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To bobthenavigator: need more help, please

To bobthenavigator: need more help, please

Old Oct 23rd, 2008, 07:14 PM
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To bobthenavigator: need more help, please

I wrote in another post about my 2 choices for a B&B in Umbria and Dh's subsequent desire to add Austria...you responded:

"OK--so he wants Austria. Well, it will add time but here is my advice. First, skip Innsbruck---just not worth your time. I would plan at least 2 nites in Salzburg, perhaps 3 if you arrive by train too late on day one. Vienna also deserves 3 nites. That will isolate you in Eastern Austria and dictate you fly home from there. That is a long train trip. I would consider making it a seperate trip and including Bavaria."

Well, guess what? He wants to add Bavaria! The whole S. Germany area!
So now I need your help again...any advice as to itinerary is welcomed. We'd probably return to US from Munich.
We prefer to not move around too frequently (at least 2-3 nts each place). We're active seniors. Interested in trying B&B’s or guest houses where we can chat w/owners. Would like to stay below 150E/nt.
We enjoy cities, but also like small, picturesque villages. We love mountain scenery. We like moderate hikes with pretty views and opportunities for photography.
We enjoy European history and architecture and some museum exposure. We don't drink much but love to sample all the local dishes and street food. We enjoy taking good walking tours.
I'm thinking perhaps we can do day trips from a local point such as Munich? And maybe one or two other points before returning to Munich to fly home?
Comments welcome from all!
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 08:00 AM
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Oh my, I did open Pandoras box. By doing this you are really adding a week to your trip. It is very doable--your only real challenge is the car strategy--you will need a car for the castle country.
OK--here is a strategy that will let you get a car and return it in the same country to avoid a drop charge. Train from Florence to Innsbruck to get the car. We are doing that so you can drop it in Salzburg later. Drive from there to Oberammergau in Bavaria--my favorite location to see the castles and more. Stay at Hotel Turmwirt or Gasthof Zur Rose---the latter is less $$. I would spend 3 nites here since day one is a loss gettting there. Then drive to Salzburg, stopping in Berchasgarten/Konigsee area enroute---see your guide book. The Rick Steves book is good for this area. Now, a choice. You can stay in Salzburg if you want, but I prefer staying out in the fabulous lake region east of town---the lovely village of St. Gilgen. I would stay at the Garni Schernthaner in St. Gilgen---a real family B&B and very reasonable. I would spend 3 nites here and day trip into Salzburg one day, to Hallstatt another day, and explore the lakes area the next. Then, drop your car in Salzburg and train into Munich for your last nite. The Hotel Uhland is my fav here, but it makes little difference. You may want to stay near the airport.
Hope this helps. This trip is much easier if you start and end in Munich. Are you sure you just do not want to add the Dolomites to your Italy trip???
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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Thank you for replying. Just have a few minutes to respond. We do want to explore the areas around Munich too - Romance Rd, and maybe even getting as far as Rothenburg or Bamberg. Even if this adds 2 weeks to the overall trip that's ok.
Please keep the tips coming. I was pretty sure we'd need a car for this area but that's ok too. Also, FYI, we're looking forward to the train trip portion since the scenery is supposed to be great. Right?
Thanks again and hope to hear more from you and others.
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Wow--you just keep going !
OK, then from Bavaria you can drive the entire Romantic Road in a day, ending in Rothenburg. You still will have the car drop question, but it may not be much more if you drop in Munich. The train scenery is good over the Brenner Pass which is the last 3rd of your trip to Innsbruck. No reason to train to Salzburg--that will complicate it. I will look at the trains now--should not be a problem
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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OK--there is a good ES train that leaves Florence at 10:14 and takes 6:19 to Innsbruck with one change---I am guessing in Bolzano. You can not buy it online but no reason to---just buy it in Florence in advance.
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Don't mean to butt into your thread, but Bob's the reason we stayed at the Hotel Schernthaner in St. Gilgen last Sept. We spent 3 nights there and didn't do any day trips outside the area since there was so much to do right there. But it's certainly easy enough to get to Hallstatt and Salzburg from St. Gilgen.

It's a wonderful little place in a great location with friendly owners. It's a good value too. Since you will probably have a car for this portion of your trip, the hotel also has guest parking.

I love Germany and Austria and
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 11:49 AM
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Sorry, I hit the wrong button.

I love Germany and Austria and am always excited when others are eager to explore the area.

I also agree that Innsbruck isn't anything fantastic but we did enjoy Hall in Tirol just a few miles east of Innsbruck. It has a larger "old town" than Innsbruck and was an important salt mining area. It has many lovely churches for a town it's size. Anyway, don't know if you'll have time to visit but it is definitely worth your time.
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 07:10 PM
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Thank you both for your replies. I have to get the maps out and start figuring all this out.
BettyK I looked at the Hotel Schernthaner in St. Gilgen and it looks just perfect. Just the thing for us. Can you share what you did during your stay there and info re:restaurants, etc?
We were talking to an acquaintance today who is from Austria and he suggested we NOT DRIVE at all on our own. Reasons were: we don't know/understand the road signs, the language, windy mountain roads, and the Autobahn is 100mph minimum...surely it can't be all that bad? We would just stay on secondary roads as we do when we take a road trip in US. We drove all over New Zealand and we were on the other side of the road and had no problems! Comments?
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 07:45 PM
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TAW, I copied this from my trip report I posted on Fodor's:

29 Sept (Sat) – We awoke in Berchtesgaden to sunshine and blue skies. Hallelujah! We hope that it is also so nice in St. Gilgen. It is not a long drive to St. Gilgen – maybe an hour. We enjoyed our stay at the Wittelsbach Hotel. It was a good hotel in a great location for a reasonable price. Hopefully, we can return one day with better weather. We arrived in St. Gilgen about 11:30 AM. The Schernthaner is a lovely little hotel only a few steps from the Rathaus in the center of St. Gilgen. We have a good size room with a balcony overlooking the street and a little view of the lake, which is maybe 5-8 minutes from the hotel, for 76E. The owner, Anneliese Eisl, greeted us warmly when we arrived and was very helpful with any questions we had. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the lakeside Fischer Wirt restaurant. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to take the Zwölferhorn chairlift, which was just a few minutes walk from the hotel. The Zwölferhorn is considered one of the most beautiful lookout mountains in the Salzkammergut with magnificent views over seven lakes (we saw five today) and all the way to the Dachstein. The summit station is at 1476 meters. With discount, the cost for two adults was 33E. Later we had a wonderful dinner at the Wirt am Gries, a restaurant specializing in local wild game such as deer, wild pigs and pheasant.

Sept 30 (Sun) – We had a good breakfast then took the Wolfgang Amadeus boat to St. Wolfgang, a beautiful little village with many more shops and tourists than St. Gilgen. Considering that this was Sunday, just about everything was open. We walked to the Bergbahnhof where we would get on our steam train to the top of the Schafberg. The train ride up to the top of the mountain takes 50 minutes and makes one intermediate stop not far from the top. It is rather bumpy going up but the views are just awesome. Once on top, you have to make your return reservation and since the next train at 3:10 was already full, we had to wait until 4:10 to get back to St. Wolfgang where we would catch the last boat to St. Gilgen at 5:08 PM. We walked around a bit and found a nice wooden bench to sit on while we contemplated the amazing sites before us. The Schafbergbahn is the steepest cog railway in Austria and has been running from St. Wolfgang to Schafberg since 1893. In a little over 45 minutes, it travels 1190 meters of altitude over a track 5.85 km long. On a clear day, you have a 360° panoramic view of the Salzkammergut lakes. Today we saw Wolfgangsee, Mondsee, Attersee and Traunsee. You can also see some of the most majestic mountains in the region including the Höllengebirge, Dachstein, Löser, and the Watzmann. A few clouds started creeping into our very blue skies and the air became chillier. Before long, it was time for us to get in line for our return train, which would be a diesel this time. We arrived in St. Wolfgang about 15 minutes before our boat departed for St. Gilgen. This time we got to ride on the 1873 Franz Josef I steam paddlewheel boat. Neat.

1 Oct (Mon) – After a good breakfast at the Schernthaner, we decided to take it easy today. Had lunch at the Café Stern near our hotel then stopped into the local church where Mozart’s grandparents, mother and sister were baptized. We saw a fiaker and decided to take a ride since we had never been on one before. For 20E, we got a 20- minute ride around town. The driver was very nice and pointed out a few of the sites as we went along. It was another beautiful day on Wolfgangsee and we enjoyed the ride. Later we went back to the Café Stern and had some soup with David having his now usual viertal of Sturm. With tip, the total was 13E. Returned to the hotel to pack and prepare for our last 2 days of vacation. Tomorrow we leave St. Gilgen for Nördlingen on the Romantic Road.


With a little preparation, you can easily drive in Austria. You should get an international drivers license (available at AAA locations for $10 plus cost of 2 passport size photos that you can get anywhere) which is basically a translation of your driver's license info. You will need to carry this along with your valid driver's license from home.

You can find info on signage on line:

http://www.alltravelaustria.com/Aust...Road_Signs.htm

If you drive on the motorways, you will need a Vignette. It's a dated sticker that you put on your windshield. The sticker may be purchased at border crossings, gas stations in Austria, and small “Tabak” shops located in Austrian towns. Fines for failing to display a valid autobahn vignette on the windshield of your car are usually around $120.

The roads are great in Austria and the signage is good. You pretty much follow the same rules of the road as you do back home.

While many parts of the Austria motorway system have higher speed limits, if you aren't comfortable driving at those limits, you only need to stay in the right lane except when passing. I've seen those little "Smart Cars" on the motorway, so not everybody is driving 100 mph!
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 08:02 PM
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Wonderful info! Thanks so much! Did you by any chance stay in or nearer to Munich? Would love any info you have, thanks again.
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 08:22 PM
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TAW, no. We tend to stay away from big cities as much as possible.

In the early 1980's we visited many of the biggies -- Paris, London, Amsterdam, Munich, Brussels, etc. We even lived in Vienna for a couple of years.

Now we prefer the smaller, quieter towns for the most part. There are so many lovely little towns in Germany and Austria with lakes, rivers and mountains in the background.

If you are interested, I'm posting the links to some of our recent trips as well as to our photos.

2007 Germany & Austria trip report:
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=35079647

Photos:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/561038806XxDcvw

2006 Germany & Switzerland trip report:

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34813676

Photos:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/554510509SyxotU

2005 Germany & Austria trip report:

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34625250

Photos:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/354616542PMkPVQ
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Old Oct 24th, 2008, 08:38 PM
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Thank you! That will be very helpful.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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Buy the Rick Steves book on Germany/Austria for details. The driving is much easier than New Zealand. Get a good Michelin map.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 07:53 AM
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I didn't answer your first question since you directed it to BobtheN, but there are some interesting sights between Salzburg and Munich. We really enjoyed Chiemsee, one of King Ludwig's castles, located on an island in the middle of the lake. It's a copy of Versailles; I especially remember a Meissen porcelain chandelier that made crystal chandeliers look crude.

The Romantic Road is just one of several such scenic routes in Germany. There's a Fairy Tale Road, a Castle Road, and so on. We followed the Alpenstrasse (Alpine Road)across southeastern Bavaria on our way to Hohenschwangau, where we saw Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.

By the way, we didn't find driving in Austria difficult. The only problem I remember was reading the street signs in outer Salzburg; they were written in small letters of the old script.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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One investment we made last year that made our trip so much easier was a GPS. It saved our bacon quite a few times!

I'm usually the navigator while DH drives and I never got to pay that much attention to the sites for fear I'd miss a road sign. Now, our GPS tells us when it's time to turn, etc.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Thanks to everyone for posting! I have a GPS & I just need to make certain it does Europe. If not, I'll add it.
We're tweaking our itinerary as DH is giving input as to where to go, how to get there, and for how long to stay - (this is a first for him). Usually leaves it all up to me but this time he seems more interested in the planning. We definitely want to do the longer distances by train and we will rent a car for the Germany/Austria part of the trip. But we've decided to limit our locations to 4 places - Rome, Umbria, and 2 others somewhere in Germany/Austria. Deleting Florence since we've been there. I definitely want to make every attempt to stay at Hotel Schernthaner in St. Gilgen. It is exactly the kind of thing we love. Will probably depart for US from Munich.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Question for anyone...
will it be possible to get to Innsbruck from anywhere in Umbria by train WITHOUT changing trains?? I sure hope so. Or will I have to drive the rental car to maybe Florence or somewhere else to get a train there that will take me all the way with out changing?
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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No, of course not.
From Perugia, the best options all take 10 hours and use either 3 or 4 trains. They all go via Florence thus my first answer to you.
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Old Oct 25th, 2008, 08:10 PM
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Unless you will rent your car in Italy on a Saturday, and need to return it by noon on the following Saturday, ( assuming you want subsequently to drive to St. Gilgen), I think it would be easier to drive beyond Umbria in Italy and either:

1. Drive to Bolzano, Italy, turn car in there, and take 2 hour (no change) train ride to Innsbruck;

2. Drive to Udine, Italy, turn car in there, and take train to Villach, Austria (1:30 hour - no change) or Klagenfurt Austria (2:00 hours - no change)

This assumes you need to return your car in Italy to avoid a drop-off charge. There will be more trains through the Brenner Pass from Bolzano to Innsbruck, but Udine - Villach will be more "off the beaten path".

Time wise, the two choices are about equal to get there, and continue on to St. Gilgen. Both Bolzano and Udine have a population around 100,000, so it shouldn't be too hard to turn your car in at either place.

If you want to rent your second car rental in Germany instead of Austria, so you can return it in Germany to avoid drop off fees, I would take the train to Innsbruck, transfer to a regional train, and continue on to Garmisch (1:30 hours from Innsbruck).

If the above Saturday car return scenario is correct, in all likelihood, you will not be able to pick up a rental car until Monday - so you might as well spend a couple nights in Bolzano or Udine to break up the trip.
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Old Oct 26th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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OK, so it seems as if weekends are not too god for pick up/drop off rental cars. I can work on that. This itinerary isn't cut into stone...yet.
If Florence or Bolanzo is better to start the train trip then we'll look at that option. I'll have to see how far each is from where we'll be in Umbria.
We're tweaking the itinerary as we get more info and neither of us likes to change lodging frequently.
Thank you for you info so far...I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.
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