Subscribers recommend their favorite hotels and restaurants in Vienna, Berlin, Lugano, Bad Dürkheim and the Musical Ludwig II.

Been There, Done That

Having very recently returned from two months in, mostly, central Europe, I would like to share a few of many outstanding items with you and your subscribers.

Berlin

Just a couple of blocks away from your previously-featured Art Nouveau Hotel and the Spree Athen Restaurant, the Marjellchen Restaurant is another excellent choice. Located at Mommsenstrasse 9 (tel. 883-2676), it features traditional East and West Prussian cuisine. We had dined here two years ago and found it just as good this time, both times with owner Ramona Azzaro on hand to personally supervise. A meal for two, consisting of Schweinenieren (pork kidneys) in a delicious sauce, Königsberger Klops (excellent meatballs in a lemony-caper sauce), along with a Berliner Weisses (beer) and mineral water came to 56.50 DM ($27) per person.

Vienna

Your July, 2000 issue referred to Wilhelminenberg and its Schloss in the Vienna Woods. Lunch there on the terrace overlooking the city was delightful. A thick potato soup with mushrooms and a dessert of Heidelbeer Knödl (blueberry dumpling) with (far too much) whipping cream plus a mineral water cost 170 AS ($11). Your article had mentioned the nearby Church of the Steinhof as a worthwhile stop, but it is currently, and probably for some time, closed for renovation.

We highly recommend the Restaurant Puerstner, located at Riemergasse 10, tel. 512-63-57, not far off Parkring. It is a very large subterranean place in a very rustic setting and divided into several smaller areas. A meal for two of Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup), snails baked in garlic butter, Gebackenes Allerlei (beef, pork and chicken Schnitzel), a glass of the house red and two mineral waters came to 580 AS ($40). Reservations highly recommended.

Lugano

We have always experienced fine stays at hotels belonging to the Romantik group of hotels. One of the very best has to be the Hotel Ticino, Piazza Cioccaro 1 (right at the foot of the funicular leading down from the train station), tel. 41-91-22-77-72. Owned and operated for, I believe, the past 18 years by Claire and Samuel Buchmann, they are excellent hosts. Our corner room, number 4, at 460 Sfr. ($284) including a generous breakfast buffet, offered three windows overlooking the piazza and its outdoor food markets, radio but no television. The hotel has its own excellent but quite pricey restaurant and is located within easy walking distance of the shopping area of Lugano and the shore of Lake Lugano.

Füssen

Anyone in or near this area of Bavaria should make an effort to see a performance of the musical Ludwig II, performed in a new theater built for just this production. It is located on the outskirts of Füssen on the shore of Forggensee, from where one looks across the lake to the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. The production of the story of the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria is quite remarkable and the staging, lighting and settings need to be seen to be believed. The theater has its own fine restaurant for those who wish to dine prior to the performance, which starts at 7:30. Performances are sold out far in advance, but tickets can be obtained by writing Ludwig Musical AG & Co., Schrangenplatz 15, D-87129, Füssen, or by phone, +49/01/805 583 944.

Finally, although you do, of course, always mention air travel to and from Europe, I should like to point out that travel by sea is also still an option and we experienced excellent passages on Seabourn Sun eastbound and Queen Elizabeth II westbound. And no jet lag!

H Martin Ems
San Francisco CA

Lucerne Memories

Your article on Lucerne and the area around the lake brought back memories of visits several years ago. Your readers may be interested to know that this region is the birthplace of the nation of Switzerland.

The Swiss-German name of the lake, Vierwaldstättersee, means "lake of the four forest cantons". The men of three of these cantons met in a meadow near Rütli and formed a defensive alliance, pledging to accept no magistrates over them except of their own choosing. One of the cantons, Schwyz, gave its name to the country, and its coat of arms, a white cross on a red field, became the national flag.

Near the town of Schwyz, which has wall paintings illustrating this history, is Altdorf, which was the home town of William Tell. No one knows how much of his story is fact and how much legend, but the town has erected a large statue of him. In any case, Switzerland became one of the first democracies of Europe, and the first with a federal system.

Jim Mentzer
Los Angeles, CA

Bad Dürkheim Hotel

Eat your heart out. We're here in Bad Dürkheim attending the grand opening of their 17th Wein und Wurstfest. Well raise a glass in Ein Prosit to you.

I'd love to tell you about Hotel Weingarten where we've stayed for about the past seven years for this festival, but I'm afraid then I wouldn't be able to get a room. They were just upgraded to 4 stars from 3, and their rates are still reasonable. Within easy walking distance to the festival grounds, as well as the Stadtmitte. All in all, a great bargain.

Nice people, Frau Sauer and crew. Excellent English, German, and Internet connection, too.

Hotel Weingarten, Triftweg 11a-13, Bad Drkheim, D-67098 Germany, tel. +40/063/2294 010, fax 2294 0155, singles 100 DM ($47), doubles 144 DM ($68), including a great buffet breakfast with newspapers from around the world.

(But don't tell anyone.)

Bob & Sharrell Rann
Huntington Beach, CA

October 2001