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SKPKCP11 Oct 31st, 2010 08:16 PM

Germany in May 2011
 
Planning a holiday in Germany in May 2011. This is our first holiday in Europe. We are from India. We are 2 adults and 2 children below 10 years. We are interested in doing a mix of city and small scenic town/villages. Looking forward to good wholesome German food - not something pricey and touristy. Can someone recommend an itinerary for approx 10 - 15 days. We are budget conscious and would like to stay in places that are safe & clean with attached bathroom with easy accessibility to train and local restaurants/chain stores. Are the B&B and youth hostels safe for family? Are there any mid-price chain hotels that we could consider? Could you please highlight the dos and donts whilst travvelling in Germany. Also, would appreciate some info on the usage of trains?

logos999 Nov 1st, 2010 12:03 AM

>safe & clean
Not an issue anywhere.
>Are the B&B and youth hostels safe for family?
Yes
>Are there any mid-price chain hotels that we could consider?
IBIS, but any B&B is nicer and cheaper.
>usage of trains
Just like at home just that opening the doors in between stations is strictly prohibited. ;-)

As a starter: www.bensbauernhof.com

Echnaton Nov 1st, 2010 02:46 AM

Welcome to Germany!

As logos said, it is safe and clean anywhere in Germany.

Accomodation:

Hostels are a very inexpensive way to stay overnight. In Germany, we have "Jugendherbergen" which require a membership. Many of this hostels have excellent locations, and many have family rooms (reservation recommended). For further information: http://www.jugendherberge.de/en/

There are also private hostels, especially in the big cities. There are some website to find these hostels:

http://www.hostels.com/
http://www.hostelworld.com/
http://www.hostelbookers.com/

Hostels are safe and clean, but sometimes it gets noisy at night. Hostels are very popular for school trips - so expect large groups of teenagers.

In Germany, you can find inexpensive hotels too. There are some chains of cheap hotels like

www.ibishotel.com
http://www.hotelbb.de/portal/en

but usually you can find small privately owned too which have more atmosphere.

For hotel search, I recommend this site:

www.hrs.de

In large cities, you may use

www.hotwire.com
www.priceline.com

Eating:

Inexpensive eating is very easy in Germany. Especially in the pedestrian zones in the city centers you find an abundance of inexpensive eateries. A good bet are the food courts within the train stations - in some stations you find up to two dozen eateries (sometimes even one with Indian food). In cities, there are many restaurants which offer an inexpensive lunch of the day (at 5-6 Euros) for office workers.

Or just go into a grocery store or supermarket, buy some supplies and have a picnic in a public park (take plastic plates, cups, cutlery, bottle opener and corkscrew with you).

Itinerary:

Germany is quite large, and if you have only 10 to 15 days, you have to restrict yourself to a part of the country.

These are reasonable options:

- Berlin, Romantic Road Towns, Munich, upper Bavarian castles. An open-jaw flight would make sense.

- Starting from Frankfurt, you can do the Rhine Valley, Cologne, Aachen, Trier, Monschau in order to see Roman heritage, great museums, castles, scenery and picturesque villages.

- Another option would be Berlin and the picturesque Harz towns Wernigerode and Quedlinburg - especially if you have just 10 days.

lindy27 Nov 1st, 2010 07:26 AM

With children I would spend my time in Munich, countryside of Bavaria, and the Rhine Valley area.

I would spend at least 3 to 4 nights in each location to keep from having to pack/unpack too often. There is a youth hostel somewhere on the Rhine that is in a castle, I'm sure your kids would love it, I think it was in St Goar.

Train travel works great and is very efficient and fast. bahn.de has information on the German train schedule in several languages.

SKPKCP11 Nov 2nd, 2010 08:00 PM

Thanks to all of you for helping me make our plan. As things stand now, we plan to do Prague for a couple of days and then move to Germany.

We are very keen on visiting the local markets - for the sausages, beer, meats and cheeses. Ofcourse, marzipans too. I would like to take some stuff back home. Would this stuff stay well on the long flights back home? What do you recommend taking back? Any particular varieties and where are they available. Anything else that I must look out for in Germany?

Also, what is the system of booking B&B's in Germany? We would require one double room with a king size bed. Would the kids be allowed to stay with us? or do I have to book a quad room? Are there are farm stays? I am keen on experiencing one for maybe 2 nights.

Will be continuously posting my queries as my planning gathers more momentum.

Thanks once again to all of you. Please recommend some towns to stay alongwith B&B's and private hotels.

Warm regards,
SKPKCP

Echnaton Nov 3rd, 2010 12:59 AM

>>>Also, what is the system of booking B&B's in Germany?

The term B&B is not known in Germany. It would be called "Hotel garni" ("garni" means "without restaurant") or "Pension" (a "Pension" is a small, family-operated hotel that often serves lunch and dinner too). Booking is the same as with other hotels: Either use a booking system (like www.hrs.de) or contact them directly via their website, telephone, fax or email. In any case, you need a reservation confirmation.

Unfortunately, quad rooms are rare in Germany. Some hotels have them, usually called "Familienzimmer" or "apartment". Another option would be two extra beds ("Zustellbett") in a double room - which works only if the room is large enough. For the extra beds, you pay a small fee. The third option would be two double rooms.

>>>Are there are farm stays?

Yes, of course. Look here:
http://www.landtourismus.de/443.html
http://www.bauernhofurlaub.com/en/welcome.html
http://www.urlaub-bauernhof.de/index.shtml?en_homepage
http://www.bauernhof.com/

>>>We are very keen on visiting the local markets

Local markets are not daily, but only on designed dates (e.g. Wednesday and Saturday or Tuesday and Friday) and then usually only from 9:00 to 12:00. Check out. The great exception is the Viktualienmarkt in München which is open every day (except Sundays) from 7:00 to sunset (BTW, this is the best market in Germany).

>>>Would this stuff stay well on the long flights back home?

In every supermarket, you can by marzipan which is wrapped and boxed (Niederegger is the largest brand). I especially recommend the simple variety of small pieces of marzipan which are covered with chocolate. They will last for months if not years. There is also a marzipan-filled chocolate by Ritter which is very durable and tasty. If marzipan is not covered with chocolate, it dries out quickly.

Another lasting German specialty is ham. I particularly recommend Black Forest ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken) which is smoked in fir smoke. It has a smoky, forestry taste. At some places (supermarkets, butchers, market stands) they sell it in medium-sized pieces which are vacuum-sealed in plastic and do not need refrigeration. Adler is a good brand.

You can also take smoked or dried sausages. They will also last for months without refrigeration. However, check the customs regulation in your home country whether you are allowed to bring meat products.

There are other food items which might be interesting, e.g. chocolates, cookies, jam, honey. Just look and taste!

You should also try smoked fish when in Germany. Germany has excellent smoked fish, e.g. salmon, trout, eel, herring, halibut and dozens of more varieties. You should also try salmon roe and trout roe. Unfortunately, these do not survive transportation. However, in every supermarket, you find canned fish, especially marinated fish.

SKPKCP11 Nov 3rd, 2010 02:53 AM

Dear Echnaton,

Thanks a ton for your very, very informative post. We just love the ham and I am really looking forward to trying out the lovely stuff.

Please could you recommend some :
Romantic Road Towns
upper Bavarian castle towns
Rhine Valley towns

Also, advise me if you know any good Pensions or private hotels that are clean and comfortable with a decent breakfast.

For my info - Hotel Garni do they serve breakfast since there is no restaurant.

We will only use the public transport i.e. train, bus & ferry. Do we have to buy tickets as per the regions or does one ticket work for all. Do we need to buy tickets for children? How is the luggage stowed in the train? Do we keep our bags with us? Are there any baggage restrictions?


Sorry to ask so many questions. But, I am in the process of doing the ground work and just trying to get to know how things work.

Thanks once again.

Warm regards,
SKPKCP

bigtyke Nov 3rd, 2010 12:53 PM

take a look at some of the trip reports on www.bensbauernhof.com for some good ideas for inexpensive lodging

SKPKCP11 Nov 4th, 2010 01:59 AM

Thanks Bigtyke. I have looked at this site. They have quite a few good reports.

One more request - could anybody advise us the small towns/villages in each state that we should visit and where we can be based in each state.

Warm regards,
SKPKCP11

SKPKCP11 Nov 4th, 2010 02:15 AM

One more - is there any site that has a list of pensions / hotel garni in small towns/villages in different regions of Germany.

bigtyke Nov 4th, 2010 06:54 AM

Virtually every town in Germany has its own website. Most also have a tourist section on the site.

The general form for the websites are www.(town name).de

Some sites have English versions, but be advised that not every English site has all the accommodations that the German version does.

Russ Nov 4th, 2010 09:56 AM

"Please could you recommend some :
Romantic Road Towns
upper Bavarian castle towns
Rhine Valley towns"

Best Rhine Valley base town: probably St. Goar for your purposes. Why? Three castles visible from town, one tourable (Rheinfels, great for kids, who are allowed to climb around the ruins.) Transport: train station is right in the center of town, with the train hub for the region (Koblenz) just to the north, and a ferry gets you across the river to the town of St. Goarshausen. Just north of St. Goarshausen lies Burg Maus, where there are two free-flight falconry shows daily: http://www.burg-maus.de/voell/burgmaus/bildgalerie.php (A bus or taxi, or a bike ride, can get you there.) Use the ferry + train to reach Braubach if you want to tour the only never-destroyed castle on the Rhine, Marksburg: www.marksburg.de St. Goar is a stone's throw from other popular villages (Oberwesel, Boppard, Bacharach) on the same side of the river.

We really enjoyed our stay in St. Goar's "Rhine View" apartment with a well-stocked kitchen and 2 bedrooms - the owner, Mr. Huppertz, speaks good English, keeps bikes and sodas in the downstairs storage room for guests, and will escort you (two blocks or so) from the station to your apartment. Base rate for short stays is 44 Euros/night.

http://www.mittelrhein-ferienwohnung...any/index.html

Apartments are REALLY the way to go with kids. Here are a few more choices in St. Goar:

http://www.st-goar.de/586-1-fewos.html

Echnaton Nov 4th, 2010 02:09 PM

EVery place in Germany serves a decent breakfast - it is usually included in the room rate.

I will post again on Saturday because I have to leave for a business trip to Passau.

SKPKCP11 Nov 7th, 2010 08:11 PM

Thanks Russ for your thorough update. Please could you clarify if 44 Euros/night is the tariff for the the apartment or per person per night.

Would St. Goar be a good base to cover the Upper Bavarian castle towns and the Romantic Road towns.

Echnaton look forward to receiving your update.

I did look up some of the sites but most were in german. Gets difficult then to decide on the location of the place etc.

Nevertheless I will continue with my search.

Warm regards and thanks to all.
SKPKCP11

swandav2000 Nov 7th, 2010 08:18 PM

Hi SKPKCP11,

You may want to start using google's language tools to translate websites. Just go to google, then on the right side of the big box, see "language tools." Go there and use the "translate web page" box. Paste the webpage url there, and it will translate it. The translation may not be great, but it should be good enough for you to muddle through it. I use it all the time!

Have fun!

s

SKPKCP11 Nov 9th, 2010 06:59 PM

Thanks Swandav2000. I did try it ! Very good tip. Any tips for keeping which places as the base - we are considering St-Goar. Hope it is not a tourist trap. We also do not want to stay in a place where everything is shut by 6 pm. How is Eschweeg as a place?

swandav2000 Nov 9th, 2010 09:11 PM

Hi again,

Sorry, I haven't done much local travelling since I moved to Garmisch two years ago -- I generally run to Switzerland, lol!

I have been to St. Gilgen on the Wolfgangsee, but I only toured around that one lake -- on foot and on bike. I travel really slowly!

Wish I could help more.

I will say that I also use google's "images" search engine to help me see which place (usually among many) I should stay in. That's one way to get a look at a place before you arrive.

Anyway, have fun planning!

s

SKPKCP11 Nov 15th, 2010 07:12 PM

Hi All,

Back with some more queries :
1.Are we allowed our big suitcases in the intercity or inter-town buses and trains?
2. We are keen on spending 1 or 2 nights on a farm – just to experience them. Which do you recommend and do they usually arrange for pick-up from the train / bus stand since they are located in remote areas.
3. We are planning to arrive into Munich and fly out from Frankfurt. We will be flying standby - any recommendations for pensions / garni that are close the railway stations.
4. Any suggestions for itineraries, we are considering to be based as St. Goar for a couple of days. Any cheaper bases will do.
Regards,
SKPKCP11

Russ Nov 16th, 2010 03:41 AM

"Thanks Russ for your thorough update. Please could you clarify if 44 Euros/night is the tariff for the the apartment or per person per night."

Base rate for two in the two-bedroom Rheinblick apartment where we stayed is actually 45 Euros now; 10% is added for short stays under 5 days. Kids run 5 Euros more per night, so figure 60 Euros per night for your family, roughly.

The base rate given for almost every apartment I've looked up in Germany is for two people and assumes a stay of at least 3 nights, sometimes 5 or 7. Rentals in Germany are very well priced and popular for that reason with German families, so it's always good to book early.

Russ Nov 16th, 2010 03:50 AM

This place is more expensive but it appears to have a fetching little balcony overlooking the river and appears to be located very close in.
http://www.rijnzicht.de/UK/index.htm


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