Got back late last night from a whirlwind trip to Saxony and I worked all day in my capacity as definitely not a tour guide so apologies if this is a little disjointed. It's a busy time of year!
Backstory: We live in Southern Germany and have traveled extensively in our time here and my husband has an irregular work schedule and we could be shipped back to the USA at any time, which makes long-term travel planning difficult. But we're also on a Goverment salary which means we probably travel a bit more on the budget side than the average person here. So for two years running, we've taken advantage of the German Rail Pass to do some Christmas-market based travel. It is a really good deal if you want to cover long distances but don't plan in advance, although it can induce a little insanity (I'll cover that in the report).
Last year we used the pass to go to Berlin and Innsbruck and had a great time. This year we originally planned to use the special offer to get 7 days travel for the price of 5, for a twin pass - this means every day of unlimited travel on any train in Germany and a few places beyond works out to around 23 euros per person. Even with tickets purchased months in advance you can't get that deal. Unfortunately as I've experienced at the Deutschebahn Reisenzentrum in the past, the people who work there are pretty unhelpful. I'd checked the website and read the fine print and it appeared we could get this special 7 days for the price of 5 by buying in person, but the agent there had not only heard of the deal but said it was only available if you ordered online to have the tickets delivered by mail. The showed me his screen which did not say that at all (I can understand enough German) but he was unmoving and our plan was to leave in the morning. I didn't have time to fight this and I wasn't sure we could do enough travel in a month to use 7 days so I resigned myself to the normal 5 day German Rail Twin pass which is still a great deal at 340 euros for 2 people.
We went to Salzburg for Krampusnacht which was super fun and I may get around to writing about it, just as an overnight, came back home, hosted the best Hanukkah party EVER, and 2 days later we're off again.
My plan with utilizing the Rail Pass was ambitious - since we get a full day of travel, why not get up early, stop at an interesting place along the way, see the market, go to our ultimate destination (Dresden) for two nights, then on the way back hit another place along the way? So the plan was Erfurt, then Dresden, then Leipzig on the way back.
Problem is I'd contracted a pretty awful cold during our Salzburg trip, we hosted a huge party, my husband was working inbetween trips, so when it came time to get up early on our travel day we just opted to take the later train. We cut out Erfurt. I know! I wanted to go there. But it's the closest place to us and the easiest to get to in the future.
Travel lesson 1: Don't put too much on your plate and be realistic about what is enjoyable on a trip.
New plan: Depart around 11, get into Leipzig around 2pm, see the market and the Current History Exhibit, then get back on the train to Dresden at 8:30 pm.