Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Best way to Get Around Economically in Germany


First off let me start by saying this is only my opinion and my reasons for using this mode of transportation. I’m going to start off by touting the train service although it is not my preference.

Germany has an excellent rail system which can take you to most parts of the country but it can’t take you everywhere you might want to go. It is one of the world’s best and most efficient railway systems and can get you to almost every city of the country including most of the smaller towns. It’s an easy to use system, comfortable, fast, reliable, and reasonably priced. It has many ticket options that allow for lower priced travel over multiple days.

The problem I have with using the train system is if you have a wife like mine that travels with multiple bags you have to tote them on and off the train and then you still have to get a taxi to the hotel. If you plan on seeing attractions that are not within walking distance you will still need a car. If you’re just traveling by yourself or two of you it is a viable option. If you are there with more than two you might want to consider a car.

My favorite mode of transportation is a car. As you drive through the countryside you’re not limited to what you can see out the window of a fast moving train. If you see something that looks interesting it is easy to just stop the car and take your time to see it.

One of the first things we do after renting the car is find a grocery store. My wife loves her diet coke so we get two cases of coke and a case of water that we can keep in the trunk of the car for our travels. This has a two- fold purpose. One is that cokes are very expensive (you can get more beer at a cheaper price) and my wife will go through two of them during the night and the other reason is that when you get water in Germany it is usually mineral water and we like plain water which is hard to find in a restaurant. If you want non carbonated water in a restaurant order” stilles wasser”.

Our first trip we had rented a car and was on our way to Triberg (which is in the Black forest region and famous for cuckoo clocks) and noticed about 4 tour busses to our right. We figured that there must be something worth seeing there so we turned around and went back. It was an area built to look like an old German village with signs in English of the history of why everything was built and designed the way it was. If we had been in a train this would have been missed along with a pleasurable experience.  


Another reason we like to travel by auto is that we like to stay in the small towns in either a Gasthof (which is a restaurant that usually has rooms also) or Pension (Bed and Breakfast) where the stay is about half the price ($60 to $100) of the large cities. In a city like Stutgart you could expect to pay much more and not get anything better. They are clean and the food is great. It has the advantage of meeting the locals. We like to stop around 3 to 4 pm and walk around the village and then after you can usually meet some of the locals at the restaurant over good food and great beer.

Travel in Germany is incredibility easy. The German roads are excellent and using a car can be a great way to tour the country. You can Google some fantastic driving tours.

One drawback I should mention if you want to go into one of the larger cities is that almost all bigger cities have a severe parking problem. One way I avoid this is by staying outside the city and leaving the car at a train station and taking the train or subway into town. Most of the larger cities have these extending out up to 25 miles around the city. It is economical to use and you don’t have to worry about the city driving and maybe have some brews while there.

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