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Help for September Germany Trip

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May 13th, 2014, 09:27 AM
  #1
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Help for September Germany Trip

On our only previous visit to Germany about 10 years ago, we flew into Munich, and after just one night there, spent 3 days in Rothenburg before moving onto Vienna, Budapest and Prague. We spent our final night in Frankfurt before departing – that’s the sum total of our German experience up until now.

We (two couples in early 60’) have booked our flights and will arrive in Berlin on September 17 and depart from Munich on October 2. We’re fairly seasoned travelers, having been abroad many times, and to Europe about 20 times, mostly with the same couple. The very basic outline will be 4 – 6 days in each of three different locations - first in Berlin, then onto a small town in either the Moselle Valley or Black Forest, and finally a small town in the Alps not far from Munich.

Other than rooms at the Munich City Hilton on points the night before our departure, hotels have not yet been booked, and we’d be open to suggestions – we typically like centrally-located, small family-run places for around 200 Euro per night, preferably including breakfast. We will pick-up a rental car upon our departure from Berlin, and keep it until our last day arriving in Munich.

We like to see one or a maximum of two major sites each day – museum, castle, garden, boat trip, etc. We are into a pretty relaxed pace, good food, wine and beer (we prefer casual restaurants over more formal places), walking in pretty towns, sightseeing, and chatting with locals – none of us speaks German, however.

The areas we’d like some help with are:

Zeroing in on our second location. The Moselle and Black Forest don’t seem to be easily located for one central base allowing day trips to both areas, is that correct? We’ve looked at Cochem and Baden Baden as potential bases, but it’s still very much up in the air. We briefly discussed dividing this portion of the trip into two separate segments, but that got voted down as we really like at least 4 nights per base to minimize moving around. When were younger, we moved around a lot more, not so much at this point.

The third location is still undecided, though we want to be within an hour of Munich if possible. We’ve looked at Garmisch and Mittenwald.

Hotels, with the general parameters mentioned above.

That seems like enough for starters. Thanks for any help.
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May 13th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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With a car in Germany I'm a big fan of using www.booking.com . Once you've entered dates and a general area, click on the area to sort by "Review Score". With your price range, you can look for places with review scores way up there, like in the 9.0 range. If you see something you might be interested in, read some of the actual reviews - - you might get details there that either seal it, or make it less desirable for you.

Take a look at those, then go over to the map function on the left, where you can zoom in and zoom out - - looking at places in the countryside or town centers - - you can get some wonderful properties for better rates outside of town centers, with total charm and character.

Doing this is not only fun in guiding your trip planning (and you can carve out a really convenient trip, travel-wise), but you will find yourself really looking forward to your stay at each place.
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May 13th, 2014, 09:51 AM
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I do not usually offer absolute alternatives, but in this case I do not understand why one would basically cross most of Germany to get from Berlin to the Black Forest, and then cross the southern part of Germany to get to the Alps and eventually land in Munich. I have no problems with the arrival and departure cities, but I think that there is a lot to see between them that will match the Black Forest. It would rationalize the itinerary. Choosing locations in the Länder between Berlin and Munich would make more sense.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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cochem is a great great base and the picture postcard town folks usually dream of finding but rarely stay there. Use it as a base from which to hop to Trier - one of Europe's oldest and most historic cities and the Rhine - do the K-D boats on the Rhine - driving lets you see only one side of the river - the opposite side -k-d.com for boat info - drive to a dock and go downstream (quicker than upstream of course) and then take trains back to you car. For lots of good info on Rhine boats and the Mosel check www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com - two sources with in depth details on these areas.

I like Baden-Baden too but it is way way different than Cochem - though there is a town center it looks more like a vast lush park - I loved to visit it - especially touring the historic ornate casino that once was the watering hole of Europe's royals and rich and famous a century or so ago - tours only possible in the morning before the casino opens full tilt to today's gamblers.

Strasbourg, France is very close to Baden-Baden so could be a day trip from there and IMO this is one of Europe's vastly under-rated cities.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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The Mosel (the Moselle is in France) is probably a good place for 4 days. Cochem is a little big for me but lots of people use it as a base for the river, maybe reaching up to Trier, Luxembourg and the Rhine using the train and possibly boats to access places along the Mosel. Bike hire is easy and walks can be at river height but also at the top of the cliff height (you need a map as non-mapped routes can be dangerous).

The Mosel satisfies your needs for "pretty relaxed pace, good food, wine and beer (we prefer casual restaurants over more formal places)"

If you want a smaller place but with lots of good sites I'd choose Traben-Trarbach http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_R...alatinate.html with this amazing hotel which is about the right price for you.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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We spend several days in Trier in far western Germany. A lot to see/do in the town and easy access o the Moselle as well as to Luxembourg. And the drive to Munich is only about 5 hours on the highway. It's a fascinating town with a lot of Roman remains plus a very charming quaint German feel.
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May 13th, 2014, 10:19 AM
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Having written as P was. I'd pick up a few of his ideas. Baden-Baden is just across the river from Alsace. That might make a good visit too and allows you to not only wander in the woods but also climb up the side of the Vosges.
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May 13th, 2014, 11:57 AM
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dfourh, PalenQ, bilboburger, nytraveler - these are all very helpful, I appreciate the information. I particularly like the idea of seeing Strasbourg,and the hotel in Traben-Trarbach looks like exactly what we want.

Michael - thanks for your input. The fact is that we're not veryy familiar with the regions directly between Berlin and Munich. You may be right that there are places similar to the ones we've chosen in a more direct route, but we have 16 days in Germany, so a few extra hours of driving on the autobahn doesn't seem to be a major drawback.
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May 13th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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The fact is that we're not veryy familiar with the regions directly between Berlin and Munich.

You could browse through these albums, particularly Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thürigen https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7623099783809/ although guidebooks would perhaps be more helpful as they would include descriptions.
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May 13th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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Thanks for the additional information Michael, I will discuss it with our friends, but I think the overall route will likely remain as laid out originally.
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May 13th, 2014, 03:53 PM
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Traben-traben is a cool town - not nearly as many foreign tourists as Cochem - lots of Germans and Dutch - a wine town with wineries right in town.

If you want a smaller town try Beilstein and the Haus Lippmann, which many Fodorites have raved about in the past (I am not familiar with it) - Beilstein is a tiny wine town, one of many dotting the Mosel - and arguable at the most scenic part of the awesomely scenic Mosel.

http://www.hotel-haus-lipmann.de/

Many folks will like the more rural atmosphere of Beilstein over a large city like Cochem or Traben-Traben or another gem Bernkastle-Kues.
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May 13th, 2014, 11:52 PM
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Bernkastle (or is it Kues) has a large wine tasting cellar which lets you loose with a glass and around 150 wines for Euro 10. I slept on the ferry all the way home
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May 14th, 2014, 05:05 AM
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"We like to see one or a maximum of two major sites each day – museum, castle, garden, boat trip, etc. We are into a pretty relaxed pace, good food, wine and beer (we prefer casual restaurants over more formal places), walking in pretty towns, sightseeing, and chatting with locals – none of us speaks German, however."

If you wish to travel that far, Cochem is an ideal spot.

It's a small place of narrow alleyways and old town walls with its own castle (Reichsburg) a few uphill steps (or a shuttle ride) from Cochem's market square, a town that's full of eateries, wineries, and several diversions (nice chairlift.) A daytrip to Traben-Trarbach, Burg Eltz Castle, Beilstein (cruising there is nice) and/or Bernkastel makes Cochem all the more attractive as a base town.

I have no idea why PalenQ refers to Cochem as "a large city" when it has a mere 5,000 inhabitants.

Baden-Baden is a world apart. With a population 10 times that of Cochem's and its casino infrastructure it is not a small town at all, IMO. Its appeal to some completely eludes me.

If you want a Black Forest location consider instead Gengenbach, an old walled town of immense charm and with a great location for outings to Strasbourg and Black Forest villages in the Kinzig and Gutach valleys and in the high-elevation areas of the Black Forest:

Gengenbach: http://www.stadthotel-gengenbach.de/...innenstadt.jpg
Nearby: Schiltach, Wolfach, Haslach, Gutach:

Schiltach, Wolfach: http://paulstravelpics.blogspot.com/...all-towns.html

Haslach: http://www.haslach.info/wp-content/u...-kinzigtal.jpg

Gutach's Vogtsbauernhof Open-Air museum: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...Wurttembe.html

All that said... Michael correctly points out that it's very easy to discover old-world Germany between Berlin and Munich. Tourist-heavy Rothenburg is the tip of the iceberg; if that's all you saw of Franconia, it would be worth revisiting this area of wine-soaked villages:

Iphofen (wine/art town w/ intact town wall) photos: http://www.stadtbild-deutschland.org...&threadID=2985

Ochsenfurt photos: http://www.stadtbild-deutschland.org...&threadID=3624

Sommerhausen, Marktbreit and Ochsenfurt video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLUgpoQIFHI
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May 14th, 2014, 06:16 AM
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I have no idea why PalenQ refers to Cochem as "a large city" when it has a mere 5,000 inhabitants.>

I should have said larger city because there was talk about small villages - but not a large city at all. Trier is the only large city on the Mosel until Koblenz.

Yet Cochem is not a tiny village like Beilstein and that was my comparison which I stated wrongly. I have stayed in Cochem maybe 40 different times - it will please everybody or most - it did awe most of the over 1,000 people I took thru it on tour - we stayed there two days and everyone loved it - and nearby Burg Eltz as well.
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May 14th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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Pal or others: Is it better to use the car or the train when venturing from Cochem?

I think it would be better for Burg Eltz (closer to park, than the hike from the station), but might be quicker/easier to train to Trier and other points of interest?
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May 14th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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The train is great to get up and down the valley. The boats are less good but not bad.
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May 14th, 2014, 06:42 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?source...evid=248101706

I like Murnau because it is a little closer to Munich but close enough to Garmisch, train right there for day trips. You can even take the train from there to Oberammergau. Great beer brewery there and nice village feel.
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May 14th, 2014, 06:51 AM
  #18
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Thanks to all for the great information, and the links. I can feel a general sense of confusion about exactly where we should go setting in ... but that's a good thing that we usually experience while trip planning. Lots of possibilities for things to see and do.
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May 14th, 2014, 11:12 AM
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Pal or others: Is it better to use the car or the train when venturing from Cochem?>

Well trains only go to a relatively few places along the whole Mosel between Trier and Koblenz - Koblenz to Cochem is smack along the river but buses frequently enough ply the whole riverside road IME - boats are sporadic and in tourist season - take them more for pleasure than utilitarian purposes. You do not need a car but a car or a bike is the ideal way to explore the whole of the Mosel Valley - if just going Cochem to say Burg Eltz or Trier then train service is great.

You can take a sideline train to Traben-Trarbach and to Bernkastle-Kues (actually a DB bus from a nearby train station).

If at all active consider biking - this is one of euroe's primo bike venues with dedicated bike paths all along the flat valley - but go downstream as much as possible as winds often blow that way - down the valley. Bike rentals available in Cochem and hotels may even have them.
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May 14th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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Pal is right http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/Mosel_Guide.php biking is the easy way
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