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Old 04-13-2014, 09:54 AM
 
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Help me out with this trip.

I was thinking my wife and I would do something like this:

1. Fly from JFK to Amsterdam.

2. Train from Amsterdam to Cologne, Germany. Possibly half a day in Cologne visiting the Cathedral and other sights.

3. Train to Bacharach, Germany. Spend a full day in Bacharach and St. Goar which I understand is just across the river. We are very interested in seeing the castle ruins above St. Goar. We understand Bacharach is a small village that has kept most of its Medieval characteristics.

4. Train to Munich. In Munich we wanted to see the Englischer Garten, the BMW factory, Glockenspiel, and Dachau Concentration Camp. How many days do we need in Munich?

5. Train to Schwangau to see Mad King Ludwig's Castle. I believe we can get there from Munich, see the castle in one day, and return to Munich that evening. Am I right?

6. Train from Munich to Berlin. How long of a train ride is this? Would it be cheaper to fly? We'd like to see the main sights in Berlin. Old areas where the Berlin Wall was located, the new Reichstag building, Tier Garten, etc. Are there other major sights in Berlin we should be thinking about?

7. Train or plane from Berlin to Amsterdam. Is it cheaper to do one or the other? Are we missing much by not including a stop in Hamburg?

I reason we can do this trip in 10 to 12 days (from JFK and back)

I'd appreciate any thoughts, comments, or answers to my questions.
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Fayetteville, NC
437 posts, read 623,316 times
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If you buy a Eurail pass, it should help keep your train expenses down. You can buy passes that are only for 2-3 countries and save a little money. Google Eurail pass for more info.

I wouldn't do less than three days in Munich itself, and that is keeping fairly busy.

You may want to rent a car from Munich to go down to Fuessen and the castles. Public transportation down there will consist of train/bus transfers that aren't very convenient. You may also be able to get a tour from Munich that takes you there directly by bus as part of a tour group.

Munich to Berlin is going to be roughly 6 hours by train, and that is on ICE trains with either 0 or 1 transfer. A flight will take you 1 hour. Fares differ based on what time of day you are flying. Air Berlin is generally cheaper than Lufthansa for direct flights. I'm doing this very flight next month, and I paid $121 (US) for the one way ticket. Of course, if you had a Eurail pass you would pay nothing extra.

It is a 6 hour train ride from Berlin to Amsterdam. Hamburg is interesting but I wouldn't lose sleep over not stopping there.

I'd personally give Cologne an extra day or two. It is a beautiful, fascinating city.
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:37 AM
Status: "tired recovery heatwave" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Europe
1,624 posts, read 1,290,970 times
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I think it is better to land straight in Germany after a transatlantic flight you will be tired and with the jetlag time difference you will just want to get to the hotelroom and avoid the hassle of a train trip and hauling luggage yourself etc.
See Germany Travel - Germany Travel and Vacations Guide - Travel Information Germany distance Munich to Berlin is about 380 miles for airfares see Lufthansa ® United States of America - Online flight offers | No booking fee | Sale fares to Europe
See Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor for tourist things to do and see for Berlin, Munich etc Railway fares at bahn.com - your online travel booking tool for rail journeys, holidays, city trips and car rental
Along the Moselle and Rhine rivers a river boat trip is nice for scenery, castles, castle ruins, winery etc
For Cologne at least one full day it is a city with lots of tourist things, half day would be too short.
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Old 04-13-2014, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,482,428 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
Help me out with this trip.

I was thinking my wife and I would do something like this:

1. Fly from JFK to Amsterdam.

2. Train from Amsterdam to Cologne, Germany. Possibly half a day in Cologne visiting the Cathedral and other sights.

3. Train to Bacharach, Germany. Spend a full day in Bacharach and St. Goar which I understand is just across the river. We are very interested in seeing the castle ruins above St. Goar. We understand Bacharach is a small village that has kept most of its Medieval characteristics.

4. Train to Munich. In Munich we wanted to see the Englischer Garten, the BMW factory, Glockenspiel, and Dachau Concentration Camp. How many days do we need in Munich?

5. Train to Schwangau to see Mad King Ludwig's Castle. I believe we can get there from Munich, see the castle in one day, and return to Munich that evening. Am I right?

6. Train from Munich to Berlin. How long of a train ride is this? Would it be cheaper to fly? We'd like to see the main sights in Berlin. Old areas where the Berlin Wall was located, the new Reichstag building, Tier Garten, etc. Are there other major sights in Berlin we should be thinking about?

7. Train or plane from Berlin to Amsterdam. Is it cheaper to do one or the other? Are we missing much by not including a stop in Hamburg?

I reason we can do this trip in 10 to 12 days (from JFK and back)

I'd appreciate any thoughts, comments, or answers to my questions.
Is this your first trip? People tend to want rushed itineraries at first and it's almost never a good idea. Even Cologne is a big enough city, and spending half a day there is strange. Is that supposed to be the same day you arrive? I just flew to AMS and took a train to Bochum, which is close to Cologne. It will take about 2.5-3 hours and a lot of train changes.

I don't know anything about Bacharach. If it's small you might be able to do it in a day. I've also never been to Munich so I can't tell you much, though it is a bigger city and you'll need days for sure. You might want to swap Dachau for Sachsenhausen camp near Berlin later, if it saves you trouble. Accessible by the S-Bahn metro train and very interesting.

It's for sure going to be cheaper to fly to Berlin. Air is less regulated over Europe and much more competitive. You can probably find a one way for around 30€ or so if you check http://www.easyjet.com or the less desirable http://www.ryanair.com/en Trains are not cheap and that ride will be long enough and boring North of central Germany. And again, fly to AMS.

Berlin is one of my favourite cities ever. There's a ton of stuff to do. You can go on top of the Bundestag in to the dome for free, if you register you and your party on its website some days in advance. They will contact you with a free timeslot.

There's a lot of museums and infinite places to eat or have a snack and coffee or whatever. Public transport is among the best in the world in Berlin (probably), so although its spread out you can get anywhere in a breeze. My girlfriend tells me there's now even a ferry that goes around the Spree as public transport. That's probably a fun cheap activity on top of the little cruises you could do anyways. Check events pages before you go. It's a lively place for cultural events, concerts, exhibits, and anything else really.

If you only have 12 days, you're going to have to cut stuff or be sleeping on overnight trains. It's a bit crowded. Ideally, you'll need 3-4 days in each of the bigger cities at least to not feel like you're burning out. You're going to spend about three of those days at least half in transit, and that leaves you with one day trip type thing. If it were me I would just focus on Munich and Berlin, and 1-2 day trips from each. If you could extend that a few days it would be quite doable though.

Last edited by Jesse44; 04-13-2014 at 12:59 PM..
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,482,428 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MPRetired View Post
If you buy a Eurail pass, it should help keep your train expenses down. You can buy passes that are only for 2-3 countries and save a little money. Google Eurail pass for.
If you do this, make sure you compare the pass' cost with the cumulative individual fares. Lots of people report that these do not save them any money at all. It depends on each itinerary.
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:05 PM
 
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It seems like most of your time is in Bavaria and southern Germany - why don't you just fly in there, get a rental car and design some round trip driving tour, and then fly back? Bavaria is really best explored by auto - all the little cities and castles. Skip Berlin and Amsterdam for this trip.
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:24 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
1,337 posts, read 1,197,010 times
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I have done most of this trip, with the exception of Berlin. My last trip, in 2008, was very similar to this plan.

We started in Amsterdam. Spent a day or two there, then took the train to Cologne (pretty hung over). In Cologne, we checked out the amazing Cathedral (with the skulls of the 3 wise men???) and then picked up a rental car and drove to a hotel in Koblenz.

We stayed in the Koblenz area for a couple of days, checking out Burg Elz, Trier, Luxembourg, and the Rhine (St. Goar).

Then we drove to Munich. We caught opening day of Octoberfest, did a the BMW plant tour, a brewery tour and took a guided tour of Dachau. We also did a bus tour of Munich but I really can not recommend it. We flew back out of Munich.

In previous years, I have also reversed part of this, starting in Munich with a rental car (after a tour of Austria), spent a day or two in Munich, then drove up parts of the Romantic Road, spending part of a day in the excellent walled city of Nordlingen (well worth the time), before heading up to the Rhine River area where we had booked a night in Guttenfelz Castle. We did a river tour of the Rhine and finally ended up in Franfort, for our flight home.

You can "direct message" me with any specific questions, but I can offer a few suggestions.

While you can always spend more time in any one area, there is nothing wrong with your schedule. Too simplify, you might want to skip Amsterdam, and start in Germany. However, if you do fly in to Amsterdam, the train to Cologne is very easy to arrange and very comfortable.

St. Goar and Bacharach are awesome and well worth extending your time. You can catch a boat tour that runs some of the most scenic areas of the Rhine from there.

We drove from the Rhine area to Munich, so I can not comment on the train. If you do take the train, grabbing a sleeper car for an overnight might be worth considering. However, the drive is fun and very scenic. You could even stop in Heidelburg on the way.

I love Munich and think you have some great ideas on what to do there. However, here is my biggest warning about your entire plan.

Dachau is not to be missed in my opinion. However, it may well affect you for a while after you see it. We purposely scheduled it towards the end of our trip. The site is well maintained and does a good job of representing what went on there without getting too morose or graphic (note they did not use the ovens in Dachau). But it does affect you. My view is that everyone should have to see sights like this.

If you do stick to your plan, realize that the day after the Dachau tour might be a bit quiet.
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Old 04-13-2014, 02:04 PM
 
787 posts, read 489,586 times
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I would do at least three days each in Munich and Berlin. If the weather cooperates a lengthy stroll through Munich's Englischer Garten is a must-do in my opinion. I could spend a week or more in Berlin easily as it is sprawling and loaded with history.

I did not care for Cologne, a day is enough and Hamburg was definitely more interesting than Cologne (to me anyway) if it can be worked in. If you are in the Cologne area consider stopping at Dusseldorf for a little bit.

I agree it's worth getting down to the Alps and Neuschwanstein. Consider Dresden as well, it's not too far from Berlin. Lubeck is worth a visit but probably too much for your length of stay. Personally I would train everywhere, if you elect to fly between cities check baggage limits carefully.
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Old 04-13-2014, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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Unless you're got a good reason to be locked into Amsterdam coming and going, open jaw tickets generally don't add much to flight costs and are often a little cheaper than round trips. So fly into AMS and out of Berlin.

Munich's main airport is out in the boonies- add an hour to get there from central Munich/main train station regardless of transportation type. Note that Ryanair and the like often use secondary airports that may be a good distance from the city proper and understand that the shuttle to/from the airport can sometimes be as much as the plane ticket is.

Eurail passes have gotten rather expensive and you should price your trip out piecemeal vs. the pass to see which one works better for you. Some good European rail sites:

The Man in Seat Sixty-One - the train travel guide...

bahn.com - your online travel booking tool for rail journeys, holidays, city trips and car rental
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Old 04-13-2014, 07:40 PM
 
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Why do you want to fly to Amsterdam? Are you going to spend time there sightseeing? If not, you may as well just fly directly to Germany. The lowest priced flights to Europe from any North American airport are going to be from JFK, although you might find a few competitively priced flights from Newark. The lowest priced flights to Germany on Lufthansa, United, or USAir are going to be direct to Frankfurt; flights to other cities will be higher.

If you plan far ahead, you might be able to catch a special on Air Berlin out of JFK. They are now advertising a May 2015 special. AirBerlin flies directly to Dusseldorf as that is their hub. Cologne is only about a 40 minute train ride from Dusseldorf main station, and the Dusseldorf main station is a very easy bus ride from the airport. Since they now have direct flights from Berlin to JFK, you could fly back from there on an open jaw ticket.

You could easily spend a week each in Cologne, Munich, and Berlin and not get bored as there is a lot to see and do.
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