Novice Traveler

Have never been out of the US on my own before and need a bit of advice. Flying non-stop from Denver to Frankfurt first of August and need to take train to Nuremburg by myself. Son (US Army) meeting me in Nuremburg for a 2 month stay. Any suggestions on how to navigate the airport-to-train portion of this trip? This "over 65+" Mom will be schlepping along with one checked bag and one carry-on.

Posted by TC
Atlanta
295 posts

Marilyn, There is a train that goes straight from the airport to the main train station. From there you can get an express train to N'burg. I would wait to buy the train ticket until arrival in case the plane is late. It is really very easy and straight forward. I'm sure some of the others can give you very specific info. I haven't done that trip for a couple of years so am not up on the schedules and fares. Hope this helps.
TC

Posted by Marilyn
Loveland, CO, USA
4 posts

Thank you for the input about connections. Actually son will be on assignment and wife offered to come and get me in Frankfurt. I really wanted to be able to do this on my own hence my request for advice. They are new to Germany and are just now figuring their way around too. I can always chicken out and rely on them but I'd rather try pulling on my "big girl" duds and try it for myself.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1562 posts

Good for you, you can do it yourself,suggest carry on bag have loops on it so can hang over handle of regular suitcase, that is what I use and works great.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1470 posts

It is very easy. There is a railroad station right at the airport. There are many trains, practically every hour or even more often. Take train which goes directly to Nurnberg so you don't have to change trains in Frankfurt Main Station (Hauptbahnhof). The ride takes 2 h 22 min. For schedule check Deutsche Bahn website.

Posted by Marilyn
Loveland, CO, USA
4 posts

Do I need euros to buy a train ticket or will a credit/debit card work? Also heard from someone that using bathrooms is an experience too. Have to pay to get in and scolded if you can't figure out the flush lever quick enough. Any truth to this?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11279 posts

Personally, I'd use regional trains and save money, but I've travel by train a lot in Germany. For simplicity, take the ICE from the Fernbahnhof at the airport direct to Nürnberg Hbf. Go to the main hall of Terminal 1 and look for signs to the Fernbahnhof. You go up the escalator in the main hall to the mezzanine, across the pedestrian bridge, and through the hallway in the building across the street to the Fernbahnhof. You should be able to buy your ticket at the Bahn ticket counter (go left once inside the Fernbahnhof) using a credit card.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1470 posts

Yes, you pay for use of restroom in most of Europe. Not on train. You can buy train ticket with credit card. But it's always good to have some Euro, too. Refreshment, use of restroom, etc. In December 2010 we landed in Frankfurt in snowstorm. Flight to Prague was cancelled. There were thousands and thousands of people stuck at the airport. The lines to buy train ticket were over quarter of mile long. We boarded train without tickets and bought them on the train from conductor for just a small surcharge. He accepted credit card. So you are aware if the lines are long you can buy your ticket on train, too.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Marilyn, One point to note is that there are TWO rail stations at the Frankfurt Airport. Lee provided good directions to get to the Fernbahnhof, which is the correct one to use for the "faster" trains. There's a DB ticket office just after you cross the pedestrian bridge. I used a credit card last time I bought a ticket there (I don't use debit cards in Europe). As I recall, there were DB staff members on-hand to assist customers with using the automated ticket Kiosks (if they needed help). As some of the others mentioned, it's often prudent to have €50-100 to cover incidentals such as meals, Taxi fare, etc. until you get settled and can visit an ATM. As this is your first trip to Europe, you might find it helpful to read Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. It provides a lot of good information on "how" to travel in Europe, and some of the differences you'll find there. You should be able to find a copy at your local Library. At the end of two months, I'm sure you'll be fully conversant with getting around on the trains! If you happen to be in the Denver area on the third Saturday of the month, you can attend one of the meetings of the very knowledgeable Rick Steves group. The meeting time and location is posted in the "General Europe" section here on the HelpLine. If you can attend, I'm sure the group will be able to provide lots of good tips. Happy travels!

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
588 posts

You've received some expert advise, also be sure to notify your credit card company (or bank) that you'll be traveling in Germany and any other countries in Europe that you might possibly go to since you'll be there for a couple of months. If not it may get froze when it alerts them of a transaction in a foreign country.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

The toilets at the airport are free, and easy to understand how to use them. Don't worry. There is a train leaving from the airport every 30-60 minutes and as others have said, it costs 56 euro if you buy your ticket that day. The DB machines for long distance train tickets do take credit cards, but if you go inside the Deutsche Bahn ticket office next to the train station, they can print your tickets for you at a minimal cost of 2 euro. The ticket machines switch into English though, and are fairly easy to use.

Posted by Tina
Portland, Oregon, USA
35 posts

Marilyn, The airport is fairly easy to get around, but it is a big airport. Familiarize yourself with basic German words - like enter, exit, stairs, etc. Also, it won't be much of a problem in the airport (if I remember correctly) but when you are planning your luggage, keep in mind, lots of places in europe don't have lifts so it is not uncommon to have to take the stairs. Rolling luggage is great, if you are on flat ground, but that is not always an option. It is possible you will have a little trouble with two bags. Try to pack as light as possible, so you can lift your bag in needed. That includes getting on and off the train, which you often have to do in a hurry with a crowd of people or at least several people trying to get on. It can be a bit over whelming on your first trip over, but people are nice and many people speak English and will help you. The more you can read up on and plan before you get there, the more confident you will feel when you arrive.

Posted by Marilyn
Loveland, CO, USA
4 posts

Thank you for all your advice! I purchased Rick's book and sent it to "the kids" - who knew I'd need to get my own copy! Nuremberg is 1/2 way for them to pick me up hence my objective of meeting them there vs. a 3 1/2 drive one way just to pick me up in Frankfurt. Will definitely need to work on packing less and being able to lift my own bag! They offered to mail me euros ahead of time and purchase/reserve my train ticket too. All I need to do it just get to them and the rest will be easy. We're planning a week in Italy as well as guided tours by myself during that time. I never thought I'd have this chance so starting to feel like the kid in the candy store wanting everything at once.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Frankfurt is large but really easy to navigate. Overhead there will be a picture of a train and arrows pointing straight, right, left, or downstairs. You can buy your train ticket with a credit card but it's worth it to stop at an ATM to pick up some local currency. You will pass multiple banks of ATM's on your way to the train. Avoid any with "EX" in the name (generally means "exchange" which is expensive) and opt for ones with some from of "Banc" in the name (which means it's a regular Bank ATM) some automated exchange machines pose as ATM's. Like Lee, I often travel on regional trains. They are a little slower but also cheaper. In your case, a ticket for a train with no change to Nuremburg might be worth the convenience. If you prefer that, follow the sign to "long distance trains" rather than the signs to the "regional" trains or suburban trains (S-Bahn) that take you to the main station downtown. Try to keep your luggage as light as possible. You will have to haul them up and down the stairs on the train and stow them yourself. Here's a map of the airport: http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/asw_common/guides/airports/int/fra/ Copy and paste this, sorry it's so long, for a photo of the signage you will see: http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1340&bih=864&tbm=isch&tbnid=hiMqGvOcz-CRRM:&imgrefurl=http://www.ausbt.com.au/the-business-traveller-s-guide-to-frankfurt-airport&docid=hXrMIded8H9vuM&imgurl=http://www.ausbt.com.au/photos/view/maxsize:640,480/505feb6930c84c86b6fb519d767f2254-frankfurt-airport-signs--pd.jpeg&w=640&h=480&ei=gVYBUc36F-WA0AHk7oCADw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=1034&vpy=141&dur=2288&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=179&ty=144&sig=108351735974537427314&page=1&tbnh=137&tbnw=203&start=0&ndsp=30&ved=1t:429,r:23,s:0,i:157

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

The most common ATM in the airport are the Deutsche Bank ATM's. Use those, rather than have your son mail you euro. They are everywhere.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

If you try to follow written directions for finding the Fernbahnhof (long distance train station), you will get easily confused, because the walk involves several twists and turns and going up and down escalators. Make it easy on yourself- just follow the pictogram signs. You can't miss them.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Marilyn, As you'll be touring around Germany & Italy, you may find it helpful to pack along the Guidebooks for those countries as they'll be a fantastic resource to have. These are now available as E-books in a variety of formats (ie: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo), if you have an E-book reader or Tablet. Be sure to check the issue date of the E-books to make sure you're getting the current version (E-Books are usually released about 3 mo. after the print versions). The fact that you'll be travelling in Italy raised a few "flags". Here's some information that may help you avoid problems. When travelling by train in Italy, there are a couple of VERY IMPORTANT and potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of. When travelling via Regionale trains which don't require reservations, it's VERY IMPORTANT to validate (time & date stamp) the tickets prior to boarding the train. This includes the Leonardo Express which travels from the airport to Roma Termini. The validation (Convalida) machine will either be bright yellow or blue & gray, with a small digital display on the front. These are usually easy to find, and located close to the tracks. If the machine is "non funziona", writing the time & date on the ticket may be acceptable (ask the Conductor as soon as possible). Those caught with unvalidated tickets may be fined on the spot! The fines start at €50 per person and if not paid on the spot, the fines DOUBLE and increase from there! The same fines apply to those travelling via Bus in Rome and other places (in that case, validation machines are often located on-board the Bus). Based on my observations, Conductors are now carrying portable debit/credit card Terminals, so payment of fines will be easily accomplished one way or the other. continued.....

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Marilyn - Part 2.... Those travelling on the "premium" trains such as the Freccia (high speed) trains MUST have a valid reservation or again may be fined on the spot! These fines also start at €50 per person, in addition to the cost of the reservation, which is currently ~€10. Reservations on these trains are compulsory and are specific to a particular train and departure time. It's NOT POSSIBLE to simply buy a ticket with reservations and then board any train. The ticket or reservation will specify the train number (ie: ES9718), so it's important to verify that before boarding. Those with reservations will be assigned a Car No. (Carrozza) and a Seat No. (Posti). In some cases, the ticket will also indicate whether the seat is an aisle seat (Corridoio) or a window seat (Finestra). Cheers!