Posts from the ‘Travel’ category

Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt – Leipzig Christmas Market

Fotoeins Friday: Hark, the herald angel lights in Praha

Erfurt: five KiKa characters as sculptures

Erfurt is the capital city for the state of Thuringia (Landeshauptstadt Thüringen) and is included among many in the Historic Highlights of Germany.

As a self-described hub for children’s media, Erfurt is headquarters for the German Children’s Channel, or der KInderKAnal, better known in short as KIKA. In commemoration of the channel’s tenth anniversary in 2007, sculptures representing well-loved KIKA characters sprung to “life” around town.

Kids of all ages can now cross the city looking for KIKA characters. My personal favourite is Bernd das Brot (Bernd the bread), a grumpy loaf and reluctant star of late-night tedium … “in the KIKA lounge …” It’s easy to assume I would’ve incorporated a part of the KIKA lineup as part of my early German-language instruction. The truth is there were too many late-nights in my dark one-room apartment with a small television for illumination, and more often than not, crusty Bernd was present (on continuous loop). Like a loaf of bread’s “heel” or end piece that’s undesired and ignored, it’s always there if you need it …

1. Bernd das Brot

Bernd das Brot, KIKA-Figuren, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany,

Bernd the bread. Someone said this guy was terrifying. Please …

2. Kikaninchen

Kikaninchen, KIKA-Figuren, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany,

The little Kika rabbit

3. Käpt’n Blaubär und Hein Blöd

Käpt'n Blaubär und Hein Blöd, KIKA-Figuren, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany,

Captain Bluebear and Harry Dim

4. Die Maus und der Elefant

Die Maus und der Elefant, KIKA-Figuren, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany,

Mouse and elephant. And yes, the mouse is bigger than the elephant.

5. Das Sandmännchen

Das Sandmännchen, KIKA-Figuren, Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany,

The little sandman

There are four additional figures around the city; check the following Erfurt map for kids, in German (Kinderstadtplan). custom I made the five above photos on 26 April 2015. I’m grateful to Germany Tourism, Thüringen Tourismus, and the Erfurt Tourism and Marketing Board for supporting and providing access to places and activities. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as
“Everybody … chill the bread … in der KiKa-Lounge …” (in German)
“The history of Germany …” (German, with English subtitles)

Fotoeins Friday: Christmas rush aesthetic, Leipzig

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Werner77, Pixabay, Creative Commons license

How I’m saving with the German Rail Pass, Nov-Dec 2015

Continuing the streak of annual visits to the country, I’m “home” for the 14th consecutive year with the following itinerary over four weeks in November and December:

  1. Berlin to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  2. Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Regensberg
  3. Regensberg to München (Munich)
  4. München to Karlsruhe
  5. Mainz to Koblenz
  6. Koblenz to Bielefeld
  7. Bielefeld to Köln
  8. Köln to Magdeburg
  9. Magdeburg to Hamburg
  10. Hamburg to Berlin

Thanks to their 20% promotion with Rail Europe, I’ve purchased a 2nd-class German Rail Pass for ten days of travel inside one month for $440 (Canada) / $332 (USA).

Cross-Country Savings

I’ve listed in the table below point-to-point fares. I checked fares for individual “legs” on my travel dates at the Deutsche Bahn website, taking note of the lowest and highest 2nd-class fares in both “Sparangebote” (save-money offers) and “Normalpreis” (normal price) categories. The last farecheck occurred on 10 October 2015. I estimated distances using “Route” (road distances) values returned by the Germany distance calculator.

Route, Nov-Dec 2015 Distance Sparangebote Normalpreis
1. Berlin – Rothenburg ob der Tauber 500 km € 29—89 € 117—131
2. Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Regensburg 200 km € 23—29 € 32—57
3. Regensburg – München 130 km € 20—29 € 27—42
4. München – Karlsruhe 280 km € 29—55 € 66—79
5. Mainz – Koblenz 100 km € 19 € 19—22
6. Koblenz – Bielefeld 300 km
€ 29—39
€ 62—65
7. Bielefeld – Köln 190 km
€ 19—29
€ 39—49
8. Köln – Magdeburg 430 km € 29—57 € 87—90
9. Magdeburg – Hamburg 280 km € 29—39 € 43—67
10. Hamburg – Berlin 280 km € 29—45 € 78
(€1 = USD $1.10)
≈ 2700 km
€ 255—430
$ 281—473
€ 570—680
$ 627—748
10-day German Rail Pass
(with 2015 autumn 20% promotion)
USD $332 USD $332
$ USD saved < $141 $295—416

The Rail Pass does not restrict the passholder to a specific train on a given date and time. To save the most money, purchasing individual Sparpreis fares ahead of time would be the way to go. I could save money by purchasing individual “Sparangebote” fares well in advance. Otherwise, there are generally available “Normalpreis” fares, which are less restrictive but more expensive. The price difference between Sparangebote and Normalpreis fares is larger with long-distance rail journeys over 250 km.

I demand schedule flexibility, and that’s why I purchase a Rail Pass in advance. If I decide at the last mintue to stay longer or leave early, I can’t change a “fixed” ticket without incurring extra fees. My 10-day Rail Pass allows me the freedom to take a train on any day at any time. This versatility saves me at least USD $300.

Deutsche Bahn lists the following conditions for their two categories.

Sparangebote: Preis für alle Reisenden. Bei Aktionsangeboten und regionalen Angeboten gelten besondere Konditionen. Zugbindung, d.h. Ihre Fahrkarte ist nur in den auf Ihrer Fahrkarte aufgedruckten Zügen gültig. Umtausch und Erstattung 15 EUR; ab 1. Geltungstag ausgeschlossen.

Normalpreis: Preis für alle Reisenden. Volle Flexibilität (keine Zugbindung/unabhängig von der angegebenen Verbindung auf der gewählten Strecke). Umtausch und Erstattung kostenlos, ab dem 1. Geltungstag 15 EUR.

My translation is:

Savings offers: price for all travelers. Conditions apply to special and regional offers. Your ticket is valid only as printed for the specified train. 15 EUR charge for exchange or refund before the first valid day; no exchange or refund afterwards.

Normal price: price for all travelers. Full flexibility (no specific train / regardless of specific connection on the chosen route). No charge for exchange and refund before the first valid day; 15 EUR charge afterwards.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof, LoboStudioHamburg, pixabay, Creative Commons license

Berlin Hauptbahnhof (LoboStudioHamburg, on Pixabay)

Previously, on German rail and rail passes

•   German Rail Pass, November-December 2014
•   German Rail Pass, July-August 2013
•   German Rail Pass, late-2012 RTW
•   Yet another trip with German Rail (2011)
•   Across the country with German Rail
•   Saving money with a German Rail Pass
•   Flexibility with a German Rail Pass

The two photos are from Pixabay by Werner77 (H Hbf) and LoboStudioHamburg (B Hbf), respectively; both photos are used with the generosity of the Creative Commons license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (


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