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Before the GAS tour

We have booked the GAS tour for June. This will be our fourth RS tour (and our seventh trip to Europe) and our custom is to arrive two days before the tour, so that we get over jet lag. Leave New York on Wednesday night and arrive on Thursday for a tour that starts on Saturday. Thursday is spent walking in the morning and napping in the afternoon before settling down for dinner on Europe time.

This tour starts in Trier. While it looks scenic, it doesn't really look like there's a lot to do there (and what there is to do is covered on the tour). With a full day Friday for light activity and almost a full day before the tour starts on Saturday, I was wondering whether it's worth it to stay somewhere other than Trier for two nights, then travel there on Saturday. Cologne looks appealing.

Also wondering whether it's worth it to rent a car short-term, one-way within Germany. There are three of us, and driving on the Autobahn is on my bucket list. I have driven on the autoroutes of France, and found it to be a pleasure.

Thanks!

Posted by
248 posts

We spent a few days in Luxembourg City before our GAS tour a few years ago. The train ride is less than an hour. The old city is very walkable and scenic.

Posted by
5130 posts

Where are you flying in to? Landing in Frankfurt, we took the train to Bacharach where we stayed on the way to Trier. St Goar would have been another good choice. I dont think we missed anything in Trier that wasn't on the tour.

What is it about the autobahn that appeals to you, and how do you define "worth it"?

Posted by
156 posts

We did this tour last September and having been to Trier once before we did not want to stay an extra day. We flew from Boston to Frankfurt, arriving mid-morning, and took a train to Cochem where we stayed at Pension Gundert. We continued on by train to Trier the next afternoon for our meet and greet. It was an easy train ride to Cochem with one change in Koblenz and a direct trip to Trier. Though you could walk to the hotel from the Trier train station I would suggest getting a taxi. We found Cochem and Pension Gundert a great place to stay. I can't say as I would want to spend extra days in Trier in addition to the time there on the tour.

Posted by
7736 posts

I did this tour in 2016 and found so much to do in Trier I didn’t get it all done!! I also arrived 2 nights ahead.

You just have part of a morning in Trier for a city walk. When I went that was a Sunday AM so you couldn’t really see any of the insides of the churches as they were having services. There was no time to go into the Landesmuseum or the Porta Nigra. We did go in the Roman baths there but I’m not sure every guide does that. I think we must have departed Trier by about 10:45 or 11 as we headed toward Burg Eltz and had a lovely lunch on the way. We got back late afternoon but not in time to do much except dinner.

Here’s the website I used to decide what to see. When I was there the museum was having a special exhibition on Nero which I also did. Another tour member and I were in the Dom on Saturday and stumbled onto an organ concert, then also listened to a men’s choir that did a spontaneous mini-concert. I think the charge for the organ concert was 2€ or so.

http://www.trier-info.de/english/sights-in-trier

Posted by
788 posts

We are doing the GAS tour in May this year and are staying our first two nights prior to the tour in Bacharach. We will arrive in the afternoon on Thursday so won't do much that day other than finding our hotel, taking a walk, and dinner. Than Friday we are planning on seeing Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar and doing a Rhine River cruise, walking the walls and town back in Bacharach, and after dinner doing a wine tasting. Leaving for Trier first thing Saturday morning so that Saturday afternoon before our group meets we have time for the museum in Trier. While we are not spending our extra time in Trier I think you could find plenty to do there if you wanted. Take a look at Pam's website she recommends it is helpful.

Posted by
1855 posts

Almost don't want to add yet another idea but here goes...my family and I spent a few days in Amsterdam pre GAS tour and then took the train from Centraal Station, Amsterdam to Trier. There was one change but I'm sorry I can't remember just where that was. It was not a problem and we easily made our connection, even with 5 adults and 2 teens. The train journey was really a beautiful one and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We spent an extra day in Trier before meeting up with our tour group. Whatever you decide, have fun planning!

Posted by
182 posts

We took this tour in 2013 and found plenty to see in and near Trier that wasn't on the tour. While we came from the West Coast and spent the first day in Europe training to Trier from the Frankfurt airport, the next day we rented a car for the day and drove (on the Autobahn) to the two WWII cemeteries in nearby Luxembourg (Gen Patton's grave) and St. Avold, France. Then the day of the tour, we walked the town and the nearby Roman ruins of an amphitheater. Some tour members took a day Mosel river cruise. So you have lots of options!

Posted by
273 posts

My husband and I flew in to. Frankfurt, then took the train to St Goar. We stayed at the Rhine hotel which is directly across the street from the KD line Rhine River cruises. Gil, the owner of the hotel greeted us warmly on our arrival, helped us carry our luggage upstairs, and said to come downstairs after we freshened up. He sat down with us and helped us plan our afternoon activities and the next two days. He called and reserved a table for us for lunch and then told us how to get to Reinfels castle for an afternoon tour. He also told us where all the good gelato stands were. We took the KD River cruise up River to Assmanshausen and back the next day. The follow day we went downriver to. Koblenz then we rode the train back to St Goar. The hotel is very nice. We booked the balcony room overlooking the river. We sat on our balcony every evening and watched the boats go up and down the river. The 3rd day we took a morning train to Triera nad still had time for some sightseeing before the tour started. It was a great way to over jet lag without killing yourself. The cruise line goes by a lot of really cool castles. There is narration in German and English.

Posted by
123 posts

Wow, it certainly looks like there are many options! By "worth it," I meant in terms of both time and money versus train travel, considering that there are three of us. Plus, a car can get you places that a train can't, although on arrival morning we'll be jet-lagged, and nothing more than a short ride to a hotel would be desirable.

I don't have plane tickets yet. It's all part of the options that we have to consider.

Posted by
7736 posts

Ohhh, well, if you don't have plane tickets yet....I flew in to Paris, stayed there for 5 or 6 nights, then took the fast train to Saarbrucken and a regional train from there to Trier. For myself, I can't think of a better place to recover from jet lag than Paris, lol!!

I got this idea from Tamara who did a terrific scrapbook and Trip Report on her trip the year before mine.

Speaking of which, have you looked a the scrapbooks yet? Looks like only one submitted for 2017 but click on the link for archives for the previous years.

https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/scrapbooks

Posted by
123 posts

We love Paris, but we're always about discovering new places when we travel (although it's tempting to re-visit).

The scrapbooks are wonderful and I'll be looking at them when I have some time. For me, it's too much work to put one together after a trip. I take the pictures (usually at least 300 for a two-week trip), and my wife keeps a written journal, when we travel. They are our preserved memories.

Posted by
53 posts

We took the RS GAS tour in the fall of 2017. We flew into Luxembourg City from Amsterdam, stayed there 2 full days, and then took the train to Trier. The train ride was about an hour and inexpensive. We enjoyed a visit to the American Cemetery (General George Patton is buried there) just outside of Luxembourg City. We arrived in Trier one day early and went inside the Trier Cathedral & the Basilica and toured the Porta Nigra.

Posted by
20 posts

We will be taking the GAS tour in early May. We are flying Boston to CDG on Norwegian two days prior to the tour. Will overnight in Paris. Staying in Hotel right at Paris Gare de l'Est and taking the train from there to Trier and spending the night prior to the tour in Trier.
Bill

Posted by
113 posts

I was on this tour in Sept of 2014. I only arrived one day early and walked around the town on the day I arrived to see a couple of the churches that are not on the tour. Our tour started on Sunday too, so we could not really get inside the churches that day. I took the train to Luxembourg City and went to the American WWII Military Cemetery on the day our tour started. I would have liked to have an entire day to see more of that City. It was a nice train ride.

Posted by
13 posts

I went on this tour last year. I found that, although you visited a number of sites, you really didn't do a lot of in depth exploring of Trier. So, one extra day in Trier might be worthwhile. I, also, love visiting churches. The cathedral in Cologne is worth a visit. So, I might recommend an overnight stay in Cologne to see the cathedral and, then, traveling on to Trier.

Safe and happy travels.

Posted by
123 posts

I booked a flight from New York to Frankfurt, even though Luxembourg City is closer, because Frankfurt is the only destination with a direct flight. Then I booked two nights at the Rhein Hotel in Bacharach, inspired by the gorgeous pictures and recommendations of Kristi, who authored the winning RS scrapbook, and her traveling companions. Also both the hotel and its restaurant have glowing reviews on the most popular travel recommendation website. Now the only part of the vacation that's not planned is transportation from Frankfurt to Bacharach, and from Bacharach to Trier.

Posted by
5130 posts

Al you can take the train from the airport rail station to Bacharach. Easy. You can take the ferry down the river or combo of train and ferry for fun. Rail from Bacharach or other ferry stop to Trier. Just note that the rail station in Bacharach is unmanned so get your onward tickets from machine there, or while at the rail station at the airport.

Posted by
273 posts

You can take the train from Frankfurt to Bacharach. After your stay there, you will board the train and head to Koblenz. I think you change trains there. Then take the train to Trier. Rick's website gives a lot of information about trains in Europe. You can buy your tickets at the airport in Frankfurt. They have an office in one of the lower levels. They have people that speak English, they can sell you tickets and they will print out the entire schedule and explain where you change trains and what platform to go to. One thing that helped us was downloading the DB app. on my phone. It list the routes you'll take and the names of the cities as you go. When you're riding the the train, there is an overhead digital sign. The sign says "Nachster Halt". That means "Next stop" ... So when you see the name of the station to get off and/or change trains, get your things together and be ready to get off. The trains only stop for 1-2 minutes. You can also book your train tickets on Rail Europe. I know it's a little nerve wracking especially when you first get on the train and it's all German. Once you ride for a little while, you get a little more comfortable. When is your tour?

Posted by
8 posts

We took this tour in 2013. It was our first trip to Europe and we loved every minute of it!! We flew Air Berlin into Dusseldorf. We arrived early in the morning and caught a train to Cologne. We stowed our luggage at the train station and toured the Cologne Cathedral. It was an amazing introduction to European Cathedrals!. We picked up our luggage and took a train to Sankt Goar.. We spent 2 nights at the Rheinhotel St Goar. We booked a balcony room which had a lovely view of the river. We highly recommend this hotel!!

There was so much to do in this area. We hiked across a hill into the neighboring valley and had dinner at a local, very untouristed winery with chickens roaming around our tables, we ferried across the river and visited Marksburg Castle and the Loreley. On the St Goar side of the river we toured Rheinfells Castle and visited Bacharach. The only thing that we did not do was actually cruise the Rhine. We ran out of time! We made up for it by watching boat traffic from our balcony.

The next day we took the train to Trier. We briefly stopped at Koblenz to see the point where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet.
We settled into our Trier hotel and then had about 24 hours to spend in Trier before meeting our tour group. That was about exactly the right amount of time for us to see the sites that were not included in the tour.

My husband and I both agree that the Rhine portion of our tour was a very special part of our first European experience and even talk about perhaps going back some day.

Regardless of where you decide to spend your first nights, you will love this tour. Big cities, small villages, and beautiful scenery - it's got them all! We do recommend spending time reading your RS Guide book at home because you will have SO many fun choices of activities during your tour's free time.