Subscribers recommend a web site for cheap airfares; the "Aurora" funicular ascent near Thun in Switzerland; and hotels in Vienna, Salzburg, and near Bavaria's Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohengau.
Recently I bought two roundtrip airline tickets from Nashville to Frankfurt, return Munich. The price per ticket was $399.51 inclusive of all taxes on US Airways.
The purchase was made on Expedia on a Tuesday and the tickets were received Saturday via mail. The price was exactly as quoted with no surprise charges. Expedia's page is easy and fast to negotiate and has a neat feature that allows you to select a seat. A diagram of the cabin indicates seats already selected and you just click onto an empty seat and it's yours.
I bought the tickets separately so that my charge would be on my card and my friend's charge would be on his card. This was not a good plan as I got the last ticket available on the best itinerary. Had to book a different flight for my friend. So if you're booking more than one ticket, it's best to specify the number of travelers and pay on one card.
Swiss Mountain Trip
I would like to recommend a mountain trip in Switzerland, Niesen-Kulm near Thun. There is a spectacular view from the top. In 1999, we paid 110 Sfr. ($68) each for the "Aurora" trip including funicular ascent and descent, overnight accommodations in the mountain guest house, dinner, and breakfast the following morning. Sunrise on a mountain top is a sight to behold! Although we were the only English-speaking guests, we had no trouble communicating and were treated royally by everyone.
(Ed. Note: Contact Niesenbahn AG, CH-3711, Mülenen, tel. +/41/033/676112, fax 6762717)
Hotel Near Salzburg
I have not read anything in Gemütlichkeit about the Maria Theresien Schlössl Hotel and Restaurant (Mortzgerstr. 87, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +43/0662/8201 91, fax 8201 9113, Horst Schneider, proprietor,). We have enjoyed staying and eating here several times.
The restaurant is excellent. Herr Schneider and his Apfel Pfannkuchen were recently featured on German TV.
Grand Island NE
(Ed. Note: Located on attractive grounds near Hellbrunn Palace, this hotel is about three miles from the center of town. We had a pleasant lunch there one day a few years ago.)
Recommends German Hotels
Two of the places we stayed on a recent trip are worth mentioning. First, is the Schlosshotel Lisl und Jagerhaus at Hohenschwangau, where we had room Number 10 on the corner from which we had a view of Neuschwanstein from one window and of Hohenschwangau from the other. Room Number 20 would provide the same view.
The other hotel was in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the Klosterstüble, located within the walls of the city. I would hate to guess on the date of the building but the rooms had recently been remodeled and were very comfortable. The restaurant was also one of the best of our trip.
Hotel Altstadt Vienna
We spent the last week in February at the Hotel Altstadt Vienna, on a package that included going to the Coffeehouse Owners' ball, the opera, a tour of Vienna, etc. I picked the Altstadt based on the Gemütlichkeit naming it hotel of the year a few years ago. I filed that information and when we decided to go to Vienna pulled it out and made reservations. The hotel is still as good as you described it then, the staff was friendly and helpful, we had a beautiful room in the front, and we loved Vienna. The only drawback was the requirement for an advance payment, but I really didn't mind it that much. Not only did we love the Altstadt, with the current exchange rate it was a bargain.
Also, based on a note in a recent issue about the Schloss Berg having tickets for the Oberammergau Passion Play available to guests who stay three nights, we now have the tickets and reservations for July. Until I saw your brief I had assumed that probably the only way to get tickets was to spend two weeks being herded around on a bus tour.