Austria/Germany - many thanks to the Helpliners

Long-time lurker, first-time poster: Just wanted to extend my thanks to the regular helpline posters for their insights into traveling in Austria and Germany. Although I had purchased a couple of RS guidebooks and read them before our trip, the details provided by the helpline posters here made the difference in clarifying certain aspects of our trip. I won't go into the whole song-and-dance about everywhere we traveled, but I will offer a couple of highlights from the trip (which occurred these past 2 weeks). Krimml, Austria: We stayed at the Hotel Klockerhaus. For 84 Euro, it offered nice, clean rooms; a great view; sauna and pool facilities; and a solid breakfast. Parking was free. The room rate also included admission to the Krimml Wasserfalle, which was our reason for visiting this little village. Although it seems to be more of a ski town, we found the hike up the waterfall to be beautiful and not crowded in the morning. Once you reach the ober wasserfalle, you have the option of continuing your hike to various huts further up the mountain. I definitely recommend hiking an extra 30 minutes to visit a pair of huts above the waterfall. You will feel like you're in another world. Pinswang, Austria: We used the RS recommendation for the Gusthof zum Schluxen. It was a fantastic, quaint gasthaus/working farm with great access to a trail leading to the Alpsee and Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau. You'll pay a bit more here than the other gasthauses in Pinswang, but we felt it was still a rather reasonable rate and the rooms/mountain views were quite nice. What accelerated our opinion of the Schluxen was its restaurant. You can order traditional Tirolean fare, but the focus is more on fresh, seasonal food. We enjoyed the best meals of our trip here. Once again, thanks everyone!

Posted by Carol
Honolulu
20 posts

Jen--I would love to hear a trip report if you're up for it. Next summer we will be traveling through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I'm going to check out the two places that you suggested. Thx!
Carol

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Sure, Carol. Hope this helps. Day 1 (arrival in Munich): Flew into Munich airport, picked up car from Sixt. Car was exactly what we reserved, and Sixt was professional and straightforward. Drove to Freising to split a hearty lunch and a beer (very good) at the Weihenstephaner brewery. Note that the brewery does not offer tours. Then took the A8 to Salzburg. With the stop to obtain a vignette for the rental car, this was about a 2-hour drive. Checked in at the Best Western Hotel Elefant in Old Town. Had dinner at the hotel restaurant, wandered Old Town for a bit, then crashed.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 2: Drove to Konigsee in the morning, took the boat tour of the lake to the St. Bartholoma stop. It's a very scenic lake tour. I'm not sure if they offer tours in English. I think we would have benefited more from the tour and the history if we understood German. St. Bartholoma is cute and I wish we'd had another hour to spend there. We had about a half-hour to enjoy a beer, see the church and take some photos. We had reserved a 1 p.m. tour with Eagle's Nest Historical Tours, so we had to really hustle to get back to Berchtesgaden in time. That tour was 50 Euro/person, but well worth it. Cost includes admission to the museum/bunkers, Eagle's Nest, and all bus transportation. Since the museum exhibits are all in German, we benefited greatly from having an English-speaking German guide who provided a very detailed history of the area and its significance to the Nazi Party. Our guide knew her stuff; she spent the bus rides pointing out all the remaining buildings on the hillside that once were occupied by high-ranking Nazi members. I would definitely recommend this tour if you plan to visit Berchtesgaden. Had dinner at a cute restaurant in downtown Berchtesgaden.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 3: Walked up to Hohensalzburg Fortress to wander around the site (free). We paid to enter the museum, which was interesting and provided some great views. By chance, we did Rick's recommended Monchberg walk through the hillside to Augustiner Brewery (we had gone there for a nightcap the evening before and loved it). Had a delicious early dinner at Augustiner, then walked across the bridge to check out the other side of town. Tried some schnapps on a rooftop cafe and walked through a cemetery nearby (forgive me, I cannot recall the name of the cemetery). Day 4: We departed Salzburg and drove to Krimml, stopping in Zell am See to stretch our legs. Zell am See struck as a town that's more popular in the wintertime, similar to Vail. Our initial interest in stopping was because it was featured in an episode of "Band of Brothers." The drive to Krimml was very scenic, with lots of cute little towns and amazing views. Most of these towns also appeared as though they see more action in winter. Arrived in Krimml, grabbed a beer at the Anton Wallner brewery. There were a few restaurants in town, but one appeared to be more popular than the rest: Gasthof Wasserfalle. Plus, it was "schnitzel night," so that was the deciding factor. Great dinner. I won't repeat my earlier post about Krimml other than to say that we would love to return. I think 2 nights there would be perfect.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 5: After spending a good portion of the day hiking the Krimml Wasserfalle, we took our time driving to Innsbruck. As with the drive to Krimml, it was filled with a few steep mountain passes, breathtaking scenery and impossibly cute villages. We stopped to walk around Hall in Tirol, but that was cut short by a rainstorm and the fact it was approaching dinnertime. Arrived in Innsbruck that evening and the traffic was a bit nuts. But, to be expected in a bigger city. We decided to change it up and have dinner at an Italian restaurant recommended by the hotel reception. We stayed at Hotel Maximilian. It was very modern and our room strongly resembled an Ikea display! But we're not big hotel people, so whatever. The breakfasts here were fantastic and included a very impressive ion of tropical fruits - most of which I'd never seen before. For reasons unknown, a small marching band of police officers marched down the street past our hotel that morning. That was entertaining. Since the weather was overcast, we opted to make this a "down day" and didn't do much sightseeing. We spent the day having a beer and Tyrolean meat and cheese plate at the Augustiner beer garden, wandered around the old town, and did some shopping.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 6: With rain coming down, we opted to get out of Dodge and put Innsbruck behind us. I think we would have enjoyed this city more had the weather been better or if we had felt more adventurous the previous day. Ah, well. Honestly, I'm already getting a bit fuzzy about whether we stopped somewhere between our drive to Innsbruck and Pinswang. Anyway, we checked into our hotel in Pinswang (see my first post) and then headed to Fussen to look around. We had been after some traditional German shirts to go with the lederhosen we had purchased in Innsbruck, and we found those in Fussen. The rain had not let up yet, so we grabbed a beer at a small gasthof and then made the quick drive back to Pinswang. Had a small dinner at the hotel's restaurant and then tucked in for the night. Day 7: After yet another fantastic breakfast - the homemade jams were crazy good - we headed out on the trail behind the inn for Neuschwanstein. The hotel let us borrow umbrellas, but even in the rain, the walk through the forest was otherworldly. We passed the border stations as we crossed over into Germany, reaching Neuschwanstein in just under 1.5 hours. After our castle tour, we opted for the longer walk around the Alpsee, which was ridiculously scenic. Lots of great photo ops. In total, we estimated we got in about 12 miles of walking that day. We went back to the Schluxen for a huge meal and German beer (natch).

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 8: I now remember where we stopped between Innsbruck and Pinswang - Reutte. It was listed in Rick's book, and his description was fairly accurate. It's short on charm and more of a small town that is a byway for the tourism in the area. However, we did have a good meal of pork and potatoes at the Schwarz Adler gasthof in town. Anyway, back to Day 8. We walked over to the Lech Falls on the edge of Fussen, opting to save our money and not take the bridge walk (3 Euros/each), walking through a wooded path to the overlook area. We hopped back in the car to check out the Plansee, which I had read about in a non-RS guidebook. Spent about an hour on a trail that took us around the edge of the lake. Looked to be about a 3.5-hour walk around it, but we turned around and headed to a gasthaus/restaurant with a lake view to enjoy some kasespatzle and beer. Kasespatzle is similar to macaroni and cheese, but with spatzle, fried onions, and a very creamy cheese that might be emmenthaler or gruyere. If you get a chance to try it, it's excellent comfort food! After a late lunch, we hopped in the car and drove to the Ehrenburg castle ruins. Free admission unless you go to the museum. This castle actually saw battle (at least 4 times that I could tell). The hike up to the ruins is rather steep, but only takes about 20 minutes. It's worth the effort to get up there and see what's left. Combined with the rainy and misty weather, it was quite eery and picturesque.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 9: We would have liked to stay another day (or week...) in the Pinswang area, but we were due in Munich. So off in the car we went for the drive to Munich. But first: lunch at Andechs Monastery. If you're close to Munich, I highly suggest spending a few hours here. The monastery's hillside grounds are beautiful and the Baroque church was the most ornate and impressive of the churches we visited. I could have spent a full hour in there just taking in the details. The Andechs beer garden is self-serve, with generous portions and fantastic beer. This brewery stop was particularly important to us because our local Germany microbrewery in Denver buys their hops from Andechs. We took an ambling, slow route to Munich, which allowed us to drive through small outlying towns. We then dropped off the car at the airport and took the train into the city. You can save time by just buying your train tickets at a kiosk at airport (we learned the hard way). Also, with construction on the airport-to-city route, our train bypassed our stop and we had to backtrack. I don't know what we could have done differently there (other than the obvious: understand German), but we got off as soon as we could and flagged down a train station rep. We arrived in Munich around dinnertime and checked in at the Hotel am Viktualienmarkt.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 10: We had another good breakfast, but this time, we were determined to save room so we could sample the food at the nearby Viktualienmarkt (our reason for booking that particular hotel location). We strolled through the market, checking out all the amazing food. I'm in awe of the quality and variety of foods available in Austria and Germany. Just amazing. Anyway, we walked around downtown to just soak up the city and people-watch. Now that I think about it, we had enjoyed a beer at Hofbrauhaus and one of the Augustiner restaurants the night before, so this day, we wanted to check out some of the shops that we had walked by the night before. We watched the glockenspiel. We went to the Frauenkirche to climb the tower, only to learn that the tower was closed indefinitely due to construction (there's a lot of construction in Munich right now). We had a seafood lunch at a picnic table in the Viktualienmarkt. I found an amazing indoor food hall across from the Hotel Blauer Bock. It was just wonderful and we spent a bit of time wandering around in there. When it started to rain, we went inside a department store and did some more shopping for traditional clothing. We had dinner with an ex-pat friend of mine and her kids at the Augustiner beer hall on Neuhauserstrasse (can you tell we were fans of the Augustiner?). After a couple of hours hanging with my friend's very rambunctious young children, we parted ways. We went for a drink at the Der Pschorr beer hall nearby. Judging from the menu (and the beer prices), it's more upscale than most of the surrounding beer halls. The atmosphere was interesting and it's housed inside an old slaughterhouse.

Posted by Jen B.
Thornton, CO
21 posts

Day 11 (last day): The weather was quite bizarre this day, as it was chilly and rained sporadically. You couldn't tell what the weather would be doing in 15 minutes. So, we tried to make it more of an inside day. We visited St. Michael's Church, specifically to see the Wittelsbach crypts. It was especially interesting to us after having toured Neuschwanstein. We'd never been in a crypt before, and I'd describe the experience as macabre but interesting. I think we paid about 2 Euro/each to go in. The church itself is pretty and worth spending a bit of time in. It's not as ornate as the one at Andechs. We decided on a lark to visit the Munich Museum of Hunting and Fishing because it would get us out of the cold and my husband is a hunter. I think we paid around 7 or 8 Euro/each. Again, if you have an understanding of German, this museum would probably be more interesting. But, the exhibits of old weaponry and animals native to Germany was worth the time and cost. The building that it's housed in is quite grand and pretty to look at, too. After a bit more shopping, we stopped for lunch at the Ayinger brewery's restaurant. The rain really got going then, so we headed across the street to the Hofbrauhaus. We squeezed into a table and made friends, opting to ditch our previously planned walking tour due to the weather and the fact that we were enjoying ourselves there. At 6 p.m., we met up with a guide for a walking tour of Munich breweries. I believe this was through the Munich Walks company, and our guide was very personable and knowledgeable about Munich's breweries and their history. We paid 20 Euro/each (2 Euro/each RS discount). The tour was scheduled to last about 3 hours, but around Hour 5, we opted to head out since we had to get back and pack. It probably goes without saying that I wouldn't recommend a brewery tour the night before you fly home. I paid for that decision the next morning!

Posted by Rob
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
370 posts

Fantastic trip report Jen! I really enjoyed reading your Munich portion. I too am a fan of the Augustinerbrau!