Holiday Itinerary

Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 10:18 PM
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Holiday Itinerary

I'm still in the early planning phase of visiting Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic, and I haven't quite convinced my husband that it's an okay/safe time to visit Europe, but this is what I have so far. Any suggestions or ideas?

12/19 Arriving in Frankfurt
12/20 Nuremberg
12/21 Nuremberg
12/22 Munich
12/23 Salzburg
12/24 Salzburg
12/25 Salzburg
12/26 Vienna
12/27 Vienna
12/28 Vienna
12/29 Prague
12/30 Prague
12/31 Prague
1/1 Head back to Frankfurt

We'll have our kids in tow (7 and almost 4 years old) and Frankfurt has nonstop flights, which is why we're not flying directly to Munich unless necessary.

I'm not very familiar with these countries yet, but have always wanted to go during the holidays. Does anyone have any day trips or tour suggestions? Kid friendly spots would be a bonus! And any part of this itinerary that I should trim or add to?

From what I've read online, the Christmas market ends on 12/24 in Nuremberg and Munich, 12/26 in Salzburg and Vienna, and 1/6 in Prague - so we should be good there.

I briefly looked up trains to and from each destination and was shocked at how much a couple of them were. €264 for a 2 hour train from Salzburg to Vienna? €284 for a 4 hour train from Vienna to Prague? Are these the most cost effective ways to get to those places?

And lastly, does anyone have any encouraging words for my husband who is nervous to travel after so many terrible events lately?

Thank you all!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 10:40 PM
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If you are from the US, where people blow each other to smithereens with guns every day, I can't see why vacationing in Europe would be frightening. Some of us actually live here and aren't worried.

Where are you looking for train fares? The fares you quote do seem ridiculous. Have you checked Bahn.de or CapitaineTrain?

You might look into open-jaw (multi-city) airfares to save time backtracking.

The official websites of all those cities you're planning to visit have loads of suggestions for visitors. So do guidebooks.

Your itinerary looks fine. But there's lots more to do and see in those places besides the Christmas markets. They are all pretty much the same, IMO, and it's easy to get OD'd on them.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 11:37 PM
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Why the judgment, StCirq? Not every city in America is crime-ridden and not every city in Europe is safe. The world is in turmoil and bad things like terrorism-by-truck and axe-wielding nutters on German trains can rattle people just as much as gun violence at a Munich shopping mall and military coups in Turkey.

Hopefully agriewe, you have read your earlier thread for the helpful suggestions offered: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-christmas.cfm

Keep in mind, at least in Prague and Vienna, that while the holiday markets may remain open after Christmas, there is less on offer (in Prague) and in Vienna the markets switch to New Year's trinkets--trays of tiny good luck tokens. While it's fun to stop in at one stand to collect the trinkets, it's not really a true "Christmas Market" experience.

With young children (as well as yourselves), dress appropriately for the weather, especially with footwear. Nothing dampens a holiday more than cold feet. Cobblestones, once wet and cold, stay damp and cold, and even slippery in cold temperatures.

I'm not sure what train schedule you are consulting, but fares Salzburg and Vienna are typically €25 on Westbahn. On occasion there are discounts, but that is their standard fare.

I hope this is helpful.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2016, 11:56 PM
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DH is maybe convinced of the general safety of these countries if he knows that Germany with about 80 mln inhabitants has an annual average of 70 (seventy) gun homicides, and 7 (seven) fatalities by police fire. Incidents such as in Munich get understandably a lot of attention, but they are still incidents.
Assuming he will be convinced, a few remarks on your itinerary. Add your Munich day to Nuremberg. It saves you a change of hotels, and gives you the opportunity for nice day trips to nearby Bamberg, Würzburg and/or Regensburg.
You reserve a lot of time for Salzburg. One afternoon and a full day are enough. The city is quite small.
Put that Salzburg day onto Vienna for a day trip to the wonderful abbey in Melk.
With StCirq I don't understand the prices you quote. I just checked at the website of the German railways (https://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/index.shtml). The trip from Nürnberg to Salzburg can be as cheap as EUR 58 for the four of you. The website of the Austrian railways (www.oebb.at/en) quotes tickets to Prague from EUR 38 for the whole family. Salzburg to Vienna is the same EUR 38.
The trick is to buy those tickets well in advance. I have good experiences with buying tickets from the Bahn (credit card, pdf for printing at home). I assume the OEBB is as easy.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 12:09 AM
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When in Prague, don't forget the National Technical Museum (www.ntm.cz/en).
And have a day trip, if only as an adventure for the kids. I can recommend you Hradec Kralove (1h45 with a direct train), Tabor (1h30) or Kutna Hora (50 mins). Schedules at www.cd.cz/en/#. No need for advance reservation. Tickets are cheap anyway.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 12:49 AM
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The train quotes are from Euro Rail, I believe. I will look up the suggested train websites - thank you!

As far as my husband being worrisome goes, it's definitely amped up because of recent events and how the media/politics are driving the information. (one more reason I want to leave the US for my favorite time of year!) We've done a fair amount of traveling, but since having kids, we tend to be a little more nervous than we used to be as well.

I don't really have any intention to shop and see every Christmas market as I'm sure that gets repetitive, it's more that the festivities of the season are still present.

Fourfortravel, thank you for your notes on both of my posts!
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 06:49 AM
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"And any part of this itinerary that I should trim or add to?"

If you're flying both into and out of Frankfurt, Germany, I think you are involved in far too much ground travel for the time you have, especially with young children along. What about Vienna pulls you there, exactly? There are some terrific palaces similar to Schoenbrunn, handsome old-world cities, good museums, opera and coffee houses, all right in Germany. Also, it's not clear to me how one night in Munich enhances your trip.

I would probably allocate the 3 nights in Vienna to Germany instead. I would also reduce your 2 separate nights at FRA to 1 or 0 nights (unless you actually plan some sightseeing time for that area, which it seems you haven't done.) You need another night in Munich for sure and some extra time within that FRA - Prague - Salzburg geographic triangle.

It's very easy to get on a train at FRA and within 1.5 hours arrive somewhere else that's really interesting for a couple of nights. Wuerzburg comes to mind - there are direct, high-speed trains between there and FRA, and Wuerzburg's Residenz Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There's a Christmas market there right on the Marktplatz.

http://www.wuerzburg.de/en/index.html
http://www.wuerzburg.de/en/visitors/...r-23-2016.html

Wuerzburg could serve as a base for short day trips to some of the scenic towns on the Main River (Marktbreit for example) and elsewhere nearby (Iphofen comes to mind.) Bamberg, one of Germany's finest old-world cities, is a short day trip as well. It would actually be possible to visit Nuremberg on a day trip from W'burg if you wished (an hour each way) or to see Nuremberg on the way to Munich as a stopover (stow bags in station lockers.) So if you had Wuerzburg as a base for say, 3-4 days, you'd have some good flexibility during that time so that you can go with the mood or the weather or

I would expect Nuremberg to be VERY crowded for the Christmas season - and perhaps a bit expensive. That said, Nuremberg also makes a good multi-day base for day trips by train - you can visit Bamberg from there too - but it may be just a little too far from FRA to use as a post-flight or pre-flight destination.

Alternatively, or in addition, use Wuerzburg for your final night before departure from FRA.

And stay at least 2 nights in Munich, IMO.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 02:23 PM
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First, I'd just tell your husband that there have been no noted terrorist events in the Czech Republic nor Austria (at least I can't recall any), I don't think they are on terrorist's radar screens. Germany has had some problems in the past year, I agree, but you are only there 3 days, anyway.

There is no such website as eurorail so not sure where you got your fares. And I don't think you can even get fares for 12/26 now anyway, even on Austrian railways or bahn.de so that is very curious that you got quotes somewhere. I don't think fares are loaded past about 12/10.

You must be quoting fares for four, though, not one person, and no, they are not necessarily ridiculous in that case. Some trains between Salzburg and Vienna cost about 50-60 euro (Railjet or IC, depending on day and time, and so for four people it would be about $225 . Kids are cheaper, so that's the main issue, but not sure how you got your quotes, maybe it was for four adults. Even if you used Raileurope, the main US agency that sells European rail tickets, they won't even give you a quote for 12/26, however. But some Railjet trains cost 52 euro for adults in early December; there are other trains that are cheaper, about 25 euro (WB and IC trains) so it depends what time you chose.

The train without transfers from Vienna to Prague is also Railjet and I think is about 25 euro for an adult. But I wouldn't know if tickets on the dates you chose, given the holidays, will be more expensive or not. They could be.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 02:34 PM
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Yes trains can be cheap if you meticulously book them weeks or months ahead at times to secure the often limited in number discounted ducats sold (Westbahn in Austria routinely offers cheap fares up until the train if seats remain)- www.seat61.com is the bible now of discounted train fares - other sites I like for general info - www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

discounted tickets are usually non-changeable non-refundable and also come in first class which for a family IME has significant benefits - cheapest is not always the best.

for fully unfettered first class travel - hop any train anytime and IME always find seats it seems - investigate the Eurail Select Pass - your kids get a free pass I believe.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 05:15 PM
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Christina, it must have been Rail Europe, and you're right, they don't show fares for late December yet. I picked a random day next month to get an idea of what it would cost so I can budget for it. I picked two adults and two kids. My son is young enough to sit on a lap for free, but I think it'll make the journey easier if he has his own seat. Thank you for additional information!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 09:11 AM
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For updating purposes, it looks like our itinerary is now going to be;

12/20: Arrive in Frankfurt, head directly to Nurnberg
12/21: Nurnberg
12/22: Munich
12/23: Munich
12/24: Salzburg
12/25: Salzburg, Christmas Day Sleigh Ride?
12/26: Salzburg, day trip to ?
12/27: Fussen
12/28: Fussen, Castles
12/29: Rothenburg
12/30: Rothenburg, Night Watchmens Tour
12/31: Frankfurt
1/1: Depart
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 01:26 PM
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Check DB for fares for prices for 2 adults and 2 kids. Kids will be free. You can do your whole trip on tickets purchased as you go, except for your train returning to Frankfurt - which should probably be pre-purchased. It may be a good idea to pre-purchase your FRA-Nuremberg ticket as well, but only if you overnight in Frankfurt...

FRA - Nuremberg: I think you have two options.

WHEN tickets for this date first go on sale (normally 91 days in advance) you may see some "Savings Fares" for E38 for your family. These fares will include high-speed trains to Nuremberg where possible. But these discounted tickets are for specific trains - and if your flight is late or cancelled and your train is missed, you will forfeit those tickets. The current full fare of E116, paid at the airport, will change little or not at all and is probably the way to go, given the way you have your trip structured now.

However... you're adding a 2.5 hour train trip to your red-eye transatlantic flight - all the way from Seattle, right? This is already an arduous undertaking especially with kids. You MIGHT do well that first day to overnight in Frankfurt... it's a 10-minute ride to the main station, where you could drop bags at a hotel, collect yourselves, get fed and washed up, withdraw some cash, and try to adjust to the time change. Then leave for Nuremberg early the NEXT morning on a cheap, pre-purchased Savings Fare, again on high-speed long-distance trains. Not much chance you'll miss that train unless your flight was completely cancelled.

To Munich: Buy a "Regio-Ticket Nuremberg-Munich" from a ticket machine (E25 for 2 adults and 2 free kids) and ride the regional trains (2 hours.) Travel after 9 am weekdays, any hour on Sa or Su.

To Salzburg: The "Guten Tag Ticket" covers your family for E26. Buy from a Munich ticket machine and ride the regional Meridian trains (2 hours.)

To Fuessen - and later to Rothenburg: The "Bayern Ticket" covers your family for E28. Buy from a ticket machine, ride the regional trains. (Fuessen-R'burg is fairly long and can be shortened by using high-speed trains where available on savings fares instead - but as always, these tickets lock in your travel times.)

The conditions for travel with these last 3 ticket types are the same - use them weekdays after 9 am, Sa or Su any time. They do not sell out. Ride the regional trains. To find regional train connections you need to specify "only local transport" under "other changes" at the DB itinerary search page.

Rothenburg - Frankfurt: Consider the pre-purchased savings fares so that you can use the high-speed, long-distance trains for those parts of this journey where they're available. Train-specific fare, travel as scheduled or forfeit the ticket.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 02:07 PM
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Train-specific fare, travel as scheduled or forfeit the ticket.>

I was told that there was a 15 euro or so cancellation fee by One German expert-now not here at least under the old name -said that in correcting me once on that not long ago.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 02:48 PM
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A DB savings fare ticket cannot be used at whatever hour you wish like a normal fare ticket can. If you MISS a train with a normal fare ticket, you just get on the next one traveling the same route; if you have savings fare ticket and miss a train, and you want a refund, you're completely out of luck, as I understand it. The exception is when DB has forced you to miss a train due to a delayed connecting train or cancelled train, in which case you can use the next train, with approval by a DB official.

If, as your trip approaches, you want to make a change in the time of day you travel, you can indeed cancel a savings fare ticket and obtain a refund in advance for a fee of E17.50. But often you actually lose much more since you still have to buy a new ticket - and usually at a price that is much higher than the first savings fare.
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