Salzburg & Vienna
Beauty And The Best
By Linda McClain, CTA
What movie filmed in beautiful Salzburg became one of the most beloved classics of all time? If you are thinking “The Sound Of Music” you are correct. The story of the legendary Von Trapp family has been entertaining the Capital Region for decades. The film is a perfect blend of captivating scenery, Von Trapp heritage and heartfelt melodies, including my favorite, Edelweiss.
How do I get there?
Connecting service from Albany to Vienna and Salzburg are operated on United and Lufthansa. However, non-stop air is available from JFK to Vienna on Austrian Airlines. Scrumptious Vienna pastries are just a few hours away!
Surprisingly, Austria is larger than Switzerland, but smaller than our state of Maine. Approximately eight million people populate Austria. The main language spoken is German. With Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia and Yugoslavia as border countries, Austria has both eclectic appeal and versatile accessibility.
The Hahneckkogel, (the highest wooded mountain in Europe) is located in Austria. It marks the geographical center of the continent of Europe.
When should I go?
Vienna, Austria’s Capital, is considered among the most admired holiday destinations in the world, especially during the Christmas season (mid-November through the end of December).
Whether winter skiing or summer sightseeing, exceptional scenery and tourist attractions make Austria a great choice any time of year.
Countrywide, summers can be hot while evenings can be cool. May, September and the beginning of October are the driest. April and November are the wettest periods. Weather conditions drop in temperature for each 1,000 feet altitude. Snow cover lasts from late December to March in the valleys. At 6,000 feet, snow lasts from November until May. Snow cover becomes permanent at about 8,500 feet.
Salzburg weather averages in Fahrenheit: Winter 43 high, 28 low. Spring 62 high, 44 low. Summer 74 high, 57 low. Fall 59 high, 43 low.
Vienna weather: Winter 42 high, 37 low. Spring 61 high, 48 low. Summer 78 high, 63 low. Fall 64 high, 53 low.
Why visit Salzburg and Vienna?
Are you fascinated with historic significance? The Alpine valleys were settled in the Paleolithic Age.
In 400 BC, Celtic people arrived, colonizing in the Eastern Alps. In the 7th century, settlement concentrated on Hallstatt, a large prehistoric salt mining area. This is still one of the main regions of modern day Austria. Then came the Roman Empire and a succession of Habsburg dynasty rulers (1273-1918). Austria has survived World War I, and endured Nazi control by Adolf Hitler during World War II. Today’s Austria is a parliamentary democracy.
Places of interest
• Schonbrunn Imperial Summer Palace: UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, recognized for importance of palace and gardens as a baroque work of art. It includes an 18th century park and the world’s oldest zoo (1752).
• Vienna’s elaborate baroque architecture is bordered by the wide and legendary Danube River.
• Austria’s famous child genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born in Salzburg. Visit the home and gravesite of this prolific composer. He wrote over 600 compositions in his brief 35 year life (1756-1791).
• Salzburg is a picture-book city with echoes of Mozart. The Salsach River may be the only thing moving away from its beautiful banks.
The Hofburg – Vienna’s Imperial Palace & Spanish Riding School, home to the famous white Lipizzaner stallions. The horses have been trained precision maneuvers to the music of Mozart, in a tradition of more than 400 years.
The Vienna Opera House – Where world-class opera and ballet performances meet the elegance of Renaissance revival architecture. The interior includes bronze statues, frescoes and sprawling chandeliers; location of the Johann Strauss Opera Ball each winter.
Salzburg’s Hohensalzburg Fortress – Built in 1077. Largest fully-preserved fortress in Central Europe.
• Silent Night, Holy Night was first performed in St. Nikolaus’ church, just outside Salzburg. Each Christmas Eve, thousands of people crowd the little town of Oberdorf to celebrate the coming of Christmas and memorialize Franz Gruber and Josef Mohr, authors of the world’s most beloved Christmas carol (www.stillenacht.info).
• Visit or stay in the original home of the Von Trapp Family in Salzburg (www.villa-trapp.cc). The home was made available to the public in September 2008.
• Since 1298 AD, Vienna has been the main host to the Christmas Markets. The snow-covered Alps inspire a magical display of holiday festivities and events. Cities and towns across the country participate in the tradition of The Christmas Markets from mid-November to the end of December (www.austria.info).
Getting around Vienna
Vienna has a variety of transportation options including bus, rail and tram services. The heart of Vienna is known as the Inner Stadt and is surrounded by a large circular street, Ringstrasse. Shaped like a horseshoe, it is lined with amazing architecture, lavish gardens and parks. A tributary of the Danube River borders the city, enhancing its beauty even more.
Getting around Austria
The autobahnen (super highways) are efficient for connecting to major cities, but most tourists prefer taking alternate routes to experience local culture and scenery. If driving by car, narrow mountain passes and rural roads can affect your gas budget. Austria has extensive bus service that has easy connections from rail stations to nearby villages. This makes train travel a sensible option. Select from a variety of rail passes that include additional Eastern or Western Europe countries. For more details visit www.raileurope.com.
More than a waltz
The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, traveling 1,800 miles and covers over 10 countries, making it the longest international river in Europe. It is the only river in Europe that flows west to east.
More than 20 million people depend on the Danube River for drinking water.
The Danube River Basin has over 100 species of fish.
Danube River Cruises are the best way to discover beautiful medieval towns, panoramic landscapes, and experience cultural heritage. Choose from a variety of itineraries based on your timeframe and geographical preferences. These cruises are seasonal and do not operate in winter conditions.
Famous Austrians include:
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year! Auf Wiedersehen~
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net. I invite you to contact me for travel assistance to your favorite travel destination.