Dienstag, 15. April 2014

ALPEN TRAVEL TIPS & PICKS: A Romantic Spring Fling in Europe

Europe 2014
England / Wales / Switzerland / Bavaria
by Mary Dawn DeBriae

"Life is like a book - those who do not travel have only read one page"

This year's spring trip is going to be extra special, as I will be traveling back to Europe with the love of my life, Lawrence, who has for the most part never been to Europe.

I will get to show him the most magical things, people and places that I hold dear to my heart - at least what I can fit into a three week trip.

We will experience romantic ruins, fields and fell, castles and cows. We will be staying in wonderful country houses, hotels and quaint B&B's - not to mention experiencing for the first time the latest booking trend "AirBnB".
Christ Church Great Hall - Oxford, England
For dining I have planned the complete range, from ethnic foods synonymous to each country to local cuisine popular in that land. From relishing Swiss Fondue in Switzerland to dining in the 16th century Great Hall of Christ Church College in Oxford, England where Harry Potter was filmed and Lewis Carol (Adventures of Alice in Wonderland) was a student and then professor.

My partner will be my living testimony that what I have to say, do and recommend do indeed make for a wonderful trip - a trip of a lifetime...
...and let there be many more ahead! 

I usually begin my Euro trips flying into Heathrow Airport in England...going home to where I began my love affair with Europe as a college student studying abroad.

Note the BLUE sky! In all of the countless trips I have made back to the UK, I have always been greeted by the sun and blue skies. No kidding! England always gives me the perfect red carpet welcome when I arrive.

TRAVEL TIP: I typically take the quick 15 minute Heathrow Express train from the airport to Paddington Station, a no hassle and inexpensive way to get into the heart of London after the long flight. I don't recommend renting a car and driving into London, as they have quite a steep Congestion Charge and parking is also expensive. I always take the train in and when ready to leave London, then rent my car either back at Heathrow or in downtown London on the day of my departure.

Rhodes Hotel


I recently discovered the RHODES HOTEL in Sussex Gardens, a newly refurbished, clean and reasonable hotel not far from Paddington Station and a short walk to Hyde Park (above right) where I love to take leisurely strolls in my first few days back in the UK. The Rhodes hotel is close Tube stations and Busses awaiting to whisk you around London. It is my repeat favourite every time I return for many reasons.

Check out their specials directly on their web-site where you will get the best rates. They also give repeat visitors appreciation vouchers towards future visits!

Rhodes Hotel 195 Sussex Gardens, Hyde Park, London W2 2RJ
Tel: +44 207 262 0537


Swans in Hyde Park
To avoid Jet Lag, I recommend checking into your hotel, and NOT taking a nap. I recommend going out for a stroll and an afternoon cup of tea and scones. Then go back to the hotel to freshen up and go out for an early dinner. Whatever you do, try to stay up until at least 9 or 10pm. Then allow yourself to go to sleep. You will wake up refreshed on UK time and ready to tackle your Itinerary for the rest of your trip.

AFTERNOON TEA TIP: Of course there are many fine cafe's serving up scrumptious scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream with one's choice of a fine tea. However, if one wants to "do it up in style", I highly recommend booking a table for an Afternoon Tea at Brown's Hotel...one of London's finest and most traditional afternoon tea's to experience. A bit pricey, but the sandwiches, scones and fine tea cakes keep on coming, not to mention the soft tunes being played on the baby grand piano and the cozy, classy atmosphere all around.

Afternoon Tea at Cocomaya

My local's choice for an Afternoon Tea, however, is Cocomaya - an artisan bakery and chocolate maker. They have a bakery and coffee shop a short stroll away from Hyde Park and the Rhodes hotel. On a fine day, one can sit outside and enjoy a delicious tea or coffee with one of their fine cakes and chocolates.

COCOMAYA 12 Connaught St, London, W2 2AF
0 7706 2883 


The Victoria
For my first night, I like to stay close to my hotel so that after a nice meal and the jet lag now seriously setting in, it is within stumbling distance home and into a nice bed.

Therefore, my favourite pub recommendation in the area is the The Victoria. It is just a 5 minute walk up the road from the Rhodes Hotel.

Originally built around 1838 when Paddington Station was being built, it is named after Queen Victoria who is reputed to have stopped in on her way to Paddington Station. 

What I love most is that it is a real local's pub without tourists and with a great menu and atmosphere. The inside is cozy and on a fine day, one can sit outside and enjoy the neighborhood.

When you do pop into the Victoria, please tell Chris, the Manager, 'Hi' and that I sent you! I am sure that he will take good care of you.
The Victoria 10A Strathearn Place, Paddington, London W2 2NH  Tel. 020 7724 1191
Completely Pet Friendly - Indoors and Outdoors

SHOPPING TIP: There are a multitude of great areas to shop in London, but I prefer to avoid the hectic and touristy Oxford & Regent Streets, opting for the more "local" shopping neighborhood of Kensington High St & Kenstingon Church Street. Here one can find some of the larger names but also some super cute boutiques offering the latest fashions with much more individual style and pizzazz.
The Lively Portobello Road Market
If lucky enough to be in London on a Saturday, it is a real treat to visit the Portobello Road Market - the world's largest Antique, Bric a Brac and Collectables market. There are thousands of stalls and shops open only on that day and one can find just about anything. It can get very crowded, so be sure to watch your purse and wallet.  Friends of mine have been pick-pocketed in that very market on a Saturday. The area also has many hip and cool cafe's and restaurants, so after a busy morning checking out the shops and stalls, relax with a nice coffee or beverage with a nice lunch or early dinner.

Portobello Road is only 3 km from Marble Arch and the local Tube stations are Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove.

Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit
CULTURAL TIP:  Every time I am in London, I seek out a new cultural event or activity to attend. On previous trips, I have visited the Guildhall Art Gallery and London's Roman Amphitheatre in the heart of London's City Centre and last year's fascinating temporary exhibit at the British Mueum: Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

On this trip I may book tickets to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall or plan on a visit to the Barbican to see a Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.

Tower of London

Perhaps we will revisit one of my favourite Castles: The Tower of London with its Beefeaters (and their Ravens) telling the rich history that transpired within its fortifying walls spanning 1000 years.

Trafalger Square and National Gallery
As my Partner is an artist, I will definitely be taking him to the National Gallery on the colourful Trafalger Square, where I ate my lunch when I studied Impressionistic Art History at the Gallery back in my college days.

Post trip, you will get the full story of what we got up to, including where we dined and places we visited in this amazing city. I can hardly wait!!!


Following our stay in London, we will rent a car at the local Marble Arch EUROPCAR rental station and drive out into the green, hedge lined countryside west of London to the small, but thriving medieval market town of Witney, Oxfordshire.

Witney Town Centre
Witney is not far from Oxford and sits at the gateway to the beautiful Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is known for its stone and thatched cottages nestled amongst forested rolling hills (wolds), decorated with stone walls and sheep galore. Witney is full of lively shops, pubs and restaurants hidden behind the region's famed "Cotswold Stone" walls.


For our stay in Witney, I have booked us into the delightful Hawthorne House overlooking the stunning Windrush Valley. Hawthorne House is a period Victorian home, lovingly converted into a small family run Bed and Breakfast on the outskirts of Witney. The host, Alison, seems absolutely delightful and accommodating. It is close enough to town that we can walk in for dinner and nightlife, yet far enough out to wake-up to the peaceful chirping of birds and baaaing of sheep in the countryside.

Full review to follow our trip!

HAWTHORNE HOUSE 79 Burford Rd, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 6DR Tel. +44 (0)1993-772768


Situated near the main shopping area of downtown Witney, The Hollybush looks like an old-fashioned working men's pub from the outside, with its plain Cotswold stone exterior, sandwiched between houses and shops on the bustling Corn St.

But what was once a blue collar watering hole is now a trendy cosmopolitan gastro-pub with a gourmet menu, fine wines and beers and attracting a mixed, lively crowd of diners and drinkers.

More than once on my visits over the years to Witney to visit my best friend, I have have tried numerous times to book a table last minute for dinner, but was never able to succeed as each time the restaurant was full.

This time, I decided to be pro-active and book ahead and am so looking forward to our dining experience in this extremely popular local's favourite restaurant/pub in Witney.

Full review to follow!

The Hollybush 35 Corn St, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 6BT Tel. +44 (0)1993 708073


Thatched Cotswold Cottage
Remiscent of the Shire where the Hobbits lived as described in J.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, The Cotswolds is one of the most 'quintessentially English' and unspoiled regions of England, "where time has stood still for over 300 years".
Cotswold Limestone Houses

The area is well known for its gently rolling hillsides (‘wolds’), the breathtaking countryside with river valleys, water meadows and lush woods, sleepy ancient limestone villages, historic market towns and of course their wonderful sheep, from which the wool industry has thrived  in this region for centuries.

Cotswold Sheep - Baaaa!

Picturesque Bibury
We will take in a scenic day drive and short historical walks, popping in for an Afternoon Tea in one of the quaint villages we plan on visiting, including some of my favourites: the romantic Minster Lovell, historical Burford, the "venice" of the Cotswolds Burton-on-the-Water and "one of the most beautiful villages in England", Bibury.



The dreaming spires of Oxford

Ahhh! The dreaming spires of Oxford ... home of the oldest University, not only in England but in the English speaking world.

This lovely, historical bustling town was my home for many years when I lived in the UK. There is sooo much to see and do in Oxford, let alone to use Oxford as a base to explore the surrounding countryside. 

I shall be going "home" to Oxford for a week for both business and pleasure.


To make my week long stay that much more gemütlich, I have opted to stay in my own little self-catering one bedroom Hauschen called The Belles in St Clements - a great neighborhood near to the old Oxford city centre and also the colourful Cowley Road with all of its ethnic restaurants and shops.

Here I can both work and entertain,  eat out as well as stay in and cook up my favourite cuisine with ingredients purchased at the 200 year old Covered Market in the medieval City Centre - just like I used to do when I lived there.


As a romantic aside, I am planning something I have never done before despite all the years I lived and worked in Oxford: Punting up the Cherwell.

Punting is a tradition, whereby typically the man stands and guides the low laying punt (boat) with a stick up or down river while the lady sits safely in the punt drinking champagne and eating strawberries. Oftentime, the gentleman parks the punt on a river bank where they shall have a picnic luncheon on the grass.

We shall rent a Punt at nearby Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, next to the beautiful Magdalen College - only a few minutes walk from the Belles townhome where we will be staying  and punt up the Cherwell to a lovely pub for lunch in Old Marsden, a neighboring village to Oxford.

Magdalen Bridge Boathouse Magdalen College, High St, Oxford


Instead of the traditional picnic on our Punting afternoon outing, we will punt up to a wonderful country pub on the Cherwell, dock our punt and have a delightful afternoon lunch with friends meeting us at the Victoria Arms in Old Marsden.

Situated only a few miles up the road from Oxford in a classic English countryside setting on the River Cherwell, the Victoria Arms makes for a great afternoon outing or dinner excursion. Whether punting or driving to the quint village of Old Marsden, the pub offers delicious food with a creative menu, including amazing vegetarian dishes.

Victoria Arms Pub Mill Lane, Old Marston, Oxfordshire, OX3 0QA Tel. 01865 241382

Pet Friendly Inside and Out


Founded in the 16th Century by King Henry VIII, Christchurch College remains one of the most prestigious of the Oxford colleges. It has produced a total of  13 Prime Ministers - more than all other Oxford colleges put together and it is unique as it also doubles as a the Cathedral Church for the Dioceses of Oxford. It is also one of the largest colleges of the University of Oxford. 

My best English girlfriend, Katharine, had the fortune to attend Christchurch college and as an Alumni, is able to book dinner for herself and friends in its Great Hall. We shall be so lucky as to have dinner one night during our stay in Oxford with Katharine and the students in a dining tradition that goes back five centuries.

When entering the Christ Church College Great Hall, it is everything one can expect of a medieval banqueting hall. With its oak-paneled walls, huge fire places, rows of blackened, scarred but highly polished dining tables set to feed over 300 stuedents each day, one is transported back to another era.

The hall features a raised High Table and walls festooned with paintings, including the college's founder, Henry VIII, and some of the 13 Prime Ministers educated at Christ Church. The very same Great Hall was featured in the Harry Potter films as the dining scenes at Hogwarts School for Wizardry.

Don't worry if you aren't as fortunate to know an Alumni to get the chance to dine in the Great Hall, you can still see it if you book a tour to take a walk through this stately college. Highly recommended!

Christ Church College St. Aldates,   Oxford   OX1 1DP


At the recent Bernese National Specialty Show in Hampton, VA, I met some wonderful UK Bernese Breeders who invited me to visit should I be in the area.

It turns out that on our way to Wales it would not be far out of our way to visit one of these breeders, so we will pay a visit to Holebrook Farm, near Exeter in Devon.

It turns out they own two of the top Bernese in the UK who recently took first and second place at Crufts - the worlds largest dog show in London this past year!
Jim and Peggy don't only breed Bernese on their dreamy Devonshire farm, but Shetland Ponies, Quarter Horses, Miniature Mediterranian Donkeys, Pygmy Goats and Kune-Kune Miniature Pigs!  
As a HUGE animal lover, I am so excited to see their farm in person, meet their animals and see Bernese on a farm in a real working environment for which they have been bred for hundreds of years. 
Holebrook Farm Exeter, Devon + 44 1647 281 642

My first excursion to the countryside as a student studying in London, was a train ride to Chepstow, Wales. It was there that I discovered the ancient ruin of Chepstow Castle - my first castle to visit in my life. I was utterly awestruck. We will revisit this well preserved castle ruin before driving down the scenic Wye River Valley to the majestic skeletal ruin of Tinturn Abbey .

Tinturn Abbey tells the tragic tale of King Henry VIII's ruthless destruction of Catholicism during his reign.

When visiting Tinturn Abbey, we shall hike up the lush green forested walk to the "Devil's Pulpit", a point overlooking the scenic valley and the Abbey - great place to take pictures.

Turner's Romantic
Tinturn Abbey
The Wye Valley is classified officially as AONB - an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". It became known as the "Romantic River Valley" in the 18th century and was frequented by some of the most famous poets, writers and artists of the day, to include Coleridge, Thackery, Turner and Wordsworth - all of which painted or wrote about the beauty of the area.

I have since returned to the area many times over the decades and it is no wonder that I had to share this legendary romantic area with my Partner on his first visit abroad with me.


To complete the "romance" of our two day/night Welsh country excursion, we will stay at the 16th Century Elizabethan Wilton Court Hotel nestled along the banks of the River Wye and just 5 miles from the border of Wales. This charming period Country House Hotel has 10 beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms and is a short walk across the River Wye to the Medieval market town of Ross on Wye.

We will dine one night in their romantic river view restaurant, gazing at swans gliding peacefully by and the second take an evening stroll into the nearby town of Ross on Wye.

I am truly excited to experience Wilton Court and am looking forward to writing my full review post stay!

Wilton Court Hotel Wilton Lane, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Tel. +44 (0)1989 562569



After our romantic interlude in the Wye Valley will drive north to visit my oldest friend in England in the Manchester area.

We will meet up with him in the historical town of Chester, a picturesque ancient town, founded in the year 79 by the Romans and retaining much of its Medieval character.

Chester is a town rich in history and is well worth a visit if traveling North West on your way to the rugged beauty of Snowdonia in Wales, the rocky splendor of the Lake District or the dramatic West Coast of Scotland.

I have heard about the ever growing latest fad for booking a room or self catering apartment or house through AIRBNB. So, to test out this method of booking accommodation whilst travelling abroad, I booked a cute looking Victorian two bed town (terraced) home with open fireplaces and not far from Chester city centre. The host, Jonathan seems friendly and his home looks absolutely charming.
Full review to follow!!! I am looking forward to our stay - a true home away from home.
AirBNB - Cozy Victorian Home Westminster Road, Chester, CH2 3AU 

DINING TIP:  We will go on a walking tour of Chester with one of my oldest friends in England, Timothy and end up dining in some fine establishment. Where? Still in the making! Stay tuned!
INNER EUROPEAN FLIGH BOOKING TIP:  What used to be "Inter Rail" which was known as the most cost effective means to travel around Europe, has been replaced by a handful of super inexpensive flights from select airlines. BEWARE! Although cheap flights exist, there are some booking sights, such as OPODO who tack on an additional 40 quid ($70) or more as their "fee" to book through their sight.
It is a good idea to perhaps search for flights on their sight to see which airlines offer good deals, but before booking go directly to the carrier's web-site to see what one will save by booking directly and cutting out the steep booking fee. I speak through experience!
Always compare flight cost directly with the airlines before booking!

One of the lovely things about Europe is within an hour or so flight, one can be in another country, another culture and completely different geographical environment. We will fly from the birthplace of the Beatle's, Liverpool, England directly into Geneva, Switzerland.

For this segment of my trip, I have chosen to fly into Geneva, in the French part of Switzerland. In Geneva, I hope to show my Partner many of the historical sights in the "old town centre as well as visit one or more of the many museums found here.

 CAR RENTAL TIP:  Should you plan on renting a car at the airport for your trip around Switzerland, it is highly recommended NOT to drive into Geneva with it. Parking is nearly non-existant and park houses cost a fortune (ca. $60-$70 per day). My tip is to either rent your car after your visit to Geneva and to take the train in from the Airport OR to rent your car and leave it parked at the Airport and take the train in.

FREE TRANSPORTATION! Upon arrival at the Airport, look for the public transportation ticket machine in Baggage which will give you a ticket for FREE transportation on the train into Geneva for up to 80 minutes!

For the short night and day we will have exploring Geneva, we have chosen one of the top small hôtels in the city: The gemütlich Tor Hôtel .

The Tor Hotel is a family run hotel just steps away from the lake,  old town centre, restaurants and shops. Indeed, one can access just about everything by foot, although the hotel gives its guests a free travel pass to use if needed.

Located in a classical old building, the hotel has with high ceilings and wooden floors. It offers clean rooms, comfortable beds and a nice continental breakfast delivered to the room. For the excellent price they offer in combination with its locality and quaintness, it has everything to offer for our first night in Switzerland.

TOR HOTEL 3 rue Ami Lévrier, 1201 Genève Tel  +41 229098820


Situated in the "oldest quarter" of Geneva and just steps away from Maison Taval, the Armory and Geneva's Cathedral, is one of Geneva's most historic restaurants: Les Armures.

On my last visit to Geneva I stumbled upon Les Armures whilst walking through the old city centre. I was intrigued that Presidents such as Bill Clinton had dined there and decided to do some research and to book a table the next time I visited Geneva.

Letter from Bill Clinton

There is a brass plaque on the outside of the building showing a thank you letter from former President Bill Clinton expressing his appreciation for the lovely dinner in which he and Hilary had indulged.

I am excited to finally have the opportunity to experience a romantic dinner in such a historic Swiss Genevan restaurant - especially with someone as special as my life Partner.

Full review to follow...

LES ARMURES 1 Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre, Geneva 1204, Switzerland  +41 22 310 34 42 
Chateau Chillon

After our stay in Geneva, we will take a scenic drive to visit Montreaux and Chateau Chillon, eventually meeting up with one of our Swiss craftsmen  who lives in the area.

He and his wife are such gracious hosts and he loves to surprise! Last year, he invited my friend and I into their holiday chalet home high up in the Swiss Alps. Who knows what he has in store for us on this trip! See my write-up of the experience HERE from my last trip.

Chateau du Bovert
It will be an equally magical experience I can imagine!


Before our trip, I asked my honey, what he would like to see most on our trip. I have such a wealth of beautiful places to show him, I could not fit everything in on one trip. He said he would really, really like to see the Swiss Alps...so I proceeded to organize a segment of our trip to encompass one of the most breathtaking areas in Switzerland: the Jungfraujoch area of Berner Oberland.
Eiger, Mönch  and Jungfrau Mountains
In this dramatic corner of Switzerland, three of the most spectacular peaks are to be found: the Jungfrau, the Mönch and the infamous Eiger. It is here where many a climber has plummeted to his death due to the dramatic climate changes that take place regularily.
The Eiger viewed from Grindelwald
The rugged scenery is unsurpassed and it is here that we can ride the highest train in Europe, located 3,454 metres (11,332 feet) above sea level.
The train travels through the Eiger and the Mönch mountains and we will be able to get out to walk on the Aletsch Glacier to take pictures of the surrounding scenery.

There are so many scenic villages in this area worh visiting including Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. I plan on visiting each one on our journey to take in their individual charm and to snap some stellar pictures.

Check-out this super cool Video of the area! The Jungfraujoch begs for adventure and we will be there very soon to experience!


Hotel Belevedere w Eiger and Wetterhorn
For our stay in this spectacular corner of Switzerland, I decided to go all out and book a romantic few days at one of the top luxury hotels in the Jungfraujoch region: The Award Winning Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald.
The Hotel Belvedere is situated in the scenic town of Grindelwald with its commanding views of the Eiger North Face and the Wetterhorn peak dominating the surrounding mountainscape.

Summer view from the Belevedere
In between our alpine hikes, scenic drives to the local villages and train ride up to the famous Eiger village of Kleine Scheideg, we will pamper ourselves in the lap of Swiss Alpine luxury at the Belvedere Grindelwald.
Outdoor saltwater Jacuzzi
Offering a world class luxury spa, the hotel focusses on rest, healing and relaxation. It boasts a pool, sauna, steam room and outdoor saltwater Jacuzzi which I am especially looking forward to trying. 

Spacious rooms with great views
The Belvedere offers well appointed, spacious rooms with balconies and sensational views of the surrounding mountains. To ensure the utmost relaxation even during sleep, they offer one a choice of pillow to complete the overall experience!
Check out their Summer and Winter Video's  demonstrating the ultimate relaxing "getting away from it all" experience. I look forward to our stay and witnessing first hand what this Swiss luxury boutique hotel has to offer.
Hotel Belvedere Grindelwald Dorfstrasse 53, CH- 3818 Grindelwald  Tel. +41 (0)33 888 99 99

On any trip to Switzerland, I cannot leave without a visit to the town behind the whole beginning of my company, Alpen Schatz.

Appenzeller Craftsman - 7th Generation!

It is in this picturesque tiny village, lost in time, where our beautiful Swiss Dog Collars and Cowbells have been made for 7 generations by craftsmen in since ca. 1750.

I so love Appenzell and the dreamy countryside surrounding it. 

Heading up the Säntis
We will meet with the craftsmen I have been working with for many years, and probably take a trip on the Luftseilbahn up to the top of the Säntis, the highest mountain in this region of Switzerland. It has breathtaking views and on a good day, one can see six European countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luichtenstein, France and Italy!

Appenzell Traditions


For our stay in the colourful village of Appenzell, I have chosen one of the top recommended hotels on Trip Advisor, Hotel Hecht

Located the heart of Appenzell, Hotel Hecht is perfectly situated to explore this historical, quaint Swiss village by foot right out the front door. It offers 38 nicely decorated rooms and includes a hearty Swiss breakfast.

Never having stayed at this particular hotel, I am looking forward to discovering makes it one of the finest places to stay in Appenzell.

Hotel Hecht  Hauptgasse 9 · CH-9050 Appenzell · T +41 (0)71 788 22 22


For dinner, we shall have a romantic evening at the Hotel Hecht's partner hotel: The classically painted Romantik Hotel Säntis. They apparently have a well known award winning restaurant and their wine list (very important!) is reputed to belong to the top ten in Swiss Gastronomy. They serve both gourmet delights as well as  local Appenzeller specialties - with lots of the famed Appenzeller cheese - a must to try whilst in the region.

Romantik Hotel Säntis Landsgemeindeplatz 3, 9050 Appenzell Switzerland
Tel +41 (0)71 788 11 11
FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Lichtenstein castle

After the peaceful rolling hills of Appenzellerland, we will drive a scenic route over the mythical but real Lichtenstein, then up through the fairytale village of Mittenwald, then Garmisch-Partenkirchen finishing up in one of my favourite large cities in the world and my old home, Munich in Bavaria, Germany.

Mittenwald: The "Brigadoon" of Bavaria

The last segment of my trip takes me back home to Munich where I lived for many years. I will be meeting some of my Bavarian suppliers, visiting friends and family as well as re-living my favourite restaurants, beer gardens, and haunts in what I dub "the cleanest, safest, greenest and most casual cosmopolitan" large city in Europe.

Things I like to do whilst in Munich:
Seehaus, my favourite beer garden in Munich

  • A stroll in the vast Englischer Garten and a visit to my favourite Beergarden called Seehaus, translated lakeside house. Be sure to get one of their LARGE Bretz'n (or Pretzels). Nothing beats an authentic Bavarian Bretz'n with perhaps Obatzda to dip it in. Yum! 
  • Shopping on the Marienplatz (clothing) and Viktualianmarkt (Vegetables, Fruits & Condiments) By the way...they have a GREAT Honey Shop, das Honighäuselon the Viktualianmarkt, where I always find new and exotic honeys to bring home.
Viktualianmarkt, Munich
Fresh Berries - Yum!

  • A bike ride down the Isar River to the popular jazz beergarden, the "WaWi" or Waldwirtschaft in Großhesselohe south of Munich.
  • Have a great Greek dinner at the Paros Greek Tavern in Haidhausen
  • Have one of the best and most famous Italian Pizza's in Munich at Mario's by the Universität

I have stayed in a variety of places over the years in Munich, however in the past 6+ years I have been staying in what I believe to be the quietest and quaintest Gästhaus in the City: Hotel Gästehaus Englischer Garten

The hotel is situated in the vibrant bohemian quarter of Munich called Schwabing, but is located on a quiet street and backs up against the wall to the Englisher Garden. One awakens to birds chirping rather than cars honking and weather permitting one can have a delightful breakfast in their own magical walled garden behind the property. Ask to stay in the main Tudor house, as they also have an annex that is not as quaint, yet also very quiet. They also offer underground parking and bikes to rent. Munich is a city made to cycle in and the Gästhaus is where I rent my bike to ride through the Englischer Garten or down the Isar to the WaWi Beergarten.

TRANSPORTATION TIP:  To get places quickly, I highly recommend taking the U-Bahn, or Underground Subway. It is clean, safe and easy to navigate. Buy a Sreifenkarte for multiple trips on the U-bahn at a better rate.


Following our visit to Munich, We will fly back to Heathrow where we will spend one last night before our departure back to America the next afternoon. For my last night, I typically choose a B&B near to Heathrow and hire a cab to take me there and also to take me back to the airport the next day.


My pick for the past few years is the Oakwood Guest House Heathrow, a reasonable Bed and Breakfast a mere 5 minute drive or cab ride from Heathrow. The Oakwood B&B is also reasonably quiet as it is not on any flight paths. They are a short walk from a great Indian restaurant and also pubs and other restaurants in West Drayton. They have free parking if you have a car or are a short walk from the West Drayton train station with direct trains to London. It makes the perfect place to stay on the final eve of one's trip. Quiet, yet close and convenient to get to Heathrow Airport on the day of departure.

On my last night in England, I always prefer to dine at an Indian Restaurant, and the PALACE TANDOORI is just a short walk away from the Oakwood B&B. They are a local's favourite in the area and I have always had a stellar last meal on the eve of my departure home the next day.

Palace Tandoori Station Road, West Drayton Tel +44 (0)1895 431206

Minster Lovell, Cotswolds, England

Well, this is the trip that I have planned for my love of my life and myself this spring. I will be updating and adding as I continue to organize this year's European adventure over the next few weeks. I will also be adding and updating whilst travelling, making note when I come across some great restaurant, pub, or adventure to recommend.

Feel free to EMAIL me with any questions on any aspect of this trip OR for help with planning your own trip. I offer services from helping to book one's trip through to being a personal guide.

More information about Alpen Schatz European Adventures can be found HEREhttp://alpenschatz.blogspot.com/2014/04/alpen-schatz-european-adventures.html and memoirs and recommendations from my last trip HERE.

Enjoy the adventure!

Viel Spaß und Auf Wiedersehen!

Mary Dawn DeBriae