Tips on using Europe by Air and where on the net to find cheap fares within Europe. Also, a website for German wine lovers, a report from Expo 2000 plus, hotels recommended in Berlin and in Switzerland's Lötschental, and how to beware of ripoff credit card charges when using the card in Europe.
Advice for Europe By Air Fliers
In April my wife and I traveled to Italy and Greece and in doing so used Europe by Air on four flights without any real problem. However, we found that you need to allow yourself lots of extra time at the airport to locate the site to exchange the prepaid vouchers for tickets.
This was not always easy. First you need to find the person who handles tickets for your particular airline and, since they are smaller airlines, this required a fair amount of hunting. Some of the smaller airports were not familiar with the Europe by Air vouchers so it took awhile to get tickets issued.
You also must pay the local departure taxes at this time. Once your tickets are issued you must locate the correct check-in location for your airline and then, of course, the correct departure gate.
All this takes time in unfamiliar airports. It is hard to beat the price, however, and we have been telling friends about Europe By Air.
The reason for this e-mail however is to tell you that it is my understanding that the three-leg purchase is no longer required. Thanks for my favorite travel publication.
More Cheap Europe Flights
Re your June issue on cheap flights within Europe. I suggest you look at easyjet.com/en. I flew Amsterdam-London, London-Edinburg the first of July this year and the fare was great. No problems at all. I checked EasyJet with several people before I booked the ticket over the Internet and had a positive response from each one.
Recommends the Lötschental
My wife and I visited Blatten in Switzerland's Lötschental for two days at the end of May. We stayed at your recommended Hotel Edelweiss (Blatten im Lötschental, CH-3919 Wallis, tel. +41/027/939 1363, fax 939 1053) and absolutely loved it!
The hospitality, food and room (we stayed in your favorite #202 - wonderful views of the valley) were all excellent. Charlotte, the co-owner, was extremely gracious and told us she has very, very few guests from the U.S. In fact, we were the only Americans staying at the hotel.
Thanks to you we discovered a special, secluded valley with awesome scenery, great hiking, no tourist crowds and a very welcoming hotel.
Credit Card Ripoff
On a recent tour of the Baltic states, I had occasion to make two small cash advances totaling $32.30 for tips, souvenirs, etc. using an AT&T Universal Visa Card.
When my statement arrived I was dismayed to discover that there is a minimum $10 fee on any cash advance, which meant I was assessed $20 for withdrawing $32, which the statement indicated was an annual percentage rate of 743%!
I suggest that all your readers look at the fine print in their credit agreements before making any cash withdrawals.
Robert A. Atkins
(Ed. Note: When in Europe, Gemütlichkeit recommends using an ATM card to obtain cash, withdrawing $200-$300 each time. The fee for each withdrawal is likely to be about $2. Use credit cards wherever possible for purchases, but not for cash advances.)
German Wine Website
I think your readers will enjoy a website on German wine put out by the "Cork Dork." How can a site run by someone with a name like that NOT be good! He did help us prior to our last trip this Spring. Go to www.vinonet.com.
I am complimented that you printed my restaurant recommendation of Landhaus St. Urban, but a typo by me and one by you must have left the readers wondering if the ever inventive Germans are not only developing new biotech foods, but also space age ways of cooking them.
First, our group was served grilled scallops, not "frilled scallops", and secondly we enjoyed veal prepared two ways, not "Vela." Keep up the good work.
Expo 2000 Woes
Just returned from Expo 2000...what a dud this expo is! Poorly attended (so far) and I can see why. Acres and acres of concrete and steel...lacks the energy and excitement of Expo 86 in Vancouver. A few exhibits are really worth visiting, but most will not really interest the person looking for variety and personal interaction.
The political undercurrent is overwhelming. I call it the "Rodney King Expo" i.e. "Can't we all just get along?"
Definitely not worth spending more than one day.
By the way, the hotel people in the region are all experiencing occupancy rates way below what was predicted. When you mention the effect of Expo, they all roll their eyes and tell you it is a disaster. Room rates dropping precipitously, particularly in communities near Hannover that expected people to train to the Expo site from their town. In Wolfenbüttel, for example, we stayed in a Treff Hotel with an Expo season rack rate of 295 DM ($142)...their "new" rate was 130 DM ($63).
Just wanted to let you know that last month, as a result of reading Gemütlichkeit, we stayed at the Art Nouveau Hotel (tel. +49/030/327 7440, fax 327 744 40) in Berlin and ate lunch at Rogacki (Wilmersdorfer Strasse 145)...both mentioned in your Dec. 1999 issue. Christine at the Art Nouveau could not have been nicer and the location is excellent. The elevator is a rare gem! Anyone staying in the Savigny Platz area should go to Rogacki...it is truly an experience.