Gasthof Haidenhof, Lienz

Having just returned from a Gemütlichkeit-induced trip to Europe, I thought you might like some feedback.

Lienz, Austria and the Gasthof Haidenhof was everything you'd said. In addition to a charming location with a view of the valley, and a semi-functioning workout room on the top floor and a very good and comfortable restaurant, the staff, many of whom were related to each other, were friendly and helpful and that, too, could be a return destination.

Bad Hofgastein and the Hotel Norica: just OK, though my traveling companion disagrees and feels it was quite lovely and a pleasant place to stay. I found it not unpleasant, and a great central location, but it was an average hotel with average food and average personnel, though Mme. Czerny, wife of the proprietor, made the rounds at dinner. The good news: the town put on an oom-pah display replete with lederhosen and dirndls, in honor of the visiting dignitaries of a European health conference. That was a treat!

A new one for you: in Oberalm, Austria, the Count and Countess von Gernerth, Eike and Georg, whom you may have already met, welcomed us broadly to their Schloss Haunsperg. It's a "Castles of the World" accommodation, huge house with its own attached chapel, where generations of Austrians, both locals and family, have been wed and buried. We were the only guests, so we got the large room with the view of the back lawn, king bed, bathroom with bidet and large, fluffy towels, toilet room with sink, and a huge attached sitting room with cable TV, many comfortable places to sit and read the many books in English, several musical instruments and a Bosendorfer baby grand piano. Yes, I played it but hardly gave it what it deserved. Several rooms resemble suites and the Count and Countess told us they often get families with children who stay in a separate room with the Nanny. During the Christmas holidays, it's not unusual to have a full house with breakfast served in all the four possible locales. By the time we left, we felt as though we'd known the von Gernerths forever, and the stay felt like a visit with a wonderful aunt and uncle.

On our way out of town, we took the tour of the Salzbergwerks, the salt mine from which Salzburg gained much of its glory; it was well worth doing and great fun, despite the rain.

The von Gernerths then sent us to their friend, Max, proprietor of the Landhaus zu Appesbach in St. Wolfgang on the Wolfgangsee, a real find. Max could not have been more accommodating. When we arrived, he had a fire going and invited us to have coffee and cake.

We found the restaurant to be outstanding. He also gave us a history of the area and suggested hikes to take and sights to see. The town of St. Wolfgang is cutesy in a touristy way but not unpleasant and within walking distance of the Landhaus. Max and the town are both lakeside, and were sorry we had only one night there.

We ended with the Kempinski Hotel at Munich Airport, the most disappointing stay of the trip. Lovely room, good accoutrements and, magically, no airplane noise, and they promised abundant shuttle service to the airport. However, when we needed one, "it" was already in service and wouldn't be available "for a while." It cost us an extra cab ride to make our flights, but we'd gone there for the efficiency, as opposed to the charm, only to find it sorely lacking.

Thanks for your publication and its honesty. Keep up the good work.

Judy Fern
via email

(Thanks for your email and the very accurate description of the Schloss Haunsperg. The von Gernerths are legendary, the innkeepers against whom all others should be judged. We gave them top ratings in 1988 and again in April, 1997. Editor)

Yes on Hotel Hirschen, Langnau

Your October, 1998, Travel Letter brought back pleasant memories.

You are right on target with your comments about Langnau im Emmental and the Hotel Hirschen. Langnau is a comfortable drive from the airport in Zürich. A walk around the village, superb meal at the Hirschen and a good night's rest and jet lag is gone.

• We headquarter at the Hirschen and make day trips out in all directions. Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern, Jungfrau and Fribourg.

• The train station is within walking distance, as you state in Gemütlichkeit, and handy for trips into Bern.

• In the local area there is the bell factory, the covered bridges, and the show dairy.

Langnau and the Hirschen are worthy of an extended stay.

Dave Krehbiel
via email

Eastern Cities Recommended

Let me say how much I have enjoyed your publication for the past few years. You have great articles and good advice that my wife and I have benefited from on several trips to Germany. I am glad to see that you are giving east Germany some publicity—they need it.

We visited Dresden, Meissen, Weimar, Bautzen and Quedlinburg as part of a Rotary Club visitation project in 1995. These are great cities with wonderful people. We stayed in private homes and were treated like family.

If you have not visited Quedlinburg or Bautzen yet, you should do so—they are true medieval gems with fascinating histories. Some other smaller but very interesting towns are Gorlitz and Herrenhut, near the Polish border.

Carl E. Wilsey
via email

Chiemsee's Gasthof-Pension Seiser Alm

The Gasthof-Pension Seiser Alm (tel. +49/08051/7404 and 7044, fax 8620, D-83233 Bernau am Chiemsee) is a traveler's dream. Double rooms are beautiful suites ranging in price from 90 to 120 DM ($54-$72) with TV and telephone; sauna and solarium are available. The food is two-star, very tasty and plentiful. The view of the lake is breathtaking and dining on the terrace is a great experience. Dinner for four with drinks is around $50.

It is a short drive to Salzburg, Berchtesgaden or Munich and 15 minutes to the boat to Herrenchiemsee Island with its magnificent castle. Many trails exist for hikes to the Kampenwand.

The inside dining area has "viel Gemütlichkeit," decorated with mounted deer horns and stuffed birds. The service is impeccable, the owner and his wife greet each table. All waitresses are dressed in Bavarian dirndls and English menus are available.

From Munich to Salzburg on Autobahn #8 take the Bernau turnoff. At the stoplight by the Post Hotel take #175 toward Nieder-Aschau for about three kilometers (open area). At the top of the hill look for the Seiser Alm sign on the right side of the road (across from a lumber yard). Take a left and go up a narrow road into the trees for one kilometer. The Seiser Alm will be on the right with lots of parking and a good view of the lake.

Greg & Erika Cooper
Nipomo, California

December 1998