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Austria; Czech Repub; Slovakia; Hungary;


Austria; Czech Repub; Slovakia; Hungary;


Overview: Officially called the Republic of Austria. In German it is called Osterreich. This means "eastern kingdom" or "eastern empire". Austria's highest point is the mountain of Grossglockner at 3,798 metres (12,461 ft). 

History: In the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria was one of the great powers of Europe. In this period it was under the Habsburg ruled Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1938, it was incorporated into Nazi Germany and ceased to exist as an independent country. This remained until 1955 when it officially became independent again. During World War II in Austria, the numbers 0 5, painted on a wall or door, marked the symbol of Austria’s resistance during the Nazi Anschluss.

Capital: Vienna

Language: German ( mainly) plus Hungarian, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Polish and Turkish.

Food and drink: When the Turks fled the city of Vienna in 1683, they left behind a large quantity of coffee beans. This  launched the great Viennese tradition of the Kaffeehaus (coffee house). Since the 19th century, the coffee house has been an indispensable social part of Viennese middle class life. The magic words for wine drinkers in Vienna are ein Achtel (an eighth of a liter), which is the most common serving size in Vienna. Before starting to eat, Austrians say “Guten Appetit!”. Before starting to drink, they toast by clinking glasses while looking the other person in the eye. Not make eye contact is rude and is said to bring upon oneself 7 years of bad sex.


The Czech Republic

Overview: There are over 2,000 castles ( some ruins) and keeps in this country, (Prague's castle being the largest).

History: Bohemia was first a duchy in the 9th century, then was elevated to a kingdom in 1198. Czechoslovakia became a communist ruled state in 1948. Czechoslovakia was dissolved on 1st January 1993. It became two current countries - Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Capital: Prague

Language: Czech

Food and Drink: Soup is very popular here with a variety offered including - potato, Krkonoše sour, beef broth with noodles and liver dumplings,  garlic, goulash, tripe, and spring vegetable soup. Many cakes and pastries which are popular in Europe actually originated here. One of the main things enjoyed here are dumplings (knedlíky) which are steamed and sliced in a bread-like fashion. Bread (chléb or chleba) is traditionally sourdough baked from rye and wheat. Beer has been brewed in the Czech Republic since the year 1118.

Overview: Officially known as the Slovak Republic. 

History: This was once part of Czechoslovakia and was under Soviet rule for almost 75 years. The country moved away from the Soviets in 1990. Then it separated from the Czech Republic in 1993.

Capital: Bratislava

Language: Slovak. This is not the same as Slovene, or Slovenian (slovenski jezik or slovenščina), Which is the main language of Slovenia.

Food and Drink: Foods including Bryndzove halusky (made of potato dough noodles or dumplings), with sheep cheese (bryndza) and roasted bacon. Vyprážaný syr – which literally means ‘fried cheese’ is popular. As is Cesnačka Garlic Soup and also Koláče is a popular dessert or snack.


Overview: Hungary' s culture is a popular spa and bath one. There are about 1,500 thermal water springs and 450 public baths.

History: In 1873, Buda and Óbuda (old Buda) on the west bank of the Danube River unified with Pest on the east bank. This then became Budapest. Medieval Hungary fell under partial Ottoman occupation for 150 years (1541-1699). After that it came under Habsburg rule. Later forming a major part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918).

Capital: Budapest

Language: Hungarian ( which is directly from the Hun people), is mainly spoken. But also German, Russian and English amongst others.

Food and Drink: Goulash stew, ( the name derives from the gulyás (herdsmen)), is a famous Hungarian dish as is paprika (ground red peppers).  Pork is very popular, as are smoked products, sausages, and cutlets. Dobos torte or Dobosh is a Hungarian sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream. Fisherman’s soup (Halászlé) is another favourite.