Agi, Laurel and I returned on Sunday from an absolutely gorgeous trip to Western Austria. We stayed in a great hostel in Salzburg for three nights run by very friendly and ambitious young Polish guys--hosted at a local university's dorm. It was called "The Muffin Hostel" and at 20 euros a night for each of us it was the way to go. We borrowed Agi's mom's car for the trip and the GPS was very nice to have.
We were in awe of how green and picturesque Salzburg and the surrounding "mountains and lakes" region is. If you've seen Lord of the Rings, the Austrians and Swiss who live in the alpine region are experiencing the equivalent of how the elves live: an entirely different class of natural beauty. The people in this region also have a genius for living in harmony with nature--cozy alpine cottages are tastefully spread out and not overbuilt. People are really living in a fairy-tale setting.
We toured Mozart's home one afternoon, hiked in Germany's Bechtesgaden's region in the alps for a day and finished our trip at the UNESCO world heritage village of Hallstatt. It was a refreshing, marvelous time and we'd love to go back (next week).
Note on driving: I really like how the Austrians and Germans are extremely serious about driving on the right and passing on the left (often at startling speeds--especially when it's with a porsche, bmw or audi). I'll never forget the roar of an impressive porsche (I think it was a 911) as it zoomed by us at what seemed twice our speed. Very cool. Here are some pictues.