Along the German Alps

Hi. I post on a few boards as Lee. I am currently half way through a three week trip in Germany. I started Sept 24 by flying into Frankfurt and going to Bad Wildbad, a spa town in the northern Black Forest. After two nights there, we traveled by train down the Schwarzwaldbahn rail line from Hausach, past Triberg, to Donaueschingen, then on to Sigmaringen, in the Schwäbisch Alps, where we visit the centuries old Hohenzollern castle. Next we went via Friedrichshafen and Lindau to Fischen im Allgäu, near the ski resort of Oberstdorf. While there, we went by train down to Oberstaufen and by bus up the Austrian ski valley of Kleinwalsertal. After a week in Fischen, we traveled today to the village of Pfronten, on the Ausserfernbahn, just over the border from the Tirol. Several observations: 1. We flew into FRA, where I have landed about a half dozens of times before. I have always found FRA an easy airport to find your way around in and thought I knew it like the back of my hand. Surprise! They've added a new concourse to Terminal 1. It's very long and we had the "privilege" to dock at one of the most distant gates. I remember thinking after paying so much money to fly to Frankfurt, they could at least take me all the way there - not make me walk half way.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

Observations, continued: 2. Of the 12 nights in Germany so far, a/ for 11 nights, my room has had a hair dryer, b/ of the 4 places I've stayed, one, a DEHOGA 3-star hotel, took credit cards, as required for their stars, three didn't take cards, and one of them even made a point of telling me at checkin that they didn't, c/ German Rail is not as punctual as they once were. I think it is a result of holding trains to wait for a late one. One train gets a few minutes late, and it makes all the rest get later. 3. I stayed in a Ferienwohnung. It saves money on food in the long run, but the first two days I spent about 50€ stocking the kitchen, and, as luck would have it, most of the supplies ran out near the end of the week, and I had to buy more that I couldn't use before we left.

Posted by Carol
Honolulu
20 posts

Lee--how was the spa experience in Germany? We are flying in to Frankfurt next summer, mid June and I want to stay at some spas in Germany, Austria or Prague...any suggestions or comments?
Carol

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
201 posts

We always fly into FRA but haven't been to Germany since 2011. Hohenzollern was one of our favorite castles. Did you also visit the town of Hechingen? Very nice little old town.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Carol, if you're considering a spa near Frankfurt, look into Bad Homburg, Wiesbaden, Königstein im Taunus, Bad Nauheim or Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (near Remagen). Lee, you went for the spa treatment? That's a new addition to your repetoire, isn't it?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

No, I didn't go for the "spa treatment", just to relax in the warm pools and the saunas, but they did offer treatments such as different kind of massages. Unfortunately, the Fürstenbäder (hot tubs) were not as hot as the last time I was herel. The three spas I've been to in Germany are all "textile-frei" and coed. If that doesn't bother you, PM me and I'll tell you about the ones I've been to. I've been to Hechingen, and the castle there is very impressive, but it is not that old (just a little older than Neuschwanstein). It was built as an apartment for Wilhelm I, who would become Kaiser. Sigmaringen, on the other hand, was originally built in the 11th century, and the existing castle was built over (added on to) it in the 13th century. Except for restoration after a fire in the 19th century, it's an authentically old castle.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"Sigmaringen, on the other hand, was originally built in the 11th century, and the existing castle was built over (added on to) it in the 13th century. Except for restoration after a fire in the 19th century, it's an authentically old castle." I admit I don't know the history of Sigmaringen castle that well, other than that the Nazis tried to hide their aborted nuclear weapons program there. But having seen it in person... it looks like a textbook example of 19th century Romantic rebuilding. As a matter of fact, as I pull up my pictures of it on my computer, I see what looks like a large Italianate Classical era wing, and the main body of the castle is covered in spires, ornamental towers and peaked gables. I don't doubt that there's a medieval foundation buried under there somewhere, but overall, the castle doesn't look remotely like anything from the Middle Ages. CORRECTION: OK, I'm getting my Swabian castles mixed up. The German nuclear program was housed in Schloß Haigerloch. Burg Sigmaringen served as the final refuge of the exiled Vichy France regime. I knew something nefarious happened there...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Lee, It sounds like you're having a very interesting trip visiting a lot of places that are somewhat "off the beaten path" for tourists. I also don't mind FRA, as I've always found it well organized and relatively easy to navigate. It's not surprising that they're adding-on, as it's one of the busiest airports in Europe. I may be flying inbound to FRA on my trip next year, and hopefully I can remember the way to the Fernbahnhof. I haven't yet tried the "textile-frei and coed" Spa experience. The Freidrichsbad Spa was under renovation when I was in Baden Baden, and I don't think it was even open. I'm sure it would take a "period of adjustment", but I may yet try that on a future visit (hopefully no one calls out the Harpoon squad when I enter the pool). It's good to hear that you've had no trouble using your magnetic stripe cards. Perhaps Germany isn't as far along on the conversion process as the Netherlands and some other countries? Will you be back home in time to attend the next meeting of the "curmudgeon" travel group? I'm sure you'll have lots of good information to share. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

I'm now in Munich, at a hotel often mentioned on Rick Steves' website. In the past I have stayed outside, in the suburbs. All things considered, I'd rather be out there. It's a 25 minute ride into Marienplatz, but for a little less I get a much nicer room, a lift, and a bigger bathroom. BTW, this is the eighth place I've stayed in in 21 days and the third one that accepts credit cards for payment.

Posted by Carol
Honolulu
20 posts

Lee---thank you for commenting om this issue i.e. being in town vs on the outskirts. My husband and I prefer rural living so I am looking for suggestions to stay outside Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Venice, Frankfurt, Zurich and Prague. Enjoy the rest of your trip BTW did you pay with cash when CC's were not accepted?
Carol

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Lee, Just curious, which hotel did you use in Munich? I was going to suggest a nice restaurant in Munich, but didn't think of it until today. By the time you read this, you'll be back home. I find that the end of a trip is always a bit melancholy, but at the same time it's nice to be back to the familiarity of home and sleeping in my own bed. The memories of the trip and photos are always nice though.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

"did you pay with cash when CC's were not accepted? " Carol, of course, how else would I pay? The Germans no longer accept beads. Or do you mean, did I pay with cash when CCs were accepted? I always pay with cash. My bank gives me "fee free" withdrawals but the hotel pays a fee (4%?) if I use a card.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
233 posts

I've been to FRA twice. Thanks for the updated information on T1. I enjoyed your report and learning about places less traveled.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4766 posts

That far away gate is Gate Z, and if you get the gate Z-58, you will have a really long walk. It is the farthest away.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

Worse! Maybe they've extended the concourse. We arrived at gate Z-67. There were only two more gates, 68 and 69, beyond our gate. When we passed Z-58 we were half way there.