What to Expect From a One-Star Hotel in Salzburg

First know that UNESCO World Heritage Salzburg is very expensive because of its popularity. With over 5.5 million visitors each year, why wouldn’t it be? It really frosted my rear end (pardon me) that we had to pay almost as much for a one-star hotel in Salzburg as we did for a three-star hotel in Saalbach that included dinner. If you are willing to stay outside the main city, there are less expensive hotel rates but most people want to stay close to the ancient sights in exquisite, fairy-tale looking Salzburg.

After browsing choices for days on Booking.com (on the sidebar of this page), I chose Hotel Schwarzes Rossl located in a historic building (originally an Inn in 1507 although the building was destroyed during World War II), a half block from where Mozart’s family lived, at the foot of Kapuzinerberg, close to Mirabell Palace and a five-minute walk across the Salzach River into the old city. Rates were: 104 Euro for twin with WC,  84 Euro for twin without WC and all rates include breakfast served at the cafe next door; cheese, cold cuts, yogurt, fruit, juice, rolls, coffee and tea. The cafe also has delicious ice cream; our daily go-to.

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Information About Zell am See, Austria “Altstadt” (old center)

Today was Sunday. Unfortunately the “I” (Information Office) was closed and we were unable to get detailed information to explore the Altstadt, Old Center of Zell am See. But by asking questions, wandering up and down streets and following informational signs, we did manage to see its highlights.

- The Kastnerturm Tower is also known as the Vogt Tower and Constable’s Tower. Built in 926 as an escape tower for solders and citizens of Zell am See, it was first mentioned in 926. The local history museum and office of the county’s archives are located in this tower, the oldest building in town. Abutting the tower is a Gothic building that was originally owned by a family in the Seventeenth Century.

 

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Information About Dazzling, Zell am See on Lake Zell, Austria

Zell am See-Kaprun is in the Pinzgau region and only a 30-minute Post Bus ride from Saalbach-Hinterglemm. The Bus stops right across from the Bahnhof (train station) and everything is within walking distance. Since the weather was supposed to be in the high 90s Fahrenheit, we decided to spend the day in this drop-dead beautiful town. Marine Steve and I did spend a week in Zell am See in 1987 and it was definitely time to return and see what’s been going on over the last 26 years.

It would take a magician to conjure up a more spectacular setting than Zell am See on the shore of turquoise Zeller Lake, or Lake Zell, surrounded by forested mountains and covered with Alpine pastures. People stand along the lake, snapping a gazillion photos, while saying out loud, “Have you ever seen anything more sublime?” I must have repeated different versions of that line every few minutes as we walked the pedestrian path circling the lake. Read more »

The Zwolferkogel Mountain in Saalbach-HInterglemm, Austria

The Zwolferkogel Mountain in Hinterglemm (down the road from Saalbach) happens to be one of my favorite hiking areas as well as of mountain bikers. A cable car goes to the middle and then continues to the top where in winter, chair lifts spread out in all directions. The only bad feature, if anything in Austria can have a bad feature, is the entire mountain is above tree line. Why bad? Austria was suffering through a brutal heat spell – 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit, and with no shade, schvitz (sweat) was flying in all directions.

It truly was a “Climb Every Mountain Day…” and how wonderful to relax at the top after a 3.1 kilometer/5 mile uphill (but who is counting), watch children playing, people relaxing in lounge chairs; catching rays and drinking a cold beer. Even more trails spread out in all directions for those who take the Zwolferkogelbahn to the top and then walk around. And then, the free with Joker Card cable car ride down. How enjoyable and easy is that… YouTube Preview Image     Read more »

The Reiterkogel Mountain Area in Hinterglemm, Austria

Marine Steve and I basically did the same thing every day; our choice and not that there’s anything wrong with a tough life like this. Get up, eat breakfast, relax for a while, hike, return  to room, bathe, eat pastry (a daily highlight), relax, eat dinner, go to bed and repeat. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Another favorite area is anywhere around the Reiterkogelbahn (cable car) that has several unique things to see and do at its top. One new discovery was a botanical garden, herbal path, and playground, only a short distance on a gentle path leading from the top of the cable car. I adore flowers and have a special affinity for wildflowers.

This garden showcases more than 100 varieties of native medicinal and culinary herbs and alpine flowers, most of which you will probably  have never seen in their natural habitats or in full bloom. Entry is free, signs and numbers identify each patch of flowers and herbs. Of course there were Edelweiss which triggered my off-key rendition of “Edelweiss” from the Sound of Music.

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Information about Hiking and Biking in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

Saalbach-Hinterglemm has approximately 400 kilometers/250 miles of marked hiking trails and 400 kilometers/250 miles of marked Mountain biking trails (video) leading from village to village; up and over mountains; easy or difficult depending on your ability. Bike any or all of these routes: Cross-country marathon route, half-marathon, single trails, downhill, freeride, dirt park, North Shore, and training course (just a few). Saalbach-Hinterglemm is a huge ski circus in winter which then metamorphoses into an equally huge mountain biking and hiking area in summer.

I hate to exercise after all these years of pounding running trails (burned out) but hiking in clean, fresh air and among gorgeous Austrian mountains is an exception. It brings out my inner “Sound of Music” and I can’t resist singing and humming tunes while plodding along admiring wildflowers. Even herds of healthy cows happily chewing their cud, and clanging bells while looking inquisitively at strange people walking by, delight me.

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The Lovely Three-Star Hotel Gappmaier in Saalbach, Austria

At least three planes landed in Salzburg at the same time creating mass confusion in the baggage area. Steve and I stood there watching suitcases circling the belt, mentally praying, “Please be there.” They were and our driver from Best Airport Transfers was waiting for the one hour ride to Saalbach. Happily greeted by family Gappmaier, our immaculate large, comfy and cozy room was ready to check in.  Two extra mushy pillows, warm duvet, bathtub large enough to drown in with water hot enough to boil eggs (I don’t think European water tanks control temperature), balcony, and Kohlmais Mountain views. We unpacked and settled in for 10 wonderful days in Hotel Gappmaier, Saalbach.

The wonderful Hotel is one of the best of all three-star hotels we’ve ever stayed  for more than a few days; of course, room rates were more than we usually pay. Partly because exchanging US Dollars into Euro added 32% more to the bill. It’s no wonder that we are probably the only Americans in the Saalbach region.

 

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Luxurious Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Frankfurt Terminal 1, Z

Landing at Frankfurt am Main Airport in Terminal 1A Concourse, Steve and I made a beeline into the new 1Z Senator Lounge, only a hop, skip and jump from where we disembarked on the EU Departures and Arrivals level. Entrance is only for those who have reached Senator (upper tier) status on Lufthansa and Star Alliance Gold Members. Show your credentials at the desk and if not one at one of these status levels, Lufthansa staff will direct you to the Business Class Lounge. If you have the correct status level, opt for the Senator Lounge; they are obviously less crowded and have a better assortment of food.

This particular lounge  is located in spanking new Frankfurt A-Plus concourse which opened in October 2012 and with over 23,000 square feet, is Lufthansa’s largest lounge. All of their lounges are wonderful but this one is spectacular, spectacular; Lufthansa never ceases to amaze. Read more »

United Airlines 777-222 Chicago-Frankfurt and Fokker-100 Frankfurt-Salzburg

United Airlines 777-222 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Frankfurt am Main Airport boarded and left at 2:30P.  United has two non-stop flights a day from Chicago; one at 2:20p and the other at 6:15p. The early flight arrives in Frankfurt at the god-awful 5:45a which allows an easy connection onwards to other cities. Our Economy Plus seats were bulkhead in the first row behind Business Class. Only the first row on either side of the aisle in Economy Plus has two seats since the 777-222 was reconfigured. The old Economy configuration had five seats in the middle and two seats on either side. Now there are three seats on each side and three seats in the middle. It does give a more spacious appearance but still adds up to 9 seats across no matter how you slice it.

All  Economy, non-premium seats were occupied but not in Economy Plus; many people lucked out and had plenty of room to spread out. Today’s flight was a fast 7:50 (thank you, jet stream), our seats had plenty of leg room and we quickly settled in and began surfing through the on-demand entertainment system on this newly configured plane. This old system only offered  9 movies but United’s 777-222 offers up to 150 movies, 185 television shows, thousands of songs, 20 interactive video games, and even language courses. And the best part? Passengers can start on-demand whenever they want, stop, pause and even rewind! I love on-demand entertainment. Read more »

Easy Planning Information for Austria

I’ve already given a few suggestions on resort areas to stay in Austria if interested in hiking, mountain biking or just enjoying the fresh air. But how can a person visit summer Austria without seeing Salzburg? You can’t! Steve and I last visited Salzburg in 1983 – we had to return and see what this indescribable UNESCO World Heritage is like 30 years later.

Air and Transportation? The closest airport to Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria is Salzburg. Since we stick to United Airlines like glue for 1K perks, I purchased Economy tickets round trip from Chicago-Frankfurt and turned in miles for free tickets on Austrian Tyrolean Air from Frankfurt to Salzburg. Another convenient gateway if flying to Europe is Munich, Germany. Many airlines fly to Munich and fares change daily! Try Priceline.comFind Discounted Airline Flights at CheapOair and you’d be surprised what fares materialize. Read more »