Subject: Re: Germany and Switzerland (Bodensee Region?)
Greetings, Carol,

Last summer, we attended a performance of "West Side Story" on the floating stage at Bregenz on Lake Constance. It appears the 2004 production schedule begins July 22. If that fits your time frame and you like musicals, I highly recommend you see it. The dialogue was spoken in German; the songs were sung in English. We are not fluent in German, so we listened to a CD of the musical during our pre- Bregenz roadtrip, which boosted our familiarity with the story line so the language difference didn't detract from our enjoyment of the performance. We will always remember that night as one of the more spectacular fine arts events we've attended--the setting is just so dramatic. You may purchase tickets in advance through the official website:

If you plan to see Mad King Ludwig's castles--which are an easy drive from Lake Constance (67 miles)--consider an overnight visit to beat the tourist bus crowds. The loveliest hotel nestled right between the two castles is the Hotel Mueller. We arrived hungry for dinner. The hotel restaurant food was "good"--if you're seeking ambiance or an inspired menu, you might want to research offerings in nearby (charming, albeit very touristy) Füssen. However, the hotel common areas and room itself were attractive, clean and nicely appointed, and the management and staff were friendly and accommodating. The surrounding grounds and small lake are perfect for an evening's walk. If you can secure "a room with a view" of (and open window looking out on) Neuschwanstein Castle, staying there is almost a magical experience, especially on a starry night and/or at sunrise. By lodging at the foot of the castles, you can eat breakfast without rushing and be the first morning visitors to the castles while it's still cool and the masses have yet to arrive. You will even have time to take the hike up to Marienbruecke (Mary's Bridge) for the dramatic view and be back down ready to check out of your hotel by midday.

Whatever you choose to do, I know you will have a great time in the beautiful Bodensee region!

Diana Ball near Houston, TX