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Advice on long week trip to Germany

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Oct 7th, 2015, 06:29 PM
  #1
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Advice on long week trip to Germany

Two retired couples are going to spend a long week in Germany in late October prior to taking a train to Budapest for a Danube river cruise. I'd like some constructive feedback on this plan. Some ideas of what to see where. None of the following is in stone. Note that we are not big museum types. Like to see some new sites - old towns & landscape, do a little shopping & some people watching. Maybe try some local brew & some German meals. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Day 1 - Fly from USA.
Day 2 - Land in Frankfort mid-morning, pick up a car, take the short drive to Bacharach.
Day 3 - Spend day touring the Rhine Valley. Spend a second night in Bacharach.
Day 4 - Drive thru the Black Forest to Staufen.
Day 5 - Spend day touring the Black Forest. Spend a second night in Staufen.
Day 6 - Drive thru Bavaria to Fussen.
Day 7 - Visit Mt. Zugspritze & maybe Oberammergan as time permits. Spend a second night in Fussen.
Day 8 - Visit Cinderella's Castle, then drive to Munich, turn in the car in time to see the Glockenspiel at 1700 hours & than walk to the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall for supper. Sleep in Munich.
Day 9 - Take the mid-morning high speed train to Budapest.
Not planning on seeing a lot of castles in Germany because we will cover those sites on the river cruise. I am not that interested to visiting the big German cities because most of them had to be rebuilt after WWII - lots of 65 year old cities in US to visit.
Thanks for your help.
TheBear60 is offline  
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:31 AM
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Lots of driving. Doable but lots of driving.
sparkchaser is online now  
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Oct 8th, 2015, 01:15 AM
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In this post, I will comment on the Black Forest section only (I have a second home in the Black Forest and currently I am there - today we have beautiful weather, BTW).

Day 4: It will be a long day. Leave Bacharach in the early morning, take the fastest route over the autobahn to Gengenbach which is a most picturesque historic town in the foothills of the Black Forest. Just stroll for half an hour or so through town - it is, typical for medieval towns, quite small.

http://www.regio360.com/360/gemeinde...ach_hd_60.html

Then do the short drive to the Vogtsbauernhof, an open-air museum of traditional Black Forest farmhouses, a nice and easy visit.

http://en.vogtsbauernhof.de/

Then continue to Triberg. Triberg has lots of cuckoo clock stores, very touristy, but it will be interesting to see the intricate models. Also, Triberg, has waterfalls which might be a diversion from the hubbub of the cuckoo clock stores.

http://www.triberg.de/index.php?id=330

If you are still interested in clocks you may visit the clock museum in Furtwangen (but it's probably better to save your time for some scenery).

http://www.deutsches-uhrenmuseum.de/.../en/start.html

Then drive to Titisee. Drive into town and walk to the lake to get an impression of this nice town. Take the small road on the western shore of the lake via Bruderhalde to Bärental. From there drive to Staufen via Feldberg - Todtnau - Wieden. It will be a very scenic drive.

Day 5: More scenic drives. Again drive to Todtnau and this time stop to walk over to the waterfall (quick and easy). Drive up the Feldberg and take the cable car to the summit (if weather is fine). Walk a bit on the summit and enjoy the scenery.

http://www.hochschwarzwald.de/Feldberg

From the Feldberg, drive via Bärental to Schluchsee.

At the beginning of the Schluchsee (the tiny hamlet is called Schluchsee-Aha) turn right and enjoy the scenic drive along the tip of the lake via Äule (there is an organic farm selling homemade cheese) to Menzenschwand. Drive into the picturesque little town (Hinterdorf) which is the epitome of an authentic Black Forest village.

http://www.hochschwarzwald.de/St.-Blasien/Menzenschwand

In Menzenschwand you may have a very special treat: There is the Radon Vital Bad, a spa with saunas and a thermal indoor-outdoor swimming pool, a very relaxing place in a modern structure made of local stone, wood and glass. (Take swimsuits and towels from your hotel.)

http://www.radonrevitalbad.de/

From Menzenschwand, it is a short drive to St. Blasien where you should visit the baroque monastery with its mighty dome.

Drive back to Staufen via Bernau - another scenic drive through a beautiful valley.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 02:42 AM
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Some old city centres were not damaged especially once you get betond flight limits from UK. Eg, while Ulm city centre suffered from flooding, the old wooden buildings are still medievel.

Lots of driving.

Danube castles, a bit meh compared to the rest of country.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 02:44 AM
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If you plan to travel this month, i.e. October 2015, please take note that the Railjet highspeed services in between Munich and Vienna (actually just between Munich and Salzburg) are still suspended.

Alternative routing (by rail) would be via Passau to catch the Frankfurt-Vienna ICE highspeed services.

Check bahn.com or oebb.at frequently for any announcements if or when the interruption of Railjet services to/from Germany will be lifted.

There are also many inter-city bus connections per day. But since ID checks got introduced at the German-Austrian border again, you can expect long delays for road traffic.

And eventually there are also several nonstop flights per day between Munich and Vienna. Check kayak.com or similar.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 04:23 AM
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"Note that we are not big museum types. Like to see some new sites - old towns & landscape, do a little shopping & some people watching. Maybe try some local brew & some German meals."

OK.

Day 2 + 3: I take it your cruise does not include the Rhine. I strongly suggest an outing to Braubach (on the opposite riverbank from Bacharach) for the pleasant drive and for a tour Marksburg Castle in Braubach (open year-round.) It is completely intact and "unchanged since medieval times," and unlike the "Cinderella castle" in Füssen (which was finished around 1900 and is not a castle at all but a palatial private home that was inhabited for a mere 6 months,) Marksburg has 700+ years of living history behind its walls! (BTW, the Füssen building is referred to by Disney devotees as the "Sleeping Beauty" castle; Cinderella's Castle is in Northern Germany.)

Marksburg: https://dreabobea.files.wordpress.co...urg-castle.jpg
Marksburg Castle info: http://www.marksburg.de/english/frame_nj.htm
Braubach, a lovely old town: http://www.romantischer-rhein.de/upl...ltstadt_02.jpg
A nice place for German food in Braubach is the "Zum Goldenen Schlüssel" - https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4143/4...d7071291_b.jpg - but plan to eat indoors in late October.

"Day 4 - Drive thru the Black Forest to Staufen.
Day 5 - Spend day touring the Black Forest. Spend a second night in Staufen.
Day 6 - Drive thru Bavaria to Fussen."

You did not say that you hoped to spend many, many hours strapped into your car seats. I do not see the point of this very long detour through the Black Forest with the short time you have. Staufen is very small and offers little to see and do. If you really want to spend your time shopping, people-watching, and sampling local food and beer, then skip the Black Forest...

Instead, take the much shorter and more direct route into northern Bavaria toward BAMBERG, which is much more in line with your interests. You will save many car miles and you will see some wonderful old-world towns around there, AND you will have a chance to do what you came to Germany for. Bamberg is the home of Franconian beer - and regional food specialties as well. Its old town is well-preserved and great for wandering around - in fact, it's designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Try the smoke beer in one of Bamberg's 9 (yes NINE) breweries. Have a fine meal in one of its brewery-restaurants.

Bamberg's town hall: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamber...ite_bridge.jpg

Bamberg video introduction: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/624/video

Bamberg pub guide: http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/bambpubs.htm

The scenery around Bamberg is great. Take short drives to nearby towns if you like...

The Vierzehnheiligen Basilica near Staffelstein is amazing:
http://www.ferienwohnungen-goller.de...en_maintal.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...igen-Autel.jpg

Drive to Coburg:
http://www.coburg.de/portaldata/2/Mo...v_1451_1_1.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coburg

Drive to Iphofen:
http://www.stadtbild-deutschland.org...&threadID=2985

Drive to old-world towns on the Main River:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLUgpoQIFHI

When you're done in Bamberg, head south - the towns along the Romantic Road might make good stops, or maybe travel Weissenburg and Pappenheim:

Weissenburg: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/66270064.jpg
Pappenheim: http://www.treuchtlingen.de/fileadmi...us-ch.link.jpg
Fussgaenger is online now  
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Oct 8th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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I second the suggestion of Bamberg - a great place to wander round and get drunk [no sorry,] taste the beer in.

we stayed at the Best Western on the edge of the town - very clean, very reasonable, and with a parking garage right underneath the hotel, which meant that we didn't need to try to negotiate the small streets of the centre, which was a brisk 10 minutes away.

https://www.bestwestern.de/hotels/Ba...-Hotel-Bamberg
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Oct 8th, 2015, 03:41 PM
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Annhig: Glad to hear your recommendation for the Best Western. We're booked in there for a couple of weeks and I was a little worried as I try to avoid chains. How hard is it to walk to the city center?
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Oct 9th, 2015, 01:19 AM
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Seems that posters want to redirect OP's itinerary completely.

Bear, you can do that and Bamberg is a fine historic town but it will be a different kind of trip.

>>> If you really want to spend your time shopping, people-watching, and sampling local food and beer, then skip the Black Forest... <<<

The one who has written this had probably never been in the Black Forest. Of course, the Black Forest offers all this:

- There are unique shopping opportunities in the Black Forest. You find farm products like homemade mountain cheese, some varieties with local herbs, the famous Black Forest Ham (smoked with fir wood), fruit schnapps (in Staufen, there is one of the most famous destilleries - Schladerer) and more. Of course, you can buy cuckoo clocks and a lot of handiworks.

- People-watching: You can do that everywhere. In the Black Forest, you still find many traditional farmhouses with farmers moving around. They will greet you friendly.

- Local food: The Black Forest has typical local food and the quality of food is much higher than in Bavaria (for a proof of this statement just look on a map with Michelin-starred restaurants). Black Forest food include: the fir-smoked ham, fresh or smoked trout from the mountain streams, Spätzle (they originate here), Maultäschle (kind of big ravioli), Germany's best bratwurst, Black Forest Cake (a lush dessert made of whipped cream, kirsch schnapps infused layers of cake and chocolate), among others.

- Local beer: Currently Rothaus is the most successful German beer. Rothaus ("red house") is brewed in the tiny hamlet of the same name where you find a stately brewery composed of historic and modern buildings (which are, indeed, painted pink). The brewery features two restaurants and a beer garden. One of the restaurants has historic wood-panelling and serves traditional local fare, the other one gourmet cuisine. Rothaus is a few minutes' drive from Menzenschwand/Sankt Blasien, so you can easily include it into your itinerary.

http://www.rothaus.de/en

I think I have enough written about picturesque villages. And the scenery is special.

Of course, exploring the Black Forest requires driving - but this is part of the fun. And it is not really a detour:

- The fastest drive from Bacharach to Staufen would be 2:50, but of course you will drive longer in order to do some sightseeing on the way.

- The drive from Staufen to Füssen is 3:33, so it is also doable.

I see no point of changing your itinerary. Both options are pleasant - either Northern Bavaria (Franconia, to be exact) or the Black Forest. It is up to you what you do.
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Oct 9th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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Annhig: Glad to hear your recommendation for the Best Western. We're booked in there for a couple of weeks and I was a little worried as I try to avoid chains. How hard is it to walk to the city centre?>>

to answer your last question first, happytraveler, it's very easy to walk to the centre. The hotel is the "wrong" side of the river but if you turn right, cross the river then turn right again, you are at the edge of the historical part. turn left out of the front of the hotel and left again, and you are walking past a number of the historical inns/breweries; keep going past them and turn left over a bridge, and you find yourselves in a pedestrian precinct which leads to the "old bit". it's all flat which is an advantage.

Sadly I never got as far as writing up the Bamberg section of my TR from our 10 days in Germany last year, so there's not much point in my referring you to it - sorry. However, what I do remember of our day there are the Cathedral, the Neues Residenz [with its rather weird guided tour procedures which left us standing around quite a lot before it began] and of course the numerous Fachwerk buildings.

one warning about the hotel - when we arrived we completely missed the entrance to the underground parking and I provided another couple of tourists with a lot of entertainment when I was trying to manoeuvre the car to get into it. just drive straight into the garage, park, and get the lift up to the hotel reception. Dead easy when you know how!

I would thoroughly recommend this hotel - it's easy to find, has very convenient parking [once you get the hang of it] nice friendly staff, a bar, an excellent buffet breakfast, nice large rooms with everything you want, a good spacious bathroom with a great shower and is very quiet. and free wifi!
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Oct 9th, 2015, 05:11 AM
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t-1959 writes, "The one who has written this had probably never been in the Black Forest."

Ha! I routinely travel to and PRAISE and DEFEND the Black Forest as a destination! It's a great place where traditions are kept despite the pace of modern life. Read my posts before you speculate wildly... disagree with me here if you wish, but please... entertain the notion that travelers with similar experiences often will not reach exactly the same conclusions....

The Black Forest is problematic in this situation. Staufen and similar small towns are Deadsville in late October and have limited shopping, dining, swilling, and people watching options in the first place. In a city like Bamberg, it's all right there - it's a living, breathing university town with lots of options that doesn't shut down in the off season - and the time alloted by the OP is just about right. In Bamberg you can head down to a pub and catch some live music. What does one do on a cold, dark evening in Staufen?? And driving AROUND the BF in the short time allotted subtracts mightily from the OP's time for those activities at a time of year when daylight hours are waning.

For a Black Forest visit, more time is needed than the OP has allotted.
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Oct 9th, 2015, 06:44 AM
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Thanks, annhig. We're coming on the train.
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Oct 9th, 2015, 07:30 AM
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"Thanks, annhig. We're coming on the train."

From Bamberg station, the Best Western has is on the way to the old town, less than 1/2 mile from the station. (The walk from the BW into the old town is slightly longer.) If you are arriving in Bamberg after a train ride with the "Bayern Ticket" day pass, you can use that same day pass to catch a bus to the hotel if you wish - and on the same day to catch a bus into the old town and back. The same is true if you are arriving by train on a "Tagesticket Plus" day pass (maybe from Nuremberg or another nearby town.) If you have a regular point-t-point DB train ticket or a DB German rail pass, you must pay separately for the bus ride.

Bayern Ticket day pass: http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm
Tagesticket Plus day pass: http://www.vgn.de/en/dayticket?Editi...gesticket-plus
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Oct 9th, 2015, 08:11 AM
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Not to be picky (though I am), it's "the Zugspitze," not Mt. Zugspitze.
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Oct 9th, 2015, 08:43 AM
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Thanks, annhig. We're coming on the train.>>

in which case, as well as following Fussgaenger's excellent recommendations for saving money, you might care to hang about at the front of the hotel to see if any other hapless motorists repeat my entertaining manoeuvres. I was just glad that DH was nowhere around - I'd never have heard the end of it.
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Oct 10th, 2015, 09:07 PM
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If you do go to Bacharach, be sure to try a red wine called Rotor Hahn by the local Toni Jost winery. There is a rooster on the label. We wanted to buy some to take with us, but the entire town was sold out (including the winery). I'm not sure if it is seasonal or just sold in batches.
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Oct 13th, 2015, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for the feed back guys. There is a reason we go to Fodor's. I am rethinking if I want to stay in the three smaller cities or do I want to include Freiburg instead of Staufen as a change of pace. Again, thanks for the input.
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Oct 13th, 2015, 07:40 PM
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Black Forest ham, trout, Spätzle, Maultäschen -- it doesn't get much better than that when it comes to German food.

Rothaus may be the most successful German beer, but it doesn't make it the best. I personally think it ranks low on the list, but there are other choices to go with the great food.

I have visited most all of the towns/cities referenced above. Some of my favorites are Gengenbach, Triberg, Coburg, Bamberg, Freiburg.

You have lots of choices, and I think if you take any of the advice above you won't be disappointed.
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