Monday, April 18, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Saturday, August 22, 2015

High Heat in Central Europe: Survival Tips:
Many countries in Central and Northern Europe  experienced record high temperatures this summer, often 20 degrees F above normal. Many of these locations are not accustomed to this and how  those different areas make accommodations for the soul-shattering and sole-melting heat varies greatly. After traveling in the region of Germany and Austria during these imitations of incineration, we have come up with a few tips:
1. Don't count on all businesses and tourist sites to be air-conditioned, so alter your schedule of daytime activities.
Instead of hitting the highlight of, say, the Marienplatz in Munich in the scorching afternoon, with the pavement radiating heat through your sandals, try visiting after dark. With the lighting effects, is is a more magical experience anyway. If you must be out during the day, do your shopping in large departments stores - they are usually air-conditioned and their top floor cafeterias and restaurants are usually cool as well - on several levels. The famous Ratskeller in the basement of the famous Munich city hall may be a bit touristy, but it is prepared to deal with the busy season efficiently and keep the patrons cool. There are plenty of choices on the menu, including local favorites.

2. Look carefully at that restaurant at lunchtime. Is the interior nearly empty at noontime? Why might that be? Because it is so hot you can't breath, let alone eat. If there is a breeze, the sidewalk terrace is a much better choice. In Vienna, several well know cafes were running mist systems like you might see in Las Vegas. This will make all the difference in you enjoyment. For your evening meal, eating later at night in the outdoors can be a great choice. Don't forget, restaurants in Germany that advertise "air-conditioning" on the street menu will most like still be at 80 degrees F or above. That is better than 98 degrees, but is not going to do much to bring your core body temp down. Just remember, in Germany, "air-conditioning" is often more a suggestion than a reality.

3. Consider new hotels vs. historic hotels and how they operate.
We stayed at the same European chain hotels in Vienna and Salzburg. In Salzburg, the new building that the hotel was in had great air-conditioning. In Vienna, the same chain hotel was well located but was in a old building. The room could not be made to go below 79 degrees F.  Well, the good location helped, because we could return in the mid-afternoon from sightseeing to take a cold shower.

4. Transit becomes more important in high heat.
You pride yourself in your walking abilities? Well, in high heat, change your attitude. You will enjoy yourself more and see more if you use local transit wisely. A 3-day transit pass in Vienna is cheap and easy to use. Ride the #1 and # 2 trams to see the Ring instead of walking miles. Use the U-Bahn trains in Vienna and Munich to avoid the heat. Even in the U-Bahn systems the heat levels will vary. In Munich some U-Bahn lines are deep underground and will help you to cool down. In Vienna, some lines pop-above ground and get quite warm. Some trams are quite new and have a bit of A/C, other are veritable antiques that will at least have open windows, because they definitely don't have air-conditioning. A taxi ride from the new part of Salzburg to the funicular railroad in the old city was 8 Euros for 4 people. This saved 30 minutes of walking in extreme conditions.
Some first-class compartments in high-speed Deutsche Bahn long-distance trains have controllable air-conditioning controls. Second class does not.

4. Culture is cool.

 Museums must protect their art and artifacts. This gives you a space to avoid the effects of humidity, heat and bright sunlight. It is the perfect place to tour during the heat of the day. In Munich, there is very high level art in the Neue Pinakothek (museum.) There are several related museums nearby if you want to indulge in a deep dive and the district is easily accessible bttram.

5. Consider your itinerary and be flexible.

In short, cities are usually hotter than the countryside. Even better, Climb Every Mountain. Increasing your altitude lowers the air temperature, often dramatically. The Eagles Nest in Obersalzburg is worthwhile to visit - and cool at any time. Arrive early in the day here before the crowds build.
Alpine  Lakes radiate a coolness that will feel quite refreshing after days of pounding superheated pavement. The Konigsee is close to the Eagle's Nest and is a good addition while visiting the mountain. However, if you arrive later in the day, you will need to wait for your assigned boat trip and your return trip will involve a very long wait if you are visiting in August.

In summary, walk on the shady side of the street! You have choices when you travel, and having a plan to beat the heat can spell the difference between a fun holiday or grueling death march.

copyright 2015 Larry Steiner

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday, October 18, 2014