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Trip to southern Germany - rail or drive?

Trip to southern Germany - rail or drive?

May 6th, 2006, 05:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 370
Drive! Drive! Drive!

Just returned from Germany. We drove 800-900 miles. We used the train between the Frankfurt airport and Munich, picked up the car when leaving Munich, drove everywhere, dropped the car in Koln, and took the train back to the airport in Frankfurt.

I got the car from Bob Bestor at www.gemut.com. The charge was just a tad over $300 US for 8 full days, unlimited mileage. We had an intermediate size diesel wagon with a 6-speed manual transmission. The only caveat is that we were told upon arrival at the avis counter to claim the car, that an additional driver would cost 50 eruos per day - so I did all the driving. Check on this when you reserve.

Diesel was between 1.10 euros and 1.19 euros per liter, but the car just sipped. I estimate that we never got less than 40 miles per gallon! I'll bet sometimes we got closer to 50. I was really amazed.

Except for Heidelberg, we loved having the car. Without it, we would never have seen Schloss Linderhoff, Bad Wimpfen, or Worms, to name a few.

We pulled off the road so many times to take a picture or have a picnic. It was wonderful. There are pulloffs and rest areas absolutely everywhere. I would not do Germany without a car unless I were planning on staying in large cities only, where there is no need for a car.

Enjoy your trip!
vegaslocal is offline  
May 6th, 2006, 09:06 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 75

I used to have this car/train debate with myself every time I planned a trip to Europe. Did the math, crunched the numbers, estimated time, debated costs etc etc.

Finally, I stopped having the debate when I admitted to myself that I simply enjoy the whole train experience, way more than driving cars. Like you, I travel very light, so big luggage is not an issue. And, I guess I am a wacko because I actually enjoy seeing different train stations, and being able to immediately be in the heart of wherever I am. At least most of the time.

In the US, all I do for transportation is drive a car. In Europe, I find planning, and using trains fun, interesting, and part of the whole unique European experience. And, I am not above taking a bus now and then.

One other thing. I always find it interesting when people describe the advantage of a rental car in terms of freedom of movement, and convenience.

From my experience, I find the freedom of train travel much more liberating than driving. Knowing that I don't have to worry about fender benders, parking, gas, aggressive drivers, finding my way, etc to me is very liberating, and frankly way more relaxing.

In Germany, I just buy a lander ticket, sit back and relax, and go most anywhere I want with no worries. I admit, if your itinerary is the back country farms of the Schwarzwald, this probably won't work. But, 90% of the time, trains will get you there nicely. And, cheaper by far. Lander tickets cost less than $30. No way you are driving anything for that per day.

Good luck. Follow your gut. Enjoy the trip.

born2wonder is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,228
That was eloquently put, born2wonder.

I too have found train travel in Germany much more worry-free as a rule; I still rent on occasion but only when public transport will be clearly inconvenient. No reason to do what I do at home the other 50 weeks every year.

Russ is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 06:24 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7
We travel to Germany most every summer - last year split our time between the Mosel region (Bullay) and Munich/Tirol region in Austria. We have used the train and will continue to do so because of the experience. We take only one carryon bag each, so don't need a car to transport stuff. I prefer to stay in fewer places and take longer day trips. We stayed a week in an apartment on the Mosel and explored the wine villages and wineries daily by bike and train. From there did day trips to Rhine region. Same from our base in Austria - stayed for more than week in one place, lots of nice day trips by bike and train. Went to Munich, Innsbruck, and Salzburg. Could have easily gone to Reutte and Fuessen. On earlier trips we have taken a train to a station near a sight and then take a cab - it is not as costly as we had thought. The point is to enjoy the time, not just to get places quickly. If you enjoy driving, do it. I enjoy the train.
suzInOhio is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,206
>Except for Heidelberg, we loved having the car. Without it, we would never have seen Schloss Linderhoff, Bad Wimpfen, or Worms, to name a few.

OK; Schloss Linderhof is indeed not easy to reach without a car. But What would stop you, while in Heidelberg, to jump on one of the trains that run hourly or half-horly to Worms and Bad Wimpfen?
altamiro is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 07:49 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 75
Russ, thanks for your kind words.

Larryincolorado, it sounds like you have the train route figured out, and prefer that method of transportation.

Since this is your daughters first time in Germany, (sounds that way) using trains also makes sense in terms of helping her experience more of the native culture.
born2wonder is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
The fact that "so many here" (doubtful in reality IMO) insist on renting a car...who cares?

You've got it all figured out including the absolute musts you've included so why bring on a bunch of stress by asking about using a car?

I think it is helpful to think of some of the reasons people from the US "prefer" renting a car:

*many of them have never ridden a train in their life

*some think all rail services are like AMTRAK

*many aren't living where there IS decent public transport

*some are probably scared to death about who, or what, they might have to sit next to

and on and on and on...

Take the train and forget about the car.
Intrepid1 is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Posts: 911
Interesting war of words on whether to take the train or rent a car but I can't figure out why this is something to debate. Some people like the train, some like to drive, sometimes it depends where you're going or who you're going with but overall it is simply a preference. I have rented cars in Europe and I have taken trains and I must say that I prefer..........................both.
Lily is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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"But What would stop you, while in Heidelberg, to jump on one of the trains that run ... to Bad Wimpfen or Worms?"

Because they didn't know?

Driving and lack of awareness of trains seem to go hand in hand. I am not sure which is the cause and which is the effect - maybe it is a vicious circle (if all you do is drive, you never learn the trains, so you continue to drive).

Using a B-W ticket to Bad Wimpfen and a VRN Ticket 24 Plus to Worms would have cost €42,50 total for everyone, both trips combined. According to Michelin, fuel for a compact car for the two trips would have been €18,50. I seriously doubt that two days car rental cost less than the difference (€24,00).

And, Born2wonder, that is one of the reasons I prefer trains to cars. I have made five trips to Germany this century. By taking the train instead of driving, I saved enough on the first four trips to pay for the fifth trip twice over.

BTW, Schloss Linderhof is easily accessible (just over an hour) by bus from Garmisch.

Larryincolorado is offline  
May 12th, 2006, 05:34 AM
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I think that anyone who insists on either train only or car only is really limiting himself. Sometimes trains are better; sometimes cars are better. It just depends on where you're going, when, what you want to see, the time you have available, and your personality.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
May 14th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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I think your criteria are incomplete. It depends in addition on how much one is willing to spend and what the benefits would be.

In my case, I already identified about $300 in rail costs. When I looked at the cost of a rental car, the least expensive, acceptable car I could find for 12 days was $600. Add $140 for gas according to Via Michelin, and the total cost was $740. Considering that I already had a full itinerary of things I could see using public transportation, I decided that the additional cost of a car was not worth it.
Larryincolorado is offline  
May 15th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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Larry--there are lots of possible criteria. My list was not intended to include every one that anybody could possibly come up with. Some people just don't like to drive. Some people get train sick, but not car sick--and vice versa. Etc., etc., etc.

And in comparing rail and car costs for our upcoming Benelux trip, a car is about 180 euro less expensive for the 11 days we'll be traveling.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,406
You have to look at drinking mixed with driving, the fantastic train service that works on the Mosel. The ease with which bikes can be rented on the Mosel, the use of river boats (no seriously) and finally where you accomodation will be based. My last break I went to loads of wineries by train, bus and water. The time before bikes were the best.

Cars are for the sober
bilboburgler is offline  

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