Service Above and Beyond

Re your Jan 1997 Dear Subscriber New Year's in Vienna mention.

After having standing room tickets for the 1981 New Year's Day concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, we were determined to see the concert sitting down. It took us nine years.

The procedure for obtaining tickets requires that requests reach the ticket office on New Year's Day, exactly one year in advance - a good trick if you can do it as mail is not delivered that day, and if it arrives early it is thrown out. We applied for eight years with no luck. When you published a review of the hotel Römischer Kaiser in 1988, we called the owner/manager in the fall of that year and he agreed to hand deliver, on New Year's Day, our letter requesting tickets for the next year.

We wrote the application for tickets and enclosed our previous seven or eight rejections and forwarded it all to the hotel in Vienna. In February of 1990 we received a letter from the Friends of Music stating that we would hear more in September. In September we received a layout of the Musikverein and prices. We had to submit a check in Austrian shillings. Next we received a letter stating that we must pick up the tickets December 29th. Since we would be in Budapest on that day, we called the Römischer Kaiser again, and they picked up our tickets.

On January 1, 1990, we walked to the concert hall at 10:30 a.m. The hall is exquisite, small with great acoustics. We had excellent seats, close enough to see the sweat on Zubin's face and a few rows in front of Walter Cronkite. The crowd was well dressed, many in black tie. We suspect there was scalping of tickets, judging from the many non-Austrians in the audience. It was one of our greatest pleasures, but very expensive. The Römischer Kaiser is a lovely hotel.

Bill Chesnut
Charlotte NC

(What a great travel story. The hotel's owner is Dr. Gerhard Jungreuthmayer, one of the reasons the Römischer Kaiser earned one of our first "G" awards.)

Our Man in Munich

My family and I had the good fortune to spend last New Year's week in Munich, Germany. While there I met Art Horn who has been advertising himself as, "Your man in Europe" in recent issues of Gemütlichkeit. I thought you and your readers would appreciate knowing that Mr. Horn is exactly as he advertises himself and more. His English is flawless and he is a very interesting person to talk to. I recommend his services to your readers.

My wife and I thoroughly enjoy Gemütlichkeit and look forward to receiving each issue.

Robert J. Reilly
Pontiac, IL

Didn't Like Hotel Tiefenau

I enjoy reading your travel letter and generally take your suggestions. Sometimes I disagree but not enough to write a rebuttal. However, there is a reader's comment in the January 97 issue on Tiefenau Hotel Zürich that requires a prompt and vehement denunciation.

1. The hotel's self-service elevator accepts two people, period. No luggage of any kind will fit. The porter had to follow with our luggage - four pieces - he was perched on one of the suitcases.
2. The threadbare, dirty carpet matched the peeling wallpaper. The king-size bed had a mattress that almost touched the floor in the middle of the bed....never mind the squeaky springs.
3. The telephone instrument was resting on the top of the radio, in the corner of the room, outside the bathroom door.
4. You ate the meager breakfast that was served, or rather, bread and coffee on a table for you to help yourself. You did have a choice of a hard-boiled egg.
5. The paper-thin walls are the crowning glory to an unpleasant day at Sfr. 330, which in September 96 came to $273.
6. A small refrigerator was located inside a dirty closet, we were afraid to open it, expecting creepy crawlers would greet us with opening claws.

The sole redeeming feature was the tight parking space for eight cars. I needed a quick exit to a BMW forwarder to drop off my new 540i for shipment to the U.S. and hop on the plane for London. The old saying that there are no bad hotels in Switzerland is not true...we just found one. Hopefully by now, for future tourists, they have done a major remodeling job. For sure, we will never return and/or recommend this place to anyone. By the way, the travel agent who recommended and booked me into this dump got holy hell from me.

V.E. Vacakis
San Francisco, CA

Hotel Report: Germany

Here is a report of a recent four-week trip to Germany with the primary objective of visiting some Christmas Markets we have wished to see for many years. Since we arrived before the markets began, we took a swing from Frankfurt down through the Black Forest and east along the southern border of Germany. The hotel rates that follow are for a double room with breakfast unless noted differently.

• Triberg - Parkhotel Wehrle (Gästehaus) 150 DM ($90). Good location in city center with good food. Nice indoor pool and sauna facilities.

• Oberammergau - Hotel Wolf 120 DM ($72). Near city center and comfortable.

• Berchtesgaden - Alpenhotel Denninglehen 204 DM ($122). Located seven kilometers east of the city with a marvelous view over the valley. Indoor pool and sauna facilities.

• Passau - Hotel Passauer Wolf 160 DM ($96). Good location near city center. Small rooms.

• Hohenau - Romantik Hotel Bierhütte 150 DM ($90). Great ambiance in beautiful area. Comfortable rooms. Good but limited menu.

• Rattenberg - Posthotel 120 DM ($72). Best find of trip! Very comfortable rooms and extensive menu in restaurant. Indoor pool and sauna facilities. Good location to visit the many glass factories in the areas, especially the Weinfurtner Glasshütten shops in the nearby village of Arnbruck - a glass shoppers supermarket! Other outlets in Bodenmais, Zweisel, Frauenau, Spiegelau and Freyung.

• Augsburg - Dom Hotel 176 DM ($105). A five-minute walk from city center with very nice rooms, especially the attic rooms. Indoor pool and sauna facilities. Free parking.

• Nürnberg - Weinhaus Steichele 170 DM ($102). Excellent location within walking distance to the city center and the huge German National Museum. Small rooms but restaurant is THE place to eat as evidenced by the packed house each night. Parking available 12 DM/day.

• Würzburg - Schloss Steinburg 510 DM ($305) for two nights and one four-course meal. Fabulous view over city and very tastefully decorated. Attentive staff and package included full use of the indoor pool and sauna facilities. Free parking.

• Aschaffenburg - Hotel Klingerhof 170 DM ($102). On weekends 150 DM ($90). Hotel has a great hilltop setting overlooking the adjacent valley to the surrounding hills. Easy access (6.5 km) to the city center. Large rooms and good food. Indoor pool and sauna.

• Darmstadt - Hotel Waldesruh 125 DM ($75). Located in the suburb of Mühltal-Trautheim. Convenient final night stop for access to Frankfurt airport via Autobahn with a service station approximately half way if you need to fill the fuel tank of a rental car. Large rooms and excellent food. Indoor pool and free parking. Easy access, seven km to Darmstadt.

We planned to see the Christmas Markets in Munich, Augsburg and Nürnberg but ended up in Rothenburg, Würzburg, Aschaffenburg and Darmstadt as well. We were disappointed with the market in Munich as it seemed to be limited in its variety and lacked the atmosphere we found in the smaller markets. The large market in Nürnberg was very crowded and full of the fun feeling we had anticipated. But we thoroughly enjoyed the more friendly feeling of the small markets particularly in Augsburg and Aschaffenburg. I'm sure others have their favorites and have many different assessments than ours.

Two churches visited early in the trip are to be recommended—in Zwiefalten and Ottobeuren. Both contain extraordinarily beautiful baroque paintings, stucco work and statuary. Two cities warranting a return visit were Rottweil, a fortified town on a rocky point which is wrapped by a bend of the Neckar River, and Tübingen, with its riverside setting and narrow, twisting streets. A castle worth a stop is Hohenzollern near Balingen.

Sharon & Nelson Helm
Plano, TX

U.S. Dollar prices quoted in this issue of Gemütlichkeit may be inaccurate for these reasons:

* Prices in local currency have not been updated since the date of publication of this newsletter, and...
* The dollar prices shown were obtained by using exchange rates in effect at the time of publication.)

March 1997