Hardy Travelers

This month we welcome the return of Claudia Fischer and Roger Holliday to Gemütlichkeit's pages. This indomitable duo have been our principal rough country trailblazers for nearly a decade.

In late 1989, on Gemütlichkeit assignment, they braved infrastructure-less Weimar and Dresden, where hotel room door handles came off in their hands and restaurants had waiters, tables and chairs—but no food. Next, they took a few sledgehammer swipes at the Berlin Wall during a wild New Year's eve party. On later trips, they gave us our first reports on Prague and other points east.

This time the going was not so tough; Slovenia and its capital Ljubljana, a sliver of Europe that several subscribers have been urging us to report on for years. Holliday/Fischer confirm what we have been told, the country is charming and cheap.

Next for them: the German university town of Tübingen and another excursion beyond our usual coverage area, Strasbourg in Alsace.

Other Voices, Other Opinions

One of the pleasures of my job is debriefing Gemütlichkeit staffers and associates following their annual sojourns to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and neighboring countries.

For example, our advertising and computer consultant, Paul Merschdorf and his wife, Linda, are just back from an auto/rail tour that included Prague, Vienna, the Wachau Valley along the Danube and southern Bohemia. In Prague they like Cerny Orel Restaurant/Club (Malostansk nm. 14, 118 00 Praha 1, tel. 53 63 73) which they characterize as "typically inexpensive but a good, clean restaurant." Their best dining experience, however, was at Restaurant Mucha (Melantrichova 5, Praha 1, tel 26 35 86).

Failing marks, went to their Prague headquarters, the massive Intercontinental, which offered a poorly-maintained, assembly line breakfast buffet and brusque, airport-hotel-type charm. Next time they will try the beautifully-restored, art nouveau Hotel Paris (U Obecniho domu 1, 110 00 Praha 1, tel. 42/2 2422 2151, fax 42/2 2422 5475, singles from about $175 and doubles from about $185).

On the Danube, in Grein, where the King of Sweden maintains an apartment in a fine-looking castle, the Merschdorf's recommend the Strandgasthof Anibas (A-4360 Grein a.d. Donau, Obersterreich, tel. 07268/2520, fax 07268/2524). They liked the restaurant's roast pork with caraway seeds and the sautéed calves liver.

In Vienna, they praised the personal service at the Hotel-Pension Altstadt Vienna (Kirchengasse 41, tel. 1/526 3399-0, fax 1/523 4901) but gave four thumbs down to a popular tourist spot, the Augustiner Keller for its "high prices and poor food and service."

G-P Report

Gemütlichkeit advisory council member, John K. Bestor, and his wife "H," are regular European travelers with a particular fondness for Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Vienna.

In May, they spent six days in Vienna and a week in a G-P apartment. Their report on the latter is instructive to the traveler seeking a bargain. At Haus Barbara, (Wankweg 1, tel. 08821/57138, owner Bärbel Witting) in a residential neighborhood about a 10 to 15 minute walk from Ludwigstrasse in Partenkirchen, they selected a spacious studio apartment with a small separate kitchen and a wide balcony with good mountain views. In one of the town's hotels such accommodations would rent for at least 200 DM ($114). But Haus Barbara is not a hotel—no free breakfast or maid service—and the cost for the entire week was 460 DM ($263).

My uncle, who in his mid-70s still practices law at a large Midwestern firm, has made yearly trips to Germany for about the last 25 years. He was also there with the U.S. Army in the last year of WWII.

G-P—more specifically Partenkirchen—seems to be his favorite hideout. First on the schedule each morning after breakfast is a walk to the Garmisch train station to pick up a Herald-Tribune. After that it's back to Partenkirchen and the little Kölnditorei/Café on Ludwigstrasse where he takes a table on the first floor (our second) with a Zugspitze view; orders a coffee and then reads the paper cover to cover, taking special interest in the stock market quotations. The roundtrip on foot, with a little window shopping enroute, takes about three-quarters of an hour.

In the afternoon, while "H" naps and reads, he walks the hills and the town. Though his wanderings may include a stop for a Guinness Stout at the Irish bar near the main highway through town, he is watchful of the time because by late afternoon he must be in position to greet the cows as they come home from the hills at an outside table at the tiny bar on Partenkirchen's charming little Florians Platz.

Dinner may be at upmarket Reindl's Partenkirchner Hof (Bahnhofstrasse 15, Garmisch, tel. 08821/58025, fax 08821/73401), the elegantly rustic Posthotel Partenkirchen (Ludwigstrasse 49, Partenkirchen, tel 08821/51067, fax 08821/78568) or the lively Gasthof Fraundorfer (Ludwigstrasse 24, Partenkirchen, tel. 08821/2176, fax 08821/71073).

Some evenings come to an end with a glass of champagne or port or beer at the Posthotel's bistro-style Post Taverne, the town's popular late-night watering hole.

Wien Update

In Vienna, John and "H" use mileage to stay at the Marriott (Parkring 12). When the mileage cupboard is bare, it's Pension Nossek (Graben 17, tel. 1/533 70 41, fax 1/535 36 46).

In Vienna, their favorite haunts are Belline, a champagne bar between Neuer Markt and the Albertina, and a handful of mid-priced restaurants, mostly Italian. This trip they found and liked one that had just opened; the simple Danieli, a couple of blocks off the Kärntnerstrasse on Weihburggasse. Old reliables include Zum Kuckuck at Himmelpfortegasse 15, and Ristorante Firenze Enoteca, at Singerstrasse 3, which is more expensive, formal and has a better wine card. Dropped from their ready list this year for slow service was the Daniel, on a corner opposite the Ronacher Theater. A luncheon suggestion is the huge shrimp at the chain restaurant, Nordsee, on Kärntnerstrasse.

A sight-seeing tip is Juden Platz where new archaeological finds have stopped a large construction project in its tracks. The city has made it possible for sightseers to view the diggings from street level. RHB

July 1997