Shuffle and go
These last few weeks have seen some noteable changes in transport and tourism infrastructure for Britain-based visitors seeking to travel to Germany’s less well-trodden destinations.
Firstly, on the flight front, there have been some rationalisations and withdrawls. OLT Express, which was intending to serve Dresden and Saarbrucken from Southend, has gone bust. Air Berlin is about to withdraw its Gatwick to Nuremberg flight, but still has three flights a day to its hub at Düsseldorf, where it taps into a wide domestic network across Germany. Meanwhile Cityjet (operating from London City) is has stepped into the gap with its new Nuremberg service to add to its other new German route to Münster-Osnabrück, and will be adding Dresden from March. Also in March Ryanair is starting up to Nuremberg from London Stansted.
Meanwhile on the tour operator front, the end of 2012 marked the sad withdrawal of the only true Germany specialist, Dertours, from the UK market. It seems that, in this age of internet booking, there are simply not enough people willing to put themselves in the hands of a dedicated specialist operator when it comes to a short-haul destination. It is quicker – and possibly cheaper – to do it oneself.
Klaus Lohmann, the affable director of the German National Tourist Office in London, doesn’t see this change as necessarily bad. “People can book holidays in so many ways these days. Airlines, for example, are now offering hotels too, and even hire cars. And we have plenty of offers from all the regions and the transport operators on our website.” (www.germany.travel) Of course, knowing what’s good, and what’s not, now becomes the job of the savvy individual traveller, which is where useful research tools such as our own GermanyisWunderbar website come in.
And there is plenty of good stuff out there, if you dig around. German hotels are still particularly good value. Flights to German cities are very competitively priced, particularly if you go at weekends when the business traveller market slackens off, and most airports have rail connections. The ICE may not yet be coming to us through the Channel Tunnel (postponed until 2016) but German railways have some excellent deals, especially their little-known regional tickets, which can make family travel out to further flung destinations remarkably cheap. So don’t draw in your horns just because there’s nobody out there offering you Germany’s quirkier backwaters on a plate.
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