I think we have a good idea for our Rhine itinerary. We are coming from Brussels and will have to pass through the Koln train station anyways, I was thinking we would leave our luggage in the station except for a change of clothes in our backpack. We would sleep in Bacharach that night, take the KD cruise from Bacahrach to St. Goar, see Rheinfels, cross over and take train to Braubach, see Marksburg, then pick up our luggage in Koln and sleep in Koln that night. Explore Koln the next day and night then on to Amsterdam the next morning. Does this sound like a good plan? Can we keep our bags in Koln lockers overnight?
Harry, will the hotel hold our luggage for us overnight? Will our stuff be safe there?
The fastest way from St. Goar to Braubach is via the St. Goar - St. Goarshausen ferry, then the train from St. Goarshausen to Braubach. The fare for the ferry is €1,30 for an adult. The ferry would be included in a VRM (Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Mosel) one way ticket from St. Goar to Braubach for €7,50. I doubt that it would be included in a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, since that route (ferry) is not shown on the Bahn website.
ONE Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket would only cover your travel for one of the days. You would need one for each day, and then only if both days were weekend days. For weekend or weekdays, you can use a €26 Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket for all your travel in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, which includes most of the area in which you will be traveling. The Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket is also valid for travel out of Rheinland-Pfalz to certain border stations, one of which is Bonn. A local ticket between Köln and Bonn is €6,30 per person, each way.
Both the Schönes-Wochenende- and Rheinland-Pfalz-Tickets are only valid in 2nd class on regional (RE, RB) trains, not long distance (ICE, IC, EC) trains.
As for boat vs. train between Bacharach and St. Goar. The boat takes 40 minutes DOWN the river from Bacharach to St. Goar (don't go the other way, it takes 70 minutes UP river, against the current). The train takes only about 10 minutes and costs a lot less. On the boat you get a close up look at Pfalzgrafenstein, the toll castle in mid-river, but the other site, the Loreley, is not much different from the train or from mid-river.
The Köln Bahnhof (station plan here) has an automatic storage locker facility and a left luggage (Gepäckaufbewahrung) facility in the D-Passage (parallel to tracks, closest to Dom). The automatic storage facility charges €4 for 24 hours; I don't know what happens if you exceed that time. There is also a left luggage facility at the corner closest to the Dom (lower right on station plan); it's open from 6am to 10pm. More info (in German) here. Looks like you can leave luggage there for up to four weeks, no more.
BTW, I never have anything of real value, just clothing, in my main luggage. My wallet and neck pouch contain almost everything, and I carry my 2# sub-notebook with me at all times in a bag no bigger or heavier than most women's purses.
We definitely want to to take the boat from Bacahrach to St. Goar. Getting to Braubach from St. Goar sounds really confusing. Is the train system really difficult there? If we just show up at the station will we be able to figure it out or so we need to do a lot more research first?
The ferry leaves from the river bank in St. Goar a few yards "UP" (this is a good time to know which way the Rhein flows) the river from the KD dock. Take it across the river; if you are using a Rheinland-Pfalz- or Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, you'll have to pay for the ferry. There is probably not a ticket booth on the shore; you probably pay the man on the ferry.
Actually, if you are not going to spend anytime in St. Goar, the K-D boat also stops in St. Goarshausen.
A short distance uphill from the ferry dock in St. Goarshausen is Bahnhofstrasse. Follow it a few blocks "DOWN" the river to the Bahnhof, get on the next train "DOWN" the river (toward Koblenz), get off in Braubach (next stop after Osterspai).
Harry, why the attitude? We are both photographers and definately want some good shots from the river. I am sure we can find a way to keep ourselves entertained for the entire 40 minute ride.
There are scheduled K-D cruises, of sorts, during the winter. There are three runs daily each way between Boppard and Rüdesheim, including stops in St. Goarshausen, St. Goar, Kaub, and Bingen (no Bacharach, apparently). The trip requires advance booking. See here, under "Winterprogramme 2008/2009", "KD Winter offers".
"Go ahead to take the boring boat trip and bore yourself to tears."
Michelle asks "Harry, why the attitude?" He's not giving you attitude, he's just astounded that anyone could possibly question what is surely received wisdom straight from his lips. Yes, there's no way to travel but Harry's. His opinions on how to travel are absolute and apply to each and every person in the world.
Harry, good point. That is generally (always?) true of the Länder-Tickets, they are valid for all means of transport (trains, buses, streetcars) in the Verkehrsverbünde (transportation districts) of that Land; the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket is only valid on local trains in the Verkehrsverbünde.
Between Koblenz and Braubach, which is the other route, there are both trains and buses. The buses take about ½ hr, the trains half that, but the buses often are scheduled to meet the trains, where the trains might not be. Therefore, excluding the St. Goar to St. Goarshausen ferry, the fastest way to Braubach is often train to Koblenz and the bus to Braubach. You can get these schedules from the Bahn or the VRM websites. If you are using the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, you will have to pay for the bus (€3,70 pP one-way) extra.
Did you ask them about the Loreley Ferry? It did not used to be included on a VRM fare, but I now see, if I put in St. Goar to Braubach, that the site shows the route using the ferry and gives the fare as €7,50 (PS 8), the same as through Koblenz.
Mike, Harry might be a "little" opinionated, but I think here he is right on. I took the boat from St. Goar to Bacharach (the slow way), and it took 70 minutes. Half way there I was ready to get off. It's excruciatingly slow, and, except for a slightly closer look at the Pfalzgrafenstein, nothing you can't see from the train.
What does this have to do with keeping your luggage at a locker in Köln?
I've taken that route along the Rhine by train, by boat and by car. None of those options seemed boring to me. However, each comes with its pros and cons.
If you want to take pictures the boat is probably your best choice. It's not easy to do if you're on a train. It would be great if you're going by car and can stop whenever you want. But I doubt it would make sense to rent a car just for this kind of trip.
Yes, the boat can feel very very slow. But if you don't do it every day it can be nice to slow down on purpose for a moment during a whirlwind tour of Europe.
I don't mind sitting on a boat and enjoying the scenery. I guess it is because I am never bored, no matter what I am doing or where I am at. It is because I take myself with me wherever I go and I can always find something interesting to think about. Sitting quietly and admiring the hills, the rocks, the water, other boats, the people around me, the vinyards, the castles and ruins up on top of the hills. It is just a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.
Not sure if someone already answered this, but the Laender-ticket is valid for the ferry between St Goar and St Goarshausen (or at least it was last March).