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German Train travel

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May 21st, 2016, 11:19 AM
  #1
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German Train travel

My husband and I could use advice (or just confirmation) with train travel in Germany, and ending in Colmar, France. My husband wants to avoid as many train transfers as possible, and we would like to have a car in Colmar.

We are taking a train from Amsterdam to Boppard on the Rhine on June 19. By-passing Cologne for now, we may take a local train from Boppard, for a day trip. We are looking at trains: Amsterdam to Arhem (connection), Arhem to Cologne (connection), Cologne to Boppard on a regional train. (There's a faster train approximately the same time, but the connection is only 6 minutes.)

In our three full days on the Rhine and Mosel, we plan to take the cruise from Bingen, getting off along the way to see Bacharach, St. Goar, etc. Another day we want to visit Cochem, etc. on the Mosel. The third day is still open. Will the VRM ticket for local trains for 3 days work for us? Would it get us to Cologne if we chose to go on our open day?

Leaving Boppard for Colmar on June 23, we want to have a car in Colmar. On our way, we'd like to spend a few hours in Baden-Baden. We were planning on renting the car in Koblenz, but the Eurocar pick up seems inconvenient, and we are wasting time taking a train going North to Koblenz, only to go South. A second option might be take a regional train from Boppard to Mainz. Piick up a car in Mainz, then be on our way to Colmar, via Bade-Baden. Is there a cheaper one day fare pass for an MRB or RE train that might be advantageous for us from Boppard to Mainz? Does this even make sense?

After enjoying the Colmar and villages, and Strasbourg for three days, we will leave from Basel airport on June 28. It was suggested by Gemut car rental that we return the car on Monday, June 27 in Lorrach, Germany, and avoid a Sunday drop off. We'd drop our luggage off at a Basel airport hotel on the way to Lorrach. Using local transport from Lorrach to Basel, spend the rest of the day in Basel before our return trip the next day.

Advice is totally appreciated. The travel agent, whom we paid a fee to help us with this itinerary and book hotels, turned out to be totally inept and unfamiliar with independent travel. I ended up booking hotels myself and muddling my way with trains and car rental.
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May 21st, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Key learning: only use a travel agent if they have been to the area you are visiting several times and really know the details. I would ask for a refund on the fee.

Most travel agents in the US are fine for booking trips to Disney, cruises and bus tours. But VERY few have spent enough time in europe to book independent travel (and they will steer you to upscale everything since this is how they make commissions).
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May 21st, 2016, 11:55 AM
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Lesson learned, nytraveler. Unfortunately, she was recommended. I'm now sure her experience is with packaged vacation. What surprised me the most was that her booking sites were so limited to Hotels.com, RailEurope, etc., and having very little knowledge of local transportation. Silly me expected a "travel agent" to suggest how to get from Amsterdam train station to Marriott Hotel without paying for a $110 shuttle!
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May 21st, 2016, 12:10 PM
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German Train travel
Posted by: juneabee on May 21, 16 at 2:19pm
My husband and I could use advice (or just confirmation) with train travel in Germany, and ending in Colmar, France.


You give no indication of prior experience with trains in Europe, and if you have none I suggest looking at http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap17/rail.htm, an illustrated introduction to the rails of Europe.

For specific train information the German Rail site https://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/index.shtml will get you on the right track. For more comprehensive detail see the British expert Mark Smith at http://www.seat61.com/. For current detailed information on passes, tickets, and reservations (generally not required in Germany) talk with Byron or Linda at http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/.

Travel agents, boosh. It is a dead "profession." In the past I would meet them in my travels now and again. They were always on subsidized "fam trips" from tour agencies, strictly for the pleasure.
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May 21st, 2016, 02:05 PM
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Thanks spaare. We've had some experience using trains in Italy and did quite well. But, with years in-between, we've become a bit hesitant. We don't have subway or train transit where we live, so it always takes a bit getting used to the convenience. I will continue to check out those helpful sites.
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May 21st, 2016, 02:26 PM
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why are you changing at Arnhem - all Amsterdam to Cologne trains go direct as far as I can see. On some A'dam to Boppard train treks there is just one change in Cologne - if you miss the connecting train there should be another in a half-hour or so.Like spaarne says no Germany or Dutch trains you'll be taking require reservations - just hop on with a valid ticket.

Boppard to Mainz is 16 euros flat fare on regional trains - the regional pass for two would cost probably 35 euros or so so just buy that ticket once in Boppard- good for any regional train.

book your Amsterdam-Cologne-Boppard trains at the site spaarne suggests - www.bahn.de/en for discounted tickets if you book far enough in advance to get those limited in number discounted ducats, which are train-specific and cannot be changed from the specific train you book on.

Check www.bahn.de/en for connection times and platform numbers involved - if it is from one platform to a nearby one you'll need less time to find your next train- platforms are numbered consecutively.

For lots of trains yes check www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; and www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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May 22nd, 2016, 04:13 PM
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Boppard-Bingen costs 16E each on a standard ticket or 29E/2 adults using a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket day pass (the VRM ticket doesn't work to Bingen.) Buy the R-P ticket if you leave Boppard after 9 am (not valid weekdays prior to 9:00.) Both standard tickets and the R-P day pass can be purchased from a trackside ticket machine in Boppard.

The VRM ticket can be bought at the ticket machines in Boppard as well - get a mini-group ticket for the trip to Cochem.

Cologne is a long trip by regional train and costs more - price is 52E I believe for a Quer Durchs Land ticket day pass (also valid only after 9 am.) There are other good destinations for day trips - Remagen and Linz for example, both possible on the VRM ticket.

The R-P ticket mentioned above at 29E can get you from Boppard to a LOT of cities where cars can be rented. I don't know whetther pick up at Mainz Hbf station is possible - but your car provider will know. Or... Find out from your car provider whether pick up at the station in Mannheim or Karlsruhe is possible - both are within the R-P ticket travel zone as well and right on your route south.
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May 23rd, 2016, 08:23 AM
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>I don't know whetther pick up at Mainz Hbf station is possible - but your car provider will know<

There are Sixt and Europar offices in the Mannheim station. Hertz is nearby.
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May 23rd, 2016, 10:28 AM
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Regional passes can also be bought in first class I believe and at not all that much more - IME regional trains can get very crowded -even SRO at rush hours or may be sparsely - you never know but first class - if the train has it - will be mainly empty always it seems.
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May 23rd, 2016, 04:04 PM
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I see, you have already used www.bahn.de for connections.

Yes, from Amsterdam to Boppard there is a 4:43 connection with three changes and a 5:43 connection with two changes. I would try the 4:43 connection. If the trains are on time, 6 minutes are enough. If not, take the next train and spend the waiting time in a café inside a station. You lose nothing compared to the 5:43 connection.

Then, you say, you want to spend some hours in Baden-Baden. Why? There are only two reasons to go to Baden-Baden, either burning some money in the Casino or soaking in one of the thermal spas. Otherwise, the city has not much to offer.

I do not understand the fuss about the rental car. Just check rental car companies like Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, Avis. Often, there are fees if you drop the car in another country.

Basel Airport is technically in France, but very close to the borders of Germany and Switzerland. So, if you you rent a car in France, you drop it in France again.

If you rent a car in Germany, you may drive into Alsace and drop it in Lörrach which is very close to Basel airport.

Whatever you do, there are many attractions in the region. Basel is Europe's center of art and has a charming old town. There is Weil am Rhein with the Vitra Design Museum. Also Fondation Beyeler in Riehen and the Ecomusee Alsace near Mulhouse.
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May 24th, 2016, 06:52 PM
  #11
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Thank you all for the train information. It is very helpful to know the various options available. Looking at one step of the trip at a time makes using the trains less confusing. Other than the Amsterdam to Boppard train, it sounds like the trains can be booked at the time they are needed. Also, I have an inquiry in to Gemut about the car rental and they seem very knowledgeable about car rental, and offices in the area.
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May 25th, 2016, 06:50 AM
  #12
 
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Then, you say, you want to spend some hours in Baden-Baden. Why? There are only two reasons to go to Baden-Baden, either burning some money in the Casino or soaking in one of the thermal spas. Otherwise, the city has not much to offer.>

I loved Baden-Baden - the ornate old grand casino where the rich and famous wagered in days gone by is great to tour (only available in late mornings I think before it opens for business) and the park-like setting of the town - walk south thru the park to a neat old monastery or convent - not your usual place and I can see where some may not like it - a few hours may suffice however.
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May 25th, 2016, 07:45 AM
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PalenQ on May 25, 16 at 9:50am
I loved Baden-Baden


Ditto-Ditto. This is a very pretty town.
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May 25th, 2016, 09:26 AM
  #14
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What makes traveling interesting is that everyone has different interests and priorities. Experiences can be influenced by something as uncontrollable as the weather. I guess I'd rather take my chance with a few hours in Baden-Baden, which is on the way, than be sorry to miss out.

So... Traveler1959, or someone kind enough to reply, After reading several sites, I can't find information that says if I miss my connection to a regional train, that I can just "take the next train" with the ticket I already purchased for Amsterdam to Boppard. I do like the "4:43 with 3 connections" but with only a 6 minute connection to regional train (MRB) at Koblenz to Boppard from platform 4 to platform "5 Süd"(South) I'm concerned I might miss the train. Just making sure a Süd train isn't across the tracks, down/up and under while moving luggage and perhaps, by now, an exasperated husband in 6 min, and assuming the train is on time.
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May 25th, 2016, 09:43 AM
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Platform 5 Sud I think probably means the south part of platform 5 - there may be another train on 5 North going north and south is going south towards Boppard.

These platforms are adjoining and Koblenz is not a huge station - I've always heard that you can change to any regional train but in the worst case scenario Koblenz to Boppard cannot be more than a few euros -nothing to really worry about in the case you cannot take the next train after yours is gone - this has been said by folks much more expert than me - hopefully one of them will confirm but if not don't sweat bullets over being out a possible few euros.
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May 25th, 2016, 09:43 AM
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> I can't find information that says if I miss my connection to a regional train, that I can just "take the next train" with the ticket I already purchased for Amsterdam to Boppard.<

Maybe there is no explicite information available on that, because it's a general rule that you can take any regional train with any ticket. So, dont worry, just hop on the next (anything aside from IC / EC / ICE).
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May 25th, 2016, 09:56 AM
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It is a general rule that if a train is late and you miss your connection you are free to use the next available train.

Your train arrives on track 4 and the connecting train leaves on track 5 south. Both tracks are on the same platform, so you just walk from one side of the platform to the other, maybe a little diagonal. But no stairs or elevators. 6 minutes are plenty.

Don't be afraid of train travelling. We do it every day. And are still alive.
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May 25th, 2016, 10:09 AM
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>Platform 5 Sud I think probably means the south part of platform 5 - there may be another train on 5 North going north and south is going south towards Boppard.<

Right - the train on platform 5 Süd is bound for Mainz (stopping at Boppard), the train on platform 5 nord is bound for Mayen Ost (or Andernach).
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May 25th, 2016, 10:15 AM
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Thanks. We're just a little less confident about train travel after I got off a train in Cinque Terra & my husband didn't get off fast enough. So many different trains, and stations in the area! He will never let me forget, and we learned a lot that day.... everyone always carry Euros, hotel destinations, credit cards, and itinerary. Most of all we learned Europeans were lovely, kind and helpful.
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May 25th, 2016, 10:19 AM
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>> We're just a little less confident about train travel after I got off a train in Cinque Terra <<

One more reason not to go this tourist trap.
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