Robert Gillespie of Lake Bluff, Illinois has regularly traveled on business and for pleasure in Europe since the end of World War II. Here are comments abstracted from a recent letter:

New Munich Airport (Franz Joseph Strauss)

Stunning, beautiful and superbly organized for the traveler. But a note of warning: American Airlines staff doesn't have it all together yet, even after a full year of operation, so allow extra time. Boarding gates are perhaps 300 feet from check-in, a far cry from conditions at Frankfurt, and it is almost comfortable to board a plane under these conditions.

The car rental return is on the lower level as are the world-class shopping areas that make Frankfurt's pale by comparison. It is important to take the car directly there if one is within an hour of departure. With a bit more time, curbside drop-off for passengers and luggage is routine, but it does take time to drive from "C" area where the U. S. carriers depart to "F" where car rental is located. Cars are checked-in at the garage but it is necessary to take the documents to the counters inside for fast service, then it's about a 10-minute walk through the underground shopping areas to the departure area.

Hotel Lindner (Bad Aibling, Germany)

Very nice, as you said, but squeaky cheap at the edges. For example, don't expect a hot shower before 0530 because that's when they turn the water heater on. And the pressure in the new building is minimal, a fast drizzle at best, not what we red-blooded American boys are accustomed to. Bed linen is changed but once a week, so you'll sleep comfortably in well known linen until then. Of course it is changed when the room changes but if you stay it stays with you for the week. No shoe polishers anywhere. Parking difficult. No ATM in town that will accept VISA, MC, Amex; EuroCard only. Ask the owner to give you a couple of hundred marks and add it to your bill and she'll nick you 5% or 6%; that's tacky and cheap. No eggs at breakfast unless you ask for one. No English TV channel although there are four or five available in southern Germany. But they are nice people and the hotel is nice for a short visit. We were there four days. Would I go again? If I had reason to be in the area; otherwise I would go on down the road.

Hotel Geiger (Berchtesgaden, Germany)

You do have a true winner here. Stefan is a charming young fellow and my group from Cleveland had a wonderful time as his guests. You have hit on what is certainly one of the best hotels in Germany. The only thing I would add to an almost perfect place is one or two real Bavarian dishes such as Eintopf or Schwammel. The 'nouvelle' is delicious but once in a while I really want to load the tummy.

Mr. Gillespie gives a strong recommendation to Germany's moderately-priced "Ringhotels." He points out they are not a chain but a group of individually managed hotels and he calls one of them a "gem," the Hotel Götz Sonne-Eintracht (phone: 07841/6450, fax: 07841/645645) in Achern (just off the Basel-Frankfurt autobahn 33 kilometers southwest of Baden-Baden). Double rooms are from 150 to 230 DM ($89-$136).

From E. L. Gorgas, Sonora, California

In a prior issue one of your readers mentioned staying at the Gasthof Deim zum Goldener Hirsch in Freistadt in eastern Austria and day traveling into the Czech Republic. Worthwhile. We recommend a trip to Cesky Krumlov (old castle, narrow cobblestone streets) but not Ceske Budejovice which is crowded and not very clean. On our way back into Austria we stopped at a roadside outdoor restaurant for lunch of beer, sausage, cheese, bread and a dessert. In paying our waitress (a young, shy, extremely attractive Czech girl), I gave here the last of my Czech currency about $4.00 worth as a gratuity. In German she refused it as "too much." After several attempts I asked my wife (whose German is many times better than mine) to tell her that we were leaving her country and would have no use for the money. She then took the Koren note and thanked us as several big tears rolled down here cheeks. We'll remember this.

If someone is wandering the Innsbruck, Zürich, Bern, Heidelberg route to depart from the Frankfurt Airport they should consider a night at the Schlosshotel Bludenz. Get a second or third floor room with balcony facing the town and valley and surrounding high peaks. Our fourth stop here since 1981. The manager has been at the hotel for 20 years and is most accommodating.

Like many of your readers we like to spend several days at a luxury hotel and then several days at one that doesn't empty your pocketbook. Our favorite in the first category is the Brenner's Park Hotel in Baden-Baden. It's world famous, of course, but I don't recall that Gemütlichkeit has ever mentioned it. If your room faces the Lichtentaller Allee and the river Oos, you wouldn't know that you were in a city. Accommodating? One evening we were having a 7 p.m. cocktail in the Oleander Bar and the barman asked if we were having dinner in the hotel's principal restaurant (the Schwarzwalder Grill was closed). We answered that we did not feel up to the formality of the main restaurant and the barman suggested that he could arrange for us to eat on the terrace facing the gardens and the river. Perfect. Our recent stay was our fourth and as rewarding as the first.

Finally, a comment on dealing with the generally exorbitant rates at luxury hotels. Our recent trip began with a five-night stay in London where I attended a meeting. The convention hotel was the Intercontinental at which we've stayed before. I therefore wrote to Claridge's indicating I'd prefer to stay there for five nights if they could give me a room rate within reason. The response: a most gracious letter from their general manager resulting in a huge two-room suite (bedroom, large living room with usable fireplace and oversized bathroom) plus a $105 allowance toward dinner at the restaurant all this at only $100 per night more than my colleagues were paying at the InterContintenal (about $280) for a very conventional room.

As President and CEO of Dixie Saving Stores, subscriber Herbert St. Goar, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is involved in the food distribution business. He is also a member of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. A restaurant recommendation from such credentials gets our full attention:

For those of your readers who are real gourmets and who do not necessarily have to watch the price of their meals, I would like to recommend two restaurants in Munich which are great in every respect. They are Restaurant Käfer-Schänke, Prinzregentenstrasse 73, and the Restaurant Tantris, Fohann-Fichte-Strasse 7. The presentation, quality and service in these two restaurants far exceeds what one usually receives in a four-star restaurant.

I give you this information because you were instrumental in telling your readers two years ago about my sad experiences at the Restaurant Jacob in Hamburg-Othmarschen.

Incidentally, while I was in Hungary, I purchased saffron and was amazed about the low price which you indicated earlier this year in your publication. You were absolutely right.

Subscriber Elliot Hubbard, who at age 75 still takes annual ski vacations in Switzerland, raves about Petermann's Kunststuben (Gemütlichkeit, April, '88) in Zürich-Küsnacht and Zürich's Hotel Florhof (Gemütlichkeit, April, '93). Mr. Hubbard "doesn't know how Girardet (near Lausanne and acclaimed by many as Europe's finest restaurant) could be better" and says he has been going for 10 years to the Florhof where "they always remember our name and couldn't be nicer."

And finally, subscriber Cliff Lindsay, who operates a bed and breakfast in Whidbey Island, Washington, suggests beer lovers visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber try the Brauerei Gasthof Landwehrbräu (phone: 09865/833, fax: 09865/7 16) in nearby Reichelshofen. Double rooms are 110 to 135 DM ($65-$80). He also recommends a long-time Gemütlichkeit stopover, Schloss Neuhof (phone: 09563/2051, fax 09563/2107) near Coburg, as a first-night hotel under three hours driving from the Frankfurt Airport. He reminds us that the Goebel factory (Hummel figurines) is nearby. Mr. Lindsay added one ominous note, however. During his March visit only two of the hotel's rooms were booked and only two tables were occupied for dinner.

June 1993