We would like to spend one day traveling from Cologne to Mainz-- a one-way trip. (We will spend time with friends in Mainz before leaving from the Frankfurt airport.) We want to stop for a tour of Marksburg Castle and see other sites along the way if time permits. Can anyone recommend a reputable driving/guide service? I have been looking and not found anyone yet. Thanks! Maria
Here is how you can do it without hiring a private driver.
Book two train tickets from Cologne to Mainz and specify two stopovers, one in Koblenz for 30 minutes to store your luggage in a locker, then 3 hours in Braubach. In Brauback you can take a taxi up to Marksburg and tour the castle, then take a taxi back to Braubach station and take a train back to Koblenz, collect your luggage and proceed to Mainz on regional trains.
Advance tickets just a week away are 40 EUR for two. You can take an EC, IC, or ICE train from Cologne to Koblenz, and thereafter take any regional trains for the trip to Braubach, back to Koblenz, and then to Mainz. For more flexibility, you could travel on all regional trains with a "Quer durchs Land" ticket after 9 am week days for 52 EUR for 2, or on a weekend, anytime with a "Weekend" ticket for 44 EUR for 2. These tickets can be bought on the day of travel and not in advance.
Very reputable driver service: http://www.mydriver.com. It's owned by Sixt, the renown car rental company. Another good service is http://www.blacklane.com. We've personally used both and can recommend both.
For a driver service with qualified tour guide consider some of the German destination management companies (DMCs) that usually are also meeting and event organisers like Confidentl.com - but there are many others as well. Of course such a comprehensive service is more expensive than just the drive with a private driver.
Thanks for the replies! One reason we did not plan to take the train is the issue of luggage handling and storage. We understand the train station in Braubach does not have lockers and that cabs for the trip up the hill are not plentiful. (We've hiked up to lots of castles in our travels but it's time to think about being transported-- i.e. getting too old!). However, we will check further-- perhaps with the TI in Braubach. We have taken the train (and boat) along the river before and loved it!
Andres-- Many thanks for the great suggestions! I will follow up. Maria
"One reason we did not plan to take the train is the issue of luggage handling and storage."
As for handling, thousands and thousands of travelers with luggage use the trains every day. The lighter you pack, the easier it is, naturally - here's Rick Steves' packing advice:
But those who over-pack use trains all the time:
Stations like Koblenz, where you change trains, and Mainz, your final destination, have elevators that serve the rail platforms for the disabled and for those with outsized suitcases:
In Mainz there's an escalator from the main hall to the upper area and to the walkway that transfers you to your platform.
High-speed trains have dedicated luggage racks and overhead luggage racks as well. Local trains that serve Braubach have overhead luggage storage, under-the-seat storage, and overflow spots for big bags, bikes, etc.:
The tourist office in Braubach is a short walk from the train station entrance and will hold bags for visitors for no charge while you visit Marksburg.
As for getting to Marksburg Castle after you've dropped your bags off, it's a 20-25-minute hike up a well-kept trail, OR there's a shuttle operated by Ruckes Reisen:
There is no posted schedule at the above site. I suggest you contact the company or the Braubach tourist office to confirm availability on your date at the time you wish to travel.
Tourist office: Rathausstraße 8, 56338 Braubach
Telefon: 02627 976001, Fax: 02627 976005
If you want to reserve a taxi instead, here's a Braubach taxi firm: