Germany Itinerary Help

Nov 22nd, 2009, 06:55 PM
  #1  
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Germany Itinerary Help

Hello all:

I am travelling to Germany over New Years and would like some help with my itinerary. The goal of the trip was to experience Christmas markets (we leave 12/26, so we had to find ones that were still open past christmas) and enjoy the cold and snow as we live in the southern US. We bought tickets into Frankfurt and out of Munich. Currently, we were thinking of this:

Day 1- Arrive FRA, go to Strasbourg to enjoy their Xmas market
Day 2- Overnight train from Strasbourg to Berlin
Days 3-6 Berlin.
Day 6- Depart Berlin, Arrive Munich in afternoon via train
Day 6-8 Munich w/ Fussen/ Neuschwanstein
Day 8- 12 Mittenwald and perhaps Innsbruck as day trip
Day 13 Depart from Munich

We're only locked into the plane tickets and having a desire to go to each of the places listed. I'm concerned over the amount of back and forth train travel across Germany, the price of train tickets, and the time we're wasting by travelling. I looked online and it almost seems like flying might be a better/ cheaper option from Strasbourg (would go back to FRA) and to Munich from Berlin. But, I really like the flexibility of train travel and will most likely enjoy the down-time from all the sightseeing?

I would love any advice on how to make this work, or how to make it better!

Thanks in advance,
mdwahoo
mdwahoo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 09:45 PM
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Hi mdwahoo,

I'm a huge fan of using trains and use them for just about every trip I take. To my mind, a train trip has to be more than eight hours long for an internal flight to make any sense. In addition to the actual flying time, you have to add in: time to get to and from the airport, time to get through security, waiting time, and waiting for your bags. Comparing time from city center to city center, trains are usually a good bet.

Also take into consideration that many low-cost airlines have very limited baggage allowance, and may charge a lot for baggage overage. Before you decide to fly, check the carrier's luggage rules -- and then weigh your bags.

And finally -- you can get inexpensive tickets and specials if you buy your train tickets in advance. Earliest is 89/90 days in advance, and these discount fares sell out quickly. You may be able to get a Dauer Special and travel anywhere in Germany for 29 E:

http://www.bahn.de/international/vie...rspezial.shtml

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2009, 11:48 PM
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You won't get any discounted tickets around Christmas and New Years any more, neither on trains nor on flights. The holidays are peak travel season and all bargains are long gone.

As Swandav said, you won't save time by flying.

Strasbourg is truly wonderful and my alternative suggestion does not really compare (although it is rather atmospheric in the square around cathedral and castle) but saves you a lot of backtracking and travel time, and the overnight train, on those first two days when you'll be dealing with jet lag. There is a city with a Christmas market that reopens from Dec 26-29 right on the way to Berlin: Braunschweig. The ICE trains stop there. A stopver in Braunschweig would mean two and a half hours on the train on day 1, and merely one and a half hours on the train on day 2.
Some photos to give you an idea: http://www.braunschweig.de/weihnacht...ressionen.html
Unless your heart is absolutely set on Strasburg, this is a much easier option to consider. You might even run into me there, as I'll be staying with my parents in my old hometown.

That way you have only one long train ride, Berlin to Munich.
quokka is online now  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 02:23 AM
  #4  
 
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Strasbourg is a beautiful city - however it is completely out of your route. Your first two days will be a tortue - you travel jet-lagged to Strasbourg, spend a few hours there, then board an overnight train for a 10-hour-ride (do not expect to sleep soundly on the train) and than you arrive at Berlin, probably totally exhausted, with access to your hotel room not before afternoon.

Frankly said, Strasbourg is not that special to justify such an itinerary. Better skip it.

There are several Christmas Markets in Berlin which are open past Christmas (http://www.visitberlin.de/reiseindus...te-de_2009.pdf). And I really doubt if the Strasbourg Christmas Market is THAT different from those in Berlin.
traveller1959 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 03:35 AM
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One city that keeps its market open into the first week in January is Speyer; it's a nice market that I visited with my family a couple of years back, and it's much closer to Frankfurt than Strasbourg, not far from Heidelberg and Mannheim. It reopens after Christmas on 12/27. If you arrive that morning, you could take the short train ride, see the market, and stay there overnight.

Then I'd do as quokka suggests and see the Braunschweig market as well. You have time in your trip for that, it seems. I haven't seen it myself but the photos look great, and your choices after Christmas are indeed fairly limited, so why not have a look? Right now there's a 9:02 departure from Speyer at the advance price of 49 Euros with a change in Mannheim that gets you into Braunschweig at 1:00; other departures run 69 - 87 euros each. From Braunschweig to Berlin, lots of 29 Euro tickets are available on 12/28.

Or just head on to Berlin directly from Speyer.
Russ is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for the advice. I'm going to run it by the travel companion. When we decided to do this we were like "Berlin. Let's go". And we're off... so as we started adding places we started cutting time out of Berlin... so these might be much better options allowing us to see 2 xmas markets and still have plenty of time in Berlin.

Were there any other websites you have looked at to find Christmas markets open past Christmas?

Any other suggestions for places to stop for a night between FRA and Berlin? With or without a Christmas market, if it's a cute stop, it would be worth it to me. Really looking to find some smaller towns in between the big cities. How long do you think we need in Berlin to do a ton of walking around and see the museum highlights?

Are we correct in thinking Mittenwald is the place for snow? I'm excited about the Alps and gondolas that appear to be easy access from Mittenwald.

Thank you again!
mdwahoo is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 10:30 AM
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If you spend the night in Braunschweig you can hop on a bus and see Wolfenbüttel for a couple of hours in the next morning. The bus ride takes about 20-25 minutes. Wolfenbüttel is a little old town gem - think timberframe houses along little streets. The Christmas market will not be open any more but the town is worthwhile without, too.
Here is my Wolfenbüttel travel page, to give you an idea: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/f86bd/17dd/
And my (still incomplete) Braunschweig page: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/f86bd/11bf7/
quokka is online now  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 11:59 AM
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For doing some long train trips always consider the German Railpass - especially if you desire total flexibility to hop on any train anytime and there are literally zillions of trains. Now if you want to scour the www.bahn.de (official German rail site) mentioned above for their online discounted tickets you could possible do cheaper than a railpass - but you will have train-specific tickets with little or no chance of refund or change of trains. I have used railpasses in Germany for decades now - too many to admit - and always like just showing up at the station and hopping the next train and if i want to say break my journey en route, without formality get off at say Cologne for a few hours just to see the famous Gothic cathedral right next to the train station. Anyway consider the pass - even sometimes the discounted tickets may approach a pass price then IMO go for flexibility - a Twin Pass is for groups of two people traveling together and is about 20% cheaper p.p. than two individual passes. Passes are also good on S-Bahns once you get to say Berlin - and these S-Bahns are like metros in the city centres and can be very useful for the tourist - especially in Berlin as one S-Bahn line slices right thru the heart of old Berlin -by the new Reichstag area, thru Museum Island, etc. And since there is the 7pm rule on overnight trains it means that your unlimited travel day in the following day and you only use one day on these flexi passes (good for X number of days of travel at your chosing - need not be consecutive but can be) so once you arrive in Berlin the next morning your railpass will be valid until that midnight - meaning you can ride the S-Bahns just by flashing the pass to controllers, if they come on these honor system trains. Note that on overnight trains the pass pays for the train fare but you must pay for the optional sleeping accommodations of your choice - from a few euros for reclining 'Pullman' type seats or about 25 euros for a place in a couchette or about doulbe that or so p.p. for a private double or single - some of the newer German night trains even have showers and WCs in some of the singles and double and of course these cost more. For loads on German trains i always highlight these info-laden web sites - in addition to www.bahn.de - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com; www.euraide.com
Palenque is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 12:31 PM
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We had Wolfenbüttel on our list of places to visit during our September trip but didn't make it. We did visit Quedlinburg and Wernigerode though which are both loaded with Fachwerk buildings and absolutely lovely. However, I don't think their Christmas markets are open after Christmas either.

http://www.thisisharz.com/quedlinburg.html

http://www.wernigerode.de/index.php?...age_en&lang=en
bettyk is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 12:52 PM
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The original purpose of those markets is selling gifts and decorations that are needed by Christmas Eve. Christmas markets belong to the Advent season, the four weeks before Christmas. Most of them terminate between Dec 20 and 24. Only a few cities and towns have sacrificed tradition for the sake of tourism and commerce and keep the markets open beyond the holidays.
quokka is online now  
Nov 23rd, 2009, 09:24 PM
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Hi again,

Mittenwald is one of my favorite spots here in Bavaria; I love its little pedestrian zone, I love the friendliness of everyone in town, native or visitor, and I absolutely love the Karwendel mountain chain you can see from town.

But I'm not sure that you can really count on snow. I live about 20 minutes (by train) from Mittenwald. We've had a few snowfalls already, but right now temps are about 10 deg (F) higher than normal. There is snow on the mountain peaks off in the distance, but none in any of the towns.

Of course you can always go up to the Zugspitze to see snow!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 06:04 AM
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Swandav2000,

We are planning on going to the Zugspitze and whatever other gondolas/ funiculars we can take (Alpitze?) to see some great views.

Since you live in Germany, any other pointers for Bavaria?

Since we're not expert skiers, we'd be more into trying Nordic skiing, or my personal favorite, snow tubing. Know of any spots around where we can do that?


Thanks,

md
mdwahoo is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Innsbruck and its primo ski area is just a short train ride from Garmisch/Mittenwald.
Palenque is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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Hi md,

You can take the Karwendelbahn right from Mittenwald up into the mountains.

Paul
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Nov 24th, 2009, 12:19 PM
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I do not live in Bavaria but for one tip i'd say to visit a real Bavarian Beer Hall - like in Munich at the Haufbrauhaus - a multi-tiered emporium with great ordinary German foods and the Haufbrauhaus beer, of course. Doubt it places like Mittenwald have such huge places but probably something still neat - love listening to those Oompah bands and seeing the lasses in dirndls (sp?) carrying an unfathomable amount of big steins ('mass' i think) in each hand without spilling more than a few drops.
Palenque is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 09:35 PM
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Hi again,

I don't think that snow tubing has come to Bavaria yet -- but if I do hear of it, I'll be sure to let you know.

Here is what the town's website suggests for families here in the witnertime:

<
A very special highlight for the whole family is a guided hike by torchlight through the Partnach Gorge or watching the feeding of the deer at nightfall. As soon as the 50 bucks and does turn up, time seems to stand still for a moment. Where else can you observe these free roaming majestic animals so close up?>>

Of course, it may be difficult to do these nighttime activities in Garmisch and then get to Mittenwald. Mittenwald does have some tobogganing:

<
Further information: Kranzberg-Chairlift
Tel.: 0049 (0) 8823 / 1553
>>

The skiing is also at the Kranzberg.

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 12:13 PM
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I've been to about every Bavarian place of touristic interest except Mittenwald - though i have gone thru it on the train several times. With above comments i will have to put it near the top of my Want List. Thanks for the comments about Mittenwald.
Palenque is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 12:20 PM
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We stayed between Frankfurt and Berlin in both Weimar (elegant small historial city with several good small museums, we also visted Buchenwald from there) and Quedlinberg (medival preserved town and castle). Don't know about markets there but both worth a stop without any markets.
laurie_ann is offline  
Dec 9th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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Every German Christmas market i have been too has been fantastic - some more fantastic than others but all fantastic and it seems all towns have such a market.

And yes Weimar to me is both one of the most unique and prettiest towns in Germany - have not been to Quedlinberg but it's garnering UNESCO's vaunted World Heritage Status speaks volumes of how neat it must be.
Palenque is offline  

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