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Trip Report - Germany and Austria May 2005

Trip Report - Germany and Austria May 2005

May 25th, 2005, 04:22 PM
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Trip Report - Germany and Austria May 2005

First, my husband and I are in our mid-50's, no children, just a dog. Not big on the nightlife and enjoy good food, but don�t go in for expensive gourmet meals. On Thursday, 5 May, we flew over to Frankfurt on American Airlines from Houston via DFW. Upgraded to Business Class on the way over using miles and $$. Well worth it in my opinion. Arrived on time in Frankfurt and took a short taxi ride to the Avis office in Kelsterbach to pick up our rental car. Cost of the taxi was under 20 Euro including tip. Got an Opel Astra 1.7 diesel 4-door which held all of our luggage just perfectly. Off to Beilstein --- in the rain.

BEILSTEIN: Spent 3 days at the Hotel Haus Lipmann. (See my separate posting on hotel reviews.) It rained off and on the entire time but we still managed to see as much as our jet-lagged bodies would allow. Spent our first day just wandering around the little river town of Beilstein. What a gem. Had a delicious lunch at our hotel and dinner at a small Italian place close to the hotel. Turned in early.

The second day, we got some money at the ATM in nearby Bruttig before heading off to Cochem. We first went to an internet café to send some pictures home to friends. With a little break in the weather, we decided to wander the streets of Cochem. The many narrow streets in the Altstadt were really crowded with tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately, the rain intensified so instead of going on to Burg Eltz, we returned to our hotel. Later, we walked up to the castle ruins of Burg Metternich. This is a fantastic vantage point for viewing the river and surrounding area. Dinner that night was at another Lipmann property, the Altes Zollhaus.

Sunday, we went to Burg Eltz with an American couple we met at breakfast. They had been training their way around Germany and Austria, using Rick Steves� book as a guide. We offered to take them to the ATM in Bruttig and then go on to Burg Eltz. We followed the advice Rick Steves� gives in his book so we only had a short 15-minute walk to the Castle. What a breathtaking walk it was too! If you do nothing else while visiting the Mosel or Rhine River areas, you must see Burg Eltz. It was one of the highlights of our trip. Our tour was in German but when you buy your ticket, you can get a little guide that's in English. We stopped back in Cochem for lunch and a quick walk around. Most of the shops were open which surprised us. Back in Beilstein, my husband and I decided to walk up to the Karmelitenkirche since the rain had once again abated. A lovely church famous for the Black Madonna and Child left there by the fleeing Spaniards in the 16th century. Dinner this evening was at the Haus Burg Metternich Hotel. They had the most wonderful warm Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream and Whipped cream! Yum! I wish I had some right now!

BAD WIMPFEN: This morning we drove through some lovely German countryside towards Heidelberg and our eventual destination of Bad Wimpfen on the Neckar River. Along the way, we saw a lot of castles � some in ruins, some not. Arrived at the Hotel Neckarblick early afternoon and decided to wander the streets of Bad Wimpfen. It was obvious that this place is not on the tourist radar, but it certainly should be. We were overwhelmed by all of the beautifully maintained half timbered buildings and the two medieval towers, the Blauer Turm and the Roter Turm, dating from around 1200, as well as the remains of the Imperial Palace. Everywhere you turned was another fantastic photo opportunity. But, the shops were all closed. In every town we visited on this trip, the shops would close at 1 PM and not reopen until 3 PM. Then, everything except the hotels and restaurants would shut down for the night at 6 PM.

The next day, we drove about 45 minutes to Schwaebisch Hall, a much larger and more spread out city that was very prosperous in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries due to its salt mines. There is a fabulous town square with the Rathaus and St. Michel�s Lutheran Church. Down along the Kocher River is another picture postcard view looking at the half timbered houses that back up to the river. After lunch, we toured the church and then headed back to Bad Wimpfen for another lovely walk around town.

Our last day trip was to Dinkelsbuhl, a little over an hour away from Bad Wimpfen. Once we parked, we walked around this �mini Rothenburg� as it�s been described. However, the locals think that Dinkelsbuhl is better because so much of the town is original. I found it to be beautiful, but busy. A lot of car traffic that you don�t seem to have in Rothenburg. Anyway, we took some great photos, had a bite of lunch and then returned to Bad Wimpfen.
bettyk is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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HALL IN TIROL: Sadly, we had to leave Bad Wimpfen after breakfast and head to Hall in Tirol near Innsbruck. This is also a place we have never been but have read much about. Hall was another prosperous salt area thru the middle ages. Its old town is said to be much larger than that of Innsbruck. Today would be a long day, at least 4 hours or more until we reach Hall. There was a lot of traffic on the road and it did not move as quickly as we had hoped. We stopped at a Gasthaus in Pronften and had some great pork, sauerkraut and potatoes. When we set back out we were told that Innsbruck was another 1-1/2 hours. We did not reach the Gasthof Badl until around 4 PM. It HAD been a long day. However, the scenery was spectacular! Our hotel is located across the bridge from Hall on the Inn River. There are some very large snow capped mountains right outside our window and the sound of the rushing river is very peaceful. The weather had been absolutely glorious all day. Lots of sun and much warmer temperatures than we were use to on this trip.

After a short rest we decided to head across the foot bridge to Hall. It is a larger city than Bad Wimpfen and quite busy with people, cars, and bicycles. But there are a number of beautiful churches and spires that provide some great photo ops. We wandered the streets, had an ice cream cone and took a lot of pictures. We found a Billa grocery store that was open so we stopped in for a couple of ham sandwiches, Pringles and cookies to take back to the room. We also had some English language TV for a change. There had been no English channels in Bad Wimpfen, not even CNN. Now we have CNN, CNBC and BBC World!

The next day after breakfast, we headed down the Autobahn for a few miles to Wattens and the Swarovski Crystal World. It was definitely something different, but not something Id do again. Very touristy and modern abstract in design. The prices in their shop were not discounted either except for the 2 Euro they return to you off the 8 Euro ticket price when you make a purchase. Afterwards, we had some goulasch soup at the hotel and palatschinken with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert. It was delicious! Later, we walked around the old town and picked up a couple more yummy ham sandwiches at the Billa for dinner.

HALLSTATT: Were headed to one of our favorite spots, Hallstatt, Austria for 3 days and a visit with one of our friends from Vienna and her family. Arrived in Hallstatt around 12:30 PM to find that our hotel reservations were totally screwed up at the Gruner Baum due to severe water damage over the winter months that was still being repaired. To make a long story short, we ended up staying the first night at the Hotel Zauner, the second night at the Gasthof Simony and the third night at the Gruner Baum! Soon our friends arrived we decided to meet later for a walk around Hallsatt. We went up to the Catholic Church for the view and to see the Bone House.

On Sunday, we decided wed go to the Loser, a bergbahnen or mountain toll road in the Dachstein, and some other areas nearby where Lise had been before. We went thru Obertraum on Hallstattersee and stopped in Bad Ausee for a look around. David and I went to a little Flohmarkt (flea market) off the Haupstrasse and then he took some pictures. We got back on the road and headed toward the Loser. We steadily climbed in elevation with lots of twists and turns reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains. Soon we were in areas covered with some deep snow along the road. Had some coffee at a little restaurant at the top and took in the view. We then headed down to Grundlsee where we parked the car and took off walking. After about 15 minutes or so, we ended up at a restaurant at the Toplitzsee. This place specializes in fresh fish and can only be reached by walking. David got a fish called Saibling? and I just got the Forelle (trout). Both were pan fried in butter and were pretty good. We arrived back in Hallstatt around 5 PM and met at the Gruner Baum around 7:30 for dinner. I had Weinerschnitzel and David had asparagus soup. Both were very good. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought out a plate of chocolate candies for everybody that were delicious. We'd had some fabulous food today. Thank goodness for all the walking we're doing!

On Monday we visited the Hallstatt museum. This was our 4th trip to Hallstatt and we'd never made it to the museum. It was fascinating and very well done. Over 7000 years of Hallstatt history in more than 25 exhibit rooms. Later, after our friends left to return to Vienna, we decided to take the boat ride wed always wanted to do but hadnt. It was a lot of fun and it gave us a different prospective on the town. After dinner we took a walk. We found some stairs wed never taken before and ended up at the tunnel going into town. Had a great vantage point from up there and David took some more wonderful pictures.

Tomorrow we head back into Germany to Iphofen.
bettyk is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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While I'm not planning a trip any time soon to the areas you've visited, I am saving your fine trip report for the future. Hotel Haus Lipmann certainly is of interest and we will take your advice and not miss Burg Eltz.

Also, it's always good to hear about a place like Bad Wimpfen that is "off the tourist radar." Hopefully we can get there before it is "discovered."

Thanks for the report.
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May 28th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Elena, thanks for your comments. On this trip, we really wanted to find those little hidden gems that the masses have not yet discovered. And, for the most part, I think we succeeded. While Rothenburg is still one of our favorite cities, we found a number of towns that were just as charming but without the hordes of people.

IPHOFEN is one of those places. It's one of the most wellknown of the wine-growing towns in the Franconian wine region yet there were few tourists. We stayed at the Gasthof zum Hirschen which is located right inside the old town walls by the Einersheimer Tor. There are a number of the old medieval towers and gates still standing in Iphofen, and one of the most magnificent we saw on this trip was the northern fortification, Rodelseer Tor. The market square is also lovely with its Baroque Rathaus and cosy cafes. Twice we ate dinner at the Weisses Ross just off the square. Shared a large pizza, wine and dessert for under 20 Euro one night and then returned for one of their daily fixed price specials, the Putenschnitzel, for 9.50 Euro. Iphofen makes a great base for visiting a number of other towns in the area. It's only 75 minutes from the Frankfurt Airport, 30 minutes from Wurzburg, 60 minutes from Bamberg and a half hour from Rothenburg.

The day after arriving in Iphofen, we decided to investigate a little town near Wurzburg that I had seen on the Internet. Dettelbach is a place of pilgrimage located at the Main River. There is a complete town wall with two town gates and 30 turrets, a Renaissance Rathaus as well as the pilgrimage church of Maria am Sand. The narrow cobblestone streets and abundant half timbered buildings make this a wonderful place to spend several hours or an overnight stop.

We then headed towards Wurzburg but decided not to stop (we've seen Wurzburg on a previous trip). On my map, one of the towns marked as a place of interest was Karlstadt so we head north out of Wurzburg on the B27 and found ourselves in the lovely old town of Karlstadt am Main. The old town was much larger than the other little towns we'd been in. The Haupstrasse seemed to go on forever. Unfortunately, I do not know much about the town itself since it's not in any of my guide books. Pity, because we thoroughly enjoyed walking down the lovely streets, looking up at the Karlsburg ruin on the hill and the colorful 17th century buildings lining the Haupstrasse. Maybe I'll discover its history someday.

Our final day before returning home was spent in Rothenburg. We needed to buy a few gifts and never seemed to be in the right place when the shops were open. We knew we could find what we wanted in Rothenburg. After checking out of the Zum Hirschen, we headed down to Rothenburg, arriving a little after 10 AM. We easily found a parking place and headed through the Roder Tor toward the Marktplatz. Stopped in a few shops along the way and by the time we reached our destination, we had completed all of our shopping! Now it was nearly lunch time, and I remembered a nice little place where we had eaten on a previous trip just off Herrengasse. We made our way towards the Kloster Stube with a detour into the Bear Shop. Had a wonderful lunch out on the terrace and asked the waitress to take our picture. We then wandered along Klingengasse to the Klingen Tor, one of the few parts of Rothenburg we had never seen. Very few tourists along this route, but there were throngs around the Marktplatz. Several photo ops later and we were back where we had begun. Now it was time to head to the Frankfurt Airport hotel for our last night in Germany.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express around 3:00 PM. Nice place, nice price. Got all of our packing done and walked across the street to the Tomassi Italian Restaurant recommended by the hotel. The food was quite good, especially the home made mushroom soup. Watched a little CNN to catch up on what had been going on in the world and turned in early.

Up at 5:30 so we could have breakfast, return our rental car and check in 3 hrs before our 10:55 AM flight to DFW. Made the mistake of turning in the car at Terminal 2 when our flight was out of Terminal 1. Took awhile to make our way to the Monorail with all our luggage in tow. The flight was full but OK. We landed early in DFW, retrieved our luggage, went thru Customs and on to our connecting flight. DFW was a complete and utter zoo! Hate to think what it will be like in the heavily traveled summer months.

The only downer for me on our return was that my TSA approved lock had been cut off somewhere between DFW and Houston. All of my prescription pain pills that I packed were taken. On the trip over, I had all of my medications with me in my carry on bag but only kept a few pills with me on the return trip. I am angry that these bozos have enough time on their hands to cut my lock, unzip my medication bag and then look at all my prescription bottles til they found what they were looking for. No other meds were taken, just the pain pills. It's like, who's supervising these people??? Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson.

Germany and Austria are beautiful this time of year -- very lush and green. The air is clean and you can see forever. All of the people we met were very friendly and many were quite eager to use their English. We had a fantastic time and I am eager to return.
bettyk is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 03:02 PM
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Hey Bettyk - I've thoroughly enjoyed your trip report! My Mom and I came back a couple weeks ago from Germany and two days at Hotel Haus Lipmann - that really is a special place. I, too, enjoyed the Apfelstrudel with ice cream - yum. Did you ever get to try the macaroons at HHL? Some helpful soul on this board (off the top of my head I want to say RufusTFirefly, but sorry if I'm wrong) said they shouldn't be missed. We missed 'em. Just wondering how good they were. (Guess we'll have to go back!) Bad Wimpfen sounds delightful. And so do the towns in Austria. We only made a day trip to Salzburg/St. Wolfgangsee and fell in love. Now I've got some other towns to put on our list....

Thanks so much for sharing.
 
May 28th, 2005, 03:56 PM
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Hi, aggiemom. Yes, we are the ones who loved the macaroons--Mrs. Fly bought a bagful the morning we left. As we were checking out, we started chatting with Herr Lipmann and son, and ended up finishing off the goodies before we ever got into the car!
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May 28th, 2005, 03:56 PM
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Hello bettyk, well you obviously are another one that can write a beautiful, interesting and informative trip report. I sure wish I could. Some of you amaze me! Do you take notes every day or do you just have a fantastic memory?

Your time in Germany sounds delightful. Do you speak any German at all? I use to understand some German when I was little but alas I don't anymore.

Thank you so much for sharing your trip, I really enjoyed reading your report. I note that you like out of the way places and that you like to walk everywhere that you can. I am the same way. Take care.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 05:25 PM
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ehc
 
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Your trip sounded like it was very enjoyable. A couple of years ago we visited some of the same areas as you did and really loved them. Great & interesting report.

Just out of curiosity - you mentioned you upgraded to B-class w/ $$ & miles. I was wondering, do you have to pay the full economy class fare (unrestricted) in order to do this or can you upgrade the way you did on the cheaper economy fare? How much $$ does it cost to buy miles? I suppose all this info is on American's website, but it's easier to ask you. Hope you don't mind.

Thank you.
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May 28th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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Thanks to all of you for the kind words.

Aggiemom, I remember your posts about your trip. We really enjoyed Haus Lipmann and we did try the macaroons. Herr Lipmann actually gave us one. I think he felt sorry for us because the weather was so crummy while we were there. I'm afraid I didn't like them as much as some sorry, Rufus). I guess I was expecting them to be more like the macaroons I'm use to but they are like merangue (sp). But, whatever it takes to get you to go back again!!

LoveItaly, I appreciate the compliment but don't think of myself as a good writer, especially after reading some of the witty trip reports here on Fodor's. And, no, I don't have a good memory at all. We took our laptop with us and I tried to jot down a few notes every day or so, mainly for my own benefit. As someone else said on another thread about trip reports, I started doing these a couple of years ago after finding some notes that my husband made from our very first trip to Europe in 1977. There was so much I had forgotten about that trip until I read his notes. And, yes, we do speak some German. We lived in Vienna for 2 yrs in 1983-84 and took German lessons while we were there. But once we returned home to the States, we never used it. We didn't go back to Germany until 1999 but found that we still remembered enough to get by.

ehc, I booked a cheap fare from Houston to Frankfurt back in February for $620. I called about an upgrade in early April and was put on a waitlist. About 10 days before our departure, American called and said we had been upgraded to Biz Class on the outbound flight from DFW to FRA. Since we'd bought a low fare ticket, it cost $250 plus 25k miles for each upgrade which is why we only did it on the flight over. If we'd had enough miles, I probably would have upgraded on the return too. I thought it was a pretty good deal. We still had more leg room in coach coming back cause they haven't finished retrofitting all their planes. But Biz Class is way better!!

bettyk is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 03:35 AM
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Hi bettyk - I finally discovered your trip report. Now I understand the draw to Iphofen. I think I'll have to add this little town to my list of places to see in Germany.

Thanks for taking the time to post. Peace.

Robyn >-
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May 29th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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bettyk--yes, it's all in individual taste. I don't like regular macaroons, but loved the ones at HHL.
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May 29th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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Robyn, I first heard of Iphofen thru the Traveling with Ed and Julie website. In fact, it sounded so interesting, I printed the info and placed it in my files. Of course, now the website is defunct since Ed's death which is really a shame. So much good info you just can't find anywhere else.

In her book, Karen Brown mentions the Romantik Hotel Zehntkeller in Iphofen but it was just too expensive for our budget. Otherwise, I didn't find Iphofen mentioned in any of my other guidebooks.

Rufus, I'm willing to the give the macaroons another shot on our next visit to Beilstein, but I think they'd have to take 2nd place to that Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream!!
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May 29th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Great report, thanks. I am interested in the Mosel for a future vacation, it sounds lovely.
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May 29th, 2005, 09:29 AM
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The Mosel area was really nice, especially in Beilstein. I found it more serene than the Rhine. Several of our hotels were on rivers inluding the Neckar River in Bad Wimpfen and the Inn River in Hall. And we were on the lake in Hallstatt! I guess I really like water!
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May 29th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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Mr. Fly - no wonder I didn't recognize the macaroons in the jar! I didn't realize they were like meringues. Herr Lipmann had told me they had plenty and when I went to look all I could see were these "meringues." Mystery solved!
 
May 29th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Great report on Germany. This is one of our favorite areas to visit. Makes me want to book a trip and get back there.

We have done the Mosel and Rhine a few times. I agree on the Mosel comments. We enjoy it more than the Rhine.
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May 29th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Oh, I'll agree on the Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream as dessert. I don't consider cookies of any kind to be dessert--they are periodic essentials to get one through the day.

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May 29th, 2005, 05:21 PM
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Rufus, you're right, of course! One can easily walk around eating cookies but one must usually be seated to properly enjoy Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream!
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May 29th, 2005, 05:52 PM
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Nice report. I discoverd Bad Wimpfen almost 30 yrs ago on a cycling trip. The area to the east is very scenic and I remember the Michelin Guide saying that it is so isolated that the accent is hard for the rest of the Germans to understand!

Regarding midday closing. Maybe the time is more standardized now, but on a couple of cycling trips in the 70's, we ran into different hours in almost every town. I remember rushing to one town to make it by 1:00 pm, only to find out that in that town, the stores closed at 12:30!
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 09:40 AM
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Topping for NanceS.
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