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Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

Article about: Hi all! My brother and I are planning a trip to France and Germany to take in as much WWII history as we can in two weeks. We're reviewed a couple all inclusive touring companies, but I want

  1. #1

    Default Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    Hi all!

    My brother and I are planning a trip to France and Germany to take in as much WWII history as we can in two weeks. We're reviewed a couple all inclusive touring companies, but I wanted to get the thoughts of the forum as to the best company to go with (from experience) so we "get the most bang for the buck".

    We don't want to just visit the typical tourist sites, but want to get deeper into the areas many tourists do not see. If you've ever watched the History Channel show, "Cities of the Underworld", THAT'S what we want to do; visit some of the places many tourists do not get to visit, or overlook simply because their tour company is so focused on the traditional sites.

    On the other hand, if there is a better way of going about this than a touring company, please express your thoughts and ideas. We're completely open at this point.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    Hi Dzyner, I have never been on an organised tour with a Company. I have always gone with friends and we have made up our own itinery. Myself or friends have always had some local knowledge with one or two of us having visited the sites before. To be honest this is invaluable. My main focus is OP Market-Garden so Arnhem/Oosterbeek I know very well, having been over 15 times over the years.

    For a first time trip, maybe an organised tour might be best? They will show you the main sights and give you a feel for the places. But they will stick to the main places. I think if it were me, I would do your own custom made trip in a car. Good forward planning is the key here. Put together a plan, post it here and get advice.

    I don't know where you live? Are you UK based? Where do you plan on starting from?

    Cheers, Ade.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    Hi Ade!

    I think where I live (United States) will make all the difference in how I approach this trip due to the distance I have to travel. There is a chance (although small) that I may never visit again so I want to be sure and make the most of it.

    Our plan thus far is to begin in France (Normandy) and from there head over to Germany where we'll spend the most of our time.

    We came across a company called, "Stephen Ambrose Tours" (I won't post a link, but Google them and you'll find them easy enough) that looks good, but the thought of being tied to a touring company's itinerary makes me cringe. There will undoubtedly be spots we'll wish we could spend more time exploring.

    On the other hand, they tout how they have access to areas that other tour companies do not, due to their reputation and relationships with the locals (e.g. farm owners, churches, etc). I've been in marketing for over 15 years and know to take most of that with a grain of salt until I find testimonials from "real" people, if you know what I mean.

    They have a tour called, "Band of Brothers" (based on the HBO series by the same name) which follows Easy Company's journey through the war. I've had my eye on this tour but I'm not sure it will mix in enough of the "traditional" stops (e.g. concentration camps) with the stops that are specific to Easy Company.

    Anyway, I'm sort of stuck between designing it myself and going with a touring company. I guess I could have a travel agency put it together and get the best of both worlds. I just don't have any first hand (or second hand) knowledge of any good agencies either and don't trust marketing enough to base my decision on what they say about themselves.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    dzyner, I thought of doing what you are proposing with a tour company. No matter what you do you will have to keep to their schedule. If you find something that you want to llok into further you will still have to leave with the group because they have another stop planned. Before I went I went to the local bookstore and bought tour books for the areas I wanted to visit (most of the books have "off the beaten path" sections). Go to the bookstore and browse, take your time as all have different strengths. Buy the ones you like and read them thouroughly. You will find travel, dining and hotels with ratings and costs along with high points and like I said "off the beaten path" sections. I did this for Berlin a few years ago turned out to be less expensive and had the time of my life. If you own a GPS with Europe in it make sure you don't leave it home if not rent one with the car. Wish they were offered when I went. Either way, have a great time. John

  5. #5

    Default Re: Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    I run Battlefield Tours so have a good knowledge of quite a few battlefields although i'm not trying to sell you one of my tours !!

    Regarding Normandy i can do a week there without going to the same place twice , there is a lot to visit , then there's Arnhem , Ardennes , Hurtgenwald , Rhine Crossing , Berlin ,Seelow heights Halbe , Belsen , Dachau , Berchtesgarten etc etc Germany is a country with many WW2 Sites throughout the entire country as you would expect so if you only have a couple of weeks you need to decide what you want to see and plan your trip thoroughly , if you try to see everything you'll see nothing.

    I'd decide what are my priorities to visit and go from there !
    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

  6. #6

    Default Re: Need advice on planning a WWII trip to Europe...

    Hi everyone! Sorry it taken me so long to reply to this thread.

    I have a question I want to pose to those of you who are VERY familiar with Germany travel, or maybe someone who lives in Germany and can answer based on first-hand knowledge...

    I've narrowed down my search to a particular touring company with a solid reputation in WWII tours. My bothers and I decided we want to spend a couple extra days after the 12-day tour with a local personal guide to show us areas where we might be able to "hunt" for buried artifacts. My brother is very into archeology and a metal detector is always on hand everywhere he goes, and since this trip is for his 40th birthday I'd like to make this happen for him.

    The owner of the company, who also personally runs the tours and has been doing so for more than 25 years, mentioned he has a contact in Germany who is also a WWII vet on the German side (Hitler Youth at age 17 during the war). He said he occasionally contracts with him for personal guide requests, or whenever he needs him for certain tour events, because he really knows his way around.

    My questions are these... What do I/we need to know about local German laws/regulations when it comes to digging for artifacts? If we find anything, can it easily be shipped back to the States (obvious items notwithstanding)?

    I want to trust the tour company to steer us in the right direction, but I know better and feel you guys can probably provide me information to either back up his claim that we won't have any problems with this, or tell me he's full of it. Since I don't personally know the gentleman he intends to hook us up with (or the tour company owner for that matter), I need to be sure and cross my "t"s and dot my "i"s before committing.

    I should also note, the local gentleman is not associated with the touring company, he charges by the day as a private guide.


  7. #7

    Default Re: My test this forum number 5. trfjjesdgktiol.

    Dzyner - You will need permission from the local government department to search any area of Germany. The police are VERY hot on catching 'unlicensed' MDers and will do so at the drop of a hat. I suggest you contact the German embassy before your trip and get the full xp on what permissions you need etc..

    Also, be aware of what sort of stuff you can bring back on a plane AND how much it will will probably need to pay excess baggage.


    Steve T

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