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Rhine itinerary - too rushed?

Hi everyone,

Got much of our 3-week trip planned, but had a couple questions about our the Rhine portion of our itinerary. I'm trying to find out the itinerary below is rushing things too much:

--
Day 1: Train from Amsterdam to Cologne, drive rental car to St. Goar/Bacharach
Day 2: St. Goar/Bacharach (cruise the Rhine)
Day 3: Drive to Rothenberg, stay the night

Day 4: Drive (or train) to Munich

Keep in mind, the rest of our trip is much looser (at least 2-4 days in Amsterdam, Munich, Interlaken/Murren, Paris & London). The 4-6 of us are each just taking a carry-on, and we're in our late 20's/early 30's, making our 2nd trip to Europe.

Any help is appreciated!

Posted by
18022 posts

Why a rental car in Cologne? Have you really explored the rail options? If you buy advance purchase Savings Fare tickets from Amsterdam from the Bahn, you can get tickets all the way to Bacharach for little or nothing more than to Cologne. Then, the next day, from Bacharach to St. Goar and back (or the other way around), you won't even use the car. It will just sit there, but you will pay for it.

The next day, using advance purchase Savings Fare tickets, your trip to Rothenburg is probably cheaper by train. From Rothenburg to Munich, with Bayern-Tickets, the cost will be 34€ for four, 60€ for 6, still probably less than by car.

And yes, having, myself, spent five days just on the middle Rhein between Koblenz and Bacharach, I think you are pushing it a little. And one night in Rothenburg, then to Munich. Looks like a "check list" trip to me.

BTW, four people, with carryon luggage, might fit in one rental car; six people, never.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks for the advice, Lee...

We looked at a car because we thought there might be too many train changes and too much trouble...it looks like we were mistaken. Taking trains is one of the reasons I love traveling throughout Europe.

Yeah, if it's 6 people, the car isn't an option...

May have to scratch Rothenberg if we can't stay for more than one night...

Thanks again.

Posted by
12040 posts

Looks OK to me. You have plenty of time to accomplish everything you've listed.

On day 1, give a little time to the Rhine north of Koblenz. It mostly gets ignored by many tourists, but it's still quite scenic, except for a short industrial area immediately north of Koblenz. Andernach is worth at least a short stop. And if you really have extra time, consider a short detour to the twin wine-spa town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. This town is one of my retorts to the idea that Rothenburg odT is particularly unique...I find that Rothenburg odT gets more attention than it merits, but in your case, it makes a comfortable half-way point between the Mittelrhein and Munich.

Because you're a young group, you may enjoy spending one of your Rhine evenings in Rüdesheim. It has several restaurants with nightly live Schlager music performances. These tend to attract bachelorette/bachelor and post-wedding party groups from Mainz, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. At the right time of year, it can get quite lively. Only problem is that Rüdesheim sits on the opposite bank of the river from St. Goar and Bacharach, and I'm not sure how late the autoferries run. There are no bridges spanning the Rhine between Wiesbaden and Koblenz.

Posted by
5202 posts

Day 1: Train from Amsterdam to Cologne, drive rental car to St. Goar/Bacharach
Day 2: St. Goar/Bacharach (cruise the Rhine)

"I'm trying to find out the itinerary below is rushing things too much..."

Yes. But that depends on WHEN this trip will happen. I wouldn't bother with staying overnight in Bacharach or St goar in winter - it's just too dead.

I think an afternoon in Cologne is alright. The cathedral and most other sights and museums are close in. Stow your bags in a station locker and enjoy several hours. Then, if it's after April 1 or so, and let's assume from here on that it is, you could move on to the Middle Rhine for the night. Cruise boats will be running, Rheinfels Castle (St. Goar) will be open daily. Try to spend almost all of Day 2 there. You won't have time to see anything on Day 1.

Day 2: A cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar covers only about 13 km of the river and takes only 45 minutes. You might want to start the cruise south of Bacharach in Bingen (just take the train there) and cruise north to St. Goar - that's 40 additional minutes of excellent scenery. But don't rush off to Rothenburg yet. Marksburg Castle (in Braubach, north of St. Goar) is an intact 700+-year-old castle - best one to see in the Rhine Valley.
Get off the cruise boat in St. Goarshausen instead of St. Goar and take the train north to Braubach (20 min.) Return to St. Goar via St. Goarshausen and use the ferry (runs all day.) You might get back before Rheinfels closes, or maybe not.

You could move on in the morning to your next destination, but there is more to see here; plan on at least half a day for Day 3.

You could do what Tom has suggested north of Koblenz, or to spend some more time in some of the nice Middle Rhine villages near St. Goar (Bacharach, Oberwesel, Boppard.) I'd suggest the latter. All 3 have wineries and some fine old half-timbered buildings; Oberwesel's old town wall and towers are fun to explore, and Boppard's chairlift takes you to a scenic overlook - nice outdoor patio bar/cafe with awesome views there too - Gedeonseck

Now, do you move on to Rothenburg? I would agree with Tom that Rothenburg is overrated. Nice town, far too many trinkets and tourists waddling around. And it does take 5 trains and 4.5 hours to get there from the Rhine. I would instead suggest that you head to lively Würzburg instead for Night 3. Würzburg is a train hub and a fine city on the Romantic Road only 3 hours from St. Goar, and only 2 trains instead of 5. Leave St. Goar on the 14:20 train, arrive in time for an evening out in this university town (nice wine bars and outdoor venues down by the River Main.)

Then MAYBE you take a detour to Rothenburg on Day 4 on the way to Munich, or maybe you stop instead in Ochsenfurt and/or Markbreit instead, which are actually on one of the train routes to Munich:

VIDEO

Day 2 train trips: Check out the Rheinland-Pfalz ticket; 34€ for 4, 38€ for 5, covers all the suggested routes (to Bingen, to Braubach, back to St. Goar) and it gives you 20% off the KD cruise if you show it at the kiosk.

R-P ticket

Posted by
102 posts

If you're six people why not rent a small van? You'll be able to do a lot more with your time on the Rhine and all get to Munich for faster and cheaper than you would with a train.

Posted by
4950 posts

It seems like you're treating Cologne as a rental-car station. I've spent five nights there and haven't exhausted it yet. On the other hand, if you don't like museums, maybe you shouldn't spend the night there. But you must be going to museums in Amsterdam?

Posted by
837 posts

Danny, I think you have it spot on. We trained to Cologne from Amsterdam and stayed two nights. I wouldn't recommend that. A short walk around the station area, focusing on the cathedral is sufficient. You could walk down to the river as there are some sights there, but, in general, I found Cologne quite disappointing. Definitely drive the Rhine-Mosel area. There are numerous small towns. We drove from Cologne to Rothenberg via the Rhine-Mosel area with quick stops in several of the towns. I do want to return for a couple of days. So, I think that your time is adequate. I concur with your plan to drive to Rothenberg and on to Munich. Several posters play down Rothenberg. Admittedly we did not see Werzburg, but we did drive the romantic road from Rothenberg south, stopping in many of the towns. While picturesque, none came close to Rothenberg. Highly touristy, yes; still very charming, yes. One issue we had in Cologne, the rental car agency we used claimed an office downtown. It had been closed and we had to take an expensive taxi out of town to pick up the car. I cannot recall which agency, but I think it may have been Avis.

Posted by
5202 posts

"Danny, I think you have it spot on. We trained to Cologne from Amsterdam and stayed two nights. I wouldn't recommend that. A short walk around the station area, focusing on the cathedral is sufficient. You could walk down to the river as there are some sights there, but, in general, I found Cologne quite disappointing."

Cologne is good if you're interested in museums. It is good for several hours if not. The cathedral is superb and worth an hour if you really take it all in. But I don't understand being "disappointed" unless you think Cologne is some sort of medieval village or don't know that Cologne was nothing but post-war rubble 65 years ago. Cologne is very much worth a short visit, IMO. The latest TA visitor was captivated for 5 hours in Cologne's Nazi Documentation Center. Sounds a bit long, but it's hard to imagine being in Cologne and not finding something that interests you there.

Documentation Center

Cologne Attractions

"Definitely drive the Rhine-Mosel area. There are numerous small towns. We drove from Cologne to Rothenberg via the Rhine-Mosel area with quick stops in several of the towns. I do want to return for a couple of days. So, I think that your time is adequate."

I think this is often what happens when visitors choose the car (or in fairness, a global railpass) - the vehicle becomes the trip itself. They plan very little, figuring they will just "explore", and end up driving around too much, not knowing what might interest them or how long to spend in place A or place B.

The Rhine is amazingly well served by trains at nearly all hours of the day; trains run along both sides of the river, connecting all the towns and villages. You can hop off in Oberwesel for an hour or two, then hop on for a trip to St. Goar (a 5-minute ride) and do the same there, then hop on for Boppard (10 minutes further) for a couple of hoursDaypasses are amazingly cheap. 5 adults can travel on a 1-day VRM day pass (which covers nearly all the Middle Rhine) for 21.20€ or a 3-day pass for 42.40€. But this information is not something you are likely to know about if you have only traveled by rental car.

"One issue we had in Cologne, the rental car agency we used claimed an office downtown. It had been closed and we had to take an expensive taxi out of town to pick up the car."

There are plenty of bugaboos with car rentals like this one. You ought to read good stories AND some of the horror stories at Tripadvisor on rental agencies.

Thrifty thread
Terstappen thread
Sixt thread

You just don't hear these nightmares about train travel.

Posted by
5202 posts

"If you're six people why not rent a small van? You'll be able to do a lot more with your time on the Rhine and all get to Munich for faster and cheaper than you would with a train."

Really?? On April 15 (just an example) it's nearly $1,000 to rent a VW Multivan for 4 days through Autoeurope for Koblenz-Munich - and that's without insurance, gas, parking fees, etc.

By train, it would be pretty simple to get a party of 5 around the Rhine for 2 days for 80€ or less (daypasses) and to Rothenburg for around 110€ on advance-sale tickets, and then Munich for around 40€ (daypass) by train. That's 230€, or $310. If you are 6 people, your costs will be marginally higher.

A trip from Bacharach by train to Munich takes about 5 hours, according to the DB website. The very fastest route to Munich is 4 hours, 48 minutes, according to viamichelin.

What actual costs are you using for your assessment, Christopher??

Posted by
4950 posts

And, although you can usually "see" the Hauptbahnhof, many HBF car rental agencies aren't actually IN the HBF building. Get the actual location before you arrive.

Posted by
18022 posts

"I think this is often what happens when visitors choose the car (or in fairness, a global railpass) - the vehicle becomes the trip itself. They plan very little, figuring they will just "explore", and end up driving around too much, not knowing what might interest them or how long to spend in place A or place B."

Very well stated Russ. I have often thought that what some people call "freedom" means freedom from planning.

"Failing to plan is planning to fail".

The time to exercise "freedom" is in the planning phase. I'm not saying I'm not flexible. I have changed my plans when circumstances dictated it, but I always start with a plan. Usually, deviating from the plan to look for something that might be interesting would mean missing something I know will be interesting. You can always come back another time.

In 2002, I went through Pfronten on the bus from Fischen im Allgäu to Füssen. I was very impressed with the town, but I had plans to show my wife Neuschwanstein. Incidentally, had I been in a car on any of the routes recommended by ViaMichelin, I would not have found the town. I remembered the name and, when I got home, looked it up on the internet and found it really would be interesting. I went back and visited it in 2009 and again last Month.

BTW, I read the links with horror stories about car rentals. None of that happens with the trains.

Posted by
12040 posts

Jesus Christ, people! Not everyone wants to sit around a computer and map every blessed detail of their trip out in advanced! Some people just want to have a little fun and not prove that they can travel from Nirgensdorf to Bäuerlichsberg by train using the most efficient regional rail tickets possible! Thousands of people rent cars in Germany every year and guess what? They usually have a great trip! And guess what? Sometimes the trains are delayed or even canceled. It happens more often than some people on this website seem to believe or admit.

OK, rant over. But as one of the few regulars under the age of 40 here, sometimes it might help if I point out that the travel priorities of someone in their 20s might not be the same as the 50+ crowd that lingers on this website.

Posted by
5202 posts

"The time to exercise "freedom" is in the planning phase. I'm not saying I'm not flexible."

Nor am I.

You DON'T need to plan every hour just because you use the trains. I certainly don't. Sometimes you have to plan certain train journeys at certain times (like Danny's long train trip to Rothenburg or Munich for good pricing.) But my "planning" often involves merely gathering destinations and information without scheduling my trips. I usually have twice as much on my to-do list as I have actual time for. Once I'm in some area (like the Rhine) I'll go with the flow based on weather, mood, energy level, etc., and I can turn on a dime with local daypasses - very flexible. But I would probably never pick an area and buy a daypass without a list of probable destinations and with no idea about how to spend my time there (like some folks do when they "plan" a car trip.) For some, there's this false notion out there that car = freedom = freedom from a modicum of planning. While you certainly CAN plan outings by car, there's something about having a car that often means essential planning gets postponed until it's too late.

There are times when a car makes sense in Germany (I'm sorting out right now whether I will use one for part of my next trip) but I just don't see the point of one in Danny's situation.

Posted by
5202 posts

Everyone here should be allowed to offer help as their experience and wisdom dictates. Can we all agree that ageism and expletives are not helpful?

Posted by
8304 posts

"Jesus Christ, people! Not everyone wants to sit around a computer and map every blessed detail of their trip out in advanced! Some people just want to have a little fun and not prove that they can travel from Nirgensdorf to Bäuerlichsberg by train using the most efficient regional rail tickets possible! Thousands of people rent cars in Germany every year and guess what? They usually have a great trip! And guess what? Sometimes the trains are delayed or even canceled. It happens more often than some people on this website seem to believe or admit."

Well said Tom. There's nothing wrong with taking trains, but there's also nothing wrong with renting a car. I don't see 'only car travelers' insist that people only rent a car like I see 'only train travelers' insist that is the only way to go, insinuating that anyone who rents a car is somehow inferior. In my opinion, some situations are better for trains and some are better for cars. It's not all about saving money. Sometimes it's nice to have the freedom to stop where you want to stop. Some places are not well served by public transportation. Some people just like to drive. So what. As long as new travelers understand the pros and cons, they should be able to make a decision without feeling like they are somehow a failure.

Posted by
102 posts

I‘m guessing someone in their late 20‘s/early 30‘s coming from the US has probably spent around $1200 on plane tickets and might only have 2 weeks vacation for the whole year. They may value the extra few hours that renting a car can win them.

I have no idea what the dates of their trip is, but in defense of renting a car: looking at Sixt, starting at the 15th of April, it would only cost €349 to rent a Ford Galaxy (holds 7, picking up in Köln Hbf, dropping in Munich Hbf). That‘s only €58 a person if they travel with 6 people. If the rental period falls over a weekend it drops to only €40 a person. Yes, plus gas and insurance, but someone in the group probably has a credit card that covers car rental insurance and gas, when split 6 ways, is also not that expensive.

Additional, when renting a car, you can visit many castles, monasteries, and vineyards on the Rhine that are not serviced by public transportation, you will save 3 hours of travel time between the Rhine and Rothenburg, and you will save an hour of travel time between Rothenburg and Munich.

Posted by
5202 posts

"...starting at the 15th of April, it would only cost €349 to rent a Ford Galaxy..."

Let's say the 349€ covers 4 days for the Galaxy at Sixt. And the luggage will fit, and person X has cc insurance. Let's say they never have to pay tolls or for parking at hotels or in town or for parking violations or tickets, and the cc insurance covers 100% (no deductible) if there's a door ding or whatever. Gas is 94€ (viamichelin) for the direct route via Koblenz and Rothenburg to Munich - and 7.5 hours with no stops. Figure 15% more gas for small side trips to castles or whatever. So 457€, or $617. Not bad. But what's left out of this analysis is the already-established predicted total cost ($310) for the trains is about HALF that much (from Koblenz) for 5. Monasteries?? This group's itinerary means they will miss out on monasteries, palaces, open-air museums, concentration camps, and much much more, all places they simply don't have time to drive to or take the train to anyway since they're already trying to squeeze in too much with too little time. Potty, gas and rest stops alone may actually use up the 2 hours they save by driving

For apples-apples... If they spend an entra $50 or $60 for a daypass to cover Cologne-Koblenz by train, their cost will be around $370.

But with the extra $247 in their pockets, riding the train means they can pop the cork on more than a couple bottles of high-end Riesling - and with no driving responsibilities and no need for all to face forward for 8+ hours, they can actually enjoy each other's company on the ride south to Munich (unless of course they really prefer scrunching into a back seat.)

Posted by
12040 posts

"Can we all agree that ageism and expletives are not helpful?" There's nothing "ageist" in pointing out that the travel priorities of someone in their 20s is probably not going to completely coincide with that of the usually 50+ Rick Steves demographic.

Posted by
5202 posts

Tom: In deference to discussion board guidelines, see my response to your last post in your pm's.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks to everyone...overwhelmed by all the responses...

We'll be going in June/July, so tourist season will be in full swing...Thanks again for all the responses (even with the sidetracks!)...everyone travels differently, so we just have to find our niche...

Cheers!

Posted by
102 posts

Danny, just for comparison, here’s your two options…

Trip: Köln – Bacharach – Rothenburg – Munich / 4 days starting April 15 (sorry, it's what we've been using as a comparison) / 6 People

Option 1: Car

Itinerary: Day 1 - Leaving Köln it’s only 1 hour and 40 minutes to Bacharach. That gives you time to swing by Remagen, Koblenz, or the ever popular Burg Eltz. You’re still in Bacharach in time to explore the city, have a nice dinner, maybe take a hike.

Day 2 – With a car you’ll accomplish a lot more. Starting in Bacharach, drive down to Burg Sooneck for amazing Rhine views (not served by public transportation). Cross the Rhine and explore the 1000 year old monastery Kloster Eberbach, have a wine tasting at Schloss Johannisberg, jump up the road in 10 minutes to Rüdesheim for some touristy shopping and take the gondola above the vineyards to the Niederwald Monument. Drive up the Rhine, under the Loreley and cross at the ferry by St. Goar. Explore the old town and drive up to Burg Rheinfels before heading back down to Bacharach. That whole trip will only involve 2 hours and 30 minutes of very scenic driving, which gives you the rest of the day to explore two castles, a monetary, a vineyard, several small villages, and take gondola ride.

Day 3 – The drive from Bacharach to Rothenburg only takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. You’ll arrive in Rothenburg by lunch which gives you the rest of the day to explore the city.

Day 4 – The drive from Rothenburg to Munich Hauptbahnhof is also only 2 hours and 30 minutes. You’ve just spend a day on the Rhine and a day in Rothenburg so I’m guessing everyone has had their fill of old German towns. Get to Munich before lunch, drop off the car, and enjoy a long lunch in

Total driving time (not including the day driving around the Rhine): 6 hours 40 minutes

Cost: I shopped around and found a VW Sharan on Avis for €329. Holds 7 people, includes liability coverage, pick up and drop off at the train stations. Per ViaMichelin gas would €120, let’s include an additional €25 for parking and side trips. Total cost: €474 - Price per person: €79


Option 2: Trains

Itinerary: Day 1 – Leaving Köln it will take you anywhere from 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes to take the train to Bacharach. Spend the rest of the day exploring Bacharach.

Day 2 – Spend the day exploring the Rhine by linking together public transportation options provided by both the ship and trains. Allow additional time to wait for buses and trains to get you around.

Day 3 – It’s a 4 hour and 20 minute train ride from Bacharach to Rothenburg with three transfers. If you leave at 8:30 am, you’ll be there by 1pm. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city.

Day 4 – It’s a 3 hour and 15 minute train ride from Rothenburg to Munich with two tight connections (4 minutes each). If you leave at 9am you’ll be in Munich by 12:21.

Total train travel time (not including the day spent exploring the Rhine): 9 hours 15 minutes

Cost: Train to Bacharach €70, KD cruise tickets €88, Train day pass €50 (I’m not sure what you would buy, but usually passes only cover up to 5 people, so you would need to buy two passes), Train tickets from Bacharach to Rothenburg €239, Train tickets from Rothenburg to Munich €115. Total cost: €562 - Price per person: €93 / You could not do the KD boat ride (as my car trip suggestion didn’t include it) and the price would drop to €474 or €79 per person – exactly the same price of taking a car.

For the above prices and times I tried to get the cheapest prices and the best travel times at bahn.de. To be fair, someone may know of some Länder-Tickets that I’m not including that would drop the cost a bit, but I believe this would only add to your total travel time, which is already approaching 10 hours.

Posted by
5202 posts

Christopher's analysis of train costs is terribly off the mark.

1.) "Train tickets from Bacharach to Rothenburg €239,"

Why would the price be that much?? An advance-sale ticket for 6 is actually 114.60€ if purchased well in advance. Why assume they'll purposely wait until the last minute and pay nearly full price?? Or is this just an error?

2.) "KD cruise tickets €88,"

This excursion is included with train costs, but not on the car costs?? That's simply not logical. But it's clearly a freebie they'd get with trains if an excursion like this would up the car price. (Does the price include the 20% discount they'd get by using trains to reach the KD dock?)

3.) "If you leave at 9am you’ll be in Munich by 12:21... Train tickets from Rothenburg to Munich €115."

This 9:00 departure uses RB + RE trains, yet our group of 6 is paying a group price when no other group making the same trip will be paying the group price... They can take the SAME TRAINS using the Bayern ticket. 4 passengers: 34€ total. 5 passengers: 38€ total. 6 passengers: 60€ total for 2 Bayern tickets.

"Total cost: €562 -"

NO. Subtract 125€ (#1 above,) 88€ (#2) and at AT LEAST 55€ (3) from total train costs to correct the above mistakes, and you come up with 294€ - which is astoundingly close to my original estimate of 310€ in a previous post. That's (at least) 180€ cheaper than Christopher's car cost estimate (which I didn't bother to check closely for accuracy, but a quick glance tells me that the extra 25€ allotted for parking, etc. will be used up on fees for the two Rhine ferry crossings with the car; these crossings are free for all 6 if using train daypasses. So add 25€ or so to his car estimate, and figure the savings by train at 205€.)

Posted by
102 posts

1.) I’m just going by what I can pull up on bahn.de when looking for that date and for 6 people. I don’t see 114.60€ available but if you can pull it up to purchase then it must be possible.

2.) I included the KD cruise in the original train cost because otherwise what you can accomplish in a day by train is rather limited. I did state in the cost that without the KD trip the price would drop. In my opinion, if you’re pressed for time, you can cover a lot more ground in the Rhine valley by car than by train.

3.) I’ll give you that, I guess they could buy two Bayern tickets and get to Munich for 9€ less a person.

So even if we go by your cost calculation (if they get the cheaper tickets, which even if purchased in advance, is never a guarantee), you’re saving the group 180€, or 30€ a person over 4 days. For this savings they will be limited in what they will be able to see in the short amount of time they have and they will have to sit an additional 2 hours and 35 minutes in transit.

I guess it’s just about priorities. In my opinion, if you’re already going to spend thousands of dollars on a trip, you might as well upgrade wisely to get the most out of the limited vacation you have.

Posted by
12040 posts

And good thing the trip in question wasn't occurring today. For those who don't know German, copy and paste it into Google translate.

Let me state again- I see the value in driving sometimes, and taking the train other times. But if we're going to discuss the benefits and disadvantages, we can't ignore the inevitable rail delays and cancellations that occur every now and again, just as we can't ignore the Staus and road work that can cause pain on German roads.

Posted by
5202 posts

Yes, well, we all have our own sensibilities about these things... I don't see the wisdom in wine-tasting and driving at all when the Rhine village wineries are right in town and the train connects them all. Worrying about rental contracts, insurance, etc., picking up and dropping off the mini-van, and dealing with often shady rental agents... this is stuff I associate with my work routine, not a vacation. I don't see the joy of piling into the back of a snug mini-van and would gladly pay more not to do so - but the train costs much less anyway. On a tight schedule, I don't understand how you can have lunch or quick pee while you're riding in the mini-van - you'd need to stop off, which, like traffic issues, isn't accounted for in your driving schedule. But it's quite easy to break out a beer-and-sandwich picnic on the train, stay on schedule, and to leave your used beer in the WC (unlike Germany's public restrooms, there's no charge for that, by the way :) )

I'm sure Danny and friends will have lots to think about (and maybe get a good laugh at all the comments on this thread.)

Posted by
102 posts

I am not at all against train travel. But the OP wasn’t asking what the cheapest way to travel was, he was asking what the best way to use his time was, feeling they were rushing. Sometimes renting a car just makes sense.

And, like Tom said, people should be aware of the problems associated with train travel, as well as car travel. Have you ever been lucky enough to catch a train after an unexpected soccer game, World Cup public viewing, or concert? Or God forbid been on a train in or out of Munich around Oktoberfest or anywhere near Nürnberg around the Christmas market? Overcrowded trains are especially bad on the slower cheaper trains people use with the Länder-Tickets. Trains break down and there are diverse technical and weather delays all the time. It’s not always a half-filled train with happy travelers like they show in the Bahn advertisements…

Posted by
5202 posts

"And good thing the trip in question wasn't occurring today."

30-40-minute train delays are quite exceptional, so they make the news. Stau delays are a daily routine on many road routes in Germany; they're so routine that they don't make headlines.

Posted by
5202 posts

"...the OP wasn’t asking what the cheapest way to travel was..."

Maybe that's true, Christopher. But you also made a large effort to help the OP get cost information you deemed helpful. I think that's because you agree that cost is usually important to just about everyone.

Posted by
12040 posts

"30-40-minute train delays are quite exceptional, so they make the news. Stau delays are a daily routine on many road routes in Germany; they're so routine that they don't make headlines."

Umm... no. They happen all the time with individual trains and at some smaller rail stations, but it just made the news today because this is a system-wide problem that affected a major rail hub... and because the website is Hessischer Rundfunk, which would report a transit problem in the Frankfurt region, but not in, let's say, Munich or Berlin. At least Staus are somewhat predictable, based on known bottlenecks, interchanges, rush hour times and road construction. Both suck equally, if you ask me.

Posted by
837 posts

Russ, just curious, is that Paradise, CA and did you work at Wells in Chico?

Posted by
7947 posts

Still trying to wrap my brain around the comment that there is nothing of interest in Cologne except for the cathedral. Is this because Rick hasn't explored the city yet and posted the many sightseeing attractions? Medieval churches, Roman ruins, Jewish history, dozens of museums, lovely residential neighborhoods and a lively night scene. Poor Cologne. Koblenz suffers the same fate, as does Mainz, Wiesbaden and Heidelberg. Rick says don't bother, so people don't believe there is anything interesting to see there.

With your short trip, there are multiple medieval towns that are easier to get to then Rothenburg, saving you time and money and offering you a better, more authentic experience.

I will agree that Kloster Eberbach is stunning and well worth a visit. Hardly anyone on this helpline has visited there unless they have and just don't mention it, as it is difficult to get there without a car. Kiedrich has a beautiful old church too, with the oldest working pipe organ and a bone chapel.

Posted by
837 posts

Jo, spent several days in Cologne. Oh, yes, there are other sights of interest in addition to the cathedral. However, my overall impression after 8 European trips is that Cologne is at, or near the top, of the cities to which I would not return. Has nothing to do with Rick or his books. I have no recollection of what he has to say.

Later checked memory banks and Rick's book. Nothing in book. However, I did recall at least five things of interest in addition to the cathedral: town hall, area along Rhine, old church on a corner facing the Rhine, bombed out church/left unrepaired, and rebuild ultramodern church with display "before" pictures. So, more points of interest with a "memory dredge", but not a highlight city.

Posted by
2945 posts

I actually kind of have to agree with David. I found Cologne lackluster in comparison to other major German cities (including Frankfurt and even Stuttgart, which will NEVER make it into a blue book!)

This isn't to say "don't go" - when it's on the route it would be criminal to not stop in at least for the cathedral, and there's enough going on that yeah, someone can devote several days if they really had the interest. But when time is severely limited, as it is in the case of these travelers, I think it's entirely fair to say 1/2 day, or even just a couple hours for the cathedral and lunch is entirely fine.

Not going to weigh in to the car/train discussion - as usual each side is downplaying the negatives of their chosen mode of transit - but I will say that easy access to Burg Eltz which is a must-see IMO, gives the car an edge in this scenario. (And I'm a train person!)

Also, Russ, my grandparents-in-law lived in Paradise for the last 30 years until they passed away about 5 years ago. Got the chance to visit a few times. Lovely place, didn't realize your location was referring to the actual place as just opposed to the concept, lol.

Posted by
18022 posts

"I’m just going by what I can pull up on bahn.de when looking for that date and for 6 people. I don’t see 114.60€ available"

I don't think an exact date was every discussed, but Danny did mention June/July. The first date I looked at was June 11, 2014, and I saw an RB/IC/ICE/RB connection with a group fare of 102,60€ for 6 adults. Add reservations for 6, at 12,00€, and you get 114,60€. Group tickets are train specific, but not as advance purchase sensitive as
Saving Fare tickets. I found the same price for Monday, Dec 2, 2013.

"30-40-minute train delays are quite exceptional"

"... no. They happen all the time with individual trains"

On my last trip in Sept/Oct. Our first train, an ICE was 30 minutes late leaving Frankfurt Flughafen and subsequently 30 minuts late into Mannheim, but they held our connecting train a few minutes and we arrived in Karlsruhe in time to catch the next train. That's the only train I can remember being that since 2008.

Posted by
12040 posts

"On my last trip in Sept/Oct. Our first train, an ICE was 30 minutes late leaving Frankfurt Flughafen and subsequently 30 minuts late into Mannheim, but they held our connecting train a few minutes and we arrived in Karlsruhe in time to catch the next train. That's the only train I can remember being that since 2008."

Good for you, then. But from the perspective of someone who rides Deutsche Bahn 2-3 times
every month, including at least one round trip to Belgium, I can assure you that trains are delayed quite often when you are not visiting over here. In my experience, I would estimate that I encounter significant delays about 15-20% of the time, and about a third of those delays are severe enough that I have to make alternative plans or cancel work arrangements. And unlike Staus, which are somewhat predictable and that I can plan around, rail delays strike at random.

Don't get me wrong, most of the advantages noted about train travel I agree with. I wouldn't purchase my yearly Bahncard renewal if I thought otherwise. But there ARE significant advantages and disadvantages to both rail and auto travel, just as there are to boats, airplanes, donkeycarts, horseback, sedanchairs or walking. One method is simply not going to be appropriate for every single potential traveler who posts a question here.

Posted by
12400 posts

Danny,

Whether it's a 20 something person or a 50 something is irrevelant. What is relevant is the the person's overriding interest in going to a specific country or place, esp. applying to Germany, Poland CZ, Belgium, France.

If one's time is so limited say 15-22 days in Germany and a lot of ground is going to be covered, ie, not doing this regional traveling, then I would recommend a car, esp if it's at least two going together, mainly to split the time in driving. You have a alot more flexibility, without wasting time for a bus or a train, in covering more sites, ie, more than one per day.

There have been numerous times in both France and Germany, where had I been motorised, I would have made it to other nearby sites but I was stuck waiting for a bus or a train getting back. Then there were times when I was motorised and got to visit a second or third site after the seeing the first...all in one day trip.

If you plan on sticking to the cities, Paris, London, Munich, Amsterdam, then I would say based on your itinerary, go by train. Depending on how extensive your travel plans are, a car serves the purpose more efficiently time wise than going by regional train or bus in doing day trips.