Not Everyone Loves "The Old Philosopher"

Sir:

Cancel my subscription to Gemütlichkeit immediately and please refund any unearned subscription fee.

Your extended condescending comments in your August 30, 1995 edition (The Old Philosopher) concerning your "unique" newsletter was difficult enough to stomach, but your response to Dennis A. Bell's letter concerning the lack of information about air-conditioned hotels in Europe was beyond the pale.

"Hot muggy days are not nearly as common in Europe as in the U.S." Oh, really? What Europe do you travel in? As one who lived in Germany for 11 years I can assure you that German weather routinely approximates the same weather conditions as the Midwest in the U.S.

But, that is not the point of this letter. The point is that some of your subscribers have medical problems which require the use of air-conditioned rooms if at all possible. The same holds true for nonsmoking rooms. I speak from personal experience.

If you are going to fill your newsletter with PR flack for those "unique hotels," you might at least exert yourself and ask about the availability of air-conditioned and nonsmoking rooms and provide that information in your newsletter. Your front page letter from Mr. Halbach in the current issue of Gemütlichkeit regarding Mr. Bell and his air-conditioning was the final straw.

Get a life, indeed! We'd love to and that is why we handicapped are still trying to travel.

Please enlighten Mr. Halbach and the rest of your subscribers about we "Ugly Americans" need for accurate information concerning air-conditioning and smoke-free rooms.

I hope your beer is better than your newsletter.

Robert Claytor
San Francisco CA

(Ed. Note: In our comment on Mr. Bell's letter in the August issue we meant no slight to readers with physical handicaps. Mr. Bell's letter did not indicate that his preference for air-conditioning was related to a medical condition.

We do, in fact, inquire at each hotel about the availability of no-smoking rooms and, if the answer is yes, mention it in our report. However, European hoteliers have told us they find it almost impossible to keep smokers out of no-smoking rooms. In the future, we will also indicate the presence of in-room air-conditioning.

For the record, according to the National Weather Service, the average high and low temperatures during the month of July in Kansas City, Missouri, are 88.5 F and 68.5 F respectively. The average highs and lows in key German cities during July are: Berlin 76/58, Bonn 74/57, Freiburg 76/58, Hamburg 72/56, Munich 74/55.

Mr. Claytor's subscription has been refunded in full.)

Trip Report: Austria

A few random thoughts on some experiences my wife and I had on a June, 1995, trip to Austria:

1. We shared a Kilometerbank Pass (3000 km for 3,450 AS, $357) for travel on the trains. The mileage for each segment is subtracted by the conductor en route. It was an economical and convenient way to travel. The trains were comparable to the trains we used in Switzerland last year, although not as frequent on every line.
2. The prices for rooms, meals, etc. were surprisingly reasonable, even with the weak dollar. In general, we spent no more than we would have in the U.S. Some examples: 0.5L beer for 35 AS, entrées for 150-250 AS, rooms 700-800 AS for double room with extensive breakfast buffet and very drinkable wines starting at 25 AS per liter.
3. No one should miss Vienna.
4. We like some of the smaller, less well-known places (Feldkirch, Klagenfurt) better than the more famous and much more expensive and crowded Innsbruck and Salzburg.
5. In late June with the exception of Vienna, where we had a reservation just in case, we found very satisfactory hotels without advance reservations in each place we stayed. Two of our favorites were Hotel Angelika in Neustift im Stubaital (700 AS Dbl) and Hotel Maria Theresia in Mayrhofen (750 AS Dbl). Frau Koch at the Maria Theresia generously volunteered to drive us to the train station the morning of our departure.
6. We used our limited German even less in Austria than we did in Switzerland.
7. The scenery in superb.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and if forced to choose we would rather go back to Austria than Switzerland.

Jeff Keller
Salt Lake City, UT

Seeking Headquarters

A friend and I are planning a trip to Germany in September, 1996. We will be arriving via train from Vienna, Austria and are looking for an inn or B & B in an interesting locale for hiking, biking and "soaking up atmosphere." We prefer a small town with good train transportation as we plan to take some day trips and do not wish to drive. We have been told that the Harz Mountains or Bavaria are areas to consider but we are open to any and all suggestions. We plan to stay in any selected area(s) for 5 to 10 days. We will be going by train to Frankfurt or Munich for the flight home. Any recommendations?

Also, what would be some good airlines for flying into Vienna and out of either Frankfurt or Munich? Our entire stay will be about 17 or 18 days.

Janet Keith,
Washington, DC

(Dear Ms. Keith: Given your headquarters requirements we recommend Garmisch Partenkirchen in Bavaria, about an hour by train southwest of Munich; Freiburg im Breisgau, at the southern end of the Black Forest; and perhaps Würzburg, near Frankfurt. By B & B we assume you mean a small Pension or Zimmerfrei in a private home. For a list of such accommodations write Verkehrsamt, Dr. Richard-Strauss-Platz, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, D-82467, fax 8821/50657; Freiburg Information, Rotteckring 14, Freiburg im Breisgau, D-79098, fax 761/37003; or Verkehrsamt im Würzburg-Palais, am Congress Centrum, Würburg, D-97070, fax 931/37652.

Several airlines can meet your flight itinerary requirements. Contact a knowledgeable travel agent or an airline consolidator such as DER Tours. Remember, as a Gemütlichkeit subscriber, both you and your friend qualify for reduced fares on Swissair. Begin shopping for air tickets early next spring.)

Austrian Hotel

I read with interest your article on Oberstdorf and the Allgau region of Bayern in the November 1994 issue.

It is true that this area is very scenic and it's also unique in that the Kleinwalsertal section of Austria cannot be reached (except on foot) from its mother country. Because of this unusual geographic phenomenon, we found it more interesting to cross the German-Austrian border and actually stay in the Kleinwalsertal itself for a few days.

Our hotel was the Ifen Hotel (Oberseitestrasse 6, D-87568, phone 08329/507 10, fax 08329/3475) in Hirschegg, Austria, which is just a few kilometers from Oberstdorf. We recommend it highly. There are 69 rooms and some suites and a good restaurant. It is also beautifully situated and rooms facing the mountains afford views equal to any we've seen in the Alps. It is a couple of years since we were there but the 1995 Michelin Red Guide lists room rates from 164 to 465 DM per room per night, including breakfast and dinner.

As you state in your article, this very beautiful area receives no through road traffic and hence is off the beaten track and peaceful.

Matthias Sheeleigh
Summit, 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.)

October 1995