Dürnstein Not That Cheap

In the April 1994 edition you mention a drive through the Wachau-Danube part of Eastern Austria as a recommended destination. I have driven this route several times, most recently earlier this month, and agree that it is one of the most interesting and scenic areas in Austria.

In recommending the Schloss Dürnstein for overnighting, you chose an unusually fine small hotel, but I am afraid the price you quoted of "about $110, including breakfast and dinner" might mislead some of your readers.

Such a price could never be per room per night, and even on a per person per night basis it is lower than the prices we were quoted and paid when we stayed there a couple of weeks ago. Frau Theiry (the owner) quoted us 2300 Austrian Schillings, including breakfast, for two persons in a double room, and 300 schillings per person per day extra of half-pension (breakfast and dinner). This would bring the price to 2900 schillings, or about $264 per room per day, including breakfast and dinner for two persons. Schloss Dürnstein also has more expensive rooms than the above and the best accommodations facing the Danube River are not easy to obtain unless such a request is made well ahead of time and confirmed in writing.

It should also be pointed out that this hotel does a very large luncheon business with all the day-trippers arriving by excursion boat from Vienna. Good lunch tables on the hotel's outstanding veranda overlooking the river might be hard to obtain when one of these groups is in town.

Matthias Sheeleigh
Summit, NJ

(Ed. note: We should have been a little more specific in our "15 Suggestions to Avoid the Summer Tourist Crush" story. With respect to hotel prices we used the phrase "rooms from about" and thus the prices quoted were for each hotel's lowest priced single room. According to information supplied by the hotel, rates for a single room with breakfast and dinner start at 1,300 AS, or using an exchange rate of 11.5 schillings per dollar, about $113. The exchange rate now is now closer to 10.5 and the same room will cost $124. Two persons traveling together, particularly at high season, will, of course, pay substantially more.)

Vienna Restaurant

In a recent (I think February 1994) issue you featured "Cheap Eats Vienna" and mentioned Zur Hohe Brücke, 1010 Wien, Wipplingerstrasse 23. We ate there and I gave the owner, Hans Rettig, a copy of the issue. This restaurant was close to our hotel. We went back a second time. The prices were moderate and the service, atmosphere and food were all excellent. Well return next year.

Our hotel, Tigra (Tiefer Graben 14 ) is inside the Ring and has a good location for walking. The apartment at 1280 AS ($117) was a good value.

Richard S. Werner
Richmond TX

Eastern Germany Comments

We have just returned from a motoring trip through the former East Germany and have a few observations. Finding one's way in the cities can be a maze-like adventure. One way streets, few road signs, pedestrian zones and reconstruction are some of the hazards. A good example is Weimar. Another is Dresden where arriving at the front door of the Dresden Hilton is nearly impossible. Another town with traffic problems is Eisenach. Try to reach the Wartburg Hotel without going through the middle of town. Once there, the climb to the castle is very steep from the car park. Might be better to take the shuttle bus. Driving to Meissen to visit the porcelain factory and museum proved to be a mistake. We were caught in a monumental traffic jam as we entered the city. It took an hour to reach the factory and another hour to get out of town after the visit.

In Weimar, the Christliches Hotel Amalienhof, Ameklienstrasse 2, is a fine place to stay. It has recently been converted from a religious hospice and is moderately priced - 186 to 196 DM ($116-$123) for a double. The venerable Hotel Elephant has also been brought up to date, including the prices (doubles more than 300 DM/$188). Its location on the Markt in the center of town is unbeatable.

We highly recommend overnighting in Potsdam. One reason is to beat the crowds to Sans Souci in the morning. Head straight for the ticket booth to be assigned a time for the palace tour. (We were there by 10 a.m. for the 11 a.m. tour.)

Despite the few hassles, a most rewarding and fascinating trip.

Nancy S. Finnie
New Caanan CT

Hotel Recommendations

I have just returned from a six week trip to Europe - over four weeks in Switzerland and ten days between Hamburg and Rome. Since much of your newsletter covers areas I have visited, I thought you might be interested in a few comments and observations.

After having spent the last 15 or more years headquartered in the Florhof in Zürich, I decided to try another hotel because with the retirement of the Schilters, who were like family to me, I did not want to return. I have heard some rather negative comments about the Florhof and none of the former personnel is there anymore. Apparently the new managers are not spending very much time in the hotel.

This time I stayed at the Hotel zum Storchen on Weinplatz, in the very heart of the city, facing the Limmat river. The hotel is expensive to be sure but in a wonderful location and, if you get a room facing the Limmat, you have a special treat in store. The buffet breakfasts are elaborate and delicious. There is also an attractive terrace for dining.

Hamburg is certainly a delightful town. I should know - I was born there and lived there as a child many many years ago. It is a garden city, not overrun with tourists, has a fine opera house, elegant stores, and the Binnen Aussen Alster offer a special allure. One can take various boats on the Alster and through the canals, take a harbor and city tour etc., etc. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is an attractive market - the Isemarkt - in the Eppendorf area which is quite the "in" section now favored by people from the media. I stayed at the incomparable Vier Jahrezeiten Hotel which offers every amenity and is located in the heart of town. Incidentally, you mentioned the small hotel Abtei in a recent issue. Curiously enough my husband and I stayed there in 1977 when it was a Pension but delightful. However, it is a good distance from town.

Intrigued by a recent article in your newsletter on the Albergo Gardenia in Caslano/Lugano, I booked a room there for one week. I have stayed many times in Lugano/Paradiso and wanted to try something new and different. The hotel is excellent and gemütlich since it is small and my room was large and attractive and had a balcony. The meals were exquisite, gourmet and delicious. However, without a car you are at a great disadvantage. The train station is a good distance away and so is the boat dock. May I suggest that therefore in future articles you specifically indicate that a car is essential and other transportation is not easily accessible.

Susi E. Kanuch
Van Nuys CA

More on Steyr

I have enjoyed every issue of Gemütlichkeit I have received over the past several years, but the Steyr issue brought memories which led to this letter.

I was a medic in the 71st Infantry Division and, in May, 1945, we had spent a week moving east into Austria while, westbound on the same roads, hundreds of German Army trucks and staff cars carried thousands of fully armed German soldiers. Kind of an interesting position for unarmed medics to be in, but all they wanted was to evade capture by the Russians. Finally, we arrived in Steyr, where we sat on the Enns waiting for the Russians to move up the other bank. As you pointed out in the article, this was the dividing line between east and west for a good number of years.

However, the real purpose of this letter is two-fold. First, shortly before returning home in 1946, I was transferred to separate unit then located in Feldafing, just south of Starnberg on Starnberger See. We were quartered in several lakeside villas, and the Forsthaus am See, a gasthaus on the shore of the lake. My wife and I visited Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 1990 and behold!!, the Forsthaus looked just as it had in 1946, even to the swans (although, 45 years earlier, there were no boats tied up at the dock); but it was undergoing a considerable expansion. We didn't stay there, since we had chosen to headquarter in Munich, but I wonder if any of your readers has ever stayed at the Forsthaus.

Second, the American Express agent who secured our hotel reservations suggested that, in Lucerne, we "just had" to experience the Chateau Gütsch—we did for several nights. A really different environment just a bit reminiscent of Hotel Eisenhut in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The Chateau is on a mountain on the left bank of the Reuss, reached off Baselstrasse (if my memory serves). It overlooks the old city, perhaps five or six towers of the city wall, and provides a fine view of Vierwaldstätter See. Pedestrians can reach Baselstrasse via a hundred plus year old funicular. I've just been idly curious why the chateau has not been mentioned in Gemütlichkeit.

Eugene Neff
Phoenix AZ

(Ed. Note: The Chateau Gütsch has been favorably mentioned several times over the years in Readers' Forum. We are remiss in never having done a story on Lucerne.)

We Stand Corrected

Excellent article headed "Eurotunnel." However, TGV stands for Tres Grande Vitesse or very great speed. "Trains a Grande Vitesse" is incorrect. Mark Beffart, author of France on the TGV, translates it that way, but he's wrong, too. The French would not use an English word to describe their pride and joy. They hate "Franglais" anyway. Another subject: would you consider doing an article on Slovenia (as part of the New Europe)? It's the greatest travel bargain in Europe today.

Robert G. Simons
Fond du Lac WI
(Ed. Note: Thanks for setting us straight on TGV. Slovenia is under consideration for 1995.)

(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.)

June 1994