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Germany's Black Forest and Exploring Switzerland

Germany's Black Forest and Exploring Switzerland

Old Oct 15, 2023, 7:37 pm
  #16  
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Frankfurt to Badenweiler via Deutsche Bahn

We arrived in Frankfurt on our delayed KLM Cityhopper flight from Amsterdam and, with a further baggage delay on arrival, we were cutting it close to make our train. Our KLM flight arrived at Terminal 2 and the Deutsche Bahn high-speed rail station is located adjacent to Terminal 1, so we headed for the terminal connector train.

The train between Terminals 1 and 2 provides some great views over the airfield and I even managed to snag a quick photo of a couple of planes that don't have many years left on them, a Condor 767 and a Lufthansa 747-400 in the new livery.



In Terminal 1, we followed the signs for train stations and passed by one of the old, iconic flip style departure boards. The terminal was undergoing some renovations so we didn't get to see it in all its glory.




There are multiple train stations at the Frankfurt Airport and our train was departing from the Fernbahnhof, which is used by long distance Inter-City Express (ICE) trains. This is also where Lufthansa/Deutsche Bahn air to trail trains operate from. Our train was departing from track 5 and we arrived at the platform just as our train was scheduled to depart. Thankfully our inbound train was experiencing delays otherwise we would likely have missed it.





We headed down the escalators to the platform to wait for our delayed train. Deutsche Bahn has a direct train from Frankfurt to Freiburg im Breisgau, near Badenweiler but it only operates every other hour. Due to our delay, we had to make a connection in Mannheim.



After a roughly 20 minute delay, our Deutsche Bahn ICE train to Mannheim pulled into the station.



We located our assigned car and boarded the train. We had been warned when booking that the train was likely to be full so we reserved seats ahead of time. This turned out to be a good call as the train was packed to the gills, we had to nicely kick a few folks out of our reserved seats and there were people on the train sitting in the aisle and connectors between cars.

Our tickets were in 2nd Class and all of the seats were in a 2-2 layout, some seats were turned facing one another creating a pod of 4 with a table separating them. The seats were similar to a typical airline Economy class seat.

Once we were underway I pulled out my tablet and connected to the free DB Wi-Fi. The tray table was large enough to hold my computer but nothing else.



After a quick train change in Mannheim we headed south towards Freiburg im Breisgau. Mrs. ATX Jetsetter napped while I did some work and looked out the window at the countryside going by.



Once our train arrived in Freiburg we had to switch to a local service operated by BWegt, the local transport company for Baden-Wrttemberg. Trains to Mllheim (Baden) were departing every 20 minutes and one was preparing to leave when we arrived.



It took about 20-25 minutes to get from Freiburg Hauptbahnhoff to Mllheim (Baden). The station is currently undergoing quite a bit of construction and the main station building has been demolished as part of the upgrade. Because of all of the construction, we had to walk roughly 100m to the temporary taxi area.





If you're planning a trip to the resort town of Badenweiler, there are two ways to get from the station to town. There is a bus that runs between the two locations or you can take a private taxi cab. Since we had luggage, we opted for the taxi. The one way trip from the station to our hotel in Badenweiler was roughly 40.

Summary
Badenweiler is not the easiest place to get to, which does help with its charm since it isn't overrun with tourists. The closest airport is EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg though it would still take you 2 hours via transit to reach the town. Ultimately our total travel time from departure in Frankfurt to our hotel took just over 3 hours.

For more photos and additional trip reports, visit ATXJetsetter.com or follow along on Instagram and Twitter!
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Old Oct 17, 2023, 3:38 pm
  #17  
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Park Hotel & Spa KATHARINA Badenweiler

After a travel adventure that included planes, trains, and automobiles, we finally arrived in Badenweiler and our home for the weekend, the Park Hotel & Spa KATHARINA.

Booking
Badenweiler is known throughout Europe as a health resort and spa town which gives it no shortage of properties to choose from. We were in town for a wedding and, thankfully, they had this property listed on their website which made our choice easy.

We ended up booking our room directly with the hotel via their website. Since we booked late they were all out of standard rooms and we ended up with a one bedroom suite for 280 a night which included breakfast.

Location
The hotel is located on the north side of the main downtown area of Badenweiler and it is walking distance from most of the attractions in town while still being secluded. The entrance is located near the intersection of the Rmerstrasse and Ernst-Eisenlohr-Strasse. Paid parking is available on-site and you'll likely want a car if you're here for more than a couple of days.



Check-In
We entered the front doors of the hotel and found the reception desk immediately to the right. Check in was relatively quick, with a check of our Passports and a swipe of my credit card to have on file. The reception clerk gave us our room keys and provided a bit of information about the hotel and the surrounding area as well.



Room keys in hand, we headed out into the lobby and took the elevator up to the first floor (second floor for those of us in the states).

Room
We were assigned room 111, a one bedroom king suite on the first floor, at the opposite end of the hall from the elevators. Upon entry, there was a short hallway leading to the living room with a large half bathroom to the right.



At the end of the hall was a spacious living room that featured a loveseat, two chairs with a table, and a small desk. The desk also had a mini-fridge located inside.





To the left of the living room was the bedroom which held a king sized bed flanked by two nightstands. Robes and towels for the pool and spa were waiting for us on the bed.



Across from the bed was a small desk as well as a wardrobe with space for our hanging clothes. There was also a large, flat screen TV mounted above the desk.



On the left side of the bedroom was the door leading to the large primary bathroom. It featured a decent sized shower, a large vanity with a sink, toilet, and bidet.




The toiletries in the room were Geneva Green branded and came in single use bottles.



Overall the room was quite spacious and the two bathrooms were wonderful for getting ready, since we were intown for a wedding. Since it was situated on a corner it had plenty of windows and a ton of natural light. The view wasn't bad either.



Dining
The hotel featured a restaurant in the basement as well as a lobby bar located on the ground floor. While the lobby bar wasn't in use during our stay as it was having some work done, it seemed like a pleasant place to have a drink.




The hotel's main restaurant, Mr. Gmelin's Kitchen, is also where the complimentary breakfast was served each morning. The restaurant features a large indoor seating area as well as an outdoor terrace that can be used, weather permitting.




The breakfast buffet featured a variety of juice, meats, cheeses, yogurt, granola, and hot dishes. It was located as soon as you entered the restaurant. Made to order coffee and some alcoholic beverages were available at the bar or could be ordered through your server.




As far as hotel breakfasts go, this one was definitely above average, especially compared to what we are used to in the United States. Though I have found that most European hotels do a similar setup as this one. We ended up eating breakfast here both days of our stay and we enjoyed it.



Pool
Behind the hotel is the outdoor pool and cabana area. It's tucked away in some trees which gives it some privacy and can be reached via a path near the rear of the restaurant. While we walked down to check it out, the water was too cold for us to take a swim.




Spa
Given its location in the resort town of Badenweiler, and the name of the property itself, it's no surprise that the Park Hotel & Spa KATHARINA has a substantial spa and wellness area, but even I was surprised at the size of it. The entrance to the spa can be found in the basement next to the entrance for Mr. Gmelin's Kitchen and is clearly marked. The spa is currently open between 7:30a and 9:00p daily.



After entering the spa, you will see the main pool straight ahead down a short hallway. The temperature in the pool was perfect, nice and refreshing without being too cold.



There are two spaces around the pool that have lounge chairs available for use.




Near the second group of lounge chairs, or to the left as you enter the spa, is the sauna area. It features both a wet and dry sauna. There were also showers available in this space.



The dry sauna wasn't yet in operation when we visited early Sunday morning so we made a call to the front desk. Someone came down a short time later and started it.




Down an additional level from the main spa, there was a salt sauna as well as a private sauna that could be booked for a fee. We didn't spend any time in the salt sauna but I did grab a couple of photos.




Workout Facilities
In addition to the spa, the hotel also had various workout areas located on the second and third basement levels. On the second level there was a small gym as well as a lounge space. The lounge area had a small cosmetic studio which was not in use.



Finally, on the bottom level, there was a yoga room along with a pool table and lounge.




Summary
I went into this stay with no expectations other than what was on the website and I left pleasantly surprised. The hotel staff was friendly and the rooms were well appointed and spacious, though slightly dated. It has a great location in town and the massive spa area makes it easy to see why people enjoy coming here as it has something for everyone. If I find myself in Badenweiler again I would absolutely consider staying here again.

For more photos and additional trip reports, visit
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Old Oct 21, 2023, 1:45 am
  #18  
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Exploring Badenweiler

After arriving in Badenweiler and checking in to our hotel for the weekend, we headed straight over to a welcome party for the wedding we were attending in nearby Neiderweiler. After the welcome party, a bunch of us headed over to the Ratskeller Bar in Badenweiler to keep the party going.



The Ratskeller Bar is located in the basement and has a great, old timey beer hall vibe. We had a couple of pints here before the jet lag and our long travel day caught up to us, so we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.



Saturday, our only full day in town, we woke up around 10:00a as we were still battling jet lag and headed downstairs for breakfast. Afterwards, we decided to head out for a walk around Badenweiler. We left the hotel and headed up the Ernst-Eisenlohr-Strasse towards the center of town.



After strolling around for a bit we headed over to the Kurhaus Badenweiler, the cultural center and tourist information building. The multi-level building is built into the hillside and sits below the Badenweiler Castle. We first headed up to the roof of the building, which had a view of town, before starting our climb up to the castle.




Badenweiler Castle, or Burg Baden, are the remnants of a hilltop castle that dates back to around the year 1080. The castle is free to visit and has numerous viewpoints of the town and surrounding countryside below. We first stopped at the edge of one of the old walls that had great views out towards the Rhine River and neighboring France.



We spent about a half hour here walking around the grounds which were very well preserved given the age of the castle. There were multiple courtyards and viewing areas throughout the property which provided panoramic views of Badenweiler.




After exploring the castle we headed back down to the Kurhaus. There was a small caf located there and we stopped to relax and have a drink.



Refreshed and recharged, Mrs. WS93 was ready to do some shopping, so we strolled along the Luisenstrasse and visited some of the local shops.



With our shopping trip complete, it was time for us to go back to the hotel and start getting ready for the weekend's main event. The wedding was held at a nearby winery and our hosts for the weekend provided shuttles from the hotel to the winery in the form of donkey carts. Mrs. WS93 was very excited until she realized that a donkey cart was just the local name for a golf cart.



We headed out to the front of the hotel 30 minutes before the wedding and hopped on the 'donkey cart'. A short drive through the park later, we were dropped off at the location of the ceremony which was a gorgeous family owned winery on the outskirts of town.



After a wonderful ceremony, and entirely too much food and wine, we finally called it a night just before 1:00a.





On our final morning in town, we went to the hotel spa and sauna to try and sweat out some of the wine from the night before. After a shower, we finished packing and headed down to the restaurant for breakfast.

Sunday in Badenweiler is slow so we headed to the lobby early to check-out and call a taxi. It took almost 20 minutes, but ne finally showed up to take us to the station in Mllheim, bringing our quick weekend in Badenweiler to an end.

Summary
Mrs. WS93 and I both enjoyed our time in Badenweiler. We likely never would have found it if it weren't for our friends wedding but, we certainly see why many people across Europe enjoy vacationing here. If we were spending more than a couple of days here we would have wanted a rental car to explore more as the town is quite small. We felt that we saw everything we needed to see in a few hours.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 1:30 pm
  #19  
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Five Trains to Montreux

To get from Badenweiler to Montreux we had quite the journey. We took five, yes 5, trains to make the roughly three hour trip between the two cities. Some of this was due to the reduced service on Sunday while others were due to schedule changes and cancellations with Deutsche Bahn.

Our first train was a regional service from Mllheim (Baden) to Basel Badischer Bahnhof. We arrived at Mllheim (Baden) station fifteen minutes before scheduled departure time. The station is currently under construction and with no station building available we hung out on the platform while we waited on our train to arrive.



This train was a local service and made numerous stops between Mllheim (Baden) and Basel Badischer Bahnhof. We were able to grab seats close to the doors that had space for our luggage and I was glad we didn't have to drag our suitcases up the stairs.



At Basel Badischer Bahnhof we had to switch trains to a long distance ICE (Inter-City Express) train for the next leg of our trip. We had eight minutes to make our connection which was plenty of time as we only had to move over a couple of platforms.



Though this train was supposed to take us all the way to Bern, there was an issue or disagreement between Deutsche Bahn and Swiss Federal Railways and the train was now scheduled to terminate at Basel SBB, the main, long distance train station for Basel.



Instead of trying to find seats for the short, 5 minute trip, we just stood with our luggage in the area between cars. Though the view was blocked by some of the rail right of way, we still got some good views of Basel out the window.



Our inbound train was delayed a couple of minutes which gave us a very tight, 3 minute connection at Basel SBB. With the majority of the train needing to transfer over to this additional service, they at least had the platforms close together.



Safely on board our replacement train from Basel to Bern, we were met with a completely packed train. Since this was a last minute cancellation, we didn't have any seats reserved for this train. There were no seats available in 2nd Class so I used the Swiss Federal Railways app to buy us upgrades to 1st Class for the remainder of our journey. First Class consisted of large, recliner style seats laid out on a 1-2 configuration.





Since first class was almost empty, we had some space to spread out and got some great scenery between Basel and Bern.




In Bern, we had to switch towards another train, this time bound for Geneva. This was our longest connection of the trip, at 15 minutes, so we stopped in to one of the stores in the station to buy some snacks. From there, we waited on the platform for our next train.



The trip between Bern and Lausanne was some of the most scenic on our trip. We passed through the countryside with the Swiss Alps in the distance before paralleling the north shore of Lake Geneva.




We disembarked in Lausanne to catch our final train of the trip. When we initially booked we were scheduled to be on a local service over to Montreux. There are a few high speed trains each day that stop in Montreux and, thanks to some delays, one of them was preparing to depart when we arrived.




We made the train and were able to cut our travel time from 45 minutes to 20. Mrs. WS93 was very happy with this as we were both tired of trains for the day and wanted to get to our hotel. We virtually had the First Class cabin to ourselves for the remainder of this journey.



We arrived at the Montreux railway station four hours after leaving Mllheim (Baden) and made our way to the hotel to start our visit to Montreux.

Summary
Swiss and German railways are usually known for their efficiency. On this trip however, we encountered delays, cancellations, and packed full train cars. Our trip from Frankfurt to Mllheim (Baden) was also full of delays so we were hoping the efficiency would return during the remainder of our trip.

For more photos and additional trip reports, visit
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 3:06 pm
  #20  
 
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Interesting about the lack of rail efficiency in your case. Enjoying the report so far!
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 3:48 pm
  #21  
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Originally Posted by lamphs
Interesting about the lack of rail efficiency in your case. Enjoying the report so far!
Our German friend basically said that the German rail system is surviving on the perceptions of efficiency in the past. The Swiss have apparently had enough of German trains delaying their rail network leading to them not allowing late trains to enter the country
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 3:52 pm
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I hear lots of complaints from my German colleagues about the poor state of the German railway system. I was in Basel this weekend and saw the ICE train there but it seemed it was allowed to continue this time.

Not sure Badenweiler is for me but I like that corner of the World. Looking forward to your report from Switzerland since I was in Zermatt earlier this year.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 5:08 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Fredrik74
I hear lots of complaints from my German colleagues about the poor state of the German railway system. I was in Basel this weekend and saw the ICE train there but it seemed it was allowed to continue this time.

Not sure Badenweiler is for me but I like that corner of the World. Looking forward to your report from Switzerland since I was in Zermatt earlier this year.
Thanks Fredrik74! Work has been nuts for me the past few weeks and while I've managed to get those parts up on my website, I'm behind on posting them to FT. We really enjoyed Zermatt and the surrounding area. I still haven't found a place in Switzerland that I dislike.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 4:59 am
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Originally Posted by wakesetter93
Summary
Swiss and German railways are usually known for their efficiency. On this trip however, we encountered delays, cancellations, and packed full train cars. Our trip from Frankfurt to Mllheim (Baden) was also full of delays so we were hoping the efficiency would return during the remainder of our trip.
Nice TR so far!

DB is pretty awful these days, even the Italian trains are a lot better of late.

SBB has, for some reason, had some major issues this year. There is some construction going on, and the whole Gotthard Basistunnel debacle. I've had about 50% of my trains late this year, and two missed connections. The first involving a connection in Bern to Domodossola for lunch, though I just ended up having a late lunch, but didn't get home until pretty late. The second wasn't SBB's fault as it was on the Golden Pass, where an engine got stuck for about an hour. I did get compensation for these two trips. So, if you have a delay of more than an hour on SBB, it's worth checking out the passenger rights section of the SBB website (you won't have a Swisspass, so continue as a guest) within 30 days of your delay.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 9:20 am
  #25  
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Thanks for the info greg5, fortunately, even with all of our train travel and headaches, we still got to where we were going relatively on time.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 1:29 pm
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For me, 1st class on Swiss trains is almost always worth it, but especially for anything longer than an hour or two or when things get crowded. The app makes it easy to see when expected loads in 2nd will be in the sardine-can realm.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by CarlTheWebmaster
For me, 1st class on Swiss trains is almost always worth it, but especially for anything longer than an hour or two or when things get crowded. The app makes it easy to see when expected loads in 2nd will be in the sardine-can realm.
We found the SBB app to be very effective with this. Unfortunately, we booked our Badenweiler to Montreux tickets through DB which is a mistake I won't be repeating!
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Old Oct 25, 2023, 12:19 am
  #28  
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Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Autograph Collection Montreux

After a long day of travel from Badenweiler via Deutsche Bahn and Swiss Federal Railways high-speed rail, we finally made it to Montreux. We headed over to the hotel to get settled in and begin our stay.

Booking
We booked our two night stay at the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic directly through Marriott.com. We could have redeemed points for this stay but the cash rates were pretty reasonable and we booked a Deluxe Queen room with a balcony and a view of Lake Geneva for around $300 per night.

Location
The hotel is conveniently located directly across the street from the Montreux railway station. Simply exit the station, cross the street, turn left, and you will see the hotel entrance on your right. The entrance is clearly marked with a large sign over the door and a tile inlay on the sidewalk.




The only downside to the hotel's location is that there is no entrance/exit on the lake side of the property. You have to exit through the front doors and walk around the block to get to the waterfront. While you may not be able to enter the hotel from the lake side, you'll definitely be able to see it. The hotel, along with the similarly designed Hotel Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, tower above the surrounding buildings with their distinctive yellow awnings.



Check-In
Upon entering the hotel there is a large lobby area directly ahead of you with numerous seating areas. Behind that you'll see the hotel restaurant and Lake Geneva.



Reception is to the right and with multiple agents to help guests there was no wait. The friendly receptionist greeted us, took our passports, and provided our room keys. She also gave us a list of recommendations for restaurants and attractions. One interesting aspect of this property is the transport card that is included in your room rate. The card is good for the duration of your stay and provides free rides on local buses, funiculars, and trains. The passes were in a folder along with a map of the area.



The elevators were located to the right of reception and we headed up to our room. Though the capacity plate said 6, it was a tight squeeze with Mrs. ATX Jetsetter and I plus our luggage.

Room
We were assigned a room on the sixth floor in the middle of the hotel just past the elevators. The hallway was lined with old photographs of the surrounding area and was light and bright.



Upon entering the room, there was a short hallway with a closet and luggage storage on the left and the entrance to the bathroom on the right. In addition to hangars and a luggage rack, there was a yoga mat and umbrella available for use.





Upon stepping into the bedroom, the queen sized bed was on the right, flanked by a couple of nightstands.



Across from the bed there was a flat screen TV mounted to the wall as well as a decent sized desk. While most people aren't working during their visit to the Swiss Riviera, this desk would be a comfortable place to do so.




There was a small chair with a lamp overhead in the corner of the room near the windows. The nightstand was also within reach and a small plate of sweets was waiting for us upon check-in.



The bathroom was a decent size and well lit. It featured a sink, storage shelf, toilet, bidet, and a tub/shower combo.



The vanity was on the smaller side but the additional shelf provided extra space for our toiletries.



The shower/tub combo was one of the odd ones where the glass only protected the front half of the tub. When showering, you had to be careful not to let the water spray out. Toiletries were by L'Occitane and came in reusable bottles mounted to the wall.



Finally, our favorite part of the room wasn't even in the room itself. The balcony had a couple of chairs and a small table with great views out over the lakefront. We found ourselves out here having coffee in the morning and cocktails at night.



The awning was automatic and would open and retract at a set time each day based on sunrise and sunset. This helped to keep the room cool during the day.



Food and Beverage
The hotel has two food and beverage outlets on the property and both are located adjacent to the lobby on the third floor. The first is the bar which consists of a small, indoor bar with some booth seating and an expansive outdoor terrace overlooking the lake. Almost nobody was sitting inside as the weather in Montreux was fantastic, outside was the place to be.




We ended up having drinks here each night during our stay, out on the terrace of course. Prices were in line with what you would expect from a high end Swiss hotel on the lake.



Adjacent to the bar was the main restaurant, located across the lobby from the hotel entrance.




While we didn't eat lunch or dinner here, the hotel does set up their breakfast buffet here each morning which was an impressive spread. It featured a selection of pastries, cold cuts, fruit, hot dishes, yogurts, cereal, and coffee machines.






Gym
On the top floor of the hotel was the gym area. While it wasn't expansive, it did feature a few workout machines including treadmills, ellipticals, and workout bikes, some with views over the city.




The gym area also had a couple of lounge chairs as well as a small sauna which we utilized during our stay.



Summary
We had an amazing stay at the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Autograph Collection in Montreux. The staff and service were amazing everywhere we went. Our room was well appointed and had an absolutely amazing view of Lake Geneva. The hotel also had a great location in the heart of Montreux. We would absolutely stay here again and recommend it to anyone with plans to visit the area.


For more photos and additional trip reports, visit ATXJetsetter.com or follow along on Instagram and Twitter!

Last edited by wakesetter93; Oct 25, 2023 at 12:28 am
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Old Oct 25, 2023, 8:43 am
  #29  
 
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Great report! Maybe I missed it, but did you consider renting a car instead of using the train? Given the ease of getting around and flexibility, I would typically prefer a car on a trip such as yours. Maybe pickup and drop off in FRA and fly back to US from there to avoid drop off fee... or connect in AMS from there. Could have checked out Strasbourg or Heidelberg on the return. In any event, looks like you had a nice journey. I'm envious!
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Old Oct 25, 2023, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by xooz
Great report! Maybe I missed it, but did you consider renting a car instead of using the train? Given the ease of getting around and flexibility, I would typically prefer a car on a trip such as yours. Maybe pickup and drop off in FRA and fly back to US from there to avoid drop off fee... or connect in AMS from there. Could have checked out Strasbourg or Heidelberg on the return. In any event, looks like you had a nice journey. I'm envious!
We did a rental car in Italy earlier this Summer but didn't see a need for one on this trip as the rail system is so efficient. Plus we didn't have to deal with parking which was a plus.
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