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Proposed 12 night Germany itinerary for April

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Jan 3rd, 2014, 04:06 PM
  #1
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Proposed 12 night Germany itinerary for April

I'm throwing together a trip plan for Germany after getting a cheap ticket with miles. Primary interest really is Berlin, Dresden, and Nuremberg, but flying into Amsterdam was the most practical. I like history and nice towns (I'm a photographer) but art museums not so much. I'm not much interested in Bavaria either on this trip (been briefly before). I've been to Amsterdam, no desire to spend more time there. I plan to train across to Nurmberg, Dresden, then Berlin but have about three nights to play with on the way over:

Here's my proposed itinerary
Fly into Amsterdam:
Train to Mosel Valley (stop for a few hours in Köln on the way)
Cochem - 2-3 nights ? (day trips to small towns)
Nuremberg - 2 nights
Dresden - 2 nights
Görlitz - 1 night
Berlin - 4 nights
Fly to Paris/Fly home

I'm really not firm on the first 2-3 nights. It's a long train ride with changes down from Amsterdam (4-5 hours) Cochem, but I have an easy direct flight that gets into Amsterdam early, and I think a few hours in Köln might break it up. The Mosel valley looks pretty, but what's it like in early April? Statistically, climate data shows April not to be an especially rainy month. I'm hoping to see some small towns to balance the big cities at the end. I'm trying to avoid tourist traps; I know the Mosel valley is incredibly touristy in season but perhaps not yet?

Any better alternatives to the Mosel valley towns that are somewhat in my path between Amsterdam and Nuremberg? I'd like to avoid tourist traps; Rothenburg ob der Tauber sounds like one. And I think I have enough big cities. I also considered Black Forest and Freiburg area. I wonder which area would be more appealing in April?

Görlitz is another small town I'm tossing in before Berlin; the idea of a town split between Germany and Poland is intriguing and looks like another break between big cities.

Any thoughts or ideas appreciated!
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Jan 4th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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ttt
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Jan 4th, 2014, 09:43 AM
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Personally, what I would do would be to either train or fly to Berlin from Amsterdam - it's a little over 6 hours from Amsterdam Centraal to Berlin by train with no connections on some trains. Then I'd go to Dresden, and do Goerlitz as a day trip from there. Then to Nuernberg (from which you could do day trips to surrounding towns such as Bamburg, Regensburg, Wuerzburg, or Rothenburg). Then I'd fly or train back to Paris. If you train, you could stop for a night in Strasbourg, which is a beautiful city.
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Jan 4th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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It looks like you are traveling by train only (no car?). I did a 3 week trip in 2011 -- Germany/ Austria all by train. I was based in Cochem 3 nights (end of June, with lovely weather -- hot, in fact). Cochem fills up with tourists during the day due to river cruise tours that stop there. At night, you'll practically have the place to yourself. You can take a boat to the little village of Beilstein for the day. On another day you can take a train to Moselkern, and then do the 2 hour hike up to Berg Eltz castle (check opening times in April). When I was there, Berg Eltz was completely covered in scaffolding (I also do photography -- had a DSLR and heavy lens in my backpack - so the opportunity was lost). This work is probably completed by now. You said you don't like art museums... just thought I'd throw this in: I took the train to Bonn one day to visit Beethoven House (Beethovenhaus), which I found fascinating. Many of his musical instruments and personal things on display. I can't help you with the Berlin - Dresden part as I haven't been there. I did stay in Rothenburg for 2 nights. I was concerned it would be too much a tourist trap, but found it to be absolutely beautiful in early morning and evening. As a photographer, you might enjoy it. You can view my photos here:
http://www.pbase.com/scbowen/germany__austria_2011
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Jan 4th, 2014, 10:53 AM
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I used Bacharach am Rhein as my base for exploring Cochem, Burg Eltz, Koblenz, Benkastel-Kues etc. It's a delightful place - and I agree with previous poster re Cochem being crowded with tourists by day. Although I can relate to the qualifier that it quietness down at night: I had precisely the same experience in Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, over-touristed by day but magic after 3pm when the tourist buses go and the locals start coming out. Also agree about Nuremberg being a good base for Bamberg, Regensburg, Würzburg and others - even Rothenberg, except that puts it into the day-visit category which, as we've said, is best avoided.

Incidentally, I'm right now planning a trip that will include Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, And Görlitz, as well as some "nature time" and walking around Rathen in the nearby Sachsen Schweisse area.
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Jan 4th, 2014, 11:24 AM
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I assume you mean southern Bavaria. Nuremberg is in Bavaria

I agree with the list of other cities you might consider from tom18 and would add Eichstätt to the list.
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Jan 4th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Thanks for your advice, everyone!

Tom, I'm trying to avoid a 6.5 hour train ride taking up the first full day when I arrive. There are no early flights I could catch from AMS to Berlin before 18:00 (except for a KLM flight that's pricing out at $610). I guess I could spend the day in or near Amsterdam or stop off the train somewhere in between Amsterdam or Berlin (Hanover?). It's a shame with my award ticket that I couldn't fly into somewhere more convenient to Berlin than Amsterdam, but it worked out better for other various reasons.

But spending the final night in Strasbourg might work if I did re-arrange Berlin to be first and train back - I would be able to train from Strasbourg to CDG in plenty of time for the flight home that same afternoon. I'll think about that.

Nice pictures, Susan! (Yes, probably no car.) How frustrating to have Berg Eltz under renovation during your visit! I've had that problem many times in Europe. One reason I went back to Pisa a second time was to photograph the Tower after they'd finally finished cleaning it years after my first visit!

I'll re-consider Rothenburg, I guess. Twoflower, do you think Cochem would be crowded even in April? I'm sure it's mobbed in the summer. Will you be spending a night in Görlitz? I know it's an easy day trip from Dresden, but sometimes I like a change of pace staying overnight in a smaller town. I've got a lot of big cities on the itinerary already.

Vttraveler, I'll consider Eichstätt - thanks!
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Jan 4th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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If doing all that by train the German Twin Railpass which lets you hop on virtually any train anytime can be cheaper than even a string of the deepest discounted tickets and allow full flexibility to just show up as any station and hop aboard.

Great info on German trains and passes at: www.bahn.de/en - official site of the German Railways with schedules and prices and www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.mansinseat62.com.

2nd class can be very full but first class, which on the pass at least does not cost that much higher, always or usually has empty seats IME except perhaps around big cities during rush hours - you can always make optional seat reservations for a few euros though on Inter-City and faster trains.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 10:19 AM
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I'm now considering this itinerary:

Fly into Amsterdam
Fly directly to Berlin
Berlin - 4 nights
Görlitz - 1 night
Dresden - 2 nights
Nuremberg - 2 nights (perhaps a day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber)
Freiburg - 2 nights (day trips, Black Forest, etc.)
Strasbourg - 1 night

Direct TGV train Strasbourg to CDG (early enough to catch flight at 12:10)
Fly home from CDG

I'm not sure Freiburg itself really merits two nights, but it would be a good base for exploring other towns, it does sound like a neat town, and it's close enough to Strasbourg so I can get there early to have a last day to explore it. Getting up to the Rhineland area by train and then back to Paris seems like too much of a hassle, so I guess I'm going to skip that on this trip.

Although the one-way fare Amsterdam-Berlin on KLM is over $600, a round trip is only $173 and the flight time is great, only about 90 minutes after I arrive at AMS. (Don't feel like waiting around ten hours at AMS for a cheaper easyJet flight in the evening.) Strasbourg itself is very booked the final night (April 15) for some reason so I'm considering doing my itinerary backwards. I can fly via "HOP" airlines direct from AMS to Strasbourg for a decent fare, decent time after I arrive at AMS, and then fly Berlin-Paris early the final morning. I'd prefer a train on the final morning though instead of a flight.

PalenQ, I'm traveling solo so a German rail pass probably isn't going to be worth it for me...
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Jan 10th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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I wouldn't want a vacation of mostly cities. But it's your trip. If you enjoy city life on vacation, go for it. Otherwise I would include more villages for overnights.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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5 days for about $325 is what a German Rail Pass would cost a single traveler in 2nd class or about $65 a day divide by 1.4 = about 42 euros a day plus any 3% or so charge your c card may impose on foreign transactions

So if the sum of your available fares for your 5 train tickets in Germany even approach the pass price go for the pass - talking about discounted tickets that are train-specific and can't be changed nor refunded and as sold in limited numbers must be booked far in advance to guarantee - and the pass gives you full flexibility to hop any train anytime - so if the difference is not great go for the pass, which will take you to Kehl, a few miles by train from Strasbourg, France.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 01:25 PM
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Thanks - I wasn't aware that the pass could be used on non-consecutive days. Even then, my 5 days would be Berlin-Görlitz (standard fare 43 Euros), Görlitz-Dresden (21 Euros standard), Dresden-Nuremberg (57 Euros standard), Nuremberg-Freiburg (83 Euros standard), and Freiburg-Strasbourg (10 Euros 1:10hr direct bus). That's only 210 Euros, plus the Nuremberg-Freiburg trains can be had as cheaply as 35 Euros with advanced purchase, so it might be more like 160 Euros. My day trips are likely to be done on days when I'm not changing cities and therefore wouldn't be using the pass.

The pass might almost make sense if I trained from Amsterdam to Berlin instead of flying and extended it to 7 days (269 Euros) and used it for one of the day trips. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about my flight into Amsterdam arriving late. But I'm not sure I really want to endure that long train ride on my first day vs. flying.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 04:49 PM
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Hi Andrew,

A couple of thoughts.

Personally, I'd prefer to stay 3 nights in Dresden and do Goerlitz as a day trip, but that's just me.

I get nervous about taking a train from any distance to the airport on my departure day. If your flight leaves at 12:10, that means you have to be in the CDG terminal no later than 10:10. As far as I can tell, there is only one train from Strasbourg to CDG that can get you there in time (leaves Strasbourg at 6:11); so if there's a problem with that train, you could be in trouble. I'd take a late train into CDG the night before your flight and stay at an airport near CDG.

As an alternative to Strasbourg, you could spend an extra day in Freiburg and go to CDG from there; or, you could go to Colmar, which is wonderful little city near the Alsace Wine Route, about 45 miles from Strasbourg.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, Tom.

Yes, I was planning to take the TGV from Strasbourg to CDG at 6:11. Even if an hour late, I'd get in to CDG before 10:10. I understand the risk - I have done this sort of thing before (from train the Cinque Terre to Milan, fly out of MXP that afternoon). The thing is, with only twelve nights, I'd prefer not to blow one of them at CDG. I've been to Paris enough recently that I don't particularly feel a need to spend a day there either.

Alternately, I could reverse the trip and fly out of Berlin the final morning but I'd be taking a similar risk, right? I assume airport delays are roughly as likely as a long delay on the TGV but I'm not sure.

Even if I missed my flight at CDG - then what? I'm on a frequent flyer ticket; I'll check with the airline to ask what would happen. It would not be a catastrophe for me to not fly home that day, as long as it doesn't cost me a thousand dollar penalty or something. It would be far worse for me to miss a connection at the start of my trip.

It's hard for me to judge whether I should do a night in Görlitz or not, as Berlin and Dresden are both huge cities so it might be nice to have a smaller city in between for a night. Then again, Görlitz in April may be dull at night. I'm still not sure.
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