Austria - Vienna, Salzburg, Halstatt and Sound of Music
By Rick Chapo
Austria simply can't be beat when it comes to beauty. You"ve seen the country in the Sound of Music, but the cities of Vienna, Salzburg and the alpine town of Halstatt are just as nice.
Vienna is a city with a ridiculous amount of history. The home of the waltz, Habsburg Palaces and an unrivaled musical past. Walk for an evening through the cobblestone streets in the center city and you can almost hear a famous composer at work. In fact, many of the walking areas are lined with small orchestral ensembles playing their way through the evening. Elbowing in on their act, of course, are those unique artist who dress in a period piece and then stand in one position for what seems time eternal. Buddhist monks would be envious if they believed in envy.
The only downside to Vienna is the expense. It is very expensive. If you are going to spend some time in the city, be ready to pay for the privilege.
Salzburg is one of my favorite cities and I always try to hit it when I am traveling through Europe. The real home of Mozart, Salzburg is Vienna without less of the hustle and bustle. A walk through the shopping district will leave you breathless and, sometimes, penniless, but it is a worthwhile go. Salzburg is a city where you can drink bear with monks, take in an opera or just walk through exquisite rose gardens. Unfortunately, it gives Vienna a run for its money when it comes to being expensive. Yes, pun intended.
Halstatt is the little town in the Alps that puts the Sound of Music to shame. Located roughly an hour outside of Salzburg, the easiest way to reach it is by train. The train travels well up into the Alps and drops you off by the side of a lake. You plop down in a little hut and wait for the ferry from Halstatt to appear. The ferry then halls you across the lake to a Alpine town with no cars - Halstatt. It is like stepping into the past. People are friendly, prices are reasonable and romance is on the hoof. Swans swim along the outdoor cafes dotting the lake and, well, it is pretty dang nice. If you are looking for a little romance, Halstatt is definitely worth your consideration.
For many travelers, Austria gets scratched off the "must visit list because it is so expensive. Still, you should try to visit it at least once in your life to take in the splendor.