I recently returned with my extended family from the southern Germany/Austria area and really enjoyed a couple of areas. Kudos to LL Travelfan, whose area suggestions were top notch! First stop was Munich, a fascinating city with a lot of history. I could have spent a week here and not seen everything. Best hotel I stayed at was the BAYERISCHER HOF. Gorgeous five star (I believe?) hotel that was newly renovated with both traditional decor and modern decor. (I got an incredibly modern tastefully orange room, other family members were in traditionally decorated rooms. All rooms were beautiful.) If LL could pull off having the Bayerischer Hof participate--I'd try to go back. The only flaws were either no air conditioning or being unable to find it and a pure marble bathroom that got a tad bit dangerous after a shower. The air conditioning, I realize is nowhere near as common in Europe as it is in say, Texas, where I'm from, but really, the rooms got pretty stuffy. Am I wrong for wanting the option of a cool room when I'm paying hundreds of Euros a night? Over all, though, highly recommended. An interesting little factoid is that Michael Jackson apparently stayed at this hotel once, and since his death German fans have created a frankly unbelievable little shrine on top of some other statue right outside the hotel. It's good to know there's a little eternal flame for MJ out there. They did everything but plaster his face onto this 18th century statue of the guy who created the tram system I think! The Residenz palace is another must in Munich. The crown jewels displayed here were better than the ones in the Tower of London in my opinion.
Second stop was Oberammergau for the Passion play. This town is adorable with the painted houses with their bright flowerboxes (who knew geraniums are supposed to keep mosquitoes out? Not me!) The Germans are incredibly precise about planning and for a little town, they handled the thousands of visitors nearly perfectly. I do believe they were ready for the play to end however and get some peace and quiet. Garmisch Partenkirchen is another cute town, I would come ski here anytime, but unfortunately we had some wet cold weather while there and couldn't visit the Zugspitz.
Austria was next and really the only hotel I can recommend was the Hotel Sacher Salzburg. The people here were the kindest I met in Austria and you get a little afternoon treat delivered--yummy fruit and an even yummier little sacher torte. I also stayed in Hof bei Salzburg/Fuschl at the Schloss Fuschl but can't recommend it for a number of reasons.
Berchtesgaden was our final stop and this was my absolute favorite. After a disappointing experience with Schloss Fuschl we all stayed at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden and the people were so incredibly lovely it was just a joy to be there. We stayed while there was, strangely, a Lamborghini event, so every time we tooled up in the rental car, we always kept the Lamborghinis rumbling behind us impatiently. We'd start off the days watching them roar off on the mountain roads while waiting for the mist to burn off the hills, then go have breakfast. There's a million things to do in this area. We went to a waterfall and salt mine, then took a boat trip down Lake Konigsee-which is the most peaceful mountain lake you could ever imagine, then did some hiking. I think it's always a good thing when the locals also are doing some of the sightseeing that you are, then you can get further recommendations from them. There's a bit of World War 2 history here, with the Eagle's Nest that you can visit and the museum/bunker is also very good. There was a music festival here also during the week and I really enjoyed all the different things to do in this town. The Intercontinental Berchtesgaden was by far the best Intercontinental hotel I've been to and the staff really made it top notch-from eagerly volunteering to open up the Business Center at 4 am because a family member woke up early to being solicitous, though not overly so at the dinner service. Whatever they have done to train their staff should be studied by all hotel operators. The room was modern, with a free minibar! (which must be more common in Europe) with working air conditioning and thankfully a good hamburger; I simply couldn't eat any more sausage or wiener schnitzel. Overall, I highly recommend this area to visit--Germany over Austria, and bring lots of Euros because it can be a bit pricey.
I enjoyed your travel log, thanks for sharing your impressions on your recent trip. to Munich, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden.
My husband and I are planning a 5-day trip to Salzburg and Berchtesgaden/Koenigsee next week, although we have been there many years ago.
In Munich, the Bayerischer Hof Hotel is one of the few large and famous international hotels which has been run by its owners for more than 160 years.
The 7 stories hotel's splendor and facilities reflect the personal management of the Volkhardt family who have owned the hotel for four generations. Since the day it first opened in 1841 to the present day, guests at the Hotel Bayerischer Munich have always demanded the best., from queens to Hollywood legends to pop stars. It has the stylishness of ambiance, the variety of interior design in the rooms and the exclusivity of furnishings to satisfy the most exacting standards. After all, you don't just want to feel happy here. You want to feel at home. The Hotel Bayrischer Hof is one of the Leading Hotels of the World, and as such states they do have air conditioning, but perhaps, as you say, you might have missed it.
You talk about the Residenz and its Schatzkammer containing the crown jewels. We really enjoyed the Residenz when we visited it with friends last summer. Did you get a chance to also visit the Schloss Nymphenburg? In my opinion, the castle and its gardens and outbuildings rival Versailles, in France.
Oberammergau has always been special, for one, the Passion Plays attract visitors from all over the world. But also its painted houses - called Lüftlmalerei are very attractive.
Lüftlmalerei are fresco paintings which are the characteristic decorations on houses in Alpine regions. They date back to the 18th century when wealthy merchants, farmers and craftsmen showed their wealth and status with colorful frescoes on the facade of their houses. The paintings often incorporated existing architectural structures, such as windows or doors, or took the form of medallions or scenes from the Bible, fairy tales or folk festivals.
The most famous Luftl painter was Franz Seraph Zwink (1748-1792) who lived in Oberammergau for many years. He lived in a house called ‘Zum Luftl' which could be where the word luftl comes from. Other theories as to the origin of the word include it being connected to the word luftig (fast) or luft (air) - the frescoes being painted in the open air. Whatever the origin of the word there are many stunning examples of Luftl work to be enjoyed in Oberammergau.
I am sorry you hit bad weather in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and were not able to get to the top of the Zugspitz, Germany's highest mountain. We too woke up to freshly snow-capped mountains and temperatures in the 30ies and that at the end of August. Did you get a chance to walk through the lovely Ludwigstrasse, its charming main street in Partenkirchen? In Roman times, this was one of the main trading routes to reach Augsburg, and some of the remains of the road can still be seen nearby.
I was surprised that you were disappointed with the Schloss Fuschl Hotel. I noticed that it is no longer a Relais&Chateaux property which it was when we visited there, but has changed to the Leading Hotels of the World, but LHW properties are usually topnotch as well. As I remember, the legendary Hotel Schloss Fuschl is set in a fairytale-like castle, dating back to 1450 (former seat of the Salzburg Bishops), with manicured lawns, an idyllic lake and timeless beauty of the Austrian landscape. The castle became world-famous, as its romantic situation within the Sound of Music. This fairy-tale chateau is situated on a peninsular in Lake Fuschl and is overlooking one of Austria's grandest lakes within the Salzkammergut region.
Did you auction Schloss Fuschl through LL?
While in Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall many years ago, we too enjoyed a visit to the Eagles Nest, the little miner train ride through the Salt mine and a boat trip at the Koenigssee, in my opinion, of the world's prettiest mountain lakes. My husband and I also climbed the Watzmann mountain, the area's highest mountain and then hiked to St. Bartholomew, a cloister (and restaurant now) at the far end of Lake Koenigsee to catch the boat back into town. That was the longest hike ever, because according to the ledgend, "King" Watzmann had a wife and 7 "sons"/peaks. For his misdeeds, he and his family were turned to stone as the Watzmann peaks.
Glad you had such a lovely time at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden. It is a lovely place. As you found, views of the Alps stretch in every direction, with Mount Watzmann striking an impressive pose. Lake Königssee, the historic Dokumentation Obersalzberg and the city of Salzburg are a short drive away.
Last but not least, thanks for your very interesting post.
Last edited by LL_Travelfan; 09-14-2010 at 12:49 AM.
Thanks for all the info LL_Travelfan. It's always nice to find out more about the places I've visited. I had no idea of the history of the Bayerischer Hof or about "King" Watzmann. I wanted to hike a little more around Konigsee, now I have a good reason to go back!!
I was incredibly disappointed in Schloss Fuschl. Other than the lovely valet and the overnight desk manager, I found the employees very snobbish and unfriendly. Perhaps because we arrived in a rental car and in jeans after a long trip? I have no idea. I know they made a few "American" comments, not knowing that my sister lived for years in Vienna and is fluent in German. The room was incredibly hot during the night due to an overworking towel warmer that no one could turn off and also non-working air conditioning, which the front desk did apologize for. The path the hotel recommended for us to take around the lake was closed. Overall, I just felt unwelcome and cheated of over 500 euros/night and left as soon as possible. That being said, this area of Austria is incredibly beautiful. Thanks for all the history and suggestions-you have an amazing base of knowledge of this area!