Travel Group/Companies

Oct 8th, 2009, 10:47 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
I think the language 'barrier' as perceived as such is one major reason folks take tours and in many ways this is IME a valid concern even though many Germans and Europeans, esp younger ones, speak decent enough English. I do not speak German and have never had a problem communicating basic travel questions but i do understand that folks may think this is a huge barrier.

to me the big drawback for group tours is that you get an isolated in a bubble experience - rarely meeting any Europeans but mainly clinging to Americans in your group. But taking a group tour does not necessarily mean you cannot go off on your own and you should feel comfy doing that.

To me a trip to European is not just seeing x number of major sites - and tour groups generally try to pack in as much in their brochure itineraries as possible to attract folks but to me meeting Europeans is even more fun - that's one reason i take the train - always meeting and chatting to locals - even in a car you can tend to be isolated from locals.

and taking a train for the first-time traveler IMO is a lot easier than driving - especially since many first timers want understandably to go to the major tourist cities - like Munich, Berlin, Dresden, etc. where cars are rather useless and even cost a fortune to park often -in Amsterdam about $30 a day if you can find parking in the city centre. So reyann66 - consider taking the Wunderbar German trains - modern fast trains speeding usually twice hourly between all major cities - taking the train right to the town center where either taxis or public transporation will cart you right to your hotel. And for lots to digest on German trains i always point out these fantastic rail-oriented sites: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.euraide.com
Palenque is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 10:58 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,512
Those of you going on about tours: note that redyan's goal is to attend the 2010 Passion Play.

Please be sure and read my post above about tour companies that offer tickets to the Passion Play (and use the link for the approved companies). Just any tour company won't do.


A tour may be the only way to insure that you can get those tickets--but you can do the short version (1 - 2 days) and plan the rest of the trip on your own if you like.
enzian is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:08 AM
  #23  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 3
Oh my goodness...talk about info overload!! This is amazing! Thank you to all of you who posted either for or against the tours. It is really giving us good insight and I think my husband is starting to come around to independent touring!! I have to take it all in and start researching the cities a little more now. I do have one question. How soon is too soon to book hotels and how late is too late to be sure we get what we want?
As for the Passion Play, enzian, I think that is a wonderful idea to book a two day package just to see it as I have heard tickets are almost impossible to get already!
Again, thanks for everyone's advise, I value everyone's input! Obviously we all have different opinions and that's OK!

Look forward to hearing more!

Cathy
redyan66 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:18 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Here is more information on getting tickets as an individual, from a different website:

"The easiest way to obtain tickets is through a travel agent as part of a package tour of Germany and / or Europe.

"Individual travelers can buy advance tickets for the Passion Play only from DER Reisebüro that sell tickets on behalf of Oberammergau town. The booking process is manual using mail and fax rather than online booking services. Two options are available:

"Packages (or arrangements) include one or two night’s accommodation, lunch and dinner on the day of the performance, tickets to the performance, a program, admission to the Oberammergau Museum, and transportation between hotels and the concert venue. Accommodation is available in five different hotel categories, guesthouses, and private rooms in homes. Most tickets are sold in these packages that ranges in price for single-night packages from €200 to just less than €600. Package deals are already available for sale to individuals.

"Tickets to the performance only are only sold for performances on Saturdays, as well as October 1 and 3. These tickets will only be on sale from April 20, 2009. Ticket prices range from €45 to €150."

Read more: http://germany-travel.suite101.com/a...#ixzz0TMwYgVRE

I suggest you start by looking into the tickets for the Passion Play---if you are flexible on your dates in October that will help. Start with the "2 day" package option and see if you can get that. If you can (and I hope you do!), people here can help you build a nice trip around those dates. You don't need to book the other chties/hotels yet.

Apart from getting the Passion Play tickets (and accommodations nearby), you've got plenty of time to look around and learn.

And at the risk of causing the usual dissent, I will suggest that Rick Steves' book on Germany is a terrific resource for beginners, espicially since his book covers the areas you want to visit. It is great on the logistics of travel---money, phones, trains, airport transfers, etc., all packaged in an easy-to-use format.
enzian is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:43 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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And to amend one thing---flying into Munich might not be best in October. Stuttgart is actually closer to Heidelberg, and about equidistant from rothenburg. Oberamergau will be a bit closer to Munich, but still easily reached from your path.
enzian is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:48 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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As for your question "too early or too late" for booking, one factor to consider for "too late" in Germany is whether you are going anywhere Octoberfest is a factor -- ask my sister in law who found available accomodations one Octoberfest only in some unused rooms of a hospital that the tourist information bureau arranged. Or any other major holiday -- you can google something like +germany +holiday +2010 -- to find out. Europeans take their holidays seriously and travel on the long weekends of those holidays making availability more limited then, but except for Octoberfest you likely could easily still find availability most places checking in July or August for October. And one factor to consider in "too early" is that some smaller hotels will not make rooms "available" for October next year until for example the new year when they set their new rates. Those hotels checked now might come up as "unavailable". Have fun planning!
laurie_ann is online now  
Oct 8th, 2009, 02:54 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,512
Oktoberfest is the reason I suggested they fly into Stuttgart instead of Munich.

Apart from the Munich area, and Oberammergau, they should have no trouble booking the rest of their hotels after the New Year. As laurie_ann pointed out, many places do not even open up their 2010 reservations until then. (I'm finding the same thing for my June 2010 italy trip. Was able to book our "landing" hotel in Zürich, and a couple of very popular resort-area hotels in Italy, but the rest show "no availablity", for all months in 2010. In other words, they aren't bookingyet.)
enzian is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 04:25 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 228
If your husband is too nervous to do an independent tour then go ahead and find a good travel agent to make the arrangements. It's probably worth the extra cost to avoid the frustration.

Personally I'd skip the Passion Play. I've never seen it but since I don't speak German I don't know that I would enjoy 8 hours or longer of sitting through it. Perhaps I'm wrong on that but each to his own. If you really want to see it go for it! I do love Ober. but I bet it's awfully crowded during the Passion Play year.

Make sure you stop in Garmisch and visit the Zugspitze.
If you are near the Herrenchiemsee that would be a great Ludwig castle to visit.

Have a great time!
pauljagman is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 05:46 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 78
My first trip back as an adult to Oberammergau in 1980 was to visit relatives and to see the Passion Play. I have never wanted to go back again, ever, during Passion Play.

I think Oberammergau is best outside of Passion Play but if you want to do the play, then go once and see it. Pray or hope for a cool summer before you go because you will not likely see any air conditioning in a car or a hotel room!
rowdytxgirl is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 05:49 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 78
To clarify the air conditioning remark, you can probably get it now in rent a cars but my German relatives didn't have it in their cars. I don't want to scare you off completely!
rowdytxgirl is offline  
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