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Bargains in Germany

October 18, 1987|TONI TAYLOR | Taylor, an authority on the travel industry, lives in Los Angeles.

Hotel and transportation bargains available in foreign cities are not necessarily promoted in the United States. By the time travelers are aware of these opportunities, when they arrive in the cities, it's often too late.

West Germany offers several examples. In Munich you can buy at several sites for 12 marks or about $6.75 U.S., a 24-hour ticket that provides unlimited travel on city subways, rail lines, streetcars and buses.

"This ticket is particularly worthwhile for someone who wants to do a great deal of sightseeing; it enables you to really get around the city without buying new tickets all the time, and you do save money," says Verena Schafer of Munich's tourist office.

Weekend Package

Munich also offers a weekend key package that can be booked through the city tourist office. Along with accommodations and breakfast at a variety of hotels at various price levels, you get a pair of coupon booklets. One booklet offers coupons for a city sightseeing tour, an excursion to the countryside and a 48-hour transportation ticket that includes an elevator ride up the Olympic Tower and admission to various museums.

The other coupon booklet offers reduced rates for mountain rides, lake trips, use of a rowboat on Olympic Lake, folkloric events and more.

Another special-interest Munich possibility is a free guided tour, which can be in English, of the BMW plant. Visitors should call two or three days in advance for a reservation. However, if you explain that you are a tourist in Munich for a limited time, officials likely will oblige you.

If you plan to visit nearby Garmisch/Partenkirchen with the Zugspitz/Alpspitz peaks, the highest area in West Germany, look into one-day return rail tickets. These tickets combine round-trip rail travel and a tour.

A Visitor's Card in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which comes with the price of a hotel stay, provides free or reduced rate entrance to various attractions as well as cable cars and mountain railways. These cards also give you unlimited use of the municipal bus service. Insurance covering accident, disability or death during your stay is included.

"You can also go into Munich and be covered by this insurance as long as you're a registered guest in Garmisch," says Martina Stock of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen tourist office.

Daily Concerts

Free daily concerts also are available in Garmisch, with large windows in the concert hall allowing you to view the mountains as you listen to the music.

Dusseldorf has a weekend "Dussel-Pass" program that provides rooms at a range of hotels at rates lower than you would otherwise pay. If you plan to arrive by Germanrail for one of these packages that includes a stay of two nights, you can get a 50% reduction of your train journey if the rail portion is made between Friday and Monday and is longer than 200 kilometers.

If you arrive by train for one of these packages, you also receive a batch of vouchers good for free entry or reduced rates at a variety of attractions, bus and Rhine River boat transportation, and drinks at assorted restaurants and lounges.

These packages have to be booked through the Dusseldorf Tourist Assn.

At Mainz, a good starting point for a Rhine River cruise, special hotel packages may be booked through the Mainz Tourist Information Office.

If you plan to spend some time in West Germany, getting German-Rail's Wunder Card is worth considering.

There are four-, nine- and 16-day versions, each providing unlimited rail travel in West Germany. Until Dec. 31 the pass costs $110 for four days, $170 for nine days and $230 for 16 days. These rates will go up to $112, $172 and $240, respectively, in 1988. Rates for second-class travel will be the same in 1988 as this year: $75 for four days, $115 for nine days and $160 for 16 days.

The junior rate, in second-class for those up to age 26, will stay the same in 1988: $75 for nine days and $95 for 16 days.

Rhine Cruises

Other benefits of the pass, which has to be bought in the United States, include free passage on day sightseeing cruises on the Rhine, Main and Mosel rivers and complimentary use of some motor-coach transportation. The Rhine sailings and bus travel are available during the peak season.

With the Wunder Card, except on the four-day version, you can get a reduced rate on rail travel to Berlin, plus a coupon for a free sightseeing tour of Berlin.

Knowledge of German geography will enable you to make more effective use of the rail card, particularly in combining train and river travel.

American travelers have been known to be confused, for example, by the locations of the Upper and Lower Rhine as well as Upper and Lower Bavaria.

"American travelers sometimes think the Upper Rhine is north and the Lower Rhine is south," says Peter Dworatzek, second purser aboard the Wappen Von Mainz, one of steamers of the KD German Rhine Line plying the river.

"The Upper Rhine is where the river starts in Switzerland and the Lower Rhine is where the river empties into the North Sea," Dworatzek adds.

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