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Austria

Austria is a tiny country in Europe but really beautiful, being surrounded by Alps. It is probably a cheaper alternative to Switzerland possibly offering similar sights and skiing options. The places to check out are Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck.

We just concentrated on Salzburg due to limited time. Salburg just reminded me of Alaska with a very similar landscape. Since I went during christmas time, it was just snow, snow everywhere ! We were so lucky to get two full days of dry weather with bright sunshine, it was just wonderful. We stayed at the Sheraton and the hospitality was excellent. One of the guests we met there said he has been coming to Salzburg from America every year for the last 20 years ! He said he has never seen such wonderful weather for two days during christmas time and so you can imagine how lucky we were !

On the first day we took a Lakes and Mountains tour called the Sound of Music. It was excellent with a theme of where the great hollywood blockbuster Sound of Music was filmed. It is probably a good way of getting around Salzburg and seeing the sights as it makes it very interesting. Our guide Pete from the US kept us in good spirits right through with good humour.

The next day we took another tour to the Salzburg salt mines. We drove through the Bavarian mountains in Germany and crossed the border again to reach the mine. Once inside the mine, we took the 'train' used by the miners to go deep into the mine. We had to walk beyond a certain point to reach the deepest part of the mine. Interesting stuff inside the mines include rollercoaster type of slides to reach the mine's deeper points,a border crossing between Germany & Austria inside the caves and a boat ride on the salt lake inside ! It's a good feeling that one can never drown in a salt lake. Otherwise what could be worse than drowning in a lake inside a cave !

I found the people of Salzburg to be very warm and friendly. They speak very good English too which was a pleasent surprise. Another amazing thing is the border crossing between Germany and Austria, and for that matter between all countries in the European union. It is so open, it is just a refreshing change for those who have experienced all those nonsensical customs and immigration hassles.

Salzburg fort
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House where Sound of Music was filmed
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