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Heidelburg, Rothenburg, Munich Trip report - rather long

Heidelburg, Rothenburg, Munich Trip report - rather long

Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 07:32 AM
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Heidelburg, Rothenburg, Munich Trip report - rather long

I would like to thank all of the Fodorites who helped me plan this trip. I have used advice from the various forums for years, have offered (what I hope has been) good advice to others...but I have never filed a trip report.

First, let me clarify some things...

1 - We hate to rush when travelling, so we tend to spent at least 2 if not 3 nights in places when we can.

2 - Our home base doesn't have daily flights to Frankfurt, so we had some time-constraint issues to contend with.

3 - We live overseas, so trip like this (to a "first world" country) involves regular sightseeing, souvenir shopping, shopping for essentials (anything from food to medicine to electronics to clothing to sports equipment), and enjoying the things we can't get at home (Starbucks, Burger King, English movies, etc).

4- We are willing to spend some extra $$$ to stay in the city center and avoid bus, subway, and taxi rides.

PLUS - my husband and I had the flu - so we weren't up to our usual pace and often went back to the hotels for mid-afternoon naps. Suffice it to say - this was a very, very, very leisurely trip.

So...here goes...

Heidelburg - 3 nights
We arrived in Frankfurt and took the Lufthansa bus to Heidelburg, arriving about 9:30 at the hotel - the Hollander Hof. I had planned on storing our luggage and walking around/getting lunch until our room was ready. But our room was available immediately and that was a real treat.

The Holldander Hof is on the river, right by the old bridge, and just 2 blocks from the main square by St. Jacob's. Great location. We had a quad room (2 sets of twin beds put together) for the 4 of us. Not ideal - but quite workable. Our room overlooked the river and was a bit noisy at night due to partiers and the cobblestone street, but it didn't bother our young teenage sons. The price ($145 per night) was reasonable but did not include breakfast, and at 11 euros per person..I thought it was a bit high. So we ate at Starbucks each morning for about 13 euros daily. (Again - a real treat for us!)

We loved walking along the main pedestrian street, exploring the various shops and Xmas markets, and wandering into various restaurants and pubs for snacks.

As for sights, we spent several hours at the Castle and a couple of hours at the Paletinate Museum. The castle was great - quite interesting and fun to explore. The museum was interesing, but there were no English plaques until you got to the Heidelburg Jaw exhibit. Still, most of the museum was pretty self-explanatory.

Rothenburg - 3 nights
We took the train from Heidelburg. It involved 3 connections, but they were all quite easy and we really had no problems.

We stayed at the Burghotel, which is a lovely and quaint hotel built into the old city wall. It is a very quick and easy walk to the main square, shops, and restaurants. We had 2 rooms (#8 and #9) for $150 each, including breakfast. The breakfast was good - cereals, fruit, meats, cheeses, yoghurt, breads, etc. Our room had a nice sitting area, a 4 poster bed, and a huge bathroom with a corner tub. The boys room had a separate sitting area and a good-sized bath. Both had nice views from the windows. The small library had a computer you could use to check email, etc.

Rothenburg is a visual treat, but the place closes down pretty early. We were used to the Xmas markets in Heidelburg being open until about 10 pm, but here they were closed by 7! The place was really dead! The market area was also quite smaller that the ones in Heidelburg.

We took the Nightwatchman's Tour (a MUST), walked the old city wall, went to the Medieval Criminal Museum, and Kathe Wolfhart's Christmas Village (even my husband was enchanted!). I toured the Christmas Musuem - nice, but not extraordinary.

We had Christmas Eve dinner at the Markusturm, and this was probably our biggest disappointment. First, we were seated by ourselves (although most of the other guests were English speaking), and we were right by the main entrance to the restaurant so there was a lot of traffic and activity. The waitress even spilled the gravy from the main course down the front of my outfit! Plus, the musicians were right by us, so while the music was lovely - it was loud. Finally, the 60 Euros per person that we paid was fine (high, but fine) for me and my husband - considering the 5 course dinner (quite good), champange, and endless (and decent) wine. But I was annoyed that the full price was also charge to my children. I made my reservation several weeks in advance and they knew I had 2 kids. I think 30 Euros would have been appropriate.

Munich - 4 nights
Again, we took the train from Rothenburg (2 connections) and it was a breeze.

We stayed at the Platzl, right in the city center. This was not my first choice (because of the price) but the other places I really wanted to stay were closed between Christmas and New Years). The Platzl is wonderfully located, but the rooms are small and dated. I had specifically requested 2 non-smoking rooms because of my son's allergies, but we ended up having to accept 2 smoking rooms in order to get rooms close together. The 200 Euro a night price was quite steep for what we got. But - the breakfast was included and was spectacular - all the usual plus scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, champagne, and waffles (by order).

We arrived on Christmas day and everything was closed, but we got a chance to walk around the city center and get our bearings.

The next day we walked (easy walk) to the Duetches Museum (Science and Technology). We had planned on spending only a couple of hours, but ended up spend the whole day. It was spectacular, easily rivaling the Smithsonian in some areas. The oil and gas/petroleum exhibit was especially good. Unfortunately, only the exhibit titles are in English, but my husband and I are both geologists = so we didn't have any trouble. Most of the other exhibits have English explanations.

The next day we went on the day-long castle tour. Lindhof Castle is quite nice - rather ornate - but nice. I think it would especially lovely in the spring and summer. Just a word about Neuschwanstein Castle....it's quite a walk! Be prepped for a good 25-30 minutes in the winter because of the slippery, snowy road. Yes, you can wait in line and take a buggy ride most of the way, but you still have a good 8-10 minute walk to the castle. The bus was delayed for over 20 minutes for one member of our group to return because she had a bad knee and had trouble getting down.

Our last day was spent doing a little shopping and going to see an English language showing of Harry Potter!

All in all - a great trip. Thanks again for all who gave me input! I couldn't have done it without you!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 11:10 AM
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Great report! Thanks so much. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Thank you for the report. Do you think 3 nights in Rothenburg was too little, too much or just right? Did you do anything else in Rothenburg? Sorry you were under the weather. Barb
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Thanks for your great report. Your last comment about the Harry Potter movie made me giggle.

We were in Heidelburg in July when the 6th book was released. My husband and daughter couldn't wait until we returned home to buy a copy, so we stopped at the bookstore in the Heidelburg train station to try and buy a copy. I asked the clerk if they had any English copies, and he smiled, pointed and asked me how many I wanted to purchase. Right behind me was a whole table piled high with a tower of English edition Harry Potter books!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 06:59 PM
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BabsB -

In the winter, I think 3 nights in Rothenburg is too much. There really isn't enough to do. We did it primariy because of our travel constraints, and I wanted to use Christmas Day as a travel day to Munich. I also thought Christmas Eve dinner in Rothenburg would be nice (see previous comments!).

Probably 1 night (to catch the Night Watchman's Tour) would really be enough. It is a charming and quaint town with lots of fun shops - my boys LOVED all the shops with suits of armor and weapons. As other posters have said - it gets pretty crowded during the day with tour groups, so being around before and after the tours is nice.

We really didn't do much else - Criminal Museum, Night Watchman's Tour, city wall walk, Christmas village, Christmas musuem, in and out of a couple of churches. There are some other sights to see, but they didn't peak our interest too much. We took lots of beer and snack breaks, had fun strolling the streets of the city, and did lots of window shopping. Again, we were sick, so we took it really easy.

SusanEva -
It was a treat for us to see Harry Potter. It's almost a contest each Christmas to see if we can find a current movie to see. Last Christmas we saw The Incredibles in New Zealand. The year before we saw the 3rd Lord of the Rings in Megeve, France.

I'm surprised - but not shocked - at the English version of the book being available. Probably the biggest surprise to us was the number of Americans in the places we visited. They kind of fell into 2 general groups - couples without kids who travelled from the States for the holidays and the young (military) families who were posted somewhere in Germany. It was fun trying to place all the accents!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 08:02 PM
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I enjoyed your trip report. It brought back nice memories of places I'm fond of.

I am sure the reason the Christmas market in Rothenburg closes earlier than others is that so many of its visitors come in just for the day.

I'm curious about your stay at the Holländer Hof in Heidelberg. I have reservations there for a 5 day stay during a reunion of my former students from Heidelberg American High School. They quoted me a price of 107 euros/127 dollar for a single room. This will be at the end of a two-month stay in Europe, and it's a bit steep for my budget. Do you think this hotel is really worth the fairly high price? I'm sure I can find a nice place for less money, and I'm wondering if I should do it.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 08:20 PM
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Pegontheroad -
I think you should probably look for something else. The location is great and the staff was quite helpful, but if that price is steep for you (especially since breakfast is not included) - I think you could do better.

I chose it because it offered a quad room - and I knew that our 2 rooms in Munich were going to be outrageous, so I wanted to at least start off the trip with a lower hotel cost!

There is a posting on the board about the Hip Hotel - a new one located right on the main street (Hauptst.???). It looked nice from the outside and had a nice bar/restaurant next door. But I don't know what the prices are.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:08 AM
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Topping for Katzen.

MY
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:03 PM
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I appreciate the insights into Heidelberg and Rothenburg, as I'm trying to decide on places to visit and stay in for a trip to Germany in July, and these are both potential places on my list. We'll definitely be going to Munich!

Incidentally, the reason the bookseller had so many copies of the English version of HBP back in July is because the German version of the book wasn't due out until October. Enthusiastic German fans of the series had to tackle the English version if they wanted it right away!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 03:35 PM
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Aneliz,

Ahhh, thanks for explaining the mystery of the abundant Harry Potter stock! Grcxx3, your movie strategy sounds like fun!
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