News and information for the Europe Traveler

Destinations in this edition:

Plus, more travel news and advice:

  • More car rental perils
  • Guaranteed car rental upgrades through March 31
  • The dollar gets stronger and Germany raises the VAT
  • Winter airfare deals
  • Mobile phone strategies
  • Gifts for Europe travelers

The Goms

After about 24 hours in the Goms, big-city culture hounds will probably be bored stiff. But the connoisseur of peace and quiet, awesome vistas, hearty country food, and outdoor activities, will relish every minute of his or her stay in this unspoiled corner of Switzerland. The Goms is reputed to have Switzerland's best cross-country skiing, and had the 2006 Winter Olympic Games been awarded to Sion, the cross-country events would have been held here. Read the full story.

Vienna's Hotel Altstadt

Remember the old, slow days of booking European hotels by mail? It was always nice to see the foreign postage stamps and get a real letter from Europe, but let's face it-otherwise it was a drag. The Internet has made all that a pleasant memory. Problem is, where on the Internet does one book? Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, and hotel websites all have their merits, but the best presentation of European hotels in a booking service can be accessed via Gemut.com. Venere lists a number of hotels that Gemütlichkeit has recommended through the years, including Vienna's Hotel Altstadt. This establishment was our 1994 "Hotel of the Year," and a dozen years later, it remains better than ever under its original owner, the debonair Otto Wisenthal. Read more about the Hotel Altstadt or book a hotel room now.

Car Rental Companies Find New Routes to Your Money

Since we told you last time about Dynamic Currency Conversion, a shady way for otherwise legitimate businesses to snag a few extra dollars from gullible tourists, we've heard from a number of readers, who have experienced DCC up close and personal. We were most surprised to learn that Avis does it routinely without permission of the customer.

Guaranteed Car Rental Upgrades Through March 31

There is some good news on the car rental front. In addition to a recent small drop in car rental rates in Germany, guaranteed category upgrades-economy to compact, compact to intermediate, intermediate to full-size-have been extended through March 31, 2006 at Avis and National. You can now rent a four-door car with air for one week in Germany for $217, including the 16 percent VAT. An intermediate goes for $252, and a full-size (often the Mercedes Benz C180) for $275.

Book your next car rental with Gemütlichkeit's travel department and save yourself precious time and money. We offer cars in more than 35 countries and book all major companies at the lowest rates. If you need a quote or have questions about rentals in Europe, or simply prefer to deal in-person, as do most of our customers, please phone us at 800-521-6722.

The Dollar Gets Stronger and Germany Raises the VAT

If you've been paying attention to currency exchange rates, you may have noticed a recent strengthening in the dollar against the euro. Today, according to XE.com, 1 euro equals $1.17 dollars. Just about a year ago, it was $1.35. That's more than a 13 percent drop in the euro versus the dollar.

Winter Airfare Deal

With taxes on transatlantic air tickets ranging from about $175 to as high as $260, the days of the $299 roundtrip to Europe are over. Still, there are a few bargains. We just booked a Los Angeles to Frankfurt roundtrip for $553-nonstop both ways on Air India (customers love the service). That fare is even lower from Chicago and New York. Though fares are at the bargain-basement levels of recent years, the deals available now will be longed for with misty eyes when summer prices come into sharper focus.

Book your airline tickets with Gemütlichkeit, and we'll help you choose the airports and connections that best meet your individual travel goals and requirements.

Mobile Phone Strategies

Among the questions most frequently asked by Gemütlichkeit travelers are those concerning mobile phone use while in Europe:

  • Should I rent a cell phone?
  • Do I purchase a phone in Europe?
  • Will my U.S. phone work in Europe?

Though these are simple questions, the answers are somewhat complex. Here's what works best for me.

Gifts for Europe Travelers

Starting your holiday shopping early this year? Give the convenience of a best-selling carry-on bag or a light, waterproof, and breathable rain parka. View more gift ideas at the Travel Essentials Website.