Posts from the ‘Travel Planning’ category

Deutsche Bahn, Regional Express, Rhein, Rhine, Bingen, Bingen am Rhein, Germany,

Germany, inside the numbers for Nov-Dec 2015

(I made the image above at Bingen am Rhein on 25 November 2015.)

I returned to Germany this past fall for a month-long trip. It’s instructive to look back at these key numbers: 15, 8550, 3200, 14, 7385, and 4.

15 consecutive years

2015 marks the 15th year I’ve set foot inside Germany. I lived in Heidelberg, Germany between 2001 and 2003, and since leaving, I’ve returned to the country at least once each year.

In the air for 8550 kilometres

•   One-way distance: 8550 km, YVR-LHR-TXL (Vancouver-London Heathrow-Berlin Tegel).
•   Journey time, including LHR layover: 15h25m east (total), 15h45m hours west (total).

YVR-LHR-TXL, Great Circle Mapper

Vancouver — London (Heathrow) — Berlin (Tegel)

On the train for 3200 kilometres

The following map shows the approximate journey on the train through Germany over the 4-week interval. For more details, click on the “arrow-window” icon at the upper left corner of the map below.

German Rail Pass, Deutsche Bahn, Germany,

A well-used 10-day German Rail Pass. I didn’t get “controlled” on 25 Nov and 6 Dec.

•   Saving money with 10-day German Rail Pass (GRP).
•   With a deal for the GRP at $440 CAD, usage each “rail day” $44 CAD ($32 USD).
•   Approximate train distances below with distance calculator (in German).

Date GRP Train route Distance (km) Total (km)
11 Nov 1 Berlin Spandau — Hannover Hbf
Hannover Hbf — Steinach
Steinach — Rothenburg odT
13 Nov 2 Rothenburg odT — Steinach
Steinach — Würzburg Hbf
Würzburg Hbf — Regensburg Hbf
15 Nov 3 Regensburg Hbf — München Hbf 126 1067
17 Nov 4 München Hbf — Karlsruhe Hbf 338 1405
19 Nov Karlsruhe Hbf — Speyer Hbf 50
21 Nov Speyer Hbf — Worms Hbf 43
23 Nov Worms Hbf — Mainz Hbf 48
25 Nov 5 Mainz Hbf — Koblenz Hbf 94 1499
27 Nov 6 Koblenz Hbf — Bielefeld Hbf 308 1807
29 Nov 7 Bielefeld Hbf — Köln Hbf 200 2007
1 Dec 8 Köln Hbf — Magdeburg Hbf 433 2440
3 Dec 9 Magdeburg Hbf — Hannover Hbf
Hannover Hbf — Hamburg Hbf
6 Dec 10 Hamburg Hbf — Berlin Spandau 300 3065
8 Dec B-Charlottenburg — Potsdam Hbf

•   Over 3000 kilometres covered with GRP.
•   Over 3200 kilometres on intercity trains, not including intracity trains.
•   19, 21, 23 Nov; 8 Dec: not included. 23 Nov thanks to TouristInfo Worms; 8 Dec S-Bahn.

To the 14 cities

I was fortunate to visit cities small and large, including four of the five largest cities in the country. It’s unusual I didn’t fly into Frankfurt airport or stopped inside Frankfurt am Main. I also experienced balmy conditions in mid-November: t-shirt and shorts weather in Munich!

Date City
11-12 Nov Rothenburg ob der Tauber
+13 +7
13-14 Nov Regensburg
+13 +4
15-16 Nov München
+23 +10
17-18 Nov Karlsruhe
+17 +12
19-20 Nov Speyer
+15 +6
21-22 Nov Worms
+9 +2
23-24 Nov Mainz
+6 +1
25-26 Nov Koblenz
+7 +4
27-28 Nov Bielefeld
+8 -1
29-30 Nov Köln
+12 +4
1-2 Dec Magdeburg
+11 +5
3-5 Dec Hamburg
+12 +6
6-10 Dec Berlin
+12 +2
8 Dec Potsdam
Wetterturm, weather tower, Deutsches Museum, Muenchen, Munich, Germany,

+17C (64F) on the weather tower, at 315pm on 16 Nov 2015 – Deutsches Museum, Munich.

With 7385 photographs

•   Image number, 24521 to 31905
•   7385 photos over 30 days
•   Average of 246 photographs each day

I “flipped” the four-digit image counter on my Canon EOS6D camera for the third time to exceed total exposure number 30-thousand. The reset occurred in Magdeburg, Germany with the image below.

Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, Magdeburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany,

Kunstmuseum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen, Magdeburg – 3 Dec 2015.

4 highlights

Week 1, 11-18 November

Regensburg’s “Wurstkuchl” is known as one of the oldest places standing in Europe to serve food. High-quality locally-produced ingredients, long queues for sausage.

Week 2, 19-25 November

In what is known as the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, the oldest gravestone in Worms’ Jewish Cemetery (“Holy Sand”) dates back to 1058 AD/CE.

Week 3, 26 November – 2 December

In Magdeburg’s Old Town, the golden “Magdeburg Rider” is a copy of the oldest German equestrian statue (c. 1240 AD) now housed inside the city’s Cultural History Museum.

Week 4, 3-10 December

The “Bridge of Spies” in Potsdam once symbolized the deep Cold War divisions between “east” and “west” as part of the physical border between East Germany and West Berlin.

Thanks to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Regensburg, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Koblenz, and Magdeburg for their kind hospitality and generous access to various services and facilities. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

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 German Rail Pass, Rail Europe, or Deutsche Bahn.

Marktplatz, Rothenburg ob der Tauber,

Germany: back home again this fall (2015)

One might think it’s relatively easy to exhaust many good, beautiful, and interesting places in Germany, especially a country I’ve visited at least once every year since 2001. While there are notable and important repeats, the upcoming itinerary includes some first-time visits:

  • 10 November : arrival in Berlin (Spandau, with short turnaround time)
  • 11-13 Nov : Rothenburg ob der Tauber (via Hannover and Steinach)
  • 13-15 Nov : Regensburg (via Steinach and Würzburg)
  • 15-17 Nov : München
  • 17-19 Nov : Karlsruhe
  • 19-21 Nov : Speyer
  • 21-23 Nov : Worms
  • 23-25 Nov : Mainz
  • 25-27 Nov : Koblenz
  • 27-29 Nov : Bielefeld
  • 29 Nov – 1 Dec : Köln
  • 1-3 Dec : Magdeburg (via Hannover)
  • 3-6 Dec : Hamburg (via Hannover)
  • 6-10 Dec : Berlin
  • 10 December : departure from Berlin

Nicht nur Fernweh, sondern auch Heimweh …

I’m looking forward to these highlights:

  1. First time in Bavaria’s Middle Franconia and Upper Palatinate regions
  2. I haven’t set foot in Munich since mid-December 2012
  3. SCHUM Cities
  4. Despite a bunch of time in and around Heidelberg, first visits to cities along the Rhein
  5. Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) begins again 20 November
  6. American Thanksgiving once again with some fine people in Bielefeld
  7. First visit to next year’s host city for GTM16
  8. I haven’t set foot in Hamburg since early-October 2011
  9. The list for Berlin remains agonizingly long
  10. Döner Dürüm, Maultaschen, Mohnschnecke, Quarktasche …

In the next post, I’ll describe how I’m saving (yet again) with an advance purchase of a 10-day German Rail Pass. What I planned and saw last autumn 2014: here with a German Rail Pass.

Berlin-Tegel Airport, TXL, Flughafen Berlin-Tegel Otto Lilienthal, 20090401 Wikimedia, by Simisa, CC3.0

Flughafen Berlin-Tegel Otto Lilienthal (TXL), by Simisa on Wikimedia

The first photo of Market Square in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is from The second photo and panorama of Berlin-Tegel Airport is by Simisa on Wikimedia. Both photos are used with the Creative Commons license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at at

Should I buy a German rail ticket in advance?

A friend, an astronomy colleague, and kind reader from the USA asked:

I was just trying to figure out the German train booking system for a trip I’m taking between Frankfurt am Main and Bonn this July and thought I’d ask you before doing something stupid. Would it be easier/better to buy ahead or should I just want until I’m in country and buy it at the airport.

An excellent question about Deutsche Bahn (DB)

DB ICE (InterCityExpress) at Stuttgart Hbf, by Greg O'Beirne, CC BY 2.5

DB InterCityExpress train, photo by Greg O’Beirne (Wiki, CC BY 2.5)

Buy a ticket before or after arrival?

If you can afford it, I would wait until you’re in country. A big reason is this: if you buy ahead, your ticket is tied to a specific train and time. If for any reason your plane is late arriving in Frankfurt, you may be stuck with buying a new ticket, as an advance ticket with savings will likely have restrictions which you should check if you decide to buy early.

If you decide to buy a ticket upon arrival, you have the benefit of being rushed. At Frankfurt airport, follow the signs to Frankfurt am Main Flughafen Fernbahnhof (Frankfurt airport station for long-distance trains). When you enter the train station, you’ll find automated machines to buy your ticket. The machines allow you to change the language, and subsequent transactions allow cash, European EC cards, and major credit cards. Alternatively, you can enter a staffed DB-Reisezentrum (DB travel centre), which is not the same as a staffed information booth. Buying a ticket over the counter with the help of a member of the DB staff may incur an extra charge of a few Euros.

Have a look at Deutsche Bahn’s USA/English website; enter “Frankfurt Airport” and “Bonn” for departure and arrival stations, respectively, as well as the appropriate date and time.

If you think you’re going to be on the train on 5 or more separate days, you might consider a RailEurope pass. The savings are significant on long-distance trains with distances in excess of about 250 kilometres. I’ve written about how 5- and 10-day RailEurope passes in Germany have saved me money.

Frankfurt am Main Flughafen Fernbahnhof, Airport long-distance train station, by zug55, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Frankfurt am Main Flughafen Fernbahnhof, by zug55 on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

•   Frankfurt airport railway stations: Regionalbahnhof, Fernbahnhof
•   Rail connections from Frankfurt Airport to cities in Germany and beyond, PDF

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 Deutsche Bahn, German Rail Pass, or Rail Europe. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as
UNESCO World Heritage logo, Wikimedia CC3 license

Plugging 20 UNESCO Heritage Sites Around the World

Since 1995, I’ve been fortunate to experience significant travel: first as green graduate student on my first (of many) trips to Chile; followed by the opportunity to live and work in 3 countries on 3 continents inside a span of 10 years. I didn’t give much thought about their relative importance at the time, but I’m lucky to have visited a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS).

I’ve written about 5 UNESCO sites in Germany and there’s more to come. Meanwhile, here below are a list and short descriptions of 20 additional UNESCO WHS from around the globe:

  1. Australia: Blue Mountains (Katoomba)
  2. Australia: Fremantle Prison
  3. Australia: Sydney Opera House
  4. Argentina: Iguazú Falls, Iguazú National Park
  5. Brazil: Iguaçu Falls, Iguaçu National Park
  6. Brazil: Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves (Curitiba)
  7. China: Historic Centre of Macao
  8. Czech Republic: Historic Centre of Prague
  9. Czech Republic: Kutná Hora
  10. Denmark: Kronborg Castle (Helsingør)
  11. France: Historic Site of Lyons
  12. Italy: Cinque Terre
  13. México: Historic Centre of México City
  14. México: San Miguel de Allende
  15. New Zealand: Te Wāhipounamu (South Island)
  16. Spain: Alhambra, Generalife, & Albayzín (Granada)
  17. Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar & Archivo de Indias in Seville
  18. Sweden: Skogskyrkogården (Stockholm)
  19. United Kingdom: Old & New Towns of Edinburgh (Scotland)
  20. USA: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

( Click here for more )

%d bloggers like this: