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Traveling Germany

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Masterton, New...
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Traveling Germany

Hi we are a 65yr old couple from New Zealand and are looking to travel to Germany from about

8th May 14 to about 16th June 14.I was thinking of flying to either Amsterdam or Zurich and doing the Rhine river by boat one way and then maybe train or bus back to either of the above, to depart home. The river cruises are a bit more expensive than I had first thought.(about 2600 euros per person for seven nights.)My next thoughts were to pre purchase Euro train passes but after checking out "man in seat 61" website, he advises that you are most probably best to just front to train stations to buy your tickets. This would only be for the likes of the local trains and not the bullet-trains which I am told need prior reservations. The obvious answer is that I hire a rental car or motorhome, but although I have not ruled this out, I am thinking that I do not wish the hassles of driving in a country that is a lot busier than I am familiar to.(I do have a GPS and drive for a living, but I don't read German and we drive on the other-side.)

I am not looking at discovering all of Germany and would mainly stick to the Rhine Valley.

We do have three lots of friends that we will stay with while we are there.

What I most probably need from you learned travellers are :

Is accommodation easy enough to get without pre booking.

Is train and bus travel easy to get again without bookings.

Can some of the Rhine River be done by day boat.

Any other points that may be of help to us would be much appreciated.

Sorry if this is a bit of an ask and looks like I am getting someone else to do my itinerary.

Many thanks Brendan.

Mainz, Germany
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1. Re: Traveling Germany

Well, travelling in the Rhine River valley is easy, you can reach pretty much any place by train. No reservations needed (or possible at all).

You can do day cruises on the river. Köln-Düsseldorf (KD) is most popular - http://www.k-d.com/en/kd-scheduled-cruises/ - but there are other regional companies as well, e.g. Bingen-Rüdesheimer in the Middle Rhine section - bingen-ruedesheimer.com/rhine-cruise/index.h… .

Since May to mid June is not high season yet my guess is that you won't need to pre-book accomodations. However, there are some holidays which could mean busy weekends: 29 May and 9 June.

With six weeks to spend, I'm sure working out a feasible itinerary will not be too difficult if you already made up your mind that you want to focus an west/southwest Germany. I'd consider flying into Frankfurt since that is a convenient hub from where you can reach almost any region in Germany within a half-day trainride.

Boppard, Germany
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2. Re: Traveling Germany

Tickets for loval trtains can be bought on the spot, no reservations possible. There are special offers by Deutsche Bahn:

bahn.de/i/…regionalangebote-uebersicht.shtml

If you are going to the Middle Rhine valley, check out the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket.

There are also special offers (day tickets, tickets for small groups) by the local tariff areas ("Verkehrsverbund").

With long distance trains, seat reservations are not compulsory, except for some special trains. I would still recommend getting seat reservations, especially during busy periods like Friday afternoon or Sunday evening.

You can save a lot of money if you buy your long distance train tickets well in advance, but you are then tied to one specific train/connection.

If you think about renting a car:

You definitely do not need one in the big cities and in many other areas there are also good train connections. In the more rural areas the story is different.

Like Oli said it is very easy to travel along the Rhine by train, but if you wanted to go to a village in the hills overlooking the Rhine there is often only a bus or two a day.

As for driving on the other side of the road, I have driven rented cars in England many times. At first you have to be extra careful but after a day or two you get used to driving on the other side.

Masterton, New...
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3. Re: Traveling Germany

Hi Oli. Thank you so much for the information. Gives me a couple of web-sites to check out.

Thank you again. Brendan.

Masterton, New...
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4. Re: Traveling Germany

Hi detbo. Some good information for me to ponder. Pretty much what I have read regarding trains.

I think that with not having any set schedule it will give us the flexibility to move or stay longer in places.

Also don't know if Germany is similar to likes of New Zealand, but we can change locations depending which way the weather is going. I am rethinking after your comments about driving and maybe if we did hire a vehicle I was thinking of a 6mtr motorhome for maybe 2 - 3 weeks.(we have a Trendscout Globcar here in NZ.) I have read that there is no "freedom camping in Germany" and wonder if there are plenty of camping sites and aprox costs per night?

I have used "Trip Advisor" before but had almost forgot to use it this time and also how good a site it is.

Many thanks for your help.

Brendan.

Boppard, Germany
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5. Re: Traveling Germany

Hi Brendan,

I am not really familiar with camping in Germany. There are plenty of campgrounds, but most people will spend longer periods in one campground rather than travelling around.

Hanau, Germany
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6. Re: Traveling Germany

I never saw a campground in Germany that didn't offer spots for the campers on the move, that only stay a night or two and I did a lot of camping in Germany.

Some towns and cities offer free spaces for mobile homes with absolution block and all mobilisten.de/stellplaetze/deutschland.php you can even spend one night on a Raststaette on the Autobahn, there no camping is allowed meaning all windows have to stay closed and no table or chair outside the motorhome.

Masterton, New...
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7. Re: Traveling Germany

Thanks Uta H,

We today booked a river cruise from Amsterdam to Strasbourg-overland to Chalon-sur-Saone(France)

then back on boat to Avignon. This takes 10 days. Then we will make our way back to Germany.

Have a bit of work to sort out the rest of our trip. Still have not made up my mind on motorhome but thanks for the information on camping places. Brendan

Munich, Germany
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8. Re: Traveling Germany

You do not have to reserve any train seats, at least not in Germany. What happens, though, is what you call the "bullet trains" (ICE, IC, EC) are cheaper of you buy your ticket ahead of time.

Look up www.bahn.de and enter a sample long-distance connection. You'll now see two columns. The column on the left displays any discount prices that you may still be able to get for this trip. If you reserve one of these tickets, it is only valid for the train you booked it for. (You can reserve a seat, but you don't have to.)

The column on the right shows the "standard price" or "normal price" or however they translated this. You can always get one of these tickets, even five minutes before the train departs. However, it is more expensive that way.

But there is no need to rent a car just because you can't decide yet when you want to travel. A car makes sense if you want to explore rural areas where the train connections aren't that good.

Masterton, New...
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9. Re: Traveling Germany

Thank you so much Petra,

When I get some time I will do a bit more investigation.

Brendan.

10. Re: Traveling Germany

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