On Site: Austria Destination Summit Day One

Unfamiliar with Vienna? Apparently, as we learned early this morning upon our arrival for the inaugural Austria Destination Summit event, to get to Austria is "now or never."  This year marks the inception of the Austria Tourism Office's first destination trade show, and, as its slogan suggests, it is designed to open the eyes of the world to all of the gems that this Western European-meets-Eastern European destination has to offer (think ornate Baroque buildings juxtaposed against modern Euro-chic restaurants, bars and nightlife). Travel Agent, along with over 50 other agents, arrived this morning to attend the kick off event.

The 2010 program will include a trade show in Vienna's MuseumQuartier, followed by a relaxing day exploring the city. As a brief introduction, we were taken on a bus tour in the afternoon. All we could think was how grand and imperial this city is. It is truly an elegant destination, with heavy touches of old world Europe. After the tour, we were taken to one of the city's oldest (and most beloved) landmarks - the Ferris Wheel, which dates back to 1898, making it the oldest city in the world. Of the 15 cabins, six are set aside for luxury travelers who wish to sip champagne and sample appetizers while taking in panoramic views of Vienna. What a perfect welcome! After our 360-degree tour, we headed to the adjacent restaurant, Wagon 31, where we sampled a buffet classic wienerschnitzel, strudel, potato salad and, of course, a generous helping of Austrian wine.

We are staying at the Hotel Imperial in room #518. Apparently this hotel is on the famous 1,000 Places to See Before You Die list - and we are so happy we get to check it off ours! From the doormen with top hats who whisk away your luggage to the staff in a coat-and-tails who deliver room service, no detail of palatial glamour is overlooked. After a full day of traveling, I look forward to nothing more than hunkering down in my spacious king bed (complete with regal curtains, of course) and settling in before tomorrow's busy conference.

The rest of the trip is split over two itineraries, one venturing west covering Salzburg and Innsbruck, and another heading east toward Austria's lesser known (but no less refined) wine regions.

Stay tuned as Travel Agent reports live from tomorrow's trade show floor.

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