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Austria is a big county with a widely varied landscape. Austria's Tyrol is comprised of the north slope of the Alps and the foothills to the Alps. The South Tyrol is no longer Austrian but Italian since before World War II. From the German border, east toward the center of Austria and Vienna is mostly rolling hills with the river valleys of the Danube, Inn and Drau. We have yet to explore most of Austria but we have explored the Danube as far as Vienna and the Inn from Innsbruck to Passau, Germany, a part of which is in Bavaria.

Map of Austrian Danube According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, Austria's population is 8.2 million and a land area slightly smaller than the US state of Maine. In actual size, it is 83,871 Sq Km.

Austria is famous for its pastries, Sacher Torte for one example, but there are many more. Like Germany and many other European countries, their coffee is strong and aromatic. In Vienna and many other cities, they serve coffee on a small silver platter along with a glass of water on the side. I think the idea is, coffee is a diuretic so water helps one balance the fluid intake.

Austria has its own beers but they do not garner much attention from the world's beer connoisseurs. Austria has several wine growing regions one of which we know, the Wachau. As we traveled through the Wachau, we vowed to return to that beautiful area and explore the hills and valleys whose waters drain into the Danube.

What else is Austria famous for? Music and classical composers of course but since about 1440 the country was the home base for the Holy Roman Emperor (HRE). The HRE was more or less a family business of the Hapsburgs until Napoleon caused the last in line to quit the business in 1806. However, the family continued to rule over the Austro-Hungarian empire until the assignation of Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in 1914.

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