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Swisschocolate’s adventures in Switzerland and Bavaria

Swisschocolate’s adventures in Switzerland and Bavaria

Old Jun 1st, 2009, 11:19 AM
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Swisschocolate’s adventures in Switzerland and Bavaria

We’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Switzerland and Germany.

A little background information: My husband was born in Germany (Rhineland-Pfalz area) and lived there for 14 years. His mother is German and his father was American. She now lives in Biel, Switzerland with her 2nd husband – about 1.5 hours from Zurich. We try to visit every 2 years or so. We are both in our 40s.

Travel Day 1: We left from RDU on the afternoon of May 12. We had a 2 hour layover in IAD before boarding our United flight for Zurich, Switzerland. Nothing exciting about the flight – which is always a good thing. I will mention that we got the Economy Plus seats with 5 extra inches of legroom and it was worth it to us. We landed around 7:45am and promptly bought a rail ticket for our 1.5 hour train ride to Biel. I will now mention my love of the Swiss train system – it’s clean, always punctual, and easy to follow. Their use of signage and information is greatly appreciated by travelers. If only this pattern would have continued with our experience on the German trains…..but more on that later.

We arrived around 10:00am in Biel to our awaiting family. After a few minutes of catching up, we both decided to take a short nap to refresh ourselves. Of course, my husband promptly started snoring after hitting the pillow, while I couldn’t seem to doze off. So I got up and took a nice hot shower. About 11:30 he got up and did the same. We sat down to a delicious lunch of jaegerschnitzel, croquettes, and salad. My husband had the first of many weizen beers on this journey.

We won’t bore you with the details of a week with family – suffice it to say that we visited cousins, aunts, and uncles, ate many meals (at home and in restaurants), and saw some beautiful scenery. We took a boat cruise on the Thunnersee one day which was beautiful. Switzerland is truly one giant postcard. I don’t think it is possible to take a bad photo there. Just point your camera and push the button.

So after a week in Switzerland, we left for Germany at 7:46am from the Biel bahnhof. Of course our train was on time. We said our goodbyes and boarded for Deutschland. We made one change in Zurich, and then it was off to Lindau. Our plan was to have lunch in Lindau, walk around the island, and then take an afternoon train to Fuessen. When we arrived however, there was some confusion about what time the train would leave in the afternoon. So we bought our tickets and took the next train. No worries – we’re on vacation. This trip is all about no stress.

We arrived in Fuessen in the afternoon, and much to our delight, our hotel was only about one block from the train station. We had booked two nights at the lovely Hotel Kurcafe. Of course, the main reason for this choice was the proximity to the train station….ok, I’m lying. It was because the hotel had its own pastry shop downstairs… http://www.kurcafe.com/hotelenglish.html

We were very pleased with this hotel – it was spotlessly clean, the staff was friendly and polite, it was close to the train station, and….pastries!! And let me also mention the amazing breakfast buffet they have. Do Germans know how to have breakfast or what?? My husband was so amused by one choice on their breakfast menu (you had to order this, it wasn’t on the buffet). Bratwurst, pretzel, senf (mustard) and a wheat beer. I almost think he wanted to order that…

The first evening in Fuessen we walked around the town to get a feel of our surroundings. We settled on a lovely restaurant (sorry don’t remember the name) and we both ordered Jaegerschnitzel mit pommes frites. He had a beer (wheat of course) and I had the first of many Fantas. To round out the meal I had apfel strudel and coffee for dessert. Can you say STUFFED in German?? It was wonderful though.

Let me go ahead and mention that my husband now began his quest of eating jaegerschnitzel each day we were in Germany. He had already had it twice in Switzerland, but was ready to begin his research in Germany. Growing up in Germany, it was always his favorite meal. I make it at home also, but he was determined to eat it as much as he could. Why not? We’re on vacation!

The next morning we had reservations for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. So after determining which bus we needed, we began our short journey up to the world of King Ludwig. We purchased our tickets and began walking up those stairs (lots of stairs) to Hohenschwangau. Once inside the gate, we had to wait for a few minutes for our number to be called for the tour. So we wandered around taking photos of the amazing countryside below us. The interior of the castle is beautiful, and the stories the guide tells are very interesting. I’m glad we did this tour. Although my husband was bummed you couldn’t take photos inside.

A few souvenirs later, we decided to take the horse drawn carriage ride up to Neuschwanstein. Did I mention that we happened to be visiting Germany during a heat wave? However, all the carriages seem to have long lines waiting…guess they had the same idea as us. So we ended up buying a bus ticket and taking a sardine bus up. The bus driver actually stopped at one point for a great view down of Hohenschwangau and the lake. He said “oooooohhh” and everyone on the bus followed with “ahhhhhhhhh”. It was a great moment.

This bus drops you off by the Marianbrucke – my husband was so eager to get “the shot” of the castle from the bridge. Scaffolding..??? All over the side of the castle that’s viewable from the bridge. Bummer. I didn’t mind too much…I did go about 1/3 of the way across, then decided I liked it better on actual ground than on wooden planks suspended way too high up for me.

We didn’t take the inside tour of this castle. Instead we walked around and then decided it was time for some lunch. Hmmm….what to eat….oh yeah, jaegerschnitzel. Actually I think I ate it that day too. We didn’t have a bad meal in Germany. And I finished this one off with strawberry cake with whipped cream.

Then we decided we would walk back down to the town instead of taking the bus. Sure, no problem, it’s not that far…..Wha? That was a long trek down the mountain. The path was slightly steep going down and you were constantly “putting on your brakes” walking down. Guess I worked off that strawberry cake. The sad thing is when older people are passing by you. Has anyone else ever noticed how fit older German people are?

A few more souvenirs were bought – my husband bought some postcards of the castle since he couldn’t get the shot he wanted. As we’re waiting for the bus back to Fuessen, we hear someone yodeling in the parking lot. Apparently too much Schnapps…..

Back in Fuessen we freshen up and then go out to wander around town and eventually have dinner again. This time we settle on pizza. Great pizza at a little outdoor café. I got an ice cream on the way back to the hotel. And of course I had to try the pastry shop at the hotel….

The next morning it’s time to take the train to Berchtesgaden…our home for the next 4 nights. This involved a change in Munich. Did I mention again how much I love Swiss trains? Sorry, but the Swiss definitely have the best train system. We found the German trains were usually late. And many people were having difficulty making sure they were on the right train…not just us, but Germans as well. My husband speaks German and it was a challenge at times. But no worries, we’re on vacation, right? We got on the right train and then it’s off to Berchtesgaden.

We arrived late afternoon at Berchtesgaden….ahhhhh, so beautiful here. Views of the Watzmann came into sight and took our breath away. The train station was maybe only 2 blocks from our Hotel Bavaria. http://www.hotelbavaria.net/

Tears of joy almost ran down my husband’s face when as we’re approaching the hotel…wait, what’s that? Lamp posts with the Fransizkaner beer symbol! They serve his favorite beer here! I thought he was going to plant a big kiss on me right there for reserving this hotel. Upon checking in with Petra (fantastic service by the way) we trekked up 3 flights of stairs (uh, yeah, no elevator) to our zimmer #17. Between all the walking up hills and these stairs, I was actually able to halfway keep up my fitness routine! We opened our door to a lovely suite. We had reserved the deluxe room, but I had no idea it was a suite. Quaint and clean, this was a lovely room for us. We enjoyed having a separate sitting area with the tv and refrigerator (where my hubby stored extra Franzis ) We decided our first night we would eat in the hotel restaurant. Great choice! Their food is wonderful here. Any guesses on what hubby ate? You got it. And he said it was the best jaegerschnitzel that he researched on our trip. I had the grilled pike perch filet with Mediterranean vegetables and roasted potatoes. Absolutely wonderful.

The next morning began with our buffet breakfast at the hotel. Another amazing spread. Then we were on our way to our day trip to Salzburg. This was what I had been waiting for my whole life. I am a big Sound of Music fan and knowing I would be in Salzburg was so exciting for me. We took the train (buses don’t run there on Saturdays..??) and in about an hour or so we were there (after one change). I was trying not to break into song when we arrived. After finding a bus to the Mirabellplatz, we quickly boarded and were on our way. The Mirabell Gardens are stunningly beautiful. There were lots of people out this day enjoying the scenery. Then I saw it….the Pegasus fountain that Maria and the children danced around, then the Do-Re-Mi steps, then the arched walkway covered in greenery that they ran through. After a few necessary photos here (my husband amuses me with these requests), we were on our way and crossed over the river heading toward Mozart’s birth home. Did I mention how warm it was in Germany and Austria??

There are many many people here on these streets. We make our way through and marvel at the lovely wrought iron signs above the stores. After a while our stomachs are reminding us it’s lunch time. We find a shady spot under an umbrella at an outdoor café. My husband orders his Franzi and……wienerschnitzel! Yes, this time since we’re in Austria, he orders wienerschnitzel. I ordered fresh white asparagus covered in ham and cheese….delicious. After enjoying a leisurely lunch, we stroll some more through the lovely streets of Salzburg. We then took the funicular up to the Hohensalzburg fortress. Amazing views of a beautiful city below us. Once arriving back down, I decided to buy a HUGE pretzel dipped in chocolate. Maybe my eyes were bigger than my stomach…but what I could eat was delicious. Some more strolling and photo taking, and it was soon time to catch our train back to Berchtesgaden. I believe that night for dinner we actually strayed from the norm – he had wurst with brot and senf, and I had sauerbraten with knodel and krautsalat.

The next day was our boat ride on the Konigsee – after our breakfast at the hotel of course. It was a little cloudy this day, but not bad. This trip takes about 1.5 hours if you go all the way to Salet and back. Most people only go to St. Bartholoma, but we took the whole trip. It was lovely and peaceful. And guess what? Scaffolding covered St. Bartholoma, so there went the photo ops for that. More postcards…

Upon returning we walked around the town a little and then it was time to eat…again.
We sat outside and had….you guessed it. It was served with spaetzle instead of pommes frites here. I also had a nice mixed green salad. We bought a few souvenirs and then took the bus back to Berchtesgaden. We spent the afternoon in the Aldstadt – and took a short trip to the local market for some snacks and beer for our room. I love going in stores here – checking out the different products and brands. My husband was pleased at how much cheaper beer is there than in the States. I think he wants to move there…….

For dinner that night we actually strayed from the norm – he had bratwurst with brot and senf, and I had a mixed salad and some pommes frites. We wandered through the town and finished the day off with an ice cream. I believe my new favorite flavor combo is a scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of chocolate…yum.

The next day is our journey up, up, up to the Eagles Nest (Kelsteinhaus). My husband has always wanted to go here – he’s a history buff and knew it would also be great for photos (he’s a photographer too). So up we go in the bus around hairpin turns. When we arrive, you have to let them know what time you want to go back down and they stamp your ticket. After a walk through a freezing tunnel, we get to the elevator that takes us up to the top. Talk about views – this place is simply stunning. I don’t think my hubby put his camera down for 2 seconds the whole time we were there. The weather was absolutely perfect that day. We couldn’t have picked a nicer day. Salzburg, the Konigsee, Berchtesgaden – you can see it all from up here. We just wandered from one fantastic view to the next – feeling so thankful that we could be there to see this natural beauty.

Soon it was lunchtime and we decided to eat at the restaurant there. We got a great table right by the wall and almost couldn’t eat – we were just so enthralled by the views. But we did manage  Of course, it was jaegerschnitzel time again. Again with spaetzle. I was going to order dessert but I was too stuffed. We didn’t want to leave – but it was time for our bus to depart. We stopped at the Documentation center on the way back and spent a little time in there.

Back in Berchtesgaden and we decided to go into town for some shopping. It was so hot that I needed a pair of sandals and some cooler clothing. Mission accomplished and we sat down at a nice café – he with his Franzi and me with my ice cream. Dinner for our last night in Berchtesgaden was at our hotel – he couldn’t resist one last schnitzel (and he told the waiter it was the best of all his research in Germany) and I had the perch fillet again. Coffee after dinner and it was upstairs to pack for our trip to Munich the next day. We absolutely would recommend Hotel Bavaria to anyone going to Berchtesgaden. The staff is so helpful and nice, and the food in the restaurant is amazing. The rooms are clean and comfortable. Ask for Petra and she will take care of you!

We can’t believe our trip is almost over. We had a very leisurely breakfast at the hotel, since we were using the Bavaria ticket to get to Munich and couldn’t leave until 9:00am. Then it’s on the train and into Munich. Out of the train and onto Bus #58. We had no trouble at all finding our Hotel Uhland. A beautiful hotel on a nice quiet street. http://www.hotel-uhland.de/
We check in – they did have an elevator although it was about the size of an airplane restroom. We managed to make it upstairs and into our small but clean room. No worries, we’re only here for one night anyway.

Did I mention how hot it is in Germany? Record heat according to CNN (which by the way, gets to be very annoying when that’s the only channel you have in English). We get our city map and start out for the Marianplatz. It is so crowded here – throngs of people. We take a few photos of the Rathaus and some other buildings and then find a seat at a café where we can catch a cool breeze. My husband really wanted a bratwurst, but ends up with a weiss wurst. I had just ordered pommes frites and a Fanta. So needless to say, it was then his mission to find a brat. Do you know that it was difficult to find a bratwurst in Munich?? He eventually found one back at the train station. By this time we are hot and tired of walking, so we head back to the hotel. We watch a little of the French Open and then decide that since it’s starting to thunderstorm, we will just order pizza in for our last night since we have to get up at 4ark thirty for our flight the next day. Delicious pizza for only 9,50 euro. We go to bed early and boy does 4:30 come early. I get up and shower and get ready for our long travel day home. We have to be at the bus stop (1 block away) by 5:28am. Then it’s to the bahnhof. We have to ask for help in buying our S-bahn ticket from the machine, but two nice policeman who had just thrown a stoned American teenager out of the train station were nice enough to help us.

Down to the track to wait for our train to the airport. It comes and we board with what seems like hundreds of people. About 15 minutes into the trip, they make an announcement in German (which was very muffled) and everyone gets off the train…??
My husband hadn’t heard what they said and he looks around and we’re all alone. He said something’s not right here – we’re the only people on this train. I look up at the screen and the destination has changed from Flughafen to Geltdendorf. We jump off the train and head up the steps outside where all those hundreds of people are now standing. I ask someone what’s going on and there is some problem with the train, so people now have to find their own way to the airport. Problem is we’re in the middle of nowhere, and it’s raining steadily now. So with our luggage in tow, we’re trying to figure out what to do. A lone taxi turns the corner onto our street and about 60 people start running toward it. About 55 of those people are disappointed they didn’t get in and wait for the next one. A bus pulls up but we don’t know where the bus is going or how long it would take to get to the airport if it was going there. Another cab, another 50 people hail it. We are never going to get a taxi….It’s raining, I’m panicking….now I’m crying. After about 15 minutes my husband is consoling me when he sees all these people running down the steps toward the track. So off we go and sure enough another train has come. The doors are trying to close as hundreds of people are rushing on – a guy is standing in the door so people can get on. We’re screaming “Wait!” and luckily we make it on board. Whew – that was close. But we still have to get there and then get to the counter to check our 2 bags for the trip home.

We make it to the Lufthansa counter (we flew Austrian Airlines) and check our bags. Now it’s off to find our gate – which as you probably guessed is at the opposite end of the airport! We get there in time to grab a coffee and a donut and then it’s time to board our short trip to Vienna. We got the exit row seats and it was nice to stretch out our legs. We arrived in Vienna and after going thru security again, we didn’t have much time before boarding our next plane. We had a window/aisle seat – and across the row from us was a young mother with 2 small babies….great, no sleep on this trip home. Not that I sleep anyway on airplanes, but now it was totally out of the question. Between the crying and talking (and that was just the mom – haha) it was a long 9 hour and 20 minute flight back to Washington DC.

At least we thought – hey, we have 2.5 hours in DC before we fly home to RDU. Wrong – passport control, customs, get your bag and then re-check it, and then go thru security again. Maybe 15 minutes before we board again. Time enough to make a quick trip to the restroom.

Finally back home at RDU around 6:30pm. We meet my parents and head downstairs for our 2 bags. Round and round the carousel goes, where our bags are nobody knows…we longingly keep watching that belt and they never appear. So over to the United baggage office to make my report. Apparently our bags are still in DC. The one time we check bags (we only carried on the way over) and they can’t get them from DC to Raleigh. Ugh!! I’m told they’ll deliver them either that night or the next day. So we head home. I take a nice hot shower and go to bed – hubby stays up a little while to go through his photos. At 1:00 in the morning the airport calls saying they have our bags and are on their way. They arrive about 3:00am. All is well and now we can really get some sleep.

Overall we had a fantastic time in Bavaria. We definitely prefer the smaller towns such as Berchtesgaden to the larger cities. Salzburg is stunning and I hope to go back there one day as well. We have some great memories and a few pounds to work off now…

Auf Wiedersehn!
swisschocolate is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2009, 01:02 PM
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Welcome back Gina! I have been anticipating your trip report. Sounds like you had a great time!

Tracy
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Hi Tracy!
Yes, we did - it was amazing. Aren't the pastries in Germany wonderful? I know I went over my croissant allowance as well!

If I can figure out how to post some photos, I will. My husband took over 2000!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 01:51 PM
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Nice report. Thanks for posting. I can relate to your part of the trip where you visit family -- my husband was born and raised in the Netherlands and all his relatives are still there, so we visit quite often. On "non-family days" we try to travel around to other places. I need to get better about posting those trip reports!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 04:16 PM
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Enjoyed your report swisschocolate. We loved our stay at Hotel Baveria a few years back - we were there during a huge snowstorm and it was lovely. We had a similar problem with a German train, but at least we weren't going to the airport - as if flying isn't stressful enough! Glad it all worked out for you in the end.
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 05:53 PM
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swisschocolate - You can tell your husband that I enjoyed reading your trip report while drinking a 0.5 litre Franziskaner, out of a proper glass (we brought some glasses home from the Hofbrauhaus in Munich). I use to be a wine drinker, but after spending time in Bavaria 2 years ago, my husband and I started drinking Franziskaners, which has become our favorite libation.

By the way, you'll have to make plans to go back to Salzburg at some point and take the Sound of Music Tour. I'm a huge fan, who never takes bus tours, but had a great time on the Panorama SOM tour. The hills are alive.....

Robyn
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 12:58 PM
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Loved your report. We will be in Fussen in a couple weeks! I am wondering what is jaegerschnitzel? It must be good. I have ordered a menu decoder recomended on this board but it has not arrived yet. I am thinking if I can't figure out real food I can live on pastries. I would appreciate any food recomends!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 01:46 PM
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tdelano - it's also known as Hunter Schnitzel.

Basically, it's a schnitzel topped with a mushroom gravy, and it usually includes cream and/or wine in the gravy. The mushrooms are chunky, not like mushroom soup.

My absolute favorite schnitzel. Yum!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 01:50 PM
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tdelano: Jägerschnitzel is a breaded, pan-seared or fried cutlet of pork, served with creamy mushroom sauce. Not exactly a gourmet dish. I would have prefered the pike-perch.

swisschocolate: the German word for "stuffed" is "satt".

Loved your trip report. It is always interesting to read a report from a visitor. Sorry, that our train systems has deteriorated during the last years. Thank God, they have finally fired the greedy CEO who was responsible for all this. Hope that quality will improve again.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 02:27 PM
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Thanks for the replies!

globetrotterxyz - yes, gotta get the family time in first, then the actual vacation can begin! You know how it is...

Melnq8 - Hotel Bavaria is great. We would definitely stay there again.

artstuff - I told my husband what you said - he's actually drinking one now! I would love to take the SOM tour - if we get back to Salzburg it's on my list.

tdelano - You will love Fuessen. I'll go back through my receipts and find the restaurants for you. And swisshiker is correct about the jaegerschnitzel - it's delicious.

traveller1959 - Maybe not gourmet to you, but we love it! It was on most menus too so a popular item. Yes, many times I said "Ich bin satt" but I knew most people wouldn't understand that word here! Thanks for your info on the train system. I hope it improves too - maybe next time no problems going to the airport! But this visitor loves Germany and I hope to get back soon.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 12:07 PM
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We too love jagerschnitzel, although when we were last in Germany I ordered a plain schniztel with a side of lingonberry sauce that was really good. For me it's hard to go with a schnitzel!

Flights from Charlotte to Germany have dropped dramatically in the past few months. I found a flight to Munich on Lufthanza for $550 for this August, peak season! We were planning on going and then I discovered that I was pregnant and so we decided to stay closer to home. Still a little bummed though...I haven't see prices that low, especially in the summer months, in years!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 12:14 PM
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Congratulations Tracy!!!

Yes, that is a great price for August. Although it was so hot in May, I can't imagine how August will be.

We may go back in 2 years - we'd love to visit Berchtesgaden again and definitely Salzburg and more of Austria. My mom has made me promise not to fly again for awhile - she's freaked out by the Air France accident. My parents have never flown and are always nervous when we go. This hasn't helped!

I was thinking of you while I was enjoying those flaky croissants there!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 05:45 PM
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Thanks for this information. Since we will be staying at Hotel Bavaria in about two weeks your vote of confidence is comforting! We will plan to make a stop at the hotel restaurant - pike perch sounds great.

The info about the scaffolding at Neuschwanstein and Kongisee is also helpful - I think the disappointment won't be quite as great since we have been forewarned. The Fransizkaner should be of some comfort!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 06:33 PM
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Hi swisschocolate,

Thanks for writng the excellent trip report! We're heading for our third stay in the Berchtesgaden area this September. Glad you enjoyed your trip, even if the last day was a bit... harrowing. At least it all ended well. Thanks again for taking the time to write such a great report.

Paul
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 05:31 AM
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Thanks Gina! Unfortunately I've been miserable with "morning" (make that 24 hour) sickness for weeks now.

Yum...I can close my eyes and almost taste the croissants now. I have been on a quest for a great croissant here in Charlotte but alas nothing compares to the buttery flakiness of the ones in Bavaria and Austria.
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 06:23 AM
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Roadtrippers - You will not be disappointed with Hotel Bavaria. The breakfast buffet is also amazing. The entire staff there is very welcoming and helpful.

pja1 - Thanks - my first trip report. We hope to go back to Berchtesgaden one day - we were definitely impressed.

tcreath - I know...wish I had a few of those croissants myself...Hope you feel better soon!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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Thanks for the report..sorry you had train trouble and the weather was so hot
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 07:18 AM
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Oh well - that's part of the adventure, right? We had a great time!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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It's awfully cold, highs about 60, lows about 42. You were sooo lucky to find the warmer days this year.

Where do I get those buttery flaky croissants? I'd like to have a few too .
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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Guten Tag logos999 -
Better warm than cold I know! You know we spoiled Americans missed our a/c. I'm really not complaining. The warm weather just meant my husband could stop more often for a Franzi and I could have more ice cream

Go to Hotel Bavaria in Berchtesgaden or Hotel Kurcafe in Fuessen for the croissants! Send me some while you're there!
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