My husband and I are trying to find the best and cheapest way to travel from Alsace (we're staying in Turckheim, near Colmar) to Cochem, Germany. We decided not to purchase a rail pass for our trip and it looks like the journey using raileurope is ~$140 per person and would take about 5 hours. It appears there are several routes that could be taken (through Koblenz, Luxembourg, Trier, etc.) and I am not sure what is the best way to go. I have also looked into driving all or part of the rout and returning the car to FRA when we fly home a few days later. It is very pricey to pick up in France and drop in Germany so I was looking for an easy cheap route to Germany to pick up a car, but that is not apparent so far. Any experience or suggestions with traveling this route are much appreciated. Thanks!
You can purchase a ticket for two from Freiburg to Cochem for as little as 49€, but not from Raileurope. DB (German Railways) sells advance-purchase tickets good on the fast (IC, ICE, EC) trains online 92 days in advance. When's your trip? The REGULAR price at DB for this route is 150€ for two adults! Raileurope's prices are wallet-killers. To reach Freiburg from Colmar, the Suedbadenbus (bus) gets you there for about 8€. Schedule: http://www.suedbadenbus.de/suedbadenbus/view/mdb/suedbadenbus/freizeitangebote/pdf/2012/MDB98774-linie-1076-colmar-2012.pdf There are other alternatives to Cochem that involve regional trains for 40-50€ for two, but these are slower and involve more changes of train than you really want for such a long trip. Maybe if your trip is very soon and the adv. purchase tickets aren't available???
Thanks for the info, Russ. Unfortunately, we procrastinate and we leave for our trip this Sunday (traveling to Cochem on Sept. 29). I will check out the options from Freiburg.
The bus really is the best way to cross the river into Germany around there. There is a (very slow and just one or two carriages) train which connects Strasbourg to Offenburg, but you then have to get from Colmar to Strasbourg and then make that connection in Offenburg to go north. Or you can go south from Colmar to Basel and then go north on the German side of the river. But there is no direct train going east from Colmar. So the bus to Freiberg im Breisgau is the way. As Russ gently hinted - don't try to get decent fares out of RailEurope.
I've always known that they hike the price up a bunch and only show a small subset of available train connections but double the price is a bit rich even for them...
According to the German Rail website, which might not recognize the bus connection in France, the fastest route from Colmar to Cochem is through Strasbourg, and the routes from Strasbourg to Cochem (if you enter them separately) are all shown with ticket prices on the German Rail (Bahn) website. Depending on how long you want to take, full fare (no advance purchase) tickets from Strasbourg to Cochem are as little as 46,70€/person (of course, Colmar to Strasbourg, from French Rail, would cost extra).
12-15 years ago we covered pretty much that route, except a little mixed up and in stages. I seem to remember Trier to Cochem via boat to Bernkastel and bus to Cochem. On the way back to Alsace I think it was a train from Cochem with connections, I think through Karlsruhe, to Strasbourg then on to Colmar.
Thanks everyone for at least validating my difficulty of this route. I think I'll make a last minute change! If I can find a hotel in Strasbourg, we'll swap it and skip Colmar. We're coming up from Basel, so they are equally easy. We plan to do some of the wine route by bike and it appears we can get started from either end point. If a hotel can't be found, we'll train from Basel across the German border and pick up a car there before heading to Colmar. It might be nice to have a car on this leg of the trip anyway.
Strasbourg is a great city. Between that and Colmar it would be a tossup for me. And check out Hotel Gutenburg is the center of Strasourg. We've stayed there a couple of times and loved it: www.hotel-gutenberg.com/uk/index.php
As to biking to wineries, it's a great idea. We spent a week in Riquewihr w/o a car and walked from town to town and winery to winery, and it worked great. Biking would be even better.
This forum tends to favor staying in Colmar, but I think Strasbourg is fantastic and well worth a one-night stay. There's quite a lot to see and do there, and the transit connections are quite easy.