All this planning is not that fun. I want to see so much of Europe on my 3 month stay in Germany that I am confusing myself. In order to narrow things down a bit, I searched out the bordering countries of Germany and will go from there.
The countries are: Poland, The Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, France . Out of these nine countries, my real interests lie in Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and France.
The interesting thing is that Strasbourg, France is about about 100 miles west of Stuttgart which is fantastic for my purposes. One of my collegues lived in Kiel for this exchange and he said on occasion, he would just walk to Strasbourg because it apprx 1 km from his home! Nice huh? In my case, Strasbourgh is a bit further but from my readings, there are direct trains which take about 75 minutes from departure to arrival with one stop in between. Not too shabby. That means that I can for sure leave a Friday night, spend the night in a hostel, explore Strasbourg for one and half days and get back into Germany at a decent time Sunday to get enough rest for Monday morning. Strasbourg is on my list for sure! I will not limit my France trips to Strasbourgh only as the new TGV high speed train takes a bit under 4 hours from Stuttgart to Paris! Fantastic. Looks like another wonderful weekend jaunt in the making.
Just look how interesting this place looks.
I don't really know what draws me to Austria but something is. I based my whole TT tour decision on it's visit to this country. I think my interest peaks because it looks so beautifully stunning in photo's. The landscape looks so green, vibrant, rich and gorgeous. I really dig surroundings of people, places and things, so I know that my visits will take me to this stunning country. Taking the TGV will take a bit over 2 hours to get to Innsbruck. Or, I can fly for that same transit time. It will be all about price at that point more than anything else. Another weekend jaunt in the pipelines. Spending a full day and a half touring, walking, picture taking and indulging in Austrian cuisine will be in the plans.
I have never really considered Luzembourg, maybe because of it's puny size in comparison to the rest of it's neighboring EU counterparts, but they, I just might go look see. Another reason for me skipping this country is because even though it is bordering Germany, the train ride is about 5 hours in total-1 way! And the price seems to be high lso. I might change my mind but I think there are a lot of other great opinions for me instead of focusing here.
Oh, Switzerland. How you appeal to me with your white capped mountains, gorgeous cities, crisp, clean lakes, and adventures to be had. I will visit you for sure. I am thinking Zurich as it is closest in distance from my home and it could do as a weekend thing. Using the TGV again, the trip is just under 3 hours which is a blessin. I will only be picking hostels that have 24hr check-in's anyway, so getting in late should be no problemo. I will either do the Swiss on a weekend (long weekend if I can fit it in with some German holiday) or I will leave this destination until my sister visits as we will be visiting some countries together and I think this breathtaking country would be ideal for us.
The Netherlands draws me in because of it's canals, tulips, and Anne Frank's house. I am sure I can easily squeeze in all I need to see of Amsterdam in one day. The Royal palace and a canal cruise are especially calling my name. And of course, I will need to down a few Heineken's...just to ensure they taste up to par. Due to the distance, this will have to wait until my sister visits. No weekend cavalcading here.
Denmark; I don't know about this one. There is nothing too enticing about this country either, for me. The canal tours, Amalienborg Palace, botanical gardens and skyline views are the only things that draw me to Denmark. I have to admit that I would only visit this country if it ended up somehow in my path of travel or it was really cheap and quick to get there. A few of my friends have been there and they have nothing must to say about it so..... I trust their judgement.
From the above alone I have about 1 month of weekend travel bookmarked. I still want to visit a great deal of Germany and throw in some other countries on my vacation. I have a feeling my 3 month stint will not be very relaxing in the least. Good!