Switzerland & West German Region

An old friend and I are flying to Zurich on Friday, to spend about two weeks exploring the region. Current plan is to spend a few days in Switzerland before heading North by train. The only 'planned' activity is to visit a small town outside Cologne, which is where my ancestors lived before they migrated to the US in the 1850s.

Besides that, we have no real plan or structure around how we will spend our time or where we will go. I am used to traveling domestically in the US, so the scale makes it seem like it would be relatively easy to see Eastern France, Belgium, and Netherlands while we are there. I'm generally interested in avoiding very tourism focused areas, and enjoying whatever the local areas have to offer. Food, drink, scenery, meeting people. I had considered looking for some live music in the cities we'll be in as a way to meet locals.

My only travel outside the US was to Shanghai, which I enjoyed but was very different than I expect this part of Europe to be.

Any general advice or suggestions on how to make the most of our time in the region?

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Too late for winter activities and a bit too early for it to be warm summer. What kinds of things interest you exactly? Nature? History? Partying?

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      >Nature? History? Partying?
      All of the above. I love nature, but there is no shortage of that in the US where I have done a lot of traveling. I am interested in nature that is unique to the area though.
      I have family in Switzerland and they suggested this time of year as a good time to visit. Weather is getting better and it's a 'low tourism' time so it is easy to find places to stay. Personally I am most interested in experiencing the local culture of the region where my family is from. My friend who I am traveling with will be more interested in partying, so probably some of both. This will be the first time I have had more than one week away from my job in five years so I am just trying to enjoy myself and take it easy.

      So far we are planning to maybe see Verdun, Belfort, Porsche and Benz in Stuttgart, maybe the Zeppelin hangar in Friedrichschafen, the Cathedral and catacombs in Cologne.

      Any suggestions on other nature or historical sites to visit, and what cities are best for nightlife? What would you do if you ended up with 10 free days in the area, no plans, and plenty of money?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I see this is a very busy board...
        Strasbourg has a lot of tourists, but is also a great city and quite pretty.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Also nice and not far from there is Colmar. Super touristy but legit beautiful.

          On the German side of the Rhine, I really like Freiburg (the one in BaWu, not one of ten others). Pretty, tiny little university city.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        If you like historical stuff and enjoy just being lazy for a while, definitely ride the Steamship on Lake Zurich, go sit in the historic salon and sip some beers while watching the scenery go by. At the far end of the lake there's Rapperswil which has a cute little old town with some famous rose gardens. Otherwise you can combine the steamship with a visit to the historic Einsiedeln Monastery, although you have to see that you can get your timetable right, the steamer only runs once or twice a day (the whole trip both ways is about 3 hours).
        You only need a regular ticket for the steamship and no reservation either, it runs like any other regular boat. On the website you can check if it's running and at what time (usually always the same times)

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    This is a strange suggestion but if you're in the area anyway you could quickly check out the hambach surface lignite mine. It's a big hole in the ground that, given your ancestry, will no doubt appeal to you

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Damn that's a lot of coal. This does appeal to my very specific strain of inherited autism. I visited a large copper mine once in the US and it was equal parts awe inspiring and depressing to see the hellscape wrought by man on Earth.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        It’s not really on your suggested route, and I cannot, as a local, honestly recommend Basel as a tourist destination, but your autism might also enjoy the salt works in one of our suburbs:

        https://www.salz.ch/en

        I chaperoned a field trip there with my kids’ school and was really satisfied with my experience.

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Heidelberg is a must if you are in the area. Freiburg is also nice, it's a student city so it is very lively.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I'll add tubingen to that list, the old downtown part of town is beautiful

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You can easily spend 2-3 days in Zurich, not the city but the surrounding area. Boat ride up to Rapperswil, Zoo Zurich is awesome, Hiking the Pfannenstil, Old town of Winterthur.
    Verkehrshaus in Luzern might be a thing for you, Trains, Airplanes, a total autists wet dream. https://www.verkehrshaus.ch/
    Lake Constanz is awesome, Bregenz and Lindau can be done in one session and is totally worth it, Konstanz is also great.
    While going towards Basel stop by at Augusta Raurica in Kaiseraugst. and see some roman remains. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augusta_Raurica

  5. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    i can vouch zurich is the best

  6. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Apart from cologne and the small town where your ancestors are from I cant recommend anything north of south germany, more or less beginning with Hessen and above. Do your daytrip to Nordrhein-Westfalen and then get out of this shithole, legitemately one of the worst states and places in western europe. Unless apart from open pit mining you like old decrepit industry thats rusting away, used for deepshaft mining, which the Ruhrgebiet has plenty of.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I have to agree monstly, Münster can be comfy, the Ruhrpott can be interesting for someone who have never seen something like it but a short trip is enough as it's all the same shit. Industrial stuff, decay, falling apart infrastructure and remains of former glory flanked by some boomer 300k all look the same houses with "gardens" and carports.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Münster has a nice watercastle and inner city, and there are some nicer liveable small cities between the likes of dortmund bochum essen etc but those, plus everything to the north, west and east is just a depressing shithole, one continous gray urban landscape filled to the brim with nonwhites.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      it's great for urbex thou

  7. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Ok so just got back.

    Flight to Zurich was easy, but London Heathrow is the most moronic airport I've ever flown through. Will actively attempt to avoid it it the future.

    Spent the majority of our time in France and Germany. Towns we stopped in, either just for a few hours, a day, or overnight:

    Zurich
    Zug
    Walchwil
    Basel
    Strasbourg
    Heidelberg
    Cologne
    Aachen
    Eschweiler / Kinzweiler
    Verviers
    Liege
    Eindhoven
    'S-Hertogenbosch
    Trier
    Luxembourg

    Of these, Heidelberg was probably my favorite. Beautiful town to walk around, good selection of food, awesome castle, fairly cheap. Colmar is a close second - definitely touristy but genuinely beautiful. Also had a good time in Strasbourg and Aachen, though Aachen was a little seeder feeling. Kinzweiler was a very charming but extremely small town and every single restaurant happened to be closed, so we walked to Eschweiler as the weather was perfect. Clearly there was more to offer than we had time to experience everywhere we went. Food was universally excellent and affordable, lodging was reasonable but still the most expensive part of the trip. I absolutely adore the EU rail system, and an unlimited first class eurail pass proved to be excellent.

    Had I really understood how accessible and affordable Europe is outside the major cities, I would have done this as a backpacker camping and staying in hostels, eating cheap deli and bakery food more than ten years ago. There are no real travelers in my family though, so I just had no idea. Now I can afford hotels and nicer sit down restaurants and it was still generally less expensive for equivalent quality than traveling in the US.

    Anyway, if you're a salty eurocuck and haven't traveled much around Europe I don't don't what's wrong with you. Easiest place in the world to get around. Met several people like this while chatting at bars and such, acting like it's just so difficult to make the time to visit places that are a four hour train ride.

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