Wednesday, 3 April 2013

German Journeys (A Guest Post by Allana D)

After several posts from yours truly, I can only imagine that regular readers of TRGTALP are growing tired of hearing my thoughts on travel by now.  I therefore, had a brainwave.  I am lucky enough to have met and know so many people that are as passionate as me about travel that I thought I should hand over the reins to them so that they can offer you something fresh, a change from the norm and a different perspective on their travels and how they get the most from their journeys.  To kick us off, I have enlisted the help of Allana D, a wonderful Aussie I met in a hostel last October in Krakow.  I hope you enjoy reading about and are inspired, as much as I am, by her travels through Germany.


Germany has been a favourite country of mine since I first travelled there in 2008.  From the first time, this beautiful country captivated me with its vast and interesting history and beautiful cities.  In March 2013, after having lived in Germany for 6 months, I organised and planned a 3 week solo trip in and around Germany to see more of the places I had been dreaming of since my first visit.

View of River Neckar and Heidelberg Old Town from Heidelberg Castle (source - Allana D)

I chose to travel around Germany using their fabulous (and sometimes, not so fabulous) train system, Deutsche Bahn (DB).  I figured out pretty quickly that the trains are extremely expensive when I started to ‘budget’ on how much my transport would cost me.  However, DB has a great ‘Savings Fare’ ticket – all you need to do is make an online account (it’s free!) and you can book all your tickets online using a credit card and the tickets are emailed to you.  Take into account that DB is notoriously known for their delays and last minute changes! If you can help it, try to book a direct train to any or all your destinations.

My first destination was Heidelberg and due to a delay and track change, I almost missed my 1st connection as I was frantically looking for my next train…which happened to be only on the other side of the same platform.  One of the cities I visited was Munich (a given when planning a trip around Germany, I think J).  I had 5 nights there and it still wasn’t enough for me. It is such a great city to explore for history (both modern and ancient) as well as culture. I did a Sandemans New Munich free walking tour one morning and our guide told us an interesting fact: Germany is the 3rd largest beer drinking nation in the world behind the Czech Republic and Ireland; however, if you were to only focus on Bavaria (the state and region in which Munich is located), it has the largest amount of beer drinkers in the world...astonishing!

One of the most memorable days on my trip was my day trip from Munich to see the Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle, both built by King Ludwig II. It was a pre-booked and fully organised tour which, for me, took out the stress of organising every detail myself.  Another thing that made it a great day was to see the Bavarian Alps and cross them off my ‘To Do’ list.

 Neuschwanstein Castle (source - Allana D)

The Bavarian Alps (source - Allana D) 

If you are looking for somewhere different to go in Germany, rather than the main cities like Berlin and Munich, check out Bamberg.  Only an hour train ride from Nuremberg in Upper Bavaria, this UNESCO historic town is a great day trip.  After walking around for about an hour, I finally found the city centre.  My pathetic sense of direction clearly won that day! The River Regnitz runs through the town and the Cathedral and Castle sit on top of the hill which you can do tours in and around.

 Bamberg (source - Allana D)

Allana D with Bamberg in the background (source - Allana D)

Just a few tips which I could have used for my trip...
  • Keep your city maps - Usually if you stay at hostels, their city maps are awesome! I can guarantee you will not remember every church name or building in your photos!
  • Invest in ear plugs when bunking in a dormitoryThey will be a Godsend! I cannot count how many sleepless nights I had due to people who snore like bears!
  • Bring your own towel - All of the hostels I stayed in charged me for a towel! I could have saved a bit of money if I had brought my own. (Other places I have stayed in in Europe were free).
  • Check out a city’s events before arrival - I was in Munich for the ‘Strong Beer Festival’ and also some major football games and didn’t even realise it!

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