About a Week in Germany

Dec 24th, 2018, 03:11 AM
  #1  
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About a Week in Germany

I'm in the process of trying to put together a trip for this summer. App. 2 weeks.

We have a rule that we don't intend to break. We do not rent a car in Europe. We travel mostly by train and occasionally by bus. But NO CAR.

Our style is as follows; We are not really museum or church goers although we do visit the occasional ones. We walk a lot seeing and/or visiting the sights. While we're not big history buffs sights with historical significance could be of interest. I am an amateur photographer and get up early to wander. Then I get my wife, we have breakfast and do whatever we have planned for the day. We mix local sightseeing with day trips (normally within an hour by train though we might stretch that to an hour and a half for a place of interest) and are not opposed to an overnight day trip where we sleep over while keeping our base hotel. Last summer we did this in France going to Bruges for one night and Tours (chateaux country) for two nights. We probably wouldn't do this more than once during the whole trip.

The first week would most likely have us based in Amsterdam (we've been there twice over a period of many years) and do three or four day trips.

Originally the second part would have us based in Porto, Portugal (we visited Lisbon two years ago and were very pleasantly surprised). For some reason my wife wasn't too excited with the Porto part and suggested Germany where we've never been. We're really open to which city would be our base for the week. We'd lean toward a city that we can get to fairly easily from Amsterdam by train or air, be a return point to the U.S. and one that we would find interesting on its own for a few days.

I'm finding that for a country that doesn't really look all that big on a map everything seems to be far apart time-wise. Maybe it's just me.
I did some research first looking for a base and then looking for day trips from that base.

Rather than bias responses with my findings I'd like suggestions for the base as well as potential day trips.

Thanks in advance.
Myer is offline  
Dec 24th, 2018, 04:54 AM
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How about the Rhine Valley? We did a nice approximately week long trip there (all by train) a few years ago. Based in Boppard. I was going to suggest Munich with day trips to Bamberg, Regensberg, Saltzburg, Nurnberg, etc. but Amsterdam to Munich by train is quite long, I think maybe 8 hours. You could maybe break it up with a stop for a couple of days half way between them. Lots of flights back to the US from Munich. We were in that region this past summer (again, all travel by train) but we only spent 3 days in Munich itself and then moved on. You might get some ideas from my trip report (we left Germany and visited Austria and Bratislava before returning to Germany which you wouldn't have time for in a week, but if you took out that middle part and did just the Bavaria part it would fit in about a week).


Bavaria to Bratislava and Back in three weeks


Previous trip to Rhine Valley - Rhine and Mosel Valley Photos and mini trip report
isabel is online now  
Dec 24th, 2018, 05:25 AM
  #3  
 
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Airports in and around Germany with daily direct flights to some US airports:
Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Zurich
Please tell us what are your interests, resp. which area of Germany you plan to visit: mountains, midlands, cities, big rivers like Rhine Valley or Elbe Valley.
You only tell us that you are not particularly interested in History (museums, castles, churches, etc.) and that you don't like areas like Porto with it's medieval city center and the vineyards of the Douro Valley. So you wouldn't probably like the Mosel Valley or the Rhine Valley.
But what are you looking for really?
As soon as we get your feedback, you can make some proposals.
neckervd is offline  
Dec 24th, 2018, 06:59 AM
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I think we would like the Porto area. But my wife didn't seem too excited having been in Portugal (only Lisbon and Cascais) summer 2017.
We do go to museums but not big museum goers.
Mainly we walk in, around and thru sites. Architecture, street, people, main sites.
My wife has mentioned a river cruise a few times but I'm not enthused with the idea. I'd rather a base and move around from there.
ok. So far Frankfurt seems to have the most to offer for us. I just have to find out if the the city has enough to offer since we wouldn't go on day trips every day. Probably about half.
Frankfurt appears to have an excellent train from Amsterdam taking under 4 hours (10:38 - 14:31) and no changes.
I haven't checked out or had my wife check out any of the destinations relatively near Frankfurt so at this point they are only on the list of potentials due to their proximity to Frankfurt.
Hannau 20 min)
Mainz 40) / Wiesbaden 40)
Rhine Valley day cruise
Baden-Baden (1:20)
Heidelberg (1:00)
Darmstadt 30)
Koblenz (1:30)
Wurzburg (1:10)
Cologne (1:10)
Marburg (1:00)

I'd be most interested in opinion for the above and any addition day trips.
Thanks.
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Dec 24th, 2018, 07:01 AM
  #5  
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I'm not sure how the emojis got there but it was not intended.
That list is in no particular order.
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Dec 24th, 2018, 08:07 AM
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Thanks.
IMO, Mainz, a very old city on the Rhine river would be a much nicer place to stay than Frankfurt. The distance from FRA airport is about the same. Enjoy the medieval city center with good German, Italian, Indian... rertaurants and the fruit and vegetables market at the square in front of the cathedral. Mainz is the starting point of Rhine river boats which go down up to Koblenz and stop at many picturesque villages (you can hop on/hop off at any place) like Ruedesheim, Bacharach, St. Goar.... It's easy to combine local train rides, small walks or longer hikes with boat rides. There are alos tons of castles (which can be visited) along the Rhine river.
Trains from Mainz along the Rhine river to Koblenz - Remagen - Bonn - Cologne.
A bit south of Mainz, you find the 2 very old towns of Worms and Speyer, both along the Rhine river and both with cathedrals (very good Greek restaurant in front of the cathedral of Speyer, BTW). At Speyer you can visit a interesting temporary exhibition about the Roman emperor Valentinian and his influence to the Rhine region
https://museum.speyer.de/en/preview/valentinian/
At the sqzare in front of the cathedral of Worms will take the famous Nibelungen Festival (in German only)
ttps://www.nibelungenfestspiele.de/nibelungenfestspiele/2019/Programm/Inszenierung/?navid=406329406329

The Mosel Valley (scenic small towns, vineyards, castles, hiking trails, train and boat traffic) can be visited from Koblenz (1hr by train from Mainz).
In 2 days you can go by boat from Koblenz up to Trier, a more than 2000 years old city with some Roman buildings. Trier is close to Luxemburg, another gem.
Heidelberg (50 min by direct train) and Wuerzburg (2 hrs by direct train from Mainz) are both gems of easy reach. So are Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, of course.

I don't find Darmstadt and Baden-Baden (Spa) particularly interesting.
Strasbourg ( 2 hrs by train) or even Gengenbach in the Black Forest (2 1/2 hrs by train) might be better choices.
Marburg is a nice, rather untouristy German town. Don't expect too much from Hanau, as the historic center was heavily bombed and more or less destroyed in WW2.
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Dec 24th, 2018, 09:16 AM
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For trains, look at regional passes that are dirt cheap and you buy at stations as you go - 2 can ride regional trains, buses and city transports for the whole day for about 30-35 euros total. Train info - www.bahn.de/en - German Railways site - book own long-distance tickets like from Amsterdam at discounts - there may be some kind of overnight train connection A'dam to Munich. www.seat61.com has super info on discounted tickets, passes - general info www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts.

Trier would make a great day trip possibility as well from Frankfurt.
PalenQ is online now  
Dec 24th, 2018, 10:27 AM
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Frankfurt is a large generally modern city with a small restored Old Town. Mot sure I'd want to stay there for a week but yes a god transit center - for smaller towns I really like Heidelberg.
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Dec 24th, 2018, 05:29 PM
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neckervd and PalenQ,
Thanks. A lot of good stuff I'll have to review tomorrow.

neckervd,following your suggestion to stay in Mainz instead of Frankfurt,I looked at the trains from Frankfurt airport and it isn't much longer to Mainz than Frankurt.
I'm a little concerned about the train change to Mainz with luggage. It appears there's a 300 M walk between trains.

I want to compare the positives of each location. Also, will the smaller Mainz have enough to keep us busy for the days we want to relax (whatever that is) and not go on day trips.

Again, thanks for a lot of good info.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 02:36 AM
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Comparing Frankfurt with Mainz, I would ask the other way round: will FRANKFURT have enough to keep us busy for the days we want to relax. And my answer would rather be: No!
Mainz and Wiesbaden (just accross the Rhine river) are much more relaxing and offer much more possibilities to tourists than the trade and banking center Frankfurt.
https://www.mainz.de/en/index.php
https://www.wiesbaden.de/en/tourism/...eing/index.php

The train change at Frankfurt Flughafen is easy: moving staircases, elevators, etc.
But be aware that a train ride by fast train from Amsterdam via Cologne to Frankfurt airport is rather boring (high speed lines in the middle of nothing, noise protection walls whenever you approach a cty or a scenic place). I suggest to take a train which runs along the Rhiver, with good views to river, vineyards and castles. It takes a bit longer, but it's well worth it!
For example:
Amsterdam dp 8.08 - Duisburg track 3 ar 10.06, Duisburg track 4 (SAME PLATFORM) dp 10.13 along the Rhine river to Mainz ar 12.39
Amsterdam dp 10.38 - Cologne track 6 ar 13.15, Cologne track 7 (SAME PLATFORM) dp 13.53 - Mainz ar 15.39
Amsterdam dp 12.38 - Cologne track 6 ar 15.15, Cologne track 7 (SAME PLATFORM) dp 15.53 - Mainz ar 17.39
neckervd is offline  
Dec 25th, 2018, 04:55 AM
  #11  
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neckervd,
Thanks for t train info.
These are just the insider things I want to find out.
Yes, one of my first questions was whether Frankfurt would be a good base.
I had a heck of a time finding those train routes. But now I see them.
Why wouldn't that train (the 10:38) run the last half of July and August?
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Dec 25th, 2018, 06:42 AM
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Great advice above. I also recommend the Rhine valley, there's plenty to see and it's closer to Amsterdam than Munich. (Put Munich down for a separate trip.)

We stayed in Bacharach for three days on one trip (there's a great one day river cruise, out and back from there, we went to Boppard and back) and Cochem on the Moselle for three days last September. You have hiking, cycling, castles, castle ruins, old town centers, vineyards, food, and just watching the rivers go by.

Nearby cities that I think are worth a day trip are: Cologne (the cathedral is a 10 minute walk from the train station) and Trier. You'll want to get a guide book soon and start reading up to find the sights that interest you.

Too bad you don't want a car. It's a good way to see the small towns in this area. Driving and parking are easy outside of the big cities. We travel by car so I can't advise on the trains except to say that the rails run right along the rivers and the train ride should be scenic as all get out.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 06:51 AM
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" Why wouldn't that train (the 10:38) run the last half of July and August? "

It runs, but it stops at Koeln Messe Deutz track 12 (ar 13.28) instead of Koeln Hbf.
There is a conneting train from Koeln Messe Deutz track 7 (dp 13.50) to Mainz (ar 16.55) with stops in almost every village along the Rhine river.
Quicker connections along the Rhine river:
Amsterdam dp 10.38 - Duisburg ar 12.41, train change, dp 13.07 - Koeln Hbf track 6 ar 13.15, dp from track 7 (SAME PLATFORM) 13.53 - Mainz ar 15.39
or: Duisburg dp 14.07 - Mainz ar 16.39. This latter solution would be less risky and allow you to have lunch at Duisburg railway station.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 08:50 AM
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Wiesbaden is just opposite Mainz and for a relaxing day look around this popular spa in a park-like setting.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 10:52 AM
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neckervd,
Thanks. More good stuff.
Palenq,
This sounds somewhat like the spa in Budapest.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 10:56 AM
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For a relaxing day out of Mainz instead of in it - of course take the k-d.com boats downstream and take trains quickly back - would not have to move much to have a relaxing day out but of course get off at some wine town for lunch. Stayed in Mainz once and found it an ordinary large city - oh a nice old palace and riverfront but not sure what to do there for 3 days or so - but is a short train ride from Frankfurt.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 12:16 PM
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Map projections make northern placed look small.

Rhine/mosel good areas. For the true old towns focus on smaller ones or ones furthrr from channel which were not bombed. So Ulm's old centre is only partially restored.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 02:31 PM
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Heidelberg is one town not much destroyed in war - some say because Allies planned to use it as their HQs after the war, which they did.

Folks here don't seem to cotton to Heidleberg so much but I thought it really neat - some great walks into hills and great base -easy to take bus to wine towns of Neckar Valley or trains anywhere:

https://www.google.com/search?q=heid...ih=614&dpr=1.5

Even Munich would not be that far a day trip.
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Dec 25th, 2018, 03:58 PM
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You somehow sound as if the highest number of monuments for a town arranged in a coherent pattern would be helpful so the logical options would be Wiesbaden or Marburg though neither is as great as a transport hub as is Frankfurt (Gießen is also very good for that purpose). That aside some of the day trip options posted here are positively absurd such as Gengenbach or Strasbourg (from Mainz? seriously?). The premier easy and cheap day trips from Frankfurt by regional train for coherent old towns are Marburg, Limburg, Wetzlar, Gelnhausen and Seligenstadt as well as Wiesbaden as a grand 19th century city. Other places might have smaller old towns but specific places of interest or no old town at all anymore like Darmstadt but very strong individual sights.
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Dec 26th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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Strasbourg is 2 1/4 hrs by train from Mainz
Fro example: Mainz dp 6.29 - Strasbourg ar 8.46, Strasbourg dp 17.13 - Mainz ar 19.18

Wetzlar is 2 hrs by train from Mainz

Last edited by neckervd; Dec 26th, 2018 at 12:44 AM.
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