German Rail (or other) info please...

Old Apr 4th, 2000, 08:32 PM
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German Rail (or other) info please...

Will be in Stuttgart (home base for Heidleberg, Rothenberg, Black Forest) in June. I was wondering if the German Rail Pass (about $350ish for 2) would be the way to go about getting to these places? Also, would tentatively like to try to get to Munich (and Dachau) but these are maybes only. If German Rail is not the way to go, what is? And how difficult is it to get from Stuttgart to these areas? I know NO German so this would have to be a "OK, here's where you get off" sort of thing! Please help!!!!!
Old Apr 5th, 2000, 12:59 AM
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Stuttgart is a good base for seeing Heidelberg and the Black Forest, but not all that convenient for Rothenburg. There is no station in Rothenburg, and any trip by train involves a bus transfer to/from Ansbach. Similarly, many of the prettiest little towns in the Black Forest are not on a train line. I would suggest you might get more out of your trip if you hired a car, even though it would be a little more expensive. Munich is also easily accessible by car (140 miles, two hours) from Stuttgart, using the autobahn.
Old Apr 5th, 2000, 10:28 AM
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Hi, Vanessa.

I recommend the train. Negotiating your way through strange places with unfamiliar road signage and asking directions in the wrong language is just all too stressful, and the train will take you nearly everywhere.

I don't recommend the Germanrailpass for your itinerary -- the distances are short and there is a better bargain option. For $350, it sounds like you might be planning on the Twinpass (4 days, about $250) plus 3 additional days (about $100.) But if you buy the one-day passes for up to 5 people that are available at stations in Germany, you'll end up paying about $140 total for 7 days travel. The only "trick" is that you can't travel peak hours on weekdays and you have to use the local trains ("Nahverkehrszüge" with the designations SE, SB, RE, and RB on the train schedules) which are a bit slower.
I'm going to use these for my family in the Rhine and Moselle river regions this summer and just checked to make sure they will be available then, and they will, so it should be the same for where you'll be.

Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and the Black Forest are all in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which offers a pass for 40 DM on weekdays (9 a.m. - 4 p.m., 6 p.m.- 2 a.m. travel) so you should be able to get to the places you mentioned with this pass. If you're travelling on the weekend, you can get a 35 DM pass at any station in the country that is good for travel throughout the country all day, with no restrictions on hours, on the local trains. This is called the "Schönes Wochenende" Ticket, and this is the one that would be most useful for a day trip to Rothenburg, in the state of Bavaria, which does have a train station (I just checked the schedule -- it's between 3 and 4 hours each way from Stuttgart on the local trains I've discussed.)

Stuttgart will have a special info window to help you and undoubtedly will be able to do so in English. Get a printed itinerary from the clerk on the day of your trip. Tell the clerk you will be using the special pass in question so that he gives you a schedule for the local trains only. You will have to change trains, probably several times for the trip to Rothenburg, but the schedule will indicate the platform where each train departs. Just ask the clerk for any clarifications you need before leaving the counter. Then, buy your ticket there, or from a regular ticket window if you're at an info only window. For planning purposes, you can stop in at the station the day before for your printed schedule and buy a ticket for the next day, if you like.

The fast trains may shave about an hour off the Rothenburg trip each way, but the trip will cost you about $100 for two on normal tickets.

I'd recommend you take a train ride through the Neckar Valley via Heilbronn, either on a separate day, or on the way to Heidelberg instead of the faster mor westerly route. This region is part of the "Castle Road" journey and is great for castle snooping, hiking, etc.

Have a good trip!

Old Apr 6th, 2000, 04:44 PM
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Harzer, I just wanted to point out that some of the information you provided is incorrect. There IS a train station in Rothenberg. I traveled by train last May from Munich to Rothenberg. I had to change trains to get there, but the entire trip was via train.

Vanessa, the train system is excellent in Germany and will take you to most major cities. Making reservations and finding out train schedules helps a lot. If you are looking to delve into some small towns at your own pace, I recommend a rental car for those parts of your trip. I highly recommend that you check out Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door web site. His information on railpasses is second-to-none. If you map out all your train journeys, you can use his information to determine if it would be more beneficial for you to buy a railpass or to pay for tickets point-to-point. DER Travel, who sells German railpasses, also has a railpass and drive package. I ended up buying a German railpass and renting a car for a few days to meet my needs.

P.S. Since you'll be in the vicinity, I highly recommend checking out the Roman-Irish baths in Baden-Baden!

Good luck and have a great trip!
Old Apr 8th, 2000, 07:47 PM
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Thanks to all of you for the info. Forgot I had one other question. One of our travel days (to the towns mentioned-haven't decided what order to do them in yet) will be Sunday. Would there be any trouble finding attractions, shops or etc., open on Sunday in any or all of these towns? Also, will place a call to the toll free number listed at DER to decide if I need a Twin Pass or point-to-point tickets for the train. Thanks again!!!

Old Apr 9th, 2000, 05:08 AM
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I stand partly corrected. There is a station in Rothenburg. I was relying on the 'Rough Guide to Germany' 1992, which says there isn't one. Nevertheless, even though there is a station, not all connections from Stuttgart ending at the station use the train exclusively. About one in two still do the last leg from Steinach (not Ansbach) by bus. And all journeys exclusively by train require two changes, whereas the departures I recommended only require one change. The cost is the same, regardless of how you travel: DM54 one way.

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