When we can, D and I would like to take a vacation.
When I was single, I only ever wanted to go home to Rothenburg and spend my whole time there with friends and family, but this time (and because of my “situation”), I’d like to visit Bonn and Vienna as well.
As I have stated in other threads, my favorite composer is Beethoven, and I want to see where he was born and where he lived and died.
We’ve decided to make it an 11 day trip, but weren’t sure how to break it up:
Arrive at Frankfurt>Bonn (3 days) >Vienna (3 days) > Rothenburg o d Tauber (4 days).
Also: train or rental car?
Both have advantages/disadvantages.
Train: no driving necessary, cheaper and time to enjoy the scenery, but damned hard to negotiate one’s way through the cars to get where the seats are, with luggage. (I have NEVER been able to stand on the platform directly in front of the car my seats are in). There’s also the problem of switching between trains and the time allotted for us to get to the new track. (D can’t walk as fast as I can because of bad knees).
Rental Car: No worries about luggage, it goes in the trunk, and if we want, we can stop and sight-see along the way. But I don’t drive anymore, so D would have to, and I would have to “navigate” which wouldn’t be a problem. Cost of fuel is also to be considered, as is the hassle of asking the rental company about taking the car into Austria (unlimited mileage in Germany only). More expensive as well.
So we are leaning towards the car, but I wanted to run it by my Doper friends just in case there’s something I may be missing (taking busses for example). I haven’t been home in 3 years, btw.
Rob and I drove, since dealing with luggage, me and a wheel chair would have been problematic with trains.
Since you already speak german [heh] it would work out with you navigating and D driving. As long as you don’t go nuts driving around Austria, it shouldn’t be too expensive. Not to mention you wouldn’t have to worry about missing trains and losing luggage or getting it stolen.
I’d go Bonn - Rothenburg - Vienna, but that’s because Vienna is another country. Transportation-wise might be a different question, I’ll ask back.
Unless you are taking the local trains (RB, RE, IR), but the more comfortable ones (IC, EC, ICE), then there’s a “Wagenstandsanzeiger” (carriage indicator) graphic on each platform showing where each coach will be for each train. (Until they decide to run the train the wrong way, as happens occasionally).
If you go to the www.bahn.de Site and use their planer to find your connections, look at “Weitere Suchoptionen” (further search options), there’s “Angaben zur Verbindung” (Details to the connection) a drop-down box with “Umsteigezeit normal” (Changing time normal). Click on it and you can select a changing time of at least 10/20 up to 45 min.
Also look at the bahn page Barrierefreies Reisen (travel without barriers) and/or 55plus service. I assume that money is not a problem for a big trip, so you can book in advance porters for help with the luggage (they no longer hang around to find easily at the station). There’s also an extra service where they arrive at your house/ hotel and take the luggage from there to your destination, leaving you hands-free.
You can also book a special handicapped seat. Or choose first-class for longer trips, where the service team will bring food and other stuff to your seat.
The Bahn has realized that a lot of seniors want to travel with them, have money, but require accomodation to their no-longer-well health, so the Bahn is happy to provide extra service for extra money.
The real hassle I would think (besides the prices) is driving a strange car in a strange city; and trying to find parking space in two major tourist cities! German-speaking people navigating in unknown cities trying to find a certain destination find that frustrating enough. Although navis (not blue guys, that’s what navigational computers are called in German slang) have made that easier, you need to get a good one. Apparently many suggest things like “Turn right in 20 m.” when the sign says you aren’t allowed to.
It’s been some time since I was in Rothenburg, but as major tourist city and old town, I’d expect major things to be in walking distance and/or to have public transport.
Vienna has public transport of course, and probably no parking space in the inner city. Plus the Autobahns around Vienna are … problematic, I’ve heard. And you would need a toll ticket for the Austrian highway when leaving Germany.
Bonn, I don’t know. Superficially, it’s a small town, so probably bad public transport. OTOH, the fact that a lot of Important Politicans spent some decades there might have prompted a good network. (Or not: politicans tend to use limousines with chauffeurs).
I’d suggest looking at the homepage of each city at the tourist section. I think that walking around is the best way to get to know a city and catch the feeling of it (esp. since you’d be interested in the inner city only, which isn’t that big), but I don’t know how much walking D would be comfortable with, if she has knee problems.
You could rent bikes, at least in Vienna, to get around if you can cycle (many natives in Munich comment on US tourists riding bikes but not knowing how because of lack of practise in the US). Vienna probably also has Segway tours.
Since Rothenburg and Vienna are both major tourists destinations, but Rothenburg is a small town really, it might be easier to take a tourist bus to Rothenburg than go by train, but you would have to look.
Has D any experience in using the Autobahn? I’ve never been to the US myself, but I think that the traffic and driving customs here in Germany are much different and more difficult than on US highways, especially for handicapped/senior people. So maybe traveling by train would be more comfortable.
If you plan to spend 3 days in Bonn, there’d be no excuse to not take at least one day for a visit to Cologne (it’s just around the corner). My top recommendations would be the Cologne Cathedral, of course, and the nearby Römisches-Germanisches Museum (roman-germanic museum), but there’s much more to see than in Bonn (though that’s a nice city, too).
Missed the edit window: Dependent on where in the US you are from, maybe it’s possible to get a direct flight to the Köln/Bonn airport. I think geographically, a travel route US->Köln/Bonn->Rothenburg->Vienna->US would be most effective.
According to your plans, landing in Frankfurt, you would go:
Frankfurt -> 174 km north to Bonn -> 882 km south to Vienna -> 607 km north to Rothenburg -> 183 km north back to Frankfurt.
Total distance: 1846 km
My route would be: Köln/Bonn -> 348 km to Rothenburg -> 589 km to Vienna
Total distance: 937 km.
(all distances according to Google maps)
Of course this only works if you get appropriate direct flights from the US to Köln/Bonn and from Vienna to the US.
To echo EinsteinsHund I’d factor D’s comfort level into the driving. The city traffic and “B” roads were more stressful for me to adapt to than the Autobahn. Being accustomed to wide lanes with generous shoulders and lots of traffic control at intersections, it took quite some time (weeks) to get comfortable driving on narrow lanes with no shoulder and rule of the right at intersections.
Conversely I found the Autobahn to be a fairly stress free driving experience. Well, except construction zones. Shouldn’t the temporary lanes be at least as wide as a vehicle???
If you rent a car in one city and turn it back in in another city, be prepared for a large fee. For us, it was worth it.
And we just left our car at the hotels and used public transportation, which was a snap. I’m not nearly as fluent in German as Quasi, and I got by with no problem.
Update: I checked the flight schedules for Köln/Bonn and Vienna: There are no direct flights between the US and Köln/Bonn, and only one daily direct flight from Vienna to New York, so it seems like the route I proposed in post #6 is the most effective.
Finding a German rental car company that will let you take the car into Austria will not be a problem. Virtually all of them will let you do this; you can even arrange to drop off the car there for an extra fee. A car is very useful for visiting all the towns and villages on the Romantische Strasse (of which Rothenburg is one), since many of them don’t have train stations. However, if you’re just going to Rothenburg and not the others, I would advise against using a car. Train stations in European towns and cities are always centrally located, so it’s easy to disembark and get straight to your hotel and the tourist sites without having to worry about navigation and parking.
I concur with others’ suggestions that you visit Bonn, then Rothenburg ob der Tauber, then Vienna, since the second is located inbetween the other two. Why not arrange your plane tickets so that you fly into Frankfurt, and out from Vienna?
And are you sure you want to spend three days in Bonn? I think you would be dreadfully bored, and would be missing out on so many other wonderful cities in the area. Cologne, Mainz, Trier, and Frankfurt all have much better known sights: Cologne, for example, has a beautiful cathedral; Mainz has the fantastic Gutenberg Museum; and Trier has extensive Roman ruins, Karl Marx’s house, and a cathedral which claims to hold the seamless garment of Jesus.
No real hassle driving a rental car into Austria, but it’s a long way east of Frankfurt, making for a very long day driving back to FRA. Do remember to buy the highway-toll pass for Austria. I have never found traffic or parking to be a huge problem.
Discount carriers such as Air Berlin might be a useful part of your travel planning, especially the hop to Vienna.
ROFLMAO I was driving a ford Kuga around. Though I didn’t really have issues with the SUV and road width, even in the construction zones. What gave me the collywobbles was driving in the canal district in Amsterdam … most of the time when you park, you are pretty much sitting on the edge of a canal, and the roads are as wide as the average driveway in teh US.
A really beautiful cathedral, and it’s immediately adjacent to the train station. Seriously, go to Cologne. I went there on my trip in 09 for no better reason than that it was between Amsterdam and Berlin and my German teacher was from there, and I was really blown away.