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In a six-day, south-to-north drive up Germany's eastern side we find the independent auto traveler with no advance reservations can sleep and eat well for under $100 per night per person.

By Bob Bestor

Dresden ZwingerThe plan was to drive without hurry from the Bodensee to Dresden, and along the way find good hotels with good restaurants at good prices, mainly in small towns. The further plan, with no advance reservations, was to spend no more than $100 per person/per night for bed, breakfast, and dinner at these better than average hotels. Here's how it turned out:

Tuesday: Hotel Adler, Bad Wurzach

From our rented apartment in Hohfluh, near the Brünig Pass between Interlaken and Lucerne, we rolled our suitcases half a block to the bus stop, from there to connect 15 minutes later to the 10:57am train at the Brünig-Hasliberg station. With a single change in Zürich we were in Lindau just after 3pm. A brief taxi ride got us to the local Avis office where the gum-chewing, smooth-talking agent urged us toward a BMW 118 as if it were a Rolls Royce. "This is all we have at the moment, sir," he responded to my observation that our reservation was for an intermediate car and the 118 is a compact. Avis Lindau is in a former gas station and a quick scan of the lot indicated Mr. Slick might just be telling the truth, there didn't seem to be any larger vehicles. I dismissed the thought of calling Auto Europe's toll-free-from-Europe helpline. I knew from past experience they would have leveraged a bigger car out of Avis - provided one was available in Lindau - or switched us to Europcar, but that would take time and we were running out of daylight. We could exchange cars a few days later when we met our friends in Leipzig. For now, the little Beamer would have to do.

Previously, using our U.S. cell phone (99 cents per minute with Cingular's overseas roaming) and the Michelin Red Guide for Germany, we had made a reservation from the train at the 18-room Hotel Adler in Bad Wurzach, 58 km north of Lindau. The Adler gets both Bib Gourmand ("good food at moderate prices") and Bib Hotel ("good accommodations at moderate prices") ratings from Michelin.

The Beamer's excellent and easy-to-use GPS guided us to the Adler's front door in the center of the village. A friendly but preoccupied man, who we later deduced to be the owner-chef, handed us a room key and pointed toward the stairs—all four flights.

The Adler's pride is obviously its sleek, wood-paneled, halogen-lit dining room with snowy tablecloths and gleaming crystal. As to what comes out of the kitchen, "Good food at moderate prices" nails it. Though a nearby table of 30-something French speakers were turning up their noses and sending back dishes, those served to us testified to careful, skillful, and creative preparation. Our man in Bad Wurzach can cook. Triangles of tasty baked Saibling (a kind of lake trout) rested on a bed of housemade noodles with leeks. An intensely flavorful reduction sauce raised the stakes on a juicy pork chop Iberico (imported from the Iberian peninsula), and a side of creamy polenta was swirled with bits of truffle. Main dishes range from about $14 to $17. A crisp mixed salad cost a mere $3.8 and half a liter of local Spätburgunder was $9. A shared boat of vanilla ice cream came generously doused with a lovely hot, sweet/sour raspberry sauce.

The double room was $78 and the dinner, without beverages, $45, for a total of about $166, well under our $200 limit.

Though the room was in need of new carpeting and there is no elevator, the Adler's accommodations offer good value. The restaurant, however, is the real attraction.

Bad Wurzach is best reached by car as the nearest rail station is 20 minutes by bus.

  • Contact: Hotel Adler Schloss Strasse 8, Bad Wurzach, D-88410, tel. +49/07564/93030, fax 930340
  • Daily Rates: Singles $47, doubles $78 Longer stays/weekends are discounted.
  • Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 15/20
  • Restaurant: Quality 17/20, Value 18/20