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Feeling like I'm missing something for Berlin and Munich


Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:34 PM
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Feeling like I'm missing something for Berlin and Munich

Hey everyone. Very, VERY, early stages of trying to convince a friend of mine to go to Germany in the fall of 2014 (yes, he needs that much notice as we are poor, young folk). We are in our mid 20s and major history buffs. I've found flights from Chicago anywhere from $850-$1000 which is pretty much what I expected. I should preface this with my major argument to him as Oktoberfest (late September, early October) and the purchase of beer steins since he is also interested in beers. Just preliminary research made me change my plans a bit. I thought we could do an entire week in Berlin and maybe 2 days in Munich for the festival. The problem is I hate coming all the way from Chicago to only visit 1 major city.

Judging from my preliminary list of "things to do" it seems like Berlin will take a lot less time than I thought. I used Fodors as well as the Berlin tourism site and made a list of my top sites. It seems the list can be done in 3 days tops as a lot of the things are "Ok, I see it, now what?" types of monuments. Here's my list:

Berlin Wall Victims Memorial
Berlin Wall Memorial
Berlin Wall Museum
Brandenburg Gate
Checkpoint Charlie Site and Museum
Neus Museum and/or Museum Island
German Historical Museum
Charlottenburg Palace
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Soviet Memorial Treptow
Treptow Park

This is what I have for Munich so far from the same sites:

Oktoberfest (lots of eating and beer drinking!)
Nymphenburg Palace
Side trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Is it just me, or am I missing something? I've been to Paris so I'm trying to compare it to that. I had a list 2 pages long of things in Paris and we spent a week there and hardly saw it all.

I also really want to see a true, German castle such as Neuschwanstein but it seems far away from anything else we want to do.

My argument to him is that we should spend 3 days in Berlin (not including travel times) and 2 days in Munich as we can do the festival for a full day and a half and the sightseeing in a half day. Then I'd want to hit another nearby city. Yes, I'm one of those, "even if I just put my toes across the border I can say I was in Switzerland/Poland/Austria (you get the picture)!" So maybe 2 days in another nearby city.

It seems as though the train from city to city is a lot more expensive than i thought. I thought it would run in the range of $50 to get from Berlin to Munich but it looks to be closer to $200 for a train ticket one way. I looked at flights between Berlin and Munich and that seems to be close to $400!! Am I just ignorant/in shock?

I guess I don't really have a direct question. I'm more or less looking to get input from people. Maybe things I haven't thought of, etc? Feel free to ask questions etc. I'm supposed to present a powerpoint to him on February 1st of why we should go (don't ask) so I'll be checking back frequently. Thank you so much for any and all information. I love Fodor's and the community here and although I'm more of a lurker than a poster, I love reading everything everyone has to say.
chilegalbeagle is offline  
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:03 PM
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I don't believe people should get personality makeovers or lobotomies when they travel to Europe, so if you need to toe-touch another country to go home feeling like it was all worth it, then pick another country/city.

How about Amsterdam for the beer stein guy? Town has a fascinating global history but is not a big time suck to see. I'd take a cheap flight myself.

Berlin is still actually 2 cities in feel, and it sprawls, and you should spend some time in both halves of the city so you understand, historically, what it meant for them to be divided. The history museum is extremely well done and is very large, so leave enough time for that. (Also, do not miss the Bebel platz.) Seeing both the Pergamom and the Bode museum is time consuming.

A great many people in Berlin speak English, and don't rush out of there before you've had a chance to talk to people your own age in bars and cafes. It is a very open, youthful city, and a great place to learn about European life.

The Oktoberfest has always sounded awful to me, and I imagine it would be the most expensive time to go. The city is full of fantastic museums in case you get tired of the oompah and the puke-scene.
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:03 PM
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I'm planning a trip to east Germany in May/June and plan on seeing many of the sights you mentioned, plus the Bendler Block (where some of the Valkyrie conspirators were executed), and the memorial to the book burning. It's in the Bebelplatz and will take 5 minutes to see once you get there, as it is an underground roomful of empty shelves, covered with plexiglass or glass.

It's on Unter den Linden.

Many of the other sights you plan to see won't take long, either. Brandenburg Gate, for instance--so you can get a lot into your time there.

It's my advice that you should cut a day off the Berlin segment and add it to the Munich segment.

I also want to see the DDR museum for some of the Stasi (secret police) stuff. If I have time, I will go to the Haus der Wannsee, where the final solution was planned.

I don't find Berlin to be an attractive city, though it's full of interesting historical stuff. Munich is much more attractive, more like it must have been before WWII.

It seems to me that I recall long ago taking a day tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. It's really worth seeing both. Neuschwanstein is the more famous, but Hohenschwangau is where Ludwig was raised, and it's homier.

As Rick Steves says, assume you'll be back. I have been to Berlin a number of times, and there still are places I haven't seen.
Pegontheroad is online now  
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Look, you are planning to do "lots of drinking" at Oktoberfest and you certainly don't need to wait until then to do that in Munich or anywhere else in germany.

BTW are you aware that hotels sell out up to a year in advance of Oktoberfest and that prices triple?

There are a lot of other museums in Berlin besides the ones you mentioned; there are two palaces in Potsdam; there are an absolute wealth of clubs/dance venues/drinking venues and many of them are NOTHING like even the wildest thing you have ever been to elsewhere, believe me.

Munich: the Bible Belt of Germany but there's the Treasury, and a wealth of other museums; the Englisher Garten; the list goes on

How many days did you say you have????
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:17 PM
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From Munich you can easily day-trip by train to Mad Ludwig's castle, and to Salzburg. Both worthwhile visits.

In Munich, the Hotel Uhland is a wonderful B&B right around the corner from the Oktoberfest grounds. We liked it a lot.
PeaceOut is offline  
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Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:52 PM
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You don't list any of the wonderful art museums in these cities. Or museums of archeology / anthropology. Or Sanssouci. Or parks. Or....
kja is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Dukey, I was unaware they sell out up to a year in advance so I appreciate that information.

To all who say I am missing museums: As I said, I did a search of the Berlin tourism site and Fodors and those were my top ones. If I left out a few, it may mean I had no interest.

I suppose I was looking for major tourist stops that I missed. I.e. something as significant as the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall sites.

PeaceOut: thank you for your suggestions of Lugwig's caste and Salzburg. I also found a tour company that does day trips from Munich to Neuschwanstein so that's also an option.

Goldenautumn: Maybe you didn't quite understand or maybe my wording was poor. I don't need to go to another country to make it worthwhile. I simply would want to just because I think it would be "cool" to get to check off another country on my "I've been there!" list.

Pegontheroad: thanks for the suggestion of the Bendler Block. That's absolutely something we would be interested in! (I have an obsession with death/murders/torture)

Also, I wasn't trying to give off the impression that we are alcoholics or anything. We just enjoy a beer with dinner and looking at steins and touring breweries. Thanks for the help everyone.
chilegalbeagle is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Don't know where you saw train fares for $200, bahn.com has Berlin to Munich fares from about €40

from seat61.com website

"Bavaria's fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein (www.neuschwanstein.de) is near Füssen, south-southwest of Munich, close to the Austrian border. Travel to Munich as shown above, then take a local train to Füssen.

You can find train times and buy train tickets from Munich to Füssen at www.bahn.de, the journey time is about 2 hours 30 minutes and there's a train every hour or two. "

From Füssen, take bus 73 or78 to Hohenschwangau. These buses leave about twice an hour from directly alongside Füssen station, the journey time is about 8 minutes, the fare is only a few euros. For information on these buses, see www.rvo-bus.de

Powerpoint presentation you have to be kidding!!!

Get drunk and sunbathe naked in the Englischer Garten
sofarsogood is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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A suggestion for Berlin... rent bikes, at least for one day. This is a particularly great way to get to Charlottenburg palace and enjoy its grounds. The city is very flat and bike-friendly, so it is a really delightful way to enjoy the city.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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I forgot to tell you there is a very inexpensive Bayern train day pass that you can use for both Fussen and Salzburg. It's about 26EU for two people, round trip, and includes the bus fare from train station to the castle. It's a great deal. There are time-of-day restrictions, but only to avoid 'rush hours'.

You do not need a tour company.

PeaceOut is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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I think you will enjoy Berlin and I wouldn't cut your time there too short. If you don't like museums, then don't go. You could also go to Potsdam to see Sans Soucci one day, and on another day, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

For Berlin itself, do consider going on one or two of the many walking tours or bike tours on offer. Various themes are available, and you will not only see all of the things on your list, you will also learn about them too. The guides can also offer suggestions for what you can do after your tour, where to go, the best clubs, food, etc.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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If you are looking at adding another country/city to your itinerary you could go to Prague (would definitely appeal to beer fan) from Berlin and then finish your trip in Munich. There are lots of walking tours (even some free tours) in all three cities, which would be a great way to see the highlights of all of them. You can always go back and visit places of interest if you think you would like more time. You may also want to wait and see what your weather is like before planning a visit to Neuschwanstein. We stopped there on a bus tour and it was drizzling and foggy. We walked up to the castle and it was a lovely walk, but really couldn't see anything when we got there. It was a real disappointment for some of our group!!
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Jan 24th, 2013, 05:12 PM
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What your Berlin agenda is missing, for me, is any of its lively arts-music-theatre scene. From dance-hall electronica to grand opera (no less than three companies) at low tax-subsidized ticket prices, Berlin is ready to entertain you. The visual arts are just as busy.
I also strongly advise taking a walking tour as soon as you get there, both for locating the places you want to see and for background information. The tours are reasonably priced, under $20 for four hours or more.
Southam is online now  
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Jan 28th, 2013, 07:12 AM
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Thank you everyone so much for your comments and thoughts. I'm going to take it all into consideration.
chilegalbeagle is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2013, 08:06 AM
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I think that once you are there, you will find a great deal more to see and do in and around Berlin than you have found on fodor's destinations guide, as many of the posters have said up thread.

we spent 3 days there a few years ago and we felt that we had only scratched the surface.

I think that you would also like Prague and it's easy to get to from Berlin.
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Jan 28th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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I was in Munich last summer, and I thought the attractions were subtle but I came to really like the city. Some places that come to mind:
Rathaus - to see the glockenspiel do its thing: also great views from the towers
Virtualienmarkt - if you like markets
Englischer Garden - beautiful park
If you like churches/architecture, two of my favorites were Theatinerkirche and the one built by the Asam brothers. Mad King Ludwig's tomb is in another, can't remember which off the top of my head, someone here will know.
Dachau was really memorable and evocative.
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Jan 30th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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It's the 40th anniversary of the film Cabaret. If you haven't seen it, do. As Dukey said, club life in Berlin is rather wild, much wilder than what's portrayed in this film. In fact, we think our 22 yr old granddaughter shouldn't spend a semester there next fall after having read an article in the London Sunday Times from last January. Way more decadent than it was during the Weimar Republic.
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Jan 30th, 2013, 02:44 PM
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Allow me to mention Bamberg, which is right on the way from Berlin to Munich, surely a special place for the beer lover (Bamberger Rauchbier/smoked beer is unique) and a fantastic small city with, unlike Berlin or Munich or most other cities in Germany, an undestroyed, authentic, mostly baroque old town.
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