Bavaria to Berlin in June--Help Needed

Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 04:02 AM
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Bavaria to Berlin in June--Help Needed

My husband, two college-age daughters, and I are traveling to Germany for 13 days in early June. So far, we have flights (ff miles), flying in to Munich, where my father comes from, and home from Berlin, where my mother comes from. This is kind of a fatherland/motherland pilgrimage for us. (Both their families, most of whom were Jewish, left Germany in the early 1930’s.) It’s also DH’s first trip to Europe.

We want to mix city and country, old and new and prefer authentic local experiences to touristy experiences, unless they’re great, though we know we ARE tourists. (As examples, our favorite in China was the Terra Cotta Warriors, in New Mexico, a trek with llamas.) Museums, beer and German food, castles, markets, scenery/nature, hiking, offbeat places, ruins, medievalness, a few churches, Holocaust history, in honor of the relatives who didn’t make it out (Jewish Museum in Berlin and one camp—Dachau or Sachsenhausen, which is better?). And though we want to see a lot, we don’t want to move every night—too tiring.

First crack at an itinerary:
1) 3 days Munich
2) 3 days Alps, with base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Based on posts on this forum, we may tour Linderhof and see Neuschwanstein from outside only, either while at G-P or on way out.
3) What to do next? Up Romantic Road (what are best stops?)? Rothenburg? Würzburg? Over to Nürnburg? Or Bamburg? Worth detour to Heidelberg? Or is there another area not too far out of our way more worthy of exploration? Probably 3 days altogether, ending in Berlin. Is Leipzig worth stopping for?
4) 4 days Berlin

Originally we thought we’d rent a car after Munich, tour Bavaria, return car to Munich, and take train to Berlin. But train cost x 4 is expensive; it seems to make sense to drive.

So, I’m hoping you wonderful fodorites can provide confirmation or disagreement with anything above as well as any suggestions: Particular don’t-miss sights? Where to stay, both areas of towns (where in Munich? Garmisch or Partenkirchen? Probably Mitte in Berlin.) or particular lodgings. We prefer more typically local places (friendly hosts, bfast?) rather than polished hotels and hope to keep to $150-$200/night for 4 people. Realistic? Or places with cooking facilities so we can save on meals.

Really anything at all is welcome. We’ve done some really wonderful things around the world thanks to the great suggestions on these forums.
PortiaLucy is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 04:18 AM
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check out Weimar, Erfurt, Eisenach (Luther holed up here in a castle) and Naumberg - 4 gems near each other and close to Leipzig and a natural route towards Berlin - all in former East Germany - and before Berlin stop by Lutherstadt-Wittemburg, a nice old town known for its many Martin Luther things like the church door where legend at least has it he nailed his demands to the door. A few hours south of Berlin.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 03:05 PM
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There are all kinds of special tickets you can use between Munich and Berlin. Check www.bahn.de. If that is too problematic, go to the Trip Advisor Germany forum, and post your inquiry there. There is a contributor ("abalada") who is an expert on German RR ticketing.

If all else fails as far as finding a group ticket for the four of you, you can go onto the www.bahn.de site 90 days before your Munich - Berlin trip, and buy heavily discounted tickets on the Internet. I have done it, and it works. Read the rules. The site has an English language version, just "follow the flag".

If you decide to drive, then I would get the car after your initial Munich stay and drive to Garmisch (Mittenwald??), and do the day tours by car.

Then drive from Fuessen on the A-7 Autobahn to Rothenburg, Wuerzburg, and head from there to Berlin via Bamberg, Bayreuth, Leipzig on the Autobahn.Depending on how much time you want to spend for that segement, there are a couple of nice detours along the way. I can help you there.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 07:19 PM
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Responses in CAPS

First crack at an itinerary:
1) 3 days Munich SOUNDS GOOD

2) 3 days Alps, with base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Based on posts on this forum, we may tour Linderhof and see Neuschwanstein from outside only, either while at G-P or on way out. SOUNDS GOOD

3) What to do next? Up Romantic Road (what are best stops?)? Rothenburg? ROTHENBURG - YES. IT IS MOST PLEASANT AND INTERESTING IN THE EVENING AND EARLY MORNING AND YOU CAN VISIT WURZBURG, NURNBERG AND BAMBERG EASILY AS DAY-TRIPS

Würzburg? Over to Nürnburg? Or Bamburg? ALL WORTHY - SEE ABOVE

Worth detour to Heidelberg? NOT IN MY OPINION. IT SEEMS TO GET EXTRA PLAY BECAUSE OF IT'S WAR ROLE WITH THE US ARMY BUT THERE ARE MORE INTERESTING PLACES AND IT TAKES YOU QUITE A BIT OFF OF YOUR PRIMARY ROUTE BETWEEN MUNICH AND BERLIN.

Or is there another area not too far out of our way more worthy of exploration? Probably 3 days altogether, ending in Berlin. Is Leipzig worth stopping for? I THINK THE ROTHENBURG WURZBURG, NURNBERG, BAMBERG AREA HAS THE MOST TO OFFER. WEIMAR EISENACH, ERFURT LEIPZIG, AS NOTED BY PALENQ ARE A CLASSICAL/LUTHER ORIENTED ALTERNATIVE. I WOULD MAKE A POINT OF STOPPING IN AT DRESDEN ON YOUR WAY TO BERLIN.

4) 4 days Berlin COULD NEVER BE ENOUGH BUT ITS ALL YOU HAVE LEFT :-0

Originally we thought we’d rent a car after Munich, tour Bavaria, return car to Munich, and take train to Berlin. But train cost x 4 is expensive; it seems to make sense to drive. WITH FOUR OF YOU AND THE FREEDOM YOU WILL GET IN KEEPING THE CAR AFTER BAVARIA AND EXPLORING FRANCONIA OR THURINGIA FROM ONE BASE, A CAR MAKES SENSE.

So, I’m hoping you wonderful fodorites can provide confirmation or disagreement with anything above as well as any suggestions: Particular don’t-miss sights? Where to stay, both areas of towns (where in Munich? Garmisch or Partenkirchen?

Probably Mitte in Berlin. YES - MITTE)

or particular lodgings. We prefer more typically local places (friendly hosts, bfast?) rather than polished hotels and hope to keep to $150-$200/night for 4 people. Realistic? Or places with cooking facilities so we can save on meals.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 07:48 PM
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You might want to plan on doing some tours in both Berlin and Munich that will give you extra insight into these cities and add to a memorable experience. Especially since your families came from both cities.

For Berlin, try The Berlin Expert: http://www.theberlinexpert.com/

For Munich, try Dark History tours:
http://www.dark-history.eu/

Having asked others who have visited both Sachsenhausen and Dachau, they have said that they would visit Sachsenhausen. The communists used this camp after the war and thus, many buildings are still original. I don't know if this is important to you or not. It is hard to judge something like this after all.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 09:07 PM
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Hi PortialLucy,

As treplow notes, there are advance-purchase discounted fares for the train within Germany; no one I know pays full fare! The average fare for a trip within Germany is 29 Euro, second class. The advance-purchase tickets go on sale 92 days early, but they do sell out fast, so it's a good idea to be ready to buy as early as you can.

You can buy the tickets online and print on your own computer.

You buy them through the German rail site at

www.bahn.de

I do want to urge you to use the rails as much as you can. There is already a lot of gas-smog in the air around München, and it's beginning to make its way to the beautiful Alps around Garmisch. The public transport here is great, so the less you use your car, the better.

Oh, and using the trains is also more of an "authentic experience" in that you'll get to people-watch lots of locals and even strike up a conversation with one or two during your trip. You'll be travelling like we do in Old Europe, lol!

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 09:46 PM
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Bavaria a beautiful spot, so definitely worth several nights. And I agree Rothenburg could be a peaceful base on the Romantic Road due its quaint village atmosphere and proximity to Wurzburg, Dinkelsbuhl, Nordlingen etc. If you go past Neuschwanstein, it could be worth a stop to tour Schloss Hohenschwangau (about 1.5km from the Big Castle) which was the castle Ludwig built for his parents to live in. A bit more personal & accessible, in my view. This gives you an interesting perspective on the beautiful Linderhof (definitely worth going inside there). And if you get time in Munich, the Alte Pinakothek is a great gallery - huge collection of Old Masters, and yummy cafe down in the cellar!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2012, 10:22 PM
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I highly recommend Rothenburg, having spent time there 2 years ago at Christmas. Years ago in the summer. It's beautiful, with hotels within the walls.

We go to Germany often, but to visit family. However, we have driven to Berlin, because even for 2 people, it was much more cost effective to drive rather than take the fast train. We rented from Europcar, dropped the car in Berlin, and then rented another to drive back.

In Berlin we stayed in Kurfurstendamm and LOVED it! It's NOT touristy area, has many hotels, tons of restaurants & cafes, shopping, and easily accessible to the more touristy areas (which were NOT our cup of tea to stay). We'd never stay anywhere else in Berlin, because we loved this area so much.
http://www.kurfuerstendamm.de/en
http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/Kurfurstendamm.htm
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 12:12 AM
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tinydancer,

I really cannot believe that renting a car was cheaper than the 29 Euro per person fares you can find if you buy your train tickets in advance. Please let me know if you actually did!!

s
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 12:52 AM
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swandav2000: I don't know about 29 Euro pp, we were traveling from Kassel to Berlin and it was twice as much as renting a car.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 12:53 AM
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PS: we probably looked at tickets a few days before, because we didn't know we were going to Berlin at that time.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 01:18 AM
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Ahhh, yes, that's the catch. If you buy your tickets 90 days in advance, you can snag those 29 euro per person fares.

Great savings for your wallet -- and for the air.

s
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Old Feb 23rd, 2012, 05:35 AM
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For train travelers who want flexibility to hop any train anytime then just a few such longish trips can make a German Railpass payoff as such full fares can be dauntingly steep - the pass can be used on any train anytime - just show up and hop on. Themore days you use on a pass the cheaper per day the pass becomes.

http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id9.html and www.ricksteves.com are two good sources for pass info and also on German trains in general.
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 06:50 PM
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Terrific suggestions, all! We'll definitely weigh the train vs. car question, but from Rothenburg area rather than Munich. Any recommendations of where to stay in Munich, G-P, or Rothenburg?
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Old Feb 25th, 2012, 07:35 PM
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In Hohenschwangau we stayed at the Hotel Mueller - and it couldn't have been a better choice. I wouldn't recommend the hotel we had in Munich, but in Rothenburg the Hotel Zur Sonne was well-priced, right in the heart of the village (with free parking at rear) and spotlessly clean. Last June my Mum & sister stayed in Hotel Spitzweg in Rothenburg, and they loved it. Both hotels have traditional Bavarian decor, and are family-run. The Nightwatchman's Tour is certainly worth doing too.
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Old Feb 26th, 2012, 08:19 AM
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Ahhh, yes, that's the catch. If you buy your tickets 90 days in advance, you can snag those 29 euro per person fares.>

Q - do all trains have 29 euro fares even from the get-go - I thought that they were not on all trains but on trains that would otherwise likely have empty seats and slacker demand? Can I count 100% on getting 29 euro fares 90 days out?

Just curious.
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Old Feb 26th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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Pal.. it's more than you thought.
The €29 fares are available not for all trains, but for those German Rail offers them.

You will never find those for some connection most in demand, i.e. fridays/sundays. But even when the €29 is not available, you will find a less cheap discount fare even for the most popular connections, i.e. €44, €59. But when the 2nd class discount fares get less attractive, it's worth to check discount fares for 1st class. Often the super-saver in 1st then becomes hardly more expensive than the saver fare in 2nd.

So, the €29 fare is not the "average" a German rail traveller pays, but the lowest possible fare for long-distance travels.
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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Cowboy - thanks and that is what I speculated - only seats that would normally be empty are sold at those prices. It seems that sometimes folks say you can always pay 29 euros per trip and that all trains have them - but I guess DB would run a huge deficit if they sold all seats at 29 euros!

and for someone who is traveling on several different days the German Railpass can be nearly as cheap as the 29 euro per day fares - like a 5-day flexipass (Twin p.p.) for any five calendar days of unlimited travel on virtually any German train, 2nd class p.p. is just 31 euros a day - and a 6th day would only be an extra $22 or an additional 17 euros - so folks traveling more find a pass a better deal - and the pass is fully flexible - hop on any train anytime and fully flexible tickets can cost a ton. And even folks traveling say 3 days or son on the train if they cannot get the 29 euro fares may want to investigate the pass (prices - http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id9.html and or www.seat61.com (click on this site's link to Rail Europe) or www.ricksteves.com - pass prices are universal but mailing fees can be added on.
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