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Austria’s hidden treasures

+ Gourmet cuisine

Fine wines 6 most romantic places

summer

2010

Antony Gormley: Britain’s greatest sculptor comes to Austria Architecture ★ Cuisine ★ Relaxation ★ Spas ★ Families ★ City breaks ★ Action & Adventure ★ Wellbeing ★ Water world ★ and more


Environment This page: Weissensee in Carinthia is the perfect place for water-sports, swimming and fishing.

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oliday decisions for thinking people in the 21st century are increasingly being influenced by thoughts for the environment. How do you get around when you get to your destination? What effect is the trip that you are taking having on the local environment? What about the endorsement factor – is your visit supporting enlightened local policies? And will the money you spend during your holiday end up helping sustainable tourism, or will it end up boosting the share price of a large hotel corporation? If you are the thoughtful type, then you may already know that Austria, home of Sigmund Freud, is nothing if not a thoughtful country and in many ways it leads the world in the depth of its environmental philosophies. It has an instant advantage, of course, in that at between 90 minutes and two hours’ flight from most UK destinations, it is nearer even than the Mediterranean, let alone longhaul destinations; yet Vienna, for example, has a balmy average daily maximum temperature of 25°C (77°F) and nine hours’ sun in July. And across the country there is a fascinating 02

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symbiosis of green thinking and fabulous holiday opportunities. Austria leads the world in highly-organised ‘Soft Mobility’ zones: these are areas which have organised advanced networks of private transport for tourists which mean that you don’t need to use a car when you’re on holiday in a lovely rural area. The scheme in the resort of Werfenweng, 45km outside Salzburg, offers complimentary services such as use of the soft mobility fleet of E-cars, Bi-Gas cars, E-scooters, bicycles, a shuttle service to the local train station and town, speedy go-karts for small children, a private chauffeur on call daily from 9am to 10pm, a guided Nordic walking tour, and entrance to the local leisure park – all free if you sign up, stay in one of 38 local participating hotels, and pay 5 euros for a ‘Soft Mobility’ card. Oh, and you have to either arrive by train or leave your rental car keys with the tourist office when you get your card. This isn’t the only area in Austria with such an advanced ‘Soft Mobility’ Scheme: 17 destinations have joined together to

form ‘Alpine Pearls’, an association offering similar benefits across the country. Or what about swimming in a lake which is so pure you can drink from it while you swim? The nature reserve at Weissensee in Carinthia is the highest ‘swimming lake’ in Austria, at 930m above sea level, and because of the strictness of the local environmental regulations it’s certified as drinking water. Or there’s the plethora of locally-grown and organic food available across Austria; or the eco-friendly National Association of Nature Parks, 44 of them, where every visit contributes to the upkeep of the landscape. Nobody, however thoughtful, wants to go on holiday to wear a hair shirt – it’s your hard-earned money and rest time, after all, and this is what makes Austria so glorious: its natural advantage is its nature, and its history: all of which creates zero carbon footprint. The fact that you can actually help preserve a pristine environment by having a fabulous holiday – well, that A sounds too good to be true. Except it’s not.■

Ö s t e r r e i c h W e r b u n g / Ba r t l

Feel good

Austria is not just a pretty place: it also leads the world in eco-tourism, so you and your conscience can have a perfect holiday


Update

News

The latest news from all over Austria

Avant-Garde Alert To experience one of the world’s most creative festivals of avant-garde and contemporary art and culture, look no further than the Steirischer Herbst. This is a rolling, constantly evolving festival of dance, visual art, performance art, music, literature and theatre that takes place in the southern city of Graz every autumn: this year’s dates are 23 September until 17 October. www.steirischerherbst.at

Take a harmonious holiday

Monastic Mysteries Uncovered A visit to one of Austria’s impressive monasteries is always a truly spiritual experience: the sense of history, the calm, the architecture and the (usually spectacular) settings combine to instil a healing calm and awe. They are also living museums of Baroque and Rococo art and architecture, and you can now discover these treasures with an English language guided tour via the Klösterreich association of 20 abbeys and monasteries. www.kloesterreich.at

Natural Indulgence On the easternmost edge of Austria, in a climatic zone of its own and ringed by forest, lies Lake Neusiedl, one of the country’s gems that remains little-known to British visitors. The area is famed for its wine and cuisine, and now it has a resort hotel to match in St. Martins Therme & Lodge, which opened last autumn. St. Martin’s feels very much at one with nature: it sits within a natural sanctuary where you can find over 400

In an era when we are increasingly aware of the environmental effects of our holidays, a nature reserve like the Biosphere Reserve of Grosses Walsertal is an example of the future of travel. Its motto is to ‘make use of nature without causing harm’; or in a nutshell, sustainable development, where traveller, resident and nature can exist in perfect harmony. It helps that the setting is stunning – the valley is edged by high mountains (perfect for hiking), covered with deep meadows and forests – and it’s famous for its wildflowers and herbs. www.grosseswalsertal.at

species of birds, at the edge of a National Park. The design is best described as ‘contemporarynatural’ with plenty of wood and stone; and the Thermal Bath and Spa is rapidly establishing itself as one of Europe’s best: the numerous baths and pools are filled with water pumped straight from a mineral spring. www.stmartins.at FOR MORE INFORMATION ON NEWS AND EVENTS THROUGHOUT AUSTRIA VISIT WWW.AUSTRIA.INFO

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Left: Test display in the resort of Lech for the planned Horizon Field project in the Vorarlberg; Antony Gormley in the Kunsthaus Bregenz.

Q+A Antony Gormley This summer, Antony Gormley, one of Britain’s foremost contemporary sculptors, is planning to unveil his work ‘Horizon Field’ in the Vorarlberg area, under the auspices of the Kunsthaus Bregenz. ‘Horizon Field’ consists of 100, 630 kilo, cast iron body forms that will be placed throughout the Vorarlberg region. Creator of the Angel of the North, Gormley is famous for his work with body forms and his investigation of the human predicament and our interaction with our environment. What inspired you to create ‘Horizon Field’ in Austria? I’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with Austria; I did my first exhibition there with Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg in 1993 and the Modern Art Gallery in Vienna has a piece of mine. The original idea was to create ‘Horizon Field’ in the mountains at the same time as my current show in the Kunsthaus Bregenz. The inspiration behind the mountain project came from a work I created in 1997, in Cuxhaven in northern Germany, entitled ‘Another Place’. This consisted of 100 body forms across kilometres of coastline and for about a kilometre out to sea. Ever since this I have wanted to make something in the mountains. ‘Another Place’ dealt with the idea of visibility and invisibility, in relation to a horizon between the sea and the sky, but I thought that perhaps the works could carry 04

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their own horizon, which is why the new piece is called ‘Horizon Field’. The works are rigorously horizontal and stretch over a much larger area than ‘Another Place’ but with the same 100 body forms. What originally drew you towards the idea of working with the human form? I wanted to find the lost subject of art; human ‘being’. We got so obsessed with the notion of the autonomous object that we forgot about this lost subject: the human predicament. Does your work challenge our traditional relationship with the material world? Sculpture is a form of physical thinking: it introduces totally unnecessary things into the world. There is no function other than the reflexivity that they produce. When you see

an unmediated image in the snow or against the sky – a still but three-dimensional mass, evidently the result of human making that has been placed in this environment, far from the realm of the urban – these very physical, material, man-made things can be examined afresh. I hope it is not too far-fetched, but perhaps they become a reversal of the normal figure-ground relationship that you might find in a painting. The subject matter of so much western painting has used landscape as a backdrop. Traditional figure compositions use this ground to reinforce narrative sense and give the viewer an idea of what is happening. I propose that something like ‘Horizon Field’ reverses that expectation and function. The mountains, the sky, the snow, become the body, and these abstracted body forms become holes on which we project a persona, a selfhood. The dialectic between material and


Interview

I N T ER V I E W: L AU RE N S T E V E N TO N; © A nton y G or m le y, K unst h aus B regen z ; Markus T retter

I like sculpture to undermine the dialectic between the imagined and the real

immaterial is reversed: I like sculpture to undermine the dialectic between the imagined and the real. How would you say your understanding of the relationship between the self and the environment developed? I like the idea of the body as an example of a collective condition. At first I just used my own, but then I realized that you could engage other bodies, and I think that’s what ‘Horizon Field’ is about: the bodies that perceive, move around, through and apart from this relational field become part of it. I’m about to explore ‘Event Horizon’ in New York – 27 body forms on the skyline of buildings around central Manhattan, and four on the ground. I don’t think the work is about contemplating bodies, but about how they interfere with perception: the city

becomes re-examined and the inhabitants have to modify their behavior in relation to this ‘infection’. If you’re walking down a street where there is an object that shares certain characteristics with you but it’s made of iron and it’s more static, you become more aware of your own passage through time and space and question your own ‘inhabiting’. The relationship between the things that you can touch, the things that you can see and the things you imagine is key. My experiment is similar to a chemical catalyst; a reaction begins that perhaps allows people to be in and see their environment differently. Does this relationship change in a city landscape such as New York compared to the mountainous landscape in Austria? Mountains have also become playgrounds, haven’t they? Certainly I’ve got some very

wild positions for these works but a lot of them are in locations where people walk, ski, mountain bike, climb. Broadly speaking the question that the work asks is where does the human project fit within space at large and the different topographies of the earth? In the Vorarlberg we’ve got some extreme positions; on the edge of a cliff, familiar to the mountaineer who likes to face a physical challenge, but others will be much more integrated into areas of seasonal grazing and the making of hay and still others will be simply on exposed low hills between the mountains. It’s very important to me that this is neither the realm of the Gods, nor the realm of the village, but somewhere in between. I’m imagining all this but the whole point is to do it and see how these works both confront and contest, but also perhaps become familiar within these A www.antonygormley.com environments. ■ au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Back to nature

The Alpbachtal, a sunny valley with a heart-rendingly pretty village at its heart, is a living museum of traditional farming practices, swathed in wildflowers and topped by the most gorgeous open views. Stay a while in a traditional farm guesthouse, eating local produce and steeping yourselves in traditional customs, and you’ll feel a tonic for the soul

They make milk, haymilk cheese, and butter so creamy and juicy it tastes like the air in the summer meadows


Alpbachtal

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uman beings are not urban creatures. We started moving to big cities in earnest less than 200 years ago; for the other 100,000 years of our history, we were rural, Arcadian creatures, and this is hardwired into the genetic map of even the most ardent London sophisticate. So it’s no wonder that visiting the Alpbachtal is a tonic for the soul. For here is a region where hundreds of years of perfect rural history are perfectly preserved, tended for in farms, museums and a thousand traditional ways of doing things that have been lost to the modern rat racer. The area has long been famed as a broad, sun-kissed bowl of a valley centred on a village, Alpbach, that is frequently cited as the most beautiful in the Alps. Arrive in Alpbach during the summer months and you are likely to feel that you are being feted by a magisterial exhibition of wildflowers: butterfly orchids, Alpine roses, delicate white pasque flowers, gentle buttery oxlips, proud primulas: the welcome parade can be glorious. Although the village itself and the ancient farmsteads that surround it have the most perfect displays of flowers, nature’s show, on a good week, will outdo them all, the colours scattering up the gentle mountainside like a child’s drawing.

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Home grown breakfast

It’s a fitting start for the natural history show that the Alpbachtal combines so effortlessly with a scenic holiday. The area has more than 100 small working farms, many of them owned by the same family for hundreds of years. Without any need for a ‘green agenda’ imposed by government, these farms live in perfect sympathy with their surroundings. The farmers know, from their forebears, how to treat the soil, livestock and surroundings so both farm and environment thrive. They make milk, haymilk cheese, and butter so creamy and juicy it tastes like the air in the summer meadows; pears and apples grow in abundance (and some of them end up as another highly ‘natural’ local drink, schnapps, or fruit brandy). And this is where you should stay when you are in the Alpbachtal: on a working farm guesthouse. Banish any thoughts of sharing a farmhouse with a family that makes you feel This page: Summertime views over the Alpbachtal. Next page, from left to right: detail from an Imperial building in the town of Rattenberg; Almabtrieb, the running of the cows from summer pasture to valley. au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Alpbachtal

Carpet of flowers

The village itself lies on a sunny, southfacing shelf just above the valley; you hike there through flower-filled meadows, past contented-looking cows (no wonder the milk’s so good). Every building in Alpbach is perfect, wooden, flower-bedecked – except the one with a swirling glass cone. This, you discover, is the congress centre and it’s refreshing to know that even the modern building has an organic structure that blends with, and doesn’t fight, the glories of nature outside. Beautiful walks to a fairytale village in a kind of children’s storybook farm paradise may sound like enough for a perfect break, but this is just scratching the surface. The idea of a museum might sound strange in an outdoor wonderland, but the Museum of Tirolean Farms is an outdoor one: you can stroll through 14 restored farmsteads, representing different parts of the Tirol region over the centuries: each comprises real farm buildings, tools and furniture, lovingly restored here. There is also a tiny museum of mountain farmer history nearby: a personal labour of love by a local farmer, which contains a canopy bed from the 19th century. and anot h er t h ing ...

If you want a holiday that will refresh your mind and body within a beautiful country and mountain setting, look no further than Naturidyll, a group of independent, family -run hotels all over Austria. Whether you are after an adventure or a relaxing trip, they will tailor make it for you. www.naturidyll.com 08

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What to do and where to do it... EVENTS l From the 13th - 16th May, be sure not to miss the ‘Rolling Oldies’ Music Festival in Reith im Alpbachtal, where 10 live bands shall be performing music from the Fifties through to the Seventies. The line up includes the Jungle Tigers, Lola, Red Jacket and Overtime. l The mountain peaks of the Alpbachtal come alight (literally) on the 19th June, celebrating Midsummer Night. Take a gondola up to the Wiedersbergerhorn and watch the bonfires being lit from the Hornboden restaurant where, for this special evening, live music is played and local culinary delicacies and drinks are served. l From the 7th - 8th August, one of Austria’s most popular summer attractions, the NIVEA Family Festival, is heading to Reith, and to raise money for this briliant charity there will be a

Rural arcadia

At the foot of the Alpbachtal is the town of Rattenberg: well, we say town, and officially that’s what it is, complete with town hall, but with a population of under 500 it has fewer inhabitants than some streets in Britain. Rattenberg has a pedestrian high street fronted by Imperial buildings painted in pastel colours, and is famed for its crystal shops – this is Europe’s centre of crystal making – with the ruins of Rattenberg castle on the Schlossberg. Once the valley has been explored, you can venture upwards on the summer cable cars. The Wiedersbergerhornbahn climbs to 1850m: this is high pastureland, above the treeline, where the air is rarefied and bees and butterflies compete for attention with the high wildflowers. The Reitherkogelbahn zips you to the top of another mountain in eight minutes, with views overlooking the neighbouring Inn and Ziller valleys; there’s even a natural childrens’ adventure play area – the Juppi Zauberwald. The Sonnwendjochbahn takes you to a place that looks like an illustration in one of those fairy books from childhood (and if you’ve never had one, you’ve missed out) – a high mountain rose garden, all colours and scents blending in the air. There’s some serious hiking and climbing to be had here, as well as gentle strolls. But the Alpbachtal is about more than mere walks: it’s a stroll for the soul, exercise for the deepest anthropological links in our

range of attractions for young and old including face painting for children, sports activities, handicrafts, games, tombola, live music and more. l Take part in the age old Austrian tradition of driving down the cattle from the alpine pastures to the town, at Reith, on the 18th and 25th September. You’ll also have the chance to experience the local farmer’s festival, a must. GOOD TO KNOW l The Alpbachtal Seenland Card is great value and the best way to explore the region. If you are staying for more than one night, you can obtain one from where you are staying. Among the fantastic benefits available, some include free use of the 3 summer cable cars, all bus services, the indoor swimming pool, bathing lake, the Open Air Museum of Tirolean Farmhouses and many more reductions throughout the region.

collective memory. It’s a place where you feel at home, not just because of the justly renowned hospitality, but because it offers a perfect gaze at how we all were, not too long ago: and it will make you think twice and gaze out of your window in awe of your memories when A you finally have to return home. ■

Facts & figures

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For more information please contact: Alpbachtal Seenland Tourismus Zentrum 1 A-6233 Kramsach/Tirol Tel: +43 (0) 5336 600 600 Fax: +43 (0) 5336 600 699 Email: info@alpbachtal.at www.alpbachtal.at Nearest Airports Innsbruck 30 miles (48 km) Munich 90 miles (145 km) Salzburg 90 miles (145 km)

A l p b a c htal S e e n la n d To u rism u s

guilty at their working hours (you may enjoy going back to your anthropological roots, but farmers do get up very early): the guesthouses all follow the revered Austrian hospitality tradition: wooden walls, perfectly plumped duvets on your beds, pristine bathrooms, terraces with, more often than not, views down and across the valley to the mountains beyond. Some have facilities like saunas and steam rooms, though the most invigorating thing you can possibly do in the guesthouse is gaze at the view of a landscape thriving with human and animal activity (and plant life), yet barely changed for centuries – and free of any reminders of urban blight. Oh, and you must also have breakfast. Breakfast in an Alpbachtal guesthouse really is something else. The view is just the starter: freshly milked milk, just-laid eggs, cheese made in that barn over there, the offer (usually politely declined) of a schnapps made by the owner’s brother to give the day a kick-start.


Salzburger Land

Family wonderland

If nature is the greatest playground of all, the hills of the Salzburger Land, and its family-oriented hotels, offer the perfect combination of personal welcome and nature-based adventures for all the clan

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s any parent knows, on a family holiday, if the children are happy, you are happy. Which is why we devote so much time seeking out ‘family friendly’ accommodation; and why there is so much scope for disappointment when the friendliness turns out simply to be a corporate message, rather than anything more heartfelt. A family that genuinely feels welcomed is a long way towards having a fantastic holiday. Which is where the Salzburger Land’s Family Hotels come in. These are 25 independent hotels, mainly family-owned, scattered around the scenic highlands of the region around Salzburg. They are all individual, private village, small town and country hotels; the one thing they have in common is that they have been certified by the Salzburger Land State Board of Tourism as being perfect for families.

Some are small, perfectly formed and cosy; others have facilities like spas, swimming pools, paddling pools, kids’ cinemas, rope courses, Alpine feng-shui gardens and bouncy castles. It might be that on day one, the kids are still stuck to their Wiis and desperately trying to find an internet connection to keep up on Bebo; by the next day, it’s pretty much a certainty that nature’s far richer attractions will have taken over. The greatest of all kids’ clubs, after all, is nature itself. More adventurous and grown-up children can go mountain biking, white-water rafting, night hiking in the mountains and learn how to rock climb; others can play farmer - milking cows, collecting eggs from the hens and making cheese. Somewhere in the middle of all this adventure, there’s also pony trekking and panning for gold. au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Salzburger Land

Family nights

Even babies are catered for with baby massage (every parent knows a contented baby is a quiet baby), and walking trails suitable for prams. Take just a couple of these experiences. A night hike in the mountains, for example. Wrapped up warm and under the auspices of an experienced guide, and armed with torches, you’ll set out on a path that may seem familiar by day but seems thrillingly mysterious by night. Creatures rustle and scuttle – was that an owl up there? A marmot zipping across the path in a black blur? High up, an eerie glow rises up just above the distant mountaintops. What would that be, do you think, the guide asks. A UFO? A lost city on top of the mountains? No, it’s the glow of moonlight on the glaciers up there, where it’s light as day at midnight on a clear summer’s night. And then there are the stars, revealed without their blanket of cloud or

pollution, clearer still because of the altitude: they spot Jupiter, and maybe Venus, and is that Saturn? These are real planets, not games, and the childrens’ imaginations are ablaze. All the hotels have professional childcare services and access to guides for their activities, which means you will also be able to spend some blessed ‘grown up’ time together – or maybe just time on your own. And don’t worry about leaving the monitor/changing mat/milk bottle at home; they’ll always have one for you. And when your children have partaken of all these activities, after a few days, it might

Facts & figures Salzburger Land

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be time to visit Schnitza’s Holzpark. This is a new adventure park with an Austrian twist; everything revolves around a wooden theme, with wood carving (including huge wooden animals), wooden bowling, a wooden balancing course… Or for older children, there’s the famous (or is that infamous?) Wagraini’s Grafenberg, a water and mountain adventure park with one of the highest swings in the world, 9m tall, and a panoply of jungle ropes, balance challenges, enormous slides, a 25m rope suspension bridge and numerous other devices carefully crafted to wear your children out and give you a good night’s sleep. And at the end of your holiday, prepare yourself for a very strange noise: the sound of your children rejecting the electronic devices they used to use for recreation and asking when they can come back and do everything A they have just experienced all over again… ■

For more information please contact: Salzburger Land Tourismus Wiener Bundesstrasse 23, P.O.Box 1 A-5300 Hallwang bei Salzburg Tel: +43 (0) 662 66880 Fax: +43 (0) 662 668866 Email: info@salzburgerland.com www.salzburgerland.com Nearest Airports Salzburg local Linz 75 miles (121 km) Munich 116 miles (188 km)

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Kinderhotels is the ultimate hotel group for families, operating all over Austria. Holidays are tailored with children in mind with every childcare facility at your disposal, from equipment to healthy ‘baby food buffets’, and lots of adventure and play areas and fun parks. www.kinderhotels.co.uk

Ö s t e r r e i c h W e r b u n g / Ba r t l ; r o b e r t ha r d i n g

an d anothe r th i n g . ..


Children can go mountain biking, white-water rafting and learn how to rock climb What to do and where to do it...

Previous page: Forever blowing bubbles in the Salzburger Land. This spread, clockwise from left: stay mountainside; Lake Zell is backed by the 1965m Schmittenhöhe mountain; games on Lake Obertrumer; a family hike; Salzburg’s traditional Harvest Festival; cycling past waterfalls.

EVENTS l June 20th sees the opening of Summer in the Hills 2010 (Salzburger Almsommer) at the 200 year-old Saalalm in the mountains of Saalbach Hinterglemm. There are traditional handicrafts and a fun and varied programme for children. From there, spend the day hiking between the local mountain huts and tuck into traditional foods such as Troadsupp’n, (grain soup) and Hoargneist-Nidei (sauerkraut and potato loaves) accompanied by live music from alphorn and wind musicians. l The world’s biggest ice cave promises an array of incredible impressions deep within the mountain at the World of Giants, Werfen. Warm clothing is essential for this excursion high above the village of Werfen amid the impressive mountain range of the Tennengebirge, reached by road then cable car. Here you’ll find the entrance to the world’s biggest explored ice cave. Discovered in 1879, this 42km cave system is filled with breathtaking ice formations. GOOD TO KNOW The SalzburgerLand Card gives you free admission to over 190 sights and attractions throughout the region including museums, castles and palaces, buses and trains, wildlife and adventure parks and the mountain lifts. Pay just €43 for a 6-day card or €52 for a 12-day card and what’s more, for children between the ages of 6 -15, it’s half price.

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River deep, mountain high The Tirol is dominated by one of the world’s greatest trails, the Eagle Walk. This spectacular path runs over mountaintops and along glacier edges, past shimmering lakes and down through thick forest. Take a deep breath and escape from the world for as long as you dare


Tirol

To experience the thrill of the mountains properly you must do so on foot

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ave the Alps been tamed? Perhaps they have, in our minds: we fly over them, drive under or through them, and ski on them in winter. But in fact they are anything but. This is, after all, a mountain range that rises through the heart of Europe, splitting it north from south, linguistically, meteorologically, geographically and culturally. They rise far higher, and longer, than any other mountains in western Europe, and it’s useful to bear in mind that it’s only for the last 150 years or so of their existence that they have been conquered by mountaineers; for aeons before, they stood, mighty and forbidding, towering above the inhabitants of their valleys. And they are still forbidding now. We have made ingenious incisions into some of the Alps by way of high-altitude cable cars and some spectacular mountain restaurants, where, on a sunny day, even a child can be whisked up to a point on a mountain that his or her forebears might only have dreamed of visiting.

Mountain thrills

L AU R I N M O S E R ; M A R L E N A K O E N I G ; PAT R I C E K U N T E ; p h otos h ot

But away from the transport technology, the mountains are still as dramatic and – we should say it – threatening as they always were. Visit the high Alps, like any mountain range in the world, and you must be prepared: in high summer, when the village on the valley floor is sweltering in sunshine, a little wind and a high-altitude cloud can suddenly plunge you into icy wintertime. That is the thrill of the mountains, and to experience the mountains properly you must do so on foot. No railways or cable cars; no This spread, from left to right: View from the Eagle Walk’s trail in the Stubaier Alps with the Zillertal Alps in the background; hiking in the Karwendel mountain range.

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Tirol

the eagle walk

2010 sees the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the Eagle Walk. Check out the offical website, www.adlerweg.at, for the latest news and developments, and information on how to find a guide. Depending on your ability, you can ask your guide to take you along the straightforward Red and Blue-marked trails for the length of your walk (see below); or, if you are an experienced hiker, climber or scrambler, you can challenge yourself. The most challenging sections to go for include the segment from Steinberg am Rofan to Schafsteigsattel and Erfurter Hut, and the hardest and highest part on the trail from the Karwendelhaus to the Birkkarspitze, Hallerangerhaus and Hallerangeralm.

sophisticated restaurants populated by urbane tourists. The best way is to make an itinerary, and walk a high mountain trail for a few days.

Challenging heights

The best place to do this is in the Tirol, and its most famous, and challenging, itinerary is the Eagle Walk. This, in its complete form, comprises a 126-stage, 1470 km route along and around from the length of this province. The main route, excluding all the variations, is 280km long and split into 23 stages. You don’t have to do all of it, or even most of it, and you can also make your own variations on whichever part you do attack. Regional side routes, recently added, mean you can branch off the main walk into the province’s great valleys. Each stage of the route is marked for difficulty in a way that will be familiar to skiers: grading starts at blue, for beginners, through to red, for intermediates, and black, for experts. In reality, you can do the whole of the main walk while sticking to blue and red paths, meaning anyone who is reasonably fit, and, ideally, has a little hiking experience, can do the whole walk. (To tackle the Black branches of the route, which are optional, you do need to be an experienced hiker.) The trail is clearly marked all the way along but far better done in the company of a guide, because they will be a mine of interest. and an other thin g ...

For the ultimate hiking holiday, Europa Wanderhotels are the specialists. With 38 dedicated hiking hotels all over Austria, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Hire equipment and guides directly and there are wellness facilities to enjoy after all that excercise. www.wanderhotels.com 14

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This page from top: Hiking along the trails of the Rofangebirge - each stage of the Eagle Walk is graded according to difficulty; re-energise yourself along the way with fresh mountain spring water.

Wherever you pick up the route, you will start in a low valley of meadows; then you are likely to pass through Alpine forests, and climb above the treeline to a sparse, wonderful world of short grass, lichens and streams, with exposed rocks and peaks never far away. And then you spot a patch of snow, a remnant of winter incongruously lying nearby on a hot summer’s day. Determined to make a snowball, one of your companions runs towards it, then slows down and struggles along: meanwhile he is barely getting nearer to it. This is a ‘snow mirage’: the snow is much further away than it appears, and it’s amusing to watch your friends realise this and turn back while you take a well-earned breather on a rock. Anyone used to the somewhat barren experience of hiking in Britain is in for a very pleasant surprise here. For in these high mountains, at over 2000m altitude, there is plenty of life, human and otherwise. The trail is dotted with huts, many of them the summer homes of farmers tending to their animals in high pasture, where you are welcome to stay. Arrive at one of these huts after several long hours of hiking, a fabulous panorama stretching below you and an icy evening breeze

starting to waft down from the glacier, and you’ll be greeted with plates of ham, homemade bread, deliciously soft beer, and schnapps. You’ll eat at a communal table with the farmers and other hikers; and you’ll often share a dormitory with your companions. Starts are early: despite the schnapps and beer, your happily weary body doesn’t keep you up late, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself delighted to rise with the farmer, at sunrise, to a breakfast of ham, eggs and coffee, before you start the long day. Often you’ll find yourself meeting the same people all the way along the trail. And at some point, you will head down the mountainside, into the valley with all its modern civilisation; and you’ll look up at the Alps and their ridges and ravines, and say: “Did I really walk along A those? Did anyone?” ■

Facts & figures Tirol l Innsbruck

Eagle Walk For more information please contact: Tirol and its Leading Resorts Maria-Theresien-Strasse 55 A-6010 Innsbruck Tel: +43 (0) 512 72720 Fax: +43 (0) 512 72727 Email: info@tirol.at www.visittirol.co.uk Nearest Airports Innsbruck local Salzburg 113 miles (182 km) Munich 129 miles (208 km)


Graz

City Cool The Kunsthaus art museum was built in Graz in 2003 and is nicknamed ‘the friendly alien’.

3 things to do in…Graz

Austria’s southernmost city bathes in a sunny climate, and combines history and gastronomy with an irresistible ambience. Take a hike

Graz may be the second-biggest city in Austria (after Vienna) but it’s also intensely pedestrianfriendly. Situated in the south of the country, the light and the climate have a Mediterranean quality, as does the pace of life. It’s a place where you wander from square to square, sitting in cafés, admiring the architecture, dominated by Renaissance treasures, and enhanced by contemporary marvels such as the Kunsthaus art museum. More than anything else, this is a place to wander and discover courtyards, terraces and squares where sitting and watching the world go by will be irresistible. Indulge in the gastronomy

Graz is known as ‘Austria’s delicatessen’: its geographical position at the confluence of the Alpine and Mediterranean climate zones means that everything from mountain beef and milk

Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg, three of Austria’s great cities, have a unique combination of culture, history, activities, gastronomy and other attractions. Here, we pinpoint the very best ways to experience the best of each of them to Mediterranean vegetables are grown locally. The best introduction is a visit to one of the farmers’ markets in the Old Town on a weekend. They feature only local produce. Throughout the summer, cherries, peaches and apricots are sold in abundance; as autumn starts you’ll spot varieties of mushrooms and blackberries, and, one of the most well-known local specialities, pumpkins. And if that’s all too much, ask your hotel for a ‘Graz picnic basket’ of regional delicacies which you can take out to a romantic spot on the Schlossberg and enjoy in utter peace. Absorb the culture

Graz was a cradle of the Renaissance, with influences from surrounding regions in Italy as well as the Austro-Hungarian empire to the north. The town centre at the foot of the Schlossberg is redolent of this, with its grand residences, churches and Renaissance detailing; but it’s also offset by the best of contemporary culture, like the Kunsthaus museum with its cutting-edge art exhibitions. There is also an array of festivals throughout the year in fine art, music, literature and design.

Facts & figures

l Graz

For more information please contact: Graz Tourist Office Herrengasse 16 A-8010 Graz Tel: +43 (0) 316 80750 Fax: +43 (0) 316 807515 Email: info@graztourismus.at www.visitgraz.com Nearest Airports Graz local Vienna 124 miles (200 km)

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Salzburg Salzburg’s enchanting Mirabell Gardens.

3 things to do in… Salzburg

Mozart’s hometown is dripping with cultural beauty and history; yet it also has compelling contemporary sights to see. Immerse yourself in music

Everyone knows Salzburg was the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and there is no more glorious a place to hear a Mozart concerto or a sinfonia concertante than in one of the city’s theatres or music rooms. But there’s a lot more music to be had in Salzburg, not forgetting the Salzburg Festival: one of the world’s leading cultural festivals, it combines opera, drama and musical concerts across the spectrum from dark plays to childrens’ concerts. Admire the architecture

Salzburg’s old town is a perennial festival of fabulous, colourful, romantic Baroque-era architecture. You can make an itinerary of sites to visit, like the Cathedral, the Hohensalzburg Castle, and the Residenz Palace; or you can simply wander the streets, each one a Baroque showcase, and admire the city as it happens. 16

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And you mustn’t leave Mozart’s house, the Franziskaner Church and the Mirabell Palace off your list. But it’s not just Baroque: Salzburg is home to one of the world’s most renowned pieces of contemporary architecture, Hangar-7, just outside the city centre. This is a combination of dramatic architectural showcase, aviation museum, and contemporary art gallery, with an ever-changing roster of shows, and avant-garde restaurant, showcasing chefs from around the world. The contrast with the old city centre couldn’t be more striking, but Hangar-7 is a destination in itself. Shop!

Even the shopping in Salzburg is spectacular. The Europark shopping centre, on the edge of the city, was designed by award-winning Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas to provide floods of natural light and to blend in with its environment. It has 130 shops for every budget and taste, with a particular emphasis on fashion brands, and is also home to the Oval, a theatre at its heart, which seats 250 and has a rolling programme of cabaret, theatre, jazz and films.

Facts & figures l Salzburg

For more information please contact: Salzburg Tourismus GmbH Auerspergstrasse 6 5020 Salzburg Tel: + 43 (0)662 889870 Fax: + 43 (0) 662 8898732 Email: tourist@salzburg.info www.salzburg.info Nearest Airports Salzburg local Munich 112 miles (180km)


Innsbruck

Clockwise from top: the Zaha Hadid designed Bergisel ski jump; the Golden Roof; view of church domes over central Innsbruck; the Column of Anna on Maria Theresien Strasse.

3 things to do in… Innsbruck

The capital of the Tirol is surrounded by mountains and combines urban culture with the best outdoor activities.

I n n s b r u c k p h oto. c o m ; T V B I n n s b r u c k

Get Cultural

Innsbruck established itself as one of the great cultural centres of Europe more than 500 years ago, when the Habsburg emperor Maximillian I resided there. The old town centre is oozing with Baroque history, whether you’re wandering the mazy backstreets or visiting sights like the Hofkirche (the Habsburg imperial church), the Goldenes Dachl, the famous golden-roofed building created for the Emperor, or other monuments. There’s also the stunning Schloss Ambras, above the city, created by another resident Emperor, Archduke Ferdinand II, in the late 16th century. Enjoy the great outdoors

Even in Austria, Innsbruck is unique in its combination of historic city feel within the old town, and high mountains all around. You can take all manner of daytrips out to the

mountainsides, though two stick in the mind, at opposite ends of the spectrum. First up is the Olympic Bobsleigh run at Igls, just outside town. This is one of the greatest bobsleigh runs in the world and is open from June to August: your average speed down the run will be more than 60 mph… You can then calm down with a round or two at the nearby InnsbruckIgls Golf Club, with three courses of varying difficulties, all with fabulous views down over the valley, and some fine restaurants and ‘19th hole’ bars. Get down with the kids

Innsbruck offers the best of both city and country life for children. You can start by exploring the city, sitting on a terrace with some home-made ice-cream; then make a trip by bus to the Alpenzoo (Alpine zoo) which is full of ‘local’ animals like otters, ibex, eagles, as well as a petting area of mountain piglets and lambs. Then there are the guided childrens’ tours at Ambras Castle – teaching about childrens’ lives at the castle 400 years ago, as well as water parks, adventure A playgrounds, treehouses and more. ■

Facts & figures

l Innsbruck

For more information please contact: Innsbruck Tourismus Burggraben 3 6021 Innsbruck Tel: + 43 (0)512 59850 Fax: + 43 (0)512 59850107 Email: office@innsbruck.info www.innsbruck.info Nearest Airports Innsbruck local

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Alternative view Main picture: the Nordpark cable railway interior. Right, from top: the Bergisel ski jump; exterior view of the Nordpark cable railway.


Modernist movement

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h É l È n e b i n et, © Z A H A H A D I D A R C H I T E C T S ; I NN S B R U C K TO U R I S M U S

When Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s foremost renowned contemporary architects, designed a mountain railway and other holiday infrastructure above the Tirolean capital of Innsbruck, she changed the way humans and mountains interact for good. The forms of her creations are organic, as if shaped by the same elements that created the mountains millions of years ago: the result is a mountain railway and a ski jump that are at once modern and harmonious. Hadid says of the railway: “Each station has its own unique context, topography, altitude and circulation. We studied natural phenomena such as glacial moraines and ice movements as we wanted each station to use the fluid language of natural ice formations, like a frozen stream on the mountainside.” www.nordkette.com

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Making a splash Water makes a perfect holiday, and Zell am See-Kaprun has water in abundance, amid the surprisingly warm ripples of its mountain lake, and, high up, the year-round snows of its glacier. A wealth of activities means it all makes for a most relaxing summer holiday

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Zell am See-Kaprun

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hat is it about water? There’s nothing quite so exhilarating as waking up, pulling the curtains, and seeing an Alpine lake spread before you. At Zell am See-Kaprun, you have the best of water in both of its forms: firstly the lake itself, Lake Zell; and, thousands of metres above, the glacier and year-round snowfields of the Kitzsteinhorn mountain. On your first day in Zell am See-Kaprun, you will wake up in your spa hotel to a double dose of sunlight, from above and also from the shimmering reflection in the lake. You may feel like diving straight in, and you’re most welcome to, as you’ll get a delightful surprise: the water in the lake is drinking water quality, and in summer it reaches a balmy 24°C – as warm as the Mediterranean.

Family challenge

The water in the lake is pure enough to drink and in summer reaches a balmy 24 degrees

But it’s more likely you’ll feel tempted to make a conquest first. At 3203m, the Kitzsteinhorn is a serious Alp – more than three times the height of Snowdon – but the good news is that it’s also a friendly one, a conquest the whole family can make. A local guide will take you: the first part of the climb, through forest and along grassland paths, is an upward stroll, and the final part, steeper and rocky, requires the whole family to be roped together. It doesn’t require special technical expertise though: just determination to make it to the top, at which point any children, and most adults present will feel a frisson of joy at having conquered what is likely to be their first 3000m peak, and in true mountaineer style. That joy then quickly turns to awe. You are on the roof of Europe here; turn 360° on your booted heel and you will see more than 30 peaks of more than 3000m rising around you, with Austria’s highest mountain, the mass of ice and rock that is Grossglockner, rising almost next door. The sky is a deep, concentrated blue, the sun shines upwards off a hundred glaciers; if you’ve brought your children with you you might tell them that underneath each of those peaks is a valley, containing villages, towns, roads, churches: it all looks like a giant toy from here. And climbing is just part of the joy. The mountain’s altitude means it plays host to au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Zell am See-Kaprun and anothe r th i ng . ..

Zell am See-Kaprun isn’t the only place for watersports fans. Located in central Austria, the region of Salzkammergut boasts three lakes for every water activity imaginable, from water-skiing to windsurfing. You can even scuba dive. www.salzkammergut.at Previous page: Lake Zell at Zell am See-Kaprun is delightfully warm in the summer. This page, clockwise from left: Lake Zell is the perfect spot for watersports; canoeing on the lake; enjoying a spot of lakeside volleyball.

summer snowfields: come back another day on the Gletscherjet 1 cable car and spend the day skiing, snowboarding and even skating on the ice rink. The Mooserboden lakes, pure, deep, and green, lie nearby.

Spa therapy

The thrill of playing (for adults and children alike) at such altitude shouldn’t be discounted: the air is thin, pure, clean; the sun is strong (don’t forget your Factor 30), so you will tan in minutes; the only noise on the glacier is of summer meltwater trickling off in unseen underground streams. Heading back home, you descend the mountainside into the valley, where you realise the aromas of pine needles and wildflowers that scent the air were missing at the purity of altitude. You stop off at a farm shop and buy some local cheese, and schnapps, pear brandy, and some ‘children’s schnapps’ (lemonade) for the offspring. The next morning your hotel spa’s therapist gives you a soothing massage, welcome after all that exercise for muscles that you are not used to using back home; they also devise a nutrition and wellness plan for you for your stay. This is a spa, Austrian style, where they don’t do things by halves: look after your body and your body will look after you, they say. And still, you have only just scratched the surface of this region. Swimming and waterskiing in Lake Zell are activities for a whole day; you might take a few minutes to look up at the mountain and reflect with some disbelief how high you climbed earlier in your trip – you are indeed a member of the 3000m club.

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What to do and where to do it...

EVENTS l The Gössl Dirndl Flying Day makes for an altogether more quirky experience on the 3rd July. Plucky participants dress in traditional, regional costumes from manufacturer Gössl before plunging from a platform into the refreshing water of Lake Zell. l While Zell am See-Kaprun’s Lake Festival offers plenty of daytime entertainment, with live bands and traditional food, it’s most famous for its impressive fireworks which draw the event to a close. For the best panoramic views jump on board the MS Schmittenhöhe and watch the pyrotechnic spectacle, without the crowds, from the middle of the lake. Be sure to catch it on 17th - 18th July and 7th – 8th August. l Kaprun Castle will be host to the annual Fortress Festival from the 24th - 26th July, one of the largest events of its kind in Austria.

Great heights

On another morning you set off for Europe’s highest waterfalls, the Krimmler Falls; they burst forth seemingly from within the heart of a forest, down a series of giant rock steps for 380m (that’s the height of two BT Towers). A carefully-carved path, created by the Austrian Alpine Association, takes you to the top in around an hour, all the time accompanied by the roar of the water. And then there’s the Grossglockner Alpine Road. If you are a keen driver, motorbike rider or the hardiest kind of cyclist, you will have heard of this legendary strip of tarmac, which winds up to an altitude of 2504m through Austria’s highest mountain massif in a series of hundreds of hairpin bends, each one seemingly revealing a more hair-raising view. This being Austria, it’s child-friendly too, with a series of children’s playgrounds located along the route, all beautifully decorated with images of the road’s mascot, Marmie the Marmot (marmots are the elusive and furry Alpine rodents). If you’ve caught the hiking bug, there’s a famous trail, the Alexander Enzinger Way; if history and culture is your thing, then the panoramically located Imperial-era Sissi Chapel above Zell am See-Kaprun, dedicated to the Hapsburg Empress Elisabeth, is a must to visit. And always there’s the smooth service,

Expect a thoroughly medieval affair with jugglers, knights and ancient craftsmanship. l Austrian-born composers Mozart and Strauss brought musical fame to their homeland during the 18th and 19th century. Celebrate their legacy and head to the 2000m summit of Schmittenhöhe between the 30th July and 8th August to enjoy classical music concerts from highly renowned orchestras as part of the Hochkultur - There is Music in the Air event. GOOD TO KNOW Feel the power of nature and visit the Sigmund Thun Klamm, a mountain gorge 32m deep and 320 feet long, near Kaprun, only a 1.5km walk from the city centre. The gorge was formed by melting snow from several glaciers and dates back to the Ice Age. Don’t miss the guided nature tours through the gorge every Monday throughout July and August.

warm welcome, spa and culinary delights of your hotel when you return. At the end of your stay, the likelihood is that you’ll gaze out over the lake, look up at the mountains…and decide to return next A year to conquer Grossglockner itself. ■

Facts & figures

l Zell Am See-Kaprun

For more information please contact: Zell am See-Kaprun Tourismus Brucker Bundesstr. 1a A-5700 Zell am See Tel: +43 (0) 6542 770 Fax: +43 (0) 6542 72032 Email: welcome@zellamsee-kaprun.com www.zellamsee-kaprun.com Nearest Airports Salzburg 50 miles (80 km) Innsbruck 87 miles (140 km) Munich 136 miles (220km)


Bregenzerwald - Vorarlberg This page: Old and new stand side by side in Bregenzerwald: the village hall in Andelsbuch next to a typical ‘Wälderhaus’.

The art of living

Contemporary architecture, modern restaurants, slick spas with the most natural of products; this lovely valley in Vorarlberg has it all

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Wine enthusiasts must pay a visit to the Loisium, ‘The Adventure World of Wine’. Located in Langenlois in Lower Austria, here you will learn everything there is to know about wine. Sample it too! www.loisium.at

I

f you think about modern buildings and holidays together, you might be forgiven for thinking of hastily-constructed and soulless concrete boxes. And yet it is within buildings that we spend so much of our holiday time, sleeping, talking, eating and simply relaxing; to be in a human construction that is harmonious and pleasing is surely as important as the landscape outside it. A beautiful, thought-provoking and crafted building, that appeals to the soul, doesn’t have to be an old edifice. Bregenzerwald, a deeply beautiful valley that runs throughVorarlberg in northwestern Austria, has an ancient tradition of wood carving and architecture using wood. In 1999, the ‘Werkraum Bregenzerwald’ was formed, an association for the trade craftsmen in the region, offering its members support in product and design innovation, marketing and training. It has meant that the culture of Bregenzerwald has kept on thriving. Take a stroll around one of its 22 old villages and you might think you’ve stepped into a Brothers Grimm fairytale of intricately designed woodwork and painstaking detail. But take a stroll around another village and you are as likely to come across a spectacular modern building as you are a Hansel and Gretel cottage. Expanses of glass and wood, minimal use of steel: the craftspeople here have carved a 24

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niche for themselves in the modern architectural world as foremost proponents of an uplifting, naturally lit style of building that combines the traditional and contemporary to beautiful effect. As one leading architectural writer commented, the buildings “have been built using hardly any materials”, making them “surprisingly rich in spatial and functional qualities”. In layman’s terms, that means great mental wellbeing on a holiday in a place where physical wellbeing is a given. Hotels like the Sonne Lifestyle Resort in Mellau lift your spirits the moment you walk in. There’s another feelgood factor at work too: all the contemporary buildings here are world leaders in the use of renewable energy using geothermal energy, solar cells, and different local materials.

Culinary delights

So: you feel in harmony with nature. And very soon, nature starts to feel in harmony with you. Because you’re eating it. Firstly, in the form of the highly-regarded local cheeses; the best-known product of the region is the tangy mountain cheese, Bergkäse; myriad other cheeses come in the form of delicacies such as Bachensteiner, a red, semi-soft and Alpzieger, a greenish cheese dotted with more than 40 local herbs. ‘Sig’ is the local equivalent of caramel. Secondly, in the form of local herbs, which grow

This spread, clockwise from left: The reception of the Sonne Lifestyle resort in Mellau; the Women’s Museum in Hittisau; the Angelika Kauffmann Hall in Schwarzenberg; a traditional and a modern house in the Bregenzerwald.

in the Holdamoos meadow, known throughout the country as a source of rare wild herbs. All the elements of the Bregenzerwald come together in the form of ‘MundArt’, eight of the area’s most prized restaurants, which, reflecting the architectural movement’s contemporary take on traditional crafts, interpret traditional dishes with modern flair. Light purees and foams combine with traditional noodles, roasts and dumplings to make highly creative cuisine. But the local food products are not just good to eat. They are good to apply, too. As natural as any skin product can get, local farmer Ingo Metzler’s whey-based skincare products would be a hit with London fashionistas if they could get hold of them. Whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking, is fat and protein free and contains nutrients and vitamins amazing for the skin. And the ultimate escape for those seeking skin rescue? The spas at numerous hotels in the area; the respected German travel magazine Geo Saison recently voted the spa at the Hotel Post in Bezau top of its ‘wellness’ category, praising the spa’s ‘luxurious simplicity’. In a way, that perfectly sums up the whole of the A Bregenzerwald spirit. ■


Bregenzerwald - Vorarlberg

Facts & figures

l Bregenzerwald

Vorarlberg For more information please contact: Bregenzerwald Tourismus Gerbe 1135 A-6863 Egg, Vorarlberg Tel: +43 (0) 5512 2365 Fax: +43 (0) 5512 3010 Email: info@bregenzerwald.at www.bregenzerwald.at/uk www.vorarlberg.travel/en Nearest Airports Friedrichshafen 32 miles (52 km) Zurich 81 miles (130 km)

© C h r isto p h L i n g g ; P E T E R M AT H I S / A R C H I V S C H U B E R T I A D E

What to do and where to do it...

EVENTS l The renowned annual Schubertiade festival, dedicated to the memory of composer Franz Schubert, held in the village of Schwarzenberg, takes place in the Angelika Kauffmann Hall. It’s become a meeting place for an international audience of lieder and chamber-music devotees. It prides itself on its intimate and distinguished atmosphere which in turn has attracted world-class singers and musicians to perform at this event year after year. l Every Tuesday between the middle of July and the end of August the village square of picturesque Bezau comes alive with ‘Bezau Beatz’ as jazz, blues, pop and classical artists take to the stage to perform to the crowd. GOOD TO KNOW The Women’s Museum in Hittisau, a perfect example of contemporary architecture, is the only Women’s Museum in Austria. All of the exhibitions here offer an exposé of the world of women, both from the past and in the present and it holds different exhibitions on the subjects of cultural history, contemporary art and social policy all year round.

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Lake Constance - Vorarlberg This spread, clockwise from left: Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda at the Bregenz Festival 2009; the town of Bregenz on the shore of Lake Constance.

High culture

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f you plan a holiday to go to a world-class opera and art galleries, you generally do so on the assumption that you’ll be visiting a big city, without the diversions of, say, spectacular mountain views or waterside dining by an Alpine lake. Conversely, if you were on a holiday that involved gazing in awe at a view of 240 Alpine peaks ranged across several countries, you would be forgiven for assuming that there wouldn’t be an option to see one of the world’s great orchestras performing Aïda, or walking around a world renowned contemporary art museum just a few minutes later. However, you would be wrong. Because in the region of Lake Constance in Vorarlberg, you can do all of these and more. How? Read on... To opera lovers, the name of Bregenz, Austria’s northwesternmost city, conjures up one thing: the Bregenz Festival. Every summer, the world renowned Vienna Symphony Orchestra decamps en masse to Bregenz, or, more precisely, to an orchestra pit in a floating 26

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stage in Lake Constance. There, the Bregenz Opera puts on a summer extravaganza of shows, ranging from the classical (Aïda) to the contemporary (West Side Story) via the alternative (operas by Kurt Weill). The Bregenz Festival began in 1946 with the performance of a Mozart work on two

barges moored on Lake Constance. Over the years, the festival has grown to international fame, with a proper floating stage, and, in 1980, the addition of an Opera House on land connected to the stage, in case the weather turned inclement. Every summer hundreds of thousands of culture lovers come to the opera here: in the past decade the Festival has become even more ambitious, staging some of Giuseppe Verdi’s most dramatic works, like A Masked Ball and Aïda, and Puccini’s La Bohème. But just to show that Bregenz’s artistic direction was as avant-garde as ever, in 2004 the Festival appointed David Pountney, formerly director of the English National Opera, as artistic director; Pountney quickly brought new international recognition to the Festival by directing works such as Nielsen’s Maskarade, Weill’s Der Kuhhandel and, last summer, Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger. Attending the Festival is only touching the surface of Bregenz though. The other cultural

B r e g e n z e r F e s t s p i ele / a n d e r e a r t 200 9; K AR L F O RST E R , 20 09

Where in the world combines cutting-edge opera, contemporary art and world-leading architecture with views across one of Europe’s great lakes? Lake Constance, in Vorarlberg, that’s where


In the past decade the Festival has become even more ambitious, staging works like Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda

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If you love music, you musn’t miss the music festival at Grafenegg Castle from the 19th August - 12th September. It features renowned and acclaimed international orchestras, soloists and conductors and will be opening with a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’. www.grafenegg.at


Lake Constance - Vorarlberg

Horizon field

Antony Gormley, one of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists, is planning to unveil his work ‘Horizon Field’ in the Vorarlberg area, under the auspices of the Kunsthaus Bregenz, this summer. Horizon Field consists of 100 lifesize cast-iron figures of Gormley’s body, spread at 2039m above sea level, over 100sq km in the Vorarlberg area. Says Gormley: “The rise of the great river civilisations has programmed the human species to see its future well-being as city-based and in distinction to nature. The radical revision of the dialectic between nature and culture is necessary if the present human population is to successfully confront the issue of man-made global warming. Horizon Field asks an open question as to where the human project fits within the evolution of life on this planet.” See interview on page 4.

What to do and where to do it...

The views

Just a few minutes’ walk through the town centre of Bregenz from the museum you’ll find the bottom station of the Pfänder cable car. Hop on, and six minutes later you emerge to...something quite spectacular. Just as the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin once commented that the best way to see our planet was when you were away from it, viewing from space, so you might think when viewing the Alps from the 1064m high top station of the Pfänder. For Bregenz and Lake Constance actually lie just to the north of the Alps; the lake is fed 28

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This page, from top: Test display in the resort of Lech for the planned Horizon Field project in the Vorarlberg by artist Antony Gormley; the Kunsthaus Bregenz exterior.

by the River Rhine at the point the Alpine scenery gives way to the forested hills of northern Europe. So the Pfänder is like a natural viewing station facing the wall of the Alps. On a clear day you can see 240 Alpine peaks, from central Switzerland through to Austria’s Arlberg and Bregenzerwald regions; to the west and north are the hills of the Black Forest, and the lake shimmers below. Back down in town, the views are of a different kind as you stroll along the lakefront, perhaps taking a glass of champagne in a café by a fisherman’s pier. And there are views of a different kind a short distance away in Feldkirch, a beautifully preserved medieval town. Where there is culture there is cuisine, and the region of Lake Constance in Vorarlberg is no exception. The lakeside restaurants have a perfect setting; you can look at the water and wonder if you saw your dinner before it A arrived on your plate. ■

Swiss architect and Pritzker award winner, Peter Zumthor. Be sure to catch the summer exhibition from 17th July – 3rd October. l The Art Bodensee fair in Dornbirn is the main art fair in the Lake Constance area and is the only art fair in the region that takes place in the middle of summer and the only one where you can chat to gallery owners and artists. It draws together the talent of fifty galleries from nine countries. Visit from 23rd – 25th July. GOOD TO KNOW For those who wish to attend the world famous Bregenz Festival (July 21 - August 22, 2010), stay for 2 nights from €189, including B&B at a choice of hotels, welcome cocktails, a ticket for Aïda, a Festival Leisure pack providing entrance to top places of interest, and an information pack from the Bodensee-Vorarlberg Tourism Board.

Facts & figures Vorarlberg l Lake Constance

For more information please contact: Bodensee-Vorarlberg Tourism Board P.O. Box 16 6901 Bregenz, Austria Tel: +43 (0) 5574 434430 Fax: +43 (0) 5574 434434 Email: office@bodensee-vorarlberg.com www.lakeconstance.eu www.vorarlberg.travel/en Nearest Airports Friedrichshafen 21 miles (34 km) Memmingen 48 miles (77 km) Zurich 80 miles (129 km)

© A n to n y G orml e y, K u n st h aus B r e g e n z ; M arkus T r e tt e r

attraction of world renown is the Kunsthaus Bregenz, the contemporary art gallery designed by Peter Zumthor, the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect. Made of etched glass, cast steel and concrete, and shaped in ‘living’ forms with an abundance of natural light in its gallery spaces, the Kunsthaus has a rolling schedule of exhibitions from some of the world’s great contemporary artists, as well as a thorough programme of tours on arts and architecture. And once you’ve explored the Kunsthaus – which with its wide piazza at its heart is somewhere to spend a day or two – there is a plethora of modern and contemporary art galleries in Bregenz.

EVENTS l The Bregenz Spring Dance Festival has been in existence for over 20 years and has evolved into one of the most significant dance festivals in the region. It kicks off the annual cultural activities calendar each year. Austrian premiere performances can be seen on particular days throughout March, April and May. l Under the artistic direction of Philippe Arlaud, this year’s Feldkirch Festival, held on 2nd – 13th June takes the theme of Russian music of the 20th and 21st century in his continuing desire to transcend cultural barriers with the universal language of music. l The world renowned Kunsthaus Bregenz, opened in the summer of 1997, is not only a contemporary art gallery but a work of art in itself with its cubic-crystal design from the


Perfect dishes

Cuisine

From apple strudel in the heart of Vienna to a boutique-chic restaurant where everything is served in a cone, Austria’s burgeoning restaurant scene has something for everybody. Here are six of our very favourite spots around the country for gourmets

Landhaus Bacher, Wachau

Lisl Wagner-Bacher heads up this two Michelin-starred restaurant in the medieval town of Mautern. She was the first woman ever to be awarded the Gault Millau ‘Chef of the Year’ in 1983 and her cuisine is famed for its refinement and panache; dishes include salad of warm lobster (above) and guinea fowl with roasted salsify, périgord truffle and hazelnut foam. Learn how to create these dishes yourself by enrolling in one of her courses. www.landhaus-bacher.at

Schloss Velden, Carinthia

The fine dining restaurant at this grand hotel has two Michelin stars and scores 18/20 in the Gault-Millau guide. Chef Silvio Nickol sources most of his ingredients from local farms here in Austria’s ‘larder’, Carinthia: local fishermen deliver the catch of the day from the lake. But as much as the magnificent food, you are likely to remember the views over Lake Wörth, and the stylishness of the hotel (right), which has been attracting Euro-aristocracy for more than a hundred years. www.schlossveldencapella.com

Herbert Lehmann

Carpe Diem, Salzburg

Salzburg may be full of history and tradition, but all that is swept away at Carpe Diem, a chic modern restaurant where everything is served in bite-sized cones. And we really do mean everything: there’s hamburger in a rosemary-infused cone, mini-fillet steak with mash and red wine sauce in a cone, wild boar with polenta and apple-Calvados foam in a cone… www.finestfingerfood.com

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Cuisine Steirereck, Vienna

Vienna’s most famous restaurant lies in the middle of its most picturesque park, the Stadtpark, right in the centre of town. The modern Austrian cuisine here is divine, particularly if taken on the terrace, although be warned, it’s not cheap. An excellent alternative is to go next door to the Meierei, under the same management, which serves more than 100 kinds of cheese (below), milkshakes, apple strudel and other specialities in a café ambience. www.steirereck.at

Hohe Mut Alm, Ötztal, TIROL

It’s not often you can eat a gastronomic meal at a height of 2670m, but that’s exactly what Hohe Mut Alm offers. Perched on a mountain ledge high above the treeline, surrounded by some of the highest mountains and glaciers in Austria, this beautifully refurbished high mountain lodge offers traditional and Mediterranean specialities and an excellent wine list. The sun is strong at this altitude and the sky a deep blue, so spend the afternoon nibbling, sipping and basking – and don’t forget the sunblock. www.hohemutalm.at

Taubenkobel, Burgenland

This restaurant lies in a traditional 19th Century vintner’s house in the heart of Burgenland, the wine-producing province southeast of Vienna, and is a member of the Relais & Chateaux group. It is owned and run by Chef Walter Eselböck and his wife Eveline who have been here since 1984. Together they have created a unique experience for all those who visit. Walter (who has won numerous awards), is at the helm in the kitchen while Eveline will greet you, tend to your every whim and advise what wine should accompany your meal from the vast selection of wines, all chosen by herself from producers she has known for many years. Such is the extent and fame of her knowledge that her wine seminars are usually booked out months in advance. Walter likes to use regional ingredients and is famed for his creativity and inventiveness. Be sure to try the seven course meal menu which culminates with ‘yuzu soufflé’, where each delicious course is paired expertly with a complementing wine. www.taubenkobel.com

Plachutta, VIENNA

This world famous restaurant lies in the heart of Vienna and has been owned and run by the Plachutta family for decades. Chef Ewald Plachutta has won numerous culinary awards that include Chef of the Year from the Gault Millau guide in 1991 and a Michelin star awarded the same year. Guests come to try the speciality ‘Tafelspitz’ (tender boiled beef, left). www.plachutta.at

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Zillertal

The natural kitchen The Zillertal is one of Austria’s culinary heartlands. This deep valley’s warm summers and lush pastures give rise to hundreds of indigenous herbs, fabulous local speciality dishes and some of the best restaurants in the Alps. Even the cheeses are special. And the scenery’s pretty good too

W

hen is the last time you saw or smelled wild herbs? Herbs are something that we use every day, an essential element of almost every cuisine. For many of us, they come in glass jars in the supermarket. For some, they grow in window boxes and kitchen gardens. But wild herbs, sprouting from the soil, lining the side of a woodland trail, washed by sun and mountain air? The first thing you notice about wild herbs is the aroma: a waft of chives through the area; a pinch of basil in the breeze gets the gastric juices going immediately; parsley has a distinct freshness; mint and spearmint a tangy zest. But where can you find these aromas, fixed in the freshest of breezes?

The Zillertal is where. This deep valley, carved millions of years ago by glaciers into the high Tirolean Alps is famed for its wild herbs and, not coincidentally, its cuisine. And if there’s a better way to whet your appetite for a series of delicious gastronomic experiences than go for a gentle walk among herb-filled meadows, we have yet to find one.

Local cuisine

But first things first. You might start your visit to the area in one of its famous four-star hotels; many of these combine a high level of comfort with a high quality restaurant, as the gastronomic tradition runs deep in the Zillertal

and nobody wants to be seen to be offering anything but the best of the local produce. Zillertal’s local ingredients – cheeses, hams, roasted meats, eggs, breads and all those herbs – are famous in Austria; every type of cuisine from the rustic to the gastronomic is on offer here. A local chef, Alexander Fankhauser, was named Austrian Chef of the Year by the respected Gault Millau guide in 2005. But the best way to start experiencing the cuisine is to start at the rustic, traditional end: for to understand a cuisine is to understand a culture. So you settle down to your first supper at your Zillertal hotel, sip a welcoming beer or a glass of Grüner Veltliner white wine and await au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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a n d a n ot h e r t h i n g ...

Food lovers must pay a visit to Vienna’s Naschmarkt which dates back to the 16th-century and today boasts a unique mix of culinary influences from all over the world. Buy anything from bread and cheeses to sushi and exotic herbs. www.wienernaschmarkt.eu

Previous page: the area is renowned for its wild herbs. This spread, clockwise from left: walking in the Zillertal; quail in strudel pastry; bread and the local Graukäse.

the first course: a flavoursome ‘Graukass’ soup, made with the local ‘Grey cheese’. The cheese itself is something of a work of art, being rich and viscous with a grey core, but with a low fat content of less than 0.5%. The taste is distinctive and quite addictive: it’s dry, with bracing freshness and a hint of mountain herbs. The very low fat content makes it both healthy and moreish, and creating it is a specialised art, limited only to officially-certified producers. Another must-try in the Zillertal is the local ‘hay milk’, from cows who have grazed on high pasture in summer: the cows eat only highaltitude grass (and herbs) and drink natural spring water and the result is milk of uncommon 32

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purity of taste. Then there are the local speciality Schliachta-Nudeln, broad and grainy noodles; and spinach-filled crêpes. The next day, it’s time to discover the herb walk: together with a guide, you wander through meadows and fields, spotting and smelling the wonderful bouquets of arnica, erica, dandelion, yarrow and many others, as your guide, herself an extraordinarily healthylooking lady, points out. You spend another day dropping into a farm that makes the local grey cheese, and end up making some yourself. To work up an appetite for one of the area’s more gastronomic restaurants, you head up one day to the Berliner Hütte, at the valley’s peak, in the Zillertal Alps Nature Park. The view here is one of the most breathtaking in all of Austria,


Zillertal

Facts & figures

l Zillertal

For more information please contact: Zillertal Tourist Board Bundesstrasse 27d A-6262 Schlitters, Zillertal Tel: +43 (0) 5288 87187 Fax: +43 (0) 5288 871871 Email: info@zillertal.at www.zillertal.at Nearest Airports Innsbruck 31 miles (50 km) Salzburg 93 miles (150 km) Munich 105 miles (170 km)

What to do and where to do it...

A lam y; Ö sterre i c h W erb u ng / G naed i nger ; Z i llertal To u r i sm u s

Together with a guide you wander through meadows and fields, spotting and smelling the wonderful bouquets as you take in the deep Ziller valley, the steep forested mountainsides, the pastures above the treeline, and finally the glaciers, snowfields and rock faces reaching for the sky. It’s also the oldest mountain refuge of the area and here, spending an hour or so on the sunny terrace amid the deep blue high altitude sky, you get chatting to numerous local characters who tell you about local legends, as embellished by hunters over the centuries over glasses of the strong local schnapps. And then it’s back down to the valley for your last night; whether you’re partaking of the six course ‘connoisseur’ dinner at the Restaurant Alexander Fankhauser (perched high up at 1500m) or the freshness of simple local produce, you feel like you have eaten a little bit of nature A itself – and all the better for it. ■

EVENTS l The 500 year old Gauderfest, Austria’s largest spring festival from the 29th April – 2nd May, is the epitome of rural tradition. The festival opens with a traditional speech and highlights include the popular Alpine wrestling competition and specially brewed ‘Gauderbock’ beer. The main event though is the traditional festival parade where everyone wears colourful costumes and there are music groups and decorated floats. l Embrace the onset of summer with the Zillertal locals at the Days of the Open Valley, a two day event from the 29th – 30th May with lots of family entertainment. Explore the valley at no charge with free use of all the services. l Dedicated foodies must pay a visit to Zillertal during Schmankerlfest - local delicacies week, from the 5th – 11th July, to take full advantage of the best local food on offer from the region’s hotels, such as Zillertaller Krapfen (the region’s speciality doughnuts). l The Torseemarsch & Tuxer Hiking day takes place on the 25th July and is a 20km hike at an altitude of 1300m through the Tux Alps. The route will take you from Lanersbach village through the mountain pastures of Brandalm and Stoankasern, up to the Ramsjoch mountain, down to the Torseen lakes and the pastures of Nassen-Tux Alm and finally back to Lanersbach. GOOD TO KNOW Zillertal offers guests the Zillertal Activcard, a must-have when visiting the region. There are many advantages including a return cable car trip per day on any of the 12 cable cars, free use of the outdoor swimming pool (one visit per day), free admission to the Observatory and the Planetarium Königsleiten (great for children).

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Wine The Winkler-Hermaden Winery in Kapfenstein, in the southern province of Styria

Wine is one of the unexpected joys of Austria. From world-beating whites to perfect summertime reds, the country’s wine regions have it all. Add magnificent scenery to the package and it’s all close to perfection. But what should you try? Josef Schuller, Director of The Austrian Academy of Wine, gives the inside track

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To someone who is a novice about Austrian wine, how would you recommend learning more while visiting the country? Austria is a treasure trove for visiting wine lovers. Hundreds of small wineries, all within a 90 minute drive from Vienna, are open daily and welcome visitors. Visiting wineries is the best way to learn more about a country! What are the most interesting wine regions to visit in Austria? You must visit the wine growing areas along the Danube towards Krems for zesty fresh whites. If you like your reds you should go south to the Burgenland area, near Lake Neusiedl. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, visit beautiful hilly Styria on the Slovenian border. And don’t forget Vienna’s own wineries! What would you recommend as the most

interesting Austrian fine wines, to someone who was a lover of traditional French wine? If you like clarets (Bordeaux) then you must try wines made from the Blaufränkisch grape in Burgenland. If you like red Burgundy, try the Zweigelt or St.Laurent varieties in Austria. If you like white Burgundy, try some mature powerful Grüner Veltliner. Are Austrian wines created to be drunk with food, or alone? This is the most exciting part: Austrian wines are excellent food wines and this is not only true for Austrian cuisine, but for all, yes I said all cuisines! If you find a dish where there isn’t an Austrian wine to pair it with I will buy you dinner in Austria! Find more details on Austrian wineries at www.winesfromaustria.com

AW M B, Ö W M , S tö c h e r

Q&A Austrian wine


Lech Zürs - Vorarlberg

High-altitude health kicks It’s the greatest tonic in the world: peaceful relaxation amid the Alpine meadows, gentle exercise in the form of mountain walking, enhanced by some of the purest drinking water you’ll ever find, while based in some of the prettiest villages Vorarlberg has to offer

w o r l d p i c t u r e s / p h oto s h ot

H

ow do you relax? Perhaps you play a little sport; or go out with friends to a bar or restaurant; maybe catch a film. But that begs the question - how do you really relax? As in, switch off your mind, think about nothing, take in the world, stretch out your time as far as it will go? Maybe, like most of us, you don’t. But you might, if you took a trip to Lech Zürs. These two villages in Vorarlberg are separated by a high mountain valley and are famed as one of the most fashionable wintersports resorts in the world. In summertime, their beauty, and the natural wilderness of the Vorarlberg region in which they are set, takes over. You are high in the Alps,

at an altitude of above 1500m; the valley is famed for the purity of its air and water. And you can relax without distraction. Don’t get us wrong: the villages are beautiful – in fact Lech, the lower and larger of the two, won the award for the most beautiful village in Europe in 2004 – and all the infrastructure of two of the world’s great ski resorts is there to be used and enjoyed. But still, it’s all about relaxing and doing what you want, not what your itinerary or any manmade artefact dictates to you. The ultimate form of contemplative relaxation is walking: the area has 250 km of trails, many of them easy walks at a perfect altitude of 1500-2000m. au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Lech Zürs - Vorarlberg

Sports scientists have proved that moderate exercise at this altitude is disproportionately effective for fitness. Walk, think, gaze at the view and get fitter, effortlessly.

Peaceful minds

Walking like this, amid such scenic and uplifting surroundings, resets the mind into the kind of equilibrium it cannot find in today’s suburban and city lifestyles. At the start of the trails above Lech, your mind might perhaps still be a jumble of all the things you have taken with you from home; but by the end of the walk, a kind of peaceful enlightenment takes over. You look forward to the comfortable hotel; to the pleasing aesthetics of the village; to a chat with the herb man who delivers herbs from the mountainsides to the restaurant you sit in for a reviving drink, to chatting to your companions

over supper for longer than you would at home. The source of this relaxation is partly your mind being taken into the natural world whence we came; and such references are all around. At home, you might, if you’re trying to be healthy, go to the shop and buy a 1.5 litre plastic bottle of mineral water to drink during the day. The water will have come out of a spring somewhere in the world, been bottled at a plant, and shunted around before reaching you. In Lech, you can turn on the tap and drink copiously from the gently frothing water that comes forth. The water in the region is famous and the water in Lech has a nitrate content more than 20 times lower than the EU legal drinking water limit of 35mg/l; it also has high levels of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sulphates. Most importantly, it tastes delicious, is free and limitless, flowing down from the high mountain peaks. That’s not to say you can’t also indulge in something a little more hearty like the local schnapps…after all it’s all part of the ultimate A in natural relaxation. ■

The Green Ring

This summer, Lech Zürs sees the opening of a brand new hiking route, the ‘Green Ring’, a three day hiking trail around the region. It offers hiking trails for all ages and levels of ability. You’ll trek across the mountain ridges, along the valley floors and past the lakes and rivers. But this is a trail with a difference: unusual and enthralling installations have been built along the way that tell entertaining stories of mythical legends in a modern and 36

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Facts & figures Vorarlberg l Lech Zürs

For more information please contact: Lech Zürs Tourism Dorf 2 6764, Lech am Arlberg Tel: +43 (0) 5583 21610 Fax: +43 (0) 5583 3155 Email: info@lech-zuers.at www.lech-zuers.at www.vorarlberg.travel/en Nearest Airports Friedrichshafen 80 miles (130 km) Innsbruck 74 miles (120 km) Zurich 124 miles (200 km)

humorous way; it’s like a ‘literary’ hiking map that will be enjoyed by people of all ages. Take a rest on benches positioned along the way and take in the awe-inspiring views. This route promises to add a totally new dimension to the region of Lech Zürs and one that people will come from far and wide to enjoy: it is the first time that people will be able to enjoy and experience hiking, art, nature and literature all at the same time, whilst being surrounded by seriously impressive mountain scenery.

A L A M Y; h . w e i s e n h o f e r / n . f r e u d e n h al e r / l e c h z Ü r s to u r i s m u s ; Ö s t e r r e i c h w e r b u n g / f e l d e r

Previous page: The view above Lech; hiking in the area. This spread, clockwise from left: Farmhouses in Lech; hikers in Wandern am Spullersee; canoeists in Lech’s ‘Peak Triathlon’; relaxation techniques; summer in Lech.


The ultimate form of contemplative relaxation is walking

and anot h e r t h ing ...

For those who want a holiday all about well-being, look no further than Austria’s Health & Spa Hotels, 54 top hotels all over Austria, specialising in wellness and spa. Tailor-make your stay according to your body’s needs. Lech’s own member is the Hotel Rote Wand with its luxurious Red Spa. www.health-and-spa.at

What to do and where to do it...

EVENTS l Get to know the locals at the village festival in Lech on 10th July at the Rüfiplatz. Take in the celebratory atmosphere and impressive views whilst enjoying a speciality lunch, all set against the backdrop of Lech’s mountain scenery. l Keen athletes can take part in the 13th Lech Summit Triathlon on the 17th July. This starts with mountain biking at the Rüfiplatz, followed by kayaking and then finishing with a run. This is not a challenge for the faint-hearted! l For a traditional Austrian summer experience, go to the Festival on the Mountain on August 8th. There’s something for everyone from pre-lunch drinks accompanied by music from a traditional brass band to the bouncy castle for the little ones. Enjoy all this entertainment alongside delicious local culinary specialities. l Panoramic views like those in Lech Zürs are worth making the most of so it’s no surprise that the Lech high altitude half marathon, with its fairytale route through majestic peaks and wildflower-filled meadows is a popular event. The 8th annual half marathon takes place on 22nd August so be sure to take part. l Folk music is integral to Austria and carrying on traditions is very important in maintaining the authenticity of the region. Lech’s Musicians Day on the 31st August will see music groups from Austria, Germany and Switzerland playing various locations throughout Lech before coming together for the grand finale. GOOD TO KNOW Lech offers guests the Active Inclusive Card, your free leisure ticket for the region. Stay at least one night in Lech and you’ll get free access to all cable cars and chair lifts, the local buses, selected guided hikes, a day ticket for the Lech Golf Academy, the forest swimming pool with slide and children’s pool, village events such as concerts and much more.


This spread, from left to right: Saalbach Hinterglemm is the place to go for keen mountain bikers; there are many single trails with breathtaking views in the area

You shoot down the trail, aware of the view and the sky, barely able to suppress a yelp of joy


Saalbach Hinterglemm

Non-stop thrills

There’s nothing more refreshing than a break that involves a pure adrenaline rush. In Saalbach Hinterglemm, you’ll find an array of activities to get your pulse rate going, and soothing spas to ease you back down again

T

he only thing,” you say, in between sharp breaths of delight, “better than this is… flying.” You and your favourite person in the world are sitting on a terrace overlooking a sharp valley, a few clouds floating down below you like cashmere. Next to you are two tough, all-terrain bikes, which you have just climbed off. On the mountainside above you is the trail you have just ‘freeridden’ down, a dramatic track leading from a top cable car station high in the sky. You’re both breathing rapidly, not so much from the exertion – although freeriding a bike downhill demands more from the body than you expected – but through sheer adrenaline. This is the essence of Saalbach Hinterglemm (dubbed the Valley of Games) in summer: the ultimate adrenaline rush. But adrenaline doesn’t necessarily need to be combined with discomfort. This is Austria, after all, not some unaccommodating distant mountainside. When you arrived in the area the previous day, you might have

been forgiven for wondering where any of the thrills were going to come from. Yes, there were mountains all around; but your spa hotel seemed more concerned with reducing your pulse rate than getting it going. Full-body massages? Check. Skin soothing baths? Check. Those beauty treatments you never have time a n d a n ot h e r t h i n g . . .

Nature and technology are combined at Area 47 in the Ötztal Valley. There is every activity imaginable here for adrenaline junkies from high rope courses, climbing walls and speed climbing routes to kayaking and white-water rafting on the Inn River. There’s also a beach and water park. www.area47.at

for back home, what with juggling work and everything else? Check. Breathe out, slowly… You came to Saalbach Hinterglemm because you wanted a change of pace. Both of you have full-on jobs; one of you is considering a change of career while the other just wants a break from the relentlessness of it all. You wanted to relax utterly, which you did in the spa, but you also wanted a thrill, for your body to be charged with electricity for reasons other than wondering if you’re going to finish your Powerpoint presentation in time for your next meeting. And so, on the second day of your break, comes the thrill. You’re met in your hotel by your guide, Alex, who promises to be at your side throughout the ‘Big-5-Challenge’ mammoth freeride tour. It’s all about 5000m in altitude and 57km of riding. Given that you’ve never fancied yourself as a racing cyclist, you are relieved that you go up by cable car, and down by bike, and not the other way round. But still, the butterflies start in the stomach as you head au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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What to do and where to do it... EVENTS l Thousands of Harleys will be rolling into the Glemm Valley for a four day programme of parading at Biker Mania from 3rd – 6th June. Evening highlights include poker at the Alpine Palace Casino and live music. l With mountain biking in mind, the top freeride bikers from around the globe will be flocking to the Freeride Festival from the 9th – 11th July in search of the ultimate adrenaline rush. Participants can test out the latest bikes and the highlight of the event is a mass downhill from Schattberg. l The 12th World Games of Mountain Biking will see approximately 1000 amateur bikers gather in Saalbach Hinterglemm from the 9th 12th September to battle it out in the disciplines of marathon, cross country, downhill and freeride. There’s also a challenge for the kids.

This page, clockwise from above: one of the cable cars in Saalbach Hinterglemm; the high-rope course in Saalbach Hinterglemm has different levels between 3 and 40m; zip-wiring in the Glemm Valley at speeds up to 70km/h.

nothing underneath you but pure Alpine air. And here there’s not just any zipwire, but the longest in Europe. So, the next day, after a short orientation and training session with a reassuring instructor, you’re hooked up. Ahead of you is two kilometres of wire, suspended more than 100m above the valley floor. Three, two, one…blastoff! Or at least zipoff, as you shoot down the wire, zigzagging above the valley at up to 70km/h. You really are flying now, or so it feels, with a bird’s eye view of the pastures, forests, farm animals and, occasionally, people far below. You suppress a desire to scream with a mixture of joy, release and…well, a little bit of fear, even though you tell yourself, as you shoot through the air, that all the safety checks were meticulous. And, finally, you land at the other end, your heart pumping. Another day in that hotel spa A suddenly sounds tempting…. ■

l Motorbiking enthusiasts must head to the

International Trial Championships from the 24th – 26th September to see the latest stunts put into action by the stars of the sport. GOOD TO KNOW The Saalbach Hinterglemm Joker Card is an essential must-have when visiting the region. If you are staying in one of the Joker Card partner hotels (of which there are many), the card is free of charge and has many benefits. Some of these include unlimited use of all the lifts, the indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, the local folk museum and the ski museum. The Montelino’s adventure trail on the Kohlmais and the Noddy Train at the end of the valley are both fun (and free) activities for the little ones. Pro and hobby bikers should take advantage of free admission to the Adidas Freeride Park on the Reiterkogel.

Facts & figures

l Saalbach Hinterglemm

For more information please contact: Tourist Office Saalbach Hinterglemm Glemmtaler Landesstrasse 550 A-5753 Saalbach Hinterglemm Tel: +43 (0) 6541 680068 Fax: +43 (0) 6541 680069 Email: contact@saalbach.com www.saalbach.com Nearest Airports Salzburg 56 miles (90 km) Munich 140 miles (230 km)

saa l b ach . c o m

up the mountain in the cable car. The Höhe Tauern mountain range seems to grow before you as the cable car reaches the peak. This is the highest range of the Alps east of the Brenner Pass and includes the highest mountains in Austria. Breathing in the thin, cool, dry air at altitude, you both stop for a second to get a grasp of your surroundings… and the fact dawns on you that it’s a long way down. Alex is looking at you expectantly. “It’ll be the ride of your life,” he says. Have a snapshot taken as a souvenir to ‘immortalise’ yourself in the ‘Big-5-Challenge’ Hall of Fame and…Alex climbs on his bike, you climb on yours, and you’re all off. You shoot down the trail, aware of the view and the sky, barely able to suppress a yelp of joy – it’s all such a release – and then, all too soon, you’re at the terrace café, your midway point on this particular ride. A glass of apple juice each (you fancy something stronger but Alex suggests saving it until the end of the day) and you’re off again… But it’s not just cycling here. What about the zipwire? For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, zipwiring is when you go shooting across a valley, attached to a wire by a sturdy harness and hooks, but not much else. Perfectly safe, but tell that to yourself when you are bulletting, Bond-style, across a ravine, with


Montafon - Vorarlberg

A r c h iv e M o n ta f o n To u r i s m u s G m b H , w w w. m o n ta f o n . at; E d i G r o e g e r ; G e o r g A l fa r e

The ultimate health club Imagine the world’s biggest gym, bounded not by walls but by mountainsides, with blue sky as a ceiling and all the facilities you could imagine, but on the grandest of scales. Imagine no more. Montafon, in Vorarlberg, has it all, including probably the longest piece of fitness equipment in the world...and what a view...

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itting at a desk or in an office isn’t good for you. That’s official, courtesy of any fitness guru you’d like to ask. So we spend our evenings piling into gyms, trying to reachieve the kind of muscle-fitness equilibrium our bodies were made for. But what if you could go on an entire holiday that was, in effect, one visit to the most spectacular fitness centre in the world – a gym that was outdoors, bounded by sky, sun and mountain rather than ceiling and walls? One that had all the equipment you could hope for at the most advanced fitness studio? A holiday in which you emerge fitter and weller than you were when you arrived?

That is what Montafon has to offer – and it is verified by some of the world’s leading sportspeople, who are regular visitors to train here in its ‘natural gym’. Arrive in Montafon and the first thing you must do is experience the scenery, and the best way to do this is to drive (or mountain bike if you begin the way you mean to go on), up the Silvretta High Road. This toll road rises up through forest and grasslands, bordered at times by seas of flowers and butterflies, revealing the distinctive peaks of the Silvretta mountain range as it does so. At the top of the road, on the Bielerhöhe Pass, you can see the range’s highest peak, the famous Piz Buin, in all its glory. au s t r i a ’ s h i d d e n t r e a s u r e s

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Montafon - Vorarlberg

There are hundreds of kilometres of marked trails and guided hiking tours available

Previous page: There are hundreds of kilometres of trails for keen hikers; Montafon is perfect for families. This page, clockwise from left: the Silvretta Classic Rallye; Montafon’s alpine pastures are great for hiking; rock climbing is one of the many activities this region offers.

Mountain fitness

And then, on to business. The unique highlight of the ‘open air gym’ in the mountains around Montafon is the Europatreppe 4000. Now, we all know stair-climbing in the gym; trainers say this is one of the best ways to exercise your quadriceps and calf muscles. We’re often advised to climb, or run, the stairs of the buildings we live or work in. But no building in the world can match the Europatreppe: 4000 steps rising up a vertical difference of 700m, with a maximum gradient of 86%. This, ‘probably the longest piece of fitness equipment in the world’, serves as training ground for the Austrian Ladies National Ski Team, numerous football teams and marathon runners. It’s run at the level of a top gym: you get a pulse rate monitor from the Gaschurn or Silvretta Partenen Tourist Office before setting off and measure your heart rate as you go; there are also time clocks at the start and finish so you can measure your personal best. Next up, what about mountain biking? There are 860kms of track, all of them graded according to difficulty. All the routes are on the Internet with GPS data; and the local leisure centre has more than 60 mountain bikes for hire. The ne plus ultra of this activity is the Silvretta Bike Safari, a mountain bike tour through the mountains of the Silvretta. The next day could be hiking. Hundreds of kilometres of marked trails and guided hiking tours for groups are available, all with different 42

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Facts & figures Vorarlberg l Montafon

For more information please contact: Montafon Tourismus Montafonerstr. 21 A-6780 Schruns Tel: +43 (0) 5556 722530 Fax: +43 (0) 5556 74856 Email: info@montafon.at www.montafon.at www.vorarlberg.travel/en Nearest Airports Friedrichshafen 62 miles (100 km) Memmingen 87 miles (140 km) Altenrhein 46 miles (75 km)

themes. You don’t need to be a professional sportsman to enjoy these: two of the themes are herb and forest trips, with gentle itineraries. You can even do a ‘sunrise hike’ following a memorable night in a high mountain lodge. For something more challenging, try the Klettergarten Gaschurn-Partenen, a climbing garden for all levels of ability. There’s also mountain running, Nordic walking, the high rope course, canyoning, swimming through potholes… And if the weather happens to turn, there’s the indoor climbing hall at Gargellen. Swimmers can immerse themselves in the

an d an ot h e r t h i n g ...

If golf is your thing, Austria has plenty to offer. GIA - Golf in Austria are specialists in holidays specifically tailored to playing golf. All GIA hotels are close to courses that offer green fee reductions and guaranteed tee times. Combine with cuisine and spa for those who want to relax. www.golfinfo.at new Alpenbad Montafon, which opened last year: there’s a 25m lap pool and a large natural bathing pool. Or you could try the Aquarena nearby in St. Gallenkirch, which is a beautifully composed meld of indoor and outdoor pools, sheltered sunbathing areas and children’s pool areas, all warmed using an eco-friendly heated air system. Or Mountain Beach, a lakeside beach complex created using water purified by 13,000 plants of the green, growing kind. For an adrenaline rush of a different kind, that doesn’t require quite so much effort, there’s the Alpine Coaster, a cross between an Alp-eating rollercoaster and a mad toboggan ride. There are loops, curves and jumps on a ride that is 2.6km long and 350m high. And at the end of each day, in your hotel or pension, you can sit down to dinner, made with local products, safe in the knowledge that nature’s gym has made you fit and its produce A is making you healthy. ■


What to do and where to do it... EVENTS l The Silvretta Classic Rallye, named after the mountain range it tackles, is a prestigious 620km challenge for vintage car owners. The course winds through the Alpine landscape of Montafon, Bregenzerwald, the Arlberg and and the 32 hairpin bends of the Silvretta Alpine Pass. l Enthusiastic mountain bikers can take on the 155km Montafon mountain bike Marathon M3 on 31st July. The terrain provides a varied course including flat single trails, high alpine sections with plenty of gravel, woodland paths and panoramic trails against the backdrop of the Silvretta mountain range. There are also two shorter, energetic courses for the less ambitious. l Now in its 44th year, the traditional Montafoner Pferdesporttage equestrian days in SchrunsTschagguns have developed from a small and

provincial event into an eagerly awaited and internationally recognised jumping competition. 500 equestrians and their horses will congregate at this social and sporting event from the 5th 8th August and 13th – 15th August. l For twelve years on the last weekend in August, Montafon has been the meeting place of folk musicians from the entire Alpine region. Several inns, hotels and mountain stations host Austrian and international singers and music groups who perform in a style indigenous to the area. GOOD TO KNOW The Montafon Silvretta Card offers many benefits for your stay; obtain one free of charge for your little ones when you buy your own and book for 5 nights or more. Also receive a voucher from your hotelier and stay for 7 days but pay for only 5, valid from 15th – 29th May, 2010.

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Romance

Tree's company In the Newlywed Hut at Almdorf Seinerzeit in Patergassen. www.almdorf.com

It’s in the air! dinner on the ferris wheel, vienna Watch over the magical city by candelight. www.wienerriesenrad.com

What’s romance to you? It might be a traditional candle-lit dinner in a restaurant with exquisite service, and perfect cuisine. Or maybe it’s a glass of wine or two in an ancient vineyard, as nature slowly turns day to night? Perhaps it’s holding hands as the view of one of the world’s most beautiful cities unfolds beneath you? Or dinner for two in a luxury treehouse way up high in the stars? Austria has all of these, and many more: here are some of our favourites...

embark on a designer romance At the Romantik Hotel Gmachl near Salzburg. www.gmachl.com

travel austria's romantic road Chill out in the lovely town of Hallstatt near Salzburg. www.hallstatt.at

Dinner for two on Lake MillstÄtt At the Hotel Koller's private palm island. www.kollers.at

an afternoon in a heuriger, grinzing, vienna Sip local wine at a pub with its own vineyard. www.heuriger-reinprecht.at

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Schloss Schönbrunn

Swarovski Kristallwelten

Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse

Albertina

Festung Hohensalzburg

Visit the top 10 sights in Austria, sponsored by ÖBB-Austrian Railways and Deutsche Bahn Wiener Prater www.prater.at Schloss Schönbrunn www.schoenbrunn.at Basilika Mariazell www.basilika-mariazell.at Albertina www.albertina.at Festung Hohensalzburg www.hohensalzburgcastle.com Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse www.grossglockner.at Österreichische Galerie Belvedere www.belvedere.at Grazer Schlossberg www.graz.at Swarovski Kristallwelten www.swarovski.com/ kristallwelten Wiener Riesenrad www.wienerriesenrad.com Travelling by train to and through Austria is now faster and easier than ever before. What better way to explore Austria than travelling through stunning mountain scenery, lush alpine meadows, historic towns and picturesque villages?

For bookings and information please call +44 (0) 8718 808066 or visit www.bahn.com/uk (Calls cost 8p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary and from mobiles cost more)


Austria's hidden Treasures - Summer 2010