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Friedrichshafen for first time travellers!

Are you thinking of going to the Friedrichshafen HamRadio exhibition for the first time?
If so, then maybe these tips will help you.

Getting there.
From the UK, the easiest way is probably to fly with Ryanair from Stansted.
Ryanair offer a daily service, and the flight time is only about 1h 20m.
There is a 2-hour check-in, so make sure you get there early enough.
I would recommend booking by the end of February, or you may be disappointed.

NEW: Another alternative is to fly to Zurich, get a train down to Romanshorn and then the ferry across to Friedrichshafen.
I tried this for the first time in 2010. Guernsey has a direct link to Zurich, so I decided to try it out.
Once at Zurich, go down one level, and you will find the train station. There are plenty of clear signs to give you a clue!
Once there, purchase a return ticket to Friedrichshafen, which includes train and ferry.
The trains leave hourly, so you may have a wait, and it takes about 55 minutes to get to Romanshorn.
At Romanshorn (on the Swiss side of the lake), get off the train and look for the underpass which takes you to the other side of the tracks.
Now all you have to do is to walk along the quay and get on board the car ferry. The boat trip is about 45 minutes long.

For the return leg, the ferry leaves Friedrichshafen hourly (41 minutes past the hour in 2010), and the train will be waiting at the platform in Romanshorn.
The train leaves about 15 miutes after the ferry arrives, so there is enough time to walk to the platform.
Allow a little over 2 hours from the boat leaving Germany to arriving at Zurich airport.
Most shops at Zurich airport take Euros, although change is given in Swiss Francs. You can buy English magazines, and plenty of good Swiss chocolate!
All in all, going via Zurich was a very pleasant experience.

Flying with Ryanair is by no means similar to travelling with other budget airlines, and I have found them to be very good.
On board, you get the chance to buy sandwiches, snacks and drinks, or you can take your own.

When landing at Friedrichshafen, you will need your passport open, plus the boarding card stub.
Clearing Customs is merely a formality, although the queue can be slow.
Look behind you for the Zeppelins, as they take off and land across the runway. You can also just about see the exhibition halls from here too.
After that, you are in the baggage reclaim area. After collecting your baggage, you will need to get from the airport to your hotel.

Outside the airport, you can cross the road to the railway station, which will take you to the centre of the town, or to the harbour area.
Tickets are purchased from a machine on the platform, and cost approximately 1.70 Euros.
The first time I went, I found I only had Euro notes, so either buy something on the plane, or buy a drink at the airport before walking across to the station.
The ticket machine does take notes, but if there are loads of people in front of you, then there may be no change left!
Depending on where you are staying, you can either get off the train at the Stadtbahnhof (main station) or at the "Hafenbahnhof" (harbour).
For the harbour, make sure you are in the rear carriage, as after the main station, the train appears to go back the way it came, but don't worry!

There are also buses and taxis available. Both are reasonably priced.

Hotels close to the centre are:
SeeHotel
Buchhorner Hof

Hotels close to the harbour are:
Goldenes Rad
City Krone
Schwanen

Check out more at the Friedrichshafen website  which also has a neat town map.
It is also wise to book your hotel early, preferably by mid February.

Assuming you are now safely in your hotel, you will be wondering what to do.
Take a walk along the lakeside, as this is very picturesque.
If you are thirsty, then there are numerous cafes along the edge of the lake, as well as many restaurants.
Most will offer menus in English if needed.
Try the light beers or Pils, as these are easier to drink.
If you want to sample the many different beers, then ask for advice, as some a very strong.
Unlike the UK, most bars will bring your drinks to you, and they will add it to the tab.
They do not generally expect you to pay for it right then.
Some bars will expect you to go inside at midnight, to comply with their licensing laws.
For an evening meal, you can either eat in your hotel, or why not try one of the lakeside restaurants.

Prices are quite reasonable, and there are many different types offering choices from pizzas, pasta, to steak.
Consider sampling the local cuisine, which often consists of meat plus noodles cooked in a variety of ways. There is also a lot of smoked meat and cheese.
If you order a steak and potatoes, plus a salad, expect the salad to come first, and your main meal will not come until you have finished that.
Expect to pay anywhere from 5 to 20 Euros for a meal, depending on what you order.

You can also visit the Zeppelin museum, and why not try climbing up the Moleturm.
This is a tall structure at the edge of the lake, close to the main harbour, and offers very good views of the town and lake from the top.
You can usually see Switzerland across the lake, with the snow capped mountains, unless it is misty.

The weather is often hot, and it can also be very humid. Shorts and loose shirts are a wise addition to your luggage.
A good pair of comfortable shoes is also a must, as you will walk a long way at the exhibition.

On the Friday morning, you will want to get to the Messe, which is the halls that contain the exhibition.
There is a free bus service that runs every 20 minutes from both rail stations, and this is how most people get to and from the exhibition.
You can buy entry by the day, or a ticket that covers three days.
Although the exhibition opens at 10am, many people seem to get on the 9am bus, so as to get there in plenty of time.

Expect to be amazed at just how vast this exhibition is!
You could go for one day, but the best option is to go on the Friday and the Saturday, and maybe a last visit on the
Sunday morning, depending on your travel arrangements. If you go for just one day, you will find the whole experience too much, and you will miss many things.
Going for longer allows you time to compare prices.
The flea-market is also inside, and will take you most of the day to walk around. This is usually in two or more of the smaller halls.

Whilst inside, you will want to eat and drink.
Facilities are excellent, and the prices are good too. There are several restaurants, plus numerous food stalls,
all of which are very good, and very reasonably priced.

If you want a HamRadio T-shirt, then make this your first visit of the day, and you will be able to pick it up after an hour or so.

You can take your DXCC application and get it checked at the ARRL stand. It can be handy to take some US Dollars for this.
If you have outgoing QSL cards for European countries, then many will take them at their radio association stands.
I wouldn't suggest you take cards to the ARRL or RSGB, though, as they will have more than enough to take back with them anyway,
and won't take kindly to being asked to take large quantities of W or G cards.

In the evenings, there are usually a variety of gatherings, some including food.
Friday evening is the RTTY dinner. This is a very good evening, with many top contesters and DX'ers attending.
On Saturday evening, there is the Bavarian Contest Club Buffet, which also attracts a lot of contesters and DX'ers.

It really is an excellent weekend, and the cost could be quite low too, if you take advantage of the cheap fares,
and find a reasonably priced hotel.

PLEASE NOTE:
These are just my own personal thoughts, and are in no way a definitive guide
and are just here to give you an idea on what to expect.

For pictures and more, check out Waldemar's website: DK3VN  
and click on the link at the lower left hand side of the page.

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This page last updated September 2007
Page designed by Phil Cooper - GUØSUP