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30 years later, Europe here we come

So, now that my kids are fully grown, and we've been saving and investing for quite awhile, its time to actually stop European travel research and do some travelling. My wife and I will be flying into and out of Berlin on Norwegian Air getting there Aug 25, flying back Sept 18. Hope to visit Berlin area, Erfurt/Weimar, Dresden, Prague, Nurnberg and Munich area, but much still unsettled. Will try to resist trip creep (like mission creep for the military where a small scale intervention gathers momentum of its own and turns into a major conflict), balancing my wife's quicker pace with my slower approach in terms of how many places to visit and how fast to visit them.
Didn't get open jaw tickets, though thought about flying home from Munich because I see some nice circular routing possibilities, especially since I think we'd both enjoy seeing a lot of places in the former DDR (east Germany).
Btw, trip is just for me and my wife, daughter will be back in school at this time, son working, and housesitting for us but if Norwegian can keep offering these nice roundtrip offers from Oakland, shorter trips for all of us might be in the offing in future years.
I travelled a lot to Europe when I was a kid in the 80's and I must say they represent some of the best experiences of my life in many respects.

Posted by
10344 posts

Welcome to the travel forum and to the fascinating world of Europe travel!
You're smart in resisting "mission creep", trying to do too much and go too fast is a newb illness, looks like you've been doing your homework.
Working Americans generally get way less vacation time than most Europeans, but you've allowed enough time to do what you want to do. Keep resisting mission creep.
And IMHO (boy is it humble) leaving the kids makes sense--they've got their whole lives to do their own trips, if they're interested in Europe travel, many aren't.

Posted by
7618 posts

Hope your travels go well. We started over 20 years ago, when Lufthansa and then British Airways started serving Denver with incredibly low introductory fares. Now Icelandic and Norwegian are giving them a run for their money. Just wondering, are you doing carry-on luggage, meeting Norwegian's strict weight limits, or are you checking your suitcases? Icelandic still limits you to the same small suitcase and personal bag, but allows you to fit more stuff inside without a weight penalty. Gute Fahrt!

Posted by
10344 posts

What?! You mean I can't carry on my well-stuffed bag for free? What is everyone here going to think if they find out I actually checked a bag?! Oh the shame of it.

Posted by
595 posts

Cyn, we are going to do some packing trial runs to figure out if we want to just do carryon or not. According to Norwegians website you can prepurchase baggage up to several hours before your flight to avoid the at airport baggage check in cost.

Posted by
5697 posts

Congrats, Rob. Wish Norwegian were doing Berlin>Oakland in January -- you got a great deal!
Hope to see you at the May meeting to hear your progress.

Posted by
2016 posts

Back when my parents went to Europe for the first time, it was a given that my sister and I would stay home due to the airline cost. Though they did send postcards and stamps from both England(Mind the Gap) and Italy(Cinque Terra-long before Rick Steves) and brought back souvenir books of the Royalty of London and a West End show. As my father told me, "I was in my 40s before I saw Europe, you girls have plenty of time").

Enjoy your time in Europe. Almost everything has changed but it's still an adventure.

Posted by
78 posts

I just visited Munich, Salzburg, and Prague for the first time in October. It exceeded our expectations in every way. You are in for a fantastic trip!

Posted by
3049 posts

Hey! I was born in Sacramento and raised nearby (Woodland, only people from Sacto would have heard of it), moved to Oakland at 17, and have now been in Germany many years. There are some crazy deals from Oakland and it's both a nice small airport and actually accessible via public transit from Sacramento which is something of a miracle in the USA.

You can of course hit all the places you've listed in 3 weeks, but you're going to miss a lot of the local experiences nearby to hit the major cities. I think 3-5 days in Berlin is a minimum but I love Berlin. You won't get bored if you're interested in history, art, culture, or just...life with 5 days in Berlin.

I was just in Dresden for the first time in December, we had 2 nights but due to a stopover in Leipzig it worked out to mostly one full day, and it wasn't enough. If I were going for the first time I'd ensure at least 2 full days (so 3 nights) and i don't think you'd be bored with 3 days. The Army museum is a must-see, and we only made it into one of the "kabinetts" and it was mind-blowing.

Nurnberg is underrated to me but "seeing it" without the museums can be accomplished in a day, although I don't know why you'd skip the museums, which are some of the finest in Germany. Visiting the Nazi parade grounds and documentation center can easily fill the better part of a day as well (it's a huge site) and Nurnberg is a good base to day trip to some great places like Bamberg.

So far the cities I've mentioned are very high on excellent museums but if you're not a museum person Prague is more of a place to be experienced. Still think it's a minimum 2 night stop and that's really rushing it.

My instinct would be to leave the Munich area off this trip and focus on the above, but with 3ish weeks it's not like you couldn't do it all. And as you mention, you can return. And on the plus side you're not covering that much ground geographically, it's just that once you add Munich area to the mix there's that much more to see and do...mission creep indeed.

Good luck in your planning and feel free to DM me for any specific recs in the cities I mentioned above (I haven't been to Erfurt yet, still on my list!)

Posted by
613 posts

Damn!! I too traveled a lot in EU in the 80s as working adult in my 30s. Unless you like museums, Berlin is second rate & Munich is worse. Consider a river cruise from Berlin to Prague & then add some days in Prague. It is less expensive than it looks becaue it includes room, 5-7 meals a day, and daily sightseeing trips. All stops were behind the Iron Curtain. You will sail past the place where the US Army met the Red Army near the end of WWII. So here's a suggested itinerary: waste a day or 2 in Berlin since you are already there, a day trip to Potsdam, 7 day river cruise, spend the rest of your time in Prague and hope that Noreigen Air is still in business (check your trip insurance).

Posted by
6 posts

Happy travels! That is exciting.
What is the goal of your trip? Do you want to revisit old places from the 80ies or discover new places? Berlin is a different city every time I go back, it really hasn’t much to do with former DDR, it has been 30 years! Dresden is beautiful and highly recommend. I also agree to visit Potsdam.
Personally I prefer Regensburg over Nürnberg.

Make sure to eat local food as Munich and Berlin are very different.

Posted by
681 posts

How exciting for you but remember once you get the travel bug it seeps into your blood and takes over! Don't regret leaving the kids. They have time. I remember when my youngest was in college and I was traveling in Costa Rica and China. I saw all these families and thought "Oh I would love to do that with my son". I came home and said "Pick a place in Europe and we will go". I was thinking Europe would be great to start since he had never been overseas. He said, "Prague". I started to plan, got semi-excited and deflated when he called two days later and said, "Mom I would really like to have an airline ticket to go up to Minnesota, visit cousins and go fishing". He had a great time! LOL. So enjoy and have a couple of toasts on your kids starting their own travel dreams when they are ready.

Posted by
14580 posts

That was at Torgau an der Elbe, the US-Soviet link-up, the monument (if it's still there) was called the "Denkmal der Begegnung"

Posted by
595 posts

Just posted my pretty much completed trip plan in the Germany forum. Turns out it closely mimics the back half of the Lonely planet Germany in one month itinerary, minus the Prague and Salzburg spur line detours.

Posted by
595 posts

Wish me luck everybody. We leave tomorrow. Got my shifts covered at work, son has housesitting instructions, daughter is ready for college on Monday, bills prepaid that need to be prepaid, Norwegian air still standing as of now, WhatsApp downloaded, tested on my phone just using wifi, people we are visiting informed, all packed up and under 44 pounds total among the two of us, debit card loaded for walking around money and informed of where we are going, credit cards also informed, db app downloaded, rick steve forum community wisdom of not overloading the trip with too much more or less being followed.
I might even post a bit on the trip, or I might not, will see how things go.

Posted by
4921 posts

You are so ready for this. I'm going to go check out your trip plan because it appears I'll be following behind you in September/October with many of the same cities in Germany.

Safe and wonderful travels!

Posted by
2252 posts

Would love to hear about your progress as you travel along on this much anticipated trip! It sounds as if you have all your bases well-covered and I think you are well prepared for many more ".....best experiences of my (your) life...".

Posted by
10391 posts

Safe travels Rob! I hope you have a wonderful trip. I hope you'll be back for our 9/21 meeting so I can hear all about your trip. I will be in Germany in October, so will miss the meeting that month.

Posted by
2647 posts

Prepare yourself for some high temperatures. Hot summer will deliver its last round the next days.

I guess you will not recognize Berlin in some areas which have changed so much in the last decades.

To see the former divided version of Berlin you can try TimeRide (initial opening today): With VR you can see how Checkpoint Charlie was looking like in earlier times of at a bus ride how Palast der Republik was looking which is now erased.

Important tip for Berlin: Use BVG journey planner to check best public transport connections in Berlin because a lot of constructions are proceeded currently. Also be aware that bus TXL ends now two stops after main station, no longer at Alexanderplatz.
https://fahrinfo.bvg.de/Fahrinfo/bin/query.bin/en?

Berlin is still little relaxed because a lot of residents without school kids used that time after school vacations for their summer journey. This will immediately change in first September week - preparing IFA fair and some larger events.

Today Berliners and visitors can join a Techno street parade (Zug der Liebe), the park festival of a radio station and after that enjoying classical music open air around Brandenburg Gate: the Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra welcomes its new conductor. All for free of course.

Have a great journey.

Posted by
3355 posts

How exciting! Have a fantastic time and do let us know how it goes either along the way, or when you get back.

And, I can relate too......my first trip to Europe was in 1984 and then, while I did do other traveling, I did not get back to Europe until 1999. Now, trying to go yearly, at least until hubby retires and then more often.

Posted by
3992 posts

Have a great trip making new memories and reliving old times!

Posted by
1311 posts

Hi Rob —
I have you are having a wonderful time!
I’ll check and see if you post any trip reports.

Posted by
1921 posts

Oh man! That creeped up so fast that I didn't have a chance to say, "happy travels"! We've missed the last couple meetings. I'd love to hear how your trip is going and a full report when you get back :-)

Have a blast!!