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prague to amsterdam--good idea or no?

i realize 'good idea' is very subjective, but i thought i'd at least ask for a little input before i get into 'full planning mode' (my full planning mode is very intense!) my husband's request for our summer trip this year is 'return to amsterdam', which quickly morphed into 'and check out prague. and parts of germany'. our pre-planning plan is this: fly jfk to prague. 3-4 days in prague, hotel booked in advance. trains (plural, obviously!) from prague to amsterdam, stopping along the way at various locations, mainly in southern germany with hotels NOT booked in advance. husband is interested in bavaria, and i'd like to do the whole rhine/mosel day cruise thing. definitely want to work bruges in 'on the way' to amsterdam. contemplating rail pass, but likely i'll research and reserve point to point tickets to save money. total travel time from prague to amsterdam would be 5-7 days. end trip with a week in amsterdam (yes, i know that's long, but it is non-negotiable. my husband REALLY liked it there, and we want to get out into the country a bit, too. plus apartment rentals for a week are cheaper than a hotel for three nights). flight out of amsterdam to jfk via reyjkavik (possible 2-3 day stopover). 16-21 days (21 is pretty much our max, as my husband does have to work upon returning). all travel would be from late june to mid-august (also non-negotiable, we are teachers). any and all thoughts on this. sound like a good plan? too much? too little? to long? short? expensive? time consuming? suggestions of towns? again, this is a pre-serious planning general survey. though i'll likely be looking up train fares as soon as i hit 'post'... thanks in advance!

Posted by
3696 posts

Just a thought, but since you want to explore southern Germany without hotel reservations why not get a car? You can probably pick up in Germany and return to Amsterdam. Just check out the drop fee. I did this a number of yers ago and I cannot remember how long the drive way, but it was beautiful with adventure on the way. You would also still have a car to explore the countryside of Amsterdam, then drop the car and stay downtown till you fly out. Take the train from Prague to whatever city in Germany you want to get a car from. Lots of spontaneity and freedom with a car and Germany is an easy place to drive with beautiful roads.
Beautiful area in Germany is Lake of Constance.

Posted by
463 posts

i was thinking about a car. i don't know why, but for some reason i thought a train would be easier, though with the places we want to go (very rural) it seems a car would be best. i guess i have a whole europe equals train travel mentality! i did the math, and for a ticket from prague to munich plus the germany/benelux pass we'd need, we'd be spending around $620 on train tickets. given the plan i just worked out (and am about to post), we'd need a car for...five consecutive days, given the assumption that we'd take a train from prague to munich and then another train from bruges to amsterdam (because i don't want to drive in or near cities). that might be the easiest and cheapest option. thanks!

Posted by
463 posts

OP here...here's the sort of a plan plan i just worked out: Day 1Jfk to Prague Days 2, 3, and 4Prague Day 5Train to Munich Day 6Munich Day 7Day trip from Munich to Zugspitze. Sleep in Munich. Day 8Train to Mainz. Town hop up Rhine on boat. Sleep somewhere. Day 9Continue boat town hopping. Sleep Cochem? Day 10Day trip to Burg Elz. Sleep same place as night before. Day 11Train to Bruges. Day 12Bruges. Day 13Train to Amsterdam Days 14-18 or 20Amsterdam and side trips Day 21Flight to Reyjkavik. Day 22Golden Circle Tour Day 23More Reyjkavik or home
Day 24Definitely home. Our dogs miss us! possible change--rent a car in Munich on day 8 and return it in bruges on day 11. need to look in to how possible this is. can you rent a car in one country and return it in another?

Posted by
19156 posts

First, you need to learn some geography. The Rhein flows DOWN from Mainz to Koblenz, where it meets the Mosel. That's fortunate, because the Rhein boats go much faster down the Rhein. Look up the boat schedules of the K-D boat line (www.k-d.com). Boats don't run like buses, every half hour. There are only two boats per day from Mainz. More (5) start from Rüdesheim and Bingen, but they are spread out over a 7 hour period. Not much time for town-hopping. Based on 100+ nights in Germany in the last 10 years, I would not advise anyone to not book in advance. There are 100rds of thousand of people out there who are booking in advance, and when they find a good deal, they don't say, "no, that's too good for me. I'll book somewhere less favorable and save that place for someone who didn't book in advance." No, they take it, and you get what's left over. Or, you go to the tourist office and they give you the next place on the list, regardless of whether it's the best deal for you. Oh, renting a car and then boat-hopping on the Rhein/Mosel does not make much sense. Hint: how do you get back to the car you didn't use?

Posted by
19156 posts

The fastest way from Prague to Munich is from Prague via Bahn bus to Nürnberg and an ICE from Nürnberg to Munich (~4½ hrs). You can get these non-refundable tickets by advance purchase from the Bahn website for as low as €34 per person. It would be less expensive and only an hour or so longer to take one of the direct or 1 change trains from Prague to Munich. Advance purchase online from the Bahn a Bayern-Böhmen ticket for €33. In Prague, buy a Czech Rail ticket to Pilsen for €6 per person. The Bayern-Böhmen ticket will cover you from Pilsen to Munich. Cost: about €45 for two and no advance non-refundable tickets. As long as you know you are going to spend 3 nights in Munch, why not go ahead and book somewhere.

Posted by
19156 posts

"with the places we want to go (very rural)" "Very rural"? Munich, Mainz, Cochem, the Rhein and Mosel? They all appear in Rick's books. I could list 20 places I've stayed in you've never heard of. So far every place you've mentioned is readily accessible by train. Actually the 20 places I could mention are readily accessible by train (or at least by public transportation). It is difficult to find somewhere you would want to go to in Germany that is not readily accessible by public transportation.

Posted by
463 posts

first, thanks... we will book in advance. i was wondering if we should, particularly during the summer months. advance booking it shall be. good to know about the boat. perhaps that whole segment needs to be reworked. i thought we could use it as transport and a fun way to spend the day. i'll have to look into this more. thanks. thank you for the fantastic feedback on trains from prague to munich. that is extremely helpful, and i was having trouble figuring that out. i'm ok with more time and a train change to make it less expensive and avoid a bus trip. second, for the record... i realize which way the river flows. i simply typed 'up' because we would be traveling north. i don't care if this is grammatically or geographically correct. i'm not writing a dissertation on rivers in germany. the car thing was added after the fact, after some good advice on maybe renting a car. obviously, the plans would have to be changed around that, should we decide to go that route. i mean 'very rural' in comparison to, say, paris. london. amsterdam. i understand that there are many more out of the way places, but to me, mainz and chochem are not major metro areas. they look more like berks county than philadelphia. perhaps i should have called them 'suburban'. but still. this is not a european travel semantics helpline. finally... i don't understand why comments on here can not be free from snarky-ness, and i regret that i've been brought down to that same level immediately. i had forgotten, though i can't for the life of me figure out how. i am torn between how helpful it is and how insulting. as a teacher, i value all questions, and never would i make someone feel stupid for asking anything.

Posted by
1525 posts

You are the same Tracy who went to Paris and London last year, right? Are you really, really, really sure about trying this again so soon??? If so, there is absolutely nothing wrong - in general - with your plan. As mentioned before, you can easily get from Prague to either Nürnberg or Munich, rent a car for a week and do the crescent-shaped route (west to north) through Bavaria and up through Röthenburg, perhaps, then to the Rhine/Mosel area - drop the car (within Germany so no outrageous drop fees), then train to Brugge and train to Amsterdam. As an alternative, you could follow Prague with Çesky Krumlov (to the south, via a great "Student Agency" bus - I can provide details) where you can see a bit of rural Czech and an adorable and affordable little town. Some hotels there run shuttles to Munich - then continue on as described before. Lee knows more about Bavaria than anyone else here, but he would rather walk than drive a car, so judge what he says regarding transport with that in mind. We drove that route and found it easy, lovely and enjoyable. I wouldn't even consider a rail pass of any sort. Just buy point to point as you need them. Good Luck!

Posted by
463 posts

ha ha ha! yes, i am that same tracy! and yes, i'm really, really, really sure about trying this again so soon. after all, when you fall off of a bike, you have to get right back up on it, right? plus i love my husband, and he wants to go back. AND he's crazy enough and/or loves me enough to want to go back with me. yes, i continue to be amazed! the crescent-shaped route you describe is exactly what the (crazy) husband wants, but does seem difficult via train. with the added difficulty of the river boat option, it does seem like a car rental would be a good option. and the suggestion for leaving it in germany makes sense. so train from prague to munich, car out of munich through husband's desired germany locations, train out of germany somewhere in germany tbd to brugge. that makes sense, and will likely be financially responsible as well. additionally, i will be looking into rural chzech, as per your suggestion. thanks!

Posted by
12040 posts

Tracy, didn't you have a bad experience last year trying to fit in too much? If this is your second year in a row, I can only imagine that you'll have a third trip somewhere along the line. Perhaps cut your trip in half, go slower and save the rest for trip #3?

Posted by
9009 posts

Traveling along the Rhine is best done by train rather than a boat. With a day pass, you can get on and off at any place you like, there is no stress with driving, and both of you can look out the windows at the scenery. I don't think there is anyplace on your trip list that you can't easily use the trains for. Especially in Bavaria where you can use the Bavaria Ticket. You don't have to buy it ahead, you don't need a reservation, you just get on any regional train you like and go where you like and get off where you like. Rheinland Pfalz is the same thing, but it costs a different amount. Don't worry about saying "go up the Rhine", one is going North and that is the usual way to say it. Who the heck cares which way the water is flowing? Living in Frankfurt I certainly would not say that I am going down to Cologne or going down to Amsterdam. They are both north of Frankfurt, so I am going up to those cities, traveling up the Rhine.

Posted by
12040 posts

PS- I drive or train to Belgium about twice a month, and part of the route closely parallels the Rhine. I never say "I'm going down to Belgium.", it's always, "I'm going up to Belgium".

Posted by
463 posts

I did not know there were special Bavaria and Rhineland train tickets. I'm going to look that up right now. Thanks so much! You likely saved us a good deal of money! And yes, I did do the 'planning too much' thing last year, and I agree that I'm doing it again. My goal of the day today is to convince my husband to drop Prague from the itinerary and just focus on a few towns in Germany with a relaxing week in Amsterdam. I also planned too much per day last time. I'm avoiding doing that again, though it is a daily struggle! For example, instead of wanting to see all of Munich in two days, I have two things I want to do--sit in the beer hall in the park (day one) and take a train to the mountains (day two). and i don't even drink beer! ha!

Posted by
811 posts

Hi Tracy, I think dropping Prague from your itinerary would be a very good idea, and not only because it will help with the "squeezing too much in" issue. I say this with absolutely no snarkiness and with complete sincerity, and as someone who read your blog report from your trip to Europe last year: I don't think Prague is for you. The Old Town of Prague, where most tourists spend most of their time, is very compact. Prague also gets millions of visitors a year, many of whom visit during summer. It would likely be busy, crowded, and potentially hot during your visit. Just about everyone you'd see in Old Town will be carrying a map and/or guidebook. As you shuffle with the hoardes from the Astronomical Clock to the Charles Bridge you will pass nothing but souvenir stores. First comes the store selling marionettes, next to the crystal shop, next to the general kiosk of crap store with "Czech Me Out" t-shirts, and then it starts all over again with the marionette store. It's sad, really, how the tourists seem to have sucked "normal Czech life" out of Old Town and pushed the locals to the periphery. The architecture, of course, is stunning. It's a beautiful city filled with rich history and outside Old Town and away from Wenceslas Square you can find interesting neighborhoods, great restaurants, and glimpses into Czech life. But you have to look for it, and know going in that at least part of your time will be spent swept up in the concentrated tourist fray. Others may disagree with my assessments, but I thought it prudent to mention so that if you DID go, you could gird your loins beforehand and have a back-up list of "Things to do outside the tourist core of Prague." Just one girl's opinion...

Posted by
463 posts

angela...thank you! that is exactly the kind of thing i need to show to my husband in my quest to convince him to drop it from the itinerary (and the kind of thing i need to hear, too). thanks so muchand i'll thank you some more after i make him...er, after he reads it. though i AM laughing at the 'czech me out' shirts. ha! also, thanks for being honest, and of course i do not think anything you've written is rude in any way. i am not the 'snarkiness police', and hope i do not come across as such. if something i've planned is a bad idea, please do tell me. (and thank you again for doing so!) the only thing i am bothered by are corrections having nothing to do with the question at hand. 'you won't like prague because...' is good advice (even if i really wanted to go there). 'you used the wrong word in this sentence' is not necessarily bad advice, but not the kind of input anyone on here is looking for. again, thanks. i'll post again after i have 'the talk' with the husband.

Posted by
1525 posts

My assessment of Prague was the same as Angela's - beautiful but vacant of culture unless you stray far from tourists, which, let's face it, people are unlikely to do. You might consider flying into Munich and using the Prague days on Salzburg (and the surrounding area) instead - just an hour to the south. There is so much to see and do near there and it does not have that big city intensity. You could either train there from Munich easily, or you could get off the train one stop early, in Frielassing, Germany (a suburb of Salzburg, Austria) and get your "German" car and have it to tool around Austria and do the Bavaria to Rhine route. Also, the area around Salzburg is the edge of the Alps, so no need to make a special trip to find mountains. You are already there.

Posted by
818 posts

Wow - I wouldn't cut Prague! You have a nice chunk of time to work with. We did Prague to Krakow to Warsaw in 7 nights (and that is a LONG drive from Prague to Krakow). I wouldn't go out of my way to go to Bruges though. In the Netherlands we enjoyed Delft and Leiden - I didn't see what was so special about Bruges - Ghent was a much cooler city (I thought). That time of year - I'd book in advance. Seems really stressful not to.

Posted by
463 posts

randy...yet another fantastic idea. adding salzburg (while cutting prague) would definitely appeal to my husband (and to me). it was on our original 'grand europe plan' that we didn't do last year (thank the gods!) plus it is closer. adding that to the 'drop prague' pitch. thanks!!! plus i have always wanted to see the alps. i have a thing for big mountains. i have no idea why. pictures of the alps make me cry. seriously. (sad, i know!) changing our belgium plan is also a consideration. really, the only things i feel are non-removable are amsterdam (because that's what my husband wants) and germany (because that's what i want!)

Posted by
1525 posts

One other note re mountains; Hitler's so-called "Eagles Nest" just outside of Salzburg often doesn't sound appealing to people who are not WWII enthusiasts - and the reconstructed building, itself is just a restaurant now, but we found the visit there to be amazing. First the bus goes up an impossibly steep and twisty one-lane road, then you walk into a long tunnel, then you take a gold elevator to the top of the mountain. The vista from this point is among the most stunning I have ever seen. Just standing there and taking in the 360-degree panorama could make the whole trip for some people. Also nearby is the fjord-like lake Königsee (sp?). Taking the boat out to the other end of the lake and back (with a little walking in the woods in between) is a great way to spend a few hours. The two activities can be done at a leisurely pace on separate days, or can be both done the same day if you don't linger too long.

Posted by
463 posts

you had me at tunnel to gold elevator! thanks!!!! i'm off to the bookstore to pick up the RS germany...and maybe austria, too. sadly i don't think it is all one book anymore.

Posted by
768 posts

Tracy My wife and I are planning a trip late this spring that will take us to 5 different countries. We've read Rick's books, and some others, and have decided to five lodging locations over the course of 4 weeks. Each is a wonderful destination in and of itself, but each one is also strategically located to allow us to take day trips (via train or bus} to many other places we want to visit. You and your husband are probably our children's' ages, and maybe don't mind so many check-ins and check-outs, but we've found that having a place to stay for 3 or 4 consecutive nights with no surprises is, for us, part of a leisurely visit. Perhaps consider fewer lodging changes while still accomplishing much of what you want to do.

Posted by
463 posts

jon...based on much of the advice above, i'm now going to pitch the idea of focusing on munich and the surrounding area and amsterdam and the surrounding area. no prague. this would allow us to stay in one area longer, too. i agree with you that our one night visits are not ideal.

Posted by
463 posts

lots of good news...first, i discovered that salzburg is covered in the RS germany book. additionally, salzburg is also covered by the germany rail pass, as well as by any rail pass including germany. so we could do the germany/benelux pass for six days, which is a little over $40 per travel day. that's extremely reasonable. we would then fly into munich, stay there for a bit (not sure on the details yet, have to talk to the husband), visit salzburg from munich and then head toward the rhine, all by train. if we had any travel days left on the pass, we could day trip to bruges from amsterdam. things about salzburg i like, just based on what i've read: bike riding and proximity to alps for me and music and beer for my husband. pre-pre-plan 4 nights munich (with 1 side trip) 2 nights salzburg 4 nights along rhine
7 nights amsterdam (with side 1-2 side trips) this seems a bit more relaxing...i hope? we may need to supplement the rail pass with a bavaria or rhine ticket. will look in to that, too.

Posted by
768 posts

Tracy:
This looks much more like a relaxing holiday. When my wife and I were in Amsterdam several years ago we stayed on a house boat on the canal across the street from the boutique hotel--we found this in RS book. It was terrific; awakening each morning to the chirping of waterfowl outside the window, and a nice warm heated tile floor (we were there in October). I agree Brugge is great--we rented bikes to see the city--inexpensive and almost as good as walking for the staccato movement it permits, but easier on the feet.

Posted by
463 posts

i am all about a houseboat rental. that's part of why we want to stay for an entire week. ok, that's all of why i want to stay an entire week. you paint a beautiful picture, by the way.

Posted by
33147 posts

Now we're getting somewhere..... its good that this trip will be better than last.... that's learning..

Posted by
463 posts

oh good...i'm glad people (that have more travel experince than me) think this plan is improving. we're now narrowing down what we want to see and do, so i'll likely continue posting here as well as starting other more focused threads (the topics of which i'll outline below). thanks so much everyone! keep the advice coming. and more good news...even before i had my husband read angela's prague review, he agreed to drop it from the plan, at least for this trip (and that post sealed the deal). it has now become a mainly germany trip, ending with a relaxing week on a houseboat in amsterdam. i sincerely hope this will be a better trip than the last one! things i'm looking at: -car vs. train for the non-munich germany portion of the trip. in my opinion, there are positives and negatives for each option. i am open to thoughts on this. -how to get to neuschwanstein if we don't rent a car. my husband NEEDS to go here (we realize it is touristy, but it is on his bucket list. he built a model of it in 10th grade...yes, he's that kind of nerd!) -amount of time in munich? -towns to stay in. we'd like to avoid one night stays.
-affordable (ish) houseboat rentals in amsterdam. hopefully some of the above will be answered as i continue to read through RS germany. again, thanks so much everyone!!!

Posted by
1525 posts

You might want to read (or continue to read, as you already read our pre-trip posts) our travel blog from last year at; http://www.lee-reid2010.blogspot.com/ Look specifically at the mid-June to early July posts, as that covers the area you are talking about. We enjoyed how that turned out for us and I would recommend it to others. But naturally, there are many different ways for people to accomplish similar things. Bavaria has excellent public transport and if you want to go with that, make Lee, here, your new best friend. But, if ever there was a time when having a car made sense on a trip in Europe, it is here - after you leave Munich, and before you exit Germany for Belgium or Amsterdam. The roads are easy to drive. The towns are small and reasonably easy to navigate and park, and the distances are very managable. As an example, we drove from Bacharach to Würzburg, saw the amazing Residenz there, drove on to another small town to stroll, then drove on to Röthenburg for our 2-night stay all in the same relaxing, no hurry day. You could do the same by public transport but you would have to follow THEIR schedule which may not mesh with your desires. Want to stay at the Residenz an hour longer? Sorry, can't. We have to catch the train... The next leg of our trip we drove from Röthenburg to Füssen, seeing four (yes, four) small, cute towns along the way, all in one day. That is not likely possible by public transport. As an aside; if you like the idea of strolling small towns, as I do, you will soon discover that they have a lot in common. Often an hour is enough time to get a feel of a town (and to get a snack & a bathroom break). Occasionally, you find a town unusually pleasant and want to linger. Public transport does not lend itself to that kind of flexibility unless you don't have a specific destination to get to by nightfall.

Posted by
463 posts

randy...thanks for the link and the advice. i did follow your blog for quite a while last year (i still have it bookmarked at home i think) and i'll be sure to check it out as soon as i get home this evening (writing this on lunch break at work, where all sites with the word 'blog' are blocked). your car input is making me lean in that direction. i think it would be around the same amount of money, too...if not less. when we visited bath and stonehenge last year, i wished we'd rented a car. i love country roads, no matter which country they are in. my only concern is my inability to drive stick (and my inability to learn before july, due to lack of practice car. people are so hesitant to let me ruin their transmissions by teaching me!)

Posted by
1525 posts

Automatic transmission rentals can usually be found. If they cost a bit more, the amount doesn't matter much in the larger scope of things. Reserve early.

Posted by
463 posts

randy again...i just sent my husband the link to your blog post about trip length. i think it may convince him to spend more time away. thanks yet again!