First ED, thoughts on routes
I'll be going the first part of May with my father (early 60's but still doing well for his age) and my sister (photography buff).
My father lived in south west Germany for 2 years about 30 years ago and has been back for work a little so we should be fine for the language part. What we're trying to figure out is how realistic are our routes are and any suggestions. Using my fathers knowledge of anything outside of Munich though is very dated. :)
There are 4 main things to do.
Pickup the car
See some friends in Erlangen
See Miniature Wonderland (In Hamburg)
We thought while we were there we might try to throw in visits to:
Salzburg Austria (My father loves the sound of music)
Mierder Alpine Coaster
Ulmer Münster Church
Take a scenic train ride
I also added going through Zurich and Liechtenstein since we'd be so close and probably never go back though those would be the first things dropped if there isn't really anything scenic to see.
Our goal is to just drive and see castles, gardens, and other more natural scenic types of Beauty, we're hoping the beginning of May things will be in spring bloom???
Here is the map of routes (Note that many points are actually just guides for paths.
Our original idea is arrive in Munich around 10am, spend the day walking around (Marienplatz and so on). Friday pickup the car and do the tour. Saturday drive to places around Munich that are outside of walking distance. Sunday start driving. By friday end up at Nurburgring.
After Nurburgring we're at a tough choice. It's a long drive up to Hamburg just for Miniature Wonderland (May be models but it's important to go). I'm not sure if it's better to leave the car with friends Erlangen and take a 6hr train ride up on Sunday, see Miniature Wonderland, then take a train back on Monday and fly home Tuesday or if there are some other ideas that we should be considering. Is there anything worth seeing in Hamburg while we're up there or is our schedule too much already? Basically it's 12 full days in Germany.
EDIT: For flights, we'd fly into Munich obviously but flights back to the States via Luftansa leave from Frankfurt or Munich. If we dropped the car off at the port in Hamburg it's less than $100 for the extra leg to fly out from there (hour layover in Frankfurt or Munich) rather than driving back to Munich or Frankfurt IF we were to drive up to hamburg. If we took the train up to Hamburg/Miniature Wonderland instead of driving up, we'd leave the car at the Frankfurt delivery, though I'm not sure if we would fly out of Hamburg or take the train back to Frankfurt or Munich to fly out of Tuesday morning. I imagine the train would be less expensive than the flight leg and more scenic (at the cost of maybe 4 extra hours of time, but would the scenery be worth it?)
Seems like a very do-able and fun itinerary, but the Hamburg leg seems awfully out of the way. Can you pass on that? Hamburg isn't all that interesting unless you're a maritime buff. Somewhat nearby is Lubeck which is very picturesque and far more charming, but again, it's waaaay out of the way.
Maybe consider dropping off the car in Hamburg at the end of the trip? Then train back to Hamburg or just fly home from there by taking Air Berlin or German Wings to Munich then your regular flight back home.
If your Dad is ex-military, I think he'd really enjoy Berchtesgaden's Kehlsteinhaus (Hitler's tea house) and the Documentation Center with the Nazi bunker system below. Also, if he spent any time as a serviceman in Germany, he no doubt headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where a big recreation center once existed. He'd be surprised at how things changed. From there it's an easy half hour, 45 minute ride to Neuschwanstein. If you decide to stay in this area you can do little day trips to Innsbruck, Austria, Ettal monastery (great beer), Oberammergau (wood carving and quaint village), the Wieskirche (a gorgeous country church with some amazing artwork inside) and the 1936 Olympic ski venue in Garmisch. There are some nice twisty roads up through the Alps near here. A wrong turn and you're sure to bump into something interesting. Weve done most of our German travel in this area over the past 35 years and always discover something new and exciting. Lots of great photo ops.
If you need budget lodging info check out: http://www.bensbauernhof.com/. We really enjoy staying at the small hotels, B&Bs and farms recommended on that site. You can find very comfortable accomodations for under $40 per person per night. It's a great chance to meet and chat with the locals.
Berchtesgaden is just a half hour or so from Salzburg and makes a great base for trips into Salzburg. Don't buy the Sound of Music tour that local tour companies sell. Search online and you can do your own drive at your own pace tour and still see the most famous sights from the movie.
May is the best time to go. Few tourists, warming weather and some good early wines.
This is similar to our route four our May 2011 ED, which was designed to put us at Nurburgring after the car exceeded the 1200 mile break-in period. Nurburgring unfortunately didn't happen for us, but that's a whole other story.
Our complete itinerary and plans are on our ED blog. Despite my best intentions it got very few real-time updates during the trip, and unfortunately I never went back and updated things after we arrived home. There is a post about why we missed Nurburgring though. It may be of some help to you.
Just took a trip back in april to northern Germany, which included Hamburg and some of the surrounding areas. I took my 4 year old to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg. He loved it and it was quite amazing. I don't know if its worth a 6 hour drive out the way just to see this and hamburg?? I can't say Hamburg itself was anything special at all...industrial port city, very different than cities/town in southern germany. We spent all of our time in and around Lubeck, Plon, baltic sea, etc. The drive to Hamburg was not bad at all and I was able to open up my ford mondeo diesel wagon...120 :) so this would give you an opportunity to really push your new bmw. So, I would suggest perhaps driving to Hamburg then perhaps come back down the east side and catch berlin and some of the cities along the eastern side and then drop off/fly out of Munich.
If you do drive to Hamburg, I can suggest a few stops that I made. Bergen-Belsen concentration camp - Where Anne Frank died, very interesting museum and grounds. Hildesheim - Neat medieval town (stayed in a nice Novotel with great parking), has a couple churches on the World Heritage site list.
I went from Munich to Amsterdam and stayed at the Nurburgring for a few days on they way back.
My original plan (after Amsterdam), was to be based out Nurburg for most of the trip and stay a night in Normandy while hitting up Colgne and Belgium on day trips. Ended up staying a few days longer in Amsterdam and spent the rest of my time hanging out with gearheads and their cars in the Nurburg area before going back to Munich for a few days.
We did it during last summers ED, most enjoyable. Time wise about the same, 3 hour train ride vs 50 minute flight, however the hauptbahnhof is central the airport is 45 minutes north, and our hotel was 1/2 block away.
Based on your map I have a few suggestions:
1) Instead of taking the autobahns between Salzburg and Mieders (and Mieders and Neuschwanstein) use the German Alpenstrasse. It is a beautiful drive. It's a lot slower but it's worth it. Also, the twists and turns and stops are ideal for the break-in period. You will have a chance to open it up later in the trip.
2) In my mind Zurich is just another big city. Perhaps someone else on the forum can suggest an area of northern Switzerland that is prettier. You might head up to Schaffhausen, where the Rhine Falls are located, as an option. Though neither Zurich nor Scaffhausen will equal most of the rest of Switzerland in natural beauty.
3) Instead of going up the E5 to Strasbourg, head into Alsace, France and see Mulhouse, Colmar and Riquewihr. They are all pretty cities/towns and worth an hour or two each.
4) Downtown Nuremberg is worth a stop. It's also got a lot of pre-WWII sites that are interesting if you are a WWII buff. There is also a Documentation Center which reviews the build-up of the Nazi party.
5) When heading from Heidelberg to Nurburgring take the road from Koblenz to Cochem which is alongside the Mosel River. There are lots of cute little towns, castles, vineyards to enjoy.
6) Hamburg is a long way out of your way. The city does have a pretty little lake but otherwise is just another modern city. The Miniature Wonderland does appear to be a worthwhile site and may make the extra 12 hours or so of travel worthwhile.
May should be a beautiful time to travel. The flower boxes decorating the alpine chalets should be in bloom. If you have good weather it should be a great trip.
I can't thank you all enough, this information is invaluable and I'm taking notes and reworking plans 'behind the scenes'. I'll post new plans when in a while but your comments have given me so many good tips it's going to take a while.
I was debating on asking for tips but I'm glad I did, the insight from everyones experiences will make this a much better trip that I had imagined.
So Hamburg, what everyone keeps forgetting is how... Um... Seedy the town is. The Davidwache, where the hookers are, is interesting. The other street, I forget the name, is where all the sex shows are.
I've actually driven all that way to see the museum but didn't get my tickets in time so didn't get to see it. I'll have to go back in a few months.
There are many things to see in Hamburg but that extra drive might not be worth it.
Your trip is mostly Autobahn, I'd suggest turning on the scenic route, Europe in the spring is amazing. So much to do and see. Like on your trip from Frankfurt to Heidelberg you pass Frankenstein Castle. Just so much here to do and see, don't speed by it all.
I'd probably not be doing anything like Reeperbahn... I guess my thought about driving to Hamburg was being able to drop the car off at the port in hope it would get the car shipped a week or two sooner than leaving it in Frankfurt, I hear the post-driving wait is torture. :)
If there's not a need for a car in Hamburg to get around a little (Appears to be a 10 minute walk from the ICE station to the Museum) then I think we'd probably just leave the car at the Frankfurt drop off, take the ICE up to hamburg and enjoy the scenery (is there any from an ICE?) go Miniature that evening (or the next morning), and take the ICE back to Frankfurt or Munich and then fly home. If the ICE trip is enjoyable it might be better to try to find a path along the east side of Germany back to Munich rather than going back to Frankfurt. I'll leave an east Germany driving route for another trip, or at least I'm not sure I can fit much more in to this trip safely.
~10 minute walk to the drop-off, 5 minute walk to a DB station.
Got my production # and pickup time so I am ready to start finalizing the plans.
Based on feedback from here, this is what we have now.
Fly into Hamburg on May 10th at 5pm.
Go to miniatur wonderland on the 11th and tour museums nearby.
ICE to Munich on the 12th, go to glockenspiel and wonder around.
Pickup car on Monday the 13th (11am checking, 12:30 pickup), do factory tour, wonder around Munich.
Tuesday the 14th, do BMW Welt Museum (It's closed Monday) and head out on 1494 miles of driving. :yikes:
On Tuesday May 21st our flight leaves at 1:20PM, I'm thinking to drop off at Frankfurt but Munich is about the same distance if we don't visit Erlangen on the ICE train down to Munich.
Here's the map of the driving portion (minus Nurburgring and the last day and without the train routes, apparently you can only have 27 points on a google map. I managed to get a "You broke google" error, ha.). 7 Days to do this??? 30 hours of driving it says.
I'm interested in any feedback if this is now too much, please let me know. The 'have to see' are:
Salzburg (Sound of music)
Alpine Coaster in Austria
Lucerne Switzerland (or something else in switzerland that's as beautiful)
Ulm Munster area
Erlangen (Visit friends)
Nurburging (right towards the end so I'm over the 1200 mile break in period).
Places that would be fun to see but not required:
Schellenberg (another Sound of music spot)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen (My father said there's a peak there he had heard about, and WWII stuff)
Jungfrau/top of the world (The train ride looks beautiful, but might this be a repeat of stuff seen elsewhere?)
The three french towns were recommended, although one person coming is a bit paranoid about going anywhere remotely 'risky' and thinks being in france could be 'risky'.
Baden-Baden (Not sure what to see here, but it's suppose to be nice)
The drive between Koblenz and Cochem is suppose to be nice, though if it's a repeat of what we've seen it might be worth skipping maybe?
For Erlangen (Friends live there), it is quite out of the way on the drive so I've wondered about going there the day we take the train from Hamburg to Munich since it passes very near by. Downside would be if there's anything worth seeing nearby as we wouldn't have the car yet. SD ZRm4's ED blog is down and I know there's a beautiful town (it's in his signature) that I'd like to stop by but I don't recall where that's at, I'm wondering if it's new the Erlangen area?
I've also modified the map (look for the tiny white circles) to force google to route through roads noted in the ED wiki that are good for enjoyable driving.
If anyone has comments about 1494 miles, 30 hours being doable in 7 days let me know, and what might be worth skipping. Also if there are any map route suggestions for places to go through or avoid going through I'd be intersted in hearing. I'd like to avoid _any_ place that might be a higher risk for personal safety and so on.
Visit the French National Car Museum and the associated Train Museum when you visit Mulhouse.
It is one of the best in Europe.
You could visit Ettlingen when you drive north from Baden-Baden.
The road from Baden-Baden to Gernsbach to Bad Herenalb, to Marxell to Ettlingen is much nicer than the A5.
There is a car/motorcycle museum in Marxell that is entertaining to visit.
I would really think about the path you want to take. You have places on the "want" list that are definitely opposite directions. Bear in mind even a 4-5 hour drive really affects your day. It isnt a lot of driving but say for example you decide to wake up every day before 8 so you can be on the road at 8; well you wake up at 630 am to get ready and have breakfast. Now you drive 5 hours without stopping to your next destination. Now it is 1pm. That gives you maybe 5 hours in that location to see things before the tourist sites have shut down. Obviously you will still have another 2 hours of light but say there were two places you wanted to hit that day. Then you are rushing through everything and the vacation is simply go go go the entire time.
When I drove from Munich to Mulhouse we had plans to see the museum then drive up to Massenez distillery, then check into our hotel (Kanzel hotel and residences: HIGHLY recommended) and then go do wine tasting along the rue de vin. We woke up at 6am and were on the road by 7:30am. We got to the museum at 12:30 and literally raced through the museum because the tastings at Massenez only went to 4 and they were an hour away. So we jumped back in the car, raced there did the tastings and now it was almost 4pm we still hadnt eaten lunch and it was going to be dark in an hour. By the time we checked in we were exhausted, starving, it was dark and there was no chance to do the wine tasting. This is just an example of how something looked perfect on paper, but in reality it was a nightmare. For things that are 30-40 miles away from each other you need to consider an hour of time between them for getting back to the car, getting the nav set up, finding your way there and parking at the new location.
Basically this is my long winded way to say take your time. Remember this is your vacation as well and rushing around for days just to see one or two extra things will just create exhaustion and grumpiness for you and your dad and sister.
Find the MUST sees first. Find a direction of travel and stick with it. Feel free to just have one location planned for the day and have a couple things nearby that you could go to if you feel finished at your first place.
I can give you tips on France and about Amsterdam. Not much help for Germany :)
Here are a few comments on your current plan. It is, as others have pointed out, a big program for seven days. Most of us prefer to spend a couple of nights at each of our stops so that packing and unpacking are minimised. We still drive on the day in between but the drives are shorter and focus on specific sights that we want to explore in more detail. Your plan will likely result in one night stops and all the sightseeing done while on the road or at the beginning and end of each day. That sounds exhausting to me but it could be done. As you are relatively young you should have the opportunity to do many more EDs and see all the sights that you can dream of. Why not limit this ED to the things that are of most interest to your father and sister.
If I were to select what to eliminate they would be:
Schellenberg: I have not been there but there is a lot of "Sound of Music" sightseeing to be done around Salzburg - most of the major sites I think. Also by going to Schellenberg you are missing the most beautiful parts of the German Alpenstrasse.
Jungfraujoch: I would only skip it if the weather forecast for the area is bad - check the forecast when you get to Neuschwanstein. Otherwise it is a spectacular site, but it will occupy the best part of a day - not counting the time getting there and back.
Baden Baden: But that is because spas do not appeal to me.
Ulm: Only because, if you see your friends in Erlangen when you are traveling by train, cutting out Ulm will eliminate a big loop.
I think that I was the one who recommended the drive from Koblenz to Cochem, but only if you take one of the routes along the Mosel River. Those two roads, one on each side of the river, go alongside vineyards, castles and pretty little towns. Google has routed you on autobahns. I have a lot of difficulty getting Google to route me along the roads that I want so I understand how that happens, especially as you would have to exceed Googles' limit of 27 points! So I would only go to Cochem if you decide you have the time to travel along the river side roads.
Sure, mention another car & train museum, and they look really worth while.
Looks like we might leave a day early so hopefully that will help a little, but even with that, items will have to be cut out. I think too that skipping Ulm and seeing our friends on the train trip down would be a good way to avoid that big loop, but I've heard there are a lot of good things to see in that area.
So to throw this out as a 'master all inclusive plan' that we'll have to chissle down from.
And here are the two google maps (had to break it into two to get around googles 27 point limit)
Most likely items to drop:
Schellenberg (Though is the Alpenstrasse so great and unique that it's worth not driving through much of Austria?)
Alpine Coaster (Would be fun as the local alpine coaster isn't very large)
Ulm (Amazing church, but hopefully we'll run into another as massive and ornate)
Romatik Hotel Markustrum (This looked like a great town so it will be sadly missed)
My father also spent most of his time between Freiburg and Reutlingen so he'll want a day or two around there and that can't be cut.
Next step will be to figure out how much we can realistically do each day and plan days out (best we can as reality and planning don't always match). The point made about driving in the morning and everything closing around 6pm is very likely, I think we'll have to do things in the morning, drive after we're done seeing things and then stay at a hotel near what we'll be doing the next day so we can hit things before they close.
WOW! Almost 2,000 miles of driving in 7 days. You are literally going to have 1 hour in each of your stops max.
Remember Austria and Switzerland require vignettes to drive in the country and unlike Austria which allows you to buy a multiday version, you must purchase an annual vignette for Switzerland. If you do a search for Switzerland on this forum you will see many people that liked going but say if they could do it again they would skip it.
The alsace region of France is absolutely incredible. Besides the amazing car and train museums, you have the Route de Vin which is as it says, the wine road. The area, as your dad is aware I am sure, was constantly being exchanged between Germany and France and has a very unique culture all its own. Kind of the best of both worlds if you ask me. As stated before I was recommended the Kanzel Hotel in the Colmar area and I can also recommend it wholeheartedly to you. It is a great location. Also if you are a food buff you must eat at Auberge D'Ill. A 3 star michelin restaurant and it has held those stars since 1960 which is extremely rare. But they are closed Monday and tuesday. Just fyi.
The yelllow section (part 1) is enough to do in 7 days alone. I know you are set on Nurburgring. How rooted are you in heading east before you go west? If you skip Austria that will save almost 400 miles.
2,000 miles in seven days is a lot of driving. Don't forget the time spent parking, getting gas, rest stops, etc.. 300 miles per day is at least 4-5 hour in the car per day.
I noticed the stop in Nuremburg. My wife and I spent a few days there (unplanned - long story!). It has a great center city, the deep well at the Imperial Palace is cool, and it has some relatively interesting sights. However, I think the city center of Munich is just as good with a similar experience. Although I did not visit any of the WWII sites at Nuremburg, you could visit the Documentation center at Berchtesgaden which will have similar exhibits. Cutting off the trip back over to Nuremburg would save some time/miles.
Looks like we are going to cut Jungfraujoch , Nuremburg, Ulm and Hotel Romantik off the driving portion but we will still stop by to visit our friends at Nuremburg and see Ulm Munster via the train rides down. That saves 9 hours of driving, about 500 miles and makes the schedule flow much better, now about 27 hours and 1300 miles in 8 days. Thanks for the tips, I'm sure i'll miss going to Jungfraujoch but my father and sister weren't too interested and I'll probably go there on another trip with my wife (She wants to do Paris, Rome, and take the Chunnel over to London so Jungfraujoch will be a nice stop between Paris and Rome during that Euro Rail trip).
I was bored last night so I pulled out google spreadsheet and started marking out times between places, open times of museusm, and so on. Then I hit a big snag when looking up hotels in Hamburg.
I am not sure what is going on but I can't find a hotel with a rating over 7/10, holds 3 people, isnt sold out, and under $500. I can find hotels all over our route for $120-$180 for 8/10+, breakfast, nice rooms, wifi and many with breakfasts but the may 10th-12 weekend in Hamburg is insane. Outside that weekend rooms currently at $500 are $180. If anyone knows of a hotel in Hamburg under $250 I'm all ears but I think we'll have to take the train out of Hamburg and stay in someplace, maybe Hanover (I could find nice rooms here under $200), but where to stay is an unknown since i'm not familiar with the area.
This thread reminds me that I need to put up my own itinerary draft sometime soon.. and have useful insights poured in... damn!
Flights are booked. I ended up moving delivery back 5 days though because Nurburgring added the 24 hours of Nurburgring the weekend I was going to be there and is actually closed for over a week, the week I would have picked up the car.
I was also able to add a day and am doing saturday delivery which gives about 1.5 extra days to get all the miles in. I've started a spreadsheet with times between each segment for train and car as well as an estimate of how long we'll be at all locations. Most all days have us ending around 4pm-6pm so if we run late during the day it won't be a problem for the remaining places. No car problems right? :) Good news though is the 2014 model added BMW Assist if the worst happens. Anyway, here's the simplified schedule.
Arrive 7:30am in Hamburg
Miniature Wunderland until 2pm
Train to Hamburg
See friends around 7pm
Train to Ulm & tour for 3 hours
Train to BMW Welt for factory tour (Tour at @3:30)
Pickup car 9am
BMW Welt Museum
Tour Downtown Munich
Drive to Salzburg and see the sites
Drive to Eagles nest & do tour
Drive to Hoch Imst (Austria) and do Alpine Coaster around noon
Drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, depenind on time see it that night or next morning (need to do more research on what all is available to see/do)
Drive to Lucere
Drive to Mulhouse France
Cite du train museum
Drive back into germany
Thursday & Friday
Drive around where father lived, Freiburg germany.
See frankfurt sites
Wash car & drop off
Fly home at noon from Frankfurt
Rottenberg is the only location I couldn't seem to fit to well based on the others wants for Germany, the closest we get is Nurmburg via train so going over isn't possible.
Tuesday has about 9 hours of driving (getting from A-B mainly), most other days have 3-6 hours. Useless info, 30 hours of driving the total distance is avg 46mph.
Regarding BMW Assist make sure that you get it enabled by your dealer when you take redelivery. Even though you get BMW Assist for free for 4 years it expires 4 years from your purchase date, not from the date when it is first enabled in the US.
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