Because I have little experience with ptp tickets (having used railpasses on previous trips).... if we travel on a Sunday around 11AM from Basel to Mainz, and then early Monday morning Mainz to Frankfurt airport, are there any options besides regular fare tickets? Also, would a hotel in Mainz be a good alternative to staying near airport? Would appreciate any thoughts. (This would be next September) Thanks!
A hotel in Mainz makes good sense. The main station (Mainz Hbf.) is crowded with hotel options and sends off direct S-Bahn and other trains beginning very early in the morning. Figure 25 minutes and 4.10€ to the FRA station. The same trains stop at the Mainz Roman Theater station, a couple of minutes closer to FRA; I've used the Ibis there (one block away) in the past. From the Ibis, you are just a few blocks from the most interesting part of Mainz - the old town along Augustinerstrasse, the Marktplatz, and the Dom - closer than if you stay near the main station. Basel-Mainz: From the Basel Bad station you can travel on a "Happy Weekend Ticket" using the regional trains - 40€ total for 2-5 people - but plan on 5 hours of travel and two changes of train if you catch the 10:48 or 12:48 trains (the fastest of the regional train options.) Fast trains will cost more - but maybe not much if you're able to snag advance-purchase tickets for your desired date and time. Some trains do the trip in about 3 hours, and if you're lucky, you'll find fares for those for 49, 59, or 69€ total at the DB itinerary page: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en (to find the regional train options at 40€, click on "only local transport" under "means of transport" on this page.)
If you book far enough in advance (up to 92 days allowed) on the German Rail site, you can get a discount fare as low as €29.00 for Basel-Mainz.
Thanks for your quick reply, Russ. It looks like I might be able to get some 49 euro tickets, if I book online, early. The weekender tickets would be too many changes....it wouldn't be for me, but there are 3 others who haven't done this before. :) I was looking at the Koenigshof hotel across from the hbf, but the Ibis might be an even better option. I see they changed the name of the station from Sued to Roemisches Theatre (I really should figure out how to do umlauts on this computer!)
Are you familiar with Basel at all? I guess another option would be to stay there Sunday night and then Monday night in Mainz and then fly home on Tuesday... although at the end of a trip, we sometimes just want to get home.
Thanks, Tim! (We must have been typing at the same time -- you beat me by a couple minutes!) I'll have to set some kind of reminder so that I check 92 days in advance.
what would you like to know about Basel?
Stayed at the Hotel Schottenhof across the street from Mainz Hbf 2 years ago. Decent hotel with good breakfast at 92 Euro.
Thanks for the Schottenhof recommendation, Sam. It is one of the hotels I had kind of zeroed in on when I was reading about Mainz. Nigel -- I just finished reading about Basel on Wikitravel; I see that there are some interesting things to do; we'd likely be there on a Sunday. I'd love to walk around the old town and see the cathedral, but we'd have to get some CHF, and generally food, etc. is more expensive in Switzerland....we might be just as happy to head north to Mainz right away, spend the night there, and fly out of Frankfurt on a Monday morning. I'll have to check the CHF/USD exchange rate, and the hotel costs.
Is it possible to take a train to Schaffhausen to see the falls?
To get to Schaffhausen from Basel there are two main ways- north of the Rhine through Germany and south of the river through Switzerland. Use the Bahn website to show you your options. The route through Germany is faster, taking just about an hour from Basel Bad Bahnhof, so you will probably have to take a tram to the Bad Bahnhof. That route goes through the German half of Rheinfelden - a neat German and Swiss old medieval town with the old bridge between them now pedestrianised. I've not been to the German side of Schaffhausen. From the boat it looks nice enough and I think there is at least one boat dock on the German side for the tour boats up to the falls and the island. Going on the Swiss side, it is a train from the SBB Hauptbahnhof to Zurich. The fastest way is the non-stop (sometimes TGV or other fast train - no reservation required in Switzerland) but there are also stopping trains on that route which stop at the Swiss side of Rheinfelden. I only push Rheinfelden because it is such a nice place. Change trains in Zurich for Winterthur for a short connection to Schaffhausen. It takes twice as long on the Swiss side and is less straightforward, but the train from Winterthur does stop at Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall and at Neuhausen if they are better for you.
Thank you all for your replies! As soon as we nail down the date for the river cruise, I'll study all the information again and decide what we should do.