No Anti-U.S. in Munich

Regarding your "We Are Not Loved" column in the latest Gemütlichkeit: I just returned from a week stay in Munich where I did not experience any anti-American feelings at all. Thought you might like to know.

I leave for Amsterdam on March 28 for a week. I'll let you know how the Dutch react.

Don Alcorn
Via email

Will Boycott Germany

My usual excitement at seeing Gemütlichkeit in the mailbox was missing today. It has been replaced with emptiness. The joy I once felt as I savored each page, and made mental notes of possible places for the "next trip" is gone. Perhaps some day I will feel differently but in all good conscience my husband and I have decided, with great personal sadness and sacrifice, that we cannot travel to Germany now or as long as the Schroeder government is in power. We are not afraid of anti-Americanism. We agree with your comments that such sentiments are being blown out of proportion. And certainly the hotels want "us" (spelled US$).

But I would take you to task for comments that I feel trivialize the problems between the two countries. It is not anti-American sentiment towards us, personally or as a country, that keeps us away. There have always been anti-American factions in Germany and many other countries. Rather, it is as Mr. Winters wrote in his letter to you that "Though they may not support our actions, the least they could do is stay out of our way as we attempt to stop a dictator." It is the official leadership of the German government that we find offensive. And yes, even best friends do not agree on everything but to write that the "huffing and puffing (is) over one issue" makes it seem that we disagree on something relatively minor. And while best friends can respectfully disagree they still expect support from each other in difficult times, not interference or obstructionism! Such support is the nature of true friendship and should be the nature of true allies!

I understand that as a travel editor you are trying to distance yourself from the political and chose to concentrate on anti-American sentiment as something feared by the "we're-staying-home-this-year-crowd" (that you seem to be criticizing and perhaps mocking) but please understand that many of us are not "staying home." We just aren't going to Germany (or France) but we are going to Italy, Spain and England!

Virginia Kiehn
Via email

No More German Travel

We have visited Germany twice a year for the last 10-12 years and carried your newsletter every time.

However, given Germany's position against the U.S. in the U.N. we will no longer travel to Germany and thus are not renewing our subscription.

If you decide to write in depth about England (U.K.) and the Slavic countries count us in.

Jim Shea
Granville OH

Against Germany Boycott

What are we to make of the comments by Earl W. Winters, who seems to suggest that Gemütlichkeit provide less (no) coverage of Germany, because of the position that country has taken on the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq.

It's that gentleman's right to choose to boycott Germany and its products, but Gemütlichkeit would be remiss in its obligation and responsibility to its readers if it failed to continue full coverage of Germany, because of a reader's political persuasion. To do so, would betray the trust of your subscribers.

Your quote in your Dear Subscriber piece is representative of how most Europeans feel: Europe is not anti-American; it is anti-Bush administration. (Mr. Winter's other concern - dare I say "anger"- seems to be misplaced. His quarrel should not be with Germany, but with the Bush administration.

One wonders if Mr Winters is also going to boycott Mexico, Canada, Russia, France, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Turkey - and the products of those countries. They, too, do not endorse the Bush war.

And, oh yes, I trust that the writer will forgo eating Chinese food, as he boycotts China.

Please, folks. Let's get a grip and have some sanity and reason here!

Bill Polcari
Medford, MA

Says Germans Like Us

I have just read Earl W. Winters letter to Readers' Forum (Will Boycott Germany). Mr. Winters is far, far off-base, and I am compelled to correct the record. I have spent two to three months a year in Germany and Europe for many years, and I feel safer there than in most of the United States, truly.

I returned this week from Karneval in Cologne, where I saw many paraders in Uncle Sam costumes, and several Statues of Liberty. Not very anti-American, is it? At no point was I treated with any less kindness and respect than any other trip by Germans.

September 11, 2001 I received calls from three Germans to express their concern and unity with America. One said "Kennedy said Ich bin ein Berliner, and I say today 'we are all Americans.'" Quite moving, indeed.

Germans are profoundly pro-American. I can't tell you how many times I have heard from older Germans about a Hershey bar, or a ham, or other kindness given by G.I.s to defeated Germans. I have heard these stories from Germans in their 20's too, so clearly they are passed down through generations.

After the Allied Troop Withdrawal from Berlin in 1995, a ceremony honored French, British and American troops. Helmut Kohl, Francois Mitterand, John Major, and Warren Christopher were in attendance. It was a moving tribute to the American soldiers who came as conquerors, but left as friends. Chancellor Kohl said, "In the house of Europe, there is always a chair for America." Afterwards, a Berliner who must have been 80 tugged my sleeve, and said to me "This is not for the French or the British, this is for the Americans!" I still choke up thinking of the look of earnest gratitude in this man's face.

I detect no anti-Americanism in Germany.

Bryan Dantone
Via email

Europe Hotels on Priceline

I just received the Interlaken issue and can't wait to go back to that area. While thinking about that, you might want to mention the Bernese Oberland Regional Rail Pass, which I've used a couple of times for travel anywhere from Gstaad over to Lucerne.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be worthwhile to pass on a suggestion for subscribers looking for another way to get the best bang for their bucks. The thought is Priceline, which I've recently used successfully for several domestic trips. We went down to Florida over President's weekend and got good quality hotel rooms (Hyatt, Courtyard) normally priced at $150 to $175 a night for about $50 a night, all fees included. Similarly, we rented a car from Budget for four days at a cost of $150. A friend who we met for dinner had rented the identical car (same color, too) from Avis and paid over $300.

Priceline's European coverage is increasing. Their strong suit is hotels, where the savings can be as great as those we got in the U.S. In Zürich, for example, they offer a Marriott whose posted daily rates start in the $250-$275 range. Through Priceline, bidders have gotten rooms for $100 or less. Other cities covered by Priceline include Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna, and Geneva. Winning Priceline bids in those cities are running far below the hotels' rack rates.

The hotels range from deluxe establishments to those that are far more humble. They are not, however, generally those mentioned in Gemütlichkeit, but may still be worth considering for the value received.

Priceline also offers airfare opportunities. Those who are flexible (departure dates may be selected, but times may not) may find the airfare option of interest.

Those who are interested in learning more are advised to visit BiddingforTravel.com, a site that has assembled a wide variety of information, from Priceline bidding strategies to a lengthy list of winning bids, including cities and hotels. With reasonable preparation, readers may find this a very worthwhile adjunct to their trip planning.

William Shatner aside, Priceline really does offer some great deals.

Via email
Russell Wayne

April 2003