Rhineland for 3 weeks in summer.

Old Jan 5th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Rhineland for 3 weeks in summer.

Being teachers, my spouse and I want to use the summertime we have off to explore a little bit of Europe for the first time. We have chosen Rhineland as our first trip mainly due to family ancestry. If forays to others areas are feasible, we would love to go but don't want to get overly ambitious since we are certain we will return to explore other areas in the future.

As far as the Rhineland area is concerned, what suggestions would anyone give as to starting/ending points. For those that have been, what were the highlights and most memorable experiences for you? What cities or sites did you find the most interesting? Books and websites name top-ten lists but I would like some personal input too. We both love art, culture and history.

We are just beginning the planning and are completely open, nothing is booked yet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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This is just my opinion so take it for what it’s worth but my wife and I have been to Germany three times now and found the Rhineland to be our least favorite by a longshot. A bit boring, slow and not nearly as spectacular as other areas we have visited. If it were my first time to Germany I would probably spend most if not all of my time in Bavaria flying into Frankfurt and out of Munich exploring the area near and in between. Something like: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Fussen (Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Zugspitze), Mittenwald and a solid 4-5 4 days in Munich with sidetrips to maybe Salzburg or Andechs Monastery. This area can easily keep you busy for three weeks and in my opinion would be a much better introduction to Germany than just the Rhineland. Again, just my opinion.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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What mode of transportation were you considering? What are you considering for lodging? i.e. hotel, b&B, apartment/vacation rental, camping? Any particular art or historical period you are more interested in than others? Big cosmopolitain city people, or small town folk or do you like a mix/change up?
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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>>>>>>ound the Rhineland to be our least favorite by a longshot. A bit boring, slow and not nearly as spectacular as other areas we have visited...

Hmm, good point. But that makes it a fine place to get over some jet lag. Taking the boat north from Bacharach to St. Goar or even all the way to Koblenz is VERY, um, relaxing. As is tasting wine. Visiting the Marksburg is fun. You might want to spend some time training and boating around the Rhein, and then move onto another area when it's time to liven things up a bit.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 01:56 PM
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If you've got 3 weeks and are set on this area you might like to devote one or two days to exploring the little winemaking villages of the Rheingau. This area is said to have better wine than the opposite bank because of the quality of sunlight it gets.
Some highlights:

*Rüdesheim is very touristy, but you can use it as a base to catch Rhine cruises. There is also a Käthe Wohlfahrt store there which sells Christmas trinkets (beware: beautiful but $$$).
*Eltville with its castle ruins and rose garden is pretty minus the tourists.
* Three castles: Schloss Biebrich, Schloss Johannisberg, Schloss Vollrads. Biebrich has a beautiful parkland behind the Schloss where you can take long rambling walks. It is also home improbably to a flock of parrots who must have originally escaped from captivity. Schloss Johannisberg was visited by Goethe and has a panoramic view of the region stretching across the river to Mainz.
*For historical interest, Kloster Eberbach is worth a visit - it's where Umberto Eco's Name of the rose was filmed.The building is significant. There is a good museum there and some antique wine presses. They also have a vineyard. In summer there are often evening concerts organised by the Rheingau Musik Festival (more about that later).
*Assmannshausen has the Hotel Krone, for a very fancy meal (also $$$ but worth it).Many of the little villages are home to fantastic restaurants too.
*If you are travelling at the end of summer, really up to September, each little village has the Strausswirtschaften, which are small taverns only open during this period. You can typically try the new wine, which is sweet, cloudy and fizzy. The white is called Federweisser and I think the red is called 'Roter Rauscher'. You can usually get light meals so the wine doesn't go to your head (Zwiebelkuchen, or onion tart is traditional). A favourite pastime of the locals is to do a tavern crawl and catch the train from village to village. Everyone is in a good mood.
*Rheingau Musik Festival organises classical music concerts throughout the region, but is mostly centred on the elegant spa town of Wiesbaden. Concerts are usually in atmospheric locations. A concert in the beautiful Kurhaus in Wiesbaden is unforgettable.
http://www.rheingau-musik-festival.de/rmf,en,home.html
* In summer there are also a number of wine festivals in the area but Wiesbaden has a big one.
http://www.wiesbaden.de/en/living-in...e-festival.php

Some ideas for you to divide your time - I am sure someone will critique this for you:
You could split up your time by devoting a week to the Mosel, a week to the middle Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz, one or two days in the Rheingau, one day in Wiesbaden, two in Mainz and maybe another one in Frankfurt, where you must be sure to try one of the applewine taverns in Sachsenhausen and visit the Museumsufer. One bank of the river has some really fantastic museums. If you're into art you might like the Städel.

Lavandula
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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The Middle Rhine gorge can keep you busy for a couple of days. Check www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.de for some inspiration.

"The Rhineland" includes a lot more than just the Rhine gorge, though. Since you have time you can include some less known areas and places into your itinerary.
There is the Mosel valley, and there are also the, often overlooked, valleys of Ahr and Lahn. The Ahr valley with the elegant spa of Bad Neuenahr, old Ahrweiler and the rocky vineyards upstream towards Altenahr. The Lahn valley with Limburg cathedral, the baroque residence of Weilburg, some castles, and further upstream the old university town of Marburg. The Rheingau has already been mentioned - good choice.

Further North, there is of course Cologne with its 2000 years of history. If you are interested in the ancient Romans you may also want to consider Xanten.

In case you are interested in going deeper into German history, social and cultural development beyond the usual tourist destinations, I highly recommend the Ruhr district. Within the last 20, 30 years this region has developed from a dirty industrial region full of coal mines into a green area with thriving centres of modern culture on the one hand, an area with many problems and many solutions to those problems on the other. Then there are the many monuments the big industrial plants have left, many of them turned to new uses. To me this is one of the most underrated areas in this country, and the most fascinating city there is probably Essen. In 2010 I spent four well-filled days in Essen alone, here is more about that trip: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/f86bd/fd22/

For another change of landscape, character and topics you could continue to the adjacent Münsterland with its many water castles and palaces in a park-like landscape and the university city of Münster. Again, enough to do for several days.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Agree with Quokka about Limburg and Cologne - Limburg is very pretty and you get lots of houses in the half-timbered style (Fachwerk). Three weeks is a luxurious amount of time on the Rhine and it would be easy to see a lot of the 'hinterland', which many tourists don't have the time to get to know well. I don't know the Ruhr well enough to comment on it myself but I look forward to getting to know it better in the future!

Lavandula
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 07:41 PM
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Quokka makes an important distinction between the Middle Rhine, on which lavandula has focused and which is often seen in 3 days, and the Rheinland, for which 3 weeks is maybe a nice amount of time.

Trier and Xanten for Roman history. And in Mainz, check out the Roman theater being unearthed at the Mainz Roemisches Theater train station, rear platform.

WW II: Panzerwerk Katzenkopf, German bunker in Irrel (near Trier, Sunday afternoons.) Remagen Peace Museum: www.bruecke-remagen.de . You might venture into Belgium or Luxembourg to visit Henri Chapelle cemetery, the Ardennes battle front towns, or the American Cemetery (Patton.)

Besides the Cologne's massive gothic cathedral, Mainz, and Worms and Speyer to the south, have some fabulous Romanesque examples.

Castles: Burg Eltz and Marksburg have terrific tours. Reichsburg in Cochem has a jaw-dropping presence, a less impressive tour, and a terrific falconry show. I've enjoyed short woodsy hikes + castle combo visit on the Rhine (Bingen to Rheinstein) and the Mosel (Moselkern to Burg Eltz, Alf to Burg Arras.) For a splurge, spend a night at Auf Schoenburg castle in Oberwesel.

Festivals: wine fests, often in connection with Rhine in Flames fireworks shows, can be incredible fun and attract lots of visitors. Try to schedule a stay or two in the right town at the right time. Johannisnacht in Mainz on the 22-25th of June comes to mind, but there are many others.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 10:58 PM
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Thank you all for the replies. It gives us a lot to start with. There are many things to consider and this helps tremendously. I do like the idea of popping into Luxembourg and Belgium.
Klondiketoo: We have not decided on modes of transportation. We figured train travel would be the first option when available, but we are not ruling anything out yet. Likely our lodging will be hotels/vacation rentals.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 11:38 PM
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Train travel is the first option, and almost everything mentioned so far can easily be done by train. To explore some rural areas like, for example, the Eifel hills or Münsterland, renting a car for a day or two might make sense. Bikes are an alternative to consider for some tours, like along the river valleys or in Münsterland or in the Ruhr district. Boats run in the Rhine gorge and on the Mosel.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 02:49 PM
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Bookmarking for the great ideas in this thread. I'll be staying on the middle Rhine for 5 nights & on the Mosel in Cochem for 4 nights in July. So much to do.... so little time with only 9 nights. I'm envious of the OP's 3 weeks!
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Old Jan 7th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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Well I didn't find the Rhine area 'boring'. A bit slow paced maybe but there was plenty to do and see. We covered the mid Rhine area and Mosel. I did find Cologne to be pretty boring - one of my least favorite European cities. Here is a link to my trip report and photos - http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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Old Jan 7th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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Well what with the wine (and the wine festivals) , the hiking, the biking, the summer luge, the castles, the tripper boats and the little trains, the lovely old houses and the food I think you have chosen a great area. I first came to here as part of a Mosel wine trip and used the Trier tourist site to book a weekend's tour of one of their local winery, luckily it turned out to be Peter Terges's turn as wine maker and I discovered his lovely wines. Since then I have stayed in the elegent Becker's Hotel (opposite the winery) three times, including going to the fetival which included a Pink Floyd tribute band in the Roman Race course.

This is just one of a number of holidays I've spent in the areas. |Have a look at http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk and see if any of the advise helps there. Also have a look at the Bad Durkheim web site (home of the world's largest wine festival) and you may even think of progressing along the Rhine in the Alsace region of France.
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