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A Touch of Germany (Rhine) and more of The Netherlands - July 2019

A Touch of Germany (Rhine) and more of The Netherlands - July 2019

Aug 8th, 2019, 02:10 PM
  #1  
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A Touch of Germany (Rhine) and more of The Netherlands - July 2019

First of all I'd like to thank those who were able to provide exactly the information I needed. Specifically there were Mainzer and BlandineForberg for the German portion of the trip and Menachem for the Netherlands.
Of course there were others but I can't remember them all.

The planning for this trip started with my wife mentioning a river cruise. We have never been on any type of cruise nor have we ever been on a group tour. We go on our own and plan our own itinerary.

It didn't take me long to come across comments indicating the possibility of a river cruise becoming a bus tour should the water level be too low or too high.

For a first time we wanted a relatively short cruise. Approximately a week long felt right. Then I remembered all those TV commercials with that great scenery. So I read the itinerary and at one point it mentioned "this is where the best scenery is located". You mean that scenery you see on TV isn't on view throughout the cruise?

I started to follow the route on Google Maps and sure enough the only real scenery was in one spot. Between Rudesheim and Boppard. So I started to plan a trip that included a day river cruise.

In the end we spent 4 1/2 days based in Mainz and 5 1/2 days based in Amsterdam. The half days were the arrival days in each place.

The Flights
We had excellent flights, then we didn't, then we did. See the thread "It Takes Nerve" in both Germany and Netherlands.
In the end we got what we bought and what we wanted. Over the past few years we've started to pamper ourselves. We've been staying in upgraded hotels and flying Buisiness Class on trans Atlantic itineraries.

Hotels.
We couldn't have done better.

Mainz.
There were suggestions that we stay in one of the hotels facing the train station square. That would have been a mistake as the area was not only under construction but really is not a very nice area.
We selected the Hilton Mainz City. The Hotel was very nice and so was the room. Surprisingly it was also quite large. As for location, it couldn't be beat. It was a 10-12 minute walk to the train station and just inside the historic center. It took less than 15 minutes to walk all the way to the marina.

Amsterdam.
I have never made so many reservations and canceled so many of them. In the end we stayed at Banks Mansion. I don't know where to start. The people were friendly and very helpful. The room was larger than we expected for Amsterdam. The location was great. In the middle of everything.
The hotel hosted a wine and cheese event every day at 5PM. It was then that we met other guests of the hotel. During the planning of the trip there was some discussion of the local transportation system and the lack of a single tram ticket. Well, the hotel solved that problem. They sold guests individual tickets when needed.
There was one employee who went above and beyond. I don't know Elsbeth's official title but on several ocassions I noticed her making the rounds in the "living room" speaking with guests. The all inclusive approach that included breakfast was greatly appreciated. This hotel was a great choice.

Trains.
Kudos to the German Railway System. We traveled from Mainz to Amsterdam by train. My wife suffers from motion sickness and we are in our mid-seventies. I decided that we should take a direct train from Frankfurt rather than from Mainz where we would have had to change trains, carry luggage and possibly have issues with the luggage on the train(s).
My wife's motion sickness appears to be better when she's facing the direction of travel. So we wanted facing seats, with nobody beside us and a table between. That's quite a list. There was only one of these available in first class on the train we wanted so I booked it.
A couple of days later I noticed that the price of those tickets were now substatially less. Well, you win some and you lose some. But I decided to take a shot at it. I sent an email asking about the cost of the tickets. The response started with "the future price and availability of tickets cannot be guaranteed". And then the surprise. "As a gesture of goodwill, we are sending you a travel voucher to the value of 60 euros".
We had several day trips planned so using the voucher was not be a problem. Wow! Now that's customer service!!
Myer is offline  
Aug 8th, 2019, 02:11 PM
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Mainz and Amsterdam.
While we had been to Amsterdam twice before (not for quite a few years) we had never been to any part of Germany. We expected Mainz to be nothing more than a base for the river cruise and a few day trips. We were quite surprised that Mainz was as nice as it was.

In spite of some cloudy, drizzly and cool weather Amsterdam was still beautiful. I had read about long lines everywhere. While there were people it was quite manageable. Amsterdam is a wonderful, world-class city. The priority for getting around is bicycles, then motorists and at the bottom are the pedestrians. Be careful when crossing streets. A 360 degree look around is a good idea. Before crossing.

Restaurants.
In both Mainz and Amsterdam we mixed recommended restaurants (by the above Fodorites and hotel staff) with snack meals. No meals disappointed us.

In Mainz we ate at Heiliggeist and Trattoria Peperoncino. In fact, we ate at Heiliggeist twice. The food was excellent and the restaurant is beautiful and in a great location. Peperoncino was also very good. Both were between 10 and 15 minutes from our hotel.

In Amsterdam we had ricetable at Restaurant Indrapura located next door to the Hotel Schiller. It was very good. Also, very good BBQ Chicken at the Chicken Bar.

Museums.
While we are not avid museum goers we go to and enjoy some of the major museums.

Mainz - Gutenberg Museum. Quite interesting. More people than I expected.

Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum did not disappoint. We bought tickets and walked in. So much for no availability or waiting in long lines. The Willet-Holthuysen House Museum was also very interesting and gave us a look at how the wealthy lived.

The Hague - Mauritshuis. Another world-class museum.

Day Trips.
Koblenz
Except for the area from the Deutsches eck and along the river to the Schloss Koblenz which was very nice, the town appeared to be an old, tired pedestrian mall. They even have a TK Maxx. Yes "TK Maxx". I looked it up and sure enough it's owned by TJ Maxx.

Heidelberg
There was quite a bit of road construction between the Old Town train station and the Old Town but it didn't take long for Heidelberg to redeem itself. Heidelberg is a beatiful city from both sides of the river. We wandered around most of the day.

Worms
A surprise. The original plan for Sunday was for my wife to sleep in and for me to go to Worms. We were then to meet around noon and go to Eltville and Wiesbaden.
The day before my wife decided to come to Worms. So we left a little later, walked over to the rebuilt synagogue, visited the Jewish museum and wandered thru the town over to the Holy Sand Cemetary. We spent quite a bit of time in the cemetary reading the inscription on many of the tomb stones. A very interesting and worthwhile day trip.

On the way back from Worms we spent a few hours in Wiesbaden. It was very interesting to compare Mainz and Wiesbaden. Two cities directly opposite each other. Looks like a bit of a competition.

A word about the group, day train ticket. I walked into the train office in Mainz station and asked about this type of ticket. A ticket for two that included Mainz - Worms - Wiesbaden - Mainz was barely over 20E. A good deal. And we also used it to take a bus in Wiesbaden.

Utrecht
This was a bit of a surprise. The weather turning sunny and warm didn't hurt. Just what you'd expect and hope to see in the Netherlands. A town with scenic canals providing a very pleasant walk. We also went to the university campus and walked thru the grounds. Very nice.

Delft, The Hague and Leiden
Originally, this day trip was supposed to be to Rotterdam. However, during the last week before the trip we changed direction and it turned into Delf, The Hague and Leiden. Really, this was too much for one day so all we got was an overview. Especially since we visited the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
We were a little disappointed with Delft. Maybe cool, cloudy weather and the town not waking up until noon didn't help. After a couple of hours we took the train to The Hague. This town had a completely different feel. We were actually quite pleasantly surprised. And the museum didn't hurt either. We did wander around somewhat and came across a Thailand festival complete with colorful costumes and dancing. Then on to Leiden. A very pleasant surprise. A young, live look and feel. Of course, a windmill within a couple of minutes walk from the train station didn't hurt.
I'm not sure how we could plan a future trip that would include more time in The Hague and Leiden. But at least we got this overview.

The River Cruise.
Rather than take a train from Mainz to Rudesheim we decided to walk over to the marina and take the KD boat at the start in Mainz. My wife likes to sleep in but she also likes to be on time. So we left our hotel early planning to take the later, 9:30 boat. We arrived at the marina just before the 8:30 boat left so that's what we took. Getting on the boat at the start of the cruise also gave us our pick of seat locations and avoided the crunch of people boarding at Rudesheim. As expected the best scenery was between Rudesheim and Boppard. We were not disappointed. We didn't expect the non-stop scenery all the way.
It was spectacular. One town after another. One castle after another. And one vineyard after another. I Highly recommend it.
We got off the boat in Boppard. We wandered around and had a snack lunch. A cute town. Bacharach was small and mostly deserted. But the cruise was well worth the time.
Myer is offline  
Aug 8th, 2019, 11:04 PM
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So glad you liked The Hague and Leiden.
menachem is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 02:30 AM
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Wow, sounds like a fun trip!
Thank you for sharing!
ninasimon is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 04:10 AM
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menachem

Thanks for your invaluable help. We don't usually get a very early start so visiting three towns in one day and doing them justice is tough. I don't think getting to Delft earlier would have helped as the town doesn't wake up until noon. But a bit more time in The Hague and Leiden might have been good.

In The Hague, after the museum we also wandered around some of the parliament buildings. Very nice area.

ninasimon,

Yes, it was a very good trip once we got past the stress of our plane tickets a day before leaving. Rather than rewrite the story I referred to the thread in my report.

Photos,

I'm going thru my photos bit by bit and once they're done I'll post them on my web site. Editing the photos was slowed as 3 days after returning from this trip I left to go on a hiking trip to North Carolina with my daughter. It was the only week we both had available.

I will post once the photos are up.
Myer is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 04:10 AM
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Wow I love such detailed trip. And I am very inspired by the river cruise. Another idea added to my to-do-list.
JessicaBr is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 04:34 AM
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On our first trip to Amsterdam we took several day trips and Leiden was our favorite. We returned there for a week and it was one of our favorite vacations.
We also like The Hague a lot and next time will spend a few nights there too.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Myer View Post
Koblenz
Except for the area from the Deutsches eck and along the river to the Schloss Koblenz which was very nice, the town appeared to be an old, tired pedestrian mall. They even have a TK Maxx. Yes "TK Maxx". I looked it up and sure enough it's owned by TJ Maxx.

Worms
The day before my wife decided to come to Worms. So we left a little later, walked over to the rebuilt synagogue, visited the Jewish museum and wandered thru the town over to the Holy Sand Cemetary. We spent quite a bit of time in the cemetary reading the inscription on many of the tomb stones. A very interesting and worthwhile day trip.
That's a pretty nice example how misleading trip reports can be when they only reflect personal interests. Were you even in Koblenz' old town? Because it still forms a coherent area. Which is not the case with Worms which only has the isolated highlights.
Lubitsch is online now  
Aug 9th, 2019, 05:14 AM
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What a nice trip you planned and executed! We did a Rhine River river cruise a year ago (I posted a trip report about it) and we were very, very lucky to have made it with no problems. We should have done the research like you did before we booked it. But luckily no bad things happened on our cruise and we had a really good time - especially on the castle cruising day. Looking forward to seeing your pictures.
john183 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 06:00 AM
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john,

It's always great when a trip goes exactly as planned. but when it doesn't you then hope for pretty good. I'm glad yours went as planned.

While we didn't get rained out on any day, it still would have been nice to have a bit more sun and warm weather. But I'll still take what we got over sunny and 100 F

Lubitsch,

I can only write about what we did and saw. We started at the Koblenz Stadtmitte train station. From there we worked our way towards Deutsches Eck area. The route I planned followed about half a dozen squares that I thought would be nice. And a few were. From there we wandered along the promenade to the Schloss Koblenz that was very nice. From there we zig zagged thru the streets towards the area a bit above the train station where we started. Then back towards the train station.

If I didn't hit the right parts of town, it's a little late to tell me about them.
Myer is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Myer View Post
Lubitsch,

I can only write about what we did and saw. We started at the Koblenz Stadtmitte train station. From there we worked our way towards Deutsches Eck area. The route I planned followed about half a dozen squares that I thought would be nice. And a few were. From there we wandered along the promenade to the Schloss Koblenz that was very nice. From there we zig zagged thru the streets towards the area a bit above the train station where we started. Then back towards the train station.

If I didn't hit the right parts of town, it's a little late to tell me about them.
Yup, the first part sounds pretty good to me. My post wasn't necessarily meant as a criticism, more of a hint how certain elements can colour our impressions. Koblenz still has a coherent old town and if you plan accordingly you can do a nice walk. While in Worms it is impossible to not to have the impression that the town between the synagogue and the cathedral appears "to be an old, tired pedestrian mall". So basically you were trashing Koblenz with the words which objectively rather fit Worms but you were so happy with the Jewish sights that you didn't care about that. I just wanted to point out that this is a case of a slightly selective memory.
Lubitsch is online now  
Aug 9th, 2019, 10:45 AM
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Lubitsch,

I'm not sure what you meant by my first part was pretty good. Essentially you could probably divide what we did into three parts. First getting to the Deutsches Eck area, second walking from there along the promenade to the Schloss and third wandering back more or less toward the train station. So you like the first part and not the last two?

Worms definitely didn't have the look of a tired pedestrian mall. It's possible that it would have that look and feel if it wasn't a Sunday. There weren't hoards of people out but we did see what appeared to be family type of groups. The main reason to go to Worms was to see the Jewish sights. There were a fair number of people at the cemetery and we spoke with a few. I don't believe selective memory played any part with my memory of Worms.

For each place we visit I draw out a route depending upon what is in that town and how much time we may have there. Then we decide what we liked and what we didn't based on what we had decided to see and what we expected.

If somebody has very different interests they may not go to the same towns even if they were in the same area.

In the German part of the trip we definitely were not disappointed with Mainz, Wiesbaden (as little of it we saw), Heidelberg, Worms, the Rhine cruise and maybe Boppard.
Myer is offline  
Aug 13th, 2019, 01:48 PM
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Thanks for the writeup.

I think that Leiden, Groningen and Arnhem are my favorite cities in the Netherlands. The first two have the nice energy from the college; between the zoo, open air museum, park, WW2 museum and history, I think Arnhem is special.
bdokeefe is offline  
Aug 14th, 2019, 06:40 AM
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The problem with not starting early in the morning and then making stops in 3 towns/cities is you can't devote that much time to each.

But we got an overview of each. I had done enough research to make a waling route thru each place and end up having our favorites.

Of the day trips we took in the Netherlands Delft was the only one we didn't get excited over. Utrecht, Leiden and The Hague were all very nice.

And of course, Amsterdam is a world class city.
Myer is offline  
Aug 15th, 2019, 01:16 AM
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Delft- I took the tram from The Hague and wandered around, agree with your assessment. The TU Delft Library was my highlight. The building is hard to describe, like a horse shoe shaped building in glass, sloped roof with grass on it so you can lay out, and an Indian tee-pee thing coming out up top. You can walk up on the roof and have great views. Inside, there are staircases going up the tee-pee, with 5 levels of study space. Amazingly silent, even with lots of students working.

There is also a nice coffee shop inside, my kids like the design the barista made in my drink, complete with a take away cups with nice dutch images.

The Hague tram system is impressive, from the Ocean (North Sea?) all the way to Delft. The day pass was a bargain for me.
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Aug 15th, 2019, 06:18 AM
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