When evening comes,
when the sun sets,
when the fiddles song sounds from the puszta,

I often sit alone here with a glass of wine,
thinking how lovely it would be to be with you now

When the old moon reigns in the sky
and shines joyfully down,
I say: Your health, my friend.

Dear moon, break your journey,
listen to me,
for I want you to do something:

Grüss mir mein Wein.
(Greet for me my Vienna)

(From the operetta Countess Maritza, first heard in Vienna in 1924 and written by the Austro/Hungarian composer Emmerich Kalman.)

Vienna: City of Dreams

Here is a guy hung up not on a girl but a city, and if his song doesn't grab you just a little bit, you have the soul of a mortgage banker. Vienna is for romantics. To steal another Kalman line, it is a "singing, echoing fairy tale" and we are devoting the bulk of this month's issue to it. Except for occasional updates, we haven't taken an in-depth look at this fabulous old town in nearly 10 years. It's been much too long.

Perhaps more than any other European city, Vienna remains connected to its past. The Habsburg era still lives in the Viennese heart and the tunes of Kalman, the Strauss family, Leo Fall and, most of all, Franz Lehar, still make the charts. In fact, the best way I know to get in the mood for a Vienna visit is to give a few listens to the EMI CD Wien du Stadt meiner Trume (Vienna, City of My Dreams) with Placido Domingo.

And by the way, when you get there, Grüss mir mein Wein.

Medium rare, sir?

It was exactly 10 years ago that this space tried to drum up enthusiasm for vacation trips to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A war in a Middle Eastern desert was going on and there was talk of terrorism directed at Americans. There were no terrorist attacks on U.S. tourists, but many stayed home.

Now there's another scare. We've had several inquiries as to whether trips should be postponed or canceled because of Europe's cattle diseases: "mad cow" and "foot and mouth."

First, while foot and mouth has the potential to devastate the industries that put meat on our tables, it virtually never affects humans.

On the other hand, mad cow (BSE - bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is a risk to humans. It is apparently acquired by eating the meat of animals infected with the disease and is a fatal, terrifying malady that not much is known about.

The recent cause for concern is that the disease seems to have spread from Great Britain to the Continent. Though mad cow is a mystery, this much is known; since it was identified in Britain in 1986, less than 100 deaths are attributable to BSE nearly all of them in Britain, none in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. That's a period of 15 years in the whole of the U.K., which has a population of about 60 million. I'm not second-guessing Brits who have stopped eating meat, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says beef infected with salmonella in this country kills 600 annually. So where is it safer to order a steak?

Go already. Eat fish.

Michelin Adds Email Addresses

Booking hotel rooms from the U.S. just got easier and cheaper. Michelin's series of Red Guides for European countries now displays email addresses among the data it lists for the tens of thousands of European hotels and restaurants it rates each year. No more phone calls, no more faxes. Just a quick, free email. At Gemütlichkeit we consider Michelin's Red Guides the number one resource for the independent traveler to Europe. Not only are they an indispensable advance trip planning tool, they are even more useful during a trip. The hardbound, 1247 page, 2001 Red Guide for Germany, for example, rates more than 10,000 hotels and restaurants in some 3,000 cities, towns and villages. The information provided is vast. The city maps alone are worth the price.

Red Guides are published for Germany, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, the Benelux countries, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. There is also a Red Guide for the main cities of Europe. Remember, Red Guides are for hotels and restaurants; Green Guides cover history, sights and culture. Gemütlichkeit subscribers get a 10% discount off all Michelin products at 800-521-6722.

April 2001