough? We don't know how often we will get to take trips like this, so it's tempting to see as many areas/countries as possible, but I don't want them to feel like the whole trip was a blur because we were in too many places. I also feel like spending a whole week in basically one country gives you more of a "true" experience.

Also, are we looking at very hot temperatures in the summer?

And... for what it's worth, none of us know any German! lol
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Feb 20th, 2016, 06:04 PM
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Germany is usually not very hot in the summer but you can get days that are warm and humid and AC is very uncommon - depending on where you stay.

I'm more concerned about the number of days that you have. It sounds like you might be counting days twice.

I would lay out your trip day by day, listing where you will start, what travel you will do that day (use bahn.de for trains or viamichelin.com for road) and where you will sleep.

If you only have 8 days there you need to account for the first day as being jet-lagged and for getting from the airport (Munich?) to your first city. And the last day you will really need to allow to get to the airport.
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Feb 20th, 2016, 06:57 PM
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Thank you. You're right -- I didn't really have the day count right, not sure why. I've been looking at many different vacation scenarios (Alaska, Hawaii, London, med cruise, etc) and I think I get them mixed up. Once we narrow things down I should be able to get the days completely set.

I realize we're going to lose a half day coming in and another whole day going out. We don't have dates set in stone at this point, just a two-week window in which we're trying to fit it in. We'd also love to have a two-day stopover in Iceland, but not at the expense of something wonderful in Germany or Austria.

I was just doing some more reading and now I wonder if we should consider Salzburg. I've been looking around at Stuttgart since I posted my original message and I'm not particularly excited about anything I see there. I'm wondering if we should do Garmisch for four nights, then maybe Salzburg for two, then head to Munich from there.
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Feb 20th, 2016, 08:36 PM
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Iceland you can do provided you allot a minimum of 4 nights. It is a totally different kind of place in our planet. You can Stay in Reykjavik and do day trips.
Germany 8/9 nights and iceland 4/5 nights will be ideal
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Feb 20th, 2016, 09:50 PM
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Hi CLBarnes,

I live in Garmisch, and I can tell you that it's too far to Switzerland for a day-trip. What were you wanting to see there? With so little time, you should keep your destinations in the same region so you aren't wasting hours in transit.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Feb 21st, 2016, 03:29 AM
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Look into staying in apartments ( ferienwohnung ) instead of hotels. Great money savers.
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Feb 21st, 2016, 03:32 AM
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to make the most of your time, I would suggest renting a house or apartment for a week in either Garmisch or the Salzkammergut and using it as a base for touring.

then spend the last 2 days/nights in Munich before you fly home.

if you choose well you should be able to combine sightseeing with activities like walking and sailing which will provide more than enough for you to do in a week.

I would look at places around the Wolfgangsee like St Wolfgang and St Gilgen from where you can easily get to Salzburg, Mondsee [for the Sound of Music sights] Bad Ischl, Berchtesgaden, Hallstadt - plenty of places to go, plus the lake itself.
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Feb 21st, 2016, 04:16 AM
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Stuttgart is really great if you like visiting auto factories (really) or day trips into the Black Forest.

Have you considered an open jaw flight out of say Amsterdam and spend you second half on the Mosel river. Hire bikes and catch ferries while drinking wine... You might also like Lake Constance for similar.
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Feb 21st, 2016, 06:03 AM
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Are you AD? You could stay at Edelweiss and do some of their great tours. I think an apartment in town is cheaper though. They are good with MWR tours and rental equipment. GaPa has some great biking trials and you go ride to the Gorge easy. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...a_Bavaria.html

There are lifts to the Wank that are fun. Are you taking the train rather than renting? You can go everywhere by train easy.
The BMW tour is very interesting in Munich. I like old town Stuttgart, we stayed at the INTERCITY HOTEL STUTTGART in the train station and it was not noisy but very convenient to everything.

Munich has some great things to see also and your kids will enjoy.

4:02 PM
Bahnhof Garmisch-Partenkirchen
5:23 PM
TrainRBtowards Innsbruck Hbf
21 min (2 stops)
Continue on the same vehicle
TrainREXtowards Innsbruck Hbf
57 min (10 stops)
5:27 PM
Innsbruck Hbf
Long distance trainECtowards Verona Porta Nuova
1 h 28 min (3 stops)
6:55 PM
Bressanone/Brixen
6:55 PM

Brixen, Bozen
Italy
You can go to Italy for a day trip.
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Feb 21st, 2016, 07:41 AM
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Hi again,

To respond to flpab's suggestion of staying at the Edelweiss Lodge, unfortunately, they are now complying with some restrictive regulations and cannot take reservations for active duty stationed in CONUS.

Here is what they say on the website:

Retirees or active-duty personnel who do not live in EUCOM must spend at least 30 days in Germany and have verification of eligibility from the German customs office before they may stay at the resort.

“It is an unfortunate development and we’re so sorry this may limit lodging options for service members and retirees visiting Europe” said Mr. Allman, General Manager of the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, “but we must comply with the AER 600-700.”

Reservations made prior to June 10, 2015, will be honored. Effective immediately, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort can no longer accept new reservations from CONUS-based active duty and retired personnel. CONUS-based military ID card holders (including retirees) travelling with an authorized sponsor who has been stationed or TDY for more than 30 days in Europe may stay at the resort. Eligible patrons are able to sponsor up to three rooms and must be present during their sponsored guests’ stay.

* * *

I personally wouldn't say this is a terrible thing -- as flpab notes, it's not really the cheapest option in town. Additionally, it's not centrally located, so you would need to take the bus, drive, or walk for 20 or 30 minutes to get to the center for eating or shopping. And finally -- guests only get an America/ersatz Bavarian experience, not an authentic one. For all those reasons, I think it's best to stay at a German place in town.

Anyway, have fun!

s
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Mar 7th, 2016, 02:02 PM
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Thank you everyone for your helpful responses...

To answer a few questions, we are not active duty nor are we stationed in Europe or Germany. When we first heard about the Edelweiss (while staying at Shades of Green) we were excited about the prospect of visiting. It is the whole reason why I fell in love with Garmisch-Partenkirchen and want to stay there. Reviews of the lodge are questionable nowadays and I do feel like we'd enjoy a more authentic experience staying at a locally-owned inn. It seems that the nicer places book up quickly, so as of now I do have reservations at the Hotel Rheinischer Hof.

I see that there are local tour guides you can hire for private tours, and I think we would take advantage of that, as well as going on our own. We would likely head to Lindau for a day and a boat ride on the lake. Maybe a day seeing the castle. Another day maybe we'd head to the top of the Zugspitze. And another down to Innsbruck. And of course a day just in G-P. My kind of vacation, with enough variety (I hope) to keep the kids interested.

swandav2000, what kind of weather could we expect in late June/early July?
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Mar 7th, 2016, 02:04 PM
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Or are we being silly not taking the kids to England instead? I went when I was 10 and had a wonderful time with my parents there. So much to see, and no language barrier.

But... no Alps. And tons of tourists! hahaha
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Mar 7th, 2016, 02:55 PM
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Go to Germany, they will love it. We decided last visit would be our last and we stayed in the cabins on the base side. I think it has gone down hill. We liked shopping there and on base there was a great little coffee shop that you can use. We were lucky for many years with them not enforcing the SOFA agreement. I only shopped in the exchange when my husband was there on orders but we did stay on base four times in those sweet little cabins facing the Zugspitze.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 03:22 PM
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>>> England instead? ... and no language barrier.

LOL. Coming from the US, I have more problems understanding what they are saying in the UK than in Germany. I can recognize the individual words, but they often have different meanings. If you order a "lemonade" in London, what would you think you will get?

>>> I don't want to waste too much of our precious time jumping from one place to another.

Rather than taking this at face value, compute actual overhead in moving around vs. overhead in backtracking to the home base. Which way produces the desired results?
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Mar 7th, 2016, 03:41 PM
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Stuttgart is not that nice and the station is being rebuilt which makes a lot of the city look like a gigantic work in progress.
I'd also stay more in G-P especially with the program of daytrips you envisoin.
Have fun.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 03:52 PM
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I booked 2 nights in Stuttgart but checked out after one night as I didn't like it.

I would recommend adding Salzburg and its nearby Salzkammergut area to your itinerary of GP and Munich.

Your kids would enjoy the salt mine tours and luge rides. And in St Wolfgang there is a cog wheel train that goes up Schafberg mountain. Across the lake in St. Gilgen, there is a cable car that goes to another mountain top.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 10:04 PM
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Hi again,

Weather in a mountain town is just not predictable in advance. For most years I've been here, our "summers" have had temps only about 60 or 65 deg with a handful of days with 75 or 80 temps. But last year, we had weeks and weeks of 80 deg temps, and higher. There's just no way to tell.

You should be prepared for everything & pack for layers. Use a t-shirt next to your skin (washes easily & dries overnight), then a nice top, a cardigan or vest, and a raincoat. That should keep you feeling fine for anything from 60 and wet to 85 and sunny.

The Rheinischerhof is nicely located near the train station, pretty much between the towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen. Don't neglect exploring Partenkirchen, which has an entirely different feel than Garmisch.

Have fun!

s
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Mar 8th, 2016, 06:14 AM
  #18
 
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"And... for what it's worth, none of us know any German! lol"

No problem in Germany - most Germans speak better English than the folks back home.

"While in G-P we'd visit Innsbruck, Munich/Dachau, Switzerland, and at least one whole day in G-P itself. Then we'd head to Stuttgart and see the sights in that area (I'm not as familiar with it, still researching)."

"I'd love to have more time to see a castle or two or even head down to Italy."

"Just wondering if this seems too ambitious or not ambitious enough?"

Italy = too ambitious.

I actually think the "true experience" you refer to is more easily found in the Stuttgart region (not necessarily in Stuttgart proper however.) I would definitely bone up on things to see and do there, and I'd probably suggest you spend your whole time there as well.

The NECKAR RIVER VALLEY alone is gorgeous and jam-packed with castles and palaces and old-world towns:

Burg Guttenberg: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...rttemberg.html

Hirschhorn(town and castle-hotel-restaurant): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ds_09_2007.jpg

Bad Wimpfen: http://www.orte-bw.de/grafik/uploads/1842_2010_1040.JPG

Heidelberg: http://hv-maps-workshop.physi.uni-he...ges/banner.jpg

Schwetzingen: http://www.schloss-schwetzingen.de/en/home/

Ludwigsburg: http://barockerlebnis.de/en/home/

Tübingen: https://www.tuebingen.de/Bilder/woch...thaus_1000.jpg

The BLACK FOREST offers dozens of attractive half-timbered villages and a great outdoor experience:

Schiltach: http://www.orte-bw.de/grafik/uploads..._2010_1040.JPG

Gutach, Vogtsbauernhof open-air museum:
http://www.schwarzwald-geniessen.de/...pg?fl=18233846

Fun summer bobsled run next door: http://bilder.bild.de/fotos/ausflueg...ild/2.bild.jpg


http://www.halbherr.eu/mobile/smartp...29.7.05-14.jpg
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Mar 8th, 2016, 06:23 AM
  #19
 
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BTW Dachau is a pretty intense emotional experience... I'm of the mind that our schools address the horrors of Nazi Germany sufficiently already and that besides putting a very dark shadow over a full day of your very short trip, a visit to Dachau is unlikely to teach you anything you didn't already know. Better perhaps (especially with a child under 15) IMHO to skip this.
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