In 2014, I flew to Germany to compete in Challenge Roth, and that’s pretty much all I did there. Arrive to acclimatize a few days before the ironman race, do the race, recover for a day, and then get outta there. Last year I had the opportunity to fly there again to observe the race. Since I wasn’t going to be exerting myself much I decided to go see places afterwards.
Challenge Roth is held in the region known as Bavaria which itself has a long and storied history as an independent kingdom as well as part of the country of Germany. I decided to focus my touristy attentions within the region, traveling between Munich (my point of entry into Europe) and Nuremberg (the major city near the town of Roth). I would also make a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Regensburg, then take a day tour into Salzburg, Austria.
Getting to Germany from the Philippines was an easy affair once my visa had been processed. I booked via Etihad, which was the best bang-for-buck. While Manila-Munich vv is priced at over $1000 USD, you can get a much cheaper fare by going to Kayak and booking a multi-city flight. I booked Singapore-Munich-Manila which came out to a little more than $730 USD. For Manila-Singapore I booked a cheap one-way flight via Jetstar that cost me $90 USD (including baggage allowance and meal). So have a play around with the booking engines and try to find the best price. As an added plus, I was never on a plane longer than 8 hours. (My previous flight to Germany with KLM killed me with a 14-hour nonstop flight from Taiwan to Amsterdam!)
While the flight to Abu Dhabi was packed, the Abu Dhabi to Munich leg had far fewer passengers and I was able to move to my own row and sleep stretched out for the entire flight.
Once landed in Munich at 6am, I stuck around in the airport to have breakfast and buy a prepaid SIM and electrical adapter. If you haven’t been to Germany you won’t know they have these weird Type C/F power sockets that are totally incompatible with the Type A flat prongs that we use in the Philippines.
I also had to kill time because to get to Nuremberg and then Roth I was taking a regional train using the Bayern ticket.
To save money when traveling between cities in Bavaria, most locals recommend purchasing the Bayern ticket which is valid for unlimited travel from 9am to 3am the next day. This ticket is valid for all regional and suburban trains, trams, and buses (excluding express and fast trains). It set me back only 23 euro and comes out even cheaper for groups, because up to five people can travel on the same ticket for only an additional 5 euro per person. Children under 15 years old can travel for free if with a parent or grandparent.
I booked my Bayern tickets online and printed them out so the ticket officer could punch it. I carried the credit card I used to book the ticket, because it serves as a form of identification that I’m actually the person who is on the ticket.
Tickets for scheduled trains can be purchased at main train stations, but if you miss the train you bought a ticket for, then you need to buy a new one.
If I had booked all the tickets separately, my journey from Munich airport to Roth train station would have cost this much:
- Munich Airport to Munich Main Station: 10.50 euro
- Munich Main Station to Nuremberg: 20 euro for regional express or 55 euro for ICE
- Nuremberg Main Station to Roth Station: around 5 euro
- Grand Total: 35.50 to 70 euro
Traveling by rail simply requires discipline and patience: discipline to be at the station on time to catch the correct train, and patience to sit through a journey that could take up to 90 minutes longer than driving from point A to point B, depending on the stops your train makes. The good thing about the Bayern ticket is that if you miss your train, you can take other routes to get to your destination at no extra cost.
Oh, I also need to mention you need to pack as lightly and efficiently as possible, since you’re the only one who takes your bags on and off the train and you only have about two or three minutes to get on and off a train. 🙂
I took a bus from the airport to Freising to catch the regional express train heading northward to Nuremberg. I could also have taken the airport train to Munich main station to get on another train to Nuremberg, but the bus ride + train ride ended up shortening my entire trip by one hour. I used the DB mobile app to research the bus and rail connections I needed to make.
From Nuremberg main station, I needed to change trains and take the S2 through a few smaller towns. The S2 terminates in Roth, where my homestay host Mona would be waiting to pick me up.
My next post in this series will be about being a tourist in Nuremberg and Roth.