Brandenburg Gate out for the season

Don't expect to get your picture taken in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate this year. The famed symbol of the country's unity is undergoing a 16-month, $4.39 million laser cleanup. During the restoration the monument will be draped with a full-scale image of itself.

This is not the first time the gate has gone into hiding. In 1990-91 the gate was scaffolded during an unsuccessful attempt to clean it using traditional chemical methods. During 1961-1989 the Brandenburg Gate remained in view but in "no-man's land" inaccessible from either East or West Berlin.

Three hotels under one roof

Zürich's trendy West End is fast becoming the city's "in" district.

Recently opened there is a 457-room, three-hotel complex under one roof. The hotels are Etaphotel (1-star), Ibis (2-star) and Novotel (3-star). Access to downtown Zürich is by tram (Escher Wyss Platz station; 15 minutes to the lake) and by train (Hardbrücke station; two minutes to the main station).

The hotels offer hourly shuttle service to and from Zürich Airport and the main train station. Room prices are Sfr 79 Sfr. ($ 47) in the Etaphotel, 119 Sfr. ($ 72) for the Ibis, and 199 Sfr. ($ 119) in the Novotel.

Swiss scenic train upgrades

By spring 2001, some of Switzerland's most famous trains will have renovated cars, better connections and extended services. Changes include:

  • Service period of William Tell has been extended into the fall.
  • Panoramic cars have been added to the Bernina Express
  • On the Golden Pass route, cars have been refurbished, connections are more convenient and departures have been increased to five daily.
  • New Swiss Rail Pass perk

Holders of the various Swiss Rail Passes now get a 25% discount off entry tickets to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

  • Now see cheese made in Engelberg

This mountain resort town in the very center of Switzerland, has just opened a demonstration dairy in an historic cloister.

  • New mountaintop restaurant

Mario Botta, the famed Swiss architect, is building a mountaintop restaurant on the summit of Col du Pillon (5,000 feet) near Les Diablerets. It's due to open in spring 2001. See www.glacier3000.ch.

Swissair bolsters coach service

The airline is making changes to its economy class service to "meet life-style and culinary expectations of its international passengers." Improvements include a bottle of fresh water in each seat pocket, amenity kits with eye-shades, and appetizer service to accompany drinks. Meal service will include fresh salad, bread and butter, a hot meal, and separate coffee and desert service. On longer flights, movie snacks are available in the galley.

For families traveling through the Zürich Airport, Swissair provides a supervised playroom, dedicated play areas near the gates, a special check-in counter for families, special rooms with changing table for privacy, and facilities for warming baby food.

Family hotels in Tirol

Austria's Tirol region has 114 holiday areas which offer special children's programs, and 19 hotels are officially designated "family hotels," where trained personnel supervise children's activities free of charge five days a week.

Among the kid-friendly amenities are safety-approved playgrounds set in fields or woods, wading pools, and a full program of activities for children. Indoors, the hotels are also well equipped for young guests. There are playrooms with toys and games, special meals and cutlery, and no-smoking areas in dining rooms. A pediatrician is always on-call and designated "baby hotels" provide baby monitoring systems, as well as a kitchen where parents can warm bottles. Children under three stay in their parents´ room free of charge.

The Tirolean tourism board, Tirol Werbung, offers a catalog of all hotels which meet the family hotel standards. Contact: Tirol Info, Maria-Theresien-Straße 55, A-6010 Innsbruck, tel. +43/0512/7272, fax 7272-7, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit tiscover.com/.

(U.S. Dollar prices quoted in this issue of Gemütlichkeit may be inaccurate for these reasons:

· Prices in local currency have not been updated sine the date of publication of this newsletter, and...

· The dollar prices shown were obtained by using exchange rates in effect at the time of publication.)