Help with Germany trip, PLEASE

Dec 30th, 2018, 05:23 PM
  #1  
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Help with Germany trip, PLEASE

We need your experiences, suggestions!
My daughter and I are planning a two-week trip to Germany (primarily). We will fly from the US on May 16 and return June 2 or 3. We are planning to fly in and out of Frankfurt where we will pick up a rental car and drive at least partway down the “Romantic Road,” stopping along the way and taking lesser roads and maybe visiting some small villages.
We would like to visit Neuschwanstein castle on the way back up (next day?) to see some castles in the black forest area and St. Goar for a short boat trip to Bacharach. We’ll drop the car off in Frankfurt and catch a train to Ghent and stay there while we explore Belgium by rail. We are considering visiting Luxembourg as well if there are available trains. Then, we are back to Frankfurt and home.
We have tentative reservations in Rothenburg and Ghent and are trying to limit stays to 3-4 places and drive or take a train from what we hope are central towns. We are interested in some of the beautiful castles, half-timbered towns, cathedrals, and just being relaxed on our trip.
If any of this doesn’t make sense or we are missing out on a great experience, please tell us. The advice we read in the forums is very helpful. Thanks for taking time to suggest ideas, changes, etc.
dellio is offline  
Dec 30th, 2018, 06:31 PM
  #2  
 
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One thing that is a problem is the big loop arriving and backtracking to depart in Frankfurt. If you have not already booked or even if you have and could change tickets, you would be better off doing so. You would probably save money in the end because you need to be back in Frankfurt the night before departure, so wasted money on a train and then a hotel in a place in which you have not interest. It is also a wasted day of travel time. You might as well spend more on flights and cut the trip by a day, but start and end where you would enjoy your last night.

Do not rent a car for the day you arrive and try to drive and sight see. Another reason to arrive in a city in which you have an interest.

Look at getting multi-city tickets (not two one-way), arriving in one city and departing from another.
Based only on what you stated as places you want to see, consider arriving in Munich and departing from Brussels. You might not even need the car. From Munich, you could likely do day trips to the Romantic road and Neuschwanstein.
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 04:44 AM
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Literally nothing makes sense in your plans. Arriving in Frankfurt when your two geographical final destinations are Füssen and Gent is a waste of time. Combining Belgium (which requires at the very least four days for the major four towns/cities plus travel time to and from Belgium) and southern Germany in one holiday really doesn't strike me as a great idea. Do you really want to do this?

Also your itinerary is determined by the worst cliches imaginable. Neuschwanstein, Romantic Road and Rothenburg, Black Forest, Upper Middle Rhine valley. They also ironically often have very little to do with "beautiful castles, half-timbered towns, cathedrals". The Romantic Road is a tourist concept not a sight (you also can't visit it on a day trip from Munich as sassafrass suggests). It includes worthy sights, it omits worthy sights nearby. ​Like most people who go to the Black Forest you have no clue what the Black Forest is. It certainly is pretty much the least area where you go to for any castles (or any other cultural sights really) and is an ordinary Mittelgebirge (best translation is rolling hill country) of which there are tons throughout Germany - ironically Taunus, Vogelsberg and Odenwald are much closer for anyone landing in Frankfurt. The Upper Middle Rhine valley has many castles but few really interesting ones and you also have the wrong direction on the river (upstream) with St. Goar to Bacharach.
Also zigzagging across the country is pretty much the opposite of having a relaxed trip. You further talk of base towns for train trips (sensible approach) but mention St. Goar and even worse Rothenburg which is at the end of a small train line and totally unsuitable.

Get yourself a good guide book (not Rick Steves and preferably also not Fodor's, Rough guide strikes me as the best in English). Get rid of your cliches which also include the usual fixation on southern Germany. Try to identify interesting regions and base towns according to your interests. That would be e.g. Frankfurt itself, Nuremberg for Franconia, Koblenz for Rhein and Mosel, Erfurt, Dresden, Rostock, Hamburg or a smaller place at the Harz mountains. You also e.g. list half-timbered houses and then determinedly drive away from Frankfrut and their core region which is in the center of Germany towards southern Bavaria which is the only region where there are none.
Lubitsch is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 06:09 AM
  #4  
 
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We are interested in some of the beautiful castles, half-timbered towns, cathedrals, and just being relaxed on our trip.
If any of this doesn’t make sense or we are missing out on a great experience, please tell us.
I agree that this doesn't big travel circle doesn't make a lot of sense for a relaxed visit.

(We are) trying to limit stays to 3-4 places and drive or take a train from what we hope are central towns.
This is a reasonable way to organize your trip. Try this on for size or use it as a template...

4 nights NEAR Rothenburg
Würzburg
is a good base town. You can get there from FRA airport in 90 minutes by train. See the incredible Residenz palace there. Take short day trips to the attractive small towns you want to visit. The train gets you to Rothenburg and to nearby Ochsenfurt and Marktbreit (which share the Main River with Würzburg) and to Iphofen: stadtplan-iphofen-english.pdf

Larger towns like Bamberg (one of Germany's top medieval town centers) is easy to reach by train from Würzburg as well.

You can ride the Romantic Road bus from Würzburg to other towns and back if you wish, or rent a car for that instead for one day.

4 nights in St. Goar

It's not only about the boat cruise here, but about old-world towns, the great outdoors and castles - not fake ones like Neuschwanstein, but genuine castles from the Middle Ages. Marksburg Castle in Braubach and Eltz Castle near Moselkern are very worthwhile. Rheinfels (in St. Goar) is also interesting. You can also walk the Rhine Castle trail (Rhineburgenweg) from town to town. Getting around by train is a snap. Travel up the Mosel River Valley as well.

Help with Germany trip, PLEASE-db11321.jpg

https://dreabobea.files.wordpress.co...urg-castle.jpg

Help with Germany trip, PLEASE-castles-in-germany-burg-eltz_1920x1200.jpg

https://www.romantic-germany.info/index.php?id=2942

4 nights in Ghent (no comments)

1 final night in Mainz


Take the train from Ghent to Mainz and spend the afternoon and evening there before your last night. See Mainz' Dom, the St. Stephan's church, and the Augustinerkirche. Mainz has other sights as well. Trains leave Mainz all day long for FRA airport (takes only 25 minutes.)

Last edited by Fussgaenger; Dec 31st, 2018 at 06:11 AM. Reason: spacing
Fussgaenger is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 06:44 AM
  #5  
 
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Hello! I have to agree that your itinerary looks a little all over the place. I know that temptation to see everything because I struggle with it every time I plan our European itineraries!

Two weeks is a good amount of time but I would suggest either doing Bavaria/Rhine/Rothenburg or heading north into Belgium. Not both. If you are looking for relaxation, pick three or four places and base yourself there 3-4 nights each. I like Neuschwanstein just fine but the area surrounding it is beautiful. If you have the time you can explore. Oberammergau, Linderhof castle (imo much more interesting), the Zugspitz, pleasant walks around some of the lakes etc. I do think Neuschwanstein is worth seeing, even though I agree that that castles along the Rhine/Mosel are much more impressive.

We chose to stay in Cochem on the Mosel. A lovely town with a very interesting castle of its town. If you like wine there are plenty of wineries all up and down the Rhine and Mosel. Plenty of cute towns with half-timbered buildings and castles and definitely worth more than a short boat ride. Take the chair lift up to the top of Boppard for gorgeous views. Visit Rhinefels with a flashlight to get a glimpse of real castle life. Burg Eltz' setting is, imo, just as impressive as Neuschwanstein.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 08:41 AM
  #6  
 
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I'd look at seat61.com to understand the trains and probably rome2rio to get an idea of public transport (don't trust it for the details).

Belgium is very interesting in the north and down in the Ardennes a bit "woody", I would cross off your mind that these are different countries and just look at them as one big area. Your present plan seems a bit odd. I'd dig out a map and stick pins on it for where you want to go.

Is your daughter an adult or a kid who might get bored, can she drink etc?
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 09:09 AM
  #7  
 
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Book Germany to Gent train tickets as early as possible at www.bahn.de/en for nice discounts which are sold in limited numbers so book early. If using trains in Germany alone look at the bargain Lander tickets or regional unlimited use of regional trains, city transports and buses all for a pittance - see www.bahn.de/en site for info. www.seat61.com has sage advice on booking discounted tickets - for general info on trains check BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. Belgian trains are best bought at the station or booked ahead at similar fares but no huge discounts like with German trains.

The Mosel Valley is idyllic for driving - could take it to Trier - neat historic town, return car and take train to Luxembourg and Belgium.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 1st, 2019, 06:57 PM
  #8  
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Thanks to all who took the time to offer suggestions. We are taking another look at our proposed itinerary thanks to you. I like the pin idea and the proposed itinerary looks very helpful.
dellio is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 01:49 PM
  #9  
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I was starting the pin suggestion, but my daughter found a great app called Roadtrippers.com (maybe you can just use the site) and it allows you to number places of interest, distance between each and approximate time. You also can share the information with fellow travelers. It is very helpful.
dellio is offline  
Jan 5th, 2019, 07:14 AM
  #10  
 
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Some scattered thoughts--

Frankfurt actually makes a great base for day-tripping by train; from there I have traveled (solo, so it's doable and as safe as any travel today is) to Mainz, Heidelberg, Speyer, Worms, Budingen, Koln, Limburg, Fulda, Weisbaden, Michelstadt (for a Christmas Market, but it is really cool), Nurenberg (that was a LONG day), Marburg, Aschaffenburg---on 4 trips/6+weeks. Plus on two days I explored the Rhine, seeing castles by using rail and ferries. So using Frankfurt as a base can afford you with lots of places to go. So not trying to change your must-sees or give you a list, just want to point out that train travel from Frankfurt is pretty easy and can get you lots of places.

Frankfurt itself is a great place to explore for at least a couple days; there's a great walking tour--Frankfurt on Foot--that gives a great introduction to the city. The Romer is lovely. There are several nice museums on the riverside.

Rothenberg is great if it's a must-see and as noted not great to get to via train. Prepare to be disappointed (or not) by Neuschwanstein--it's very regulated and has I think a too-abbreviated tour that will be jam-packed probably. If it's a must-see, then drive there, of course, but it's not as fun now as it was the first time I went (1988). The Rhine castles and Berg Eltz (on the Mosel, so a different direction) are much more fun castles; Marksburg on the Rhine (can't easily be done by train, though) is the best preserved on the Rhine--it was actually the first castle I ever visited 30 years ago, and it's still a good one as DH has been there more recently.

We stayed in Ghent a few nights in November 2017 and fell in love with it and with Belgium, so I won't dissuade you. But it's expensive and difficult to have a car IN the cities there (tiny streets, low-emission zones, pricey parking). But it was also so worth it, but DH has tons of experience driving in Europe.

But whatever app you are using when you plan to travel by car--multiply the time given by at least 1.5. Your dates are before the major vacation times in Germany, but roads are always busy; that stretch of autobahn between Frankfurt and Wurzburg is often awful.

If you like to read trip reports, you can click on my name, go to read trip reports, and look at the ones about Germany and Belgium.
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