Baroque Church Tour
I would like to recommend the Hotel Unger (beim Hauptbahnhof, Kronenstrasse 17, tel. 0711/2099-0, fax 0711/2099-100) in Stuttgart. In the 13 years since we first stayed there they have added a lobby and refurbished and redecorated the rooms and it is now a very nice hotel, indeed. The staff were all helpful and friendly, they provide what must be the most sumptuous breakfast buffet in Germany, and start serving it at 6:00 a.m. (which made it possible for us to have breakfast before catching an early train.) The hotel is on a quiet street and deserves to be mentioned as an excellent choice for tourists who will arrive or depart Stuttgart by train.
List price for our room was 299 marks ($199), but we qualified for a special weekend rate of 199 ($133) for a double the first time we stayed, and got the same rate when we returned three weeks later in midweek.
I would like to also suggest that you offer a revised and expanded article outlining a tour of Baroque churches.
I ordered the back issue of Gemütlichkeit (February, 1994) that described your tour of churches since we had thought about making such a tour of our own after purchasing a copy of Baroque Churches of Central Europe by John Bourke several years ago. (It is a Faber paperback published in London and may not still be in print.)
By making a few detours from your route we were also able to visit several lesser known gems. We drove to Weingarten from Meersburg, for example, and then headed north, following your route, toward Saulgau and Riedlingen to Zwiefalten. From there we drove to Bad Schussenried and took a yellow road to Steinhausen and returned to Meersburg. (It is much easier to get to Weingarten these days, by the way, than it was when you went there because they have completed a route to Ulm that avoids the central part of Ravensburg. In addition, they have built a free underground garage directly in front of the Basilika, so parking is no longer a problem.)
The day we drove to Ottobeuren from Seeg we headed west a few miles to Maria Steinbach, a jewel of a church out in the middle of nowhere. (We had the parking lot and church all to ourselves, a welcome change from getting engulfed by bus loads of tour groups constantly unloading at the better-known places.) Next we headed for Leutkirch and visited the church at Isny before returning to Seeg.
All these are well worth a visit, even though they may not be mentioned in guidebooks. If you suggest that Gemütlichkeit readers visit some or all these churches, be sure to mention that the Mairs Die Generalkarte 1:200,000 maps #22, and #25 are essential. You have to find your way to Maria Steinbach, for example, more or less by dead reckoning since it does not appear on road signs until you are within 5 km of the place.
Robert F. Biehler
Homestay Service Strikes Out
Don't count on an exciting adventure in foreign travel with American International Homestays, Inc.
After reading your March issue I quickly phoned their toll-free number and gave my travel dates in Switzerland and my four favorite locations. I also gave them free range to offer other places. This was on April 15 and I was told I'd probably hear from them by the end of April. They very obviously had no available list of homes to suggest to me. I called back later to add that I don't care if the families speak English - it should have been an easy selection for them.
When I hadn't heard anything by May 5, I phoned and was told "Yes, we planned to call you and others to say we haven't located any homestays in Switzerland."
I was stunned at their lack of interest and told them they obviously had no plans in place before they put out their advertising. The response was "thanks for calling" and a final click of the phone. Not very rewarding.
Los Altos CA
You asked for input on the Northern Germans. Generally, I haven't found them to be much different from other Germans. It has always seemed that the younger Germans, 40ish and younger, are a little more friendly than their elders. I would heartily echo the authors sentiments that Americans who miss Hamburg are missing something very special, beautiful and full of interesting sights. I especially enjoy visiting the Museum of Hamburg History, the Antik Markt downtown, the five beautiful old historic churches, the fascinating Rathaus, taking the S-Bahn to picturesque Blankenese, and strolling the Alster! I also want to share with you some travel thoughts and experiences:
• Anna Restaurant (Bleichenbrucke 2, phone 040/367014), Hamburg. What a WONDERFUL lunch, though quite pricey. It is located in an upscale shopping area on one of Hamburg's numerous canals in Hamburg. In the summer we enjoyed sitting outside with a lovely view of Hamburg's church spires and buildings. I would describe the food as "New Europe" cuisine; the salads, pasta, soups, fish, desserts were all creatively and attractively presented and, on one visit, I had a terrific Wiener Schnitzel. The chef prepares meals in an open area and there is no heavy German food. There are few tourists; mostly Hamburg business people and other nicely-dressed Hamburgers who can afford to spend some extra Deutsche Mark for an excellent meal.
• Restaurant La Mer (Hotel Prem, An der Alster 9, phone 040/245 454). One of the finest (and most expensive) meals I have ever eaten! The dining room is in a lovely and charming, romantic, old European setting, with plenty of candles and outstanding, knowledgeable service. Guests enjoyed "complimentary" vichyssoise with caviar as an appetizer. I enjoyed watercress soup, Hummer (lobster) salad with asparagus. The nightly specials and desserts were wonderful and the meal ends with a variety of delectable "complimentary" sweets.
(Note: Our family has stayed at the Prem twice in summer. Though the staff is helpful and gracious and the hotel charming, we would not stay there again at that time, when windows need to be kept open. Although the location and view of the beautiful Alster are wonderful, from the front room's noise of the constant traffic makes it hard to sleep! Those of us in the rear also found it quite noisy and the heat with the windows closed made it uncomfortable.)
(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.)