Subject: Re: Bavaria in May
Howdy fellow travelers and Marge,

Unless you have a compelling reason to fly in/out of Frankfurt, I'd definitely consider using Munich airport instead. It's a much more user-friendly airport (IMO), and puts you more in the middle of everything you want to see, with the exception of Rothenburg o.d.T. We travel to this area often, almost always in mid- to late-May, and think it's the perfect time to go.

The Salzburg area, including the lake district (Salzkammergut) is well worth seeing. I'd plan on a few days there, perhaps based in Salzburg or the general area (we usually stay in a pension about 5k outside of Salzburg and day trip around). Berchtesgaden is an OK town, but a bit overrated IMO. The nearby Konigsee is worth a visit and a boat tour if you have time.

If I had two weeks and wanted to get a good flavor of Bavaria and western Austria, I'd fly into Munich, head over to Chiemsee (the big lake just off the autobahn on the way to Salzburg) and spend two nights there. It's a really pretty lake and a very popular getaway area for Germans. In May it will be quite nice and not too crowded (we were just there this past May). We usually stay in Gstadt, a small town on the lake about 10k away from Prien, the main stown on the lake. On your first full day take the ferry out to the islands in the lake, one of which (Herrenchiemsee) houses one of King Ludwig's palaces, which can be toured. Use this day to get over jet lag and acclimate.

After Chiemsee head over to Salzburg, stopping by Berchtesgaden and Konigsee en route (pretty much on the way, and not very far from Chiemsee). Tour the town and the lake, and then drive to Salzburg and spend a few nights there while you tour the town and the lake area. Salzburg itself can be seen in about a half day; it's not that large and the old town is pretty compact. After the Salzburg area, head down toward Zell am See and then through the Hohe Tauern area (beautiful valley along the Salzach river surround by snow capped mountains) to the tiny town of Krimml, at the base of western Europe's highest waterfalls. Stay in Zell am See or Krimml. Drive over the pass from Krimml toward Innsbruck, then head north into Germany toward Mittenwald and then into Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you have the time, take the little-known route through the Leutasch valley (parallels the main route to Mittenwald from Innsbruck), which is really, really pretty (views of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, happy cows with bells, etc.).

Spend a day or two in the G-P area. We usually stay in the small town of Grainau, just outside of G-P and at the base of the Zugspitze. Tons of pensions, hotels and lots of B& Bs and restaurants, but it still feels like a small Alpine town (you're likely to find sheep and cows with bells grazing right outside your B& B in the middle of town). Several days can be easily spent in this area, including a trip up the Zugspitze via cog railway (if the weather is nice), a day or two spent visiting Oberammergau, King Ludwig's Linderhof castle, the monestary (abbey?) in Ettal, and even Neuschwanstein castle. Then, head up the Romantic Road, stopping by to visit Wieskirche on your way back to the Munich area. Spend a day or two in Munich seeing the sites, and head on home. Or, if you really need to see Rothenburg, head up there and then back to Munich (Rothenburg is worth seeing, but I wouldn't build your entire trip around it).

One week to go until my wife and I head back to Germany for a spur-of-the moment (cheap tickets on Lufthansa!) bike trip! :-)

Brian Wasson Abington, Pa./USA