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Train vs. Car The family arguement continues!

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May 21st, 1998, 04:36 AM
  #1
Scott Heim
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Train vs. Car The family arguement continues!

We are taking a trip to Germany and are trying to decide between renting a car and getting a Eurail pass. The car is cheaper, but never seems as relaxing as train travel. It appears however, that we will miss quite a bit of "off road" details if we tour Germany via train.

Any advice, tips, hints, clues, in this age old family arguement would be greatly appreciated!!
 
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May 21st, 1998, 05:04 AM
  #2
wes fowler
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In all of our many trips to Europe we have always rented a car, even for trips of three weeks duration or more. Except for Italy, auto rental rates are much cheaper than train travel. We have found an additional savings through auto rentals. Since parking, traffic and maneuvering through narrow streets in Europe's cities are for the most part horrendous, we stay in small towns within a half hour drive of the city we wish to visit. The savings in hotels, auberges, gasthauses and the like are truly significant. We also find ourselves more exposed to "natives" than in a large city. The flexibility of auto travel is another bonus. How frustrating to pass a lovely, idyllic looking village in a train and not have an opportunity to explore it. Auto travel is much less regimented, too. Train timetables don't dictate when one must leave or arrive a given destination. One must really analyze the intangibles as well as costs when choosing a method of travel.
 
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May 21st, 1998, 06:51 AM
  #3
Lee
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Scott: I agree with Wes. We went to Germany last summer for nine days and rented a car. If you have some decent plans, maybe a tour book and maps (buy them there at the gas stations), you can go anywhere. The only time we got lost was once in Frankfurt in a part of town that I hadn't been in and twice in Munich which I am not very familiar with. Otherwise, the autobahns are easy to get around on. We started in Frankfurt, we went up the Rhine to Koblenz and back down the other side to Mainz and then went to Rothenburg and on to Munich. From there, we went to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ettal, Linderhof and Oberammergau. The next day we went to Schwangau and Neuswanstein castle. We went back to Frankfurt and then one last day trip to Heidelberg. We had a fantastic trip and put 3,000 Km on the car! In nine days, we were not exhausted. It was more fun in the car because we went where we wanted and when we wanted. Have a great trip!
 
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May 21st, 1998, 12:24 PM
  #4
Jen Z
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I always heard that gas is so expensive in Europe that rentals are not worth it. Maybe since your whole family is going it would be more affordable than Eurail passes, though.
I, personally, would hate to rent a car in Europe. I love the trains. They are a great respite from the fast-pace and stress of travel...take naps, plan your sight-seeing in your next area, keep your travel journal up to date.... I will always associate train travel with eating Nutella!!! We also took a few night trains to save daytime sight-seeing time and accomodation expense, which you can't do with a car, since some one has to drive! In Germany we were told that we would miss a few things by limiting ourselves to the train. But with a Eurail pass you can take the Romantic Road bus tour and the Rheine River Cruise, so that's what we did, and got to see the quiet countryside of Bavaria and the castles on the Rheine without a car (in fact, I've been told that having a car is bad along the Rheine because you can't see it all from the road). We often stayed in smaller towns outside the big ones, like one of the previous messages suggested...the trains go to them too! And so the debate continues....
 
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May 21st, 1998, 01:28 PM
  #5
Richard
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May 21st, 1998, 01:33 PM
  #6
Richard
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This doesn't have to be an either/or decision. Why not take a train for part of the trip and rent a car for part. For instance, I would definitely drive the Castle and Romantic roads, but would train from Munich to Berlin (with a side trip to Nurnberg.) Check out the German railroad page for timetables and fares at www.bahn.de. Try a German Flexipass instead of a Eurailpass, or try a Europass if you plan to go beyond Germany. Any way you go, you'll enjoy Germany, we just returned from a trip there on bikes, train and rental car.
 
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May 22nd, 1998, 09:17 AM
  #7
Cheryl Z.
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Hello - we've done both, now rent cars all the time. You can get a decently priced rental car and even with the gas it will be cheaper than two or more tran passes. We did love the trains though. Their system is amazing, fun and easy, and we always came home wondering why we cant do the same here. The train will force you to pack lighter, and will need little more planning. Guess I would tell you to get the car. And of course there are precautions to take; you won't want to drive in the bigger cities, they drive faster (90mph is slow!), etc. Have a great time.
 
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Apr 10th, 2000, 08:33 AM
  #8
Topper
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Anyone want to add anything?
 
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Apr 10th, 2000, 10:58 AM
  #9
scott
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Dear Scott,

I live here in Germany and I must say the trains are neat for a change, but if I really want to get somewhere a car is faster and more flexable, in most cases. Trains have advantages like the ICE can get you from Frankfurt to Berlin in much less time than it takes to drive, especially if you find a traffic jam (very common). You also don't have to worry about finding parking with a train. Trains are however expensive, normally slower than cars, and alot less flexable(but this may just be my American socialization). End recomendation- Rent a car for most of the trip, and take a Rhein train ride or ICE once for fun.

Enjoy
 
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Apr 11th, 2000, 03:59 AM
  #10
Walter
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Ha, Now I feel better! We (4 ofus) are doing both. We will take the ICE from Frankfurt to Hamburg for the marathon this week-end round trip, then pick up the car in Offenbach and head south. I wanted to experience the ICE with the kids and also rent a car for all the previously posted reasons. Happy Easter!
 
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