Subject: Re: Austria
Dear Don & Linda and other prospective visitors to Austria,

We enjoyed a delightful road trip through Austria in Summer 2003 hitting many of the places on your list. We didn't have any standout meals on that segment, but I'll share a few casual foodie ideas plus some off beat highlights for you to research:

Vienna: Haus der Musik (in the city of music, this is an appropriately fabulous interactive music museum with one floor showcasing the Vienna Philharmonic); the fascinating Habsburg crypt and considering your passion for gastronomic pleasures, I'd suggest you allow generous time for savoring Julius Meinl's food emporium

Linz: ARS Electronica (very cool technology museum if you like that sort of thing, the cafe on the top floor with view of the Danube featured free Internet stations when we visited); and the Mauthausen concentration camp (heed the warnings to get detailed driving directions)

Salzburg: Rent a bike and ride along the river (if not here, then in Melk); and plan to linger over your coffee break at the renowned Cafe Tomaselli, as we found it far more interesting than Demel's in Vienna because the locals really gather at Tomaselli's

Innsbruck: You may find otherwise, but we were extremely underwhelmed and relieved to discover that fact in time to cancel our hotel reservation without penalty. We happily added the newfound time to our mountain break, which, in your case, seems to be in Kitzbuhel. You may not know it now, but you'll want an extra day dedicated solely to trying all of the decadent spa offerings those Tyrolean resorts are known for! Alternatively, if you've never seen them, I highly recommend making the relatively short foray up to Mad Ludwig's castles. Yes, they are touristy, but this is one of those instances where they are touristy for good reason. The best way to visit the castles without competing with bus tourists is to arrive the night before you tour. We chose the Hotel Mueller nestled between the two castles. Our "room with a view" of Neuschwanstein was a magical setting. Take an evening walk around the lake, the hotel restaurant is just okay, you could pre-identify a restaurant of character in nearby Fuessen, the hotel will reserve your timed castle admissions for you, take the earliest offerings to beat the crowds; and don't even think about skipping the hike up to the Marianbrucke afterwards. If you get up and do everything in the a.m., you will be ready to depart midday. I can definitely see Don painting some vista from one of the many spectacular photos you will take here!

I assume you are timing your visit to catch the fall leaves in their glory--and perhaps to partake in a bit of Oktoberfest fun?! I can only imagine how colorful and crisp it will be.

Diana Ball near Houston, TX