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The Romantic Danube

Europe is certainly blessed with beautiful rivers. The Danube River starts in the Black Forest of Germany and flows into the Black Sea. It flows through 10 countries making it a major water highway. Some major cities on the Danube River include Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary)and Belgrade (Serbia).

Wachau Valley
The Wachau Valley about 1 hour West of Vienna, Austria is surely a romantic part of the Danube River. There are beautiful vineyards and castles along the Wachau Valley. There is so much history along the banks of the Danube. For an example, Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned in Dürnstein Castle. Dürnstein Castle lies along the Danube River and is worth a trip from Vienna, Austria. Melk, Austria is another place that you should visit. The Melk Baroque Benedictine monastery is a treasure. It houses a large library and beautiful frescoes. River cruises run between Melk and Krems. Take a romantic river cruise along the Wachau Valley and take back lovely memories of this journey.

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European Airport Hubs

Major Continental European Airport Hubs
European Airport hubs are well integrated with ground transportation networks. Europe has an excellent rail network.

Netherlands

Schiphol International Airport (AMS)
Amsterdam is a good gateway to explore Europe further. Schiphol International Airport (AMS), Amsterdam, Netherlands is a major transportation hub. If you prefer to fly, there are low cost flights that will connect to you to rest of Europe from Schiphol International Airport (AMS). You can even take a train to Brussels, Belgium or Paris, France from the airport train station. The airport train station is conveniently located right within the airport complex. The airport has lockers where you can store your bigger luggage so you do not have to take it with you.

Amsterdam Centraal Train Station
From Schiphol train station, you can quickly reach Amsterdam’s main Centraal Station. From Amsterdam Centraal Station, you can connect by train to major European cities such as Zurich, Switzerland or Berlin, Germany. There are also river cruises that will take you up the Rhine from Amsterdam.

Germany

Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)
Frankfurt am Main International (FRA) Airport is the busiest airport in Germany. This is Lufthansa Airlines largest airport hub. Rent a car or take the trains to connect to your travel destinations. You can drive down to the Romantic Mid Rhine area. The Mid Rhine area has a lot offer with beautiful castles between Mainz and Kobenlz. Best to explore the Rhine River by boat. Slow down and enjoy the views. You can also explore the Romantic Road.

Munich International Airport (MUC)
Munich International (MUC) Airport is an excellent hub to explore Southern Germany, Bavaria and the Alps. Munich is also known as Munchen in German. If you are travelling during Christmas, the Munich Airport hosts its own Christmas Markets. You can take trains to beautiful cities like Salzburg, Austria or Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland.

Germany’s Alpine Region
Take a beautiful train journey south to Fussen, Germany. Fussen is located right across the border from Austria. Here you can explore King Ludwig’s castles. The most famous is the Neuschwanstein Castle. You should also check out the Linderhof Palace and Hohenschwangau Castle. If you have time, check out Herrenchiemsee Palace which is based on King Louis’ Versailles. Herrenchiemsee (New Palace) is located on the largest island in Lake Chiemsee closer to Salzburg, Austria.

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Germany’s Romantic Road

Germany’s Romantic Road between Wurzburg and Fussen is a destination in itself. There are several castles on this route to be explored. So take time and soak in the beautiful German towns and villages.

Rothenburg
Spend time in towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Rothenburg is located in the Franconia region of Bavaria. Experience the German culture at its best.

Fussen
Most travellers will remember the Neuschwanstein Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle is known as Schloss Neuschwanstein in German. Neuschwanstein is best explored from Fussen, Bavaria. Fussen can be reached by train from Munich. This is a very beautiful part of Bavaria. Fussen borders Austria and is lush with the Alpine scenery.

Flying into Frankfurt am Main, Germany
If you are starting in the North from Wurzburg, best to fly into Frankfurt am Main International (FRA) Airport. Rent a car and you can make your own travel plans to get to Wurzburg.
You can also take a detour from the Romantic Road and drive down to the Romantic Mid Rhine area. The Mid Rhine area has a lot offer with beautiful castles between Mainz and Kobenlz. Best to explore the Rhine River by boat. Slow down and enjoy the views.

Flying into Munich, Bavaria, Germany
If you are starting in the South from Fussen, fly into Munich International (MUC) Airport. Munich is also known as Munchen in German. If you are travelling during Christmas, the Munich Airport hosts its own Christmas Markets.

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European Christmas Markets

The European cities come alive in Winter for Christmas. The Christmas Markets spring up everywhere especially around the Old Town centers or squares. There is even a Christmas market at the Munich International Airport.

GERMANY
The backdrop of beautiful Gothic churches like in Cologne (Germany) and Christkindlesmarkt Nuremberg (Germany) will take you back in time. German towns become festive with Christmas markets. With Christmas delicacies and lovely Christmas Music, you will become a child again for Christmas. You got to try some Nuremberg Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread) and Feuerzangenbowle (red wine and rum punch).

Czech Republic
The Christmas markets in Staroměstské náměstí Prague (Old Town Square) and Wenceslas Square (5 minute walking distance from each market) in Czechia (Czech Republic) are a real treat. Stroll along the beautiful wooden huts with all sorts of Christmas ornaments and gifts. Eat some trdelník (grilled rolled dough cake) while you shop.

Hungary
If you wish to try all sorts of delicious food, you should check out the Budapest Christmas Markets at the St. Stephen’s Basilica ( St Istvan Bazilika) and the Christmas Market at the Vorosmarty Square in Budapest, Hungary. You won’t be in hungry in Hungary, as this market offers you tasty regional food and not just Christmas cookies. Try the Kürtőskalács (Chimney cake) and Goulash Soup (Gulyásleves).

Austria
How do you beat the beauty of the Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) in Vienna, Austria? Ice skate around the “tree of hearts” in the nearby park and enjoy some Viennese Gluhwein (mulled wine).

France
Strasbourg Christmas market (Capital of Christmas) is a fusion of both the German and French cultures in the Alsace Region of France. Christkindlsmärik first took place in 1570. Try the Christmas bredele (small cakes) made in this Alsace region. It comes in different flavors. Strasbourg Christmas Market is one of the oldest and the most beautiful Christmas market that blends both the French and German cultures into a wonderful Christmas experience.

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The Romantic Rhine

You can cruise the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands via the German Heartland to Basel, Switzerland. Rhine starts its journey from Lake Toma, in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden and winds its way to Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Rhine actually passes through Switzerland, Liechtenstein , Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. There is so much history along the Rhine. It used to be the boundary between civilized Europe and untamed lands beyond. There is so much to see along the Rhine.

Rhine Falls, Switzerland
Rhine Falls or Rheinfall in German is Europe’s largest waterfall. In some ways resembles the Niagara Falls between United States and Canada. Rhine Falls is located near Schaffhausen , in Switzerland just across from the German border.

Lake Bodensee
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is one of the lakes on the Rhine. Bodensee borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland. You can basically visit all 3 countries by boat. Principality of Liechtenstein is around 30 minutes by car from the Bodensee (Lake Constance).

Basel, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine is a good transportation hub to pretty much get anywhere in Europe, especially to your Alpine destinations. A good place to rest and sight see in the lower elevation before going up into higher altitudes of the Alps.

Mainz to Kobenlz, Mid Rhine, Germany
The mid Rhine is probably the most romantic part of the Rhine. German towns from Mainz to Kobenlz, Germany will take you back in time. Take the Rhine ferries to slow down and soak in the beauty.

The Moselle River to Luxembourg
The Moselle River meets the Rhine River at Kobenlz. Moselle can take you all the way to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxembourg actually means Little Castle). Towns along the Moselle such as Zell and Cochem are simply breathtaking.

Heidelberg, Germany
Take another detour along the River Neckar (Neckar meets the Rhine at Mannheim) to Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is both romantic and picturesque. It is definitely worth the detour.

Netherlands
Keep following the River Rhine and you will end up in Rotterdam, Netherlands which is Europe’s largest port with plenty of good places to eat and shop. For the romantic side visit Amsterdam.


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Lauterbrunnen Valley to Jungfraujoch Switzerland

Switzerland is also known in Latin as Confoederatio Helvetica. That is why their internet domain is .CH. You will need to use the Swiss Franc (CHF) when in Switzerland.

Flying to Switzerland
If you are flying from the USA, you would probably fly into either Geneva (373.6 m – French speaking area of Switzerland) or Zurich (408 m -German speaking area of Switzerland). Basel Airport ( EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg ) is also an option but it is actually located in France. Basel EuroAirport serves Germany, France and Switzerland.

Altitude Sickness
Take your time in these lower elevations to acclimate to the altitude. You should drink plenty of water as you recover from your flight especially if you are flying across the Atlantic from the USA.

Interlaken
From any of those cities, you will need to get a train to Interlaken ( the city between lakes Brienz and Thun at 566m). Interlaken is a good base to explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Bernese Oberland. The train system is excellent in Switzerland and runs on time like Swiss clockwork.

Bernese Oberland and the Lauterbrunnen Valley
There is so much to see in the Bernese Oberland (Bernese Highlands) area. You can use Interlaken as a base camp to travel further south in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interlaken has all the modern conveniences you need. If you are not into too much walking, just ride the train from Interlaken Ost Station to Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch (Virgin Pass) is the highest railway station in Europe or Top of Europe. You will be going up in elevation from 566 meters in Interlaken to 3454 meters in Jungfraujoch.

Jungfraujoch
There is more than one way to get to Jungfraujoch. You can take the train from Interlaken (566m), Zweilütschinen (652m), Lauterbrunnen (795m), Wengen (1274m) (car free), Kleine Scheidegg (2061m) (beautiful place to stop) and then on to Jungfraujoch (3454m). The other option is to take the train from Interlaken, Zweilütschinen, Grindelwald (at 1034m another very beautiful place), Kleine Scheidegg and on to Jungfraujoch. Take one way up and another way down as the journey can be the destination on this route. You will pass through Alpine scenery and then on to see the snowy peaks above timber line. Jungfrau stands at 13,642ft or 4158m. Jungfrau, Eiger (3967m) and Monch (4107m) peaks form a massive range overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a must see area of Switzerland. The contrast between the snowy peaks with the green Lauterbrunnen valley with many waterfalls is a site to see. The picturesque Lauterbrunnen village with the 300m high Staubbach Falls cascading down the mountain is breathtaking.

Wengen
From Lauterbrunnen, you can take the cogwheel train to Wengen (car free) to get a gorgeous view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Take time and smell the mountain air and soak in the Alpine scenery. Beautiful view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley for your photos for instagram.

Gimmelwald Village
Or from Lauterbrunnen, take a cable car to Grütschalp and then by mountain rail to Murren. Then hike downhill to Gimmelwald Village to go back in time. Enjoy the alpine scenery, the flowers and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It is well worth it. There is even a gondola that goes to Schilthorn from Gimmelwald for more exploration. The options seem endless. You can be lost in the Bernese Oberland and loving it.

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