Airline Tickets are booked. We’re heading to Amsterdam. That’s as far as the solidity in the travel planning goes.
Hotel booking is in progress – a slow, arduous project. We’re close on a couple and are narrowing a few more. We’ve spent our hours remaking and reworking the itinerary. I’ve made some notes of the top running choices we’ve cross-referenced so I can keep track.
So here’s that list of the leading hotels for our upcoming adventure:
Near Liege (Belgium)
Hostellerie Lafarque – Domaine des Douys
Near Rhine/Frankfurt/Mosel (Germany)
Near or in Rotenburg ob Taubern (Germany)
Hotel Schloss Durnstein
Hotel Richard Löwenherz
Alto Adige (Italy)
Some Castle & Historic Hotel Links:
Germany: Culture & Castle
Germany: Castle Hotels
Castle & Palace Hotels
Live like a German (this site offers vacation rentals but some are castle apts.)
Historic Hotels (Germany)
Other Travel/Hotel/Trip Planning Links:
Via Michelin (Yes that Michelin. – Also look at the Online Green Guides)
The Romantic Road
NY Times Travel Guides
The Fairytale Road
One month after my 1st trip planning post and we still have not booked anything. No air. No hotel. No Car. Are we even going? I have piles of maps and guidebooks. I’ve watched 3 travel videos. I can draw a map of our proposed route in my head, on a napkin, in my dreams… I’m conversant with hotel options in multiple countries… Today there were so many Firefox tabs open on cross checks and searches and maps I had to restart the computer.
Clean slate now… What do I do…
We’ve re-shifted dates. X-ed out the Rhine and the Black Forest as a stay-location. Now the current dilemma is how to get from the Mosel in Germany to Alto Adige in Italy while maximizing the exploration experience, squeezing in a day in the Rhine, an afternoon or morning at Legoland Germany and making sure we manage the Romantic Road *and* that we have to time see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. Too much? Maybe. The big concern is that on a sight-seeing day we don’t park with luggage in the car. Now I challenge you to make a schedule that works! That is currently my lot.
Then there’s the hotel perplexity. The hotel I want to go to after the Wachau is fully booked on certain days. So we have to land there on a certain night if we’re going to stay there. Generally my argument is that’s close to the Czech border and the train stations – making it ideal for a day trip to Prague. The weekend we’ve chosen to be in the Italian Alps is obviously a busy weekend which is also limiting our choices there. If we shift so we spend extra days to cover all the mid trip stuff we want to see then we end up not being able to stay at specific hotels (which are in excellent locations, like the one near Prague). There’s also a voice saying “you need to stay around in Italy longer”. But we have to get back by the 20th of May, preferably before.
Meanwhile I’ve ruled out all the Amsterdam hotels I started with. The hotel in Belgium I wanted to stay at is booked the 3 days we want to stay there. If we use a Euro car rental we can drive to Italy but not the Czech Republic. We have a friend traveling in the Mosel & Wachau, so we’re trying to coordinate dates so that a winery visit might work in both locations. Of course there’s also the laundry factor which I won’t even get into.
Shall I go on? Probably not. This is just not that interesting if you aren’t in the middle of it. Rest assured, some resolution will occur. I just hope it’s sooner than later.
We’re back to flying into Amsterdam and then driving to Germany. I think watching Rick Steeves Benelux/Germany DVD cemented it. Trent was taken with a museum in Belgium, and I want to see the Van Gogh museum. Currently the plan is at 25 days and up to potentially 8 countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy & possibly the Czech Republic) with 9 actual hotels to book. If we slipped into France & Switzerland it would 10 countries. If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium…
Hotel searching is tough for us. We like luxury, but like to not pay exorbitant amounts/night – and we try to avoid big chain hotels. We also prefer country to town/city properties. We need WiFi, a comfortable bed, decent food near by (that means something *we* would eat) and I look for something special about the property – a castle, on a park, a great restaurant, near something we need to go see, etc.
If you think that’s an easy task – you are mistaken!
Here are the sites I’m currently using:
Relais & Chateaux
Trip Advisor (taken with some large grains of salt)
Small Luxury Hotels
Leading Hotels of the World
Historic Hotels of Europe
Historic Hotels of the Benelux
Great Small Hotels
Five Star Alliance
Castle Hotels (Mainly Austria)
Karen Brown (taken with an even larger grain of salt & cross checked extensively – not trusted)
Mr & Mrs. Smith
Rocco Forte Collection
Historic Hotels of Europe
Starwood Luxury Collection
My day started before dawn and then sped up to light speed. Our neighbor was kind enough to share some Sweet Pea plants she had bought at the nursery today and it’s a great reminder of how gorgeous it was outside today and conversely how much dreaded work has to be done in the garden before spring planting could even hope to commence.
Throughout the excitements of the day, we found out that driving a rental car to Czech Republic and Italy is unlikely to be allowed. We calculated that flying in/out of Amsterdam was just too big a loop for this adventure – especially if we want to venture into Austria. So it looks like in/out Frankfurt if we can’t split the ticket between Frankfurt & Munich.
This afternoon was a Construction & Engineering Project Meeting where we made bristlebots – our version which had a customized battery holder which allowed the bot to be turned off by simply removing the battery. I made testing tracks our of foam insulation and weatherstripping (and had the time of my life making them). My dad did the drilling of the battery “cases”. 13 kids, seemingly a million ZOTS and countless bristlebot modifications later I sat down for a whole hour. Then dinner beckoned. Pancake Tuesday resulted in Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Banana & Plain pancakes, bacon, sausage and accoutrement.
Then a whole evening of researching accommodations and driving distances for the Mosel & the Rhine. The current finds include:
Perhaps I’ll sleep well tonight. I have Coco Before Chanel to watch if I can stay awake.
Things are moving rather slowly now…
The original Evil Mad Scientist Version
Our Version & Our Track:
The guide books have arrived for Germany & Amsterdam. The jury is still out on where to fly to. Options are Munich, Frankfurt and Amsterdam – and London of course – if we’re completely crazy and want to do a channel crossing.
The Rough Guide to Germany I really liked their 34 things to do at the start of the book in color. Now that I have a very detailed map (thanks Michelin) and one larger scale that was included in the Rick Steeves book I think planning a route is possible. I was having a hard time going from “destination” location to google maps. Somehow a paper map is better. Maybe because I can touch it. More maps came today so I now have a big picture and very detailed close-ups.
Just got Rick Steeve’s Germany from Netflix. We watched all the Ireland travel videos before we went and it really gave us insight into where we were headed. Tonight we watched the Rhine/Mosel and Cologne (Koln)/Black Forest segments. Things to note were the Rothenburg Christmas Museum and Steeve’s favorite Rhine castle Burg Eltz. The Black Forest segment led me to remember that I should look for “Folk Parks” along with zoo parks and castle destinations.
Here’s a maze between Frankfurt & Denmark : Hortus Vitale
Another maze nearer Austria: Aschaffenburgschonbusch
One in Holland at a Kid’s Park.
One designed by Adrian Fisher (the master maze maker) in the Netherlands – and the largest in Europe? Labyrint Drielandenpunt Atlas Obscura has a description in English
and a Youtube Maze Video
Driving Germany’s Castle Road With Kids – Articles – Travel + Leisure.
Oh, a 365 mile drive with castles all along the way. Just what I’m looking for! I wasn’t planning on heading to Austria… but I think we may skirt over if we do this drive.
I love “the less-touristed” description.
here’s the adult tour article: http://www.travelandleisure.com/trips/a-drive-through-germanys-castle-country
I’m working on a planning a trip. Looks like Germany, Holland and maybe Denmark. First things first. I ordered Maps (darn Michelin people make you have to get one for each sector of the country). I ordered guidebooks – they all have flaws. Between the 4 – Rick Steeves, Frommer’s, Rough Guide & DK Eyewitness, hopefully I’ll find some must-not-miss destinations. We take the road less traveled – the dragon roads. Castles, Mazes, Forests, the unusual, the strange and the beautiful. Now all I have to do is put the dots on the maps and then find the glorious, wonderful, exciting and divine places to sleep and eat in between.
No work at all…