Revisiting the past in Germany

Old Oct 10th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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steviesmom
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Revisiting the past in Germany

We are planning on visiting Germany, my place of birth and childhood. Lived in West Germany. My husband, 13 year old son and I would like to fly into frankfort and visit numerous cities for two weeks. Can you use your US drivers license (California) in Germany? Also can you circumvent the autoban and take the old roads. I would appreciate any input. We are planning to go through garmisch, bertesgarten, schweinfurt and nurenberg. Thanks!

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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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We rent cars all the time on US drivers license (with Avis). It has never been a problem.

As far as driving on secondary roads, I'm sure this can be done. Get yourself a really good map of Germany! I'm on my way to Kassel and Frankfurt (and Lausanne Switzerland)the last week of November. Always enjoy it so much! And always have a rental car to get around.

Enjoy your trip!
Carol
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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Carol, that sounds great. Have you or anyone else out there been to Garmisch or Berchtesgaden recently? I fondly remember that area and would like to revisit?

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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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I was in Bertesgarten in the late 90's and enjoyed it very much. We stayed in a rather rustic hotel, the name of which translates to something like The Four Seasons. It was early springtime, too much snow to go up to eagle's nest.
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 06:15 PM
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I should add that our German friends, with whom we travel quite a bit while in Germany, are always telling us about Garmisch and saying that we MUST go there sometime. I'm sure it is nice or our friends wouldn't keep bragging on it all the time.
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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We were in Berchtesgaden a couple of weeks ago. It's a beautiful area. The weather wasn't too great while we were there but we did go up to the Eagle's Nest and found that to be really interesting as well as some amazing views. We stayed at a great hotel, the Wittelsbach, on Maximillianstrasse. I can highly recommend it. Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old Oct 10th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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I remembergoing to Garmisch and enjoying it. How about the salt mines. I believe that is around Berchtesgaden. Have you been there?

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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 06:46 AM
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Hi mom,

You need only your US driver's license.

You can plan your routes on www.viamichelin.com. Choose the "discovery" option.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Garmisch is a great place to visit. We love to vacation there. You may want to go up the Zugspitz, hike in Partnach Gorge, and visit some of the surrounding area (Oberammergau, etc.). If you're going in winter, the frozen waterfalls in the gorge are amazing. Just dress really warmly! If you're affiliated with the military at all, the armed forces resort there is really nice.

We also love Berchtesgaden. The scenery is beautiful and a trip to the salt mines is fun. You put on old miner clothes and ride a train deep into the mine for a tour. I embarrassed my kids by touching the cave walls and licking my finger. It was definitely salty! Herrenchiemsee castle is interesting and fairly close by, I think. Berchtesgaden is also close enough to Salzburg for a day trip if you want. Stay on the back roads, though, unless you want to buy an Austrian toll sticker.

We've also done an overnight to Nuremberg and enjoyed it. I've never been to Schweinfurt, though.

You can certainly avoid the autobahn if you want, but the country roads will usually add a lot of time to your drive. Renting a car and driving in Germany is very easy.

It sounds like you're planning a great trip! Have fun!


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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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Avoiding the Autobahnen is not difficult. Federal Highways connect all the cities you mentioned.

But: The Federal Highways are not necessarily quiet "old roads". Since the freeways got the toll system (no worries: for trucks ONLY), we have more trucks on the Federal Highways, trying to avoid the freeway tolls.

But also without this rather new development, chances are good that you will encounter Fed Highways with lots of traffic, as well as quiet stretches. This is hard to tell in advance. Crawling behind trucks and tractor/trailers for miles and miles through endless no-passing zones is usually not that entertaining.

Travelling will take considerably more time, and I would only recommend it if you know that you want to see this or that along the road.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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You may remember this from before but there is a lot to see and do around the Garmish area. Read up on Mittenwald, Ettal Monastary, Zugspitze, Linderhof, Oberammergau, Wieskirche and of course Neuschwanstein.

When you go to Bertschesgaden you are only 15 miles from Salzburg, another gem.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 01:09 PM
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Hi
We traveled around Bertesgarten last year. A U.S drivers license is required. We used the Michelin #718 road map and had no problems. We were also in Garmisch area. Very scenic areas. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 03:04 PM
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Just back last week from my 28 day trip. Rental car gemut.com pick up the car in Kelsterbach which is a short cab ride which cost me 990 euro + tip. rental 776 us golf wagon new. Traveled back roads but i used my gps and it was great.Stay in sml towns . have a great trip sister
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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We stayed at the armed forces resort, the Edelweiss Lodge, in Garmisch, from 9-17 thru 9-22-07.It's for active and retired military and their families. We had an awesome view of the Zugspitze from our balcony. You can have a car delivered to the resort from Europecar in Garmisch. We splurged on a Mercedes with navigation, touring to Austria and to Neuschwanstein and Schloss Linderhof. What a beautiful area, lots to see and do. Our American driver's license was fine. We meandered on some country roads, using the navigation, and only used the autobahn to get back to the Munich airport.
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Old Oct 11th, 2007, 09:38 PM
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As OP mentioned her drivers license, and some daytrips here included driving into Austria:

You need an International Drivers Permit for driving in Austria.
In Germany, it is NOT required.
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Old Oct 12th, 2007, 12:18 AM
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Hi steviesmom,
What a wonderful trip for you and your family! Where are you from in Germany?

I've seen a million-and-one responses to the drivers license question. I can only tell you that as Americans moving to Germany for two years, we were instructed by our relocation people to get International Driver's Permits from AAA, which we were told to carry with us until we got our German licenses. I know a lot of people don't bother to get the permit, but then most people don't get pulled over either, so it's never a problem!

As for avoiding the Autobahnen, we do that all the time when we want to take scenic drives around Baden-Wuerttemberg. You might consider stopping at a bookstore once you arrive in Germany and buying a good German road atlas (the kind that comes as a spiral-bound book). These are much easier to use than fold-out maps and are much more detailed. We really enjoy using our atlas to meander through the countryside, passing through small villages that you would never otherwise visit. Only remember that it will take much longer to get from point A to point B - not only are the speed limits lower, but there can be traffic as others have pointed out, and you also have to slow way down to go through every tiny town and village. Be prepared for lots of roundabouts and odd turns, so whoever is navigating has to stay on their toes!



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Old Oct 12th, 2007, 12:57 AM
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hausfrau:

I would like to adjust my prior comment to yours:

Getting an IDP when travelling to/in Germany is never a bad idea.

And if daytrips to Austria are only somewhat of a possibility, it should be a must.

Otherwise it would be a shame to be, for example, in Berchtesgaden and not be able to drive those 30 minutes into Salzburg because you forgot to get an IDP.
Same with Mittenwald/Garmisch: Very close to the Austrian border, and lots of scenic routes there "south of the border" which you would miss otherwise.
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Old Oct 12th, 2007, 11:56 AM
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I would definitely get an IDP for traveling south into Austria, as others have mentioned. The IDP is pretty cheap and easy to get and by being able to drive into Austria, you will give yourself more flexibility.
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Old Oct 12th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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We were just in Berchtesgaden a few weeks ago and have to say that we barely recognized it due to all the built up. We stayed in Berchtesgaden 17 years ago when it had a lot of breathtaking open green hills. This last time we didn't even recognize the hotel that we had stayed in because it was surrounded by so much commerce. Glad we were there back then.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 02:05 PM
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BERCHTESGADEN: We have been in and out of Berchtesgaden since 1970 when I was in the Army and my wife was with me. We made a recent trip in June 2007. Do try to go there. It is still a nice visit, but changed. The old BERCHTESGADENER HOF HOTEL (used by Hitler's officers and me when in the US Army) had recently been leveled. Really hated to see that go but time marches on.

We enjoyed a boat cruise on the Koingsee (3rd time). The EAGLES NEST is a must tour as are the SALT MINES.

This trip we stayed in SALZBURG. Do try to get to Salzburg...a great small city easy to walk. The Old Town area is fun as is the tour of the castle.

I did a lot of my travel planning on a European version of MapQuest. This really helps to get a good layout of your driving, the distances and the estimated times you will need. I think one of the posters above gave you the site. Check it out.
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