Our flights are set to arrive and then later depart from Frankfurt. Top desires are Strasbourg, the Black Forest, Bavarian Castles, Salzburg and Rothenburg via the Romantic Road. We have fourteen days. I believe we are being too ambitious. We'll have our three adult children with us. I could use some feedback!
Renting a car is your best option. I don't think you are doing too much. We are doing somewhat close to what you are doing but even more. 16 days we are starting in vienna then to wolfgang, off to garmisch, to zermatt, como, monterosso, chamonix ending in paris. yes, we are renting a car and calling our vacation "a taste of europe". We starting with the train and then found out that we would be wasting much of our time. The rental car ending up being the same cost as the 4 train tickets for 16 days. Have a great time..
If you really want to slim the trip down a little, cut Stasbourg and the Black Forest. There's enough good substitutes for Stasbourg along your route. The Black Forest is just one of many low mountain ranges found throughout central and southern Germany- the Pfälzerwald, Odenwald, Taunus, Hunsrück, Eifel, Vogelsberg, Hartz, Spessart, Thüringerwald, Jura, Sauerland, etc. are some other examples. The only things that make the Black Forest stand out are the name recognition, the length of the range, and some of the peaks at the southern end are a little more impressive. But even these are nothing compared to the Alps.
Completely agree with both of my illustrious colleagues above.
My assumption is that if you asked the question, you know the answer. I gotten off the band wagon of travel less, see more. I think everyone needs a trip like this so that you later understand the previous statement. For that pace you do need the car but you need a big one with five full size adults and related luggage. A better option would have been an open jaw ticket into Frankfurt or Strasbourg and maybe home from Munich. Save some back tracking and associated expense. You can that on your next trip.
Should you decide against driving, then be sure to consider the Länder tickets (such as Bayern-ticket) for travel within one state, the Quer-Durchs-Land ticket for weekday travel involving more than one state or the Schönes-Wochenende ticket for travel between states on the weekend. If you are going to stay 3 days in one location, then an apartment (fewo or ferienwohnung) will probably save you money. You haven't mentioned the Rhine, but if you do go there, there are trains that will go right to the airport. Depends on your flight time to know if it would would for your - it worked out great for us.
Jana, While this trip may be feasible, it seems a bit too "busy", especially for a very short 14-day time frame. It would have to be precisely planned, and if there were any complications in any part of the journey, it would affect subsequent parts of the trip. Given the overall route you'll be following, I was surprised that Munich wasn't on the list? I might consider skipping Strasbourg and adding Munich, since it's a logical progression between the Castles, Salzburg and Rothenburg ODT. Using open-jaw tickets would have been a better idea, but I'm assuming you've already bought your air tickets? Depending on which destinations you ultimately choose, trains might be a better option for at least a few of the segments. One point to note is that if you rent a car in Germany, a highway tax Vignette may be required for driving in Austria. I can't remember the details, but hopefully one of the others here can confirm that. It would probably be a good idea to pack along a GPS unit along with a good Map (Michelin?). Good luck with your planning!
Keep this coming. You guys are very helpful. Yes, our tickets are already purchased and we had not heard of open jaw option. Curious about it.. Is flying "open jaw" cost effective and also versatile? We didn't find a good financial way to fly into F and then depart from M. Our daughter wants to use her French, hence hitting the western border. Anyone know if she'd have plenty of opportunities in a day to use her French while in Strasbourg? Would she get the same opportunity in a more quaint setting if we go to Colmar? Heard it is charming. Yes, Munich would be in the itinerary but I know trying to see that city well (esp. with a bike ride around the lake) would take a day or two out of the other priorities. So have been unsure how to make it fit. I like the Frankfurt tour the day we arrive though I'd rather get out of the big city. However, spending the night there and then train to Strasbourg sounded smart. I think we'd want to rent a car/van from then on. Son is 6'4" and 225. We need a larger vehicle. With his size in mind, and with his two sisters, so five of us, am stumped about good cost effective way to sleep all of us..."family room" and then an SB? Would love advice here. Thank you so much for the feedback so far. Besides planning the route I'm also challenged to find ways to get us out of the car and get into the forests and around the lakes and onto the mountains. We need hikes and a bicycling day and a picnic and the best route through the Black Forest for stopping by waterfalls. We need at least one hostel stay to meet other people. Thoughts on Gastehaus am Graben hostel in Reutte? Again. Thank you. I'm encouraged by your help.
Any other thoughts and advice would be very reassuring.
I agree wholeheartedly with James and his itinerary. You are not trying to do too much at all IMO, the area you want to see is not that large, and as a result you won't be spending more than a few hours on each leg of transport. Given that most people on this board try to go all over Europe in 14 days, your must-sees are pretty easy. Don't skip Strasbourg. It's perfect for a little taste of France and is substantially different from other things you'll be seeing. Your daughter will get PLENTY of opportunities to use her French in Strasbourg, even though it's a larger tourist city, it's still France, and as a result, most people will prefer it if you can communicate in French. I would limit your time in the Black Forest. Honestly an overnight while driving through from Strasbourg on to would be plenty. The waterfall in Triberg is supposed to be very cool, although I wouldn't waste my time staying overnight there, I didn't find the town particularly charming at all. Finding rooms for 5 is going to be difficult and will limit your hotel choices significantly. I'd book two rooms. There are plenty of budget options in all the areas you're going - gasthauses, zimmer frei, hostels, cheap chain hotels like Etap are all good bets. Keep in mind that most European hotels charge "by the person" more than we do in the states so it's not necessarily that much more expensive to get two rooms for 5 people than it would be a room for 5 (when you can find them). I'll include a potential route in the next post, it's theoretical (as in I haven't driven most of it) but I think it would work for you...
So after 1-2 nights in Strasbourg, drive south to Colmar. It's only an hour. Have lunch, wander, figure out parking online in advance (look into a Park and Ride maybe?) From Colmar to Freiberg it's less than an hour. Overnight in Freiberg or maybe the quaint town nearby that RS recommends depending on your preference. Get up early, go to Triberg (less than an hour away), hike the waterfall. Maybe find another short pretty hike nearby (internet research needed!). From Triberg head towards Singen, drive along Lake Constance towards Fuessen, stopping either in Lindau or Konstanz to walk, get coffee & cake, enjoy the sights. That leg is the longest, about 3 hours from Triberg to Fuessen. Check into Fuessen for 2 nights. We're at what, 6 nights now? Not too bad. 2 nights in Salzburg, 1 night Muinch, and you're still left with 4 more nights for the Romantic Road, or adding a night somewhere else (if my math is right) I think this would be a fairly nice and leisurely trip. I would consider adding a night around the Bodensee for hiking and to break up the drive.
I think your trip is most definitely well rounded and totally within reason. The driving around the area you will be traveling is pretty easy with beautiful scenery and well marked roads. You could consider a gps that will help, but with 4 navigators you should be fine either way. There is lots of flexibility with your car to stop at any location along the way that looks inviting...and there will be plenty.
I second the suggestion to keep Strousbourg in and also if possible add the Lake of Cosntance (Bodensee) It is stunningly beautiful.
Jana, My opinion differs a bit from the others regarding Strasbourg vs. Colmar. The incredible Cathedral in Strasbourg is worth seeing, but I found the city to be large and overly crowded. In terms of a place to stay for a few days in the Alsace, I much prefer Colmar. On the topic of open-jaw flights, sometimes these are about the same as round trip and sometimes a bit more. However, these are often better as they save both the time and cost of returning to the starting point.
I've like the advice to stay in Frankfurt the day of our arrival, tour the city that day, spend the night, then take the express train to Strasbourg and start our tour of Germany from there. However, my research warns me that it could be hard to find housing for the night in Frankfurt and that it is very costly. We arrive early a.m. our first dayand have time to continue beyond Frankfurt instead of staying in the city. Are there any express train connections from Bacharach? Spending the first jet-lagged day there instead of Frankfurt sounds much better but then getting us the next morning on a train to Strasbourg gets complicated. Any advice?
Hotels can be either fairly cheap or super expensive depending on the date and what is going on in the city. When would you be traveling here? Trade Fairs wreak havoc on hotel prices.
Jana, It's a VERY easy trip from Frankfurt Airport to Bacharach. There are two rail stations right at the Airportt - the Fernbahnhof for long distance trains and a Regional Bahnhof which is under Terminal 1. For a trip to Bacharach, the Regional station is the one to use. The trip from the airport is 1H:02M, usually with one change in Bingen. As I recall, that's an easy change, basically just a walk across the platform. Hopefully Lee will spot this post, as he knows the details. Reservations for that train are not required. Although you'll be tired and jet lagged, be sure to watch for arrival in Bacharach. It's a small, unmanned station so it's easy to miss the stop. Depending on which Hotel you choose, you should be able to walk from the station. If you don't mind "basic" accommodations, you might consider Pension Lettie. It's an easy walk from the station and the prices are reasonable. I believe she offers a family room, or you could rent a 3-bed room and a double. Lettie is a wonderful host and I'd definitely recommend it. Hotel Krantenturm is also an easy walk, but I'm not sure what type of rooms they have available for families. Kurt and Fatima are also excellent hosts, so I would also recommend that. There's also the Burg Stahleck Hostel in Bacharach which is located in a Castle. It's on the mountain above town so you'd have to take a Taxi, as that wouldn't be a pleasant walk with luggage (especially after a long flight). That wouldn't be my first choice as it might be hard to get over jet lag in a Hostel environment. Cheers!
"One point to note is that if you rent a car in Germany, a highway tax Vignette may be required for driving in Austria." Correct, except that unlike Switzerland, it is only required for highway driving. Also unlike Switzerland, you can purchase it for shorter time intervals. The one caution I'll throw out about using a GPS... I've had a GPS unit point me in the wrong direction enough times in Germany that I've stopped using them. Road signs point to almost any site that would interest a tourist. Use a GPS if you must, but don't rely on it 100%.
that unlike Switzerland, it is only required for highway driving Actually, that's the case in Switzerland, too. It is mandatory on Autobahns/Autoroutes/Autostrada, the "A-" routes. They are also required on designated express roads, those with a green car symbol on the sign, such as the 2 lane road between Spiez via Interlaken to Luzern. The vignette is not required on Swiss secondary roads.
"...Strasbourg, the Black Forest, Bavarian Castles, Salzburg and Rothenburg via the Romantic Road." I applaud your interest in the Germany outside the megacities, where you'll generally find more old world flavor. My concern is that your destinations are the most prominent ones in all the glossy brochures and guidebooks for tourists, and that you'll be sharing these places with too many other visitors. The "Unromantic Road", as someone penned it, really is just an unexceptional driving route except that it's extra-packed with summer tourists. The most visited towns (Salzburg, Rothenburg, Füssen) might be romantic if they weren't so overcrowded. I would say none of them are absolute musts. They are also pretty spread out and will require lots of ground travel. And here's the thing... In Germany, there are many places you can visit with smaller crowds that are just as romantic and interesting. Just northeast of Frankfurt: Büdingen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX0yo8dtbEI
Gelnhausen:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtCzNK12U3U A little further north: Hannoversch Münden (page through photos): http://hann.muenden-tourismus.de/bilderbuch/index.html
(cont.)Further east in Northern Bavaria (Franconia) nr. Rothenburg: Würzburg (on the RR, Residenz Palace): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGnK0kf_HMA Bamberg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of4CI_169KQ Just NW of Frankfurt: the Rhine and Mosel regions:
(cont.) The Black Forest is further from Frankfurt but less impacted by tourism than your other choices and lets you see a little more of traditional life. Gengenbach is an old walled town like Rothenburg and a good place to stay - you can daytrip easily by train to Strasbourg from there. http://www.stadt-gengenbach.de/de/tourismus/Bildergalerie/Altstadt/ Train travel in the BF is free when you stay in Gengenbach: http://www.blackforest-tourism.com/konus The Konus card covers travel to the French Border - then it's 6€ and a short trip to Strasbourg. The BF railway crosses the BF and runs thru Gengenbach and other places of interest, like the: http://www.black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/black-forest-railway.html http://www.black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/vogtsbauernhof.html
All the places I've mentioned are well served by train. I'd pick 3 base towns and do short daytrips. With 5 people, I would also pre-book 3 apartments to reduce costs. We (4) had this lovely apt. on the Rhine recently - VERY reasonable too: http://www.loreley-apartments.de/die_4_wohnungen_rheinblick_en.php
In Bacharach, I checked occupancy at the hostel a couple of months ago to answer another post, and it looked like it was already pretty much booked up for the summer. Another place to stay in Bacharach is Private Zimmer Irmgard Orth which I believe is very near Pension Lettie and the train station. The third floor has a double room and two twin rooms. She doesn't have email, but writing to the tourist office will get to her. The Bacharach website has excellent listing of accommodations.
I love the support on this message board. Many thanks! One detail I still would like to know is that if we head to Bacharach on our jet-lagged day, and we'd like to get to Strasbourg the following day, do we HAVE to go back to Frankfurt to get an express train....? Or, is there a way, from Bacharach, to reach an express train we could use from there to reach Strasbourg? In my homework I've run across, though forgotten the detail right now, that an express train goes from Frankfurt in the direction of a western German city and then we'd have a train change to go south to Strasbourg. Anyone know? Then, could we connect with the above idea from Bacharach instead of having to return to Frankfurt in order to make the express train work? And is this worth the trouble... I'm trying to figure out if we should just rent our van in Frankfurt and drive to Bacharach for the day, then the next day drive south to Strasbourg. I don't know the hours it would take. I suppose we could see Burg Eltz upon leaving Bacharach if we chose the "van way" instead of the train idea. ? Train or car? I bet one of you will know.
Jana, Good that you're going to Strasbourg, a great cultural and historical city and where your daughter will have ample to opportunity to speak French (or German for that matter) with those in the service/ tourist industry. You'll find them to be adept at both languages To go from Bacharach to Strasbourg, no need to go back to Frankfurt. The most direct way I would do is to go by way of Mainz...Bacharach-Mainz. You transfer at Mainz and once more at Karlsruhe, the last leg being Karlsruhe-Strasbourg.
Just picking up the van at the airport isn't the worst idea. The drive from the airport to Bacharach is less than an hour (traffic and road construction permitting, of course). The drive from Bacharch to Strasbourg is about 2 1/2 hours. I've driven to Strasbourg twice from Stuttgart, and aside from having to deal with traffic and road construction on the autobahn it's not too bad. Driving within Strasbourg can be a little tricky. You'd want to get a hotel with a parking garage available and STUDY the directions for how to get there carefully. The entire city center/old town of Strasbourg is pedestrianized (as it is also a UNESCO world heritage site - the only city center in the world designated as such, which is why it baffles me when people pooh-pooh Strasbourg on this forum) so getting to stuff in the city center with a car is a bad idea. One suggestion would be to stay at one of the budget hotels near the train station, which isn't a pedestrianized area, so it might be easier to navigate. I stayed at Le Grande Hotel and really liked it, it was cheap but surprisingly nice (and large) room. Don't know if they offer parking, though. Alternatively, if you decide to visit Strasbourg as a day trip as opposed to staying overnight, with a car you can use the Park & Rides. They're located near freeway exits around the city, for 3 euro your car can park all day and you also get up all day tickets for the public transportation system - a fantastic deal! They are all located near a tram stop. As you can see they really do want to discourage driving in the city center!
Sarah, thank you for the insight into driving in Strasbourg, for we've decided to rent a van afterall instead of using the train. We'll drive to Bacharach from Frankfurt, enjoy it for a day and night then drive to Strasbourg. I'm very happy to know it is only about 2 1/2 hours. On my map it looks like maybe an hour longer than that. Park and Ride is a great idea. I will look into the hotel you suggested. I think you are suggesting that staying in the city itself overnight is worth the time. I'm going to look at pensions, etc just outside the city also as that gets away from traffic and people noise in the downtown area. I just returned from AAA and found that with all of the help you folks are giving me that I know more than the AAA folks do! Thanks everyone. I'm sure I'll be back with another question.
Jana, first let me apologize for not getting to this earlier, before the anti-train crowd poisoned the waters. This trip does not scream car; it doesn't even whisper it. It would be very easy to do, and a lot less costly, by train. German has the richest rail system in Europe, with 1/3 of the rail kms on the western continent. It's system is 2nd most dense, only 1% less so than Switzerland. The abundance of regional passes make travel particularly cost effective. I've made 9 trips (18 weeks) in Germany. I'm planning on a 10th 2 week trip next month. I think I know better than most people, even some who live there, how to effectively use public transportation in that area. These trips were all planned for trains and buses only, and I never wished I had a car. I planned one other trip with my daughter, her husband, and another couple, but had to cancel it when my daughter and her husband both changed jobs and didn't have vacation. The first half of that trip was very similar to the Bavarian part of yours. We were going to fly into Munich and spend four nights, including a day trip to Salzburg. Then we were to take a morning train to Oberammergau for two nights and see Linderhof that day and have dinner in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Next day was a round trip on the bus to Hohenschwangau and the castles. Next day by train to Rothenburg for two nights. Last day to Frankfurt via Würzburg. The total cost of transportation for this trip, 9 days for 5 adults, at today's prices, would be $258 (€194). That includes €24 in local Munich Metro tickets which you might want anyway to avoid driving in town. You could easily do Strasbourg and the Black Forest in the other 5 days.
Ah, Jana, meet Lee. He's our resident train enthusiast and this is what he does. For the record, I am not anti-train at all. I love the train. I often recommend people take the train. I don't particularly like driving in Germany. But Jana's itinerary does make more sense by car for most of it if not all of it. Lee, you have to recognize that you cover a lot less ground in most of your trips than other people want to. So you can enjoy your Laender tickets and regional trains and it doesn't matter how much longer your trip will take you. But this itinerary, while doable, is busy, and people may not want to spend half their day in transit with 4 different train connections, which would be the reality for at least half of their transit legs. Did you even look up the times from Bacharach to Strasbourg? Or Strasbourg to Fuessen? What about the prices? PARTS of this trip could be done effectively by train, for other parts having a car will cut transit time nearly in half. I don't like recommending a car - particularly when two of the destinations where having a car will be useless, but for the bulk of their trip, a car makes a lot of sense, since time is a factor as well as money.
I don't get this itinerary at all. It's a lot of ground travel for the time allotted - whether by train or by car - especially by car, I suppose, with 5 people stuffed in, one 6'4', and the expense of a van and fuel. If the group must fly into AND out of FRA, then Bacharach/Rhine makes sense, and Rothenburg + region makes sense, and maybe one other area like Strasbourg/BF, but the extra mileage to Reutte (why???) AND Füssen AND Salzburg AND the Black Forest isn't really justified; it only burns up some kms and strokes Exxon. They'll be driving right past all sorts of wonderful places, and seeing some much too briefly, when a tighter travel circle would make so much more sense. I am going to blame Rick Steves for hyperactive itineraries like this - if he understood Germany more completely, he'd stop over-pumping extreme southern Bavaria and do more to spotlight the other interesting parts of the country that he omits or hardly mentions. Maybe the other areas don't embody the sort of marketable German stereotypes that southern Bavaria does?? And a word about Lee's style of travel: I think if more people traveled like Lee travels, they'd see and experience more interesting, less über-touristy stuff.
Whether it's too ambitious or not depends more on your preferred travel style than our opinions. For comparison's sake, your itinerary is a great deal LESS ambitious than many others' frequently proposed here. I think it's entirely doable. The question of car vs train is a bit more complicated. We travel as a family of 5 with children in their young teens. For us, there is no question we would drive. The kids squeeze in and we pack light. That way, if we had a list of 3-4 towns we wanted to stop by on our way to somewhere else, we could do it (and we HAVE done it - and enjoyed it). You really can't do that kind of casual hit & run sightseeing by public transport. No matter how efficient it is, it isn't THAT efficient. But assuming your three adult children are normal sized (or larger) adults, there are not many cars available that would be comfortable for you AND hold your bags. The last time I checked, rental rates for a vehicle like a minivan (these are rare) were roughly 3x the cost of a normal small-mid size vehicle. The cost might come close to being prohibitive, especially when gas for that lower-milage vehicle is factored in. Check & see what you can find for rentals. If you can find something affordable, I would go that way. If not, make Lee here your new best friend and be willing to adjust your locations to fit simple transitions via public transport.
Randy is right on the money. This itinerary really isn't too 'hyperactive' for most people. It could be done by car or train but major tweaking would have to take place to make it efficient and smart by train. Whereas by car it's really not that much ground to cover in the time allotted. As Randy points out, the van will probably be expensive, as will gas. But time vs. money is always an issue for vacations, you generally have to spend one to save the other. As "amateur experts" we should try to give advice to present tips or a trip that would fit with what the questioner wants to do, not try to force them into our preferred style of travel. If someone's itinerary is way too ambitious then SURE, we should say so. Or we can suggest how they can do the itinerary that they want to in a sensible way. According to Google Maps (which is not perfect, I know) you can drive a route that will hit all the sites they want in a total of about 18 hours. Of course with traffic it will be more, but that still averages out to about 2.5 hours of driving time inbetween overnight stops. That's not really ridiculous or hectic for most people. Some people are more content to soak up the atmosphere in a smaller area, others want to see a lot of sights. If you want to do the latter and it's totally feasible to do the latter, why not? Not everyone travels just so they can indulge "I'm a local!" fantasies.
Sarah writes, "As Randy points out, the van will probably be expensive, as will gas. But time vs. money is always an issue for vacations, you generally have to spend one to save the other... As "amateur experts" we should try to give advice to present tips or a trip that would fit with what the questioner wants to do, not try to force them into our preferred style of travel." Jana: I provided some alternatives for you based on the fact that a lot of first-time travelers to Germany are quite unsure about what they want to do when they first post, even if their plans sounds firm. Sometimes they've copied and pasted one travel guru's "must-see" list out of convenience. Many who say they want to see X,Y and Z at first end up making drastic changes because posters have provided them more information and alternatives instead of just helping them get from X to Y to Z. I absolutely don't wish to "force" you to travel in any certain way, but to provide a little more info on how you might get around and on destinations in Germany that are more convenient to your anchor airport since the more distant destinations will require lots of $ and time. Spending $ doesn't buy you time - you have 2 weeks whether you spend lots of $ and time traveling long distances or not - and there are many interesting places you will miss by traveling so far.
I'm beginning to think we may not easily find lodgings in Bacharach and I've looked at St. Goar... not positive I'm sold on staying in that city. Sent a note to Lettie in B. hoping she may have room. However... I'm thinking now that we might want to begin more a southward direction rather than west to the Rhine. I hate for my kids to miss the Rhine, west of Frankfurt, for I have seen it and it's wine country and marvel...and its history is rich, but I'm working at slowing this trip down and moving more directly to places that my family wants to see. ...with that in mind, knowing we can see the Rhine as we head in a more southern direction, what are stops headed toward Baden-Baden...(which, I see, is on the edge of the upper Black Forest) ...anything off the beaten path? I see Darmstadt, Erbach, Ludwigshafen, Bensheim, Bad Krezunach, Speyer. If we can find one that wasn't destroyed by the war and maybe even off the beaten path, I'm for that. Maybe another city or village that is on the Rhine? Some of you surely know a secret about cities or villages in that direction? I'm hearing from you all there are places to see that get little attention but are worth seeing. Probably able to find lodgings more easily in places like that also. Pensions, gasthauses, I'm looking for those as we proceed south from Frankfurt.
Some of the places you mention are gems. Germany's like that. Toss a dart and there are scenic and interesting towns to visit without going to the far corners of the country. Bad Kreuznach is very attractive. So is Erbach and nearby Michelstadt is most impressive. http://www.erbach.de/bildergalerie/impressionen.html http://www.tompgalvin.com/places/de/hessen/michelstadt.htm http://www.michelstadt.de/Bilderbogen.245.0.html In Michelstadt: http://www.vacation-in-rhineland-palatinate.com/urlaub-16306-anbieter.htm Proceed south from there via Eberbach to the scenic Neckar River Valley, to Bad Wimpfen or some of the other villages nearby. I'd go to any of these lovely places before overhyped Baden-Baden. There are direct trains from Frankfurt Hbf (main station) to Michelstadt that take about 1.25 hours. A 5-person group daypass is 40€.
I still just really disagree that this is a far-flung trip. The distances are really quite reasonable for the way MOST people like to travel - and again I say this as someone who's fondest dream is taking a high speed train to a major city, getting an apartment for 1-2 weeks, and then going home, using trains as day trips from my base location. That's how I like to travel, but I know that's not for everybody. Here's an analogy as a native Californian: If someone told me they had 14 days for a road trip in California, and they wanted to see LA, Santa Barbara, the Central Coast wine area, Monterey, San Francisco, and Yosemite and then get back to LA, I would think "Wow, how lucky are you that you have that much time to see all that!" And yet the driving times/distances involved? About 19 hours of driving time - same as the loop driving in Germany to see the destinations being proposed. Now there's some differences: driving in a foreign country is harder and you're more likely to get lost. Jet lag. No good rail in CA, obviously, and using a car is a lot cheaper. But in terms of driving time, number of destinations, and time spent at destinations those are actually really similar. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend one, but some think the other is too hectic? It doesn't make sense. If the OP had indicated she wanted to cut destinations and focus on a smaller geographical area, fine, but she's not, she wants logistical information for an entirely reasonable trip. So what's the issue?
I'm going to agree with a number of folks and say that I don't think this itinerary is overly-ambitious at all. I think it is quite reasonable. It looks like you probably have 13 nights and just 5 main destinations listed in a fairly small geographic area. That is an average of 2 to 3 nights in each location which is quite reasonable. It doesn't look like any particular drive exceeds 4 hours. And while I think a car would work better, I also think (know) that you could do this trip on public transportation. On my first 3 week trip to Germany, I flew R/T to Frankfurt, stayed in 10 different locations in southern Germany, used trains and buses the entire time, and it was all quite manageable. With a car, you've got even more flexibility.
I had some luck using booking.com to find hotels that had room when I was recently looking for a room in Hallstatt, Austria during a busy time. You can plug in your dates, number of people, number of rooms, and a milage from city center. I found several once the milage was a little larger than just in the town proper. I looked at the descriptions and reviews, then checked tripadvisor reviews. I am very pleased with my selection, and I wish you luck in your search for rooms!
Hi, "...I'm looking for those as we proceed south from Frankfurt." How far south from Frankfurt do you intend on going? South of Stuttgart? South of Tübingen? If you're going beyond Tübingen, I heartily suggest Sigmaringen. When I first got there after all day on the train and looking for the hostel in the summer of 1971, the first thing that struck me was that the town in contrast to numerous cities I had seen up north had escaped being plastered by bombs and artillery fire and had not been fought over. Architecturally, that was quite evident. When I went back in 2009, the city center had been remodeled. Still, if it's an umdamaged town from the war you want, see Sigmaringen.