One night between Frankfurt and Berlin

Dec 26th, 2007, 07:55 PM
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One night between Frankfurt and Berlin

My husband and I have booked tickets for a 10 night trip to Germany in April 08. Neither of us has ever been before. We're splitting the trip between Berlin and Munich but because we are arriving in Frankfurt I want to spend the first night somewhere before taking the train to Berlin the next a.m. I've considered Cologne because it's so quick to get to (our flight arrives around 11:30 am) but it's the opposite direction to Berlin.

I'm also considering Erfurt, Wurzburg, Marburg, Fulda, Gottingen--and to be honest my head is spinning. What I want is a town not too far from Frankfurt that is charming and easily walkable--we'll be jetlagged so we won't really want to go into museums etc. Ideally it would be on the way to Berlin so we're not backtracking and making that train trip any longer.

Does anyone have any advice/opinions on any of these options??
outwest is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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Someone suggested Mainz to me. I don't know where that puts you so far as the train travel.
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Dec 26th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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Gottingen is a nice university town and I spent a night there a few years ago. That's the only one on your list that I've been to, so I don't know how the others compare, but we liked it.
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Dec 26th, 2007, 10:54 PM
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I've spent some time in all the cities you mentioned, and like them all. However, if you want to be on the direct line to Berlin, then, of the ones you mention, Fulda and Gottingen meet that criterion. If you can cope with 2h45min of train travel, then you should consider travelling a little further to HILDESHEIM, which is charming and easily walkable and not too large. Trains leave from the station at the airport very frequently, at least hourly. You will need to catch an S-Bahn to Frankfurt HBF, and there change to a train that runs directly to Hildesheim. After your stay at Hildesheim, you can get a train from there that runs directly to the Berlin HBF. If you choose the ICE, it leaves hourly, and the trip takes about 1h45min.
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Dec 26th, 2007, 11:06 PM
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First of all, you could spend your first day in Frankfurt itself. Not exactly the most charming of all, so I could understand if it's not on your list.

With a look on your list of cities, I would eliminate Marburg and Würzburg first. Both would qualify easily as charming and walkable - but Marburg is not served by the high speed trains (ICEs), and Würzburg would mean some backtracking.

Erfurt, Eisenach, and Weimar are all served by the ICE line calling at FRA airport station and going to Dresden (transfer to Berlin would be in Leipzig).
All three towns would be nice & charming (and not too busy) stop-overs.

Fulda, Göttingen, Hildesheim and Braunschweig are on the ICE line from Frankfurt Central Station to Berlin but that line does not call at the airport station (requires another train from FRA airport to Frankfurt Central)

The four cities are nice, but somewhat pale in comparison to Erfurt and Weimar.

In any city you can check for so called "InterCity Hotels", i.e. station hotels. They are mostly new, and very close to the station so you don't have to drag your luggage thru half of town to a cosy hotel in some old town alley.
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Dec 27th, 2007, 01:02 AM
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Weimar is very pkeasant but the stadtmitte is quite a long walk from the station, and Marbutg is lovely but hilly. I have stayed in two Intercity hotels (last one in Nuremburg), and they are indeed very near the station, so close that we were kept awake by station PA announcements: I doubt that we will stay in one again, but each to their own.
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Dec 27th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. I think I've narrowed it down to Erfurt and Fulda and I will look into Hildesheim (a town I haven't considered yet)--
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Jan 1st, 2008, 10:36 PM
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I'm sure it's a matter of taste, but I wasn't impressed by Erfurt. It felt like a boring unrenovated east german city, there is a lack of comfort or excitement. We prefered Weimar for wandering around its pedestrian area. It has a more comfortable small town feeling. We stayed at the Weimar Hilton which had a cold DDR hotel feeling.

Hildesheim does have the beautiful colorful timber houses if you don't mind the train change in Frankfurt main train station with jetlag and suitcases. I always prefer not to change train when I just get off the plane with suitcases. I would rather take the 3 hour ride without any train change to stay in Leipzig which has undergone a lot of renovations and is quite vibrant. There is a nice Marriott across the street from the train station, much better than the Intercity hotels.

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Jan 1st, 2008, 11:32 PM
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I'd second DAX's opinion that Weimar was *much* nicer than Erfurt. We stayed at the Hotel Elefant in Weimar. It's a historic hotel perfectly located on the town square.

I don't know how Bamberg would work with your train connections but it is a lovely, well-preserved town you might also want to check out.
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Jan 2nd, 2008, 02:52 AM
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Hi DAX - and Happy New Year! - interesting opinion re: Erfurt. When have you been? I am asking because I considered it as a day trip/overnight.

Will be in Weimar soon and stay at the Grand Hotel Russischer Hof. Hope it's better than the Hilton (I bet it is). Btw, heard great reviews of the Dorint in Weimar.

Totally agree that either Weimar or Leipzig are very good options for a stopover between Frankfurt and Berlin.

Ingo
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Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:01 PM
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Thanks for the replies. The thing about Weimar or Leipzig is that because our flight doesn't arrive until 11:30 am the earliest we'd be able to get to those towns would be 4pm (assuming we could catch the 1:02 train). I'd sortof decided on Fulda because we could get there around 2:15. What I want is somewhere that's interesting enough to walk around for the afternoon/evening of our arrival day and that will give us a headstart on our trip to Berlin the following a.m. I had considered Cologne which would be the quickest trip from FF Airport but it would be a longer trainride the next day. But maybe that doesn't matter? We're the sort who will probably take an early train to Berlin because once we're up we're usually kindof anxious to go--
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Jan 2nd, 2008, 12:37 PM
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I see no one's mentioned Wiesbaden, which is a very short (20-30 minutes) S-Bahn ride from FRA.

Though not bursting with history, Wiesbaden has some small-town charm, a huge variety of decent restaurants and some very comfortable and inexpensive lodgings. Walkable it is, as well, though a short cab ride from the Bahnhof to the pedestrian zone would probably be wise.

My primary reason to recommend Wiesbaden to you is: the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme (baths), a 'traditional' German spa with steam rooms, a large mineral pool, saunas. By 'traditional' I mean that bathing attire is not allowed, and it is co-ed in some areas. So if you believe that kind of thing would really bother you, it's probably not a good option.

But if the 'traditional' aspects of the Therme won't be an issue (trust me, after the first 5 minutes it likely won't be a problem even for the shy), it can't be beat as a place to relax and sweat out some of the jet-lag. After an hour soaking in hot water, followed by a tasty and filling German dinner, you will sleep soundly until the next morning.
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Jan 2nd, 2008, 01:32 PM
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Ingo: Happy New Year to you too! I think Erfurt will be interesting for a German native like yourself. My advice is more for a first time visitor like outwest since Erfurt pales in comparison to Leipzig or Dresden. There were plenty of churches, but the Dom & Severi cathedrals were the highlight of the city for me in 2002. The rest of the city was just OK, nothing dazzling or comfortable to explore; however you have more connection and in depth knowledge of its history so I'm sure you'll find it more interesting.

Outwest: Cologne is good for its tallest cathedral/museum and for the crowded pedestrian shopping alleys and dept stores(non designer). There isn't much in terms of architecture/charm. If that is what you're looking for, you should pick that over Fulda even if it means an extra hour on the train to Berlin. Basically Berlin is about the same from Frankfurt or Cologne, so you're just adding an hour of train on your day of arrival. The Cologne train station is conveniently right in front of the cathedral and shopping area.

I find Leipzig to be more interesting than Cologne due to the renovations it has undergone as well as its East German history. It's so close to Berlin so you can leave later the next day. It's worth the longer train ride to Leipzig and enjoy the evening stroll in Leipzig (lively restaurant row & squares). The next day you have more time to enjoy Leipzig before heading to Berlin. I remember how the cobblestones glisten under the evening lights making Leipzig glitzy expecially around the symphony hall area. I can tell you more details once you decide which city you choose.
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Jan 2nd, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Ingo: I just checked the Grand Russischer website, wow, it can't be any better as it is right at the western edge of the pedestrian area plus it's a classic grand hotel. Weimar has a nice small town leafy atmosphere. I also enjoy Weimar's connection to Goethe and Schiller.

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Jan 3rd, 2008, 10:34 AM
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outwest - sorry to hijack your thread. But DAX's Erfurt/Weimar knowledge is too tempting so I had to ask ...

Btw, what if the weather is dull? Better pick a city with something to do inside as well. Like the shopping arcades in Leipzig e.g. (no, you don't have to do shopping; watching and walking is fine ;-) ).

Thanks DAX. I'll definitely book the Grandhotel Russischer Hof in Weimar and do a quick report when I am back (probably March). Maybe I'll give Erfurt a shot, but not sure.

I.
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Jan 3rd, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Ingo - don't worry about the highjacking.

The thing is Leipzig seems a bit far given that we'll just have come off an overnight translatlantic flight (from the West Coast of Canada). Fulda seems to make more sense to me--easy and quick to get to--a nice old town and Baroque sights easily walkable from the train station (according to the guidebooks) and then just over three hours (direct again) to Berlin the next morning.
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Jan 3rd, 2008, 01:46 PM
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outwest: I can understand your logic of not wanting to be on the train too long after the 10 hour flight. It looks like Fulda may please you just fine as it does have a little sprinkling of baroque and timberhouse architecture. Here's a few pics of Fulda in case you want to preview it:

http://tinyurl.com/22q7vp
http://www.fulda.de/Bilder.1282.0.html

I hope you'll write a report on Fulda when you get back as I've never been there even though it is within my curiousity radar. During the cold war it was known as the border town theorized to have the highest risk of invasion (higher than West Berlin).

Ingo: A report on Weimar from you will be a great treat in March.
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Jan 5th, 2008, 09:17 AM
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Our family visited Erfurt for a day about 15 years ago and found it very interesting, well worth a stop. In addition to the Cathedral and Severikirche there are other sights in the Altstadt including the Augustinerkloster where Luther spent years as a Catholic priest.

We did not stay in Erfurt but stopped overnight at Burg Lauenstein north of Kronach, on the Bier and Burgenstrasse. Our kids enjoyed staying at a castle and the setting was quite spectacular. This was shortly after reunification and maps of the hiking trails still showed pictures of the (barbed wire) border, towers, etc. (This stop would not work by train--I mention it in case it is of interest to others)

After leaving ERfurt we stopped in Fulda for dinner. It was also known to us because of the Fulda Gap referred to in another post and mentioned quite often for its supposed strategic significance when we lived in Germany in the mid 1980's. There is a very pleasant Baroque town center and we enjoyed strolling around the palace gardens although we could not go inside.

Someone mentioned Mainz which is basically the geographic equivalent of staying in Frankfurt--on an S-bahn line from the airport. I think it is a very pleasant city to explore (meets your charming, walkable test). It has a famous Romanesque cathedral,the Gutenberg museum, some famous Chagall stained glass windows --but it would not get you any closer to Berlin.
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Jan 5th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Vttraveler and Dax--Thanks for your replies. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time making a decision--there are so many towns that sound interesting and I'm constantly flip-flopping--
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Jan 5th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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I was underwhelmed by Marburg. It was a boring and a bit dirty.

Erfurt was okay but I would consider Eisenach.

It's an hour or two out of Frankfurt and it has a charming little city center. Nice to walk around in plus, they have a castle of the variety that would make you think you had wasted precious time at Burg Eltz. I loved Eisenach.

These areas had all suffered and decayed under the communist reign, so it provides an interesting contrast to Western Germany.

Someone suggested

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