December in "Germany"

Oct 10th, 2015, 07:52 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2015
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December in "Germany"

Sitting with an empty passport in hand, I've decided to travel to Regensburg, Germany to visit my friend for a better part of December! She recently moved there and hasn't had a chance to explore much yet, leaving our options even more endless. I plan on purchasing plane tickets by the end of the week, leaving soon after my classes end Dec. 11th and returning at a minimum of 14 days, but hoping for a full month (depending how work goes Monday). That being said, I am planning this trip on the assumption I will be traveling for a full month.
So far I plan on flying Tampa > Munich then taking a train to Regensburg where she lives. From there I am able to drop unnecessary gear and prepare for our travels. Her only request is to spend time in Amsterdam, and northern France other than that we are willing to go in any direction! I have never been skiing/snowboarding so visiting "the best" spot to learn would be incredible, feel free to suggest your favorite. Ive heard numerous times how magical christmas in Germany is, but we are open if theres somewhere else we should see. I haven't looked into locations for New Years or any other destinations.
Both my friend and I are college students in our early 20's and can have fun doing anything. She is an artist and Im into design/interior architecture so we can find enjoyment easily, leaving the criteria vastly open.
Last thing to note is I am from Florida and have never experienced snow other than <2in, she lives there currently and adapts to the cold well. Anything besides the basics I should know to help stay warm?
Any tips, advice or suggestions are highly appreciated!
leximann is offline  
Oct 10th, 2015, 09:27 PM
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You must visit Vienna and Salzburg. Well, I won't say "must", but those are so lovely and will definitely have Christmas-related things. Vienna is a several-hour train trip from Munich. Salzburg is, I think, about 1.5 hours from Munich. (I know Regensburg is on the way between Munich and Vienna, so maybe telling you from Munich is not helpful.) Might as well visit Munich too!
WillTravel is offline  
Oct 10th, 2015, 09:30 PM
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Hi leximan,

I live in Garmisch-Partenkirchen about 90 minutes south of Munich at the base of the Alps.

I learned to ski when I was in my 30s, and I think it wouldn't be a good idea to try to learn in just a few days. If you could devote a week to it, then that would be ok, but it's not something you can learn in a day or two.

Skiing involves muscles you don't generally use in daily life, and after just a few hours, your legs and hips will be aching and tired (and that's when injuries happen). It takes a few days to iron out those aches & pains and to get them past that initial part.

You can still go to a snowy area and enjoy the snow though! You can snowshoe or sled or just roll around in it.

That might still be too early for snow in many places, but the Zugspitze will probably have enough snow for playing.

To stay warm -- layer. Wear a long-sleeve t-shirt or something like cuddle duds as your base layer (these wash out easily and dry overnight, so you only need 2 or 3 of them). Then a middle weight sweater, then a cardigan or polartek vest, then a winter coat. Don't forget to wear gloves & a hat!

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Oct 10th, 2015, 10:19 PM
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I am in southern California and bought a coat that is water resistant and has a faux fur lined hood at Burlington Coat Factory for my trip to Germany & France in early December. Not too expensive. Also bought some waterproof shoes, long underwear, silk boot liners and plan to layer as swandav2000 recommends.

Definitely visit Munich if you can. I also liked Nurnberg and Rothenberg when I visited many years ago in December. We went to a concert at St. Jacob's Kirche in Rothenberg and wore nearly every stitch of clothing to sit in the cold church at night. That was the only place indoors in Germany that didn't feel overheated to me.

Heidelberg and Strasbourg are possibilities and you might even go to Paris (I would!). I am planning to visit Cologne for the cathedral and Christmas market.
Scootoir is offline  
Oct 10th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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Besides Vienna, go to Innsbruck, which is a charming town, and visit the Stubai glacier - that had snow in July. Also, while you're heading east, don't miss Budapest.
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 11th, 2015, 04:19 AM
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Regensburg is one of our favorite towns in Germany. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval buildings. We best like it for its alleyways and plazas. If you like art, check out the Kunstform Ostdeutsche Galerie. The main Christmas Market is held at the Thurn and Taxis Palace - formerly the St. Emmeram Abbey right in town. Regensburg is also home to a university, plenty of other 20 year olds.
Gary_Mc is offline  
Oct 11th, 2015, 06:00 AM
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As far as cold, I guess my advice just seems common sense -- I agree with some long underwear like Cuddleduds, and then you can get by cheaply with some kind of fleece top which are cheap. Coats are investments though, but you don't have to buy an expensive one to be warm. Especially if you have a base layer, then you could even have some kind of turtleneck thin top and a sweater on top -- you don't need a real heavy coat to keep warm. Personally, I don't understand people who wear waist-length jackets in very cold weather, your butt freezes off and makes you feel very cold, so get one at least hip-length. Make sure your feet, hands and head are warm.

I ski regularly in winter and also spent a week when I first learned (about age 30, I guess). I agree that is ideal, but I think even after a couple days you can be going down green runs and enjoy it. First day you just learn the basics and are barely even on a hill, just the beginner area. So I would think if you had at least 3 days, maybe, but I agree I wouldn't recommend it if you only have a day. And I definitely would not recommend thinking you can just teach yourself or that your friend can teach you (or would want to, that would be a bore for anyone who skis even moderately well). You must have professional lessons (group, not individual), all resorts have them and it's a very good way to learn. Skiing is not only expensive just for the lift ticket, lessons and equipment rental, but requires a lot of expensive specialty clothing. So not sure how you are going to do that. Some people do wear the same type jacket they could get away with on the street (some athletic, warm, often down jacket), but you need ski pants, and special ski socks (which are warm and you can wear them in boots, also, of course), and I have special gloves just for skiing, I don't wear such heavy gloves around on the street. Other stuff can be stuff you wear for other reasons, base layer, some warm pullover or top over that. If you just rent a helment, though, you'd probably want some kind of fleece balaclava to keep your neck warm, and even face, unless it is super warm weather. This kind of stuff is bought at sports stores or they always have it at ski resort shops, but all that adds up money-wise.
Christina is online now  
Oct 11th, 2015, 07:32 AM
  #8  
 
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Flying from Florida to middle Europe in December will be shock!

In the flats, December will be cold but probably not freezing. There will be more rain than snow. Daylight hours are short, just between 9:00 and 16:00.

So, this is the season when we Germans like to cuddle on a sofa, munch Christmas cookies and drink hot chocolate (which may be flavoured with a shot of rum or cointreau or amaretto).

This is also the reason why the Christmas markets are illuminated and smell of Glühwein and candied almonds. (BTW, many Fodorites ask, American-style, "where is the best Christmas market?". The answer is: Every town has its Christmas market and they are all good, whereever you are.)

To catch some snow, you must go into the higher elevations. There are many snow activities besides downhill skiing and snowboarding: just hiking (many trails are cleared), snow-shoeing, tobogganing, cross-country skiing (which is easier to learn than downhill skiing and does not require so much special clothing and equipment).

Your destination, Regensburg, is an attractive historical town. You can do a lot of daytrips from there: Bamberg (another historical town with a great tradition of beer-brewing), Nürnberg, München, the Romantic Road towns, the villages of Franconia, towns in the Czech Republic. The Alps are also in reach, and Vienna is not far.

Amsterdam will be a longer journey, also Northern France (which part of Northern France are you interested in?). Think about visiting Berlin - it's the capital, a vibrant city, and certainly interesting for artists and architects!! A most for architects and designers is, of course, Dessau with the famous Bauhaus (you can easily combine it with Berlin).
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2015, 08:10 AM
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If you are interested in design you might combine your trip to Amsterdam with a visit of Essen.

There is a converted mine (Zollverein) which has been acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage. It is interesting enough to visit, but it also houses a design museum and the design department of Folkwang University:

www.red-dot-design-museum.de
www.zollverein.de

For modern and contemporary art, besides Berlin, Düseldorf is the place to be with many galleries and two first-rank museums: K20 for 20th century art and K21 for contemporary art. Also, Cologne has an excellent modern art museum, the Museum Ludwig.

However, the very best of modern art that you can see currently in Europe is in Basel: The Schaulager, an exhibition of the largest private art collection on earth (http://www.schaulager.org/future-present/en/). When you are in Basel, you find there more excellent museums and in nearby Weil am Rhein the Vitra Design Museum (http://www.design-museum.de/en/information.html).
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 06:57 PM
  #10  
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Thank you EVERYONE for all of these amazing inspirations! I just spoke with her today, she actually will be moving to Cologne days before I arrive and I have confirmed the dates, December 13- January 9th!!
As far as skiing, I didn't realize the costs involved but I can enjoy other snowy activities as mentioned. All of the art and museum suggestions sound absolutely wonderful, I can't wait to experience them!
Because a few things have changed, I now plan on flying Miami to Frankfurt (cheaper and now closer) then taking a train directly to Cologne. After spending a few days around Cologne, make our way north to the Netherlands/Amsterdam for a few days, then visit a friend in Hamburg, see Berlin for a few days. After Berlin, make our way back down to Regensburg to spend Christmas with her cousin but stopping along the way. After Christmas travel to see Switzerland, then head back north, taking day trips along the way, to Paris to for New Years. After celebrating, head back to Cologne possibly stopping in Brussels along the way.
Based on this more structured plan, whats along the way! I plan on using every way possible to stay warm, and can't wait!!
leximann is offline  

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