Die Mitfahrzentrale

The Mitfahrzentrale is a place that allows you to find someone travelling to somewhere that you want to go, eg. in a car, and to travel with them in return for paying part of the costs. Alternatively, you can offer to take someone with you in your car and reduce your own costs.

To hear a simple explanation in German, listen to the podcast:

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Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

One of the questions that frequently comes up when talking to people who want to come to Germany is “where is Frankfurt-Hahn”?

Hahn is in an area of Germany called the Hunsrück, and is 126km by road from Frankfurt itself. Hahn used to be an American Airforce base, but for a number of years has now been used by budget-airlines such as Ryanair.

It takes about 90 minutes to get to Frankfurt city centre by car, but when travelling to Hahn by car allow plenty of entry time as the motorway from Mainz to Koblenz can get very busy, expecially on a Friday evening.

There is also a bus transfer to Frankfurt for the airport which takes about 1h 45min – see their homepage for details of times and costs.

Most people either travel through Hahn and continue to their final destination, often via Frankfurt. If, however, you would like to see more of the area then you could consider taking of the buses to the nearby towns. You may also like to do this if you have a long wait in Hahn, but be aware that the buses are often Bedarfsfahrten, ie. they only run when necessary, so be prepared to have to take a taxi back to the airport if necessary. This area of Germany is very sparesly populated, so the taxi may be coming from another town to collect you. Book in good time!

This is wine-growing country and you can get excellent wines in the area, sometimes at a fraction of the price that they would cost elsewhere in Germany.

My favourite places to visit are Alf and Cochem. Both are on the river Mosel.

Alf is 21km from Hahn and there are cruises on the river starting there. I can personally recommend the Ristorante Pizzeria Italia in the Koblenzer Straße and the Eiscafe Acquario in the Brückenstrasse. Buses to Alf are signed as “Bullay”.

Cochem is 41km from Hahn and you should plan the good part of a day to see it all. It has a lovely castle overlooking the river and is on the border between the areas “Mosel” and “Hunsrück”. There are tours around the castle, and the old town is almost traffic-free. There are lots of cafés at the waterfront and places to buy local wines near the town square.

If you are planning on travelling further into Germany, then you will probably want to catch a train to your final destination. Apart from the shuttle bus to Frankfurt, there are other buses to Mainz, Koblenz and even Cologne. Check the Deutsche Bahn homepage for details of further connections from there.

Buying rail tickets

Deutsche Bahn (DB Regio in Bavaria to be precise) has announced that they will stop selling tickets in the trains – you must buy your ticket before entering. This has already been the case when travelling within so-called “Verkehrsverbund” situations, but now this is being extended to long-distance trains as well. Here is the original press release.

There are two important exceptions given:

  1. If there is no machine at the station, you can still by a ticket on the train.
  2. If the machine isn’t working, then you can buy a ticket on the train without being fined. However, they will check your story to make sure the machine really isn’t working.

What’s important is that you go straight to the conductor when you get on the train – don’t wait for them to come through the carriages as this may not be before the next stop. Also, the machines here have serial numbers on them which you should take a note of to backup your story. I’ve even experienced a station with 3 machines where none were working – take down all the numbers in this case!

And if your train is late make sure you get the conductor to note this on your ticket (“CIV16”), otherwise if you miss a connection your ticket may not be valid for your onward journey if you have a saver ticket with “Zugbindung” (non-flexible).

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