You've heard it a lot in the last few months: Europe is cheaper than it's been in a long time. The time to go is now. But Europe is a big place. So where should you go to make the most of the strong dollar?
Bratislava is fast (just one hour) and cheap ($20 dollars) to get to from Vienna. It's easy to navigate, full of old world charm, colorful buildings, and great inexpensive restaurants and cafes serving regional specialities at half the cost of Vienna.
I found it entirely different from Vienna's clinical and hyper-organized structure -- instead, it's haphazard meshing of language, architecture, and culture was entirely beautiful. The occasional peeling paint and abandoned building only added to it's distinct character.
Slovakia is the country that used to be married to the Czech Republic before the end of the Cold War and is like the Kansas of Europe. Bratislava is situated on the far western end along the Danube river.
Perhaps it's my Vermont blood, but a little inclement weather has never been a deterrent to adventure. In fact, it virtually boils when wind, snow and ice become excuses for inaction, especially when it comes to travel. Cold many contract the bones, but it expands horizons.
It's affordable, steeped in history and, in parts, both bizarre and incredibly beautiful. Plus, in some countries, beer is cheaper than water. Yes, really, it is. But for some reason, Eastern Europe doesn't often feature on many travellers' bucket lists.