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Germany with my wife - Two Itinerary Questions

My wife and I (late 20's in age) are traveling to Germany for 8 days the first week in October. It will be my 3rd time to Germany and her first. Aside from Munich and Füssen, we'll be exploring new places. I've pasted an abbreviated itinerary below. I've been a long time Rick Steves' fan, and this trip is based on his 2011 Germany book. However, I have two questions which I would appreciate guidance on: 1) Should we go to Baden-Baden for the day? We'd like to, but question whether we are trying to fit too much in. 2) Regarding the Rhein/Mosel: I've read this Rick Steves' chapter a few times - and while its clear we want to explore things like Rheinfels Castle, Burg Eltz, I wanted someones opinion on staying in Bacharach (versus another town) and at Hotel Rhein. We'll still have a rental car too - so perhaps any advice on how that might influence this part of the trip for better or worse. Thanks. John Saturday 10/1 - arrive Munich . Stay in Munich through Monday late afternoon Monday 10/3: Pick up rental car late afternoon, drive to Füssen, stay at Hotel Hirsch. Tuesday 10/4: Tour Hohenschwangau and then Neuschwanstein first thing (10AM in Oct, I believe). Depart Füssen late afternoon, drive 3.5 hours to Baden Baden Dinner in Baden-Baden, stay at Hotel Rathausglöckel per Rick Steves' recommendation Wednesday 10/5: Explore Baden-Baden, Roman-Irish Bath
Depart late afternoon for Bacharach (2.5 hour drive) Dinner in Bacharach, Hotel Rhein (P. 384 Rick Steves) Thurs 10/6 and Friday 10/7 - explore Rhein & Mosel area, Rheinfels Castle, Burg Eltz, wine activities? Saturday 10/8: Check out of Hotel Rhein, Drive to Frankfurt to drop off rental car, ICE train to Amsterdam. Spend Sat PM in Amsterdam. Sunday 10/9: AM flight back to US.

Posted by
340 posts

We just returned from the Rhein region 2 weeks ago. A few suggestions: 1. Yes, you are fitting in a lot but you are young and I don't think it is too ambitious. You will be in the car a larger percentage of the trip than I usually like to be, but it isn't too bad. 2. Bacharach is nice and a pretty town, but small, and really shuts down at night. We stayed in Boppard, a little larger town, and we were glad that we had more restaurant options. Also, we used the train for most of our transportation, which can be limiting. You will have a car so, also, more options. 3. Best thing we did was bike along the Rhein River trail and explore castles along the way. We missed our first day of biking because the rental shops are very small and have a limited # of bikes. They were all rented for the day when we arrived at 9 a.m. This is a very popular activity in the region. If you plan to do this, reserve a bike the day before or get there when they open the doors. 4. One of our most memorable lunches was in the Rheinfels Castle. When you go into the gift shop, there is a cafe with outdoor seating to the right. If you look straight ahead, there is a door to a small balcony with just one table. It had a "reserved" sign on it. I asked the hostess when it might be available and she said, "Right now, for you."! So we sipped our Rhein wine (me) and bier (my husband) and enjoyed a private lunch with an amazing view of the river. 5. Consider returning your car in Koln and taking the train from there. I think it is about the same drive but a shorter train ride to Amsterdam. We did this in reverse.
6. Regarding Fussen: we have stayed at Susanne's B&B 4 times and loved it. She has an immaculate, lovely home, is close to the castles, and offers a more comfortable experience than most hotels would. She is American born so no language issues. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
258 posts

Hi- looks like you ARE getting a lot in on this trip, but I don't think it looks too out-of-hand in this case. If you have the time, I would def suggest Baden-Baden. There's not a hell of a lot to do, per se, but it's a really pretty little town, relaxing, etc. I viewed it as the "downtime" on an otherwise very busy/active trip. And a visit to the Friedrishbad is a relaxing, memorable experience. A few hrs of pools, baths, showers, steam, sauna, massage (all made super easy; you just follow the numbered "steps" on the walls); you leave feeling like a million bucks. Just be aware that you are in your bday suit, which they enforce.... IF you can get ONE night in in Baden-Baden, this place (suggested by Rick) is great: http://www.hotel-am-markt-baden.de/
A TYPICAL RS pick; small, clean, family-run, etc. And when you buy your ticket for the Friedrishbad there, they take off a few Euros. Great location; on quiet square across from a church. And just a few min walk to the Baths. Whether or not you stay over-night, another fun thing to do is to treat yourself to a beer in the swanky Brenner's Park Hotel lobby bar; one of Germany's (and Europe's) best. Enjoy an uber-expensive beer and get in some great people-watching. You'll pass it on the path that goes along the Oos River in the park (very pretty for strolling around.) In Bacarach, I stayed at, and liked, this place (also a Rick pick): http://www.kranenturm.com/bacharach-germany/index.html Also, a "typical" Rick place, and a good value. But I'm sure any of his picks there are fine. And I agree w/ post above re: Rhinefells Castle in St Goar; loved that. Have a great time.

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6795 posts

Hi, John. I want to suggest some changes that will make the best use of your time and resources. I'll assume you MUST leave from AMS but have no interest in seeing A'dam, since you've scheduled only your final night there - Leaving from Frankfurt would be much simpler, of course. 1. I wouldn't waste a night in Baden-Baden unless you simply must get a massage or visit a casino. 2. 10/4 seems rushed. Suggest you leave Munich by train (Bayern ticket, 29 Euros for 2) that morning and enjoy your day, then return to Munich at night. There's more to enjoy there than just the castle tours. Why not take a hike around the Alpsee lake or beyond into Austrian Tyrolia along the Fürstenweg walking path, or take a lift up to the Tegelberg? http://www.romanticroad.com/alpenstuben/english/map.php 3. On 10/5: Head to Bacharach from Munich. You can get an advance-purchase ticket for two right now for 49 Euros total (!!) from the www.bahn.de site; leave Munich 9:43, arrive 14:26.

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6795 posts

4. There's no real need for a car on the Rhine and Mosel - it's maybe the best place in Germany to be without one - and without the car, you have no need to backtrack to Frankfurt to drop the car. You can bike, cruise, or use the very frequent trains to get everywhere. Bacharach's a nice town and a fairly good base. You can buy a daypass there for 2 for 24 Euros/day that gets you around the whole Rhine/Mosel region. I like St. Goar or Boppard a little more as travel bases - they're closer to the Mosel and you can get a 3-day VRM mini-group pass for 40 Euros which will get you to Moselkern (Eltz) and Cochem on the Mosel. The 24-Euro/day pass can be used there too of course. When you're done exploring, just get on a train from Bacharach to Amsterdam. Check the Bahn rail site for adv. purchase fares. These sell quickly. 5. I don't know what the car + gas + parking would cost you. But you can probably do the German part by train for around 150 Euros or less as outlined.

Posted by
12040 posts

If the only reason you want to go to Baden-Baden is for a bath, don't go out of your way, unless you want to feel like a corrupted 19th century Russian aristocrat (or you're a Rick Steves completist). Germany has dozens of towns known for their mineral baths, why Mr. Steves chooses to highlight one of the more boring ones, I have no idea. I might suggest Bad Homburg, Bad Kreuznacht, Wiesbaden or Bad Dürkheim. All of these are more convenient to your route of travel.

Posted by
9039 posts

What Tom said. Hauling off to Baden-Baden just for the baths isn't the best use of your time. Bad Homburg, Wiesbaden or Bad Nauheim are closer and offer the same luxurious, elegant, old world thermal baths. Casinos also available as well as beautiful scenery. For towns along the Rhine, I have been the most impressed with Ober-Wesel. It is an absolute shame that Rick neglects both Mainz and Wiesbaden as both are great cities to stay in, with lots to see and do, wonderful architecture (especially Wiesbaden), and Mainz has 2 of the most amazing churches in Germany - the Mainz cathedral now over 1000 years old, and St. Stephens with its' Chagall windows. The Rhine is at your doorstep, the evenings offer lively things to do, and if it rains, you have museums to go to. The Taunus mountains are a hop skip and a jump away and they too are filled with quaint towns, some of which are on the Half-Timbered Road, like Idstein.

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813 posts

Just to tag onto the traffic point. Today is a fine example......the A8 near the Stuttgart airport is closed all of today and tonight in one direction because of a severe accident. Severe enough where they can't reopen the autobahn until it's repaved, probably in the morning. Yikes. Yes, traffic has been at a standstill since early this morning. Just be ready with the GPS and a paper map to take alternate routes if needed. A similar severity of accident to this happened in May (chemical truck exploded in an accident), so it can happen at any time.

Posted by
2531 posts

Another recommendation for Baden-Baden - a town we have visited a number of times. Two great and very different spas, good food, pleasant park good for a nice stroll, etc. Am I a RS completist? Dunno, as I need many more trips to Europe to determine. I'll faithfully report after such.

Posted by
19169 posts

According to the Hohenschwangau website, the ticket kiosk for the castles opens at 9 AM in October. If you have a reservation, they recommend you pick it up an hour before entry time. I don't know if that means that they book tours for an hour later (when I was there in 2009, it was 11:30, and they were booking the 12:30 tour of Neuschwanstein). I can see booking Neuschwanstein an hour in advance, because of the long walk uphill to the castle, but Hohenschwangau is just a few minute's walk away. If you book both castles online, you go to Hohenschwangau first. I wrote to the tourist office at Hohenschwangau recently, and they told me that the first English language tour of Neuschwanstein is at 9:20 (but that was in Aug). I have to agree with Russ. I went to Baden-Baden in 2008 and was under-impressed. I wouldn't call it a "pretty" town compared to others farther into the Black Forest. It had one glitzy, touristy pedestrian mall. I didn't visit a Therme since I have been in three others in the Black Forest, one, the Palais Therme in Bad Wildbad, which I liked very much, with it's Moorish decor. Maybe it's the casino which makes it special, but I'm not interested in casinos. As for staying in Bacharach, I would stay in Im Malerwinkel in Bacharach. It's a ways from the railroad tracks. Some people say the don't mind the train noise in Kranenturm, but others can't sleep and hate it. There are a lot of hotels on the river front in Boppard, including a very pricey Best Western, the Belleview. You can find a list of accommodations on the Boppard website, www.boppard.de (in English). I didn't stay here, but I liked the looks of Rheinlust. I stayed in a €25/night single room in a private "Haus", but they might not speak English.

Posted by
813 posts

Should you go to Baden-Baden for the day? Given that you'll be in Munich before and then Bacharach after, the answer is definitely no. There's tons of other places more interesting. Heidelberg is right on your way, it's much more interesting. Take the advice of the others who live around here, they're spot on.

Posted by
33305 posts

Baden Baden - Let me disagree with some of the conventional wisdom posted here about Baden Baden. We like it. There is a Biergarden/restaurant with nice nosh and a pleasant atmosphere and pretty good prices. There are two distinct thermal bath experiences in Baden Baden, the aforementioned Irish Roman Friedrichsbad and our favourite, the Caracalla Spa. We do like the relaxed swimming and water toys areas, the current, and the suna areas. Being right in the centre of the town makes it very convenient. The question raised here though is it worth it to detour so far? Only the OP knows what they really want out of the trip and how far they want to travel to achieve that. Given the route it probably is a bit far. On the other hand we were distinctly underwhelmed by Taunus Therme in Bad Homburg v.d.Hoehe. We found it a little hokey, quite small and not an especially well designed sauna area. We tried to get into the Wiesbaden therme earlier this month but it was closed for the week. It looked really good from the outside but we never saw inside.

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3 posts

This is all SUPER helpful! Re: Baden-Baden being out of the way - it looks like it's only an hour (max) out of the way on a trip between Füssen (or
Munich) and Bacharach. @Lise - many thanks for the bike tip and lunch at Rheinfels. Similarly re: dropping car off in Koln @Russ: I like your idea and appreciate it. Unfortunately, it's the tail end of Oktoberfest and thus our Munich hotel is expensive - hence why we aren't spending Monday night there. I like your suggestion about hiking the Alpsee Lake and will definitely take that into account. We we don't have to do anything other than drive to Baden-Baden that night, we could actually spend most of the day in the Füssen-area Many thanks to others as well. We'd love to see Meinz, Weisbaden, and more - but we have to limit ourselves and we want to ensure we are relaxed! Since we "must" do Munich and the Rhein, I have a few days of "fun" things to do inbetween (e.g. Füssen and probably Baden-Baden) - there just isn't enough time for more! I would still love to hear if anyone has any first hand opinions on where to stay in the Rhein. It looks like the castles are a bit of a drive (Burg Eltz is 1 hour from Bacharach). @Lise - any rec for a hotel in Boppard?

Posted by
12040 posts

Baden-Baden is a good 3 hour drive from Füssen (likely longer with stops and the inevitable stau). And Baden-Baden is 3 or more hours from Bacharach- ViaMichelin says 2, but knowing that route, you WILL get stuck in any number of staus. That's one of the reasons why I recommended the other spa towns, as they flow much more logically with the overall route of your trip... and your trip is tight enough as is. Traffic jams aren't any more enjoyable in Germany than they are in New York!

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134 posts

My husband and I visited Germany in the 80's...when WE were young and in our 20s! Hahahaha. Anyway, it was back before the Internet and I cannot recommend hotels for you. However, I loved Eltz castle. I was even telling someone about it at work recently. We kind of stumbled on it by accident and when got our first glimpse of it, I thought we had found Camelot! It was really special. We also loved Heidleburg...fun place.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi John, Having lived in Heidelberg for over a year, I guess we are partial to it. Been to Baden Baden and would never give Heidelberg up to do that. The Schloss overlooking the Old Town in Heidelberg is just unforgettable, especially at night. You can take the Berg - Bahn from down into the town at the KornMarkt up. Its a short distance and beyond worth it.! Also, We wouldn't do Hohenschwangau again if we had the choice. Neuschwanstein is definetly worth it and do get the horse drawn carriage to take you coming and going as the path is extremely hard on the ankles. No kidding !! Best wishes !! Ceal

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19169 posts

I found that "Haus", Pension Pauly, on the Boppard website under B&Bs. It says they speak English. I stayed there for 5 nights in 2004 and never heard a word of English, even when I struggled with German. Maybe they were just humoring me.

Posted by
340 posts

Hi John, I posted an answer yesterday to your question but it has disappeared so I must have said something I shouldn't have?!?!? Anyway, I'll be brief. We stayed at waterfront Hotel Guenther in Boppard. We requested a 3rd floor room so our balcony view was not obstructed by the trees. It was very clean, comfortable, and nicely sized. A generous breakfast was included. We wanted to have a river view but you could probably find something less expensive off the waterfront.

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19169 posts

I hope you don't think me weird (OK, go ahead), but I often go around towns taking pictures of Hotels, in case I want to come back or make a recommendation. I did so in Boppard. Of the big hotels facing the river, in addition to the aforementioned Bellevue, Rheinlust, and Günter, I liked the looks of Hirsch, Rebstock, and zur Krone. Royal looked OK, although it need some fresh paint around the balconies. Away from the riverfront, Heilig Grab, Ebertor, Sonnenhof, Hunrücker Hof, and bei Schinderhannes und Julchen also seemed stayable to me, although less elegant than the big ones.