Pension Manfred Klaus, Weingartsgreuth Germany

Manfred Claus

Today a short review of Pension Manfred Klauss, because one of our Austrian relatives called for their address and I want to be able to find its address back here at my blog.

This little Inn (“Pension” in German) is located between Wurzburg and Nurnberg in Germany.
This is about half way between The Netherlands and Vienna in Austria which we visit frequently. It is also nicely half way if you like to go skiing in Austria from The Netherlands.

We have stayed there many times. It started more than 40 years ago when my parents in law stopped for a couple of hours of sleep at the Motel Steigerwald next to the gas station Steigerwald along the A3 / E45 motorway in Germany, see the map. The motel had no vacancies and the attendant at the gas station directed my father in law along a rural back road (actually only allowed for local traffic) that brought him just 500 m from the motorway to a very peaceful little inn operated by his parents in law. The gas station attendant still works for the gas station (more than 40 years now) After his father in law passed away, his wife and his mother in law still run the place. Last December I stopped at Steigerwald under way to Vienna to refill my car and I visited them for a cup of coffee, while I offered the hostess a couple of roses to stress our enduring relation. In recent years we use to fly more than to drive to Vienna so we see each other less.

They offer you a very clean bedroom with a good bed nice crisp sheets and an excellent breakfast. I if you arrive late, you can buy a nice bottle of local wine: The Wurzburg Nurnberg region has excellent wines that the locals like so much that you can hardly find them outside the area. All for a very decent price. So although it is not a luxury hotel, it offers you the luxury of a clean comfortable bed to crash in and go on with your traveling. In addition, in a nearby restaurant they serve excellent food. Reservations for both the pension and the restaurant are recommended.

Off Topic
This is my first post from a computer with the Linux operating system. It is the Suse 10.3 distribution. It is a steep learning curve, but I am glad that I may be able to say good bye to the Windows operating system….

Istanbul and the art of booking a hotel online: Nothing Zen! Part 4

Istanbul: View of the Golden Horn.
A Turk singer and three Derwish
dancers preparing for a video shoot

I just returned from a week’s trip to Istanbul with a group of 26 and a lot of information to share with you.

Trip and organization

First I would like to address the actual travel details.

We flew with KLM (a flight shared with KLM’s partner NW) directly from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Istanbul Attaturk Airport without any delay.The fact that KLM is now a subsidiary of Air France apparently did something good to KLM: Flying in time. Flight attendants who behave much more gracious and hospitable and even the food simple, but better than I remember from years ago, when I used to fly business class and decided not to fly KLM anymore due to exorbitant rates, very unfriendly flight attendants, and horrible food and had handed my frequent flier card in. Kudos for KLM!

The trip was partly booked through a Travel Agent No Beach. They also did a wonderful job in getting the group transferred by private couch from and to the airport, provided two nice guides fro some sightseeing, fully bilingual in Turkish and Dutch (to be more precise: one was speaking with a Flemish tongue, the Belgian version of Dutch). They organized some intermediate transport by coach and ferry to a nice restaurant at the Asian side of the Bosphorus and finally the transfer back to the airport. They made the hotel reservations solved some issues arising from an an overbooked hotel. All in all very conveniently organized. Once more the experience convinced me that for a group you should rely on an experienced travel agent and not on your own time consuming Internet rummaging and the hassle of negotiating with hotels you don’t know. Kudos for No Beach!

As the frequent reader may remember from the two previous posts in this series, Part 1 in January and Part 2 in April, we had arrived at a shortlist of a couple of hotels:

It turned out that part of the group stayed a couple of days in Lady Diana and I would suggest that as the hotel to stay in when you like to be in the old center and in the walking vicinity of several of Istanbul’s highlights, several good restaurants and in the vicinity of a very easy cross city tram by which you can avoid the car congestions you will face when taking a taxi (apart from the fact that almost every taxi driver tries to make enormous detours to jinn up his bill).

I myself stayed in The Celal Sultan Hotel fro the whole week. The owner lives in Belgium (hence the Dutch spoken) and the hotel has being decorated by a Belgian interior decorator. This is a very nice hotel, very nice staff, good service and good amenities, a cozy lounge and two nice roof terraces with view on the Aya Sophia, but we stayed in a standard room which is more the size of a room in a Pod Hotel than of a decent hotel room, which is a bit too much if you are used to 75 sqm suites in your own hotel. Their superior rooms have the usual 4 star size and are acceptable.

The main reason for my verdict in favor of the Lady Diana is that their roof terrace is much more spacious and spectacular than that of the Celal Sultan with a far better view over the city, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara with the possibility to have breakfast on the roof. The Celal website is the best of the three. It gives good photo impressions of its interior, but is scarce in giving rates and prices. They should upload newer photo’s of their renovated roof terraces. At least the rack rates I saw announced in the lounge of the Ceal Sultan are higher than the rack rates of the Lady Diana published on their website. As everything in Istanbul one should negotiate the best rates.

Kybele Front
The Kybele Hotel Front view with owner in red and rosa

The Kybele Hotel is just located between the two others and is also a very nice place for a drink, a lunch or a diner. It has a street terrace and a nice and cosy inner court terrace, without view, and is probably the cheapest of the three. I did not actually see their rooms, but I like the owner who decorated the hotel with thousands of small Turkish lamps (which he sells off course) and who, when we were looking at an Europa Cup football match between Istanbul’s Fenerbace and AC Milan, wore an AC Milan shirt, but was very satisfied that Fenerbace won 1-0 against AC Milan, the 2006 Europa Cup winner.

Finally officially opened: Stadeshuys Stavoren

Stadeshuys 00

I have reported earlier about the making of this exceptional 2 suites Bed and Breakfast in Stavoren in 2004 and in 2006.

It has a honeymoon suite with a view that is probably the most beautiful view of The Netherlands. When the suite was half ready we have slept in it as test sleepers.

Saturday 7th April Stadeshuys was officially opened by the Lady of Stavoren, a mythical person in The Netherlands.

Stadeshuys 01
Host Pim an hostess Jane welcoming guests for the opening
Stadeshuys 03
The Honeymoon Suite with original wall painting
The view from the Honeymoon Suite
Stadeshuys 04
The Lady of Stavoren enjoying the view from the Honeymoon Suite’s balcony
Stadeshuys 05
The Honeymoon Suite’s bathroom
Stadeshuys 06
The view from the Honeymoon Suite’s bath
Stadeshuys 07
The other suite: the “Jol” (= Dinghy) Suite

(All photos © Happy Hotelier)

Hotel Sonne, Offenburg, Germany

Hotel Sonne Offenburg Germany

I am back from the white slopes in Switzerland and time for a tip.

When we drive to Switzerland we frequently make a stopover at Hotel Sonne (the Sun Hotel) in the very center of Offenburg.

Offenburg is next to the Motorway (Autobahn) Frankfurt – Basel, between Baden Baden and Freiburg. It is also easy to reach from Strasbourg in France. They have a courtyard where you can park your car without the necessity to unload all your luggage.

Offenburg is a nice small town and a good basis for exploring the German Schwartz Wald (Black Forrest) or the French Elzas.

Hotel Sonne is first mentioned in 1376. So it is probably more than 630 years old. In any case it is run by the same family already since 1858. In 2008 they will celebrate their 150 years of operating the hotel!

In the two very old townhouses is the “Old Wing”. Next to and behind the courtyard is the “New Wing”. We prefer the Old wing, because of its character, its beautiful wooden stairs and antique furniture and because the bathrooms of most rooms have been redecorated more recently. Room 31 still needs redecorating and we rather avoid, because of the squeaking of the floorboards and the antique bed.

Dad and mum of over 80 of the present owner Gabi are still helping out. I admire the fact that both even can handle their computerized reservation system.

Gabi’s husband Horst operates their excellent restaurant.

Suite with an extraordinary high view: 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat

3100 kulmhotel gornergrat

Yes, I am on the road and slowing down the posting a bit.
Today, I had an excellent lunch in what I believed was an observatory, but turned out to be an extraordinary high hide away above Zermatt in the Swiss Alps at 3100 m above sealevel which is almost two miles high, the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat. This small hotel cum observatory exists already over 100 year and was tastefully renovated during 2005 and the first part of 2006. I got a tour of its rooms and one of its suites with amazing view in the tower of the observatory. I will be adding to this post later.