By TED A PPLETON
TOO many people planning holidays give Austria the go by, and rush off to crowded southern beaches. Yel when it comes to the essentials which we all seek for the perfect holiday, Austria has them in abundance.
You don't need a fortune to have a holiday in Austria. Travel agents offer inclusive 10 day holidays for around £20, or 15 days for under £30, and these prices cover all travel. accommodation and meals. You pay almost as much for a holiday in
In the resort villages, the hotels are built of wood and uncut stone in the chalet style, with balconies heavy with flowers. and the bedrooms gay with brightly painted and carved furniture.
Austrian food is very much to our liking. You'll discover wienerschnitzel, beautifully cooked veal cutlets, the like of which you'll never find outside Austria. Then there are the strudels, that flaky pastry packed tight with fresh fruit. The Austrians love dumplings, too, and pancakes. When it comes to pastries, the flans drowned in cream are quite irresistible.
FRIENDLY FOLK The Austrian people are friendly in the extreme. When night falls and work has ended for the day, they flock to the inns to drink great steins or beer. to sing and to dance to music provided by accordions and violins. It's all spontaneous and natural.
Because of the advantageous exchange rate of 72 Austrian Schillings to £1, and the fact that Austria is at the crossroads of Europe
with top class merchandise pouring m from everywhere, shopping hecomes a real delight for the tourist. There are the wonderful leather goods, including jackets offered at very much less than you'd pay at home, and there is pottery, wrought ironwork, dirndl skirts, blouses, costume jewellery. and knitted goods, many imported from nearby Italy in the smartest styles BEAUTIFUL
All this is but the surface of Austria, small in comparison to the immense scenic attraction of this small country. If you seek the high mountains, scarred with glaciers, Austria has them. If you warm to flower filled meadows, Austria has those, too. She has bathing lakes, some quiet and not yet discovered. others large with gay resorts spread around their shores and speed boats cleaving the waters. There are forests, broad rivers like the Danube, foaming torrents like the Inn and the Salzach, and castles and abbeys and churches the like of which you have never seen.
Should you imagine my praise to be too lavish, stand for a moment in the Maria-Theresienstrasse in the centre of Innsbruck, capital of the Tyrol. It is one of the loveliest cities of Europe. No matter in which direction you turn, you'll see a wall of snow-capped mountains rising to the egg-shell blue sky. Then there's the old town where the shops are in low, crazy, dark arcades, and where you'll find an ancient building with a roof of gold. There's the castle fronting a flower garden only you'd hardly recognise it as a castle. There's the court church -the Hofkirche-with the fantastic tomb of the Emperor Maximilian 1 and its 28 life size bronze statues-a tomb which has never yet held the body of Maximilian or anyone else for that matter and stands as a beautiful reminder of man's folly.
Should you decide to stay in Innsbruck for a while, you'll discover it to be one of the finest excursion centres in Europe. Funiculars and cable cars whisk you to the heights of the mountains surrounding the city. Trams and rather odd trains open the valleys carrying you to picturebook villages like Igis, Natters, Mutters and Fulmpes. Coach excursions take you into Italy to Merano, Bolzano or even to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Queen of the Dolomites. Coaches also go from Innsbruck to Munich, Oberammergau, the Bavarian Royal Castles, Rerchtesgaden and Garmisch in Germany, and to Austrian beauty spots like the Achensee Lake, Kitzbuhel, Salzburg and the Grossglockner High Alpine road which straddles the Tauern mountains and carries you effortlessly to the great glacier which you can admire whilst sitting on the terrace of the Franz Josephs Haus sipping tea.
SALZBURG Salzburg, famous for the music festival which takes place from July 26 to August 31, is the rival of Innsbruck, not only when it comes to excursions but in its shops and its wealth of architecture, not least of which is the great castle perched high on the Monchsburg, one of the largest and most impressive fortresses of Europe, and the former home of the Prince Archbishops who ruled this glorious city wisely and well. You can also see their later home, the "Residenz" with its state apartments. On no account should you miss the baroque majesty of St. Peter's church and the catacombs in its churchyard, the frescoes of the Franciscan Church, the statues in the Collegiate Church and of course Mozart's
birthplace. There's so much to see in Salzburg-and so much to enjoy. A short journey by bus from Salzburg leads to some of the loveliest lake resorts you'll find anywhere, all with good hotels of all kinds, lido bathing beaches, and some night life.
Austria has no less than 40 major lakes and some hundreds of minor ones, For the gay time don't hesitate to plump for the Worthersee in Carinthia; the scenery may not be outstanding as the mountains tend to fall back from the lake, but the waters of the lake provide the warmest lake bathing anywhere in Europe. Then there are the resorts like Velden, Portschach and Krumpendorf, with dancing platforms built over the lake and fine bands to play for tea dances in the afternoon or for late night dances when the stars come out and the lanterns are lit.
Most of these lakes enjoy warm sunny settled weather, too, in contrast to the often changeable weather north of the 1 auern mountains.
Should you like mountainsand most people do-try Seefeld, a delightful village resort some 23 miles north of Innsbruck, fronting a tiny lake not much bigger than a large pond. In the past five years this resort has
grown into one of the brightest holiday spots in Austria, with a great deal going on by night and by day. There's IgIs, too-reached from Innsbruck by tram in 20 minutes. Perched high on the mountains, with wonderful views of Innsbruck and the Inn Valley, Igls has plenty of fine hotels and pensions, tiny shops, inns which arc very gay at night, an open air bathing pool, and the same series of excursions as you can enjoy from Innsbruck itself. This is certainly a place for those who want the mountains without isolation.
If you want the Danube, join the steamer at Passau or Linz and sail down to Vienna. It only takes a day, and is a journey you'll not readily forget.
WHEN TO GO
May and early June are lovely, with the alpine flowers at their best and the fruit blossom on the trees. September, too, is a wonderful month especially towards the end when the country often enjoys dry sunny "Indian Summer" weather. July and August can be warm and sunny, but the weather can often be changeable, except if you go south to Carinthia.
You don't need to dress up in Austria. Take the same kind of clothes as you'd wear for a holiday at a British resort, with perhaps stout walking shoes if you're going to the mountains.