Restaurant Bareiss, Deserving Of Its Three Michelin Stars

The best of the best…it wasn’t a hard choice when trying to decide which meal my husband and I enjoyed the most while in Germany this year. Restaurant Bareiss, in the well known resort Bareiss, located in the small village of Baiersbronn-Mitteltal was the hands down winner. While we had many delicious meals in other restaurants in Germany, nothing could compete with the lunch prepared by Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp, who has earned three Michelin stars for the restaurant year after year since 2007.

We had made a reservation months in advance for one of the eight tables in the elegant dining room of Restaurant Bareiss. We wanted to make sure that we would be able to experience one of the chef’s multi course tasting menus during our three day stay at this Black Forest resort. Our lunch was everything we hoped it would be.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We were graciously welcomed into the beautiful dining room by Thomas Brandt, the restaurant manager. After being seated, we ordered a glass of rosé Champagne to enjoy while we decided on our meal. There was a choice of four different complete menus as well as an à la carte menu from which to order. We chose the tasting menu and soon the delicacies started to arrive. The first to come to the table was an Apéritif Étagère, a little tower of canapés, each one a tiny work of art.

Over the course of the next several hours, we were served small, artistically composed dishes. The lunch started with both a cold and warm amuse bouche of mushrooms. I loved the presentation, it reminds you that wonderful mushrooms can be found growing in dense forests of this region.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After the delicious small gifts from the kitchen, it was on to the creative main courses which were classic French in style but with a modern regional German twist. The first course served was a variation of assorted goose foie gras with fragolino grapes and salted caramel along with a thick slice of brioche.

Assorted Goose Foie Gras With Fragolino Grapes And Salted Caramel

Assorted Goose Foie Gras With Fragolino Grapes And Salted Caramel

Next were two seafood courses. The first was a flamed scallop with smoked sweet corn cream and sour cream. This was a lovely dish with variations on corn including popped and even an ice cream. A white halibut with nut risotto, lemon and butter sauce followed.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

White Halibut With Nut Risotto and Lemon Butter Sauce

White Halibut With Nut Risotto and Lemon Butter Sauce

The fourth and fifth courses were meat based. The fourth was sautéed veal sweetbreads with celeriac, lamb’s lettuce and black truffle vinegar. When I mentioned to Mr. Brandt that I wasn’t sure about this dish because of the sweetbreads, he told me that Chef Lumpp would happily prepare the dish with filet of veal which made me very happy. My husband went with the dish the way the chef intended it to be and we decided both versions were delicious.

The fifth course was variations on deer. There was a saddle of roe deer that came from the Bareiss hunting grounds served with rose hip and romanesco as well as a small dish of braised shoulder of deer.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Next a cheese trolley was pushed over to the table to be served with a selection of grapes, honey, jams and mustard. By now we were getting full, so we didn’t take any fruit and only chose three cheeses from a choice of about fifty perfectly ripe cheeses to share between us. To finish this wonderful meal there was not one but several delicious sweet courses prepared by pastry chef Stefan Leitner. Again, we shared the dessert courses. After all, this was only the second day of our trip and my wardrobe had to fit for the remainder of our holiday.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Jürgen Fendt, the talented sommelier at Bareiss, selected several different glasses of wine from their 20,000 bottle cellar to accompany our lunch, each was a perfect pairing. From beginning to end, everything about this meal was perfection. My husband and I were so pleased when Chef Lumpp came out of the kitchen to ask how we enjoyed the meal and, of course, we gave our very enthusiastic approval.

It Was A Pleasure Meeting Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp

It Was A Pleasure Meeting Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp

****

This extraordinary meal came at the start of our almost month long holiday through Germany and Austria. There is a saying in Germany “nach dem essen sollst du ruhn, oder tausend schritte tun” which translates to after eating, you should rest or do a thousand steps. In Baiersbronn, it is certainly easy to do both as the region has great food and hundreds miles of well marked hiking trails and wonderful wellness resorts. After this meal, I made sure that plenty of steps were taken during the remainder of our holiday.

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 59 Comments

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe

As you approach the Wald and Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe, you feel like you’ve been invited to stay at a stately country home of an aristocratic German family. The hotel is located on lovely landscaped grounds and consists of several buildings, the most notable being “The Hunting Lodge”. The lodge was built in 1712 by Count Friedrich II and was the former summer residence of the Hohenlohe royal family.

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe Hunting Lodge

The Wald And Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe Hunting Lodge

You know you have arrived at the entrance to the property when you see a large bright red stag statue standing next to the village road.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel is spread out among different buildings on the property. The rooms and suites are located in the main house or the contemporary spa attached to it, the hunting lodge, the gatehouse, or the garden house. All of the rooms are designed and decorated differently. Usually, I would choose to stay in a historical building like the lodge but the two times we have stayed here, I’ve requested a room in the modern spa annex. It is connected to the main house which makes it convenient for using all the hotel’s facilities. It is also nice not to have to go outside to another building if the weather is bad.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

When you book a room at this hotel, the price only includes breakfast which is served in a lovely glass walled conservatory. In the afternoon you can have tea and cakes in the comfortable fireside lounge.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There are several choices when it comes to where you can dine. The Jägerstube is an informal and comfortable restaurant that serves regional cuisine. There is also a bistro at the spa that serves light and organic dishes. Besides these two restaurants, there is also the Forest Tavern on the grounds but it has never been open when we stayed at the hotel.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We’ve eaten twice in the beautiful Gourmet restaurant which is formally decorated. They have a new chef since our last visit and we thought the food was very good. It is rated sixteen points by Gault Millau German restaurant guide.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

For a before or after dinner drink, there a small cozy bar and a separate cigar lounge.

The large spa is on three levels with separate men’s and women’s sides with thirteen treatment rooms. The spa uses Vin Sano products which are made from local grapes, using the seeds, cold-pressed grape seed oil and extracts from red wine. There are seven saunas and both an outdoor pool and an indoor pool with a fireplace as its focal point.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There is also a high-tech fitness room, a tennis court and a twenty-seven hole golf course next door to the hotel. There are also walking trails throughout the area.

The peaceful countryside location of the hotel is in the area of Germany called the Hohenlohe, lying between Stuttgart and Nuremberg, in the German state of Baden Württemberg. It is an ideal base for exploring this area of southwest Germany, including Heidelberg and the well known Romantic and the Castle roads.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

If you like to travel the back roads like we do, you won’t have to travel very far to find charming towns with half-timbered buildings and castles perched on cliff tops in this lovely area of Germany. Many of the castles have been restored into private homes, romantic hotels and museums.

****

We’ve only stayed for two days on each of our two trips to this hotel but there is so much to see in the Hohenlohe region that I have a feeling we will return again in the future. I can just imagine how beautiful this area must be in the spring and summer when the rolling hills are a bloom with wildflowers and fruit trees.

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Restaurant Obauer, One Of The Top Four Restaurants In Austria

Obauer Restaurant

Obauer Restaurant

Restaurant Obauer deserves every accolade that it receives. The restaurant is one of only four in Austria to have received four toques and 19/20 points in the Gault & Millau Austria 2017 edition and the restaurant has had this top ranking for years. Not only that, Karl and Rudolf Obauer were chosen as Gault & Millau “Chefs of the Decade” in 2012. Being the food lovers that we are, it is no wonder then that my husband and I have eaten at Obauer every single time we have visited Austria.

The restaurant is in the small village of Werfen, Austria  located in the scenic Salzach valley just about forty kilometers south of Salzburg. You may have heard of the town because located high above it is Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave. The 900 year old Hohenwerfen Castle and falconry center is also perched on a high peak above Werfen.

Since we were staying just north of Salzburg, we decided to made a lunch reservation, then took the scenic route to the restaurant. After being seated at our table, Rudi came out of the kitchen to welcome us back to Obauer.

Soon after, little gifts from the kitchen started arriving while we looked at the menu. We looked, no we didn’t read the menu, as we don’t understand a word of German. Not a problem at Obauer, our waitress explained every dish to us and after that, we decided on their four course tasting menu. We were told that we could substitute an item if we chose to and my husband didn’t hesitate a second to decide on the foie gras prepared four ways for his first course…he is so predictable.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The four course menu of the day sounded delicious and I didn’t change a thing.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

There is always a few sweet tastings to go along with a cup of coffee to end the meal.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The meal from the start to the finish was delicious, the food compositions were beautiful and the flavors just amazing. Two brothers as chefs, one fantastic lunch, we’ve never been disappointed with any meal we’ve had at the restaurant.

Not only is the food great at Obauer but chefs Karl and Rudolf Obauer are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. We couldn’t leave without Rudi insisting that we get a photo together in front of the restaurant and presented me with a Obauer apron to remember our visit.

The Chefs Obauer

The Chefs Obauer

  ****

If you are a food lover like my husband and I, the restaurant Obauer should be on your short list of restaurants to eat at if you travel to the Salzburg region. Hopefully, you will have a meal as delicious as the ones we have enjoyed at lunchtime. Of coarse, you can stay at the Obauer hotel, enjoy a multi course meal with wine parings and then head up to bed. Over breakfast in the morning, you can reminisce about your dining experience from the night before. Oh and did I mention the scenery around Werfen, after all you can never see too many castles.

Hohenwerfen Castle In Werfen, Austria

Hohenwerfen Castle In Werfen, Austria

Posted in food, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 78 Comments

Genussdorf Gmachl And The Outskirts Of Salzburg

If you want to enjoy the Austrian countryside and also visit Mozart’s city of Salzburg, hotel Genussdorf Gmachl is the perfect choice of where to stay. Located just five kilometers north of Salzburg, in the urban village of Bergheim bei Salzburg, it is the perfect base for exploring the province of Salzburg and as well as nearby Germany. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes to get into the historic heart of the city from the hotel either by car or by train, the local stop being just a short walk away. If you prefer, you can use one of the hotel’s electric bicycles and bike into town, about a fifteen minute ride along the Salzach river.

Fortress Hohensalzburg Can Been Seen Off In the Distance

Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg’s Famous Landmark Towers Over The Rooftops Of The City

We have stayed at the Genussdorf Gmachl hotel several times and were in for a nice surprise when we returned this year. The hotel, which has been in the Gmachl family for seven generations, has been added on to as well as given a facelift and I love the new look.

The hotel’s bar, restaurant and breakfast room have been totally redone. They also added a second wellness center and thirty additional bedrooms. The new look is a combination of wood, glass, leathers and suede in earth tones with lots of plants and potted herbs to create a natural and contemporary environment that still retains a regional Salzburger style, I think all done very well.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We didn’t stay in one the new hotel rooms on this trip but instead requested one of their double rooms (Panoramic) where we had stayed on a pervious visit as it has a nice sitting area with a gas fireplace to enjoy on a cool evening and a wonderful view of the gardens, Salzburg and the mountains in the background from the room’s large balcony.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel now has two wellness areas, one for families and another just for adults. The new rooftop infinity pool has a great view of Salzburg, the fortress of Hohensalzburg and the mountains in the distance. There is also a natural swimming pool and whirlpool in the garden area as well as an indoor pool with a swim through to an outdoor pool.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

I love the elements of nature found throughout the hotel including in the new spa and the garden spa. Treatment rooms are even dedicated to different herbs. The new wellness area includes an infusion sauna, a gentle herbal steam bath, an ice plunge, and a large relaxation area. The outdoor lounge area on the roof top terrace is a wonderful place to relax on a sunny day.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Staying at the hotel on the outskirts of Salzburg makes it very convenient for traveling out to the many charming communities in the region, the beautiful lake district or even Berchtesgaden, Germany. After you’ve spent a day in town visiting Mozart’s birthplace, the cathedral, the Residenz, Mirabell Palace and gardens, try to visit the Hellbrunn Palace with its gardens and trick water fountains situated on the outskirts of the city. Other interesting places to visit are the pilgrimage basilica of Maria Plain, Hanger Seven at the Salzburg airport with the Red Bull collection of aircraft, formula one racing cars and art, picturesque Wolfgangsee and the other lakes in the outstanding Salzkammergut district, the salt mines in Hallein or in Berchtesgaden and St. Bartholomew’s church on Lake Königssee, all very enjoyable day trips.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After a day out exploring this area of Austria or nearby southern Germany, it is nice to return to the hotel to make use of the spa and then head down to have dinner. The restaurant is excellent and has been awarded 13/20 points and a toque by Gault & Millau. Mr. Gmachl himself, stopped by our table each day to inquire if everything was to our liking. The entire staff couldn’t do enough to make sure your meals were just as you wanted.

Our meals were part of the price of our room which included a large breakfast buffet with a nice variety of sausages, cheese, breads and eggs cooked to order, an afternoon buffet with soups, salads, pastries and delicious cakes. Dinner featured specialties of traditional Austrian cuisine as well as international dishes.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

You can order a four course dinner off their regular menu or their light menu…both focasing on local, seasonal and organic products. On two different occasions we had carpaccio, not only of beef but also a seafood one as well. One evening my husband had liver and onions, probably the best either of us have ever tasted. The hotel also has another restaurant “Franz” next door that is a popular meeting place with everyone in the village. They have a nice menu and serve homemade meat and sausage specialties from their own in house butcher shop and deli.

****

Some of the best and most convenient places to stay when visiting Salzburg are on the outskirts of town, especially if you have a car while on your holiday. Genussdorf Gmachl in Bergheim is a nice four star superior hotel that offers modern comfort and traditional charm and my husband and I always enjoy our stays there…now more that ever with the new additions they’ve  added to the hotel.

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 76 Comments

Posthotel Achenkirch

Austria may be known for its alpine scenery and world class skiing but it is also known for having some of Europe’s best spas. Just south of the Bavarian border and about a half hour from Innsbruck, is the small village of Achenkirch. It lies just a few kilometers from the northern edge of Lake Achensee, which is the largest mountain lake in the Tyrol region of Austria and totally surrounded by mountains.

Achensee, Austria

Achensee, Austria

That is where you will find Posthotel Achenkirch, a wonderful five star spa resort which is  dedicated to the wellbeing of its guests.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Compared to the other spa hotels my husband and I have stayed at over the years, the Posthotel Achenkirch is different in that it is a resort for adults. The hotel considers itself a retreat for wellness, rest, relaxation and tranquility, so no children under 14 are allowed. The owners want you to enjoy a peaceful environment so that you can recharge your body during your stay.

If you are arriving by car like we did, after checking in, you drive your car into their underground garage where your luggage will be unloaded and your car parked. Parking is free and upon  your departure, the car will be given back to you washed. We were happy to be given a tour to acquaint us with the hotel before heading to our room. The resort is large and consists of eight buildings connected by indoor passages designed like village streets with lamp posts, directional signs, fountains, flowers and lit candles everywhere.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The Posthotel Achenkirch is a blend of relaxed country charm and elegance…warm woods, stone and wood floors, crystal and iron chandeliers, a mix of contemporary and traditional furniture, velvets and leathers, and colors of subdued blues, grays, and browns. The wood and white plaster dining rooms have brown plaid carpet and are set with all white linens and white draped chairs. There is a punch of red plaid on the upholstered chairs in the winter garden dining room.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

We were very happy with the room category we had selected. We had a very spacious junior suite with a lovely sitting area with a flat screen TV, a beautiful marble bathroom with a large soaking tub and a separate walk in shower, his and her’s vanities, one with a TV hidden in the mirror, a separate toilet room and there was a nice balcony looking out at the mountains, the little St. Anna chapel and the local parish church.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The hotel is one of the leading spa resorts in Europe. The water and wellness worlds that make up the spa are huge. At 7000 sq. meters, the spa is one of the largest in the Tyrol region of Austria.  There is an incredible variety of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam baths, an yin yang pool outdoors where you can switch from cold to warm water, a woman’s only section in the spa, 35 treatment rooms as well as rooms for napping and reading.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

In the underground sauna area, there is also an area designed as a sunken temple with a round meditation room. A Shaolin monk from China stays at the hotel six months of the year to teach guests how meditation helps with your health. They also have their own acupuncture specialist at the spa.

For those looking for something more active, you can sign up for daily fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and Nordic walking. The resort also has tennis courts and its own 9 hole golf course, horse stables and indoor and outdoor riding rinks. The owners of the hotel have the largest private Lipizzaner stud farm in Europe, with 40 white stallions. They are the breed of horses closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. You can sign up to take riding lessons on one of the horses or perhaps just enjoy a carriage ride pulled by Lipizzaners around the surrounding area.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

This is another resort where all your meals are included in the price of the room. There is a large buffet breakfast, a light lunch of soups, sliced local hams, cheese, salads and fruits, teas and coffees served with pastries in the afternoon and a dinner in the evening. You can order à la carte or have a meal off the buffet that usually is prepared around a different theme each evening. The meal includes a salad, dessert and cheese buffet (one evening was a special cheese night with 74 different cheeses, both local and from other regions of Europe.) There is also a spa menu and many of the products are raised and grown on their own organic farm, one of the largest in the area.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

****

During an afternoon drive through the most southern part of Bavaria a couple of years ago, my husband and I crossed over the border into Austria and discovered the little village of Achenkirch and drove right past this resort without knowing how lovely it was. I’m happy to say that we can now add it to the wonderful list of spa hotels that we have stayed at. If you want to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I believe you would truly enjoy the Posthotel Achenkirch. The hotel is sophisticated and luxurious and yet relaxed and informal, making for a perfect holiday.

 

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

Post Hotel Lermoos

The Post Hotel in the small village of Lermoos, Austria seems to have it all…beautiful rooms, delicious food  and spectacular views of the Zugspitze. It also has a wonderful spa and is one of Austria’s Best Wellness hotels. You can enjoy relaxing therapies as well as beautiful scenery and that is what keeps my husband and I returning to this lovely hotel.

View Of The Zugspitze From The Hotel Post Lermoos

View Of The Zugspitze From The Hotel Post Lermoos

The hotel began as a post office in the center of Lermoos in 1560 and became an inn in 1702. In 2006, the hotel was completely rebuilt into the four star superior hotel that you see today.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Decorated in a sophisticated yet casual country house style, the hotel and its employees make you feel welcome the minute you walk through the front door.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After checking in at reception, we headed up to our beautiful room. This year we had a junior suite with a view of the Zugspitze that was quite lovely. It had a kingsize bed, a comfortable seating area, a large flat screen TV, and a small table and bench next to a tiled heater for cold nights. The large bathroom had double sinks, a bathtub and walk in shower and separate toilet.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After unpacking, it was time to head down to the hotel lobby. There is a nice bar and a separate smoking lounge, if you are so inclined. Next we always head out onto the terrace at the back of the hotel to enjoy the  breathtaking scenery.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

If it is a nice day, a light lunch or a slice of Sacher torte at one of the dining tables on the terrace is delightful. If it is cool, you can snuggle in one of the fur lined chairs next to one of the fireplace heaters that line the terrace.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The afternoon is a great time to head down to the wellness center. You are provided with a bag, bathrobe and slippers for the spa. There is both an indoor and outdoor pool that are connected with a glass door that you can swim through and a whirlpool. 

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

In the spa area there is an herbal steam bath, brine bath, aroma bath, bio sauna, Tyrolean sauna, ice cave, cold water plunge and relaxation rooms. There is even a separate family area with a steam bath and sauna. The beauty spa has all kind of treatments, scrubs, baths and massages available.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

In the evening, it is time to head down to the bar for an before dinner cocktail and then on to dinner. The price of your room includes full board which is a full breakfast, a light lunch, cakes in the afternoon and in the evening you are served a six course gourmet meal. The wine cellar, overseen by sommelier Markus Saletz, has been voted one of the best in Austria. Markus has remembered us each time we have visited the hotel and always recommends a wonderful wine to go along with what we have ordered for dinner.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

After a good night’s sleep, it is a pleasure to awake to the wonderful views of the mountains and plan you day’s adventures. Within an hours drive of the hotel, you can cross the border into Bavaria and visit the beautiful pilgrimage church of Wies, Ludwig’s famous Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Palace outside of Fussen, Garmisch-Partennkirchen, and the storybook villages of Oberammergau and Mittenwald.

****

Sun Setting At The End Of A Wonderful Day

Sun Setting At The End Of A Wonderful Day

Whenever we travel to Austria, I believe the Hotel Post in Lermoos will always be one of our stops. The countryside is beautiful and the hotel leaves nothing to be desired.

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 81 Comments

Mittenwald, One Of Bavaria’s Most Picturesque Villages

If you are planning a trip to Bavaria, then you should add the small village of Mittenwald to your list of places to visit. I believe that it is one of the most charming and picturesque towns in the region.

Mittenwald, Germany

Mittenwald, Germany

To truly enjoy Mittenwald wander the streets, Obermarkt is the main pedestrian zone. It is just a short walk from one end of the town to the other, with a carved violin in a square at one end and the beautifully painted baroque parish church of Saints Peter and Paul at the other.

Everywhere you look there are beautiful old buildings with ornately carved gabled roofs, pretty wooden balconies and in many cases, stunning painted facades. The frescos are known as lüftlmalerei, similar to the baroque frescos seen inside many churches in Southern Germany. Most of the frescos date from the 18th century and are biblical in nature, very common throughout Bavaria and the Austrian Tirol region.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

A small stream flows down the center of the main street with little wooden bridges for crossing to the other side of the street. Along with way are pretty old water fountains and flowers everywhere.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The town has been known worldwide for years for its violin making. In a dominate place in town, next to the church, is a statue of Matthias Klotz, a master violin maker, who made Mittenwald famous for its’ stringed instruments that are still being handmade here.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

The town and its residents still hold on to age old traditions, often wearing traditional Bavarian clothing, especially on Sundays and when attending weddings held at the beautiful church. While on our visit, my husband and I were lucky enough to see a wedding group as they were just leaving their ceremony.

Two young men held a laundry line with violin parts and paper hearts for the couple to walk under as they left the church. (I believe this goes back to the tradition of hanging new wood violins in the sun to achieve a nice dark color.) A beautiful flower decorated carriage with two horses awaited the couple after a procession through the streets.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

If the weather is nice, one of the pleasures of visiting Mittenwald is sitting outside at one of the many cafes to have a locally brewed beer and a Bavarian snack of weisswurst with sweet mustard and a pretzel. If you are in the mood for something sweet, then perhaps a slice of cake and coffee or a dish of ice cream would be more to your liking.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

****

Mittenwald is a town that I can return to over and over again. The nice thing is that nothing changes and that is what I like about it…it holds on to its traditions and celebrates them daily. I do hope you will get a chance to visit this charming town on day.

 

 

 

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Wellness Residenz Schalber In Serfaus, Austria

While only 50 kilometers from St. Anton and an hour away from Innsbruck, most people have never heard of the small Tyrolean village of Serfaus unless they are skiers living in Europe. Surrounded by the Ötztal Alps with peaks over 9200 feet high, it is absolutely beautiful.

Located just north of the joint Austrian, Swiss and Italian border, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (three historical villages)  is one of the biggest ski resort areas in Austria. The towns specialize in holidays for families with children. They come to ski in winter and then return again in the summer to hike and bike on the trails of the high plateau. This area is sometimes referred to as Austria’s “sun terrace” as it is said that the sun shines more often and more intense than anywhere else in the country.

Schalber Hotel In Serfaus, Austria

Schalber Hotel In Serfaus, Austria

My husband and I aren’t skiers, hikers or cyclists so you might wonder what has brought us back for a second visit to Serfaus. One reason…the Wellness Residenz Schalber. Rated 19 out of 20 points and awarded the top rating of 4 lilies by the Relax Guide of Austria, Schalber is one of the top spa hotels in Austria.

The Majestic Mountain Peaks Surrounding Serfaus, Austria

The Majestic Mountain Peaks Surrounding Serfaus, Austria

A serpentine road, that made me wince a few times, takes you up to the village. As you enter Serfaus, the road ends at a parking garage where you leave your car if you are a day visitor then take the free Dorfbahn, considered to be one of the world’s smallest and highest subways, into the village. If staying in a hotel, you can bypass the subway and drive up to where you are staying.

Schalber is at the beginning of this little village of chalets and is easily recognized by its striking entrance and beautiful fountain. After a warm and friendly welcome, a valet delivers you to the front desk, takes the luggage to your room then parks your car in the hotel’s underground garage while you are given a tour around the hotel and a welcome glass of Champagne. Gault Millau once wrote about the hotel…”from the reception to the service, all employees deserve the title extraordinary,” and I would certainly agree. From the gracious owners to the very courteous staff, everyone wants to make sure that you have an unforgettable experience at their hotel.

We had a junior suite decorated in the tradition alpine style of light colored woods. The room had a nice seating area and a balcony that looked out at the magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.

The price of the room includes full board which offers you culinary treats throughout the day. There is a large breakfast buffet, a lunch buffet, afternoon beverages served with pastries and then a five course gourmet dinner, including a salad bar. The courses feature Austrian and international cuisine with many of the ingredients coming from the hotel own’s organic farm and hunting grounds.

The beautiful spa truly feels like an oasis of relaxation with many different types of saunas and steam baths, a separate ladies spa, a large panorama sauna with wonderful views of the mountains, an outdoor pool, seawater pool and a relaxation area with lounge chairs and waterbeds and a fitness room.

Life in Serfaus is geared towards outdoor adventures for all ages but we enjoyed just walking through the narrow lanes winding through the village, stopping into the beautiful church on a lovely sunny afternoon.

****

The Tyrolean village of Serfaus is picture perfect. The first time we visited Schalber was during the Christmas holiday season a few years ago and it looked like something out of a postcard.

Wellness Hotel Schalber During The Winter Season

Wellness Residenz  Schalber During The Winter Season

Unfortunately, my husband was very ill and never got to leave our room for the three days we were there. We knew that we had to return someday and on this visit, we made up for everything we missed out on and thoroughly enjoyed the hotel and all of its wonderful facilities.

 

 

Posted in lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Lake Tegernsee And The Seehotel Überfahrt

Nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, you will find Lake Tegernsee with five pretty little villages around it shoreline. A little less than an hour’s drive southeast of the bustling city of Munich, it is a very popular destination for those wanting to enjoy fresh air, the lake’s beautiful turquoise blue waters and the views of mountain peaks that lie just beyond.

Tegernsee, Germany

Lake Tegernsee, Germany

Whether boating or enjoying other water sports on the lake, hiking in the foothills of the Alps, shopping in small boutiques, having a meal in one of the many restaurants or simply enjoying a beer at an outdoor beer garden, Lake Tegernsee has a lot to offer anyone visiting this area of Bavaria.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

Seehotel Überfahrt In The Town Of Rottach-Egern

Seehotel Überfahrt In The Town Of Rottach-Egern

The five star resort hotel Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt is located on the banks of the Tegernsee in the pretty town of Rottach-Egern. The hotel’s name Überfahrt, which means crossing in German, came about from the early ferrymen that used to row passengers across the lake. You can now take a regular scheduled ferry across the lake from in front of the hotel or from several other points around the lake.

Walking into the Überfahrt,  you see that the hotel has a different feel from many of the other traditional Bavarian hotels located around the lake. It is contemporary, with a  classical modern decor of polished woods, leather and fabrics in earth tones and wonderful artwork that reflects the history of the area, all of which creates a very stylish resort. With its well designed interior, a five star rated wellness spa and four different restaurants, one being rated three stars by Michelin, the hotel leaves nothing to be desired for anyone on holiday.

After checking in, we enjoyed a delicious pflaumenkuchen, plum cake, and cappuccino in the lobby while we waited for our room to be made ready. A little later, my husband and I were shown to our lovely room that had a balcony with views out over Lake Tegernsee.

The Seehotel Überfahrt made a great base for exploring the beautiful countryside of Bavaria with its romantic castles and pretty villages where the people still enjoy their long held culture and customs. Returning to the hotel each day after sightseeing and before dinner, my husband and I headed down to the hotel’s wonderful spa, 4 Elements, to relax and enjoy the pool, seven different saunas and steam baths.

When making our reservation to stay at the Überfahrt, we selected the hotel’s “dine around” offer that included our room, a buffet breakfast each morning and our nightly meals. You get to choose a three course dinner off the menus from their three specialty  restaurants and if you decide on their three star restaurant, you will get a meal credit. Unfortunately, there was a large conference being held at the hotel during our stay so we only got to eat in two of their four restaurants. We had excellent Italian dishes in the restaurant Il Barcaiolo and alpine cuisine in the Egerner Bucht. The modern dining rooms have large windows that look out at the garden and lake beyond and the walls are hung with black and white photos that give the restaurants a contemporary feel.

****

With its easy proximity to Munich, Lake Tegernsee and the Seehotel Überfahrt made a great base for exploring this section of Bavaria. Even thought it was cooler than normal for early October, my husband and I found fall to be a lovely time of the year to explore the pretty back roads around the lake and the lovely countryside in the surrounding area. It even snowed overnight on our last day in this area of Bavaria, giving the surrounding mountains a pretty dusting of white. I’m sure each season is delightful here, especially summer when you can enjoy all the outdoor activities around the lake.

 

 

 

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Hotel Bareiss, Perfection In The Black Forest

Germany’s Black Forest, located at the border of Germany, France and Switzerland, makes an ideal holiday destination and can easily be explored in a few days. From its vast forests with hundred of miles of hiking trails to its river valleys planted with vineyards, from the sophisticated spa town of Baden-Baden to the picturesque rural villages located on its winding back roads, there are plenty of cultural sites for everyone’s travel tastes.

While you may be familiar with some of the region’s specialties like Black Forest cake, cherry brandy and the legendary smoked hams, you may not know that the region has become a foodie destination with its updated traditional German food. The small community of Baiersbronn is now considered by some to be its “culinary capital”. It has three holiday resorts that have become famous because of  their well known restaurants and have the distinction of being awarded a total of eight Michelin stars between them.

Hotel Bareiss

Hotel Bareiss, Baiersbronn-Mitteltal, Germany

One of those resorts is Hotel Bareiss, considered one of Europe’s finest luxury wellness hotels. Situated in the village of Baiersbronn-Mitteltal, the hotel and its beautifully landscaped gardens seem to fit in perfectly in its northern Black Forest surroundings and has the charm of a small elegant and sophisticated country inn.

The Bareiss sets the standard by which all other hotels must be judged. The unparalleled hospitality of the staff is what makes the hotel special. From the moment my husband and I walked through the front door and were warmly greeted by the staff, dressed in traditional clothing, until the morning we were wished a safe journey on the rest of our holiday, we were made to feel welcome in a warm and heartfelt way…each member of the staff greeted us by name throughout the hotel and spoke to us in perfect English.

We were shown to our comfortable large double room, the Weißenbachtal, with a living and bedroom area, a walk-in closet and balcony with a lovely view of the pools and church in the background. Just as we were settled in, there was a ring from the doorbell and we were greeted with glasses of champagne.

For total relaxation, it was now time to explore the resort’s Sauna World. The hotel’s wonderful wellness spa includes indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, hammans, massage rooms, and solariums for quiet relaxation. The pampering environment was perfect for unwinding as we did after our overseas flight and drive from the Frankfurt airport into the heart of the Black Forest.

Bareiss is perhaps most known for its food, from the wonderful breakfast buffet in the morning to the fine regional cuisine served in the evening in one of their several restaurants. I made a reservation for lunch months in advance for one of the eight tables in the luxurious small dining room of Restaurant Bareiss. We wanted to experience one of the multi course tasting menus of Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp who has earned three Michelin stars for the gourmet restaurant. The lunch was outstanding and a review of the meal will be made in a later post.

Lunch At Three Star Michelin Restaurant Bareiss

Lunch At Three Star Michelin Restaurant Bareiss

In the evening before or after dinner, it is nice to head to the hotel bar where there is an excellent selection of whiskeys, rum, gin, liquors and regional fruit based spirits with which the friendly staff creates an impressive list of cocktails. There is usually a man at the piano playing and singing and around midnight the bar serves up a little something to tide you over until breakfast. Next to the bar, there is a glass enclosed smokers’ lounge that will remind you of an English study.

****

When traveling in Europe, I tend to look for two things when deciding on hotels…good food and good facilities. The Bareiss, certainly did fit what my husband and I were both looking for as a start to our holiday. The majority of guests seem to be regulars that have been coming for years for an extended holiday of hiking in the fresh air, relaxing and enjoying good food and I can understand why. While we were there for just three days, we felt the hotel is a destination that is definitely worth flying across the ocean for and was a memorable experience that will spoil us for all future hotels.

Bareiss prides itself on having the highest level of service and that is taught at their own training academy on premise. Friendly attention and perfect service was shown by everyone who crossed our paths and we lacked for nothing. We learned that this doesn’t happen by accident, hospitality comes from their heart and Bareiss has lots of heart. It is absolute perfection in the Black Forest and I can’t wait to return.

 

 

Posted in food, lifestyle, photography, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 45 Comments