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Help with Itinerary please!!!!

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Apr 12th, 2014, 04:52 PM
  #1
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Help with Itinerary please!!!!

Hello all--
My husband has to be in Dusseldorf, Germany, for 2-3 days in May 2014, and I am tagging along. It will be our first trip to Europe and I'm so excited but very overwhelmed. We are planning a 14 day trip and I really need y'all to save me from myself--I'm driving myself crazy!!!
This is what i know for sure so far--
1. We are leaving the US on Fri. May 9 or Sat. May 10 and returning on Sat, May 24 but have not booked tickets yet.
2. We have to be based in Dusseldorf from May 19-23 for my husband's work commitments but will take day trips, etc...we don't mind leaving Dusseldorf Friday to fly home from somewhere else as long as it makes good financial sense to do so
3. I have a budget I HAVE to stick to

We are pretty wide open on where to go/what to do--I have been going round and round and feel like I'm spinning my wheels so I decided to reach out to those of you that travel frequently...
We could go somewhere else prior to Germany-- (France--particularly Brittany and Southern France, coastal Croatia, coastal Greece/Islands and coastal Spain would be at the top of the list) but we are having a hard time narrowing that list down. Any tips for that?
We could also fly into France, Germany or Belgium and focus more on a few regions--So, things/areas we are interested in doing/seeing regionally:
1. Colmar, France (really the Alsace region as a whole seems lovely)
2. Garmisch/Mittenwald area
3. Rhine and Mosel River Valleys (along with River Cruise)--would this make more sense as day trips during our time in Dusseldorf.
4. Scenic train ride through the Alps

Finally, we could go ahead and go to Dusseldorf and use that as home base the entire trip. What makes the most sense?
We are in our late 30's, both love to eat, drink, people watch and are pretty laid back. We are not into hiking or biking but enjoy pretty scenery and love the water but we are looking forward to seeing some part of the Alps. We do not care for large cities at all...for example, no desire to go to Berlin or to Paris. Ideally, (I think!) for this trip, we will spend 2-4 nights in a few different areas and then spend about 5-6 days with Dusseldorf as home base.
We are going back and forth on the idea of renting a car vs. taking the train. The rail passes seem expensive but think I read that many times, while the passes are easier, they are more expensive than point to point train rides. Is this true? If we rented a car, we would definitely p/u and drop off within the same country. I think we need to pick the less expensive option but am having a hard time pricing things out. Is there a good way to determine this? What do most of you do? If you take the train, do you purchase the passes???
I realize this is a jumble and my thoughts are all over the map--literally! I've read SO many books and poured over this forum and a few others for hours, but I'm still overwhelmed. I think I may be making this too difficult! I am grateful to any help/guidance that any of you have to offer!!!
domuco is offline  
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Apr 12th, 2014, 05:55 PM
  #2
 
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OK - first - calm down.

Second - start looking at flight options. Look only at open jaw flights (called multi-destination) into Germany (Frankfurt, then train to dusseldorf, which can be as little as 1:20 from the airport train station) and back from wherever you end up (Paris? Nice? Munich?)

You can;t decide on train versus car until you have an itinerary - but I would be very hesitant to buy any pass until you have calculated the costs versus individual tickets (look at the man in seat 61.com)

At the moment you are not near the Alps - so you will have to head for either French, German or Swiss Alps. If you really want to see Alsace, the Rhine and Moselle and then head south to the Alps - you might want to rent a car and fly back from either Geneva or Zurich (leaving the car in Germany to avoid paying a large drop-off charge and taking a train to get to the departure airport.)
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Apr 12th, 2014, 06:09 PM
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You have 8 or 9 days. You could go to the Haut Savoie for the Alps and then head back toward Dusseldorf, stopping in Colmar, Nancy, Strasbourg along the way. You could do this trip via train.

I don't think you'd want to stay in Dusseldorf the entire time.

Without knowing your budget it's hard to say what you could do.
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Apr 12th, 2014, 06:17 PM
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Assuming you are arriving somewhere in Europe on May 11, I count 8 full days before you have to be in Düsseldorf.

Whether car or train depends on one's approach. For some, it is car no matter what, while for others, it is trains no matter what, while for others it depends on where they are going - let the destinations dictate the means of transport.

Train pass or not depends on where you are going, when you are going, and how often you move around. www.bahn.com will show you the point to point prices. For Germany, there are roughly three type of passes.

1) For travel within Germany plus a few border cities, there are https://www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/p...overview.shtml. This comes with departure time, 2nd class only, plus slow trains only restrictions.
2) Germany specific rail pass. This does not have time nor the type of train restrictions. You buy specific class pass. This makes sense if you need to travel a lot before 9am using ICE highspeed trains over long distances.
3) Eurail select pass if you want to train across multiple countries.

If you want to see Swiss Alps, you can fly into ZRH, train straight to Berner Oberland and make your way back north to Düsseldorf.

From Düsseldorf, you will have to go south of Koblenz or into Mosel see the pretty part of the rivers. Mosel is more serene. Rhine is a major river traffic route.
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Apr 12th, 2014, 08:31 PM
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Since you must end your trip with the work stay in Dusseldorf, and you have about eight days before that, you can choose one area (someplace in S France or coastal Spain) to explore more, or combine a couple of places like the Alsace and S. Germany to explore.

If Spain is a first choice, it is beautiful in May, just about perfect, and a great contrast to Germany. You could fly into Spain (Seville? Malaga?), rent a car to explore, fly to Germany.

Provence would give you great scenery and great food, even some time on the water, if you wanted. You could fly into Marseilles and rent a car, fly to Germany.

Had you thought of the Netherlands and Belgium? It may hold no interest for you, but logistically would pair nicely with Dusseldorf while being a nice contrast with Germany. You could fly into Amsterdam and visit smaller towns/cities by train or car, then see a bit of Belgium (Ghent and Bruges) before heading for Dusseldorf.

Switzerland is very expensive, so look carefully at costs for the Alps if that is your choice.

Honestly, you could just about put any of these in a hat, draw one out and have a great trip. I don't think any one is better than another and do not see how you would not love any of them. Personally, I would probably pick Provence.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 01:37 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
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You might try this- Fly into Munich. Skip Munich since you don't like big cities. Immediately pick up a car at the Munich airport and drive to Salzburg. Spend 3 days (4 nights) in the Salzburg area with 1 day trip East to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut and Hallstatt. The 2nd day trip could be to Berchtesgaden and the Konigsee. Eagles Nest is also close to Berchtesgaden if that is of interest. Both of these are full day trips in a car. The third day can be used to scout out Salzburg.

Next drive to Garmisch for 3 nights. Day trip to Fussen to see Schloss Neuschwanstein (Copied for Disney's castle). Detour to Mittenwald on the way back from Fussen. Day trip to Zugspitz (go early and be sure the weather is good) or visit Linderhoff, Ettal, and Wies Church if the weather is questionable.

Salzburg and Garmisch will give you a taste of the Alps without the high cost of Switzerland. If you really wanted to go to Switzerland, skip Garmisch and drive to Interlaken or Grindelwald for 3 nights. Day trips (using local transportation) to the Eiger, Schilthorn, and/or the Jungfrau will put you into the middle of the "accessible" Alps.

Next drive to Colmar for a couple of Nights. Strasbourg is close by but it is a fairly large town that might not be your cup of tea. You could also daytrip to Gengenbach, which is smaller than but similar to Rothenburg.

Then drive on to Dusseldorf for your work commitments. Daytrip down the Rhine from Dusseldorf. When your work ends, drive down to the Mosel and stop in Cochem.You may want to visit Burg Eltz for a day trip or just drive along the Mosel after visiting the castle in Cochem. This assumes you can stretch your stay and fly out of Frankfurt or Dusseldorf Sunday 25 May instead of Dusseldorf on Saturday.

If you leave Franfurt Sunday, you can drive from Cochem to Heidelberg to spend Saturday night. It is about an hours drive from Heidelberg to the Frankfurt airport.

This is just a sample of an itinerary- It might be too busy for you but you are at an age which should be able to enjoy this pace. There are many variations to this itinerary, but it is just a sample as you requested.

I hope you have a good trip- Don't drink and drive as the laws are pretty strict.

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Apr 13th, 2014, 04:24 AM
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Ok, the Mosel, Alsace (with views of the Alps) sounds like a fine set of ideas. If you look at the map you could gently tour by come West East down the Mosel, turn South East onto the Rhine, miss out the big dog leg of the of the Palentine where the Rhine curves off to the East and pass along through towns like Bad Durkheim into Alsace then meet up with the Rhine and follow it through Alsace cutting West to the side of the Vosges mountains until you get to Guebewiller and either head up to the mountain top there (ballon d'alsace) to look at Mont Blanc or pass onto Bescancon (fortress town).

A number of bases jump to mind but the key points are 1) there are vinyards almost all the way, 2) the Mosel has trains and boats going along its length all the time.

If it were me I'd look at Colmar as a base or Strasbourg if you want a bigger city and Cochem on the Mosel (actually I prefer Trier but it is further up and would allow you day trips to Metz and Luxembourg which is a gem).

If you want to know more about any of these regions and their wine, let me know.
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Apr 16th, 2014, 06:13 PM
  #8
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My apologies for the delayed thanks! Your suggestions have been most welcome! We have finally started making some decisions! We will be flying into and out of Frankfurt and are planning on the following itinerary:
Immediately head to Salzburg by train-3 nights
Train to Garmisch 2-3 nights
Train to Freiburg-pick up our rental car
Drive to colmar-3 nights
Drive to Dusseldorf-3-4 nights-hubby has work commitments and we will turn in car before we leave for Cochem-
Train to Cochem-2 nights-if possible
Train to Frankfurt-fly home
Does this seem reasonable? Enough time or too much in places? Should we change anything?
Please feel free to make suggestions on sites to see, places to eat and/or places to stay! Thank you!!!!
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Apr 16th, 2014, 11:59 PM
  #9
 
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I find it much easier to do day trips around Salzburg, Garmisch, Cochem, and Colmar with a car than by train or bus. So I would switch Garmisch and Salzburg, pick up the car in Garmisch, and turn it in when you return to Frankfurt. But that's just me-I'm sure others have different viewpoints.

Have a good trip...

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Apr 17th, 2014, 02:02 AM
  #10
 
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Hi domuco,

I live in Garmisch, and I gave away my car when I moved here; there is NO reason to have one for the activity you want to do here.

Unfortunately, the Zugspitze is already showing dramatic damage from global climate change, so I always encourage folks to ditch their autos. You may be really happy to help preserve the beauty you are coming to see! In addition, you can take a road trip practically anywhere in the world, but using a nicely integrated train/bus system is a bit rare, so it just makes sense to try it out where/when you can!

It's also much more fun, imo, to travel slowly and to observe folks along the way -- you'll be mingling with the locals and be able to see how families interact, how teens treat the elderly, what manners folks use with strangers, etc. It will add a layer of European adventure to your European adventure!!

If you have any questions or concerns about Garmisch or this area, please post again -- I and others will be happy to help!

s
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Apr 25th, 2014, 12:28 PM
  #11
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Many thanks to each of you for your help!! I have more questions and think it would be best to start a new thread for them but wanted to say thanks again for your help in this one
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Apr 25th, 2014, 01:04 PM
  #12
 
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We are going back and forth on the idea of renting a car vs. taking the train. The rail passes seem expensive but think I read that many times, while the passes are easier, they are more expensive than point to point train rides. Is this true?>

Railpasses let you in Germany and most countries just hop on any train anytime - and fully flexible tickets like that cost a ton of money so a railpass could be a good deal if wishing full flexibility - discounted tickets are sold in limited numbers and thus must be bought weeks earlier to be sure of getting them - then you are set in stone on a specific train on a specific date and cannot change it.

So it depends on what kind of point to point tickets you are talking about.

Good sources for info on European and German trains I always spotlight these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

And there are one-country passes like the German Pass which can be very cheap the more days you buy - like around $20/a day at some point - so if doing several train trips in Germany the pass could even be better than discounted and restricted tickets - passes are also valid on K-D boats on the Rhine and Mosel rivers (www.k-d.com)
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