Comments on Austria

Air access to the smaller Austrian cities is now greatly improved, and it is no longer essential to fly into Munich (unless of course you want to rent a car, which costs appreciably less in Germany than in Austria).

A year ago, Austrian Airlines purchased a significant interest in Tyrolean Airlines which means that good, and relatively inexpensive, connecting services are now available to Salzburg and Innsbruck due to code-sharing with the major transatlantic carriers, such as Austrian itself, Swissair, Lufthansa, and KLM. Further, the trusty Dash Turboprops are being replaced by quite luxurious Dehaviland and Fokker small jets.

The service is also a wonder. How can two, sometimes just one, attendant serve a full meal and drinks, on a half-hour flight? In America, I cannot even get a drink!

At a conference on a business trip last April we rented bikes from the train station. What a deal! Quite excellent equipment for only 50 AS ($5) per 24-hour period ending at midnight, if you convince them you have a rail ticket, 100 AS ($10) without.

I had forgotten that Salzburg, my maternal family's home, is interlaced with marked reserved bike lanes on all streets, and "equal opportunity" in the pedestrian areas. The best, of course, are the car-free paths and lanes along the river and past "Sound of Music" mansions to Schloss Hellbrunn. (Unexpectedly, my biking companion and I got there sooner than some others who went by car!) Several other conference participants caught the bike bug, and were equally enthused by their explorations.

Despite the 20C+ degree weather in town, we did manage to get three good days of skiing on Austria's glaciers: Kitzsteinhorn, Hintertux, and Stubai. Up-top temperatures hovered at freezing, but the sun made it feel hot! Except for long haul traffic on Sundays from Vienna to Prague, nearby Europeans have lost their ski fervor by April, leaving wide-open slopes with excellent conditions, even an overnight skiff of fresh powder. A ski month to be recommended.

I must say a positive word about our hotel in Salzburg, the Mercure. You wouldn't like it, and my preconceptions were equally unfavorable. It's a modern structure in a mediocre neighborhood some 20 minutes walk from the Stadtbrück.

The director, Edith Grangger, has the management and staff tuned to a fine pitch. Friendliness and service pervade. Can you imagine a receptionist quickly clearing away empty glasses from the lobby instead of waiting for a tardy bartender? Nice little touches, such as big bowls of fresh fruit on every floor. Sumptuous breakfast and lunch buffets.

Best of all, on the evening of arrival, there was a wine tasting, heavily populated by the local cognoscenti. About ten Austrian vintners each provided samples of several different varieties. All this, monthly event, again with the buffet, for 190 AS 190 ($19).

Coming from a wine-making family, I am embarrassed to admit that I did not realize the enormous variation in the Austrian staple Grüner Vetliner, to say nothing of the new Zweigelts. I also learned that Mercure annually selects and features a few local wines of excellent quality and value.

The faculty of our conference had arrived a day earlier. We had sent them off for a day in the Wachau (Stift Melk, Melk-Krems on the Donau, a wine seminar at Kloster Und). In the end, my friend and I had a better wine experience right at the hotel in Salzburg.

An occupational hazard is too little time for enjoying travel and/or skiing. My last trip proves that you can derive real pleasure from stolen minutes. With more free time, they likely couldn't get me back to work at all.

Richard Davidson
Houston TX

Wine Road Hotel

I would like to report on a very pleasant experience in the German Rheinpfalz Weinstrasse at the end of this past June.

I stayed in Kallstadt at the Hotel-Restaurant Weincastell zum Weissen Ross. Kallstadt is a small village near Bad Dürkheim, in the rolling hills of Rheinpfalz wine region, but in sight of the Pfalzer Wald. While there is nothing of particular historic note, the town is not without charm, especially to wine-lovers, since it is home to at least eight wineries! It makes an excellent starting point for touring the area.

Jutta and Norbert Kohnke are the proprietors of the Weissen Ross. Jutta speaks excellent English and runs this small hotel; her husband is the master chef of the restaurant. The other members of the hotel and restaurant staff were very friendly and helpful. The rooms are spacious and comfortably appointed; there are three floors above ground but no elevator. Parking is available directly across the street. The breakfast room offers homemade jams to go with the local breads, cheeses, and wursts. The restaurant is rated 14/20 with one black toque by Gault-Millau; my meal there was very good although the sauces were a bit on the heavy side.

My room cost 150 DM ($102) per night. Neither the hotel nor the town were crowded despite the season. I look forward to going back. Contact: Jutta and Norbert Kohnke, Weincastell zum Weissen Ross, Weinstrasse 80, D-67169 Kallstadt, tel. 06322/5033, fax 06322/8640. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner and is closed Monday and Tuesday.

Roger F. Jones
Broomall PA

Swissair Savings

Where are the reduced fares on Swissair that you offered when we ordered your newsletter? We used Swissair when we flew in February of this year, but the only discount (better than nothing) we got was senior citizen 10%. I am always looking out for the best deal.

And can you help with low priced rooms in Munich, for a single senior, who depends on a social security check every month? I'd be ever so grateful.

Mrs. Annaliese Yiengst
Merrimack, NH

(Ed. Note: Gemütlichkeit subscribers who wish to obtain the special Swissair price reductions must book their travel directly with Swissair 800-221-4750 then call Swissair's Los Angeles office 800-238-0399 or 310-335-5900 and ask for Shirley who will confirm your Gemütlichkeit subscription and issue the tickets at the reduced price. All persons traveling together at least one leg of the transatlantic journey with the subscriber are eligible for the lower fare. Savings are based on the cost of the ticket and range from $50 to $600 per ticket.

As to the inquiry about rooms in Munich, the term "low priced" is relative. In this issue you will find several Munich hotels at various price points. However, for a complete listing of Munich hotels and pensions please contact the German National Tourist Office, 122 E. 42nd St., 52nd Floor, New York NY 10168, tel. 212-661-7200.)

Searching the Past?

Do you have information on going to see where Hermann Goering's "Karinhall" mansion used to be, about 50 miles north of Berlin?

Is Goering's daughter, Edda, still a nurse in Munich? She would be 58-years-old.

R. C. Baker
Cincinnati OH

(Ed. Note: We don't have the information you seek but perhaps one of our readers does.)

Partenkirchner Hof Dissenter

As a recent subscriber to Gemütlichkeit I have to say how much I enjoy your publication. I have spent a good deal of time in Bavaria and love it. Most recently I took a four-day coaching trip with Coaching in Bavaria from Starnberger See to Neuschwanstein and back, what a wonderful experience!

I especially enjoyed your June issue featuring Garmisch-Partenkirchen where I have also spent a good amount of time. I look forward to returning and found the information very helpful.

What really disturbed me was your report on Reindl's Partenkirchner Hof. I have stayed here on two occasions for several days and had quite the opposite experience. The accommodations were very luxe and I especially enjoyed my dining experiences. The food was wonderful and I was very well taken care of by the staff.

It may have been that I was alone that they felt the need to take such good care of me but from my vantage point (a cozy booth along the side) it seemed to me that everyone was having a good time.

I found the lady in charge particularly helpful and attentive. I got the sense that she was perhaps a member of the Reindl family because she seemed to genuinely care that everyone had a nice experience.

This was in 89 and 90 and I hope yours was an isolated, however unfortunate, experience for I want to go back. In any event when do return I will let you know.

Clinton Creasy
Cambridge MA

(Ed. note: We did not review the Partenkirchner Hof as a hotel, only its restaurant.

Coaching Bavaria offers horse drawn carriage tours through the Bavarian countryside between April and October. Prices, which include hotel accommodations and meals, range from $425 per per person for a two-day tour to nearly $5,000 for a 14-day tour from Kerschlach, a small village 25 miles south of Munich, to Verona, Italy.

Contact: Coaching in Bavaria, Kerschlach 6, D-82396, Phl, Germany, tel. 08808/386, fax 08808/1349.)
(U.S. Dollar prices quoted in this issue of Gemütlichkeit may be inaccurate for these reasons:

* Prices in local currency have not been updated since 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.)

August 1996