It begins in Linz…

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

By Cynthia Flaggl

 

There is an Austrian saying „In Linz beginnt’s”, which basically means „It begins in Linz”. So why don’t you actually start your holidays in Austria in Linz?

Admittedly, there are far more famous cities in Austria than Linz, but why don’t you step away from the crowded tourist paths and enjoy exploring a really interesting and upcoming city far away from Mozart and the Sacher Torte?

Linz was made European Capital of Culture in 2009 and since then its image really has changed. Linz developed itself from a very industrial city to a modern, upcoming, cultural hub, which is definitely worth visiting.

Linz offers something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in culture, shopping or nature, Linz has something for you too.

On a sunny spring day I would recommend you to take a stroll along the famous Linzer Landstraße. The Landstraße is the most important shopping street in Linz and offers a variety of different shops. I can ensure you, you will find something there. And if you are a little bit tired after your stroll you can walk up to the “SKY GARDEN” and enjoy a coffee with a unique view of the cathedral and the Pöstlingberg. There is a reason why “SKY GARDEN” can say that they have the most beautiful terrace in Linz.

But no worries, if you are not that interested in shopping there are plenty of other things to do in Linz, which are connected with culture and nature.

For cultural lovers it is a MUST to pay the Ars Electronica Center a visit. And if you are lucky and you are in Linz at the right time (4th – 8th of September 2014), then there is also the Ars Electronica Festival which is absolutely worth a visit. This festival turned out to be a very successful and remarkable event for media art, and it now belongs to the most important of its kind. In the Ars Electronica Center you can enjoy different exhibitions, which change over time. But they are always connected to the theme of the permanent exhibition – “Neue Bilder des Menschen” (meaning “new pictures of humans”) – and take a closer look at humans, how the live and how they will be living.

Another highlight in Linz is the Bruckner Festival (13th of September – 5th of October 2014). This festival has taken place in the Brucknerhaus every year since 1974. The Brucknerhaus, named after the famous composer Anton Bruckner, is a famous concert and event venue. During the Bruckner Festival there are many outstanding concerts with elite international artists and ensembles.

And if you still looking for more cultural experiences in Linz you can also pay a visit to the Mariendom cathedral, the Lentos Kunstmuseum or the Schlossmuseum.

But if you have done enough culture and are now looking for some relaxing outdoor activities, I would recommend you to either take the Pöstlingbergbahn - Europe’s steepest mountain railway – up to the Pöstlingberg, or why not enjoy a cycle ride along the beautiful and majestic Danube?

Up at Linz’s local mountain – the Pöstlingberg – you can enjoy visiting the Wallfahrtsbasilika, Linz’s Zoo or the popular fairy-tale world of the Grottenbahn. Not to forget the absolutely magnificent view over Linz, which awaits you at the mountain top.

So, after telling you all of these things about Linz, why don’t you pay a visit and experience Linz on your own. You will, without a doubt, come to the conclusion that Linz is definitely worth a trip!!!

 



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 Anna Blum on 11.03.2014  |   No comments

An Insider of Graz

 

Graz - Main Square (c) ANTO/Diejun

Graz – Main Square (c) ANTO/Diejun

By Cynthia Flaggl

When people think of Austria, they always think of Vienna and Salzburg. It’s not so often that they think of Graz. But they definitely should! Because Graz is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in Austria, and I am not just saying that because I am from Graz. Over the past few years Graz has become a very modern city, which offers its visitors a variety of possibilities during their holidays.

 

Graz for Cultural Lovers

Graz can call itself a “City of Design” since UNESCO has declared Graz to be part of its “Creative Cities”. And honestly, Graz is pretty proud about this fact. But I have to admit, Graz definitely deserves this title!

 

“City of Design”

When you are in Graz, it is a MUST to take a stroll through the picturesque and charming old city centre. I promise you, you will experience a unique mix of old and new architecture. There are beautiful buildings from the gothic, renaissance, baroque and art nouveau eras, as well as plenty in contemporary style.

But Graz offers more than just architecture! Do you like to go shopping? Well, if the answer is YES, you definitely have to pay a visit to the department store Kastner & Öhler! Shopping at Kastner & Öhler is not just about buying things, it really is an experience to shop in this special atmosphere and admire the amazing interior. There is a reason why Kastner & Öhler earned the title “Department Store of the year” in 2011. And if you are a bit tired after walking through the old city centre and shopping, visit the café “Freiblick by Eckstein” on the 8th floor at Kastner & Öhler. This café offers you more than just coffee and apple strudel. You can enjoy the amazing roof terrace with the skywalk, which provides you a unique view over the old city centre, the Schlossberg and the main square.

 

Dining in Graz

If you love to enjoy good food and wine within an incredible atmosphere, then let me tell you about this one special event in Graz, which you absolutely have to attend: the so called “Long Table of Graz” !

The “Long Table” takes place at the main square in Graz around mid-August every year since 2010. The whole main square turns into a giant open air restaurant for about 700 guests. At the “Long Table” you enjoy a delicious 5-course-menu, cooked by 27 chefs from different restaurants in Graz, in the heart of the city centre. You will experience a festively decorated table, delicious food and wines and entertainment. And believe me, I have been there, you will never experience something like this anywhere else. To sit there, in the heart of Graz, under the sky, at this festively decorated table, enjoying delicious food and wines together with an amazing view off the Schlossberg und the clock tower is just indescribable!!

 

So, after telling you all these things about my beloved hometown, there is only one thing left to say: “GRAZ IS DEFINITELY WORTH A TRIP!”



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 Anna Blum on 04.02.2014  |   No comments

Luxury Chalets in the Austrian Alps

Chalets Montafon (c) ÖW EbersbergDrying the ski gear by the fireplace in a freezing mountain hut or setting off on a half-day hike to source dinner could be classed as romantic, but if you like a few creature comforts on your hard-earned holidays then a chalet stay can still be an option in Austria! We present you with a selection of quirky and luxurious lodgings across the Austrian Alps that offer everything from ski boot warmers to food delivery at unbeatable prices.

 

For sweeping slopes with guaranteed snow in winter and sunny trails leading to glistening lakes in summer, head to Carinthia. Traditional Alpine huts, comfortable hunting lodges and generous chalets form the exclusive Almdorf Seinerzeit, including a rustic restaurant, wine cellar, swimming pool and spa. Right by the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve, one of Austria’s beautiful national parks, the scenery and attentive chalet staff make guests feel like they have found a secret haven.

 

INNs HOLZ Chalet Village is located in the Bohemian Forest of Upper Austria. A special focus was placed on the materials used for the 11 chalets, with traditional loden and cloth playing the main role alongside wood. Each chalet has its own Finnish sauna and outdoor area, and guests can also use the wellness area of the INNs HOLZ Hotel.

 

45km south of Salzburg you’ll find the Wood Ridge Luxury Chalets. These luxurious Canadian-style log cabins offer plenty of comforts such as a whirlpoorl on the terrace, private sauna and daily breakfast basket. For larger groups visiting the SalzburgerLand region Alpin Chalets are ideal, sleeping up to 30 on a self-catering or fully catered basis.

 

Those looking for an authentic mountain experience will love the Hüttendorf Pruggern in Styria. Next to the summer hiking trails and winter slopes, the self-catering chalets are modernly equipped, but guests can still pay a visit to the on-site shop that sells farmers’ produce and freshly baked goods.

 

Tirol is one of our favourite holiday destinations, so why not avoid the hotel crowds and give your holiday a unique twist? The Biohotel Stanglwirt in Going takes bookings for its newly renovated Hüttling Moos. Up to 60 people can be hosted in this 5-star cabin, fully serviced with an own cook and butler. In nearby Kirchberg you can stay at the Maierl-Alm and Chalets, where you can enjoy goodies including your own panorama sauna and ski boot warmer.

 

We end our selection at the height of luxury in Vorarlberg. The 5-star Hotel Bentleys House has 3 chalets, stylishly equipped and providing full board with a personal butler service. Located at an altitude of 1720m, not only the service but also the stunning views of Lech Zürs will have you on a high!



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 Anna Blum on 03.01.2014  |   No comments

Family Hollywood visits a Kinderhotel

Mrs. Kim Hollywood kindly send us her family’s experience of her stay (26 Oct – 2 Nov 2013) at Europe’s 1st Baby and Children’s Hotel. Read what the family thinks of Kinderhotels…

Maple and Nola

Autumn half-term break.  There, I’ve said it, and for many a parent it’s a stressful what-do-we-do-with-the-kids time when the weather can be questionable, and UK attractions crowded to the max.  As I’m writing this after the fact, let me just preface this short report by saying that we lived through half-term and we loved it – in Austria.

After a quick (1 hour and 45ish min), and fairly inexpensive  Ryanair flight, my husband, two daughters (2  ½ & 4) arrived in Salzburg. From there, the hotel had organised a transfer service complete with two appropriate car seats already secured in the car. Our destination was ‘Europe’s 1st Baby and Children’s Hotel’, a member of the Kinderhotels collection of hotels that for some 25 years have found great success in specifically catering to families.

I’m not even sure where to begin except that I’m quite sure that it was on day two, when I nipped down to the spa for a pedicure, safe in the knowledge that my husband had our small charges well-entertained in the soft play Pirate Land area, that I was already thinking that this was the absolute perfect holiday choice. Let me just say in the days that followed, we all played outside in the gloriously fresh Austrian air, we became a party of four kids splashing around in the generously heated pools as the girls even braved the 100m water slide, we sung around an open campfire with  stars above, and of course we ate….and then ate some more (the food was wonderful and despite a lovely daily selection of kids‘ favourites, who knew that our girls would even be open to trying such things as red snapper, chamois, and venison?!) The hotel facilities were cosy, clean and with thoughful touches throughout such as child appropriate toilets/sinks, child-height banisters, and mini robes in the rooms.  A fascinating world of play awaited inside and out, and despite three full days where we stayed indoors due to rain, it never was a bore.

For us, one of the absolute highlights was each morning when one of the hotels‘ three mascots would come down to the kids club area and sing and dance with all the families. Mascots are really  surprising entities I think with their magic sometimes lost on us adults, but to our surprise, our whole family was completely enamoured by Smiley, Smile-lina, and Hubsi Hu the kangaroo. One of our daughters, who is speech delayed, would, in the middle of the singing, always turn to us and say “I like it” – brought tears to our eyes, and quite frankly, this morning ritual is one of our favourite memories of our stay.

Also, while I am able to hold a basic German conversation, the hubby and kids can’t. This wasn’t a worry either as all staff that we encountered spoke enough English that we never had a problem. Menus and daily progranmme highlights were also provided for us in English and no request was too much trouble.

The hotel was not filled to capacity as this was not a half-term week in Austria, so it was marvellous to really unwind in the relaxed and uncrowded atmosphere.  In fact, at one point during the week we were already remarking that we should do another Kinderhotels trip at exactly this same time next year, and that to me is the sign of a terrific holiday.

Thank you to all our new friends at ‘Europe’s 1st Baby and Children’s Hotel’– we want to keep you our little secret but we can‘t resist spreading the word!

Family Hollywood

Family HollywoodOn the bikeNew FriendsHubsi



 Martina Jamnig on 26.11.2013  |   No comments

Vienna – Can you keep a secret? Neither can we!

Kaffee Korb (c) ÖW Lammerhuber

Fancy paying a visit to Vienna off the beaten tourist track?  Looking for dining opportunities that will make your stay even more memorable? We asked a real Vienna girl – our intern Nadine – for her hottest Vienna recommendations.

Pssst, don’t tell anyone, but you will find Nadine’s top secret tips below…

 

Dachboden at the 25hours Hotel
Feasting, dancing, relaxing – start the day with a Disco Brunch

Get your day off to a rocking start with delicious food accompanied by a DJ and stunning views above the rooftops of Vienna. The Dachboden at the 25hours Hotel, Lerchenfelder Straße 1-3, 1070 Vienna invites you to its Disco Brunch, hosted once a month from 10:30 a.m. – 03:00 p.m. Tickets to this event at one of the best design hotels in Vienna cost just 18 Euro (approx. £15). To secure your place, be sure to make a booking, as seating is restricted to 120 guests only!
www.25-hours-hotels.com/wien

 

Restaurant Ü
Because life was meant to be cheesy!

Austrian food is popular all over the world. Once having tried the famous Schnitzel and Kaiserschmarren, everyone is in favour. But instead of going to well-known eateries such as the Plachutta whilst you are in the capital, why not aim for less crowded beloved locals such as the lovely Restaurant Ü for some “Käsknöpfle” – a speciality from Vorarlberg. Here, everything revolves around cheese. Lis, Martin and Johannes are three young entrepreneurs, who are eager to bring the Vorarlberg cuisine to Vienna. You cannot fail to find “Ü” at the Obere Augartenstraße 46, 1020 Vienna, as the wonderful smell of freshly prepared dishes will lead you there, and you can always expect a warm welcome. If you are eager to try the signature dish, go there at the end of the week for “Käseknöpfle Friday”.
www.ue-lokal.at

 

Surprise Cuisine
A tribute to Viennese dining at Restaurant Hohensinn

Restaurant Hohensinn in Fuhrmannsgasse 9, 1080 Vienna serves versatile Austrian cuisine and caters for all tastes. The restaurant not only scores with its excellent food and inviting backyard for outdoor dining in the summer months, but also with its great service. You can enjoy your meal in an utterly relaxing “living room atmosphere”, whereby the owner Annabelle can read your desires just by taking a look into your eyes. The best meals are those when Josef has been given a free hand in cooking and he loves to customize menus for guests according to personal preferences.
www.restaurant-hohensinn.at

 

Vespici Veri
Italian amore and scooters – what could be better?

Right in the center of Vienna, the feeling of Italy is being brought closer to you than at any place else. Drifting along the Schönbrunner Straße, 1050 Vienna an Italian Vespa (motor scooter) concept store might leap to your eye. Vespici Veri is a slice of heaven for all Vespa and Italy admirers. Do you own a scooter that needs work done? Take it there! Are you looking for a new outfit with which you can dazzle Vienna on your Vespa? Go there! Could you be in need of a cooling drink after a city tour or just fancy some Italian flair? Drink there! Our recommendation: Fruity Mici and Spicy Mici. The unique mix of Vodka, cucumber and melon will get you into the summer mood.
www.vespiciveri.at

 

The Pie Factory
A slice of Britain in Vienna

Loving Vienna, but starting to miss the British cuisine and your beloved pie? Pay a visit to The Pie Fatory located in Spitalgasse 15, 1090 Vienna. Here you can get every kind of a pie you could desire and you’ll soon be up for the next round of Schnitzel again!
www.thepiefactory.at

 

Coffee and Books at “phil”
Vienna’s alternative coffee house culture

Of course you cannot miss out on the famous coffee house culture when in Vienna, but instead of going to the touristy coffee houses where you are charged extortionate amounts for a slice of Sacher Torte, check out a more unconventional and different setting at phil. Close to the Naschmarkt Vienna, stroll over for pop culture and culinary delights in a stylish living room atmosphere. While sipping a Latté and tasting delicious snacks on the retro furniture, you can study novelties ranging from “Best Books beyond the 500 pages ” to “This Is Hardcore – Evil in Literature.”
phil.info



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 Anna Blum on 13.11.2013  |   No comments

An Austrian Winter Taster

Winter and the Austrians; it’s a loving relationship, a blend of subtle joys and laugh out loud fun.

Whether your idea of winter is fast, fun and free-spirited, or one with a more relaxing approach, Austria is unsurpassable in its ski and snowboarding opportunities, family-friendly resorts, genuine culture of hospitality and a foodie scene that stretches from valley to mountain top. British visitors will also appreciate the outstanding value for money that winter holidays in Austria bring, whether booking an attractive package or deciding on a self-chosen itinerary.

We shared our excitement about the winter season that lies ahead with guests from the UK and surprised them with a pre-winter taster at Bishops Square, London. A red and white buzzer in the middle of the square, an Austrian winter landscape “waiting in the wings”, and plenty of snow. Would someone dare push the buzzer?

Have a look what happened here



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 Anna Blum on 08.11.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Upper Austria – gracefully into the future

An eclectic one, this province is. And that, for visitors to Upper Austria, is a very good thing indeed.

From its capital city Linz with an arts scene bursting at its cultural seams, to the Danube asserting its place as Europe’s second longest river; the tranquility of pristine national park scenery, to historic towns full of character; the modern exploration of natural sciences to a loyal following of traditional well-being therapies. What’s your pleasure? On this ‘best of’ experience you are invited to make your own Upper Austria discoveries with a choice between three different itineraries.

With an E-Bike to help you on your way, you’ll tour along Lake Hallstatt from the pretty village of Obertraun through the Bad Goisern valley where the Goiserer boots were invented to the Agatha Wirt Hotel, a 16th century storied inn that’s been featured in literature and works by renowned painters, such as Gustav Klimt, and has even hosted royalty. Then, pay a visit to the spirited town of Gmunden, best known for its ceramics and its unique ‘lake castle’, Schloss Ort.

Now the hard part – for your day two adventures it’s all up to you. Option 1 will get you moving, but don’t worry it’s all gentle recreation as you E-Bike along the Danube, hike up a sloping trail to a great view, enjoy a river boat lunch and finally take a segway tour through Linz’s old town en route to the newly completed Linz opera house.

Inquisitive minds may lean toward Option 2 which takes you to Wels, home to Austria’s largest science centre, with interactive exhibits on renewable energy covering some 32,000 square feet. Then, re-energise your own reserves with Iunch at a mountain hut followed by a leisurely hike in Kalkalpen National Park, with the biggest uninterrupted forest to be found throughout any of the national parks in Austria.

Option 3 lets you put your feet up a bit. Either on horseback or by horse-drawn carriage, you’ll discover the Mühlviertler Alm holiday region on your way to the imposing castle ruins at Ruttenstein, one of the most picturesque settings of any historical castles in Austria. In the afternoon, after an outdoor barbeque, you will be introduced to the main ideas and principles of the inspirational art of healing of the Traditional European Medicine (TEM) and be able to personally experience some of its applications at the 1st Centre for Traditional European Medicine in Bad Kreuzen.

Whichever option you choose or whether you decide to experience all three, the diversity of Upper Austria will provide plenty of impressions to take home.



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 Anna Blum on 27.06.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Tirol – national park on the roof of Austria

Here’s a tall feat – 241 peaks over 3,000m. Wow.

The undisturbed rugged mountain terrain of East Tirol (nicknamed the ‘roof of Austria’) is a true reminder that we are really just guests within the natural habitats of our world, and the best way to experience these inspiring settings is by simply – and respectfully – letting nature lead the way.

Those who choose to follow this ‘best of’ experience can be part of a newly launched ‘hands on’ adventure in National Park Hohe Tauern that allows volunteers, accompanied by a park ranger, to lend a hand with sustainable practices such as planting young trees, laying down climbing routes or cutting grass on the farm.

The theme of preservation continues on your visit to Villgratental, one of the most remote valleys in the Alps. A delightful surprise then to find out that this unspoiled valley is the setting for an award-winning restaurant. Enjoy fine dining with a menu of regional specialties made with fresh, local products in a traditional farm house dating back to 1879. You’ll continue to admire authentically Austrian wooden architecture at Oberstaller Alm in nearby Innervillgraten, often cited as one of the most interesting villages in the Alps with its 16 wooden farmhouses and a small chapel.

Your overnight on this tour is at the Zedern Klang Spa Hotel, which holds the distinction as the first hotel in Austria to receive the International Climate Award for its energy-saving and eco-friendly construction. Here, ‘green energy’ is produced through the power of water, and the salt water pools and thermal baths in the hotel’s spa landscape offer natural regenerative effects. A gourmet dinner before you rest upon a sheep wool mattress on a cedar wood bed built with no metal joints. Even sleep seems to come more naturally here!



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 Anna Blum on 26.06.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Vorarlberg – architecture that mirrors identity

Vorarlberg has crafted itself a distinct identity from the ground up. Literally.

Austria’s westernmost province is one of astounding architectural contrast. Here, past and future collide in the most unassuming way and perhaps that’s what makes the scene so visually arresting and a real draw for holidaymakers to the region. Appealing wood architecture that has long stood the test of time and approval shares the landscape with contemporary glass structures, minimalistic in design and the talk of many in the European architectural community. However, regardless of outer structural differences, all of the architectural highlights share a common adherence in Vorarlberg to a strong code of sustainable building regulations, the careful use of natural resources and the conscious use of local materials. This ‘best of’ experience aims to highlight Vorarlberg’s link between cultural identity and architecture.

Following a morning walk through the well-preserved mid-18th century village of Schwarzenberg, you’ll visit the ‘Werkraumhaus’ in Andelsbuch which opens to the public on 6th July 2013. This important venue, with international reputation, operates as a coming-together point for some 90 regional craftsmen and artisans, offering exhibition space and workshops, and acting as a centre for independent research and development; ultimately also influencing the structural identity of the region. There is a shop on the premises, so perhaps now is a good time to rethink the size of your suitcase…

In the afternoon, discover some of Vorarlberg’s finest cultural gems. The Kunsthaus (contemporary art museum) in Bregenz offers a showcase for a variety of international works, while the new Vorarlberg Museum, presenting the province’s history and built to passive house standard, makes its debut in June 2013.

The last stop on your tour – and one sure to leave an impression – is the Bregenz Festival House and floating stage. The stage at the annual Bregenzer Festspiele (July / August) may very well be the epitome of cool. Imagine opera under a starry sky, open-air seating in view of an absolutely mesmerising stage that is actually floating on Lake Constance, and the famous aria of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ wafting musically all around. Memories – (also) built in Vorarlberg.



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 Anna Blum on 19.06.2013  |   One comment

‘Best of’ Salzburg – enjoy a lead-free holiday

While the city of Salzburg has firmly established itself in visitors’ Austrian itineraries year after year due to a host of attractions which include the Mozart birth house, a grand selection of vibrant festivals, an Old Town famous for its baroque architecture, and of course the city’s draw as the setting for the beloved film The Sound of Music, the province of SalzburgerLand, home to Austria’s ‘Lake District’, proves no less alluring.

In fact, on this ‘best of’ experience, you’ll be introduced to a charming mountain town that, for the past 15 years, has been trailblazing its way into eco-friendly (and cool!) mobility initiatives. For guests in the all-season, alpine resort of Werfenweng, getting around is all part of the fun on a car-free holiday. You’ll be introduced to the town’s own soft mobility project – SAMO – as you test drive some of the unique e-vehicles available to visitors and on a horse-drawn carriage ride en route to a hearty snack at an inviting summer lodge amidst high alpine pastures. After adding to Werfenweng’s 250,000 annual visitor overnights tally with one of your own, day two beckons with the promise of outstanding views as you ride the Ikarus cable car up Bischling mountain where you’ll have an incredible vantage point of over 40 peaks.

Be in awe of some of the native inhabitants of SalzburgerLand’s peak region as you enjoy a birds of prey show at 1850m, followed by a circular hike that’s sure to whet the appetite for lunch at one of SalzburgerLand’s 161 certified alpine huts and Bioparadies establishments which take great care in serving fresh, regionally-grown products. Before your ‘so longs and goodbyes’ to this part of Austria, stop in at a farmer’s store for some demonstrations, sampling, and no doubt a bit of ‘take away’!



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 Anna Blum on 11.06.2013  |   No comments