One of our most popular coach tours, setting out from Kent to visit the lovely setting of the Black Forest and with a host of included excursions and days out by train.
For this scenic holiday we once again head for the heart of the Black Forest to relax in the quiet riverside hamlet of Oberwolfach, where we return to the consistently well-rated 3* Superior family Hotel Hirschen. We offer plenty of time for relaxation in these lovely surroundings, our day excursions will include Gengenbach (with a wine tasting), the historic city of Freiburg, and with no less than with three scenic train rides: from Freudenstadt to Karlsruhe via the Murg Valley Line; to Lake Constance on the famous Black Forest Railway; and again via the Black Forest Railway to the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen. And there is the added delight of a day visit to the Pairi Daiza "Gardens of the World" in Belgium on the way home!
As the hotels excellent Trip Advisor reports tell us, we find ourselves situated in an idyllic spot with a river rushing by and lots of local walking trails, and the neighbouring peaks rise to around 3,500 feet with their spectacular forested slopes so characteristic of the area. It should be an interesting week for birdwatchers the dipper is a regular sight in local rivers, crested tits are often seen in garden feeding stations, and Griffon Vultures are amongst the birds of prey to be seen.
On our opening day we expect to make an early channel tunnel crossing and from Calais we take the direct route on the French motorway network, pausing for lunch between Reims and Metz before continuing to our destination where we aim to arrive at around late afternoon, with our hosts Eberhard and Renate there to offer us a welcoming glass of something sparkling!D
On Sunday we take the morning to settle in to our home for the week, and over lunchtime we join the coach for the short hop down the Kinzig Valley to Gengenbach, where highlights include an 8th Century monastery and Abbey church, extended in the 18th century to become a convent. There are two fine gate towers originally from the 13th century, and a delightful old town with its cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. For the energetic there are some superb views to be had of this small town if you stroll up through the vineyards to the Chapel of St Jakobus.
After allowing ourselves a couple of hours to explore the old town centre we rejoin the coach and make for the nearby Gengenbach-Offenburg wine producer, where we enjoy a cheese and wine tasting before returning to Oberwolfach later in the afternoon. Anyone feeling energetic might like to be dropped-off in Wolfach and to walk the 90 minutes or so alongside the river back to Oberwolfach. It's an option all week to do that if you fancy going off on your own for the day, and that option then extends to use of the local rail network where as long as you keep your tickets the hotel should be able to refund them at the end of your stay. Destinations that are reimbursable in this way extend to Strasbourg or Basel (in both cases changing at Offenburg), Stuttgart, or Ulm, so you have a great deal of choice, and ticketing is easy because if you're travelling any distance you just ask for a Baden-Württemburg day ticket and you can then go anywhere you like within the region on the buses and local trains.
On Monday the coach takes us first to Freudenstadt, and here we join a train following the Murg Valley line to the town of Rastatt. This scenic route is known in transport circles throughout the world for its pioneering operation of tram-trains on lines which would otherwise have been closed as uneconomic. The trams offer a forward view and some wonderful scenery along the journey of about 40 miles via Baiersbronn and Gernsbach.
Our coach meets us at Rastatt for the short onwards hop to Karlsruhe and we give ourselves the afternoon to enjoy this fine city. There is much here to please nature lovers. The Stadtgarten is a recreational area near the main railway station and is also the site of the reasonably-priced Karlsruhe Zoo, which enjoys good recommendations from Trip Advisor. Then the city has two botanical gardens: the municipal Botanischer Garten Karlsruhe which forms part of the Palace complex, and the Botanischer Garten der Universität Karlsruhe which is maintained by the university.
The Palace was built in 1715 and is now the seat of two of the highest courts in Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Court of Justice. It has been speculated that Karlsruhe was a model for Washington, D.C. as both cities have a centre from which the streets radiate outward.
On Tuesday we return to the railway and take the regular double-decker train service to the agreeable city of Konstanz on the German/Swiss border. The train takes us from Hausach - only about 20 minutes from our hotel - along the famous Black Forest line to Donaueschingen and onwards to Konstanz, a journey of about 90 minutes. The station in Konstanz is perfectly located for us on the lakeshore and close to the stadtgarten, and with the pedestrianised Marktstätte just across the road. We arrive by mid-morning so there is lots of time for relaxed sightseeing here before we catch a late afternoon train back to Hausach. For full details of the town see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstanz. The Altstadt (Old Town), which is large considering the small size of modern Konstanz, has many old buildings and twisting alleys. The city skyline is dominated by the majestic "Münster" Cathedral, several other churches and three towers surviving from the original city wall, one of which marks the place of the former medieval bridge over the Rhine.
For those interested, there is plenty of time whilst in Konstanz to enjoy a ride on one of the lake ferries - past visitors on Buzzlines trips have recommended the easy hop across the lake to the charming spa town of Meershof. As the coach remains parked-up at our setting-off point for the day, our driver joins the train trip to help organise meeting points and times later in the day.
We make Wednesday a free dayB, D
On Thursday we join the Black Forest Railway again, this time changing at Singen for a local train following the course of the upper Rhine down to Schaffhausen, just into Switzerland, where we find the spectacular Rhine Falls.
We alight our train at Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall Station, which also gives us access to the visitor centre and restaurant in Laufen castle, and its wonderful view of the falls. With plenty of time on our side, we can walk across the railway bridge to the north side of the river and then follow its path for a view of the falls from the lower level, and we can then continue to the visitor facilities and boat port below the falls. You can take a boat trip out to the rock pinnacle in the centre of the falls - not as daunting as may appear but be warned there are some steep steps to get to the top.
We return by train later in the day to rejoin the coach at Hausach Station. Once again our driver will be with us for the train journey to shepherd us on to the right trains!
For our final day in the Black Forest on Friday we revert to the coach to spend the day in Freiburg, with its almost endless list of must-see sights including the cathedral, widely held to have the most beautiful tower in Christendom. The cathedral square is also remarkable for its Old Granary and Old Trading Centre buildings, in addition to which the Square offers a daily produce market. The Zum Röten Baren (Red Bear) tavern in Oberlinden Square traces its owners back to the year 1311. And there are innumerable museums including the Kleine Welt which presents 250 dolls houses and 500 dolls dating back to 1800.B, D
On Saturday it's time to bid farewell to our hosts as we start our journey home, but under no pressure as today we only travel as far the northern part of the Belgian Ardennes where we make an overnight stop in a suitable hotel near Charleroi (minimum 3*).B
This will then allow us on our final to spend the at the amazing Pairi Daiza wildlife park just outside Mons before we continue home aiming for a tunnel crossing to bring us back into Kent mid evening
B=Breakfast Included, D =Dinner Included
Executive coach travelEurotunnel crossings
9 nights dinner, bed & breakfast at the 3* Superior Hotel Hirschen in Oberwolfach
A further overnight stop with dinner and breakfast in Belgium on return journey
Reimbursement scheme for privately purchased bus and rail tickets
Escorted rail trip on the Black Forest railway to Konstanz
Escorted rail trip on the Black Forest railway to Schaffhausen for the Rhine Falls
Optional visits to the Black Forest Model Railway, Open Air Museum, and Dorotheenhütte Glass Factory (entrance tickets not provided but they are not steep, there is no charge for visiting the glass factory shop but they do charge for onward entry to the glass-blowing demonstration)
Train excursion on the Murg Valley Line between Freudenstadt and Rastatt
Visits to Gengenbach, Lake Titisee, Freiburg, Karlsruhe
A day at the Parai Daiza Gardens of the World near Mons
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
|Ashford|| Park Street Bus Stop A, Ashford |
|Canterbury|| St George's Lane, between bus station and Fenwicks |
|Deal|| South Street, Deal |
|Dover|| Market Square, Dover |
|Folkestone|| Bus Station Bay D, Folkestone |
|Hawkinge|| Haven Drive, bus stop outside Lidl, Hawkinge |
|Herne Bay|| Bus garage High Street, Herne Bay |
|Hythe North Bound|| Red Lion Square next to pub, Hythe |
|M2 Medway North Bound|| M2 Medway Services, North Bound |
|Maidstone|| Bus stop outside Vinters Road Car Park, |
Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone
|Sandgate|| Outside Royal Norfolk Pub, Sandgate |
|Stop 24|| Stop 24 Services Junction 11, M20 |
|Walmer|| Thompson Bell pub, Walmer |
|Whitstable|| Bus layby outside Tesco Extra, Whitstable |
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