Germany Tour: Brian Meyers

We made our first trip to Europe using Umfulana. Being an amateur genealogist I connected with a now German friend who escorted us to the village Allscheid and provided a tour of the Eifel region where my ancestors came from in Germany.

We started our Umfulana trip on the 4th day (Sep 13) after our arrival staying at the Castle near Giessen and ended our Umfulana 9 days (Sep 22) later in Heidelberg.

General Comments:

Language – Although my wife and I are descendants of German immigrants, neither of us speak a word of German. What I found is that with a little persistence you can find a person that will be willing to talk to you in English; it may take approaching more than one person.

Driving – Driving the Autobahn is like driving the interstates/expressways in the US, except even at 100mph keep an eye on your rear view mirror when in the left most lane.

I purchased on sale a GPS unit with European maps in the US for about what it would have cost to add the feature to the rental car. Without the GPS unit I would probably have given up and returned after the first hotel. The Autobahn is not difficult but even with the GPS you have to anticipate exits (I missed a few). Driving in the villages and cities would have been extremely difficult without a GPS unit and I wouldn't want to try it.

One thing I would hope that Umfulana would do is provide a brochure of European Road signs. The road signs are international but after driving 10 days myself and 11 as a passenger with German Friends I still don't understand 1-way street, no parking, no parking this side of street and Autobahn speed limits. I ended up driving down the wrong way on a one-way street from the Marburg Castle.

Next trip to Europe I will check with Umfulana for what they have to offer. I was extremely satisfied with my Umfulana Experience. I worked with Jerry Crippen and tailored the stays due to meeting friends that gave us a personal tour of some areas in Germany. It was a pleasure working with Jerry.

Giessen (2 nights) – Although my wife and I didn't speak any German there was a young waitress that was very accommodating and was very helpful and was willing to speak English. Most of their staff is young but not were all willing to attempt to communicate so I appreciated the effort of the one that was willing to help us and made our stay pleasant.

Rothenburg & Heidelberg (1 night each) – These villages are very similar and being a first time traveler to Germany I would eliminate one of the villages on the itinerary and stay at least two nights at which one you choose. My wife and I enjoyed Rothenburg most, it is a smaller village and the staff at the Gasthof Hotel was hospitable and the room was far superior to what we were given in Heidelberg.

Munich (2 Nights) – There was a senior hostess whose English was very good and was very helpful and provided recommendations and suggestions that made our visit to Munich pleasant. We took the commuter train to Munich (15km?) and when we got off were met by guides of a free walking tour (they do accept tips) http://www.newmunich.com/nm/index.php?. The tour was very informative and I would highly suggest it. I would suggest at least a 3 night stay in order to take in more of the sights in the Munich area.

Pfronten (2 nights) – A very romantic and beautiful hotel and site. From here we visited the famous castles of Germany. Although the staff of the hotel did make an effort to communicate I didn't feel as though it was as gracious as all of the other hotels that we stayed at. I felt that they were uncomfortable speaking English attempted to end the communication as soon as they could. I guess this is my ‘Ugly American’ experience. With that said I still wouldn't wanted to have missed it.

Black Forest (2 Nights) – The beautiful scenery along with a room next to a babbling brook. I found this very restful and a great place for pleasant walks. The hotels restaurant food was very tasteful and satisfying. The hostess of the hotel was very helpful and provided recommendations and suggestions and made us feel like a welcomed visitor.