The Romantic Road: Trip Planning

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Castles, wine, and adventures in small town Germany. Oh, and the post-COVID First Class experience on Singapore Airlines.

While I was among the first to experience the Germany-Singapore VTL, I spent a grand total of less than 80 hours in Munich. It was after all, a work trip more than anything else, and I was flying solo.

As much as I’d have liked to bring the Milelioness with me, I figured it might be prudent to recce the on-ground situation first. And having done so, I can say that for anyone who misses pre-COVID life, a trip to Germany (or any of the other VTL countries in Europe or North America for that matter) could be just what the doctor ordered.

After witnessing firsthand how daily life has (almost) returned to normal over there, I couldn’t wait to come back for a proper vacation. My last trip with the Milelioness, come to think of it, was more than two years ago, and we had to make up for lost time. 

What better place to do that than on The Romantic Road? 

🏰 The Romantic Road
🇸🇬 Singapore- Germany VTL 🇩🇪
Before You Go
Trip Report
After Return
VTL: Complete Guide

What is the Romantic Road?

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the picturesque towns on the Romantic Road

A tourist trap. But a very lovely one, I should add.

It all started in the 1950s, when war-torn Germany was looking to rebuild its tourism industry. Planners were eager to rehabilitate the country’s image by showcasing its rich culture and history, Medieval architecture, majestic castles, hilly landscapes and sprawling vineyards.

The resulting Romantic Road, or Romantische Straße as it’s known in Germany, runs 460km from Wurzburg to Fussen, linking 29 picturesque settlements. Along the route are various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the famous Neuschwanstein castle (from which Walt Disney drew inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland), storybook towns like Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, and the lush Franconian wine region. 

Early visitors to the Romantic Road were friends and family of American GIs stationed in West Germany, but today it attracts visitors the world over- so much so there are signs in Japanese.  

Japan and Germany signed a 100-year “sister road” agreement in 1988; Japan has its own version

Call it a sell out if you will, but you know what; if you want to be a hipster, go to Berlin. The Romantic Road is unapologetically manufactured, and that’s just the way I like it. 

I mean, if it’s good enough for Novita Lam…

Flights

✈️ The Romantic Road: Flights
To Frankfurt To Singapore
SQ 26
A350-900
Dep:
SIN 2355
Arr:
FRA 0645 (+1)
SQ 325
B777-300ER
Dep:
FRA 2155
Arr:
SIN 1715 (+1)
Business Saver
92,000 miles
First Advantage
220,000 miles
Per Person:  312,000 KrisFlyer miles + S$245

My original plan was to fly into Frankfurt, spend a couple of days there, rent a car and drive the Romantic Road, spend a couple of days in Munich, then fly home. 

While it’s a solid plan, it would also mean two more flights on the A350-900’s Business Class product, which I already reviewed on the outbound and inbound legs of my recent Germany trip.

I don’t think that adds much value from a content perspective, so instead we’ll follow the route above, then take a train/domestic flight back to Frankfurt on the last day…in order to fly home in First Class.

Singapore Airlines B777-300ER First Class
Singapore Airlines B777-300ER First Class
Singapore Airlines B777-300ER First Class

Yes, Singapore Airlines offers First Class on SQ325, the designated VTL flight from Frankfurt. While I’ve reviewed this product before, it was (1) on a medium-haul flight, and (2) pre-COVID. So I figure there’s something interesting to write about here, at least much more than another A350-900 Business Class review.

It didn’t come cheap. Only Advantage awards were available, which cost 220,000 miles each way. All in, I paid 312,000 miles + S$245 per person. Trust me- I had to do some major mental gymnastics to justify that, ranging from:

  • it’s quality time with the wife!
  • it’s all the miles we would have spent on trips over the past 20 months anyway!
  • the people need a post-COVID First Class review!
◀️ Why not do the reverse?

In an ideal world, we’d fly First Class from Singapore to Frankfurt, and Business Class from Munich to Singapore, avoiding the need to double back. However, the timing of SQ326 to Frankfurt doesn’t work for us, hence the need to do it the other way round. 

For those who want a glimpse of the newly-opened First Class section inside the temporary SilverKris Lounge, do check out this post.

SQ26 from Singapore to Frankfurt will be operated by an A350-900, and I don’t plan to do a full review of this product again. That said, I managed to snag a bulkhead seat in Row 19 (which lets you lie straight instead of diagonally), so at most I’ll do a mini-review of the bulkhead experience.

Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class

Hotels

🏨 The Romantic Road: Hotels
Night Hotel Cost
1-2 Capri by Fraser Frankfurt Free (voucher)
3-7 Various Avg. <S$200 per night 
8 Sofitel  12,000 Accor Points + €18
9 Hotel Munchen Palace S$51
(nett of S$400 travel credit)
10 Hilton Munich City 43,000 Hilton points

On this trip, I’ll need a total of 10 nights of accommodation. Ironically, it’s the hotels outside the major cities that will cost me more, since I have ways and means of saving in Frankfurt and Munich. 

Capri by Fraser Frankfurt

Capri by Fraser Frankfurt

One of the perks of the AMEX Platinum Reserve (which I hold for free, thanks to my AMEX Platinum Charge card) is an annual 2-night voucher at selected Frasers Hospitality Properties worldwide.

I pretty much wasted my voucher last year, but this time round I can redeem it at the Capri by Fraser Frankfurt. This serviced apartment ranks surprisingly high (#13 of 301 hotels on TripAdvisor), and if nothing else, saves me the cost of two nights’ accommodation. 

It’s also walking distance from a Chipotle (yes, they have it in Germany). 

Don’t judge. 

Romantic Road

Along the Romantic Road, we’ll be staying at a range of independent hotels- I basically looked at the top few on TripAdvisor and booked the one that gave me the best vibe.

The one I’m particularly excited about is Hotel Maximilian’s a 5-Star property right smack in the centre of Augsburg, 

Hotel Maximilian’s

While it’s housed in a building more than 300 years old, the interiors are anything but dated. 132 modern rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and daily champagne breakfast. Sold. 

Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

Despite my less-than-stellar experience at the Kempinski Munich last time round, I actually considered visiting again (if only for the breakfast)…until they somehow succeeded in annoying me further.

After my previous stay where a staff member happily waltzed into my room while I was bathing, left something on the table and waltzed out, I used the post-stay survey to send some strong feedback. The hotel’s director of rooms apologised via email, and asked for another chance to make it right. 

So I replied and said I’d be back in Munich in late October, and he said he’d be happy to arrange a special rate for me. I gave him the dates…and he came back with a price that was higher than the official website. I called him out on it, he apologised and said it was an innocent mistake, but it was just ridiculous. I’m not giving Kempinski Munich another Euro. 

That’s how I ended up at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost instead. I have a good-sized stash of Accor points thanks to last year’s SCB X Card transfer bonus; half were spent at the Raffles Hotel, and I’m itching to use the rest. A breakfast-inclusive rate cost €258, and I used 12,000 Accor points to offset €240 from the bill. 

The Sofitel is located next to Munich’s central railway station, and seems to have solid enough reviews. 

Hotel Munchen Palace

Hotel Munchen Palace

I was actually considering the Hotel Munchen Palace for my previous VTL trip, but figured that since time was at a premium, I should pick a hotel closer to the Marienplatz old town area. The Hotel Munchen Palace isn’t ulu by any means, but it’s certainly further away. 

What it lacks in location, it makes up everywhere else. This is the #2 ranked hotel in Munich, set in a lush garden with just 89 rooms. Service is supposedly impeccable, with upscale amenities and a fully outfitted spa. Oh, and they serve a champagne breakfast too (sensing a trend here?).

I booked this hotel through the AMEX Travel portal, using my Platinum Charge’s S$400 hotel credit to offset the S$451 breakfast-included rate. 

Lounges

I’ll be visiting the temporary SilverKris Lounge at Changi once again, so you can refer to my previous report for the full details. 

I will be taking this opportunity to review a few additional lounges too.

SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3

SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3

If you’re a no-status passenger flying Economy out of Terminal 3, the SATS Premier Lounge is the only Priority Pass/DragonPass/Lounge Key option at the moment. I figure that’s reason enough to give it a proper review. 

Update: The Ambassador Transit Lounge reopened on 15 October 2021 and operates from 1500 to 2300 hrs daily, which presents another option.

I actually popped my head in on my previous trip to Germany, and spoiler alert: it’s much better than I expected, with new furniture and plenty of seating. The food and drink won’t be exceptional, but it’s not like there’s a lot going on elsewhere in the terminal…

SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3 seating areas
SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3 seating areas

LuxxLounge Frankfurt

LuxxLounge Frankfurt

Our flight from Singapore lands in Frankfurt at the unearthly hour of 6.45 a.m, and since it’s too early to do anything, I figured we might as well freshen up a bit.

Priority Pass members can access an arrivals lounge in Frankfurt Terminal 1 called the LuxxLounge. The photos aren’t inspiring, but I’m not expecting much here. So long as the showers are clean and the coffee hot, I think I’ll be more than satisfied. 

Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt

Lufthansa Senator Lounge, Frankfurt | Photo Credit: Dream Travel on Points

Even though I’m flying First Class out of Frankfurt, there’s no fancy lounge for me. Lufthansa’s First Class terminal and lounges are reserved for their own passengers; everyone else is sent to very ordinary Senator Lounge. 

While I’ve reviewed the Senator Lounge in Frankfurt before, it might be good to do an updated review (1) with a better camera (when I see my photos from previous years I die a bit inside), and (2) post-COVID. 

Travel Insurance

I’ve written a separate post on travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage, but as a refresher, the key things you’ll want to be covered for are:

  • COVID-19 medical expenses
  • COVID-19 emergency evacuation
  • COVID-19 quarantine (a positive test in Germany generally means self-isolation for 5-14 days in a hotel)

I was looking at a plan that cost no more than $150 for 13 days (annoyingly, I depart Singapore at 2355 hours, which means I need to purchase an extra day of insurance), and found the following:

Provider Cost
(13 days)
Medical Exp
(COVID-19)
Quarantine Allow.
(Per Day | Cap)
AIG Travel Guard (Standard) S$142 S$100K S$50 | S$700
AIG x SIA S$149 S$350K S$200 | S$2,800
Allianz (Platinum) S$137* Unlimited None^
Aviva (Prestige) S$100# S$20K S$100 | S$2,000
AXA Smart Traveller (Comp.) S$154 S$150K S$50 | S$700
NTUC Income (Deluxe) S$139 S$150K None
Sompo COVID-19 (Essential) S$132 S$100K S$50 | S$700
*35% off with code noworries
^Can claim under Trip Interruption; S$500 per day for 5 days max.
#18% discount with code TRAVEL18 plus 30% discount for MINDEF Group Term Life policyholders

Aviva seems to be the right choice again, given it’s much more likely (though hopefully low in absolute terms!) that I’ll need quarantine allowance rather than medical treatment. 

However, the AIG policy sold in conjunction with Singapore Airlines might also be worth a look, since it offers an allowance of S$200 per day in the event of quarantine. 

To be clear: you only need to buy travel insurance for the intended duration of your trip. If a covered incident occurs that causes an extension to your trip, you will still receive coverage. You can find this in your policy wording under “automatic extensions” or some similar title.

Example: AXA Smart Traveller
Automatic Extensions
Your insurance cover will automatically be extended without additional premium for:
(a) up to 30 days if You are Hospitalised (or placed under compulsory quarantine) while Overseas upon the written advice of a Doctor or the local government authority in the case of a Quarantine Order; or
(b) up to 72 hours if You are unable to complete Your trip as planned due to Public Transport delays that are not Your fault.

Car Rental

A driving holiday in Germany is a rare chance for us Singaporeans to hit triple digit speeds, and means you’ll really want to get your hands on a nice ride (with all due respect to Toyota, it’s not something you associate with the autobahn). 

If you need evidence that things are getting back to normal in Europe, just look at car rental prices. Most agencies wanted >US$100 a day for a compact automatic (yes, I can only drive automatic).

Fortunately, I was able to snag a much more reasonable rate of ~S$490 for a 6 day rental with Europcar. I’ve booked what’s called a “compact elite”, supposedly an Audi A1 or similar. I know enough about rental cars to be suspicious of “or similar”, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

If it counts for anything, I emailed Europcar and managed to get my Sixt Platinum status matched to Privilege Elite, the second highest tier in the programme. This comes with a double category upgrade, plus a free additional driver. 

Conclusion

That’s the game plan for The Romantic Road, which should hopefully provide a more relaxing trip than my previous 80-hour Germany sprint!

If there’s aspects of VTL travel to Germany I didn’t answer in my previous report, feel free to ask them below. 

Done the Romantic Road before? Any must-sees?

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Mirror

Hi guys got a topic will like people opinion on . We know there are cases of people testing PCR positive despite having recovered from Covid , some as long as a month or 2 . Are there any mitigants/ solutions to this if we get into this situation in Europe and can’t come home ?

SKS

Don’t travel at all?

Mike

No workarounds if airlines insist on negative PCR test only. You could try getting a specialist test centre to certify you’re cleared but explaining this could be an issue. So best but enough insurance for a longer holiday.

Dave

I’ve asked ICA the same question through the safetravel enquiry form and have yet to receive a response.
https://form.gov.sg/#!/60e693e777fd6b00111885d5

Mirror

Thanks Dave! Pls update here if you got a response (although I doubt it). I just wonder if there are various kinds of PCR tests overseas? I read there are nasal, throat , saliva etc, wondering which one is …. the least sensitive?

toomuchfriedchicken

Germany does have gargle test and throat only. But best to check which tests are accepted by the airline and by ICA, as certain types may not be accepted.

Just FYI, Singapore PCR tests are more sensitive than overseas tests, so even if you manage to test negative pre-departure, you may test positive on-arrival.

Wanderer

You mention wine, will you be looking to visit any of the wine houses? Im told the harvest which just came in was a good one. I wouldn’t mind reading about that as part of your trip report too!

Lim

Great to see the Milelion heading back into the wild. Looking forward to the reports.

bryan

Is there any particular reason why you did not include the AIG-SQ travel policy in your comparison? just curious on your POV. thanks

bryan

i see. ok, i initially also had that problem. but then, somehow i scrolled to the bottom of the page. and then when i scrolled back up, somehow the tabs for adding insurance, agoda bookings, and other SQ collabs then appeared.

Bent

I Think it comes after the add seat selection? I may be wrong but during the booking flow it shows up after seat selection. Not sure about post booking

Mirror

Is it just me or is the SQ version cheaper than if I were to buy from AIG directly?

Bent

SQ one has better coverage / benefits for similar if not lower price. It’s a special tie up for SIA customers.

Min

Why not fly in via Munich and depart Frankfurt to save the time to travel from Munich back to Frankfurt for a flight out. Entirely possible to cover the Romantic Road as well.

Christopher

Saw what you did there with the plat reserve voucher haha and YES the people need a post COVID FCL review!!

Daniel

I have been to Rothenburg and Neuschwanstein castle before! Both places are beautiful but extremely touristy, I remembered Neuschwanstein has a strict rule against photo taking inside the castle (they kick people off their castle tours for even trying!)

Deutschland Returnee

And the castle tour tix sell out days/weeks in advance.

toomuchfriedchicken

Unfortunately Marienbrücke is currently closed until further notice. So there goes the views and photo ops of the castle from the bridge.
https://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/

Deutschland Returnee

Doubt you have the time for it but it is a shame you’ll be missing out on the Ga-Pa and Berchtesgaden regions! Just came back from there and they were the highlights of the trip!

Romantic strasse is fine but perhaps nothing overly exciting, Rothenburg odT, Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen are decent.

Make sure to check out Blautopf as well!

Pete

Hi, Are you using the Amaze + WMCC for the car rental to maximize points or any other alternative thnx

Sqt

On time for Christmas markt?

sl00001

Only in Asia Christmas starts early

Wen Hui

Sixt is in real trouble, hence no surprise in their rates (though these seem a lot more expensive than in September). Had a longer chat with an agent in September. They cancelled all new car deliveries during Covid last year while this year, car manufacturers are having a hard time delivering cars due to the global chip shortage.

Had booked a BMW 3 series (S$90/day) and they didn’t have any available which is something unthinkable at Sixt Frankfurt pre-pandemic. They ended up upgrading me to a 5 series (Touring unfortunately) as I didn’t want to settle with an A4 Touring.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wen Hui
Hello

For one-way booking from FRA to MUC will they assign something that is not as good?

D Wong

Hi Aaron, just wondering if you could share the 6 day deal package u got as cant seem to find a similar pricing (below 500sgd) for 6 Days on Europcar during the Nov period. Thanks

winston

Hi Aaron, could I check if you purchased car rental insurance from the rental company, which offers up to 0 EUR excess w a top-up?

Or did you get just the basic Loss/Damage waiver (~17EUR/day) with ~800EUR excess, coupled with your travel insurance (Aviva/AXA, or AIG?) to cover the balance excess amount? Thanks!

winston

Thanks Aaron! TBH was a bit thrown off by Aviva’s wording in the travel insurance policy doc: “As part of the [car] hiring arrangement, You must take up all comprehensive motor insurance against loss or damage to the Rented Vehicle during the rental period”. Sixt has confirmed that the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW; ~17EUR/day, capping excess at 950EUR) does not cover tyre and windscreen protection. So am a bit puzzled by what Aviva means by “all” comprehensive motor insurance, as surely they can’t expect us to buy the riders until excess is 0EUR… >< If you might know of any… Read more »

el

Hi! I had the exact same concern as you when deciding on insurance for my upcoming trip. I called Aviva to check on this and according to them “all comprehensive motor insurance” refers to insurance that covers own vehicle damage, third party vehicle, fire and theft (which should be what every major car rental company will cover with their basic package). There is no need for the coverage to be zero excess or the highest offered by the rental company. Hope this helps!

Dyna

Hi Aaron,
For your arrival test at Changi, which card will you use to pay ? In your last trip report to Munich, you said you didn’t know the MCC, so you used AMEX. Have you found out the MCC now please ?

thank you

Yiwei

You can do manual payment on arrival, just insist that you would like to pay on the spot.
I got 4mpd with UOB ppv when I returned in Sep.

Dyna

But on the Safe Travel Changi, it will have a payment page before you proceed. How do you bypass that payment page and get to pay on the spot please ?

Yiwei

I could not bypass the page so I just didn’t book the test in advance. When you reach the tent for testing, they will still ask you to book online through QR code. You must tell them you want manual payment and pay on the spot. It did take slightly longer but I arrived close to midnight, so there were less people, with expansion of VTL, people traffic would have increased. Online payment with DBS woman’s card should be fine as I got the points last Dec, not sure if the MCC have changed, I forgot to check MCC when… Read more »

W L

Hi Aaron Just one word on the Sofitel: While Munich overall is a very safe and elegant city, the area immediately around the central station is really the one blemish on an otherwise immaculate waist-coast. If you have other options, you may consider them, especially seeing as you will be taking the Milelioness. It is not really seedy by any means, just a bit of a let-down in comparison to the rest, and if you have the choice to stay in a nicer neighbourhood, why not take it instead? Enjoy your trip, I am glad you had so much fun… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by W L
Dyna

Hi, Just to check, if east side of the central station a better neighbourhood ? I am looking at Residence Inn Munich city east. Need a pantry to prepare simple food. My first time in Munich. Thanks so much

Dyna

Hi Aaron, For travel insurance by Aviva (Prestige), did you buy 2x single or 1x Family please ?
For single quotation given was SGD123, while family of 2 adults, quotation was SGD308. (No Mindef). Thus it seems to be cheaper to buy 2x single (2x $123 = $246)

thanks

S H

Hi Aaron – am also booked on bulkhead seat 19K on A359 to Milan in a few days time. Apart from the risk that there are crying babies in the same row…. would u still recommend this seat for a better sleep?

el

Hi Aaron! I’ve been following your blog for a while and appreciate all the writeups about VTL travel which have been very helpful in planning my own trip. Just wanted to point out something that you mentioned: “To be clear: you only need to buy travel insurance for the intended duration of your trip. If a covered incident occurs that causes an extension to your trip, you will still receive coverage. You can find this in your policy wording under “automatic extensions” or some similar title.” This actually does not apply for Aviva. The automatic extension under part (f) of their “Free Extensions”… Read more »

el

Ah thanks so much for this. In any case I decided to go with another insurer because of this, so I guess it’s at their loss.

Andrew

Hi Aaron, regarding the Europcar Privilege Elite additional driver benefit, do you indicate and book an additional driver first when making the booking? Or do you only ask for the benefit when you are at the counter?

Sudipto

Hi Aaron, really enjoy your blogs and especially your coverage on the VTL situation. I’m heading to Germany next week as well, is a Singapore driving license enough to rent a car there?
Thanks!

Nick

Yes. If you’re still worried that you can get an International Driving Permit (IDP) at any AAS office prior to your trip. It’s priced at $20 and valid for a year.

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