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When paying for purchases use a credit card as much as possible: you get the top exchange rate; you don't have to come up with the money until later; and with the right card you'll get mileage. For the rest, use cash from the ATMs.

Austria's countryside offers the best hotel bargains in the three countries we cover. Everywhere we found clean, attractive rooms with shower or bath and toilet, in acceptable small hotels, some with charm, for from as little as $25 per person.

For Munich-bound travelers well have a report later in the year. For now, however, you should be aware that a couple of recommended establishments have slipped. First, we had bad meals at Zum Bürgerhaus, at Pettenkofer 1, near the Hotel Exquisit (still a strong recommendation in its price range). How bad? One word: microwave.

And, sorry to report, the Hotel Adria is becoming a little too worn around the edges to recommend strongly. The location is still excellent, quiet but not far from the action, and the breakfast is much improved, but at the price it is no longer a bargain.

Finally, we tried to see the Pension Am Market, near the Viktualienmarkt in the heart of city. We dropped in as tourists and asked to look at a few rooms. Sorry, no. We asked for a hotel brochure and were given a business card without prices. Next day I called the innkeeper, Harald Herrler, told him I would like to inspect the hotel for Gemütlichkeit and asked if it would be convenient to stop by later in the day. He said yes but with little enthusiasm. Upon arrival Herr Herrler first motioned toward the stairs saying "look at anything you want." He immediately changed his mind, however, and said we would be wasting our time because he never has any rooms available. When asked if the hotel was always fully booked he said yes. In the last 10 years I figure I've stayed in and/or inspected just under 1,000 hotels. This is the first one that wasn't interested in new customers. Draw your own conclusions.

Gas in Austria (the only country in which we purchased it) ranged from 10.94 AS ($1.03) to 11.4 AS ($1.04) per liter for the least expensive Bleifrei (unleaded), about $3.90 per gallon

Information current as of spring 1996