Subscribers recommend hotels in Quedlinburg, Wernigerode, Rügen, Vienna, Göttingen, and one near the Frankfurt Airport.
After six weeks in Germany, much of it spent in the former eastern zone, I read with particular interest your report on A Harz Drive in the October issue.
Indeed, Quedlinburg is a very worthwhile stop. We stayed at the Hotel Theophano, located right on the market square and overlooking it from our windows (Markt 13-14, 360 DM/$180 for a double room).
Your routing evidently followed the southern rim of the Harz, whereas ours was along the northern edge of the mountains, thereby being able to include two very interesting places, the spa resort town of Bad Harzburg and the town of Wernigerode. The former has a long, tree-shaded promenade, with plenty of cafés and restaurants and a stream along its edge. There are parks and concerts, a cable car to a nearby mountaintop with the ruins of an ancient castle and hiking trails and a café overlooking the flatlands miles away. Once back down, there are mineral baths to soothe the body. Wernigerode boasts many fine half-timbered houses, the finest of which is the 16th-century spired Rathaus. A castle, complete with terrace café, overlooks the town from a nearby hilltop.
From Hotel Am Anger (Breitestr. 92-94, 280 DM/$140 for a double) our spacious top-floor room overlooked not only a pretty garden, but also directly across to the magnificent view of the castle, illuminated at night. A choice between Quedlinburg and Wernigerode might be difficult, but I would choose the latter if only one could be visited.
One of our most pleasant stays was on the North Sea island of Rügen, connected by a causeway to the mainland. We made the city of Bergen our headquarters for excursions to seaside resorts, such as Sassnitz, Binz and Göhren and to the nature-reserve island of Hiddensee. One of our best of the 21 hotels we stayed at on this trip was in Bergen, where the Romantik Hotel Kaufmannshof offers fine accommodation and excellent meals (Bahnhofstr. 6-7, tel. +49/03838/80450, 220 DM/$110 for a double). Operated by Uwe Hermerschmidt and his nephew, Michael, they maintain the high standards which we have found in other hotels of the Romantik chain. Michael not only picked us up at the train station upon our arrival and delivered us there when it was time to leave, but also picked up our laundry from the local Wäscherei before closing time so that we would not have to return early from one of our side trips.
While in this very northeastern part of Germany, the cities of Schwerin, with its huge castle modeled after France's Chambord; Stralund, with its charming Altstadt; and the town of Neubrandenburg with its still-intact old city wall into which tiny houses were built; were all worthwhile stops. Everywhere the contrast between old and new, between decrepit, run-down buildings and beautifully-restored ones is striking and the amount of new construction is astounding.
We also stayed in Vienna, at the Hotel Carlton Opera and had dinner at the Beograd (Schikanedergasse 7, tel. 587 7444), where the ambiance, food and live music were very enjoyable, but the air terribly smoky.
In Göttingen, we were at the Gemütlichkeit-recommended Hotel Stadt Hannover and ate one night at the Ratskeller. I suggest you give the latter another opportunity to redeem your report of "nice people, nice surrounding, bad food,'' as we found it to be very satisfactory in all three categories.
The same owners also operate the nearby restaurant Junkernschänke, a more upscale place than the Ratskeller and located in a delightful setting in a 15th century half-timbered building.
We were away from home for 108 days and not once set foot in an airplane, instead using trains for all land travel and crossing the Atlantic by ship.
H. MARTIN EMS
SAN FRANCISCO CA
Win Some, Lose Some
I love your publication and use it often as a resource. So far, our favorite tip is the Hotel Birkenhof as a last stop near the Frankfurt Airport. We have stayed with Frau Frichter several times and she is always warm and helpful. The rooms in the bungalow are large and very comfortable, a good place to regroup and reorganize before the trip back. Her breakfast has to be one of the best of anywhere we have stayed in 22 years of European travel. They are a picture.
On another note, I would like to share a recent experience we have had with the Wolff's Art Hotel. We are visiting Weimar this summer for the first time. Since Wolff's was your hotel pick of 1997, we have been anxious to stay there. We, and the other couple traveling with us, have made various attempts to contact the hotel without results. My husband called in January and was told to fax because the reservation person was not there. I did, with no response. So, I sent a follow up fax with no response. The other couple, who live in Germany, tried to communicate by email and received, what they called a "smart-allecky" response. No commitment.
We were to stay three nights and the other couple were going to stay two, so it wasn't just for one night.
By the way, have you ever visited Marburg? It is a lovely, medieval, college town north of Frankfurt. It was not bombed during WWII, so it is original. The Grimm brothers supposedly attended college there. Esslingen, near Stuttgart, is another little surprise, I have never seen mentioned.
SILVER LAKE, OH
(Ed. Note: This is our 14th year and we haven't scratched the surface. There is much to see in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.)