Germany

Old Jan 25th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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Germany

We are planning a visit to Germany and would like to see differant regions, would you suggest going by car or rail, what regions would you suggest.
trevine is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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Certainly, you should include Berlin - one of the world's most vibrant cities. From Berlin, you can make daytrips to Potsdam and Schwerin to see two of Germany's most beautiful castles.

Then you should add a region with quaint half-timbered houses. You will find the most picturesque and authentic historic towns at the Harz, especially Wernigerode and Quedlinburg. From Wernigerode, you can ride a historic steam railroad up to the mountain top.

If you want to get some maritime feeling, you may visit Northern Germany. Hamburg is an interesting metropolis, Lübeck is a quaint historic city, Büsum and Husum are fishing villages, Sylt has beautiful beaches, dunes and thatched houses. Bremen is a romantic historical city with some good museums.

Some of Germany's best castles you find in the Münsterland, with Münster as another very interesting city.

Düsseldorf and Köln belong to Germany's most attractive cities. Nearby Aachen boasts the church where Charlemagne was crowded and a gorgeous medieval city hall.

The Rhein Valley has dramatic scenery, an abundance of medieval castles, beautiful towns and wine - as well as the Rhein's tributaries, the Mosel and the Ahr. On the upper Mosel, do not miss Trier with rich Roman heritage.

In southern Germany, Würzburg is a beautiful city with Germany's finest baroque palace. The surrounding countryside has zillions of romantic villages including those on the Romantic Road.

München is another metropolis with easy access to the Alps and King Ludwig's fairy tale castles.

In east Germany, Dresden has the most spectacular baroque architecture. Eisenach has the castle where Luther translated the bible. Erfurt is a beautiful historical town. Weimar is also a good destination and Dessau, the birthplace of modern architecture.

Another option is the Black Forest with quaint Freiburg in the foothills.

In other words: You can drop a pin on Germany's map and wherever it comes down, you will find enough attractions to spend two weeks within a circle with a 50-mile radius.

One last request: Please do not follow the beaten path of a certain Rick Steves. Germany has much more to offer!
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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Hi tr,

We are a group of folks who help each other improve their travel plans.

We are not a travel agency.

You have to do some homework.

You can start by looking up Germany under "Destinations".

Take out a few guide books from your library.

After you have a draft itinerary, we will help you with the details.

ira is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:38 AM
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Hey trevine,

I think people here need a bit more info like:
What time of year do you plan to go?
For how long?
What's your budget?
Any preferences.. countryside vs. cities, hiking vs. museums, mountains vs. sea, and so on...


If this is your first trip to Germany, I bet a sixpack of my favorite beer that it will look like this:

Arrive at Frankfurt airport, get cash from ATM (no travellers cheques, no Yen or Rubles), pick up rental car. Most here drive not half as fast as some will tell you. Directions are given by destinations, not the points of the compass. Check viamichelin.com for routings. Gas is currently € 1.15 per liter - which is roughly $6 per gallon. Highways/ motorways are not tolled.

Don't care about Frankfurt. There are one or two nice museums, but otherwise the city's main asset are the skyscrapers, most of them (now almost bankrupt) banks. Neither interesting nor amusing. At night, Frankfurt closes around 8pm. On a good day, humans are spotted downtown. Usually not.
Instead head for the Rhine valley (or Mosel valley). Stay at one castle Schönburg on the Rhine overnight. Don't go to Rüdesheim, a tacky little tourist trap, disguised as a typical German wine town. Going to Rüdesheim is like making little boats from €50 bills and let them sail on the Rhine. The latter is probably more fun. Do a short cruise on the river. Visit vineyards and sample wine. Heidelberg is also not too far away.

After you're done with that, go southeast to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. All of Germany in one medieval town, except for Neuschwanstein. It's like Disneyland with the advantage that entrance is free. In Rothenburg there is a guided city walk named Nightwatchman Tour. Have no clue what that is, but regarding the 102% attention rate among Fodorites, you seem to have to do it to be allowed to leave Rothenburg. Don't sample the local specialty, a pastry called Schneeballen. Some people have lived to tell how ghastly those taste, others.. well, tourism always takes its toll.
Nearby Würzburg has one fine palace to visit, by the way.

After Rothenburg, either go south on the Romantic Road, or drive straight to Munich. The RR is a line-up of pretty interesting nice towns (like Rothenburg), in between is pretty uninteresting landscape. Motorway A7 parallels the Romantic Road and has the advantage of no speed limit. 220kph make even the most boring countryside acceptable. No mountains yet.

Either way, you will end in Munich. Stay at Hotel Uhland or Torbräu. Munich may have some 300 hotels, but only those two are certified to host US visitors (just kidding). Don't go in September because of Oktoberfest. Even a bench in a park will cost €500 per night then.
First thing in Munich, get rid of your car. Plan 2 days for Munich, and another 3 for day trips with inexpensive rail tickets. You will have a handful of pretty nice castles and palaces to chose from, most in the front range mountains of the Alps. Neuschwanstein is the most famous one. The only difference to the real thing in Disneyland is the higher number of Japanese tourists visiting the Bavarian version. Other palaces are Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee, either south or east of Munich. One last day trip could be Salzburg, also an easy ride by train. In Salzburg you can do the Sound of Music tour, which seems to be about one film that no one in Europe knows (anymore). Well, I'm 40 and my mother told me it was an old film. Anyway, the Austrians don't care as long as you pay.

Depart Munich.

Most will calculate around 12 days for the whole trip. Some have done it in two.


P.S. Regarding means of transportation:

Some Fodorites argue that cars are useless or not needed in Germany because of an extensive rail system.
Others say that only a car gives you the indepence to visit places without a railway station and stop where you want to stop.
There seems to be common ground in saying that in bigger cities, like Munich, a car makes no sense.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Gee, such an accurate description of what the original poster will do. ;-)

You're 100% correct, that's exactly his/her schedule and once he/she is back he/she will have a zillion stories to tell like he/she was the first person on the moon.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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Cowboy has just suggested the standard Germany trip for the standard American.

I bet that Cowboy is Rick Steves' alias here on fodors.com!
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 09:47 AM
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Ouch.. that hurt!! ;-)
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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I like this one:

>>>Stay at Hotel Uhland or Torbräu. Munich may have some 300 hotels, but only those two are certified to host US visitors<<<

And also this one:

>>>It's like Disneyland with the advantage that entrance is free.<<<
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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Trevine,

I wish that I could help you, but I am not going to Germany until July. I recommend doing a Fodors search of trip reports on Germany, Berlin, etc. The Fodors website has some excellent trip reports. You could also visit tour company websites to see where they go when traveling to Germany.

I am going to Berlin, St. Goar, Bacharach, Rhine River cruise, Burg Eltz Castle, Trier, Baden-Baden, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle. Then Switzerland and Austria.

Have a great trip!
KL467 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Travellers itinerary sounded quite nice. I actually was not going to post anything, but felt I really needed to correct cowboys awful description of Frankfurt. It is completely inaccurate.

There are plenty of interesting things in Frankfurt. We DO have the largest cultural budget in Europe. There is a thriving arts scene, music and club scene, theatre, music, opera, and a wonderful diverse ethnic population (25%) I would also say there are more than "a couple" of interesting museums here, let alone all the art galleries. If you think Frankfurt is dead at 20:00 it is because no one goes out to the clubs til 22:00 or later. I used to walk through the middle of downtown at 2 in the morning after I got off work and the place looked like afternoon in any other city. Frankfurt has not only a long and rich history, but also their Jewish history is fascinating. Writing this city off your travel list for the wrong reasons would be sad. Invest some time in finding out what is really here.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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Good grief.
I just hope that you did not also take the rest so dead serious.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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Traveller has given you an overview of some interesting areas. This would be a good starting point - get a guide book or two and read about the areas that interest you. There are so many wonderful areas to visit that you really can't go wrong. Even if you decide on the 'Fodor itinerary' as told by Cowboy, it will give you a starting point. I have been to most of the areas mentioned except Munster, which I hope to see some day. You can't do it all in one trip so decide which intrigues you the most for the first trip.
I definitely second Berlin, Quedlingburg and Lubeck but also Munich and Dresden. Car or rail will probably be decided by the itinerary you choose. They both can be fun and doable. Do your homework and come back and we will hve lots of suggestions. Have a great trip! CJ
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 11:42 PM
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Not everybody caught Cowboy's irony.

Of course, Frankfurt is a beautiful city (I have relatives living there). But 99% of the American Fodorites keep saying "skip it"! (Fodorites can do injustice to places, although this happens rarely.)

BTW, I did not suggest an itinerary. For this itinerary you would need at least 8 weeks. I just gave very brief descriptions of some regions which might be interesting. Do some further research.

Most English travel guides to Germany are shockingly incomplete, because they focus on the small part of Germany which has been described by Cowboy as the "standard trip or the standard American".

But if you type place names into the internet you will get a wealth of information, much of it in English too.

This multilingual website lists the highlights (the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany):

http://www.unesco-welterbe.de
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Old Jan 26th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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Traveller - I agree about most english guidebooks being very incomplete. I just discovered Annaberg (thanks to mention by Ingo) and loved it. Can't wait to return (in good weather) but info is not very forthcoming. Thanks for the website. CJ
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