Austria/Switzerland early June

May 4th, 2003, 06:22 PM
  #1  
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Austria/Switzerland early June

Husband and I are planning 14 day trip to Austria/Switzerland in early June arriving Munich and renting a car. We love outdoor scenery: mountains, waterfalls & out-of-way areas more than large cities. Have been to Berner Oberland & Kandersteg areas and loved it. Thinking of Engadine area, 2-3 days in Salzkammergut area with 1 day Salzburg, 2 days Vienna, stop on Grossglockner in Heiligenblut. Perhaps stop in Reutte to see Neuschwanstein on way back to Munich. We like B&B accommodations 2 to 3 star with friendly hosts to absorb culture. Time is short and no reservations yet. Please help.
NJ_Barb is offline  
May 4th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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Good plan. Right in line with my doings.

In Salburg we stayed at Pension Sallerhof, in the suburb of Groedig.
Free parking, good breakfast. Fairly good room and the price was right.
They hotel pension has a website. The young man when we were there was fluent in English. In Heiligeblut we stayed at Landhaus Christoff. Fairly good, nothing great. Got to meet the family that runs/owns it. The two parents speak English some; enough to help.
In Vienna, I suggest the Carlton Opera. Quiet because it is air conditioned with double pane windows. Fabulous A+ breakfast; equal to the Astoria in Munich, which is where I stay in Munich because I like the place. Friendly staff, close to Gieslastrasse Ubahn.
Neuschwanstein is interesting. Stop at the Wieskirche on the way back -- a Baroque masterpiece even if small.
bob_brown is offline  
May 6th, 2003, 04:09 PM
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Thanks, Bob. Will check out pension in Salzburg. Have any suggestions in Heiligenblut, Hallstatt or St. Gilgen or Reutte? Will also try to get to Weiskirche.
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May 6th, 2003, 05:56 PM
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Heiligenblut is the only place in that area, other than Salzburg, where I have stayed over at night. The Landhaus Christoff in Heiligenblut was interesting because of the family setting.
I don't think the children speak English. The youngest, Johannes, spoke 4 year old last summer. He would bounce up in my wife's lap, whisper in her ear some profound secret, giggle, and then rush off. The oldest daughter, Kathi,was an intern at one of the hotels in town. The youngest daughter was usually out playing. She would put on in-line skates and drag the rest of the neighborhood skaters down the street with a rope. The oldest son was off with his musical activities.
The hotel where Kathi was interning had great Wienerschnitzel. Best I ever had.

The drive over the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse was a thrill. Some say it is an overpriced toll road. I say it costs less than a family ride on a roller coaster at 6 Flags and is much more spectacular!!

The Pension Sallerhof is a popular place. It is located south of town in the suburb of Groedig, which is close to Schloss Hellbrunn with its trick water fountains. The fountains are fun, if someone else gets squirted.
It was the summer funhouse of one of the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg. Whoever held the office was a powerful dude. He had both secular and church power over everything, and there were darned few courts of law.

The Wieskirche, literally the church in the meadow, is a small gem. From the outside, it does not look imposing. The inside is a rich baroque style sanctuary. It will not take long to see it, but it is a pleasant stop on the way back to Munich.
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May 6th, 2003, 10:45 PM
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If you have a chance to take in one of the evening concerts at Weiskirche, that can be a special experience; much better than just visiting the building.
curmudgeon is offline  
May 8th, 2003, 06:47 PM
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I have just made reservations at Pension Sallerhof. They have a great website. Now all I have to do is plan the other 13 days! I am awaiting a AAA map so I can see where the country boundaries and roads intersect so I can plan getting from one location to another. Am looking "loosely" at the following itinerary: Munich, Salzburg, Hallstatt/St. Gilgen, Vienna, Heiligenblut/Krimml, Solden, Pontresina, Reutte, Munich. Still have a lot of planning to do. Thanks for all the help thusfar.
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May 9th, 2003, 12:06 AM
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Personally I much prefer the Innsbruck area to Salzburg, far more local and less touristy. I thought Salzburg was over hyped and the 'Sound of Music' done to death. The town was so touristy and full of tacky souvenir shops.
The little villages all around Innsbruck are beautiful.
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May 9th, 2003, 03:16 AM
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I personally would skip Sylden. It became a famous ski resort. So it is very busy in winter, but overbuilt, overdeveloped IMO.

In case you have questions about Pontresina, feel free to ask. It's one of my favourites.

Ingo
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May 9th, 2003, 08:53 AM
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Hi. I agree on the Sound of Money racket in Salzburg. The tour I let myself get con-jobbed into was the most egregious tourist activity I can recall. It was a little more than a running commercial for half the beer halls in Salzburg and Mrs. Brown;s strudel in Mondsee. We of course did not have time to eat any. In fact, we did not have time to do anything except listen to the ongoing commercials.
We did stop at someplace and look at a half rotten gazebo that was supposed to be where Liserl and the Nazi post boy danced around. But it of course had been moved. I got the distinct impression that it was dumped where it would not bother anyone and still be viewable by Americans. The Salzburgers could not care less about it, other than it helps bring in tourist euros.

Solden is a ski resort. If you are there in the summer, drive the Gletscherstrasse - glacier road. It leads to a ski slope on a field of ice that is groomed by mechanical equipment. It was cold up there in September. Also, visit Obergurgl, Hochgurgl, etc. These are remote ski resorts near the Timmelsjoch
It is an ok road on the Austrian side.
On the Italian side,it is steeper and less well engineered with unlighed tunnels.
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May 9th, 2003, 02:38 PM
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Thanks Ingo, Bob & Kathy. As for Salzburg, we were not planning to take the Sound of Music tour. Will be there 1 day/night to see fortress, Mirabell Gardens, Hellbrunn Castle and maybe Marionette Theater. Ingo, I'd definitely like more info on Pontresina, Posciavo and Guarda areas. Will have couple days to explore. Pensions, mild/moderate hikes and natural sights. Thinking of driving that direction from Lienz. What would be the best way to go? I am navigator & hubby does the driving.
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May 9th, 2003, 03:12 PM
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Hi NJBarb. In defense of Salzburg -- just ignore the S of M hype and enjoy the lovely old town. But that's not why I'm writing. When I read your mention of St. Gilgen, I remembered staying there one summer several years ago at a lovely little pension. It was the Pension Ferstl. We liked St. Gilgen a lot and daytripped to Halstatt from there, also to Salzburg.
 
May 9th, 2003, 03:29 PM
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I concur with St. Gilgen as an ideal base. Check out Gasthof Kendler or Garni Schernthaler for good value.
Near Reutte, I like Gasthof Zum Schluxen. I like your trip--have fun.
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May 10th, 2003, 08:45 AM
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Hello NJ_Barb,

your best route from Lienz to Pontresina is probably via Val Pusteria - Brixen - Bozen - Meran - Müstair valley - Ofen Pass. It is quite a scenic route, relatively long, but well doable on one day.

You write that you'll have a couple of days in the Engadine. I recommend to choose a central base (which is Pontresina and surrounding IMO). Guarda would meet your requirements of a quaint village with nice Pension (Pension Val Tuoi, www.engadin.net/tuoi) better, but it is quite far away from Poschiavo or Soglio.

I haven't got own experiences with pensions in Pontresina or surrounding, sorry. I use to stay in hotels or rental apartments. Anyway, there are plenty of nice small hotels in the area. Please tell me your preferred price range and I will make recommendations.

For favourite hikes: A must do is the hike from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard, about 2.5 hours, very moderate. Go by bus or train (very sufficient public transportation system) to Punt Muragl, take the funicular up to Muottas Muragl. The views are gorgeous: you can overlook the whole Upper Engadine with its lakes, mountains, glaciers ? hike via Unterer Schafberg (mountain restaurant) to Alp Languard (mostly slightly downhill) with another (excellent) mountain restaurant. Take the chair-lift down to Pontresina. To the left you can see the church Sta. Maria with beautiful frescos inside, well worth a visit.

Another fantastic hike leads from the top station of Furtschellas cable car (near Sils, bus stop) to the Fex valley, a real gem. The sunny slopes of this valley are famous for the rare Alpine wildflowers. And I was luckily enough to see marmots there.

It just came to my mind that you might have a look at my trip report which I posted after a vacation in the Engadine, and also at the photos I took. Do a search here or copy and paste this URL: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=17440455 and for the photos: http://home.hpphoto.com/servlet/com....sword=54786219

Enjoy and feel free to post more questions,

Ingo
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May 10th, 2003, 12:49 PM
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Everybody has an opinion, but I love Hallstatt. Have been twice and can't wait to return. We always stay at the Seehotel Gruner Baum right on the lake. First time, we had a room overlooking the market square; the second time, our room had a view of the lake. The lake view was gorgeous but more expensive. Owners are nice and the restaurant is wonderful. Again, just my opinion.
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May 10th, 2003, 08:07 PM
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All of those towns and small cities on Ausrian lakes have charm and character. Mondsee, St. Gilgen, Hallstatt, etc. are pleasant.
Salzburg is a place I have visited many times and love it. The Marionette Theater is like a magic show at times. The manual dexterity of the people behind the scenes is incredible.

We watch the marionettes perform to the music of The Magic Flute. Fun.

Then we walked outside to leave I heard the unmistakeable sounds of the last movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony.
The brass section of the Salzburg School of Music was rehearsing. So I stood outside the window on the street and listened. Geez those youngsters are good.
One other interesting excursion we made was a tour of the Festspielhaus where the Salzburg Music Festival is held.
You get a good view of the theater carved into the side of the mountain where part of the Sound of Music was filmed. That part is for real.

Our guide through the various parts of the Festspielhaus started off speaking German and English, fluently switching from one to the other until the German speakers told her to stick to English.
They had no trouble understanding any of her descriptions in English.
The bonus was that she had more time to talk to us about what we were seeing.

The tour of Schloss Hellbrunn was also in German and English.

In Vienna, I got the distinct impression that the Austrians pride themselves on their linguistic abilities. The city is such a crossroads of history and geography that 6 languages (German, Italian, Bulgarian, Turkish, English, and Croatian.) seem to meet there.
I know at Schloss Schoenbrunn, the members of the staff had on language identity badges to let visitors know where they could get linguistic help.
One lady had on a badge that read Russian, Turkish, Bulgarian, and German.
Then she overheard me asking my wife about something and she answered my question in English.
I wonder what else she could understand??

bob_brown is offline  
May 12th, 2003, 05:49 PM
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Thanks to both Bobs for your information and stories. Hopefully we will have our own to tell following our trip. Ingo, how long approximately from Lienz to Pontresina? My husband likes to drive, but not as much as he did in younger days. Also, we would be interested in pensions or hotels in 2 or 3 star category (Pontresina). We like smaller, family run places rather than mucho amenities. I have also looked up Guarda site for Pension Val Tuoi and it does look like the kind of place we would enjoy staying. Trying to figure how to fit in staying there. Just got map showing all intersecting countries. Trying to figure the best route to cover where we want to go. Possible stops as of now are:
Munich
Salzburg (1 nite)
Hallstatt/St. Gilgen area (3)
Vienna by way of Mathausen, Melk, Krem (2)
Heiligenblut (2)
Krimml
Pontresina (2)
Guarda (1)
Reutte (1)
Munich (1)
Not sure how to route trip to do Grossglockner & Heiligenblut and Krimml waterfall and get to Pontresina. On map, looks like we'd have to backtrack somewhat. Once I get the route set, I can begin making rest of reservations. Please advise if this sounds unreasonable or need to switch things around. I appreciate experienced advice. Thanks.
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May 13th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Hello NJ_Barb,

I calculated the route from Heiligenblut to Pontresina. It is in fact a long drive: about 240 km, and a driving time of almost 6 hours w/o breaks for lunch or photo stops. The roads are in good condition, not too windy or steep. Well doable if you start relatively early in the morning.

Re accommodations in Pontresina: From my own experience I can only recommend Hotel Albris, a family running three-star hotel. Probably not what you are looking for. You might, however, have a look at these: Hotel Tais, a small (24 beds) and recently renovated two-star hotel www.tais-hotel.ch and one-star Hotel Alvetern (more basic). Both centrally located. Another option is Pension Hauser, slightly above the village located, quiet, cosy. Nothing fancy.

My first recommendation, though, would be to have a look at a B&B style small three-star hotel in Sils (15 km from Pontresina), Villa Mira Margna. It is located on a hill, surrounded by woods and meadows, offers great views of the mountains. Friendly hosts, recently renovated rooms (if I recall correctly all the rooms are non-smoker rooms). www.villamiramargna.ch

Another good option is probably Chesa Nick in Celerina (a nice village 5 km from Pontresina), a B&B in a wonderful old house, very cosy and with reasonable rates IMO. www.chesa-nick.ch

Ingo
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May 13th, 2003, 06:30 PM
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Barb, you cannot do much but backtrack from the waterfalls in Austria. We drove there from Heiligenblut and back last summer, and yes, we had to retrace our steps.

I am glad I saw the falls because they are an Austrian attraction of some repute. But as waterfalls go, I was not overwhelmed by them. It was a pleasant hike and all. (We went all the way to the top.) I think you could find equal attractions elsewhere given your somewhat tight schedule.

I guess my conclusion was this: Glad I saw them once. I will not plan to return.
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May 14th, 2003, 05:55 PM
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Ingo, thanks for hotel recommendations for Pontresina. The Villa Mira Margna you mentioned is temporarily closed according to their website. Am checking other places in the area, though hotels in that area seem expensive to our tastes and budget. Bob, thanks for info on Krimml falls. I love falls, but with so much to do, as you suggested, may not be worth all the backtracking. Any thoughts out there as to reasonableness of itinerary?
Thanks.
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May 15th, 2003, 03:56 AM
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Subtract 2 nights from Hallstatt and add them to Vienna. One day is more than enough time to spend in Hallstatt. It is very small, and you can see the entire town in a 20 minute walk. There is a pretty view of the lake, but this does not justify 3 nights unless you have a lot of extra time available (which you don't).

On the other hand, 2 days in Vienna is not nearly enough. You will barely touch the surface. Even you spend a week in Vienna, you will not have enough time to see all its historical and cultural sights.
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