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Trip Planning - Advice Please

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Jan 23rd, 2012, 08:48 AM
  #1
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Trip Planning - Advice Please

I'm planning a trip to Austria & Germany for my husband and I (in our mid-late 30's), and would love some advice. I am thinking of flying into Munich, and out of Frankfurt (or the opposite). Our trip would begin mid September, for 14 days. We will have a car, which is why we are flying in and out of Germany to avoid fees of returning car to a different country.
My plans so far include
Fly into Munich-
3 nights Salzburg
3 nights Vienna
3 nights - ?
2 nights - Rothenburg ob de Tauber
3 nights - ?
Fly out of Franfurt
Any recommendations on where to spend our time between Vienna and Rothenburg?
We have been to Mittenwald (loved it), have seen all of Ludwig's castles (no need to return). Have been to top of Zugspitze(amazing). I have been researching Lauterbrunnen - it looks stunning, but I know would be a long drive for the day. Is it worth the day's drive, or would you recommend something else? The Dolomites, or perhaps Tyrol?
Also, the last 3 days at the end of our trip. We made friends on our last visit to Germany, and they live in the Heidelberg area. We plan to try and have dinner with them one evening. Advice on where to visit during that part of our stay?
We love small villages like Mittenwald, and enjoy spending our time looking at beautiful scenery.
Sorry for the long post, just trying to figure out the logistics so that I can book our flights. Thanks for your help!
-Jennifer
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:05 AM
  #2
ira
 
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Hi MJ,

You do realize that each time you move you are losing about 1/2 day? Figure 3 full days of travel.

Austria requires a road tax certificate (about 10 E) and an International Driver's Permit.

>3 nights Vienna
3 nights - ? Prague
2 nights - Rothenburg ob de Tauber
3 nights - ? Fuessen

Then return from Munich instead of Frankfurt.

Enjoy your visit.

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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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"Also, the last 3 days at the end of our trip.... We love small villages..."

After a visit with your friends, head to one of the Middle Rhine villages for 2-3 nights; Auf Schoenburg castle-hotel in Oberwesel, a very handsome town, is a nice splurge:

http://www.burghotel-schoenburg.de/r...ido-werner.jpg

St. Goar's Rheinfels castle towers over the valley at the most scenic spot - two castles are visible on the other river bank too:
http://www.st-goar.de/17-1-.html

Bacharach is adorable.
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-pho....jpg/tpod.html

Boppard is nice too.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/42769290
http://www.boppard-tourismus.de/24-1-Sesselbahn.html

Marksburg Castle in Braubach is a must:
www.marksburg.de

I wouldn't rent a car for your destinations. A car in Vienna is especially vexing and rail travel would be cheaper. But if you do, you might want to drop it after Heidelberg. The Rhine towns are served by rail on both banks, by cruise boat, and by ferry boat, and you can reach FRA by direct train quite easily from Oberwesel or Boppard in about 1 hour. It's a much nicer place to stay over than the airport.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:05 AM
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Ira:
Thank you for the info! Yes, I know we lose time going from one place to another, but if we stayed in one spot and did day trips from there, we would still be doing lots of traveling. I am, however, nixing the Lauterbrunnen valley. It will have to wait for a trip to Switzerland.

Russ:
Bacharach looks lovely! Lots of wonderful ideas, thank you! Will discuss with my husband returning the car in Heidelberg instead. I think he's just hesitant to give up his control, but I know once he has used the trains, he'll be a convert.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 04:33 PM
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I would suggest spending 1 night in Straubing, Germany on the way to Regensburg where you could spend 2 nights before going on to Rothenburg. We LOVED Straubing and it is just small enough where you could enjoy it in one day.

Agree with staying in one of the lovely towns on the Rhine River. We have done Bacharach twice, as well as Oberwesel and Rudesheim. We also enjoyed the Mosel River towns of Beilstein and Bernkastel Kues. It's a lovely area.

Having a car in Vienna can be difficult due to parking constraints BUT we have stayed several times at the Admiral Hotel and they have their own parking adjacent to the hotel for 10E per day, which is a bargain in Vienna. The hotel itself is not fancy at all but it's extremely well located right off Mariahilferstrasse behind the Museum Quartier, just a couple of blocks from the Ringstrasse. There are a couple of Ubahn stations nearby as well as tram stops.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 08:16 AM
  #6
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bettyk - Thank you for the suggestions! I will be researching Straubing and Regensburg a bit more. Plus, the Admiral Hotel looks perfect for us.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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We have stayed at the Burghotel-Schoenburg that Russ mentioned, and it is lovely. Be mindful that transportation to and from the castle hotel must be pre-arranged. The town is very small and taxis are infrequent at best (that is, they aren't lined up outside the train station.) Neighboring St. Goar is pretty, too.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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"Will discuss with my husband returning the car in Heidelberg instead. I think he's just hesitant to give up his control..."

I'm like that too at home. But in Europe, your husband should understand that drivers are constrained by a different set of rules, driving conventions, and fees - from vignettes to parking to narrow roads to road signage, there are dozens of ways his accumulated wisdom about driving will be challenged - and in a foreign language.

He should understand the costs as well.

MUC-Salzburg: Bayern ticket for 2, 29 Euros:

http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm

Salzburg - Vienna: maybe 80€ or so round trip total for 2 w/ advance-purchase ticket at the Austrian railways site: http://fahrplan.oebb.at/bin/query.exe/en

From Salzburg to Regensburg to Rothenburg to Oberwesel - just as an example - involves 3 travel legs; a 3-day German railpass, twinpass version, is $194 each. (There are cheaper ways to do this part, but the pass is very easy.)

Then you'd pay 15€ each for the direct train (one hour) to FRA.

That's a total of 124€ - $160, + $388 for railpasses = $548 total for your trip.

The car rental will be around $600 for a basic compact with insurance. Viamichelin.com estimates your fuel cost at $200. Then there are parking meters, hotel parking fees, vignettes, etc. You'll be close to $900 minimum for the car, I'd guess.

The savings would likely pay for a splurge night or two at Auf Schoenburg castle. Or maybe 3 nights if you forego the railpass and look for other cheaper train options after Austria.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 12:34 PM
  #9
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Russ - you are awesome! Thank you so much for he helpful information. We rented a car on our last trip to Germany (there were four of us, so it cut the cost down per couple), and I discussed on this trip possibly using trains. I will show him your post and perhaps I can convince him to try utilizing the trains. I have a strong feeling he would enjoy it.
Also, I was browsing the Auf Schoenburg's website earlier today. Can I just say "WOW!". My interests are definitely peaked!
Again, your help is much appreciated!
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Jan 24th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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You can drive to the Auf Schoenburg Hotel -- we did.

I know some travelers are big on trains and I certainly understand that some people might not want to drive in Europe. BUT, driving in Germany and Austria is not difficult, especially if you have a GPS so you don't have to keep looking at a map. It takes 2 minutes to stop at a gas station near the Austrian border to pick up a vignette.

At some point, we may end up using trains, but only when we can no longer drive. Driving gives us the freedom to stop when we want to and be on our own schedule and not the train's schedule.

IF cost is a concern, then the train may make better sense for you. For us, having a car outweighs any savings in cost. We have rented a car for 3 weeks through www.gemut.com or www.autoeurope.com for around $600. $200 - $250 per week is normal if you book ahead and get a compact car.

I think it's important that travelers realize they have a choice and it depends on what works best for you.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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If that doesn't work... remind him that he won't have to focus on driving or maps or GPS and will have lots of time to gaze into your gorgeous eyes and chat you up... or he can crack open a book... or a beer (that usually does it)... and enjoy the asphalt-free scenery quietly in the company of the woman he loves.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 02:03 PM
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"At some point, we may end up using trains, but only when we can no longer drive."

Ha! And having both rented on several occasions and used the trains in Germany, I've found myself saying I will use the trains and will never again rent unless I can no longer do the walking and luggage toting that trains require.

Indeed, we're all different.

"Driving gives us the freedom to stop when we want to and be on our own schedule and not the train's schedule."

If you are doing it all spontaneously, or you're happy to just explore whatever happens to be on/near the road you've chosen and to arrive whenever you arrive, whether traffic is bad or not, then there's some truth in that. If you have made advanced bookings, the train gives you some assurance that you'll arrive at your destination when you want to.

Spontaneity is still part of the train experience, however. With the Bayern ticket or any daypass, you can hop a train to somewhere else if the place you chose is boring - and pay nothing more. This is pretty easy in Germany because train service is so frequent and there are schedules in every station. And with a railpass, you have the same advantage. If you're loving Salzburg and want another day or another 5 hours there, just go on a later train.

It's really only the advance-sale tickets that might tie someone down to a tight schedule.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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Russ, you and I will probably never agree on this subject. However, I still feel that travelers shouldn't feel intimidated driving in Europe if they desire, especially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland where we find the driving easy. There are occasional problems with traffic in Germany, but we haven't experienced this enough to dissuade us from driving.

Again, to each his own.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 04:54 PM
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"Russ, you and I will probably never agree... I still feel that travelers shouldn't feel intimidated driving in Europe if they desire..."

Well, I agree with that. People with no interest in trains who just want to drive should do so. I just think it's good to hear the upside of train travel before deciding you aren't interested. Hope that doesn't intimidate anyone.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 09:29 PM
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Hi all,

In the discussion of cars vs. trains, please remember that using the trains is more green (yaaaaay). When there *is* a good, convenient, and fun train system in place, it seems a shame not to use it. It's just a quick and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Plus, experiencing the train system is more European, and makes the trip that much more fun. Oh, you have more chances to meet locals that way, too, rather than being closed up inside your private bubble.

s
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Jan 25th, 2012, 04:56 AM
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Drive up the Danube at a leisurely pace.
Regensburg
Eichstatt
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Jan 25th, 2012, 03:21 PM
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We've never had any trouble meeting locals in the places we have visted. You don't have to ride the train to meet locals. Many of the people on trains are probably tourists anyway!
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Jan 25th, 2012, 04:46 PM
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For me with your suggested itinerary, I would fly into Vienna and out of Frankfurt. Vienna [3 days]Train to Salzburg [2 days] Train to Munich [2 days] Hire a car and ride the Romantic road with many small towns to visit before staying in Rothenburg [2 days] Then head towards the Mosel, Trier [2] and then Cochem [2 days] A last night in Rudesheim, not too far from the airport. But, depending on you flight time, you could stay a bit closer to the airport. Driving in Germany is easy as Bettyk said. Returning the car to the Frankfurt airport is also easy. As soon as one enters the airport complex on the right is 'car return'. Have fun Richard
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Jan 26th, 2012, 10:18 PM
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bettyk,

I never said it was difficult to meet locals if you drive. My point is that you have more opportunities to meet locals when on the train -- because you are sitting right next to them for a few hours! It's common for some locals to be interested in you, your trip, etc, and to start up conversations.

Yes, some folks on the trains are tourists, too. But many are not.

My impression is that, when folks drive, they don't spend enough time in the destinations to linger and start up conversations because they can whisk off in their car, and from what I've read here and heard, folks do that. They want to stop in three villages -- before lunch! -- and see lots of different things. Hard to meet and converse with folks when you travel like that.

In addition, most of the time, the folks you run into while driving are hotel workers, shop keepers, wait staff in restaurants, etc. Unless you visit a supermarket or grocery store, I'm not sure where you'd bump into more locals --

s
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Jan 26th, 2012, 10:41 PM
  #20
 
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If I may interject...there are indeed pros and cons to both driving and public transportation. I must say that I like trains more because I don't then have the responsibility of driving. It's hard to enjoy the beautiful scenery when your eyes need to be on the road. Also, as Swandav2000 stated, it is a "greener" way to go, as well as much cheaper (esp. using the Bayern ticket). I enjoy having an adult beverage with my meals, so driving is out in that respect. Granted, there is a bit more freedom using your own wheels, but for me, it's DB or RVO any day!
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