One of Gemütlichkeit's most popular features is the comments and recommendations of our readers. The summer travel season is in full swing and your reports are trickling in. Here are a few.
Germany Hotel Recommendations
We just returned from an enjoyable June in Europe and thought we would share some information on a few stops we especially liked.
Topping the list is the Landgasthof Zu Heidelberg (fax: 011-49-37362-7201) by the village of Seiffen about 60 kms south of Dresden near the Czech border. Seiffen is a treasure trove for those seeking wood crafts of all kinds - nutcrackers, smoking figures, toys, pyramids, music boxes and Christmas buttresses. It is great fun to visit the home workshops and purchase items directly from their makers. The Landgasthof was six weeks new and the room very comfortable with all amenities. The restaurant's design is one of the most pleasant of any seen on our European travels, and it serves an excellent breakfast buffet which will be hard to surpass. The restaurant is very good and reasonably priced. Our room cost 105 DM ($75) double B & B. We almost hate to share this place but it is just too good not to do so.
For our stop in Dresden we stayed at the Hotel-Restaurant Pillnitzer Elbblick (fax 011-49-051-39222) in the southerly suburb of Pillnitz. This is by a boat landing on the Elbe River and is immediately adjacent to the Schloss Pillnitz which is a "must see". A river view room was 140 DM ($100) double B & B and quite comfortable. The location is popular with riverboat passengers and the food is excellent. It was an easy drive to/from Dresden with a good map.
After an absence of six years we stayed again at the Hotel Post (fax 011-43-5673-2281) in Lermoos, Austria, and were not disappointed. A "Zugspitze" room facing the lovely valley and mountain was 1280 AS ($129) double half-pension. Rooms are large and have beautiful woodwork with a sitting area. This is a good base to visit Linderhof, Neuschwanstein, the Wieskirche and Oberammergau.
A return visit to Der Weingarten (fax 011-49-4461-63517) near Prien/Rimsting was even better than remembered with its rural setting and views east to the Chiemsee and south to the mountains. This is a bit hard to find in its farm hilltop location but the reward is a quiet stop with fabulous views and excellent food. Cost was 100 DM ($71) double B & B. A good overnight if you plan to visit Ludwig's Herrenchiemsee Palace.
A favorite city of ours is Hann. Munden near Kassel. This city seems more interesting with each visit and is not on the normal tourist route. We like the Jagdhaus Heede (fax 011-49-5541-5133) located on the outskirts by a natural forest preserve. It provides a very quiet location and offers a delicious breakfast buffet. Cost was 110 DM ($79) double B & B. There is a simple fast-food Turkish diner about half a block from the entrance bridge into the city. It serves a good doner teller for 10 DM.
An almost annual stop for us is the Gasthof Zum Schwan (fax 011-49-9861-3087) in the village of Hartershofen about 5 km north then 1.5 km east of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This friendly place has small comfortable rooms, some just remodeled, and is within a 10-minute drive of the crowded tour bus city. Try one of their dishes with pfifferlinge. A double B & B here is 76 DM ($54).
A new place which deserves a return visit is Millstatt, Austria. Although we were there only one night we were able to get half-pension for 1400 AS ($141) double at the Hotel Postillion am See (fax 011-43-4766-2777) on the Lake. This is a beautiful area with many interesting sights. A music festival runs from May to October.
Switzerland was VERY expensive. We stayed in Mürren, Zermatt, Maloja and Zürich. The exchange rate was 1.11 Sfr. per US$.
Sharon & Nelson Helm
Grand Island NE
Country Hotel Near Zürich
Last year, we visited Zürich, Switzerland and were traveling by auto so planned to stay on the Zürichsee lake front. We checked out a couple of hotels going southeast along the shore and selected the Seehotel Sonne (Seestrasse 120, CH-8700 Küsnacht, phone 01/910 0201, fax 01/910 0252) seven kilometers from Zürich. This May we returned there because of our previous pleasant experience. The friendly, courteous service, choice rooms and location are worth recommending to your readers. Rates: 145-185 Sfr. ($125-$159) double with bath, 135-140 Sfr. ($96-$121) single with bath.
The last visit we utilized day transportation which is well suited to staying at the Sonne Hotel. The lake boats all stop in front of the hotel and the commuter train station is not more than a five-minute walk. The Sonne's restaurant provides very good food, service and atmosphere at moderate prices plus a good breakfast buffet.
If you were so inclined to splurge at a gourmet restaurant, the Sonne is located between two of Zürich's best; Petermann's Kunststuben (Seestrasse 160, CH-8700 Küsnacht, phone 01/910 0715, fax 01/910 0495), and, Ermitage Am See (Seestrasse 80, CH-8700 Ksnacht, phone 01/910 5222, fax 01/910 5244).
Here is an update on Hotel Geiger (D-83471, phone 08652/965555, fax 08652/965400) in Berchtesgaden. Clara and I went there for either our 19th or 20th time last March. We stayed in room 305, which is a two-bedroom suite on the highest floor of the "new" wing. The view of the Watzmann and neighboring Alpine peaks is outstanding. The price was somewhat high for half-pension, but this reflects the fact that the dollar has gone to hell. The breakfast is still excellent and the dinners are tasty. We personally miss the expansive menu of mainly German dishes, but understand that most places cannot afford to offer so many different dishes and many guests probably eschew the rich Bavarian cuisine.
The biggest news is that Hugo Geiger has sold the business to his son, Stefan. Hugo is still very much in evidence, however, and his style (and that of his ancestors) permeates the establishment. We had a long, liquid talk with both Geigers and Stefan swears that the spirit of the Hotel Geiger will remain the same. My wife and I are confident that this is true and we will continue to happily return to our home in Berchtesgadener Land!
Parenthetical note: local Oberbayern lore concerns the mysterious Worpeltinger. This is an animal which looks like a combination of other animals, e.g., webbed feet like a duck, the body of a marmot, the wings of small raptor birds, the external teeth of rodents as well as the horns of small mountain creatures. Worpeltingers can actually be purchased in Berchtesgaden; ask Herr Geiger or Stefan where to buy them. Worpeltingers dislike ugly women and are generally seen only at night. They are ideal conversation pieces in American homes and they don't argue or talk back.
Further parenthetical note: The Panorama Park Supermarket which is located on the road between Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall has been completely remodeled and is an interesting tourist goal in itself. All manner of fresh, dried and canned foodstuffs are available; there is a huge choice of wine and alcohol at reasonable prices and all German cosmetic products such as "4711" are there as well. One can grasp the high living standard in Germany by seeing the quantity and quality of what is available at the Panorama.
Visitors to the area should take an electric boat ride on the Königssee and hear the boatman play his trumpet and then luxuriate in the echoes of the horn off the surrounding mountain walls. They should also drive to the Hintersee which is on the same road as the famous chapel at Ramsau. Another "must" is the church at Maria Gern above the town. Also, there is a new toll road on the Rossfelderstrasse which goes from Hitler's Kehlstein Haus toward Austria. The road is on the absolute ridge of the Alps and one can see for miles in all directions.
Victor P. Obninsky
I read with great interest your article on driving in Europe. I must say, it was extremely accurate and informative. I have driven well over 200,000 miles in Europe on many trips and lived in Germany for five years with the military. I definitely feel much safer driving in Europe, even with high speeds, than in the U.S. I'm sure this is due to the mandatory driving schools that Germans must attend rather than having Mom or Pop teach the kids. Also the roads are in so much better shape than here.
My European friends tell me the two most important things are looking ahead and looking to the right, since drivers on the right have priority in an uncontrolled intersection.
Considering car rentals in Germany, many times I order a BMW 500 series or a Mercedes Station Wagon because I like to drive in the left lane. About 50% of the time I get upgraded to a BMW 735 with air conditioning and cellular phone, which, of course, drives like a panther on the Autobahn. It does cost more to order the BMW 500 at first, but I imagine they don't have too many of them and for the same price you end up driving an awesome machine. Gute fahrt
Zell am See No
It says: "Zell am See is a pleasant, though busy resort...," then I read, "...its location on the lake surrounded by mountains is quite lovely...."
Both of those comments make me wonder, were you and I in the same town? I really found nothing "lovely" or "pleasant" about Zell am See. What I encountered was a traffic-clogged town, insulated from the lake by rail lines, and a community with no discernible center or character. Maria Von Trapp was with Betty and me and our group the entire week we hosted our directors and agents in Salzburg, and I learned quickly not to make these kind of comments about Zell am See to her. It seems she was born in Zell am See, her grandparents lived there, she spent summers on the "other side" of the lake, and she genuinely feels that this is the "pearl of Austria." Darned if I see it. Now, admittedly, from the "other side" of the lake, you do have a magnificent view of some spectacular mountain scenery, including the highest peaks in Austria. But Zell am See, itself...? hardly worth writing about in Gemütlichkeit and certainly not favorably.
On the other hand, I have made every one of the five "favorite" drives listed in the same issue of Gemütlichkeit, and I enthusiastically agree with their selection.
Frank Dunham, Jr.
Fort Worth TX
Weekend Rail, Part IV
Having just returned from Germany, I noted with interest your comments on the German weekend fares on local trains which appeared in the March and April issues of Gemütlichkeit.
Some of the features of this ticket were not fully described:
1. Each ticket is valid for a group of up to five adults traveling together in Second Class on Saturday and Sunday.
2. The ticket is invalid not only on ICE, IC and IR trains but also on D and E trains even though these trains do not require a surcharge with regular tickets.
The Schönes Wochenende Ticket was designed to fill otherwise empty seats on 25,000 local trains on Saturdays and Sundays. It did this so well that beginning June 1995 the price doubled to 30 DM. Free use of local transit systems in some cities is being added.
Reference: Deutsche Bahn AG, Klaus Daubertshauser, Vorstand Personenverkehrl, Stephensonstrasse 1, D-60326 Frankfurt am Main, Walter Heinze, Holmdel NJ
(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.)