A few general Germany trip questions

Old Aug 24th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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A few general Germany trip questions

Hey all!

My wife and I are planning a trip to Germany next year. Here's a brief bio of who "we" are:

Both 25-year-old newspaper designers who live in Pennsylvania. We appreciate beautiful scenery, authentic atmosphere, great culture and aren't hung on on food, per se. We've both traveled extensively - however I've never been to Germany. My wife, however, lived in Wiesbaden for 10 years while her father was in the U.S. Army. Because of that, we have friends that will put us up in Heidelberg for free (keep in mind, too, we won't be traveling "cheap," so hotels and train travel are no problem).

My main questions:
1) We're thinking of either traveling in May, or in September - I imagine these times would be pretty identical weather-wise, but is one preferred over the other?

2) I've read so much about cities on here, but was wondering what you guys thought would be the best staging ground? My DW wants to go to Wiesbaden for a day, to see where she grew up, and I'd (being a WWII buff) would particularly love to be emersed in that culture, whether it be a concentration camp or musuem or the like.

Two more quick facts: We'll be flying from Philly, so Frankfurt is the most logical destination, then train from there. We also will be in Germany for no more than six days, unfortunately.

Thanks in advance!
sppunk is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Check www.weatherbase.com to get the historical weather average for both May and September. The website will also show you precipitation averages so that might help you determine in which month you would rather visit.

Two great towns easily visited from Frankfurt via train are Bamberg (UNESCO world heritage) and Wurzburg (the first town on the much heralded Romantic Road). Rothenburg ob der Tauber (further south on the Romantic Road from Wurzburg) is also quite popular and interesting to visit during non-peak tourist season.
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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6 days is short shrift, so you'll only be able to get a taste of all that Germany has to offer. Wiesbaden is a great town, you'll need an entire day for strolling around, but it won't be necessary to spend the night. Heidelberg is an interesting "student" town and can be done in a long day. However,the main WWII stuff will be in Berlin and the northerly surrounds. You might consider limiting yourselves to the west - the Rhine and Mosel rivers have exquisite scenery, many interesting towns, castle, etc. The travel times from Heidleberg to the north or southeast (Munich) are long, either via train or car (the entire country travels north to south on the weekends and then back again on Sunday!), so keep that in mind. Also bear in mind that many of the "Altstadts" (old towns or old town centers) are wholly or partially rebuilt due to extensive bombing. Bottom line: picks a few spots, narrow your focus and go back for another visit. Trier is an old Roman town (the ruins and the arch are still there and can be self-toured) with an 18th century facade pedestrian walking area. I loved this town. It is in the southwest.
Re: food - Germany is not a big beef country and what you'll find there usually isn't very good. The rest of the food is good, but tends toward heavier fare. Don't avoid the desserts just because they look heavy. They are actually much lighter (in taste, not calories) than the American counterpart because the German palate likes things less sweet than our desserts, which Germans usually find sickeningly sweet.
Re: time to travel - I've visited in both May and September. May seemed a bit more humid, a bit more unpredictable, weatherwise. May the weather gods smile upon you on your journey! Hope you have a great time.
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Old Aug 24th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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We were in Germany this past May, although we were south of where you will be (Berchtesgaden, near Salzburg). The weather was a little on the chilly side so we wore lightweight jackets most of the time. The air was nice and crisp. We did have cloudy, rainy days but that's to be expected in the spring. We didn't experience any humidity at all, although I'm not sure if that's unusual or not.

I too would recommend the towns along the Romantic Road. We didn't get to Bamburg (unfortunately) but we visited Wurzburg and Rothenburg and really enjoyed both.

tcreath is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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We've been in both May & September.
May has more emphasis on "spring is here!", flowers, "spargelfest" (99,000 different ways to serve asparagus for dinner). Sept has more emphasis on wine. Otherwise about equal.
For (only) 6 days, I'd suggest the Mosel area in Sept. when the grape harvest is.
tomboy is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Thank you all for your excellent advice.

I'm positive we'll travel to Germany many times - so focusing on one area is ideally what we both have in mind.

Bavaria interests me greatly, but I see the point being made about travel times, and will rethink that option.

If I have any more questions (and when I get more in mind what we'll decide to do) I'll let you all know!

Thanks, again.
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Old Aug 24th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Compared to the distances in the US you will find that Germany in a pretty small country. I think someone said it is the size of Montana. On top of that if you fly into Frankfurt you will be about in the middle of the country.

There is an awful lot of history and scenery south of there in Bavaria. Highlights to pick from include Rothenburg ODT, Munich, Augsburg, Heidelburg, and the alpine area from Fussen to Bertschesgaden. You almost can't go wrong with any of those destinations.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 04:45 AM
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Main question 1: May is fine, but September is probably better for most people. There are plenty of wine festivals along the Rhine at that time - just about every weekend in one town or another - and only a stone's throw from Wiesbaden.

Main question #2: If you are a WW II buff, you'll find some things of interest not far from Wiesbaden. Remagen, just north of Koblenz, has a good WW II museum housed in the remaining supports for the old Luddendorf Bridge ("Bridge at Remagen"). If you venture over to Trier as suggested by merrittm you are only a few miles from the American cemetery in Luxembourg where Gen. Patton lies. Trier isn't that far from Belgium's Bastogne and other Battle of the Bulge sights. Just north of Trier in Irrel is an old German bunker (Panzerwerk Katzenkopf) you can tour on Sunday afternoons only.

There are several authentic castles you can tour in the Rhine/Mosel region as well, and the scenery is great - sounds like the place for your interests. I almost always use the train in Germany, but if you end up there for several days and want to maximize what your sightseeing, you will find a car makes the going easier, especially if heading out to the American cemetery, Bastogne, or Irrel.
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Old Aug 25th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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All of the suggestions by other posters are more than enough to keep you busy. You might consider a twin German Rail Pass. Go to Rail Europe.com.

It might be interesting to find all of these places on a map, then go to www.bahn.de, click on international guests and figure out train connections to these places.
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Old Aug 27th, 2005, 05:06 AM
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First, I would like to back other posters who have said, September is better for traveling in Germany than May.

You arrive at Frankfurt/Main and have another six days. Why not to stay a day at Frankfurt am Main (there is another one, Frankfurt/Oder at the Polish border). This town with its (for german measures big) skyscrapers is the economic center of Germany. But they also have a (completely rebuilt) marketplace with a front of halftimbered buildings, called Römer, a small church nearby, Paulskirche, the symbol for democratic movement in Germany. There are also some interesting museums at Frankfurt a.M. along river Main, called Museumsufer. In addition, Frankfurt/Main ist the home of two nationally distributed newspapapers, Frankfurter Rundschau or FR and Frankfurter Allgemeine or FAZ. FAZ is said to be one of the word´s leading newspapers, they have a thouroughful plannes design, most known is their attitude, to publish just text on the front side, no photos or cartoons - except that one day, the wall to Eastern Germany fell. Maybe they invite you to visit their office at Frankfurt/Main, check aut at http://www.faz.net/s/homepage.html

One day you will spend at Wiesbaden - this is the capital of the state of Hassia, not Frankfurt a.M., as it was a famous spa some 150 years ago. Enjoy. Nearby just opposite at the other bank of river Rhine you will finf the city of Mainz (or mayence in french and english spelling) capital of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Famous for its cathedral or Dom and its Gutenberg Museum for printing and production of books.
River Rhine from Mainz (mayence) to Koblenz (coblence) is said to be the most pictoresk part of this river. You can go there by train or by boat, KD or Köln-Düsseldorfer boat company provide a boat line service.

As the river rhine area is a wine growing area, you might find there restaurants and inns specializing in wine (Weinstube).

If you want to go further, consider to visit Köln (Cologne) an interesting town, where you find some romanesque churches, the Dom (or cathedral), one of the largest ones around, and besides the cathedral, the Hauptbahnhof (or main station). Inside you will find a small book store, its basement was the first bookstall in Germany, selling pocket books only. Oh, when you are looking for english books, magazines and newspapers, the largest choice is to be found at the big town´s railway stations. As you are newspaper designers, Germany offers a wide range of daily and weekly newspapers and also a wide range of magazines from newsmagazines to ones for quite every point of interest. The Cologne people read their Kölner Stadtanzeiger (Cologne Town Advertiser) but find delight with heartier stuff served at the local breweries and inns, like Kölsch beer and pork knuckle.

There are also museums at Köln, offering a wide spread from roman archeology to chocolade manufacturing. Besides, Cologne is an European center of modern art. Typical for Cologne is - the main station besides the cathedral - a quite unique melange of old and new.

What for WWII, there is one memorial seen at the entrance of the cathedral, a damaged stone pillar repaired with bricks and left that way. Other memorials are to be found at photo books of the end of war, when literally the comlete city was in ruins, the cathedral still standing inmidst a heap of rubble.

hhildebrandt is offline  
Old Aug 27th, 2005, 05:29 AM
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My DH is also a WWII nut, so we ventured to Erfurt and Suhl (in the former East Germany) and found them to be very interesting. The drive isn't bad at all, from Frankfurt area.
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Old Aug 27th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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As a WWII buff:

If you find yourself around Frankfurt airport with a couple of extra hours to kill, 2 summers ago we stumbled across a holocaust labor camp memorial in the town of Walldorf on the south side of the airport.

Towards the end of the war, it was the labor camp for a group of Hungarian Jewish women who were brought in to harden the airport runways for the jet aircraft the Germans were bringing into service.

It's in a quiet wooded area between Walldorf and the airport--a circular trail with plaques containing photos, copies of letters, etc. Nothing overwhelming, but a simple, and moving tribute area documenting the experience of the women.

I can dig out the directions from my travel journal if anyone is interested. There's also a good Italian restaurant nearby.

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