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How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:05 am
  #31  
David Horne
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

The Reid <[email protected]> wrote:

> On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 16:32:10 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne,
> _the_ chancellor (*)) wrote:
>
> >> > Maybe we have just been lucky, but having a car really gives you
> >> >the freedom to go many places, taking the country roads
> >>
> >> trains are great if you are doing museums and galleries in major
> >> cities (or don't like driving of course).
> >
> >You can get to plenty non-city places by train- you bring up
> >particularly inaccessible places, but there are others easier to get to,
> >and lots of people _drive_ to them, despite them being accessible by
> >train or other PT.
>
> I think its true people drive to places you can get a train to, I
> think its true there are many places you cant practically get PT to,
> especially if its 50 yards from road X that has the perfect foreground
> for a photo of Y sort of stuff and you didnt know that was going to be
> the case till you got there. There are also some places you cant get
> to at all by PT, especially if carrying a cello.

Er, he took his cello to Wigan by train. It's surprisingly portable.

--
(*) ... of the royal duchy of city south and deansgate
David Horne- http://www.davidhorne.net
(don't email yahoo address) usenet (at) davidhorne (dot) co (dot) uk
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:09 am
  #32  
David Horne
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

Martin <[email protected]> wrote:

> On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 16:36:19 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne, _the_
> chancellor (*)) wrote:
[]
> >I suspect the 'Romantic Road' might be good for a car, but the nicest
> >parts of the Rhine are pleasantly accessible by different modes of
> >public transport. Most people with cars are driving down the same routes
> >and stopping in the same spots which are covered by train, boat etc.
>
> No they aren't.

They certainly give the impression they are.

> With a car you can get up to the top of the valley quickly,
> where many of the castles are. You can do the same on foot but not in the time
> available.

Time available? I didn't realise my holiday was a timed competition.
Part of the fun for me is the walking- though cars do their best to ruin
the experience- true.

>
> >Bike is a good way of getting about for the thus-inclined.
>
> Have you tried cycling along the bottom of the Rhine valley sandwiched between
> cars trucks and the railway?

Yes. It was fine, though I admit I prefered the bike lanes (say, between
Bacharach and Bingen)

[]
> I've done the Rhine Valley many times with and without a car. With a car
> is best, even if eventually you want to walk. I visited more places in a
> year with a car, than I had visited in the previous seven years using
> public transport.

For me, visiting more places isn't necessarily the point.

--
(*) ... of the royal duchy of city south and deansgate
David Horne- http://www.davidhorne.net
(don't email yahoo address) usenet (at) davidhorne (dot) co (dot) uk
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:14 am
  #33  
David Horne
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

Markku Gr�nroos <[email protected]> wrote:

> "scottdanzig" <[email protected]> kirjoitti
> viestiss�:[email protected] legroups.com...
> >
> > Getting around in a car in Munich was a bit of a hassle, because
> > between a German map, German signs, parking pay machines in German,
> > etc, etc, it wasn't very straight forward how to do everything.
> > Between me and my frightened friend, we did manage to truck through it.
> > As long as you're able to steel your nerves and take one thing at a
> > time, maybe with a phone number of a local at your hotel who speaks
> > English, you'll be fine. Another thing about Munich. I stayed during
>
> German traffic should be pretty easy to cope with. In my opinion Bangkok is
> a lot more challenging.

What an interesting comparison. When's the court case?

--
(*) ... of the royal duchy of city south and deansgate
David Horne- http://www.davidhorne.net
(don't email yahoo address) usenet (at) davidhorne (dot) co (dot) uk
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:17 am
  #34  
-Zane
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On 22 Jan 2007 08:21:02 -0800, "Bill Steltzer" <[email protected]>
wrote:

(snip)

> You'll find driving in Germany easy. Beautiful roads and
>since you won't be leaving the touristic areas of Germany you'll won't
>have much trouble finding people who can speak English.

I agree that it's not real difficult, but knowing what the signs say
without looking them up in a book while you're driving is important.
In other words, bone up before you go.

(I remember my first time to Germany was a last minute business affair
which didn't leave me any time to refresh my college German. After
renting a car in the Frankfurt airport and driving out of the parking
garage with impatient people behind me, the very first intersection I
came to was one sign saying "ausgang" and one saying "ausfahrt", each
pointing in a different direction. With only a second to decide, I
of course picked the wrong one and needed about another 5 or 10
minutes to finally get out of the parking area.)

I also find Germany fairly hard to navigate at night -- things aren't
well lighted and signs are sparse, or so it seems. After getting lost
a couple of times on cloudy nights I bought a compass, which helped.
Renting a car with one of the new GPS navigation aids might be smart
if you plan to do any driving at night.

Zane
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:19 am
  #35  
The Reid
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 16:36:19 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne,
_the_ chancellor (*)) wrote:

>I suspect the 'Romantic Road' might be good for a car

hence not called the romantic railway?
--
Mike Reid
UK walking, food, photos "http://www.fellwalk.co.uk" <-- you can email us@ this site
Spain walking, food, tourism "http://www.fell-walker.co.uk"
Beginners UK flight sim addons "http://www.lawn-mower-man.co.uk"
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:27 am
  #36  
-Martin
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 17:09:16 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne, _the_
chancellor (*)) wrote:

>Martin <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 16:36:19 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne, _the_
>> chancellor (*)) wrote:
>[]
>> >I suspect the 'Romantic Road' might be good for a car, but the nicest
>> >parts of the Rhine are pleasantly accessible by different modes of
>> >public transport. Most people with cars are driving down the same routes
>> >and stopping in the same spots which are covered by train, boat etc.
>>
>> No they aren't.
>
>They certainly give the impression they are.

How would you know? :-)

>
>> With a car you can get up to the top of the valley quickly,
>> where many of the castles are. You can do the same on foot but not in the time
>> available.
>
>Time available? I didn't realise my holiday was a timed competition.

We aren't discussing your holiday plans. See the subject.

>Part of the fun for me is the walking- though cars do their best to ruin
>the experience- true.

It was a response to OP's query about his holiday plan. See the subject.

>
>>
>> >Bike is a good way of getting about for the thus-inclined.
>>
>> Have you tried cycling along the bottom of the Rhine valley sandwiched between
>> cars trucks and the railway?
>
>Yes. It was fine, though I admit I prefered the bike lanes (say, between
>Bacharach and Bingen)
>
>[]
>> I've done the Rhine Valley many times with and without a car. With a car
>> is best, even if eventually you want to walk. I visited more places in a
>> year with a car, than I had visited in the previous seven years using
>> public transport.
>
>For me, visiting more places isn't necessarily the point.

For me being stuck to within walking distance of a railway station was extremely
limiting. Having to spend two hours walking to and from the place where we
wanted to walk in the forest was time wasting too.
--

Martin
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:30 am
  #37  
-Martin
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 18:03:11 +0100, Giovanni Drogo
<[email protected]> wrote:

>On Mon, 22 Jan 2007, Mike wrote:
>
>> Fly to London, 4 nights in London (maybe 1 in Bath?)
>
>Why did you select Bath and not e.g. Canterbury, Cambridge or Salisbury
>(from where you could also do Stonehenge) ?

Why Stonehenge and not Avebury, which is a million times more interesting?

--

Martin
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:36 am
  #38  
JennyC
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

"Mike" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news[email protected]...
> My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this Spring. I've never been
> to Europe before...we plan on about 2 weeks (~ 15 nights). Both of us are
> English-only speakers.
>
> Our current plan:
>
> Fly to London, 4 nights in London (maybe 1 in Bath?)
> Rail to Paris, 4 nights in Paris
> Rail to Koeln, _rent_ a car and spend 7 days/nights exploring Germany
> (Rhine River Valley, Romantic Road, Rothenburg, Munich, etc.)
> Fly out of Munich
>
> I'm a little skittish about renting a car in a foreign country. I know
> Europe's rail system is supposed to be fantastic, but we like exploring
> and enjoy checking out smaller towns and scenic countryside. Any thoughts
> on this?

Sounds OK to me. 4 days a city is a good amount of time to see the main
sights.

A car will give you greater freedom to explore the smaller places.They even
drive on the same side of the road :~))

Nearly everyone in Europe speaks a bit of English and you can always use
sign language. Shopping in supermarkets is no problem and getting petrol
(gas!) is easy as it's nearly all self service.

Jenny
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:50 am
  #39  
The Reid
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 17:09:16 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne,
_the_ chancellor (*)) wrote:

> Most people with cars are driving down the same routes
>> >and stopping in the same spots which are covered by train, boat etc.
>>
>> No they aren't.
>
>They certainly give the impression they are.

they would give that impression from PT?
--
Mike Reid
UK walking, food, photos "http://www.fellwalk.co.uk" <-- you can email us@ this site
Spain walking, food, tourism "http://www.fell-walker.co.uk"
Beginners UK flight sim addons "http://www.lawn-mower-man.co.uk"
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 4:50 am
  #40  
The Reid
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 17:05:31 +0000, [email protected] (David Horne,
_the_ chancellor (*)) wrote:

>There are also some places you cant get
>> to at all by PT, especially if carrying a cello.
>
>Er, he took his cello to Wigan by train. It's surprisingly portable.

you could use it as a boat, no, that's a base.
--
Mike Reid
UK walking, food, photos "http://www.fellwalk.co.uk" <-- you can email us@ this site
Spain walking, food, tourism "http://www.fell-walker.co.uk"
Beginners UK flight sim addons "http://www.lawn-mower-man.co.uk"
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 6:28 am
  #41  
-Hh
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

scottdanzig wrote:
> Mike wrote:
> > My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this Spring. I've never been
> > to Europe before...we plan on about 2 weeks (~ 15 nights). Both of us are
> > English-only speakers.
> >
> > Our current plan:
> >
> > Fly to London, 4 nights in London (maybe 1 in Bath?)
> > Rail to Paris, 4 nights in Paris
> > Rail to Koeln, _rent_ a car and spend 7 days/nights exploring Germany
> > (Rhine River Valley, Romantic Road, Rothenburg, Munich, etc.)
> > Fly out of Munich
> >
> > I'm a little skittish about renting a car in a foreign country. I know
> > Europe's rail system is supposed to be fantastic, but we like exploring
> > and enjoy checking out smaller towns and scenic countryside. Any thoughts on this?

IMO, your plan looks pretty good. Since you're starting your drive in
Koln, you might also want to explore the Mosel river some: visit the
park in Koblenz where the Rhine & Mosel join, then you can head west up
the Mosel to see Burg Eltz castle (maybe Ehrenburg Castle too, if
you're a bit more adventurous), perhaps even going as far as a daytrip
to Trier (there's some overnight rooms in Zell). Further
south/upstream along the Rhine, there's Marksburg Castle - across the
river fromKoblenz, and Rheinfels Castle near St. Goar. We usually stay
at "Pension Lettie" in Bacharach, just a few miles further upstream
(south); there's a cute little ferryboat that crosses the Rhine between
St Goar and Bacharach, at Kaub:

<http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=kaub+germany+&ie=UTF8&om=1&z&llP .094596,7.77523&spn=0.104839,0.341263&iwloc­dr>

<http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=kaub+germany+&ie=UTF8&om=1&z&llP .087189,7.765017&spn=0.013107,0.042658&t=h&iwloc­ dr>


Overall, the best advice is simply "be prepared", and as a rule of
thumb, expect to get lost once per day. There's some more tips below.


> Getting around in a car in Munich was a bit of a hassle, because
> between a German map, German signs, parking pay machines in German,
> etc, etc, it wasn't very straight forward how to do everything.

Tip#1: buy a copy of "Signposts: German (Signposts)" by Edith Baer and
Margaret Wightman

This book is old (1982), but its guidance for how to use pay machines
and so forth are not out of date. As such, its a good book to read
before your trip as well as to take with you the first time or two for
refreshers.


> Between me and my frightened friend, we did manage to truck through it.

Tip#2: If you have a fwllow traveller, use them as your Navigator.

This means:
- Maps
- daily plans
- understanding German highway signs, especially that they ARE NOT
marked North-South-East-West.


Each of these in turn:

(1) Maps: you can buy all sorts of Michelin Maps off of Amazon. Just
do it.

For traditional fanfold maps, I'd recommend Michelin Regional #543,
#545, and #546 would definintely cover all of your areas. You might
not need #545, but better safe than sorry.

An alternative is Michelin's spiral-bound Atlas. In some ways, this
can be preferrable...some Navigators prefer them...and its easier to
photocopy (see Daily Plans). Cost is $17 on Amazon: ISBN-10:
2067118757. The only real problem I have with carrying it on a trip is
that it weighs in at 2lbs.


(2) Daily Plans: since the OP has a pretty decent general plan
(perhaps even a very specific daily plan, down to hotel reservations,
etc), the above map(s), a photocopier, a highlighter marker and a
couple of 1-gallon ziplock bags can go a long ways in making your daily
drive easier. Here's what you do:

Weeks before your trip:
a) sit down with your maps and make a plan for your daily route.
b) note which map section(s) you need for that itineary
c) photocopy those sections of map(s) for that day's drive
d) collate and highlight the route.
e) write a "crib sheet" of the route (A6 towards Wurzburg ...)
f) take the package and put the whole thing into a ziplock bag.
g) include your hotel info (reservations, etc) in the same bag
h) write the intended date of use on the outside of the bag,
and also the FROM --> TO information
i) go back to Step (a) and prepare the next day's itinerary,
until you're finished

Days before your trip:
a) toss all the ziplocks of daily instructions in your bag
b) take along whatever maps you want too

For each day driving on your trip:
a) Day: using the ziplock full of info, execute your plan
b) PM: discard the "Used" map and/or Recycle as needed
c) PM: Pull out tomorrow's ziplock & review


(3) Highway signs: the "Signpost German" sign helps here quite a bit,
but the IMO most important thing to realize is that their signs are
typically not marked by compass directions, but list the towns/cities
along that route (ditto the Paris Subway :-).

As such, when you make note of your crib sheet, you don't want to say
"Highway 123 North", but instead want to say "123 *towards* Frankfurt
(OPTIONAL: "And NOT towards Wurzberg")".

Similarly, you'll also find that there will usually be multiple city
names on the sign - - these are arranged in order of distance. It can
be a real hassle until you get used to sorting out if the sign is
marked (top down) "nearest to farthest" or "farthest to nearest". I
can't recall which way Germany does it, but I do recall that France
does it the other way!


Tip#3: one trick I've learned is for the Driver and Navigator to plan
to read the signs in opposite directions -- ie, one reads top-down, the
other bottom-up -- in order to figure out which way the signs are in
that Country, as well as to be able to get to read all of the half
dozen or so town names on the sign when blasting past at 120kph.


> As long as you're able to steel your nerves and take one thing at a
> time, maybe with a phone number of a local at your hotel who speaks
> English, you'll be fine. Another thing about Munich. I stayed during
> Oktoberfest, and regret getting a car. We drove around a bit, but we
> should have just taken the train in. People, especially tourists,
> weren't even paying for the train, often claiming ignorance (Like...
> validation machine? What's that?). Not once did I see a ticket
> checked.

London & Paris metro systems are worth the effort to figure out. I
don't recall if there's a multiday pass in London, but for Paris,
there's the "Carte Orange" pass which is usually worthwhile. See the
Rick Steves guidebook discussions for more info.


> I've been to London and Bath as well. Bath was a nice city, and I had
> friends there. We hung out at this nice pub called the "Hobgoblin",
> which had some live music, microbrewed refreshments, and on New Year's
> Eve, the hostess gives free spankings. Also in Bath, I did the bus
> tour, which was cold. The Roman Baths, in the winter, look cool
> though, because the steam rises up from the greenish water.

Its a pretty long drive out to Bath and depending on what your likes
are, the downtown areas can either take a long time to do, or can be
done in a half day. If you run out of interests quickly, the local TI
has a regional self-guided country driving tour for a few bucks ... you
can swing out to Avesbury and some other sites (assuming you have a
car). As such, you might want to consider how you're getting to/from
Bath, as it is another place where having wheels can increase
flexibility.


> Some things I've seen in
> London... let's see.. First and foremost, I loved the British Museum
> and Windsor Castle. Westminster Abbey was nice. The Imperial War
> Museum was very interesting as well. And you probably should take the
> tour of Tower Bridge. I'd say those 5 are the can't miss things.

With sufficient leadtime, you can also get (free) tickets to the
Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London.


> One more thing. These cities have tourist "fun passes" that get you
> cheaper admission, train rides, etc, for one low price.

IIRC, London has two flavors of their "unlimited day pass"; one of the
two is aimed at tourists and is valid only after the peak morning rush
hour. Available widely, but for some attractions, you're better off
spending the extra money to not lose that first hour in the morning.
The last time I was to the Tower of London in the day, we noticed that
it was fairly quiet when it first opened - - and there was a rush of
tourists around 20 minutes after the hour that the "tourist pass"
allowed them on the Metro...an example of where it was worth paying the
extra few bucks to beat the crowds.


-hh
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 6:53 am
  #42  
-Viking
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 04:17:49 GMT, Mike <[email protected]> wrote:

>My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this Spring. I've never been
>to Europe before...we plan on about 2 weeks (~ 15 nights). Both of us are
>English-only speakers.
>
>Our current plan:
>
> Fly to London, 4 nights in London (maybe 1 in Bath?)
> Rail to Paris, 4 nights in Paris
> Rail to Koeln, _rent_ a car and spend 7 days/nights exploring Germany
> (Rhine River Valley, Romantic Road, Rothenburg, Munich, etc.)
> Fly out of Munich
>
>I'm a little skittish about renting a car in a foreign country. I know
>Europe's rail system is supposed to be fantastic, but we like exploring
>and enjoy checking out smaller towns and scenic countryside. Any thoughts on this?

Good plan. The car might give you some troubles with traffic rules,
etc, but I say go for it. If you're near Munich, you can cross over
into Austria and visit the Salzkammergut, one the the most picturesque
regions of Europe, mountainous and lake-filled, and Salzburg as well
(very close to Munich).
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 6:54 am
  #43  
Bruce Bretschneider
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Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

The Reid wrote:
> On Mon, 22 Jan 2007 04:17:49 GMT, Mike <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>
>>I'm a little skittish about renting a car in a foreign country. I know
>>Europe's rail system is supposed to be fantastic, but we like exploring
>>and enjoy checking out smaller towns and scenic countryside. Any thoughts on this?
>
>
> if landscape and small places are your thing, nothing beats a car.
> (German drivers are pretty disciplined BTW)
>
> (Cue usual argument)


German drivers are not "pretty disciplined". They are EXTREMELY
DISCIPLINED as are most of the people in Germany. The driver on the
right has the right of way and that includes on the on ramp (einfahrt)
to the autobahn. I've seen them wait for a don't walk light to change
even when there were absolutely no cars in sight. It may be that the
polizei give tickets freely, but not even they were in sight.

Another word to learn is EINBAHNSTRASSE. The double s looks sort of
like a Greek beta sometimes. This means ONEWAY STREET.

As someone else said, be sure to drive in the right lane. They go
really fast in the left lane. I've been passed like I was standing
still even though I was going almost 140 kph (84 mph).

The country is beautiful and the food is great. Not being a beer
drinker, I have to rely on others who say that the beer is good also. A
rindworst on rye with mustard brought back memories of my childhood in
Cleveland where we got homemade weiners (not hotdogs) from a European
butcher.

The trains run on time. If they are supposed to be there at a certain
time, they will be. If you are even a minute or two late, you will have
to wait for the next train.

Most of the castles in Germany are in ruins. Some are not and they are
beautiful, eg, Neuschwanstein (the model for Disneyland's castle). You
might try to locate Berg Eltz which is along the Rhine. You can find
info if you do a Google search on Berg Eltz. Here's a link to Eltz
(http://www.castles.org/castles/Europe/Central_Europe/Germany/germany2.htm)
Sorry I couldn't make it an active link. I looked, but Mozilla didn't
seem to have a way. I've only seen the outside since it was closed the
day we went.

Another place to visit is Trier if you are in southwestern Germany. It
is one of the oldest, if not the oldest city in Germany. Dates back to
Roman times and has an ampitheater and baths. The cathedral in town is
also nice.

Hope this helps.
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 7:12 am
  #44  
-Dave Smith
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

Mike wrote:
>
> My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this Spring. I've never been
> to Europe before...we plan on about 2 weeks (~ 15 nights). Both of us are
> English-only speakers.
>
> Our current plan:
>
> Fly to London, 4 nights in London (maybe 1 in Bath?)
> Rail to Paris, 4 nights in Paris
> Rail to Koeln, _rent_ a car and spend 7 days/nights exploring Germany
> (Rhine River Valley, Romantic Road, Rothenburg, Munich, etc.)
> Fly out of Munich
>
> I'm a little skittish about renting a car in a foreign country. I know
> Europe's rail system is supposed to be fantastic, but we like exploring
> and enjoy checking out smaller towns and scenic countryside. Any thoughts on this?


It sounds quite feasible, though Koeln involves heading north while you
plan to end up way down in the south.
If you are renting a car anyway you might consider getting it for one day
extra and picking it up in Paris. The cost of rental and fuel is likely
less than two (or more) train fares. It is a 6-7 hour drive from Paris to
Koeln. I have driven much of that route from Paris to Belgium and it is
quite pleasant.

If you are flexible about Munich you might consider going down a little
further to Garmsich-Prtenkirchen. The drive down from Landsberg is one of
the most scenic I have ever been on. G-P is nestled in Bavarian Alps, very
pretty, and the people were great.
 
Old Jan 22nd 2007, 9:54 am
  #45  
-Hh
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: How is this itinerary for first trip to Europe

Bruce Bretschneider wrote:
>
> German drivers are not "pretty disciplined". They are EXTREMELY
> DISCIPLINED as are most of the people in Germany.

They take their driving very seriously. IIRC, usually takes around
$3000 in training and a couple of months for an American (who already
has a US Driver's Licence) to pass the German tests. The payoff is the
sections of the Autobahn that have no effective speed limit.

> Another word to learn is EINBAHNSTRASSE. The double s looks sort of
> like a Greek beta sometimes. This means ONEWAY STREET.

And a "speed limit" sign that has the number with a slash through it
means "End of this speed restriction". What the speed limit then
becomes depends on context (ie, country road, autobahn, etc)


> As someone else said, be sure to drive in the right lane.

Keep 2 eyes forward, 2 on the rearview and another pair split on the
side mirrors. You *do not* want to be caught "asleep" out in a passing
lane.

> They go really fast in the left lane. I've been passed like I was standing
> still even though I was going almost 140 kph (84 mph).

Slowpoke :-)


> The country is beautiful and the food is great. Not being a beer
> drinker, I have to rely on others who say that the beer is good also.

Different regions have different preferred drinks, although the two
commonly prevailing ones are beers and white (Reisling) wines.

The beer varies regionally; I generally just ask for "Ein Beer" and try
the local brew, no matter what it is. There are regional specialties,
such as in K�ln, the beer is K�lsch, which is a light and somewhat
hoppy brew that is technically an ale, but usually mistaken for a
lager. It is served in small (200ml) glasses because they want to keep
it cold.

In Bamberg you'll probably want to try their "Rauchbier" (smoke beer).
Somewhere, you'll want to try a Hefeweizen (wheat beer) and as you get
down into more 'Bavarian' areas, you're more likely to need to learn
the size designations (Klien/Gross/Mas = Small, Large, Huge).

Since the OP will be moving through the Mosel / Rhine area, he will
cross over the center of Germany's (Reisling) white wine country.
There's again way too much information for a casaul reader to try to
absorb in a single go, the basics are generally to expect a usually
sweet white wine from the Reisling grape, with the following being the
most basic words to understand:

troken: "dry"
halbtroken: "half dry" (ie, sweeter)

Wine grades will generally be either Qualitatswein - Quality Wine"
(lowest grade usually offered to drinking - - good examples can be
found for under $3/bottle), or Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP) -
"Quality Wine with Distinction" (ie, the 'good stuff').

A QmP will usually have an additional designation. These designations
are:

Kabinet - Spatlese - Auslese - Beerenauslese - Trokenbeerenauslese -
Eisewin

These designations cannot be used on any of the lower grades, so if you
see any of them, you know that it must be a QmP. Without getting into
the weeds of what each of these mean, it is sufficent to understand
that they identify a specific harvesting technique, and in the order
that I've listed them, it generally connotates higher sugar contents.
This generally suggests increasingly sweet (and heavier) and may also
be of higher alcohol content.

WARNING: the second half of these (Beerenauslese - Trokenbeerenauslese
- Eisewin) are generally *very* sweet, and are generally are more
suited to be a dessert wine, not a drinking or dinner wine. They also
get progressively expensive, partly because the harvesting rules
require cooperation from Nature, the yields are generally low (in some
years, literally zero). If you enjoy Reislings, its worth a try ...

For an easy wine sampling, if you're near Bacharach along the Rhine,
there's Fritz Bastian's "Weinstube" (wine room) where they serve a
'Lazy Susan' sampler of 15 or so varieties for under 20 Euros. Fritz
died a few years ago, but the family's keeping his legacy of the
sampler wheel going. Its a fun place to spend an evening after dinner
(and for dinner, I personally consider the food at the Altes Haus to be
better than the M�nze (old mint) across the street).


> Most of the castles in Germany are in ruins. Some are not and they are
> beautiful, eg, Neuschwanstein (the model for Disneyland's castle). You
> might try to locate Berg Eltz which is along the Rhine. You can find
> info if you do a Google search on Berg Eltz. Here's a link to Eltz
> (http://www.castles.org/castles/Europe/Central_Europe/Germany/germany2.htm)
> Sorry I couldn't make it an active link...

Here's a webpage that has the URL to Berg Eltz as well as a couple
others:

<http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/germany/rhine.htm>


> Another place to visit is Trier if you are in southwestern Germany. It
> is one of the oldest, if not the oldest city in Germany. Dates back to
> Roman times and has an ampitheater and baths. The cathedral in town is
> also nice.

There's the Cathedral as well as the "Dom", a few blocks away. Both
are worth a visit. I've driven into this city as a daytrip and its not
too bad to get around town (learn how the parking machines work).

BTW, two more tips:

Driving: Signs with numbers for parking garages is a real-time
indicator of how many vacant spots that particular garage has.

Eating: Don't be afraid to grab "street food" for lunch, or something
similarly quick. You can find nice "sit down" places for lunch, but
sometimes you'll lose an hour or two before you realize it. Butcher
shops often will serve hot wursts on a bun at around lunchtime.


-hh
 

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