Traveler's Checks; Car rental insurance; Elderhostel; Prague

Traveler's Checks

Elsewhere in this issue, under the heading "Vacation Rentals" we have reprinted certain portions of an informative letter from subscriber Karl Becker of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Mr. Becker's experience with vacation rentals was most instructive but he also offered a couple of other comments worth passing on.

• The new American Express traveler's checks that can be used by either of two persons are sometimes difficult to cash. At a Hamburg bank Mr. Becker was unable to convince the teller that only one of the signatures was required to cash the checks. He had to bring his wife to the bank and both had to sign. Not what American Express had it mind.

• Off-season tourists should be aware that some attractions may not be in full operation after the summer crowd is gone. He was there in November and says Linderhof (Ludwig II's jewel of a castle in the forest near Oberammergau) had closed the grotto, turned off the waterfall and already crated several statues for winter storage. He found similar conditions at Sanssouci (Potsdam) and at Hohenzollern Castle the shuttle bus up the mountain was not operating. He points out, however, (and we agree) that such irritants are minor and more than offset by the off-season's lower prices and lack of holiday crowds.

Car Rental Insurance

William Quinby of Greenwich, Connecticut, relates that his rented Fiat Panda was burglarized in Nice on October 10, 1991. His Visa card covered the $1,020 break-in damage but, without proof that the car could have been rented during the repair period, wouldn't cover the loss-of-use charge of $222 assessed by ANSA, the rental agency. ANSA wouldn't furnish such proof, saying that they make a "standard" daily charge that is negotiated and agreed to by "all" insurance companies. Mr. Quinby says it was "Catch-22" for a long time but he kept badgering Visa and their insurance carrier (IAC of Westminster, Colorado) and finally was paid for the loss-of-use claim on October 31, 1992.

"Persistent pursuit of these matters seems to be necessary to get satisfaction." he said. "The procedures and documentation required for filing a damage claim in the first place are onerous and seem calculated to discourage the filing process, but we happily report this case history of ultimate success."

Elderhostel/Hotel Evaluations

Mr. Quinby also commented on the two months he and his wife spent last fall in Austria:

"From 30 September to October 18 we participated in an Elderhostel program that studied Austrian culture and history, combining hotel stays in Vienna and Salzburg with a cruise on the Danube from Vienna, upstream to Passau, downstream to Budapest and back to Bratislava and Vienna. The Elderhostel program with 52 participants was a bit too structured and slow-moving for us but we learned a lot from University and Hochschule lecturers and some excellent guides. Accommodations and travel comfort on the DDSG SS Theodor Körner were excellent as was the service; meals were forgettable, probably as a result of negotiation by Elderhostel to keep costs down. Most "Elderhostellers" lack the experience, confidence or physical ability to cover the same ground on their own."

"Although we stayed many nights in Alpen huts and in hotels booked by Elderhostel, we found some delightful accommodations that we recommend to Gemütlichkeit readers. All had good food, amenities and reasonable prices:"

  1. Altdeutsches Hotel, Feldkirch (Vorarlberg)
  2. Hotel Alpina, Pettneu (Tirol)
  3. Schwarzer Adler, Kitzbühel (Tirol)
  4. Hotel Gasthof Adler, St. Gallenkirch (Vorarlberg)
  5. Seehotel Feldhütter, Prien am Chiemsee (Bavaria)
  6. Hotel Senator, Munich (Bavaria)
  7. Goldener Löwe, Kufstein (Tirol)
  8. Alpengasthof Eng, Eng (Tirol in Karwendel Naturpark)

Three we would avoid next time are the Löwen Hotel in Schruns (Vorarlberg), Hotel Regina in Vienna and Hotel Schaffenrath in Salzburg."

Plug for Prague

And finally, Dr. Fredric K. Kratina dropped us this upbeat note on Prague:

"Count me in as a recent delighted visitor to Bohemia and its magnificent capitol, Prague. I had the privilege of spending better than two weeks charmed by the buildings, castles and that delightful anachronism, the Charles Bridge. Another week was spent traveling about in the bus, again confining ourselves to Bohemia, its castles and peoples."

"In a rented vehicle I drove to Saxony and back visiting Dresden, a bitter disappointment, terribly polluted, rushed, angry, and fierce. Yet I couldn't wait to get back to a land that certainly takes its Communist experiment several degrees lighter."

January 1993