Information about Friedrichshafen, Europe's largest amateur radio convention
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.
The most common way to get there now is via Zurich. Many airlines fly to Zurisch, and you will need to look for the options that suit you best.
An alternative is to fly to one of the German airports and get the train.
Driving is always an option, and probably best if you are planning on large purchases!
Flying to Zurich is quite easy, and from there it is a simple train/boat journey via Romanshorn.
When you arrive at Zurich airport and have your luggage, follow the signs for the train station, which is a few levels down from arrivals. There are plenty of signs to give you a clue!
You need to look for the ticket office, and once there, ask for a return to Friedrichshafen via Romanshorn. This is important, as there are alternatives that will take you round the lake one way or another on the train, and they take much longer.
The trains depart one level below the ticket office, so just make sure you go to the correct platform.
The train journey is about one hour long through various villages and towns, and a lot of stunning countryside.
Romanshorn is the last stop on the journey. Getting off the train, you will need to look for the underpass, as the boat is on the other side of the railway line. The boat usually leaves about 15 minutes after the train has arrived, giving you plenty of time to make the short walk along the quay to the small waiting area and watch as the boat docks. It is often there already, or about to dock.
There will be lots of people, some with pushbikes, and cars, all waiting to board.
The central area on the boat is for vehicles, but you will walk up some steps situated on either side of the boat. There is a small area to leave suitcases, and they will be safe.
Go up the stairs and either sit outside in the warm sunshine, or go into the cafe. Either way, take this opportunity to enjoy a beer!
The boat journey is around 45 minutes, and arrives right in the heart of the town.
For the return leg, the ferry leaves Friedrichshafen hourly (41 minutes past the hour in 2016), and the train will be waiting at the platform in Romanshorn.
The train leaves about 15 minutes 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 is a very pleasant experience.
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. Check out the DRCG website for more details.
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.
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.
Any comments or suggestion, please send to
phil (at) gu0sup (dot) com