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On the Attersee, in the town of Attersee half an hour east of Salzburg, we walked the villages nearly deserted streets in a snow flurry. Beaches and docks were deserted and in the little lakeside towns not an umbrella table in sight. But our room in the near-empty Hotel Oberndorfer had a cozy sitting area with floor to ceiling windows. Ensconced in easy chairs with feet up on the coffee table, we were able to see fish swim in the clear water below as snowflakes disappeared when they hit the water.

The first night in Vienna, a Sunday, featured a truly miserable cold, wet rain. Many restaurants were closed but a cordial young clerk at our hotel, the Altstadt, directed us to a busy, cheery nearby Beisl where we shook the rain off our hotel-provided umbrella and dove face first into various plates of Vienna comfort food. The restaurant in question is the Spatzennest, St. Ulrichsplatz 1.

Sightseeing, local transportation, tours, day excursions from Vienna

Besides cold and wet, I have one or two other impressions of our recent trip that may be worth passing along.

Gone are the days of carrying travelers' checks and worrying about having cash in a land where banks never seem to be open. ATMs have proliferated and can be found even in the smallest towns. We left with only $800 in traveler's checks (remaining from a batch of $1000 purchased in late 1994) and came back with $600. I exchanged $200 upon arrival at the Zürich Airport because, having forgotten to bring leftover cash from a previous trip, I had not a single franc.

By the way, if you absolutely must change money at an airport, make it a European airport. The exchange rate at the Los Angeles airport was 1.12 Swiss francs per dollar. Eleven hours later, in Zürich, at the end of our flight, the rate was CHF 1.17. At 1.17 you get an additional CHF 50 on a $1,000, exchange or about $43. But don't be in the position that you must make that exchange. Have enough local money on arrival to hold you until you can get to an ATM where you'll find the very best rate of exchange.