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German Train Travel- need some help with final plans

German Train Travel- need some help with final plans

Jun 2nd, 2007, 08:03 PM
  #1  
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German Train Travel- need some help with final plans

Here is my agenda: I will be traveling to Germany with three children- [email protected] years old and [email protected] years old in July, 2007. We will travel by train except for when we are in Bavaria when I will rent a car for three days. We arrive in Frankfurt but will immediately go to Bacharach for two nights. We will go for a day trip to see Burg Eltz and if possible return by boat on the Mosel and Rhein. We will go from Bacharach to Baden-Baden. From Baden-Baden to Freiburg. From Freiburg to Rothenburg. Rothenburg to Kempten to pick up the rental car for three days. Then from Kempten to Munich. From Munich to Salzburg, and then ending up with the last trip from Salzburg-Berlin. I am thinking I will use Laender Tickets for the train trips from Baden-Baden to Freiburg, Rothenburg to Kempten and from Munich to Salzburg. I can also use it for the trip to Burg Eltz (Bacharach to Moselkern) but I am thinking it might be better to use a day of my German rail pass to cover the train and boat ride. I will use the 4 day German pass for Bacharach to Baden-Baden, Freiburg to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and from Salzburg to Berlin, and the trip to Burg Eltz. Does this sound right? I have read that I can purchase the Laender Tickets in the train stations at DB ticket automats. Are these a certain color? Are they in every train station (like Bacharach?) I can understand some German, but not too much. Where is the best place to purchase the German Rail Pass? Should I buy it from my local AAA? From Rick Steves online? Should I buy the Laender tickets online now also since I know which days I will need them or should I wait until we need them? With both types of tickets can we just hop on and off trains all day long? We have to get the German Rail Pass stamped the days we use it don't we? Thank you!
kkukura is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 09:24 PM
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I think you've thought this through pretty well, except that you will need to purchase regular tickets - about 3.50 each - for FRA-Mainz on Day 1 to cover that part of your trip that isn't included on the Rheinland-Pfalz ticket.

You can buy the Laender tix once you arrive in Germany - all at one machine if you like - to simplify things. The DB machines (red, I think, English interface) can be used easily if you have a credit card. The other ticket machines for local tickets do not usually take credit cards and do not have an English option but will sell the local Laender ticket too. I think you'll find both types of machine in just about every station.

Buy the German Railpasses wherever you can get the most free goodies, or free shipping maybe.
Russ is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 09:27 PM
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Wow. Where do I start.

First, with point-point tickets your 14 year old can travel with you everywhere in Germany on German Rail for free; I think that if you have a pass, he has to have one as well. So, you need rail passes for four people. For four days, a youth pass costs more per person ($192) than a twin ($173 per person). You want two Twin Passes. Assuming 2nd class, that comes to $692 or about €508 (at $1.36/EUR). So, you would need to replace point-point tickets totalling €127 per day to break even.

You can go Bacharach to Karlsruhe virtually as fast by regional rail (2hr 21 min) as by express (2hr 16 min). But if you go by regional trains, you can do it for €25 for a Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket vs. using a day of your rail pass. From Karlsruhe to Baden-Baden is a streetcar ride for €5 per person, but you can get a 24 hour ticket for up to 5 people for €13.

It will take only a half hour longer, but you can use a €27 Bayern-Ticket to go from Munich to Salzburg.

I agree with your decision to use a Baden-Württemberg-Ticket for Baden-Baden to Freiburg. It's too short a trip (1hr 25min by regional trains) to justify using a rail pass day for an express train.

Before I go any further, what is the significance of Kempten. Kempten seems somewhat out of the way. Is there something there you have to see or someone you have to visit?

Either way, I might recommend that you go from Freiburg to Kempten. That route through the southern Schwäbisch Jura is scenic, and you could do almost the entire trip on a Baden-Württemberg-Ticket.

I'd go from there to Munich, then Salzburg, then Rothenburg. From Rothenburg go to Nürnberg to Berlin.

For your travel on the Rhein, it is all in Rheinland-Pfalz, so all four of you can travel from Bacharach to Moselkern and back, with stops in St. Goar and Koblenz, for example, for €25. If you want to substitute some boat travel for part of the train, K-D gives a 20% discount if you have an RLP-Ticket for that day.

I haven't tried to add everything up, but I suspect that, even with the Nürnberg-Berlin leg at point-point prices, you might find that all rail, using point-point and Länder tickets will cost less than a rail pass and a car.
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 09:29 PM
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Get in touch with Budget Europe Travel Service at http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/. You can also phone 800-441-9413 or 800-441-2387 9am-5pm Eastern Time
Monday-Friday. They are in Ann Arbor and have very good advice, and a free booklet,
hopscotch is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 09:38 PM
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Using either a rail pass or a Länder ticket, you can hop on and off, but with a Länder ticket you can only hop on and off regional trains and only after 9 AM on weekdays. I don't find either of those restrictions to be a problem.

As for purchasing Länder tickets. In the same state (e.g., Bavaria for a Bayern-Ticket) you can purchase the ticket at a regional (Nahverkehr) automat. Outside the state, in almost all cases, you can only purchase that state's ticket from a DB (Vernverkehr) automat. The regional automat is blue and white; the DB one is red, white, and blue.

I have a section about using these automats on my website, www.geocities.com/reise_deutschland. Click on "using ticket automats in Germany".
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 09:59 PM
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BTW, as for Bacharach, when I was there three years ago, the station had only a lone regional automat (in fact, I think it is the one shown on my website). There was no ticket counter and no DB automat.
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 11:24 PM
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Larryincolorado: Let's see if I can explain things. First, I want the flexibility of a car in Bavaria because I want to take my kids to different places which would be more difficult to do with a train, or take too much time to do with a train. I will be staying in Reutte, but my car rental place of origin has been changed to Kempten, orginally it was in Fussen. So, I will take the train from Rothenburg to Kempten to pick up the rental car and that is it. I will return it there also, but we will be on the road enjoying the sights by car for three days. I have been told that Kempten is just about 20 miles or so from Fussen, in fact someone posted me saying it was closer on the train to go to Kempten then to Fussen. I am locked into my agenda. I know it is a little backwards but I have rooms reserved, especially in the bigger cities, using free nights, that I can't change. I had thought about going the other way, but decided on this...not as direct, but it's what I decided to do.

Now back to my questions and your answers. I thought Twin Passes had to be two adults. Is it just any two people together? Do the two always have to travel together? I got this off of Rick Steve's website for point to point travel: "Kids under 14 travel free when named on one ticket with parents or grandparents." I see it saying "under 14". My son is 14. So is it up to age 13 or up to and including age 14? I have been checking schedules and prices. I have not checked the cost of buying the Laender Ticket and then getting 20% off the KD boat trip vs using a day of the German Pass with free boat travel included. If it is about the same time-wise then we will use the Laender Pass because the trip most likely will be on regional trains anyway. For the longer distances between towns I would like to get there faster (and/or leave earlier than 9, especially to Berlin) therefore I thought to use the German Pass over the Laender Tickets. But, if you say my son would travel for free with me if I bought point to point between those locations, then that might be something I need to consider. I hadn't thought he counted due to him being 14. How do I find out about the streetcar from Karlsruhe to Baden-Baden? How long of a trip would that be then? I just love the German system! There are so many ways to cut costs if you just know about them!

Another question...if Bacharach doesn't have the facilities to get the Laender Ticket and I decide to go this route...would it be best for us to purchase this at the Frankfurt Airport? Would I be able to do this there? Can I purchase then by putting in the dates I will use them?

You have been very helpful and given me more to consider. Thank you!
kkukura is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:43 AM
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It's going to be a wash. Use the German Rail twinpass to keep it simple.

Your way:

$692 twinpasses plus...

35 +/- FRA-Bacharach (tix to Mainz + R-P ticket)
25 B-B - Freiburg (B-W ticket)
25 R'burg-Kempten (Bayern ticket)
25 Kempten-Munich (Bayern ticket)
25 Munich-Salzbg (Bayern ticket)

total Euros = [email protected]= $181 + $692 = $873.


Without German Railpasses:

35 to Bacharach
25 + 64 Eltz and Rhine cruise (4 tix w/20% off standard Bacharach-Braubach cruise price of about 20 Euros each)

30+/- to Baden Baden
25 to Freiburg
25+25 to Rothenburg (using a B-W ticket and a Bayern ticket; perhaps a tad cheaper for the Bayern portion depending on your route if you get regular tix but not much cheaper.)
25 R'burg - Kempten
25 Kempten - Munich
25 Munich - Salzburg
354 Salzburg - Munich (3 tix @118; 14-year-old is free)

Total: 658 [email protected]= $884.

Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:53 AM
  #9  
 
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As for your questions:

"Kids under 14 travel free when named on one ticket with parents or grandparents." I see it saying "under 14".

The Bahn site says under 15 in German version.

" Is it just any two people together? Do the two always have to travel together?"

I think each pass will have two names on it. One or more people may stay at "home", of course. As long as you have 2 twinpasses, any combination of travelers is okay as long as your names match those on the passes.

"if Bacharach doesn't have the facilities to get the Laender Ticket and I decide to go this route...would it be best for us to purchase this at the Frankfurt Airport? Would I be able to do this there? Can I purchase then by putting in the dates I will use them?"

You can buy the Laender tix at an FRA ticket machine, or any other DB machine, for any specific date you like - date must be specified - and for any Land you like (with the exception of Hessen, whose ticket is only available within the boundaries of the Hessen ticket. But you aren't going to bother with Hessen anyway.)
Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Russ- Thank you for explaining more about the tickets. It does seem to almost match in price so I will probably go with the German Twin Pass for 4 days and then the Laender passes when I can use them. When we arrive in Frankfurt should we just purchase tickets to go directly to Bacharach? Or do you recommend that we purchase tickets to Mainz and then use a Leander Ticket from Mainz to Bacharach? Which would be the easiest do you think? Thank you again!
kkukura is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 11:01 AM
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It's going to be about 35 Euros for all to Bacharach whether you buy individual tix to Bacharach or R-P ticket + indiv. tix to Mainz. At FRA's Regionalbahnhof - the regional train station - go to the RMV (local ticket) machine and punch in the code (see chart on machine) for Bacharach, and the price will appear; do the same for Mainz but add the cost of the R-P ticket (25) to compare. Also, there's a DB info counter in the hall outside the ticket offices. You can ask them which would be best and get a printed itinerary for your trip to Bacharach.

If you get the tickets to Mainz (use cash at the RMV machine, by the way), the R-P ticket may not be available at the same machine... you might have to walk over to a DB machine to get that one (use credit card if you want.)

Sounds like a nice trip. I hope you're spending a little time in these places and not just racing from one to the next. You'll want to stay, I imagine.
Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 11:06 AM
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Thank you, Russ, for your help. We will be gone from 7/4-7/23 and I hope to enjoy everything. I like Germany a lot and I am going to enjoy showing it to my kids.

I have read that the ticket machines have a button to choose English...is this true? I can understand some German, but not too much. Will I be able to figure out the machines easily?
kkukura is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 12:01 PM
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The DB machines have an English option; they're pretty simple touch-screen experiences. They can also print you out an itinerary. Local machines are just in German, as far as I know, and are relatively low-tech; butttons, and there isn't much text to read anyway. I do not believe that the local machines can be used to make advance purchases like the DB machines can.
Russ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 12:25 PM
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>Will I be able to figure out the machines easily?
I've seen quite a number of German tourists that have difficulties with the machines. When there are buttons to push that say "Zone ..." instead of a destination, have different coloured buttons, sell strip tickets, return and single journey, days tickets for certain zones,... who can figure it all out as a tourist? Asking some local always helps
logos999 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:30 PM
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Some (most, all?) of the regional machines have a button (it looks like a little flag) to choose other languages. I don't normally use English with either automats; I enjoy using German. However, once on my last trip I tried the flag button just to see what happened, and nothing changed. Oh, well. I guess that one wasn't really multilingual.

However, Russ, I agree with you that the regional automats are pretty straight-forward and not that hard to use in German. They only sell ticket from that station, and the possible destinations are listed as 4 digit numbers on the left-hand side. Town names are pretty much language neutral, but you might need to know that München is Munich and Köln is Cologne. You just punch in the number and it gives you the fare. To select an adult or child you use the buttons in the right hand column. There is a figure of an adult or a child at the top of each column. Those columns also have buttons for Schönes-Wochenende- and Länder-Tickets. I have only bought Länder-Tickets for that day, but I once bought an S-W-Ticket from a regional automat for the following day. As I remember, when I pushed the S-W-T button, the screen displayed something like "1 Sa 2 So", and I entered the number on the keypad.

The touchscreen DB (Fernverkehr) automats can be switched to English and are pretty easy to use, except picking a town is a pain. Your first menu is A-F, G-L, ..., or something like that. If you push A-F, then you have to select Aa-Ar, As-Be, etc. As you go on, it narrows it down until you finally get a list of towns, but it takes a number of screens. Just hope you don't make a mistake and have to start over. They are nice, however, in that you can buy a ticket from any station, not just the one you are in. Buying Länder tickets is more versile than with the regional automats, but, again, requires more steps.
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:45 PM
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>regional automats are pretty straight-forward
The layouts differ so when you have a Munich automat it looks totally different from the Frankfurt model and there aren't any 4 digit numbers, but zones or rings. Munichs MVV uses "rings" Some automats are Swiss models others are made in Berlin.
logos999 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 04:28 PM
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When I say "regional" automat, I am referring machine belonging to the Nahverkehr. Is that ÖPNV or SPNV? Anyway, the automat with rings is for the Munich Verkehrsverbund (local transit).

However, I have bought Bayern tickets from MVV automats, and I don't remember it being different enough to be difficult.
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 04:34 PM
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>who can figure it all out as a tourist? Asking some local always helps.

That reminds me of an incident. I was hanging around the station in a small town in the Illertal of the Oberallgäu. They had recently installed one of the new DB touchscreen automats, and it was my first chance to try one without being in a hurry. After I had figured it out, an elderly, non-English-speaking German lady came up and tried to buy a ticket. She wanted to make a connection in Kempten. The machine listed an number of connections with train types and prices. The ticket she was going to buy included an IC from Immenstadt to Kempten. I pointed out to her that she could wait until the following train to Immenstadt, take a regional train to Kempten, and still make her connection, and it would cost her less.

I think she was doubly amazed, first that as an obvious American I could speak some German, and, second, that I could show her how to use the German ticket machine.
Larryincolorado is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 04:45 PM
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As the asylum inmate peering through the fence said, "Mister, I'm crazy, not stupid!
Robespierre is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:10 PM
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I know that one. It's number 23.
Larryincolorado is offline  

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