Hidden Treasures hits the Cities

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ANTO

The first of Austria’s cities that we visit is its culinary capital, Graz. Here we are taken to the Schnabelweide restaurant, based at the heart of the town’s buzzing farmers market. A true feast for all senses, you could gorge on the wonderful colours and aromas of the fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, cheese and bread for hours. And indeed we are allowed to, as Andreas Zöpnek, owner of the Schnabelweide and ‘slow food’ pioneer, takes us around the stalls to buy the ingredients for the dish he is going to show us how to make. The city of Graz radiates a distinct charm that appears to come from its wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, cobbled alleyways and fantastic architecture surrounding the main square. The locals are fabulous too, the perfect blend of down to earth Austrians and übercool city folk, with no end of sharply tailored outfits and ridiculously expensive pooches to watch.

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ANTO

We arrive in Salzburg late afternoon, and there could be no better way to honour the town where Mozart was born than enjoying a classical music concert in the famous Mirabell Gardens. Next on the itinerary, a traditional beer garden which, I have to confess, might have slightly outdone the concert in terms of smiles and dedication to get there on time. After a decent round of Weissbier and sausages there was time for a quick freshen up before heading to Hotel Stein and its rooftop terrace bar with fabulous views out over the city and surrounding mountains. The next morning we get to ascend one of the mountains, the Mönchsberg, yet in the most leisurely of manners, namely in a high-speed elevator. At the top there is the Museum of Modern Art and restaurant M32 with an outdoor seating area where you can absorb the prestige of art on a mountain top without having even lifted a finger to get there – fabulous! We end our time in Salzburg with a trip to the Baroque museum at Mirabell Palace where we are awaited by the best surprise of the trip so far. The guide takes us through the exhibition to a set of ladders leading to the loft of the building. From here we ascend another set of ladders up through a hatch and out onto the rooftop of the museum, presenting us with the most magnificent views of Salzburg you could possibly dream of.

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ANTO

Innsbruck is the last of the cities that we visit, but by no means the least. It is a wonderful mixture of a historic town with the Golden Roof and plenty of traditional cafés such as the Strudel Café, and a buzzing university city with a great choice of bars and clubs for all tastes and budgets. Lucky for us we arrive in Innsbruck on a Friday night with two former Innsbruck students among us who are happy to introduce us to the local haunts. With all that fresh air from the surrounding mountains and the promise of a delicious breakfast at the renowned Goldener Adler Hotel where we are staying we arise bright and early for a tour of the city centre and its impressive modern architecture, including the Bergisel Ski Jump and the Nordkettenbahn. The perfect end to our city tour, Innsbruck demonstrates how effortlessly Austria combines its timeless traditions with a contemporary twist. Anna



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 Anna Blum on 30.05.2011  |   No comments

Hidden Treasures hits Alpbachtal

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ANTO

You could not be further away from hectic modern life than in the Alpbachtal. Tucked away amidst luscious green slopes, quaint wooden huts and fields of alpine flowers lies Riedhof farm and holiday home. Our first stop of the day, it is here that the farmer’s wife will show us how to make the original Brandenberg Prügeltorte, a cake so unique to the region that not one member of the team has sampled it before, despite having two thorough bred Austrians on board! The process involves an open wood fire, a (nowadays) electrically powered stick quite similar to the one your kebab meat is sliced off of, and a never ending bowl of a pancake-like mixture. Add plenty of practice and you end up with the most delicious sweet treat served up at weddings and on special occasions, although the exact recipe is so closely guarded that you will have to wait for the video to try and figure it out.

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ANTO

From here our guide Sophie van Lieshout leads us to the Unterberghof farm which is part of the Vorder-Underberg museum, upholding the traditional farmhouses of the valley. Incredibly enough we are shown around the farmhouse by Ander Schiessling who was born there around 80 years ago. Anyone who yawns at the idea of history is bound to be converted by this one of a kind exhibition which rather than lecture gives you the feeling you are snooping around someone’s home from a completely different time. With actually worn shoes in the corner, chickens still held on the lower ground, and original pots and pans in the kitchen, you almost imagine that the beds are still slept in and could even startle at a member of your group hiding behind a door. Thanks for that, mate, and watch out for any screams you might hear in the video! Anna



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 Anna Blum on 28.05.2011  |   No comments

Hidden Treasures hits Saalbach Hinterglemm

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ANTO

Upon entering Saalbach Hinterglemm it becomes apparant why the region is known as a family paradise. The lush green mountains cry fun and games at every corner, and adventure playgrounds, themed restaurants and attractions pop up at every corner.

Our first stop is Schnitza’s Woodpark where we watch the kids with envy as they test their fishing skills, venture through the magical trail of wooden animals, and learn how to carve their own keepsakes. Here we also meet Schnitza himself, the man who came up with the concept and runs this most exceptional playground surrounded by the most stunning backdrop of peaks and waterfalls.

A short walk back up the hill and we arrive at the High Rope Course which is split into several difficulty levels and appears to wind its way throughout the valley with everything from zip wires to rope and bridge constructions at quite jaw-dropping heights over the treetops. “Jaw-dropping?” you might be thinking, “I thought this was meant to be the kiddies’ region?” Well let me have you know that we roped our Matt up on the beginners level and there might have been some slightly shakey legs and grand promises of the biggest pint should one promise not to rock the wire. Can’t wait to see the video footage of this one!

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ANTO

Ending the day with less of an adrenaline kick, Matt takes a stroll across Saalbach’s new attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps. This outstanding lookout across the mountains brings together the thoughts of the day, leaving one final question: “When can I come on holiday to Saalbach Hinterglemm?” Anna


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 Anna Blum on 27.05.2011  |   No comments

Hidden Treasures hits Burgenland

Dan in action

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Have you ever witnessed a place so picture perfect with such bright blue skies, colours galore, storks feeding their young in rooftop nests, flowers blossoming in mellow squares, and the village folk’s gentle chatter in the background? So picture perfect, in fact, that a camera man would turn around and suggest editing a few grey clouds into the footage? Cheesy, I know, but you should witness Burgenland!

Arriving in Rust we enjoyed a spot of lunch in the sun before touring the UNESCO World Heritage old town. The Feiler-Artinger Winery is just a short stroll from the town square, with its idyllic courtyard where you can sample a crisp glass of the local tipple, and its rustic wine cellar where the delicious Ruster Ausbruch that is unique to this region is stored. The family-run winery presents such a pleasant atmosphere and the family is so forthcoming and friendly that it could easily become the last stop of the day.

Sunset at Lake Neusiedl

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For us though it was onwards to the nearby town of Illmitz where we were welcomed by local guide Harry Grabenhofer and given a remarkable introduction to one of Burgenland’s most treasured activities: bird-watching in the national park. Out in the completely flat steppe, the life that a city person knows comes to an utter standstill. Water mirroring the sky, stretching out into the distance, surrounded by grass plains and inhabited by protected birds of all varieties, shape and form. And the silence, broken only by the steady underlying bird calls and the lulling grasshopper hum, of which I must say I have never seen such gigantic green specimens in my life.

As the sun gradually began to retreat we set off on the final stretch of the day’s journey to a place that I had seen many pictures of and always wanted to see: Mole West. And there it was, the sophisticated pier perched on the banks of Lake Neusiedl, with the most keen sun worshipers slowly leaving their bathing spots by the water and transcending into stylish crowds sipping their Blaufränkischer in the evening sun, accompanied by a mouth-watering menu served up in perfect proportion to this Austria à la St. Tropez experience. Truly, it was the grand finale of a wonderful day, with plenty more to come. Anna



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 Anna Blum on 25.05.2011  |   One comment

The Hidden Treasures Video Shoot begins

Mole West, Burgenland

Mole West, Burgenland

The itinerary has been finalised, the boarding cards printed, and the grand map of Austria put in the front pocket of the bag, because tomorrow is the day that we head out on this year’s Hidden Treasures video shoot.

From birdwatching in Burgenland to the finest contemporary culture at Lake Constance, throughout the next couple of weeks we will be sampling Austria in all its diversity. With the weather set to be on our side, we hope to bring back some stunning images and plenty of inspiration for your holiday in Austria. For insights along the way, keep your eyes on this Blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And to put you in the mood right now, watch last year’s Hidden Treasures Trailer. More from us from Austria! Anna



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 Anna Blum on 23.05.2011  |   No comments

Stress-free Family Holidays

KinderhotelsWhen it comes to planning your family holiday, do you ever feel that it would be less hassle just to stay at home?! Thankfully, Austria’s ultra-family-friendly Kinderhotels are here to change your mind, having catered for children and their busy parents for over 20 years now.

Choose from 34 desirable locations, be it alpine views, lakeside pleasures, tranquil countryside or traditional village charms. Add the highest standard of accommodation, facilities and staff, up to 60 hours a week of free childcare and all-inclusive rates, and we guarantee that your family holiday will become just that – a break for the entire family!



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 Anna Blum on 16.05.2011  |   No comments