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Southern Germany

We just got back from a lovely 2-week trip through southern Germany. First, many thanks to Russ and all the others who provided so much valuable advice. I thought I should post some details of our trip so that it might help others who might be planning something similar. Apologies if it’s too much info, but hopefully it will help some travelers.

We were a party of 4, all seniors ranging from 68 to 81. All reasonably fit and open to walking and wanting to see as much as possible – we did an average of 16000 steps/5 miles daily, and also climbed an average of 12 floors each day – with a max of 26000 steps/8.5 miles during a day in Munich. We did all our travel by train, except from Gengenbach (Black Forest) to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and on to Munich – we rented a car at Offenburg (no car rentals in Gengenbach), since there were no convenient trains.

Itinerary
Day1: Fly London to Frankfurt, arrive around 11 am. Train to Boppard from airport, arrive around 2:40 PM (bought a QDL train ticket, 73 euros for 4 of us). Evening in Koblenz (old town, Deutsche Eck) and walk around Boppard

Day 2: Boppard to Cochem by train (using the VRM guest pass), then by bus to Beilstein from Cochem. Strangely very hard to find info on travel to Beilstein. At the DB info at Cochem station they were unaware of any Beilstein clos by, wanted me to go to Beilstein in Grefienstein (which is the Beilstein in the app). The tourist office pointed us to the bus. Cochem was nice, but Beilstein was absolutely beautiful.

Day 3 Boppard to St Goar by train. Quick walk around the town (really not that special, the world’s largest cuckoo clock a little disappointing). Ferry across the Rhine St Goarhausen, then train to Rudesheim. Very beautiful although touristy. Took the chair lift up to the Germania monument, beautiful views. Walk down if possible. K-D river cruise back to St Goar, with a 2 hour stop in Bacharach – lovely.

Day 4 Train Boppard to Hatzenport, then bus to Burg Elz. Lots of flooded towns on the way. Burg Elz definitely worth a visit.

Day 5 Train Boppard to Gengenbach (QDL ticket). Evening train to/from Haslach – very pretty

Day 6 Train to Triberg and Freiberg

Day 7 Titisee, Schluchsee and Donaueschengen

Day 8 Schiltach, Durbach. Definitely the prettiest towns in the Black Forest

Day 9 Train Gengenbach to Offenburg, pickup rental car and drive to Heidelberg, 2-3 hour stop, (university was disappointing, town is nice), then drive to Rothenburg. Absolutely beautiful town. Did the Nightwatchman tour, very entertaining.

Day 10. Walk Rothenburg including on the wall. Afternoon drive to Munich.

Day 11 Train to Mittenwald (stunning), back to Garmsich and up to Zugspitze. Garmsich nothing special but the ride up to Eibsee (lake) very beautiful. Did not go all the way to the top. Bayern ticket

Day 12 Day trip train to Salzburg. Bayern ticket

Day 13 Munich – walk the old town, English Garden, Karlsplatz, beer gardens.

Day 14 Train to Dachau, guided tour of the camp. MVV day group ticket M+1 zones.

Day 15 Morning walk Au-Haidhausen. Afternoon flight Munch to London.

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Train tickets
We used the QDL ticket to Boppard from Frankfurt and from Boppard to Gengenbach, the Bayern ticket for day trips from Munich, the MVV group day ticket for Munich local travel, and the free Guest Passes provided by hotels (VRM ticket within the Rhine Mosel area and Konus Card for travel in the Black Forest area). In hindsight it would have been better to buy a 49 euros per person monthly Deutschland Ticket (D-Ticket), but not a huge difference – also the D-Ticket requires a monthly subscription and you have to cancel the subscription on a timely basis to avoid being charged for the next month. Strangely, I couldn’t find an option in the DB app to purchase the -Ticket.

There are no ticket barriers anywhere (including on S-Bahn/U-Bahn/subways). Enforcement is by random checks, which are very infrequent, but violation can be expensive, don’t be tempted! Also, have your passports with you, at least once we were asked to prove we were the persons named on the Guest Passes. Passports might also be checked if crossing into or returning from a neighboring country, even if it’s in the EU/Schengen area – we had ours checked when returning from Salzburg (Austria), but not when going to Salzburg.

Trains & Stations
The DB app is really excellent. Used it for all planning, gave us real time updates on train delays etc., which platform the trains operate from, etc. Bought tickets right in the app. Provided timings for all connecting services including buses.

To my somewhat disappointment, German trains don’t always run to schedule (unlike in Switzerland or Japan)!

All the regional trains had toilets, including the RE and RB regional trains, but not on the S-Bahn/U-Bahn (local trains, subways) and the cogwheel train to Zugspitze. The toilets were almost always clean and in good working condition, and in the rare case where one wasn’t working there was another one at the other end or in the next car.

Smaller stations might not have toilets, Toilets at stations generally cost 1 euro to use. There are plenty of toilets available in town – usually at the Tourist Info office, of course all cafes and restaurants, and some of the cafes allowed us to use the toilet even though we hadn’t eaten there, and in Schiltach all the cafes/restaurants in the central area provide free public toilets. The DB app shows whether a station has toilets/WC (passes you to bahnof.de website, it also shows if there are elevators and lockers – if it doesn’t mention these facilities then they don’t exist at that station, there is no explicit “no WC” or “no elevator” etc.).

Small stations don’t have lifts/elevators, so be prepared to lug your luggage up and down stairs to enter/exit the station or change platforms for connections. Trains had a mixed bag of luggage storage space. It was never a problem, but not always convenient (where you could keep an eye on the luggage). Some of the trains had overhead racks, but at times too small for a carry-on size bag.

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Weather
We were very unlucky, it rained at least some on almost every day, very heavily on some, but we did have 3-4 very nice days with no rain. We managed to stay out of the heavy rain and didn’t let the smaller downpours deter us. The Rhein and Mosel were very high, we saw a lot of flooding on the Mosel, and after we returned, we saw reports of dams breaking.

Flight Baggage Limits Enforcement
We flew Lufthansa London to Frankfurt and return from Munich. Our ticket allowed only 1 carry-on bag (max 8 kg) and 1 personal item. At London my sister’s bag was checked in the size checker at the gate, it made it in but they said it wasn’t going in smoothly, so it had to be gate checked, no charge. No one checked weight. On the return from Munich we got an e-mail giving the option for free check-in of the carry-on bags, which we opted for. We had to go to the bag drop rather than going straight to the gate. The automated machine rejected my bag at 9.1 kg as too heavy, but after some shuffling amongst all the other bags I brought it down to 8.6 kg, which was accepted by the machine – so evidently the machine has some leeway programed in, this was not just the agent’s discretion.

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44 posts

Boppard to Cochem by train (using the VRM guest pass)

Did you get the guest pass from your hotel? We're staying in Rudesheim for a couple nights and will be taking a boat/train trip on the Rhine one day.

Day 15 Morning walk Au-Haidhausen.

I'm staying in a hotel on the other side of the tracks of Au-Haidhausen (by the ferris wheel). Anything interesting about the neighborhood?

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37 posts

Yes, the guest pass was from the hotel. All the hotels in Boppard provide that, for Rudesheim you'll have to check with yours.

I'm not sure where the Ferris wheel is, so can't comment. We walked mainly around Preysingstrasse and Wiener Platz, all that was very nice.

Posted by
19170 posts

What you didn't mention is whether this travel was all in a single month or if it spanned two month. If a single month, your total for D Tickets would have been 196€. Two QdL-Tickets and a couple of Bayern-Tickets would have exceeded that amount, but not the total for two months worth of D-Tickets.

Also, the least expensive way to get from FRA to Boppard would have been a Gruppen (5 person) RMS Takeskarte from FRA to Mainz Hbf for 20,60€ plus a Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket for 4 people for 49€, 69,60€ vs 73€ for the 4 person QdLT. Only 3,40€ less, but hey, I love to beat the system.

Posted by
7012 posts

Thanks for the report, bansodp! It sounds like you had a very nice trip! Having all that rain is no fun, but if it's any consolation, that's been happening all over. I spent 5 1/2 weeks in England and saw a LOT of water while I was there. And thanks for the info about the various small towns! More places to shoot for on my next trip to Germany!

Posted by
37 posts

It was all in 1 month, so yes the D-ticket would have been cheaper. Also, I believe in addition to the 2 QDLs and 2 Bayern Tickets it would also have replaced the 3 MVV day group tickets, right?

Posted by
6798 posts

I wish I could have traded a few weather days with you, bansodp. We were there for the 2 weeks just prior to your trip. Germany was dry the whole time, and we had only one downpour, in Austria. It's been very sad to hear about the flooding, but floods are semi-frequent in those river valleys that feed the Rhine and the locals are not unprepared for them.

Cochem: https://apps-cloud.n-tv.de/img/2315186-1294502545000/o/1536/1536/2vh03404.jpg

High-water marks from different years show how high previous floods have reached and can be seen on buildings and other structures in Germany's flood-prone towns, a constant reminder to all:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Hochwassermarke-Lauenburg.jpg

Posted by
6798 posts

Thanks for the detailed report. Question about the trains: as a group of 4, were you generally able to find seats reasonably close to one another on the regional trains you used?

Our trip occurred over the Himmelfahrt and Pfingsten holiday weekends, and we did not have troubles with seating as a couple, but even between the weekends, I was surprised by the heavy ridership on these trains, even in places out in the sticks. I get the impression that the D-Ticket has generated a substantial increase in ridership. Also, the number of bikes and baby strollers seems to have multiplied, which along with more D-Ticket riders might play a role in train tardiness. Most of our trains were 5-10 minutes late, not horrible, but more than I expected based on my previous experience.

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37 posts

Yes, trains were generally quite busy and on a couple of days standing room only for part of the way. Our trip to Mittenwald was on a long weekend and very crowded, no place to sit for about 45 minutes. Of course thinned out a lot after Garmisch. Sitting all 4 together was not easy, sometimes not even as a couple. After a few stops as people got off we were usually able to sit together

Posted by
19170 posts

I believe in addition to the 2 QDLs and 2 Bayern Tickets it would also
have replaced the 3 MVV day group tickets, right?

If you look up the price of traveling on routes in Munich (MVV) it shows individual ticket prices, MVV Tageskarten (day tickets), Bayern-Tickets, and the Deutschland-Ticket. So, yes, it seems that it is right.

At the same time, I would be concerned that the Deutschland-Ticket is an abonnement, a subscription that continues to renew every month until you stop it. So if you buy it, you'd better make sure you know how to stop it.

Posted by
3 posts

bansodp - I'm surprised that you trained it through the romantic part of the Rhine (Koblenz down to Rudesheim) and didn't take any of the boats, as Russ (we're a fan of his too!) and others have written about. There's nothing like seeing it from the water and you learn about the castles, especially using Rick's 30+ minute audio guide. The KD line wasn't expensive and has a dock in most of the towns. (We stayed in Boppard, trained it - partly free on the guest pass - to Bingen and took it back up to Boppard.) A memory forever.

Posted by
37 posts

@jgmeehan, not sure why you say that. Isn't our Day 3 pretty much that?