A knock on one of Switzerland's most revered country hotels and opinions on three of the country's most famous restaurants; Inexpensive Bavarian vacation rental.
In your recent story on Regensburg you mention the palace of the Thurn and Taxis family (Schloss Emmeram). As many visitors to Regensburg have heard, Prince Johannes, late in life, married a much younger wife, Princess Gloria. Because of her somewhat wild lifestyle - clothes, hairstyles, Harley Davidsons - she became known as "Germany's punk princess." They had one son and in 1990 Prince Johannes died at 64 of a heart attack, leaving his young wife and 7-year-old son, Prince Albert. With an estate to manage and a son to raise, Princess Gloria settled down and now leads a quite conservative lifestyle.
As I found on a news web site recently, on June 24 of this year Prince Albert turned 18 years old and now takes over responsibility for the estate. So far, his only sign of wildness is his fondness for auto racing, and some rowdiness at a Starkbier festival this past March. In any case, the family seems likely to continue to provide interesting stories for the press.
Los Angeles CA
Knocks for Le Vieux Manoir
We had a fine dinner there, hiked to Giessbach along the lake, and went from there to Lauterbrunnen as the jump-off point for activities in the area. One day we took the train up to the Schynige Platte and its Alpine Garden. Quite interesting, especially for those who have an interest in gardening. Also of note is the Lowa boot center at the train station, where they lend boots as well as Leki poles for demonstration to hikers. No selling pressure, just an opportunity to try before you buy. Lowa boots were selling locally for about 20% less than in the U.S. For other than the most casual hiking, poles are essential and Lekis are top drawer, especially the collapsible models, which almost everyone was carrying, including the very elderly.
We took the funicular and train combination up to Mürren. What a peaceful and precious place that is, not overrun by tourists and not excessively commercial. The view is extraordinary. We had a pleasant lunch at the Eiger Stubli, across from the Bahnhof, then walked down to Winteralp, where we caught the train for the return ride to Lauterbrunnen. Since it was still reasonably early, we then went up to Wengen, took the cable car to Mannlichen, and then hiked over to Kleine Scheidegg just in time to catch the last train down to Lauterbrunnen, leaving at 7pm. (Note to hikers: if you miss that train, plan to stay at the small hotel in Kleine Scheidegg or risk hiking down to Wengen before dark.) This remains my favorite hike of all. It's about an hour from end to end, plus whatever time one spends enjoying the scenery, taking pictures or just resting.
A few other nitpicks: After having our car scratched during the night while parked outside the hotel, we asked for copies of a few reports that had to be filed. The front desk people took care of that promptly and then levied a small charge for same. Seems petty. Worse was being charged for the cookies we found on our pillows each night. Our overall feeling was that the business aspect of the hotel was almost always "in our faces."
I should also note that Le Vieux Manoir promotes its high speed Internet access from guest rooms. However, you must rent a computer for 25 Sfr. ($14) per hour to use the access since it requires a special configuration and cabling. Few people would be pleased to pay that much, in my opinion. The alternative is a 56K hookup through the data port in the room phone.
For our travels throughout the Berner Oberland, we used a regional rail pass. At 180 Sfr. ($103) for three days unlimited use and four days of 50% discount, it was a time saver and perhaps a good value. We even used the pass for our trip to Zermatt. It was good all the way to Brig, so we had to pay a small surcharge from there as well as to Gornergrat.
Likes Hotel List & Back Issues
I have just read the July issue and I compliment you on the new web features for subscribers (hotel list and archived issues). What a great bonus!! Thank you.
Over the years, your publication has been excellent, but it is the little things like this new feature that make you stand out above others.
To Catch a Thief
While on our vacation in Biot, France (midway between Nice and Cannes), my wife and I rented a villa on top of a hill overlooking the Med. We slept in one bedroom and my wife's sister and her husband slept in the other.
Our bedroom was one of two windows in the lovely villa that had shutters instead of barbed bars in the window frames. That should have been a warning, but it was not. Also, we had not been warned by the rental agency. My wife and I slept our second night there with the shutters open and the window open - just as we would have at home. That was a mistake.
While we slept, a cat burglar crept into the room and robbed us of cash (both US and French), my wife's diamonds and most of her jewelry, our wallets and her purse. In the morning we discovered the theft. I must have disturbed the burglar when I partially awoke, because he/she did not get everything. Outside the villa we found in the dirt our passports, drivers licenses, one ATM card that had no credit card markings, and various papers valuable only to us. The thieves apparently did not want any evidence with pictures and such to connect them to the crime. A well connected group of thieves would have marketed the licenses and the passports. Now we have learned that our homeowners insurance did not cover the jewelry because we had not listed the pieces individually on our policy. That came as sort of a second robbery in our minds because we had thought ourselves covered.
A lot of people out there are NOT your friends.
Bavarian Vacation Rental
I would like to recommend a great Ferienwohnungen at the foot of the Alpspitz in Grainau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. On the first floor was a large living/dining room combination with television and an eat-in kitchen. A circular stairway took us to the second floor two bedrooms, (one with balcony), and a large bath. As you know, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is five minutes down the road, but more commercialized and more expensive. They usually prefer to rent these places for an entire week so we paid more per day for a shorter period. Our party of four paid a total of 696 DM ($309) or 174 DM ($77) per night for four nights.
Thanks for recommending the Gasthof Fraundorfer (tel. +49/08821/9270, fax 92 799) in Partenkirchen. Wonderful food, service, and music.
Our last night dinner at Achat Hotel in Langen was unfortunately the worst of the trip.
Allan and Christa Buergin
(Ed. Note: For the Grainau vacation rental contact: Christine Bartlechner, Ofenlainweg 14, D-82491 Grainau, tel. +49/08821/81268, fax 81390. The Buergins stayed in the apartment at Törlenweg 18.)