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d e k c pa theEuropean winter experience where to go and what to do/see 12

orient express

from Budapest to Istanbul 08

(w)interlaken adventure checked for you 14

destinations

Barcelona 22 Edinburgh 25 Vienna 27 free travellers tips. adventures. parties & events. discounts. accommodations. tours & experiences. magazine for independent travellers. packedmagazine.com

Innsbruck’s Bergisel Ski Jump by British-Iraqi female architect Zaha Hadid

ent travellers d en ep d in r fo e in az Europe’s free mag


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credits Editors

Editor in Chief Paul Scraton Feature Writers Tiffany Carter, Ily Fasie, Fintan Hillyard, Travis Pittman, Brigitte Reisecker Contributing Editors Colm Hanratty, Dave Long, James Wright, Peter Hogan,...

Production Layout Gerald Reisecker Photo credits in accordance with tourism authorities of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany Tourism and affiliates, Deutschland- Land der Ideen, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Holland, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland & K2, Munich Tourism, Innsbruck Tourism, Interlaken Tourism, Nuremberg Tourism, Salzburg Tourism, SalzburgerLand Tourism, Cesky Krumlov Tourism and advertisers. Printed by NP Druck, Gutenbergstr. 12, 3100 St. Pölten Distribution GLS Express Courier

Publisher & Managing Editor Gerald Reisecker Sales +43 662 890 592, office@packedmagazine.com www.packedmagazine.com/ corporate Next issue March/April 2007 Circulation Europe 25,000 copies Publication interval bi-monthly

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Owner and Publisher packed magazine REISECKER KEG, Sendlweg 18, 5020 Salzburg, Austria. All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. All data is correct at the time of publication. Opinions expressed in packed magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher - packed magazine REISECKER KEG, and packed magazine REISECKER KEG does not accept responsibility for advertising content. Any pictures or transparencies supplied are at the owners risk. Any mention of packed magazine or use of the packed magazine logo by any advertiser in this publication does not imply endorsement of that company, or its products or services by packed magazine REISECKER KEG. (c) packed magazine REISECKER KEG December 2006

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features 08 Orient Express

Packed Explorer Ily Fasie takes a trip through Budapest and Bucharest to the banks of the Bosphorus, the edge of Europe, and the city of Istanbul.

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editorial by Paul Scraton The first time I travelled extensively in Europe was for four months between October and January. My previous excursions across the continent had been summertime jaunts for a couple of weeks or so, but that trip was the first time I had been away from the UK for more than a month at a time and it was an unbelievable experience, not least because it is five years later and I never really returned. Travelling in Europe in winter was special because it somehow felt more real. The trains were not packed with other travellers, the hostels were half-empty, bars and restaurants were filled with locals rather than curious tourists, and you felt the impact of the weather, be it wet, cold, brisk or just downright freezing every single day. And there were unforgettable moments, from Alpine train rides through the

snowy peaks to the cosy cafes of Europe’s capitals, via kitsch Christmas markets and wild New Years celebrations, or hearing the call to prayer in Sarajevo at minus twenty degrees and then riding a bus for nine hours and standing on the beach in Dubrovnik in short-sleeves. No magazine is big enough to cover the wealth of experiences Europe has to offer at this time of year, but here at packed we think we have made a good attempt. From the inspirational ideas of our Experience Winter feature and Best of…diary, our explorer trip through Hungary and Romania to Istanbul, as well as destination guides to Edinburgh, Vienna, Barcelona and Interlaken, we have tried to take a broad approach to what winter in Europe can offer. We hope you enjoy this edition of Europe’s free independent travel magazine and it will help you with that best of all travel decisions: what to do next?

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TM

Experience Winter

A packed guide to a multitude of things to see and do across Europe this winter, including destination guides, travel tips, unusual activities and much more.

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packed checked

As part of our Experience Winter issue, the packed team headed to Interlaken in Switzerland to check out what the adventure sports capital of the Alps has to offer.

destination spotlight 22 Barcelona

Home of Gaudi, the European Champions League winners, and some of the best nightlife on the Mediterranean…Tiffany Carter gives her guide to Barca.

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Edinburgh

Local resident and student Fintan Hillyard gives packed his low-down on the best of the Scottish capital.

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Vienna

Aussie expat Travis Pittman shares his thoughts on the imperial charm and coffeehouse “Gemütlichkeit” of his adopted home of Vienna.

regulars 19 events & tips

The best things to see and do across Europe in December, January and Fenruary, including packed guides to the best Christmas Markets and Carnival destinations.

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Colm Hanratty column Grumble Jimmy’s column news & discounts don’t smoke dope interview packed mates


grumble Jimmy “this year’s must read free travel magazine columnist” presented by Kutolovski Canal Kruises

Colm does Brussels.

As part of his ongoing series exploring the cities of Europe, Hostelworld.com editor Colm Hanratty heads to Brussels to dispel some myths… I present you with a word – Venice. What do you think of? Canals? I do. Here’s another one – Sydney. Now, I’m not sure about you, but images of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are currently flooding my mind. But Brussels…now that’s a different story. It’s hard to associate the Belgian capital with one particular attribute. This is a city famous for many things. For a start, many of the walls in every district are plastered with comic-strip art. My first port of call was the tourist office where I picked up a map where all comic strip art is plotted. Tintin and Asterix never looked so good. Along the way I got to admire some of the Belgian capital’s Art Nouveau architecture, another thing Brussels is famous for. I could have embarked on a separate walk with only Art Nouveau in mind, but with only two days there before boarding a train for Bruges I decided to give it a miss. One thing, however, I didn’t decide to leave without savouring was Belgian beer. I’d been informed by the people who ran my hostel that ‘Délerium’ was worth a call on Thursdays. Following their recommendation, I made a point of popping in the Thursday I was there.

After plonking myself on one of the high stools at the counter and ordering one of the 2,000 beers on offer (yes, 2,000!), I met Stacy and Lucy, two girls from Melbourne who were enjoying the good beer. An hour later Stacy went over to say hi to a girl she was in school with. Turned out we weren’t the only backpackers who had heard about this bar. The next evening I met up with the two girls again, and after a ‘half and half’ (glass of white wine and champagne) in the opulent café ‘Le Cirio’, we went for some ‘moules et frites’ (mussels and fries) in Chez Leon. I was surprised I finished mine as I’d indulged in some Belgian chocolate and waffles earlier that day. If you’ve been thinking to yourself lately ‘does my bum look too small in these?’, you’ll like it here. Brussels is a good place to fatten up. I find that Brussels receives some bad press. Surpassed by many other European capitals in the popularity stakes, it is seen as a slightly seedy and, dare I say it, dangerous city. But Brussels has lots going for it. Take a break from the norm and pencil it in to your itinerary.

packedspecial

no booking fee with hostelworld get your FREE Hostelworld.com Gold Card and pay no booking fee for 6 months. Choose from over 6,000 hostels throughout Europecelica+culica and save yourself some extra bucks oglas 6/1/06 10:03 PM Page 1 for a beer or two. www.hostelworld.com/packed

Youth hostel

ANA IN THE HEART OF LJUBLJ

Following my abject failure to get past US immigration on route to a jolly up in the far east (The Drink was not involved I swear), Grumble was bowled another wrong ‘un in the googlies at Sydney airport attempting to join England’s barmy army in defending Cricket’s Ashes this winter, and was denied entry with an overzealous ‘g’day and fack orf ‘ome ya pommie bastard’, which is why I found myself shivering atop the very snowy Schilthorn mountain, Interlaken, in full cricket whites and wishing I’d skipped the adventure side of winter sports and stayed in the sauna sipping cocktails. Never one to shirk a challenge, Grumble declined

“Grumble declined the traditional ‘skiing’ method of getting down mountain” the traditional ‘skiing’ method of getting down the mountain - a snowboarder once told me skiing is a gateway sport to playing for the other side - and took on the far more formidable task of sneaking past the guard and under the barrier into the descending gondola. I haven’t moved with such stealth since - left at a loose end - I nipped down to Woolworths for half an hour of stalking the store detective. After 20 minutes of deliberately clumsy

surveillance he still hadn’t spotted me which just goes to show if you pay four pound an hour you get a twat in a hat, well, you certainly get a twat in a hat who is far more interested in helping himself to the pick ‘n’ mix chocolates than to catch a thief*. The heady mixture of altitude (I’ve had boils bigger than any mountains the UK has to offer), Toblerone overdose, and the hip flask cocktail of doom (G&T on top of a Jameson), had left me in a rather dishevelled state but one quick Aussie shower later I was back on my best après ski form knocking back vile coloured shots, doing the conga round the bar, staggering back to the chalet with I’m not entirely sure who, and nailing my towel to the top spot in the sauna before Fritz could beat me to it, result! Grumble helpline This month’s cry for help comes from the rather sternly named ‘Manfred’ who by his own admission is “using trial and error tactics with birds lately”. The Grumble verdict: there is nothing wrong with sticking your finger in as many pies as possible to see which one is hot, just don’t let it interfere with The Drink. Next month Grumble Tutu! Grumble auditions for the lead role in the Paris production of Billy Elliot, the heart-warming story of a young boy from a working-class northern t’family who discovers a passion that will change his life forever, Ballet! (it’s harder than it looks, and definitely not gay even if the tights are a bit dodgy)

3 THRILLS 2 CE•“THE CROSS CAVE”• LJUBLJANA PIECE BY PIE

www.souhostel.com

YOUR YOUTH TRAVEL PARTNER IN SLOVENIA.

BLED


LONDON

where to stay? For great places to stay go to bestlondonhostels.com

what to do? For great things to do go to visitlondon.com


news&discounts Barcelona

CENTRIC POINT Check out the new Spa service for hostel guests: massage, yoga, meditation! Ask at the reception... > centricpointhostel.com Berlin

HEART OF GOLD hostel don’t panic! 50% OFF special: arrive on a sunday and get 50% off that night. Call or walk in after 4pm to get 50% off one night. Walk in with a backpack & get a free beer. Stay 3 nights to have breakfast included. > heartofgold-hostel.de Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Prague

A&O Hostels & Hotels X-mas special (valid until Feb 07) 2 pers. 2 nights in Double for € 77! (incl. breakfast buffet) or 2 pers. 2 nights in Dorm for € 55! (incl. 20 mins free internet) freecall: 0800 22 67 17 > aohostels.com Berlin, Bruges, UK

St. christopher’s Inns Berlin Beds available from 9.50 €! on week days. Weekly Deal: 7 nights for 99 € Bruges Bunk’n Ride: 2 nights and half-day bike rental: 26 €! Anyone booking online for 3 nights with arrival on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday gets the third night for free. (valid until 27 March ‘06 except on festivities and public holidays.) In the UK Weekly Deal £85 in all hostels in a large dorm. Newquay is even better: £55 !!! Beds in London and Edinburgh available from £9.50 on week days. 2 Nights in Bath for £16 on week days ! Restrictions and conditions apply: All offers are only available on their website on > st-christophers.co.uk Ljubljana

Hostel celica 50% OFF special. Book 3 nights between Sunday and Thursday and get 50% off on every 3rd overnight. (valid

xmas&newyears

for bookings in the period of November 19th, 2006 - February 1st, 2007. Discounts apply only to overnight prices) > souhostel.com

The Flying Pig

London

january sales January Sales For shopaholics, London in January means only one thing and that is sales! Many high street stores start their sales on December 26th and the keenest bargain hunters get there early to be first through the doors. Go to > visitlondon.com for more information. Munich

Wombat’s city hostel 2+1 free WinterPackage: € 58,00! for a Double per night. pay for 2 nights, stay one free. - incl. breakfast buffet for 2 - Shower&Toilet ensuite - cosy Atrium to relax and chillout - womBar with Happy Hour every night - Billiards, Internet-Stations (valid until Feb 28 2007 excl. New Years 28.12.06 - 01.01.07) > wombats-hostels.com Vienna

palace hostel Crazy days: Come alone or with your friends or travel buddies (up to 4 people in one room), the price doesn’t change. € 45 per room per night including breakfast, free internet and parking! (valid until 31.3.2007, except New Years Holidays.) > hostel.at

hostel huetteldorf Snowball Discount: 1 Night = 3%, 2 Nights = 6% 3 Nights = 9%, 4 Nights = 12% 5 Nights = 15% incl. breakfast, bedsheets, 1/2 hour free internet and parking! (valid until 15.3.2007 except New Years Holidays) > hostel.at

swisspacks Interlaken

Jungfraujoch special 2 nights in a 6 bed dorm including “all you can eat” breakfast + train ticket to Jungfraujoch “TOP OF EUROPE” (3454 M). ONLY CHF 159.- / € 106.(instead of CHF 239.-) Double, triples and quads are also available, check > villa.ch for more info and online booking (valid until 31 March 2007).

SWISS YOUTH HOSTELS On December 16th opens the totally renewed, modern Valbella Youth Hostel. Enjoy the mountain panorama and the ski slopes right next to the house. Great winter deals: > youthhostel.ch/winter

Riviera Lodge “I can resist everything except temptation!” Chocolate passion in Vevey, home of the world’s first milk chocolate: Fulfill your passion for chocolate in the Riviera Lodge Christmas garden. > rivieralodge.ch

is celebrating Christmas big time! Book 2 nights in the Flying Pig Uptown, Downtown or Beach during X-mas and stay an extra night for free! Of course there will be loads of food, drinks, movies, parties and more nice stuff to do! (offer subject to availability) > flyingpig.nl

wombat’s munich For New Year’s Eve there are still beds in wombat’s city hostel Munich, come to the Bavarian capital and feel the atmosphere of this special part of Germany. book now: office@wombats-munich.de

save money see more

Is the history of Europe, the mystery of South America, or the remoteness of outback Australia calling? If so, get yourself a VIP Backpackers Membership Card; you’ll save so much! For just £16.50 for 12 months or £21.50 for 2years, you get a handy Accommodation and Discount guide, VIP Membership Card and an E-kit rechargeable phone card. Start Saving Now!

New Worldwide Guide! VIP produces a guidebook for Australia/NZ & Fiji and a new Worldwide guide including Europe, Africa, Asia, North, Central & South America. Each guidebook comprehensively lists all quality VIP hostels, thousands of discounts and handy travel information. Not only will you save a minimum of 5% off worldwide in any of the 1200 quality VIP hostels in 80 countries, but you will also access to discounts on hundreds of tours, travel passes, sightseeing and adventure activities. > vipbackpackers.com


COUNTRIES  WORLDWIDE HOSTELSIN  WORLDWIDE

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY CMY

K

X-Mas Special 2 pers. – 2 nights in dbl-room incl. breakfast-buffet * ₏ 2 pers. – 2 nights in dorm inkl. 20 min. free internet * call free

â‚Ź

77,55,-

0800-22 67 17 * valid until Feb. 07 – p0406

www.aohostels.com

IS W I N T E R D COU N T S

   

  

 

   

 

  



  


packedexplorer

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Fairytale Budapest: the Fisherman’s Bastion / Chain Bridge connecting Buda and Pest / Hungarian Parliament.

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ORIENT EXPRE journey to the edge of europe Following the path of the old Orient Express, traveller writer Ily Fasie takes the trip from Budapest to Istanbul with a stopover in the Romanian capital, Bucharest – three cities with fascinating stories to tell.

Budapest

Only two hours from Vienna, Budapest stands on the mighty Danube – slicing through its very heart as it careens towards the Delta and the Black Sea. Green Buda spreads over rolling hills on one side; on the other, bustling Pest is carried on great big wheels – Habsburg-style ring roads with spokes linking significant landmarks.  One famous sight is the Chain Bridge (Lanchid), Budapest’s first permanent span across the Danube built in 1873 - but my favourite was the Liberty (Szabadsag hid), originally called Franz Joseph Bridge – after the Habsburg Emperor – opened in 1896 as part of the Millennium celebrations, with elegant ironwork and Turul birds (a mystical symbol in Magyar history) perched atop the pillars. A few blocks north of the Chain Bridge on the Pest side is the ambitiously large ornate Parliament building – built as with much of central Pest in the late 19th century, during Hungary’s heyday as a partner in the dual monarchy with Austria.   Once you cross to the Buda side, take the funicular up to Castle Hill, historical residence of the Hungarian kings. The fortification system and palace were built in the 13th century following the Mongol invasion, only to be nearly razed by the Turks soon after. Barely rebuilt, the Castle’s Baroque incarnation

burned down, was rebuilt once more and again suffered heavy damage during the 1848 War of Independence. In the late 19th century Miklós Ybl oversaw the reconstruction and enlargement of the Palace, which was completed in the neo-Baroque style by Alajos Hauszmann.  Off to the right, the Royal Palace complex houses the vast Hungarian National Gallery, the National Széchényi Library, Matthias Church and one of the most fascinating sighs on Buda Hill – the Fishermen’s Bastion (Halaszbastya), comprising seven fairytale towers, each symbolizing the seven Magyar tribes that came to Hungary in 896.

Bucharest

Beyond the Danube lies the darkest and most controversial Eastern European country – Romania, lair of Dracula and mystical mountains crossed by winding two-lane country roads often bottlenecked with herds of sheep and ox carts. If there were times when you sensed an eeriness of sorts while crossing Hungary, once you have entered this easternmost land the otherworldly sense will take over: outside the big cities I felt I was stepping a hundred years back in time.  However, on this brief Romanian stop, I only had time to explore Bucharest , known


The Old and the New: Romania’s Present and Past. Grand Designs: The Triumphal Arch and People’s Palace in Bucharest.

ESS as the Little Paris of the East before the communists demolished most of the quaint old neighborhoods. I was eager to discover how much of the old charm remained in this bustling capital city…. It turns out the Vlad Tepes (alias Dracula) legend is woven into the fabric of Bucharest as well – he is recorded as being the first to call it by its name in 1459. Two hundred years later, Bucharest became the capital of Wallachia (the Southern slice of current Romania ), and in another 200 years – upon the unification of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldova in 1918 – the unified state’s capital. These days, vestiges of traditional Romania can be seen in the Bucharest ‘s Village Museum (Muzeul Satului) – an open-air ethnographic display in Herastrau Park showcasing traditional village life.

and overlooked shops with fountains that rarely work. Battles of the ‘89 Romanian Revolution claimed lives here. It all began with mass antiCeaucescu protests in Timisoara, just this side of the Hungarian border in December, leading to the overthrow of the Communist regime and the dramatic execution of the former dictator and his consort. If you strike a casual conversation, genuine Romanian hospitality may well translate into perfect strangers inviting you into their homes for a dinner of mamaliga (polenta) and sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), to be washed down by the potent home-distilled tuica (prune brandy). Should you not encounter such a welcoming invite on your Bucharest travels, the Vatra Restaurant serves tasty Romanian dishes at affordable prices just next to Cismigiu Gardens.

“Bucharest’s architecture reflects Romania’s torturous history”

Bucharest‘s architecture reflects Romania ‘s torturous history. On one hand, there is the miniature Arc of Triumph at the confluence of six boulevards, just like the Parisian original. Raised in 1922 to commemorate Romania ‘s Great War dead, it was originally constructed of wood and replaced by architect Petru Antonescu’s concrete structure in 1935. Standing 25 meters high, the Arc has a staircase for access to the terrace atop the monument.   In stark contrast to this real creativity, Calea Unirii is one of the widest boulevards in Europe, part of the “New Look” design conceived by the tyrant Ceausescu himself – meant to ‘revamp’ Bucharest‘s centre and including the monstrous Palace of the People. He razed entire neighbourhoods in the process, only to produce this ghostly avenue and the Unirii Square, a mammoth crossroads crowded with people

Istanbul

On to the last leg of my journey, I travelled from Bucharest to Istanbul on the legendary ‘Bosphor’ train…regrettably, the carpeted airconditioned sleeping car with washbasin and a shower at the end of the corridor exceeded my budget and I had to make do with an ordinary seat for the 18-hour journey. The only metropolis in the world situated on two continents, Istanbul encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn (Haliç) – extending out on both the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus. Istanbul served as the capital to three Empires: The Roman Empire (330-395), Byzantine Empire (395-1453) and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1923). In 1923, following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Ankara became the capital.

authorbio

Photographer and Designer by day; writer and poet after hours, Ily Fasie still braves the 40C+ summers of Dubai - seven years into her ‘visit’. But memories of the Windy City tug at her heartstrings more than ever - she remembers the lake-inwinter muse fondly, and wouldn’t really mind hearing the crunch of snow under her boots, along the shore. packedmagazine.com




Overlooking Asia: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Beach life by the Bosphorus. Must do: stop your bazaar tour for turkish apple tea. Who spots the flag first? Linking the continents.

The Sultanahmet district is the Istanbul of postcards and history books. This small peninsula was the power seat for two great empires, witnessing more history than most continents. Sultanahmet Square (Ayasofya Meydani) is the obvious place to begin exploring, as most of the city’s major monuments are just within a few minutes’ walk. The square is a forecourt for what was over the course of a millennium the mother church of Eastern Christendom Haghia Sophia, dedicated on 26 December 537 by Emperor Justinian. Now a museum, for five centuries it served as the chief mosque of the Ottoman Empire.

North of Haghia Sophia, elaborate walls shield the imperial enclave of Topkapi Palace. Part command centre for a massive military empire, part archetypal pleasure dome, the palace was the nexus of Ottoman power for 300 years. In terms of opulence, it exceeds most buildings in Europe. Essential must-see elements include the Harem, Imperial Treasury and the views from the innermost courtyard. The Sultanahmet Mosque, with six minarets and curvilinear architecture, is the no-miss mosque to visit – dubbed The Blue Mosque because of the blue Iznik tiles lining interior walls, this unique landmark was built between 1609 and 1616. I waited for the afternoon prayers to finish and took off my shoes before entering. Heavy, stunning hand-woven wool and silk carpets cover the floors. Massive columns support the main dome, finished with intricate mosaics and tiles, as are the walls and ceilings.

commercial and cultural centre of town and a hive of activity and development. The area’s backbone is Istiklal Caddesi, crowded with pedestrians at nearly any time of day or night and populated with shops, cafés and restaurants. Was one day enough to visit all of Istanbul‘s sites? Not by a long shot – I wish I had another week! My next trip to this corner of the world will have to allow for a proper tour of Romania and the Anatolian border of Turkey. When the time came to board my train to Budapest I was absolutely knackered and fell fast asleep (with a paperback novel in my lap). Luckily, I had snapped thousands of pictures along the way to help me remember the amazing details – hope you enjoy this brief recount of my experiences as much as I did living it… ILY

For the quintessential Istanbul shopping experience, head to the Grand Bazaar through giant gates decorated with Islamic works in stone and a coat of arms above the arch – just beneath the coat of arms,

“...the oldest shopping centre in the world” the sign Grand Bazaar 1481 (the oldest shopping centre in the world!). A cavernous maze of interconnecting passages, the bazaar has its own banks, baths, mosques, cafés and restaurants, police station and post office, not to mention thousands of shops, all glittery and reasonably well lit in the absence of natural light. Downhill from the bazaar quarter is the Golden Horn, its waters spanned by the modern Galata Bridge (complete with underslung bars and cafés), linking the old city with the new. Beyoglu is the

infobox

Making the trip There are direct trains through from Budapest to Istanbul, five times a week, but with the stop-off in Bucharest there are more options. The whole journey would take 32 hours, so you can see why a break might be necessary.

Budapest – Bucharest (5 direct trains per day): 14 hours Bucharest – Istanbul (1 direct train per day): 18 hours Check out www.bahn.de for up to date train times across Europe. > www.bahn.de


travellersinterview

“don’t smoke dope...” Australian Sean Condon is a self-proclaimed “author, dilettante, buffoon”, writer of travel books on Australia and the United States, as well as “My Dam Life”, the story of his time living in Amsterdam. Packed caught up with him for this very special interview…

What made you move to Amsterdam? My wife was the deputy editor of World Art magazine and the parent company moved the mag from Melbourne to Amsterdam. Six weeks after the staff and all their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives arrived the parent company shut the magazine down. It was quite... troubling.

The Netherlands is a long way from home, and three years is a long time. What did you miss most about Australia? I was actually there for five years but ‘My Dam Life only covers the first three years. What I missed most about Australia was the food and restaurants, which were (and remain) far superior to what’s available in Holland. I also missed a couple of weddings - my sister’s and David’s - which I regret.

to Amsterdam? Don’t smoke dope - you’ll remember things better.

You’re asking the wrong guy. Get in touch with Dan Brown or JK What was your strangest Rowling - they’ll have much better Amsterdam experience? answers to that one than a stupe It didn’t happen in Amsterdam but it like me. Having said that, some wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t answers may be found in my latest moved there: in one incredible week book ‘The Secret of Success is a of my life I interviewed Francis Ford Secret’. Coppola in San Francisco, had dinner with Monica Lewinsky in If a publisher was to approach you and say, L.A and went bullfighting in Seville, “Hey Sean, you can write Spain.

Apart from Amsterdam, what is your favourite place in Europe? Spain and Portugal. And Paris. And Capri.

As an Australian, What was the best aspect what does Europe mean of life in A’DAM? Meeting new people from all over to you? the world; travelling throughout Europe; riding bicycles; the feeling that life was constantly unpredictable. I loved it all.

And the worst? The monumental and implacable Dutch bureaucracy which harassed us constantly for five years and eventually threw us out of the Netherlands - despite the fact that my wife’s father is Dutch.

How’s your Dutch? As good as it needs to be. Alstublieft.

Do you have any insider tips for people heading

What’s your personal secret for success?

The life I could have had... The person I would like to have been...

Your website describes you as  “author, dilettante, buffoon”. Leaving aside the last two, how did you get your break as a writer? I was the drummer in a band with two guys from Lonely Planet, and we rehearsed in their warehouse. One thing led to another...

a travel book about anyplace you like,” where would it be? Good question; maybe Japan. I’ve never been there and I think it would be - culturally and geographically - more challenging than many other places.

If you had to choose, would you rather write travel books or novels?

Does that count?

If you would do a long drive around Europe, where would be the main places you’d want to go to? The east; I’ve never been farther east than Germany, which is hopeless of me. I think a drive from Berlin to the Russian border would be somewhat hellish, and therefore excellent material.

Did your travelling and expat experiences teach you anything? The coffee will vary. Other people on planes are annoying. There is always a good bar somewhere in town. Bring something to read.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? I’m heading to the U.S for five weeks tomorrow; right now I’d like to be touching down at LAX with that awful 14 hour flight behind me instead of looming in front.

What’s next for Sean Condon?

I’ve written a couple of film scripts which are in the hands of producers Definitely novels, however I still have and agents in Los Angeles, and two in my drawer that nobody wants I have a novel, tentatively called to publish so maybe I should take a ‘Michael Sweeney’s Method’ good look at my writing... coming out with Penguin next year.

It is ten years since you travelled the States with David O’Brien, and eleven since you went on your long drive around Australia. Are there any plans for a reunion tour someplace?

Finally, after your years of extensive research. what is your favourite brand of hair wax? Murray’s Hair-Glo (in the pink and blue tin). Top stuff! > seancondon.com

I played cards with him last night. packedmagazine.com

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packedfeature

Flying high in GAP with packed.

n a e p o r u E the e p x e r e t Win

Speed junky? Fresh air fiend? Scenery freak? It might seem like winter in Europe is the best time to cuddle up in cosy café corners, or explore the inside of museums, but whilst those are fun, winter is also perfect for getting away from the cities and into the great outdoors. Packed brings you Europe’s best winter destinations and some special winter experiences for the cold months ahead…

Innsbruck Austria

> ski-innsbruck.at Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1964 and 1976, and so can boast some top class skiing with over 500km of routes in the 25 surrounding villages, as well as a bobsleigh run if you are brave enough to try it. The villages are all connected by a free ski-bus, which means you have options of a different experience every day. Innsbruck is also great for snowboarders, as there are a number of parks in the area with half-pipes, jumps and a race-course. beyond the slopes As the capital of the Tyrolean region, Innsbruck is not just a winter resort. It is a city with a fascinating history, stunning architecture, and a great collection of bars and cafes to occupy you on a cold evening. getting there Innsbruck is easily accessible by train from Salzburg (2hrs), Vienna (5hrs) and Graz (6hrs). moving on Switzerland, Italy and

mountainhostels

Tired of the big city experience? Here are some mountain hostels that are slightly out of the way, but well worth the effort of getting to…and the destinations they are in are not bad either.

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packed magazine

Germany are all close, but for an unusual stamp in your passport then Liechtenstein (2.5hrs) is worth checking out. Sitting between Austria and Switzerland - as one of the smallest nations in Europe - a principality that is a through-back to when Europe was a patchwork of such microstates.

Chamonix France > chamonix.com

Chamonix is one of the most famous winter sports destinations in Europe, and for good reason. Sitting in one of the most beautiful areas of the French Alps, and in the shadow of Mont Blanc, there are over 140km of skiruns and around 30,000 acres of off piste skiing. Chamonix is also a mecca for snowboarders, with great facilities that attract some of the best in the world. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Chamonix also has opportunities for snowmobiling, ice hiking, climbing and even dog sledding. No wonder it’s popular…

Backpackers Villa

INTERLAKEN Switzerland A luxury hostel with stunning views, the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof in Interlaken is a laid back spot to chill out after a days hard activities, only a stones throw from the town centre, plus free fully equipped kitchen, laundromat, meditation room, Internet access, TV room, movies, and FREE access to a nearby pool and spa. > villa.ch

beyond the slopes Chamonix is almost as famous for its party atmosphere as it is for its natural beauty, and every evening during the season the town is throbbing with nightlife well into the wee hours. Just be careful, as some of the posher bars can do real damage to your wallet. getting there Chamonix is accessible by train from Geneva (2.5hrs), Lyon (3.5hrs), and Paris (6.5hrs). The easiest airport is actually Geneva’s

Treehouse Hostel Euro Youth Hotel GRUENAU Austria Family atmosphere, home-cooked meals, and a chance to relax…the Treehouse remains one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Gruenau is about an hour and a half from Salzburg or Linz. > treehousehotel.net

BAD GASTEIN Austria A sport and wellness hostel in one of Austria’s finest Alpine destinations, the Euro Youth Hotel is at the base of the slopes, close to thermal baths, and has its own bars and restaurant. Bad Gastein is about two hours from Munich and Innsbruck, and one hour from Salzburg. > euroyouthhotel.at


n erience ghent’s medieval heart.

Slowly up, quickly down at Chamonix’s slopes.

across the border in Switzerland, from where a bus to Chamonix takes 2 hours. moving on The town of Annency is 2.5 hours from Chamonix is one of the most picturesque towns in this corner of France, with cobbled streets, canals and a fairytale castle. A great spot to chill out if you have been hitting the slopes hard!

GarmischPartenkirchen Germany > zugspitze.de/main_en.php

Close to the Austrian border, the town of Garmisch Partenkirchen (GAP) is Germany’s number one winter sports destination. It stands at the foot of the country’s largest mountain, the Zugspitze which rises to 2,100 metres and is accessible by railway and cable-car. As you would expect from another town that hosted the Winter Olympics, Garmisch has great skiing and snowboarding possibilities as well as an entertaining and lively nightlife scene. beyond the slopes A couple of hours by bus from GAP and you will find

GAP’s alpine houses made out of gingerbread?

the SchlossNeuschwan-stein, built by “Madâ€? King Ludwig and apparently inspiration for Disney’s own fairytale castle. getting there GAP sits almost exactly in the middle of the Munich-Innsbruck train line, and is 1.5 hours from each. moving on If you haven’t had your outdoor thrill in Garmisch, head further along the Austrian border to the Berchtesgaden National Park, one of Germany’s most beautiful corners, including the stunningly pretty KĂśnigssee Lake. Berchtesgaden town is 2.5 hours by train from GarmischPartenkirchen.

Zakopane Poland

> zakopane-life.com

A few hours from Krakow, in the High Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is not only home to some of Poland’s best slopes, but also a lively and throbbing nightlife scene for when the sun goes down. Add to that some spectacular scenery, (continued on page 16)

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packedchecked

d n a l r e z t i w S n e Interlak

ts destination. Swiss winter spor this is a must. al pic ty a to e om en lc “Interl aken – we ning a re al winter adventure th, snow y chalets, Alps Swiss If you are pl an the of y er en course sc Enjoy the terrificevery le vel, Swiss hospitalit y and of tivities.”  ac r e fo ur nt es ve op sl many ad INTERL AKEN’s many

Europe’s all-year-round adventure capital is situated within the Berner Oberland between Thuner and Brienzer See and is easy to reach by bus, train or the nearby airport Bern/Belp.

authorbio

Brigitte, born in Austria, not only likes to travel through various parts of Europe, but also calls Asia, Australia,... her home. Brigitte has checked Europe’s adventure capital for packed readers and found a cosy adventure paradise.

There is something for everyone in Interlaken: make first tracks through fresh snow on a snowshoe trekking tour, go on a sledding tour at day or night, or if skiing down the slopes is too boring why not go on a heliskiing trip. At night enjoy a typical cheese fondue in front of a cosy fireplace. Sounds good? Here’s what else you can do…

skiing & snowboarding

„You will never forget the view…“ This is part of Phil’s (Alpin Center) introduction on our first skiing trip in Grindelwald. Everybody gets equipped with rental gear and a lift ticket so

infobox must dos when in Interlaken: > try a Swiss cheese Fondue > try a Rugenbräu  > visit the “Golden Anker”

that the shuttle bus can take us right into the heart of this ski region. When we finally arrive at the beginner’s slope “Bodmi” we can hardly believe that we are that close to the Alps.

ski & snowboard guiding

They show you where to go… As I am already an advanced skier I spend a day with Benni (Outdoor Interlaken) in the Männlichen ski region. We are right under the impressive scenery of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It seems as you can almost touch the monstrous glaciers. Benni shows us the best ski-runs and chases us downhill. Time for a break at one of the cosy mountain huts, to have a hot chocolate (with rum) and to recover our strength.

After the short stop it is time to fly: after the break I start my paragliding trip right from the slope, flying over snowy houses and frozen lakes back to the centre of Interlaken. Thankfully the gloves and goggles work…it is certainly chilly up there.

sledding and snowshoe trekking Is this really gonna be relaxing? I have learned by now that skiing and snowboarding can be pretty hard workout, especially for beginners. And you do

partyspots > Club Caverne (Mattenhof Resort/Funny Farm) > Club Metro: (at Balmers),  > Live Music: Brasserie 17 (Thursdays) > Live Music Golden Anker > Local tip: Club Johnny`s

Book online: www.villa.ch no booking fee!

14

packed magazine

canyon Jump

Adrenalin rush at the glacier’s canyon 3, 2, 1 – GO! I could still hear Sigi (Alpin Raft) shouting before I fall down the canyon at high speed. I am fixed with ropes and when I finally get caught gently in the ropes I reach nearly 100 km/h. There is a rock face right before me, I think I will crash into it, but in the very last minute I start swinging to and fro. My mouth feels sore, did I hurt myself? No, it is still open because of my screaming – a last adrenalin rush through my body. 

sore legs? > get thrilled with some Indoor Climbing at K44 > go for a sensational scenic flight above the mountains with Scenic Air > take the train to Jungfraujoch

Top ski packages in Winterlaken

Alpenstrasse 16 · CH-3800 Interlaken Tel. +41 (0)33 826 71 71 · mail@villa.ch

not want to go to bed at 8 pm every day and miss the great nightlife because you are so tired from skiing. So why not enjoy nature on a snowshoe trekking tour? Our guide John explains how to walk properly with snowshoes and once we are on the run he also explains the neighbourhood. It turns out however that walking is as tiring as skiing, so thankfully we have a sledge to take us home. We have to be careful so that nobody falls off the sledge, but with the steep, fast and winding way down it is not so easy to keep balance. You can hear people behind you laughing and screaming…who would have thought sledding could be so much fun?

more info check out the cosy ‘wInterlaken’ before you go: > interlaken-adventure.com The key to Hostels & Adventures in Europe`s number one Adventure destination. Or Email Pat: info@interlaken-adventure.com

Attractive rates from € 22.� "all you can eat" continental breakfast � all linen, a comfortable duvet & towel � personal lockers in each room � free fully equipped self-catering kitchen � free wireless-lan (for your laptop-PC) � free entry to public pools, spa & gym � free parking facilities


TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: WWW.INTERLAKEN-ADVENTURE.COM

graphic: www.originsdesign.ch

ALP LODGE

Marktgasse 59, CH-3800 Interlaken, phone +41 (0)33 822 47 48, www.alplodge.com Budget hotel & backpackers hostel in the center of Interlaken. Doubles, triples, quads and dormitories with or without shower & wc. International staff, no curfew, no lockout, internet access, booking office for outdoor activities. Best bar in town for cocktails & games. Rates: € 13.- up to € 31.-

BACKPACKERS VILLA SONNENHOF Alpenstrasse 16, CH-3800 Interlaken, phone +41 (0)33 826 71 71, www.villa.ch

Centrally located hostel in a villa with park and breathtaking view of the Jungfrau mountain. Booking office for all adventure activities and ski packages in winter season. Friendly and clean rooms at attractive rates from € 22.- including: free breakfast, all linen, personal lockers, free fully equipped self-catering kitchen, free w-lan, free entry to public swimming pools, spa & gym.

BALMER'S HERBERGE

Hauptstrasse 23, CH-3800 Matten / Interlaken, phone +41 (0)33 822 19 61, www.balmers.ch Oldest private hostel in Switzerland ! We offer a safe, comfortable atmosphere with friendly, helpful staff. The METRO Bar is Interlaken's #1 night spot, with the best Happy Hour around (2-for-1 drinks), live music & international DJ's. Our BBQ-grill offers great, inexpensive meals. Facilities incl. laundry, communal kitchen, internet, bar, restaurant, money exchange, souvenirs & Swiss Army Knives, english movies etc. Special Packages available at our Activities Desk.

FUNNY FARM BACKPACKERS / HOTEL

Hauptstrasse 36, CH-3800 Matten / Interlaken, phone +41 (0)33 8 282 281, www.funny-farm.com Swimming pool, volley, -basketball, tennis, climbing wall, magnificent park, night-club, piano bar, beer garden, pool bar, restaurants, bonfire, amphitheatre, fire place, laundromat, TV, movies, internet café, booking office for all adventure activities. Rooms: with private facilities, suites, singles, doubles, triples, quads, dorms 5-12 beds. Rates € 14.- up to € 220.-

HAPPY INN LODGE

Rosenstrasse 17, CH-3800 Interlaken, phone +41 (0)33 822 32 25, www.happy-inn.com Budget hostel & dormitories in the center of Interlaken with 16 rooms / 55 beds. Large clean rooms, friendly international staff. No curfew, no lockout, internet access, free showers, lockers, booking office for outdoor activities. Rates: € 13.33 up to € 27.-, including bed linen & free showers. Our Restaurant/Bar BRASSERIE 17 is Interlaken's N° 1 for food & fun!!


Kranjska Gora mountain view.

Grindelwald Switzerland

Join Sepp for a Salzburg Apres-Ski party.

> grindelwald.com Grindelwald is famous for its location on the edge of some of the finest hiking areas in Switzerland, and even in the winter these trails are accessible quickly and easily for some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. The town also offers good skiing, a bobsleigh run, tandem paragliding and various other high-adrenaline options if a walk in the hills is too staid for your tastes. The old village itself has not been too overrun with tourism, and maintains a traditional feel which makes a change to the identikit feeling of

many modern ski resorts. beyond the slopes To get spectacular mountain views without the effort, head to Stechelberg (20mins) and take the cable car up to the Schilthorn for stunning views of the Eiger and Jungfrau, in a location that featured in the James Bond Film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. getting there Grindelwald is easily accessible by train from Interlaken (35mins), Basel (3hrs), Zurich (2.5hrs), and Bern (1.5hrs). moving on If Grindelwald is too sedate for your tastes, then adventure sport capital Interlaken (35mins) might be more for you. With every kind of thrill-inducing activity on offer, you’ll surely find something to get your pulse racing. Check out our packedchecked article in this issue for more details.

KranjskaGora Slovenia

> kranjska-gora.si Close to Austria and Italy in the north west corner of Slovenia, Kranjska Gora sits in the majesty of the Julian Alps…the “sunny side” as the Slovenians like to say. Slovenia’s size is such that you can be skiing in the morning and sipping cocktails at a beachside café in the afternoon, although with the numerous challenging routes for skiers of all levels it is unlikely that you would want to leave. As well as skiing, Kranjska Gora also has toboggan runs, snowmobiling, snow-rafting and snowboarding. beyond the slopes Check out the evening entertainment, from great Slovenian restaurants (think Italian-crossed with-Balkan) to bars and clubs…and if you can’t bare to be off the slopes that long, Kranjska Gora also features a special

Choose your weapons.

whatelse.

Snow-kiting If snowboarding and skiing are not fast enough for you, or the jumps not quite high enough, then the newest winter craze might just be what you are looking for. Snow-Kiting involves being pulled along the snow on the end of a power kite, harnessing the power of the wind as well as just gravity to propel you down, across and even up the mountain.

Bobsleigh The bobsleigh is fast, the curves are steep, but the thrill of rocketing down the track behind a professional driver who will show you how its done in the Olympics is incomparable. Seventy kilometres an hour might not sound all that fast, but the ice is very close and there isn’t much room to manoeuvre. A ride in a bobsleigh is an experience that will shake you too your boots.

Snowmobiling ... is one of the best ways to explore the snowy wilderness, and as well as being a great means of getting around, it can be great fun as well. The things are stable and relatively easy to ride, although you will probably need a valid drivers license. The best times are to be had in the real wilderness, when it is just the forests, lakes, mountains…and a couple of petrolheads revving their engines!

Snow Tubing For those of you who find it difficult enough to tie your own shoelaces without falling over, let alone negotiate a mountain slope on a pair of skis, then snow tubing might just be for you. With no means to control the inflated inner tube that you are sitting on, you might as well sit make and enjoy the ride.

Paragliding Float like a butterfly, soar like an eagle… paragliding involves being strapped to an instructor and jumping off a mountain in order to drift calmly and serenely above snowcaped mountains, tree-lined valleys…a surprisingly peaceful way to get down from the top of a mountain.

future spaceship design of the kunsthaus graz.

Snowed Inn - Grindelwald’s Mountain hostel.

plus easy access, it all makes Zakopane one of the most attractive destinations in Eastern Europe for winter fun. Skiing is cheap and the slopes close, and thrill-seekers have plenty of other activities to chose from, including paragliding and glacier climbing. beyond the slopes The Salt Mines at Wieliczka are accessible in a day-trip from Zakopane and are open year round. The mine was operational for 900 years, and in nine centuries they had a lot of time to carve out the stunning passageways and caves, underground lakes and even chapels, that you can see now. getting there Zakopane is 3.5 hours from Krakow by train but only 2 hrs by the slightly lesscomfortable bus. You can also get there from Slovakia using the bus from Poprad (2,5hrs). moving on If you haven’t been there on the way to Zakopane, then Krakow is one of Europe’s most attractive cities, and in the winter months is refreshingly empty of tourists. Otherwise head across the border and check out the Tatra Mountains from the Slovakian side…the town of Stary Smokovec is a great place to explore the region (3hrs – change bus in Poprad).


Room with a view at the Jungfraujoch.

skieast. Sarajewo Bosnia

night-skiing course under the stars. getting there You can get to Kranjska Gora by a combination of train and bus from Ljubljana (1hr) as well as Trieste (1.5hrs), Vienna (3.5hrs) and Zagreb (4hrs). moving on Ljubljana (1hr) is one of Europe’s finest capital city’s, with a pulsating youthful nightlife scene, gorgeous old town and inspirational arts scene all in a human-sized city that is fast becoming one of the continent’s hottest destinations.

Andorra

> skiandorra.ad One of Europe’s oldest but smallest states, the principality of Andorra is nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and offers spectacular scenery and great skiing only a short bus ride from Toulouse and Barcelona. There are eight different resorts in Andorra, which makes for plenty of variety, plus there is the added bonus of one of Europe’s largest thermal spas at Escaldes, and the bargain-hunters paradise and lively nightlife scene of the capital Andorra la Vella. beyond the slopes One word…Shopping. Andorra’s tax free status means that it is a shoppers paradise, especially for things like digital cameras, other electrical goods, as well as great deals on ski and snowboard equipment. getting there There are no trains to Andorra, but regular buses serve the mountain state from Barcelona (3.5hrs), Madrid (9hrs), Toulouse (2.5hrs) and Valencia (8.5hrs). moving on To the south is the delights of Barcelona, but head west from

Andorra and you come to the Basque Country, and the very different but equally special towns of San Sebastian and Bilbao.

Salzburg Austria

> www2.salzburg.info//offers_3545. htm

Home of packed magazine, we couldn’t include a winter special without a mention of Salzburg. Aside from a beautiful old town, a majestic fortress, the Sound of Music, and all the nightlife you could expect from a student city, Salzburg offers great access to the slopes for winter sports. Within fifty kilometres of the city centre and well linked by public transport and a daily snowshuttle there are a number of great resorts to choose from such as Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Obertauern and Zell am See. Snowboarders will love Zauchensee/Flachauwinkel and Dachstein which are some of the best snowboard parks anywhere in Europe. beyond the slopes Beer lovers should head straight for the Augustiner Bräustübl, the monestary-turned-beer hall where you can help yourself from a huge wooden barrel and fill up your one litre mug with the delicious results of a 600-year recipe. getting there Salzburg is easily accessed from Munich in Germany (2hrs), as well as destinations across Austria such as Vienna (3.5hrs), Innsbruck (2.5hrs) and Graz (4.5hrs). moving on A short hop across the border will take you to Munich, capital of Bavaria and one of Europe’s finest cities. More beer than you can possibly drink, as well as wonderful Christmas Markets and outstanding nightlife.

SALZBURG

> bhtourism.ba The mountains of Bjelasnica and Jahorina near Sarajevo were the site for the Winter Olympics of 1984, and although the wars of the 1990s had an understandable impact on the region, the slopes are back in action for some of the best skiing in the Balkans. Snowboarding is growing in popularity in Bosnia, and there are also great cross-country tracks, tour skiing and one of south-east Europe’s most fascinating cities, just around the corner.

Borovets Bulgaria

> bulgariaski.com Borovets has been attracting winter sports enthusiasts for over a hundred years, and having opened in 1896 makes it easily Bulgaria’s oldest winter resorts. The wave of new visitors who discovered the Rila Mountains in the 1990s following the collapse of communism have been attracted by modern facilities, great skiing and snowboarding, stunning scenery and cheap beer. What more could you want?

Poiana brasov Romania

> poiana-brasov.com In the spooky pine forests of the Carpathian Mountains, Poiana Brasov is one of Romania’s top ski areas and well-known as a perfect spot for beginners to find their feet and intermediates to hone their skills. A compact ski area means you spend more time on the slopes and less travelling between them, whilst twenty minutes away is not only the atmospheric city of Brasov, but also Bran Castle…birthplace of Dracula.

packedlocal. Stefan Gimpl, one of Austria’s world superstars when it comes to snowboarding, presents his Top Resorts in his home country. When traveling to these places keep an eye out…you might get the chance to witness Stefan live in the flesh on his board… Leogang My home resort – I ride here with my friends and it is where I originate. > leogang-saalfelden.at Stuben am Arlberg Deep snow, amazing mountains, and perfect opportunities for a bit of table football…what more can a man want? By now it has also become a favourite spot for American film crews. > arlberg.net Innsbruck, Seegrube Powder, a wonderful park and when you take the jumps you get a perfect view of the beautiful city of Innsbruck. > nordpark.com

Stefan is not only three times Air and Styles Winner, and one of the top competition riders, every year he showcases his talent in a variety of different film productions. His new work, from Fat Gipsy productions is called “GIPSITY”, riding alongside some top international stars. You can see the trailer for the film online at > gipsity.com

YOUR CITY YOUR HOSTEL

AUSTRIA

€16.–

from only per day!

International Youth Hostel Salzburg A-5020 Salzburg · Paracelsusstrasse 9 · www.yoho.at e-mail: office@yoho.at · Tel. 00 43 / (0) 662 / 87 96 49

� top location � fully renovated � clean and safe � excellent meals � great bar � room keycards


Best of Christmas Markets As the days get shorter and darkness descends ever earlier in the afternoon, there is nothing like the bright lights, roasted sausages, a warm mulled wine of a traditional Christmas Market to lift the spirits. You can find Christmas Markets all over Europe nowadays, and they will be as varied in style as the cities and towns that host them. Here are some of the best…

Nuremberg Germany

One of the most famous anywhere in the world, and one of the most picturesque to boot, located as it is in Nuremberg’s medieval old town. It runs until Christmas Eve, and the region is famous for its bratwurst so make sure you check it out. > christkindlmarkt.de

Dresden Germany

Up the road from Nuremberg is Dresden, home of the oldest Christmas Market in Germany. Located slap bang in the middle of the Altstadt (Old Town), make sure you check out the local speciality “stollen” whilst you are there – it’s a kind of cake. > dresden-tourist.de

Salzburg Austria

is home to a picturesque Christmas Market, to be found in the shadow of the city’s cathedral. The highlight of any visit to the Salzburg market are the live choirs, whose festive singing certainly adds to the atmosphere. (the ‘Gluehwein’ is the real reason most people go there) > christkindlmarkt.co.at

Zurich Switzerland

An interesting one this, as the Zurich Christmas Market is not housed in the main square or anywhere as obvious as that, rather it can be found inside the railway station, which makes it Europe’s largest indoor fair. As well as all the traditional Christmas food, drink and wooden products, a special festive tram is on hand to transport you in yuletide style through the city streets. > zuerich.com

Prague Czech Republic

The stalls of the Prague Christmas Market can be found on the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, and are perfect for last-minute Christmas shopping. Who wouldn’t like an original Bohemian woodcarved gift? Daily concerts take place on open air stages, and unlike many, the Prague market runs through to New Years Day. > www.pis.cz

Krakow Poland

The prize for the longest running market goes to Krakow, as its stalls will be selling wood crafts and flavoured vodka all the way through to the 7th January. If you are in Krakow you can’t miss it, as it occupies the central market square. > www.krakow.pl Also Recommended… Back to Austria, and the Vienna market (www. christkindlmarkt.at) at the Town Hall is well worth checking out, as are the numerous markets that spring up across Berlin in Germany over the festive period. The Budapest market is the place to buy presents, as there are strict quality controls on the craftsmen and women allowed to operate there, whilst if you are in France then you should head to Strasbourg to experience France’s oldest Christmas Market (www.ot-strasbourg.fr/htm_uk/ accueil.htm).

racingAustria

dancin’Czech

cockscomb race

dancing Building

Kitzbühel

Jan 26-28 The world’s most famous ski race takes place in Kitzbühel, Austria in January, featuring the best skiers in the world bombing down the mountain in everything from the Super-G to the Slalom. Traditionally the Hahnenkammrennen Champion is decided by combining the results of the Downhill and the Slalom races…a fantastic winter sporting spectacle. > hahnenkamm.com Vienna

House of Art The Kunsthaus Wien is a truly unique museum that celebrates the architecture and art of Austrian genius Hundertwasser. The building, with its uneven floors, trees emerging from within and other oddities is a showcase for Hundertwasser’s career, and is a must-see on any trip to the Austrian capital. > kunsthauswien.com

masters of dirt Feb 17-18 The Stadthalle is the location to see some of the worlds best moto-X riders perform impossible tricks and stunts. They are competing for €50,000 worth of prize money, and the things that these guys can do on the back of a bike is breathtaking. > oeticket.at

Prague

queerBelgium Brussels

Gay and Lesbian Film Jan 12-21, Brussels The aim of this festival is to present a positive portrayal of homosexual life in Belgium, and alongside the various film screenings that take place across the city, there are also exhibitions, club nights, fashion shows and the odd bout of karaoke. > fglb.org

Beaux Arts Belgium’s best art gallery, combining Old Masters with more modern paint-slingers, Brussel’s Fine Arts museum contains work from the 15th to the 20th Century, with particularly fine works from the likes of Rubens and Magritte. > fine-arts-museum.be

exploreCroatia Dubrovnik

Walk the Walls A great way to get your bearings in the city, a wander around the fabulous city walls in Dubrovnik will not only take you round the entire old city, with superb views, but also a great spot to watch a romantic sunset out to sea. Now all you need is a clear evening, and someone to share it with…

paradeFrance Licques

Turkey Festival Dec 9-10 The town of Licques is famous for its turkeys, and Christmas is the time when many of them end up on the dinner table, so it seems fitting that before they hit the oven they have a festival in their honour. There is a parade of condemned birds through the streets of the town, plus a chance to try some of the local recipes. Not, perhaps, for vegetarians.

Amongst all the OldEurope charm of Prague the “Fred and Ginger” Dancing Building, built in 1996, stands out. It was designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic, and is a great example of how modern buildings need not be an eyesore. The Dancing Building also has a restaurant at the top with great views…if your wallet can handle it.

What’s Your Poison? Pilsner was invented in Plzen, and the beer in the Czech Republic is legendary. But if you want a more extreme experience for your alcohol, get out the spoon and lighter and pour yourself a glass of the green stuff. Known for its hallucinogenic qualities, Absinthe was long regarded as inspirational for artists, writers and musicians. If you can handle it, there are plenty of different varieties to try.

skateFinland Kuiopio

ice marathon Feb 14-18 Put your ice skates on and join 10,000 others as they skate around the frozen Lake Kallavesi in Kuopio. There are different open events that you can join in on, from 100km down to 12.5km. On the Sunday is the social skating event, with a 25km course that includes stop offs for campfires, a picnic in the snow, and a chance to experience the beauty of Finland in the winter. > icemarathon.kuls.fi


bestofDecJanFeb bestofOctober/November

events&tips. retroHungary Budapest

communism park

carnivalseason

Carnival fever takes over much of Europe in February, and so here at packed we thought we would bring together some of the best places across the continent (apart from Germany) where you can join in the fun… Rijeka / Croatia Jan 20 – Feb 26 The Rijeka International Carnival attracts participants from around the world to take part in a festival that combines traditional carnival elements with Slavic folklore and mythology. “Ugly masks” parade the streets, the bell ringers warn away evil spirits, and the whole city dresses up in costume to join in the fun.

When communism collapsed across eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s, statues of the great icons of the ideology were removed from squares, buildings and street-corners across the former Eastern Bloc and in most cases were destroyed. In Hungary however, they were collected together in one place – check out Marx, Engels, Lenin and more at this monumental graveyard at the Communist Statue Park. > szoborpark.hu

Vaduz / Liechtenstein Feb 15-18 Traditions and folk festivals often make for the best parties, and in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein they know how to party with the best of them. The ‘Fasnacht’ is their version of Mardi Gras, a week of parades, themed balls and litres and litres of beer. A great time to be had in one of Europe’s smallest countries. Maastricht / The Netherlands Feb 26-28 Fancy dress parties, classical recitals, international DJs, and rock and pop bands all compete for attention at the Maastricht Carnival. For three days the city doesn’t sleep, the bars don’t close, and the party doesn’t stop…what better way to beat those winter blues than drink them into submission? Basel / Switzerland Feb 26-28 The Swiss don’t really have a reputation for wild parties, but the Basel Carnival is one of those events where even the locals cut loose and let their hair down. Drums and pipes will sound everywhere you go, outlandish processions will pass by on the streets, and the cafes and bars full of people that haven’t seen bed for a couple of days. Carnival Swiss-style is an experience not to be missed.

Kranjska Gora

Euro Dog-Sledding Feb 2-5 The European Dog-Sledding championship actually straddles the Italian-Slovenian border, with the race beginning in Italy and finishing up at the Kranjska Gora resort in Slovenia. An enthusiastic crowd cheers the dogs on at one of the more unusual winter events around.

partySpain drop a grape

Athens / Greece Feb 16-20 The Athens Carnival kicks off in February, but the festivities run through March and April. Much of the festivities take place on the street, and are therefore free, with live concerts of both traditional Greek music and more modern sounds. Venice / Italy Feb 9-20 The Venice Carnival is one of the most famous in all of Europe and is a fortnight of masked balls, extravagant costumes, theatrical and musical performances, and various other celebrations that take over St Marks Square and other public spaces. Thousands of people descend on the city, and for the two weeks Venice is just one big party.

sportySlovenia

realItaly Sicily

guided mafia tour Down in Sicily you can learn something of the Mafia’s past, as well as see some of the places where they shot the Godfather Part II, with an all-day tour of the Italian islands most infamous export. Includes a drink in the very same bar Francis Ford Copella drank in during the filming. > bluestonesicily.com

New Years Eve On the eve of 2007 people will gather in the squares of cities and towns across Spain to welcome in the new year with a series of chimes and the eating of grapes. You are supposed to swallow one grape for every chime leading up to midnight. If that sounds too boring for your tastes, then grab a bottle of bubbly cava and toast the new year instead. One famous spot is at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, whilst the party with the liveliest reputation is at La Plaza Nueva in Seville.

doIreland Dublin

literary pub crawl Dublin is famous for its Guinness and its great writers, so what better way to combine the two than through a literary pub crawl? Tours take you to some of the haunts and favourite drinking dens of the likes of Joyce, Beckett, Shaw amongst others, and features commentary and performances on some of the most famous pieces of Irish and Dublin literature. > dublinpubcrawl.com

uniqueSweden Jokkmokk

Sami Winter Fair Feb 2-4 The Sami are the people that live in the far north of Sweden, Finland and Norway. Every year the different groups come together in Jokkmokk for a cultural fair that has been running since 1605. You can experience the Sami lifestyle through traditional food and drinks, music and performances in the wonderful landscape of Sweden’s frozen north. > jokkmokksmarknad.com

icySwiss Grindelwald

world Snow Fest Jan 15-20 If anywhere was to have a festival celebrating snow, then Switzerland seems to be it. The World Snow Festival lasts for five days, and involves the greatest ice sculptors in world descending on the town and decorating it with their creations. However spectacular they look, don’t attempt to lick them…you might get stuck there until the ice melts. > grindelwald.com

whirlingTurkey Konya

Mevlana Festival Dec 10-17 This swirling whirling dance has been performed by the Dervishes in Turkey for over 700 years, and the festival in which the dance is performed for God has become one of the most fascinating cultural events in the country. If you want to check it out, expect crowds…last year a million people showed up in Konya for the event. > www.konya.bel.tr

celticUK Glasgow

celtic connections Jan 17 – Feb 4 The Celtic Connections festival is the largest Celtic music festival in Europe. Some of the greatest acts from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales will be in Glasgow to take part, as well as bands and performers from around the world. > celticconnections.com


culturalevents Saarbrücken

new cinema

crazyGermany

Duesseldorf

Cologne

A RHEINE CARNIVAL

17-21 Feb The city of Cologne will be in the grip of Carnival fever during February, as the Crazy Days engulf the city in a riot of costumes, music and spilled beer. The parades take over the streets, the bars open 24/7 and the party goes on for days. > koeln.de

23-27 Feb The Rheinischer Karneval takes place in Düsseldorf in February, with more than a million people taking party in one of Germany’s wildest parties. Parades line the streets, bars and cafes are thronged with people, and in general people get a little crazy. > comitee-duesseldorfer-carneval.de

Carnival fever

15-21 Jan The Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis, which takes place in Saarbrücken, celebrates the best young directors from German-speaking countries who have not produced more than three feature films. A great opportunity to see some of the directors who will shape cinema in the years to come. > max-ophuels-preis.de Bremen

SHOW OF NATIONS Stralsund

Bremen

The MeeresWelten exhibition in Stralsund is an exploration of the weird and wonderful world under the sea, featuring plenty of interactive exhibits and interesting information about some of the more mysterious corners of our plant. > meereswelten.de

SEA LIFE EXHIBIT

becks beer tour Becks is one of Germany’s most famous beers, and in Bremen you have the opportunity to visit the brewery and see how it is made. Special tours take you through the museum, stock room and mash house to the point that most are waiting for…the tasting session. > bremen-tourism.de

Schwangau

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE Built by King Ludwig in the late 1800s, Neuschwanstein is the fairytale castle of the popular imagination, and rumoured inspiration for Disney’s own castle. Located in one of the most scenic parts of Bavaria, it is a German “must-see”.  > neuschwanstein.com

Cologne

Eat Chocolate One for the ladies, perhaps. The Chocolate Museum in Cologne sits on the banks of the Rhine, and is a wonderful place for chocoholics to live their Willy Wonka fantasies. Just try to resist blowing your entire travel budget in the tempting shop at the end of the tour. > schokoladenmuseum.de

25-28 Jan The Show of Nations in Bremen takes place over three days in January at the AWD Arena. Featuring bands and musicians from around the world, it is a celebration of global music in all its glorious variety. > bremen-tourism.de Feldberg / Black Forest

Apres ski party

3 Feb The ultimate Apres-Ski party is taking place at an altitude of 1400 at the highest peak in the Black Forest. Featuring live music, comedy and theatre shows, snow demonstrations and fireworks, the high altitude party promises to be lots of fun. > feldberg-das-hoechste-im-schwarzwald.de Duesseldorf

PICASSO IN GERMANY Nuerburg

engines on

Across Germany

live footy

Every weekend If you want to watch top class football at affordable prices, then Germany is the place to be. Tickets are great value even for the best teams, and some of the worlds greatest player ply their trade in the Bundesliga. Check out the website for more details, and remember there is a winter break from the middle of December to the middle of January. > bundesliga.de

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Potsdam

filmpark babelsberg The Filmpark Babelsberg in Potsdam is film-lovers paradise, with explosive stunt shows, television nostalgia, a 4D Cinema and much more besides. Film history fans will particularly love the Metropolis exhibition, whilst if the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is your cup of tea, then check out the special exhibition that is running from the 1st February, featuring over 500 pieces of Lord of the Rings memorabilia. > filmpark.potsdam.de

Petrolheads from around Europe have long regarded the Nürburgring as the finest race track of them all, and a must see for visitors is the “Erlebniswelt” exhibition. Including also interactiveracing exhibitions, and 360° cinema, as well as simulators that allow you to feel what the real thing is all about, there is also the chance to have a drive yourself at the nearby carting course. > nuerburgring.de

3 Feb – 28 May This exhibition at the K20 in Düsseldorf focuses on the final years of Picasso’s life when he lived in Mougins and focused his art on the theme of love. The exhibition brings together 60 paintings, 60 drawings, 60 prints and a number of sculptures from this period. > picasso-k20.de

specialtip Berlin

film festival 8-18 Feb The ‘Berlinale’ is Berlin’s International Film Festival and is one of the best in the world. Rub shoulders with Hollywood types on the red carpet, or check out the latest releases from places as varied as Serbia, Senegal and Surinam… something for everybody. > berlinale.de

more info www.germany-tourism.de/youth

allyearround


bestofGermany bestofOctober/November

events&tips. destinationGermany Berlin

EXPLOSIVE PARTY New Years Eve at the Brandenburg Gate is one of those experiences not to be missed…millions of people will be thronged along “Unter den Linden” to celebrate with you. The city goes wild in an avalanche of fireworks, sekt (sparkling wine) and goodwill, and the party will still be going long into 2007.

xmasmarkets Munich

TOLLWOOD WINTER FEST 30 Nov – 31 Dec Located in Munich’s Theresienwiese, the Tollwood Winter Festival is part-Christmas Market, part-cultural experience, with live music, theatre shows, cabaret, beer tents, DJ sets and much more. > tollwood.de

sportsevents FOUR HILLS SKI JUMPING

29 Dec – 6 Jan The Four Hills Ski Jumping competition is the third most important in the world, after the World Cup and the Winter Olympics, and it challenges the jumpers to four of the greatest ski jump hills in Germany and Austria. The German legs take place in Oberstdorf on the 29th December, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the 1st January.  > 4schanzentournee.com

Bremen

SIX DAY RACE 11-16 Jan The 6 Day Cycle Race takes place in the AWD Dome in Bremen, with 125,000 fans coming to join in the fun. Alongside the races which feature some of the worlds top cyclists, there is all kinds of music and entertainment. > sechs-tage-rennen.de

Across Germany

HANDBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Oberhof/Ruhpolding

SKIS AND GUNS

4-14 Jan The World Cup of Biathlon comes to Germany for two weeks in January. With two events on the calendar, Oberhof and Ruhpolding will be welcoming the best crosscountry skiers who can also fire guns to show what they can do. A fantastic combination of endurance, strength and skill.

19 Jan – 4 Feb The 2007 World Handball Championships are taking place in Germany, and the host nation is expected to do well. Handball is very popular in Germany, so expect big crowds at the games and a great atmosphere. The Final takes place in Cologne on the 4th February. > handball-wm-2007.de Willingen

SKI jump worldcup 9-11 Feb The Ski Jump World Cup comes to Germany in February, when the most crazy athletes on the planet launch themselves off a ramp on their skis. Eddie the Eagle has long retired, but these guys really know how to fly. > weltcup-willingen.de

Schöneck

DOGsled racing 23-25 Feb A chance to see the best dogsled teams in Europe as they come to Schöneck, Germany for the European Championships 2007. Dogsled racing features teams of dogs pulling the sled upon which stands the man or woman who will take all the glory. Check it out for yourself. > schoeneck.eu Sayda

SNOWCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS 6-7 Jan The Snowcross Central European Championships take place in Sayda, Saxony this January. Snowcross involves racing a snowmobile around a tough winters course, and some of the best in the business will be in Germany for this event. > sayda.de

BERLIN ON the rocks 1 Dec – 7 Jan The Bebelplatz is on the “Unter den Linden” and is the home of the Staatsoper and the University, and for just over a month this winter one of the largest open air ice rinks in the country. As well as the chance to skate yourself, a team of experts put on a number of special displays and ice shows to keep you entertained. > berlin-on-ice.de Nuremberg

medieval MARKET 1-23 Dec, The medieval atmosphere of Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is what makes it so special, in the Hauptmarkt at the heart of the old town. One of the most picturesque markets in all of Germany, Nuremberg at Christmas time is not to be missed. > nuernberg.de Hamburg

(fish) MARKETs 27 Nov- 23 Dec Hamburg has a fine collection of markets this Christmas, housed in many of the city’s fine squares. Probably the most picturesque can be found opposite the town hall, and run by the artistes from Roncalli’s Circus. > hamburg.de

more info www.germany-tourism.de/youth

Oberstdorf/ Garmisch-Partenkirchen


destinationspotlight

Barcelona It’s a town, it’s a city. It’s an amusement park, it’s a cultural centre. IT’s a neverending dream. Barcelona has a bit of everything for everyone. Mountain and sea, modern and historic, small town and cosmopolitan. This city is beautiful and well varied, but she’s got growing pains.

“How many cities can you fit into 100 square km of landscape?”

From a sleepy Roman military camp to ruler of a Mediterranean trade empire, from a city (and culture) oppressed to an Olympic city, aspiring conference centre and outdoor shopping mall, Barcelona’s 2000 years of history have left their marks and flourishes. Physically, Barcelona is like three cities or more, layered inside each other like Russian nesting dolls;

Carrer Sant Pau 80 08001 Barcelona-Spain Phone:(+34) 93 324 85 30 info@barcelonamar.com

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the old gothic city centre gives way to the rigidly blocked angles of Cerdà’s Eixample (“enlargement” in Catalan), drawn up on paper in the mid-1800’s and mostly coloured in by early in the 20th century, which in turn give way to the industrial suburbs that stretched out to the Besòs River in the North and the Llobregat in the South during the Franco dictatorship to accommodate the migrant workers from the south of Spain.

www .barcelonamar. com


a

Work in progress - Gaudi’s Sacrada Familia.

Strolling through Barcelona’s downtown.

Always ambitious and enamoured of innovation, Barcelona continues to reinvent herself in embracing globalisation and striving for a privileged place on the European scene. The massive restructuring of the city for the 1992 Olympics brought a flood of changes and investments; the much-maligned debacle that was the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures even more. Barcelona now faces a flood of over 5 million tourists annually and struggles to accept and integrate an immigrant population of over 15%.

“When do they close the downtown?” It’s like an urban legend; I’ve been repeatedly told that some friend or another has been asked on more than one occasion how late the old town is open. It can seem like an outdoor shopping mall and museum; it’s architecturally one of the most interesting cities in the world and downtown is full of boutiques and department stores. But although the bars close at 3am and the metro locks up at midnight (2am on weekends) there’s no gatekeeper. As you wander through the old city, you’ll see bits and pieces of Roman architecture incorporated into new buildings or encased beneath glass, as in the case of the new Mercat de Santa Caterina. As the old city undergoes its perpetual facelift— two of the city’s three major gothic churches have been under restoration for years—new ruins continue to be found and built around or incorporated. Barcelona is the modernist capital of the world and you’re undoubtedly familiar with Antoni Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia if you’ve so much

A Gaudi house: Casa Battlo.

as glanced at a guidebook. But don’t miss out on some of the other fantastic marks left by architects no less impressive. My personal favourite, Domènech i Montaner, is responsible for the Palau de la Música Catalana, the zoological museum in the Ciutadella park and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, still a fully functional hospital built with the patients spirits in mind: beautiful, uplifting pavilions protrude to house patients from the underground labyrinth of service areas.

Tomato Bread, Roast Rabbit with Allioli, Arròs Negre, Red Red Wine After wondering at the cathedral, being trampled by throngs of tourist groups, ogling hot hipster Catalan girls with mullets and having your pocket picked by some faceless youth in a tracksuit, get thee to some sustenance. Maybe you’re on a budget; Barcelona is the city for you to splurge in. From the old Spanish grandpa bar to the upscale Ferran Adrià-type joint, gastronomy is another thing Barcelona excels at. The Catalans have a sparse breakfast of strong coffee and pastry and save themselves for the lunch hour. Between 2 and 4pm, head to a restaurant for a menú: if you choose wisely you will be treated to 2 courses and dessert with wine and coffee for 8-10€. Don’t be afraid of the dingier looking restaurants; if the floor is covered with used napkins or it looks well-frequented you’re likely to leave tipsy and happily stuffed. Later, when you’re hungry again, a glut of tapas bars await you in the Barceloneta. Around the turn of the last century Barcelona

Enough culture, hit the beach.

authorbio

Tiffany Carter, originally native to the Appalachian mountains, moved to Barcelona two years ago from Berlin in hot pursuit of a hot Catalan man. A frequent contributor to and copy editor of the alternative newsweekly BCN Week, she’s currently working on a Southern Gothic novel and does some translation and English teaching on the side. She lives with her boyfriend and their cat in a tiny, dusty apartment in the Barri Gòtic and enjoys baking and Aikido.

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Best view: from Mt. Tibidabo amusement park.

don’tmiss.

Off the most beaten track After taking a walking or bike tour, if you have an extra day, go up the other mountain, the Collserola. There are two funiculars from the city, one leads up to Vallvidrera, a cute little town that reminds me a bit of Santa Barbara in California. Find the hiking trails and you can sip from mountain springs and surprise wild baby boars feasting on figs and acorns. There are over 50 notable archaeological finds in the Collserola park, including the Cova de l’Or, a cave dwelling dating to the Neolithic period. The other funicular leads to Tibidabo, the mountain’s highest peak. The Tibidabo amusement park is over a hundred years old, adding an extra thrill to riding any of the rides and gazing out over Barcelona at 512m above the city.

   

goingfurther.

About an hour outside of Barcelona to the West is Montserrat with her 1235m peak—home of beautiful views, a Benedictine abbey and according to some, the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. It’s a great place for hiking. An hour to the north is Girona, which has an adorable old city and a beautiful patchwork of colourfully painted buildings along the river Onyar. The Call, or old Jewish quarter, is home to a very interesting Jewish museum; before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, Girona was a leading centre for the study of the Kabbala. Another hour to the north, Figueras is Salvador Dalí’s hometown and he donated an entire museum to it, the Teatre-Museu Dalí. Sitges, to the south, is home to a thriving gay community and an annual well-respected film festival.

Colourful Girona.

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Mansion on the hill: Montjuic.

had a café scene to rival Vienna’s; many of the cafés were later demolished but quite a few still exist. Els Quatre Gats, just a stone’s throw from les Rambles, was created by Puig i Cadafalch and was stomping grounds for a young Picasso and a great many other local personalities and celebrities. The Café de l’Opera on the Rambles started out as a boarding tavern in the 18th century and by the mid-1800s had become a chocolateria done up in the Viennese style. In 1928 it was bought by the present owners who remodelled it in the modernist style.

Watch your step on the roof of Casa Battlo.

hill began when it was chosen as host site for the 1929 International Exposition: the Palau Nacional, the Poble Espanyol and the Olympic stadium, originally built to host an alternative anti-fascist 1936 Olympics, all survive. Mies van der Rohe’s German national pavilion was destroyed in 1930 but rebuilt in 1988. Also home to the Fundació Miró museum, the Mercat de les Flors theater, the Teatre Grec Festival and a really cool botanical garden with a bunch of giant cactuses.

El Raval

Possibly the liveliest and most well-trodden street in Europe, the Rambla is a carnival, pet store, flower shop, whorehouse, outdoor bar and more. It bustles night and day with locals and tourists alike and is home to the Virreina Palace, the famous Liceu theatre, a wax museum and other interesting things. As García Lorca once said, the Rambla is “the only street in the world I wish would never end.”

I’m not telling you to neglect Gràcia, the Barceloneta or the Born, but definitely check out the Raval. Formerly notable for the heavy traffic of sailors, prostitutes, pushers, petty thieves and quarreling neighbors, its ambience got it nicknamed Chinatown (Barri Xinès) after the 1920 film of the same name. It’s been cleaned up a bit since the heady days, but you can still smell its seedy underbelly. It’s probably got more cultural diversity than any other spot in Spain and possibly the best nightlife in Barcelona.

La Boquería

Ciutadella park

explore ... Les Rambles

It’s not Barcelona’s oldest market, but it may be the biggest and it’s undoubtedly the most frequented. It awaits you just off the Rambla with stalls filled with beautiful stacks of fruits and veggies, cheeses, cured legs of jabugo ham, goat heads, every type of seafood you ever could have imagined, some of it still squirming on beds of ice and even edible insects...

Montjuic

The hill of the Jews, as it would be called in English, was used to grow food and graze animals in the old days. The fortress on top is built atop an ancient Jewish cemetery, dates largely to the 17th century and was used mostly as a political prison over the years. Generalísimo Franco made it his interrogation headquarters. The first largescale construction on the

Before 1714 it comprised most of the old maritime quarter, afterwards it was the site of a huge and hated citadel built by the Bourbons to control the city. Finally it was recovered for the citizens, and for the 1888 Universal Exposition it was converted into a park. Now it’s a popular hangout; on any given day you’ll find it full of kids on blankets watching each other juggle, practice capoeira and eat fire or dance in the pavilion. The zoological museum was designed by Domènech i Muntaner as the restaurant for the Exposition; a very young Gaudí also worked in the park, and although nothing can be directly attributed to him he may have collaborated on the cast-iron entrance gates.


Edinburgh Scotland’s capital city, and legendary location of one of Europe’s wildest New Year’s Eve parties, Edinburgh bundles together exciting activities, beautiful scenery, welcoming people and lively entertainment all in one place.

from below and above

It may be an up beat modern city, but Scotland has a long history, some of which is hidden just under the surface. Literally, as when the city planners decided to bury the disease-ridden winding streets of the Old Town in the seventeenth century, they created an underground world of vaults and closes that can still be explored to this day. Apparently there have been a number of paranormal sightings of those families ravaged by the plague only to be encased in the old walls under the modern city streets. You can take a “Ghost Tour” to this underground world, although sightings are not guaranteed with your ticket. To get the opposite perspective of Edinburgh, head to Edinburgh Castle. In itself it is a grand sight, looking down as it does on the city below, and from its vantage point on the mound you can see the city laid out before you. Step inside the castle walls and you can again look back

in time, as the castle exhibitions explore Scotland’s brave and passionate history.

National Sport

Of course, part of that history was inventing the game of golf. Although some might decide that it is just “a good walk spoiled”, others might want to try their hand at the game in its birthplace. The Bruntsfield golf course offers a pitch and putt version of the game that takes away much of that tiresome walking, and although you might find out you are more Tigger than Tiger, you can celebrate your effort in the Golf Tavern next door. The course is in the heart of the city next to the Meadows, which is also a great spot for a bit of football or Frisbee, and in the summer it is a hive of activity…at this time of year, depending on the weather, you might find you have the place to yourself. The other sport that dominates attention in Edinburgh is the Six Nations Rugby, when the brave Scottish team pit

themselves against the Irish, the Welsh, the French, the Italians, and of course, the English. It takes place in the spring, and Scotland’s home games are at Murrayfield in the capital. On match days Rose Street and the Royal Mile are awash with colour and good natured fans…in 2007 the competition begins in the first week of February.

authorbio

After Dark

Most people have heard of the Edinburgh Festival, or Festivals should we say, which take place every summer. One of the highlights of the festival season is the live

Fintan Hillyard lives in Edinburgh. When he is not exploring his adopted home, propping up the 6am bars, or on the golf course, you can find him at the University where he is studying sociology and politics.

Beds from £10* *Subject to availability

a gloBEtroTTER place to stay

( +44 (0)131 336 1030

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whatson. Hogmanay Edinburgh celebrates the New Year in style, with not one but four days of partying to usher in 2007. Of course, the wildest night is on New Years Eve itself, with around 100,000 people descending on the Royal Bank Street party for live music, fireworks and general revelry. If you can’t get a ticket then don’t worry, the rest of the city will be going just as crazy…so grab a bottle of bubbly, learn all the words to Auld Lang Syne, and make sure you have someone to kiss when the clock strikes midnight.

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have been working beforehand, just that you can have a beer for breakfast if you wish. Penny Black’s and the Scotsman both open early, but the best is probably the ¼ Gill on South Clarke Street, a laid back place where the staff don’t mind if it all becomes too much and you have a nap instead. But this is typical of Edinburgh as a whole…a city that welcomes millions of visitors every year and yet manages to maintain a friendly vibe, whatever you might have seen on Trainspotting. Beautiful, fascinating, and friendly…you should come and check it out!

don’tmiss.

goingfurther.

Arthur’s Seat

St Andrews

251 metres high, Arthur’s Seat is the remnants of an extinct volcano and its imposing presence casts a shadow over the city below. Along with the nearby Cragg’s this is a great – if a trifle windy – spot for panoramic views across Edinburgh’s picturesque skyline and the surrounding countryside.

Approximately sixty miles up the coast from Edinburgh is St Andrews, famous for its university and golf course…the Old Course is said to be one of the best in the world. In the other direction, Stirling is well worth visit, with cobbled streets, an old town, and even a castle, it is a little like Edinburgh but with fewer tourists. Glasgow, Scotland’s other city deserves an article in its own right, but it is enough to say that this dynamic and lively city makes for an interesting contrast with Edinburgh and is well worth a visit. And then of course there are the Highlands and Islands. Some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe can be found in northern Scotland, from high mountains to deep lochs, one of which is rumoured to house a monster…

Camera Obscura At the top of the Royal Mile, the Camera Obscura is a great museum that attracts a lot of kids, but is fun for adults too. It is famous for its camera obscura, that allows you to see anyone in Edinburgh within a three-mile radius, as well as all kinds of exhibits relating to mirrors, photography, and magic tricks. Why should children have all the best stuff?

St. Andrews Citycenter.

26

comedy, but you don’t have to wait for the summer to get your laughs. The Stand Comedy Club on Castle Street is a favourite, very intimate and with the bonus of being very cheap – entry can be as little as a pound on week nights. Just be warned: sitting in the front row can make you an easy target for struggling comedians jokes. Edinburgh’s nightlife in general is legendary, with the “family” atmosphere at the Liquid Rooms on Victoria Street being one of the best. This doesn’t mean the place is over-run with parents and their offspring, rather that the owners have a policy very different to the normal corporate clubs that dominate in the UK, and the eclectic music policy encompasses everything from indie to hard house, via hip hop and electro…in other words something for everyone. If you are still going at six in the morning, there is no need to go to bed as a number of places open up then for the guys coming off night shifts. This doesn’t mean you need to


destinationspotlight

Vienna Bugbitten.com’s Travis Pittman explores his adopted home for packed, and explains why it is more than just the stereotype of grand old buildings, schnitzel and apple strudel…

more than Schnitzel & Strudel

…Vienna is also home to Schnaps, Schönbrunn and Stephansdome to name but a few. With many amazing places to explore in Vienna, one of the most beautiful and extravagant is the Schloss Schönbrunn. Numerous events in Austrian history have taken place there, ranging from a six year old boy by the name of Mozart giving a concert in 1772, Napoleon’s meetings with his generals in the Vieux Laque Room and Emperor Charles I signing his abdication of the crown in 1918. If the 1441 room palace doesn’t interest you, the surrounding parks and gardens are not to be missed. The intricate gardens leading up to the The Gloriette are absolutely stunning. If you like a challenge, be sure to visit the on-site Maze which will truly test your navigational skills or if you’re an animal lover, you should make your way to the Vienna Tiergarten (the oldest zoo in the world!). With the common association of ‘coffeehouse’ with ‘Starbucks’ in the western world it is very refreshing to find that Vienna has resisted the commercialisation and sticks to it’s deeply ingrained tradition of coffee drinking and the experience that goes along with it. Over the generations, the Kaffeehäuser of Vienna have become institutions amongst artists, poets, revolutionaries and writers - including people such as Goethe, Beethoven, Hitler, Strauss and Trotsky - for discussion, re-

flection, writing and playing cards. It’s not uncommon for Viennese and tourists alike to sit back for hours on end sipping on coffee and watching the world go by. Also contrary to many beliefs – you’ll be surprised to learn that the Parisians weren’t in fact the ones to invent the tasty croissant – it was in fact the Viennese who created this delicious anytime-ofthe-day snack to commemorate the victory over the Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Naschmarkt, one (and arguably the best) of the many fresh food markets around is also another Viennese institution. Here you will find a clash of Asian influences with typical Austrian traditions. It’s a great place to stop in, look around and sample produce ranging from tapas, nuts, fish, meat, fruit, veggies, kebabs, pastries, cakes, chocolates as well as many Asian sushi and noodle bars. Be warned though that prices here aren’t the cheapest in Vienna – the shop owners realise the Naschmarkt’s popularity and have taken

authorbio

Travis Pittman is co-founder of Bugbitten.com and has lived in Vienna for eight months after spending 3 years in London.  Originally from Cairns, Australia he found himself in Vienna after meeting a lovely Austrian Frau in Barcelona... Travis enjoys living in Vienna for the lifestyle, learning a new language and using it as a base to expand Bugbitten throughout Europe.

packedmagazine.com

27


Former royal residence. The Schloss Schoenbrunn.

Iceskating with the mayor.

NewYear’s at the ‘Ring’.

full advantage of getting the most for their produce. If you are lucky enough to be around the Naschmarkt on a Saturday, visit Vienna’s major fleamarket where you can buy anything from junk to antiques to traditional Austrian Lederhosen (or Dirndl’s)! Contrasts at the Stephansplatz. Secession founded by Klimt & Co.

Power plant the Hundertwasser way.

Culture, lifestyle & art

Just outside the Ringstraße you will find one of the ten largest cultural complexes in the world. The MuseumsQuartier unites baroque buildings, new architecture, cultural institutions of all sizes, various disciplines of art, and recreational facilities in a single spectacular location. The spectrum ranges from large art museums like the Leopold Museum to contemporary exhibition spaces like the Kunsthalle Wien and festivals like the Wiener Festwochen. During the summer, the MuseumsQuartier is a sight to behold with people from all ages and cultures taking advantage of terrace cafés, oases of green, bars, shops, bookstores and the brilliant outdoor ornaments designed for people to laze around chatting, sleeping and soaking up the atmosphere this unique place has to offer.

From the end of November until Christmas you can find Christkindlmärkte on many street corners selling small Christmas gifts, food and best of all Glühwein (a hot, spicy red wine guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winters’ night!). The biggest Christkindlmarkts can be found at Vienna City Hall (Rathaus), Spittelberg and inside the Alte AKH University Campus (my favourite). The music, the people and the general atmosphere is unique and will be a highlight of your travels if you are lucky enough to be in Vienna around this time. Sitting in the heart of Vienna is the Donau Insel (Danube Island), a manmade island built in the 70’s as a flood barrier, but overtime has become a highly popular recreational area for the Viennese people. The 24km track either side of the island is filled with walkers, runners, roller-bladers, cyclists and at one end of the island you may even stumble across the nudist area (if that tickles your fancy) in the warmer months. When cycling or wandering along the edge of the Danube it’s very easy to forget that you are actually still in the centre of one of Europe’s major capital cities – so beautiful and peaceful.

packedlocals.

3 good reasons to come to Vienna 1 Get sporty at the Magic of Advent on Rathausplatz, where you can try ice skating on Europe’s largest Open Air Rink. 2 Have some mulled wine (“Glühwein”) and enjoy the winter sound with DJs and visuals at MuseumsQuartier or at Strandbar Herrmann, Vienna’s “coolest” beachbar! (also in Winter) 3 After an exciting (and exhausting) day out shopping for presents, relax at the womBar or try that recipe for Christmas cookies in our wombat’s guest kitchen. Enjoy Christmas Eve with your newly found friends at wombat’s CITY HOSTEL, better than with your boring relatives ;-) the wombat’s staff

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goingfurther.

@ Museumsquartier.

Lipizzaner at Spanische Hofreitschule.

Nightlife

On the surface the Vienna nightlife appears to be rather scarce. However, with a bit of local knowledge, you’ll be sure to find something appealing to your interests. If rubbing shoulders with the Viennese high-society is your thing, check out Passage for a night out with beautiful people and pumping House music from local and international DJ’s. Flex has been described as one of the best clubs in Europe – and with it’s lineup of indie rock, drum and bass, break beats, hip hop, dub, big beat, illbient, house or soul flowered funk changing depending on the night of the week, you are bound to find something that grabs your interest. A cult venue known to many Viennese is Café Bendl. Bendl is renowned for its yellowed wallpaper, age-old jukebox, mediocre food, student priced beer, grumpy waitresses and beer coaster battles with complete strangers at 5 in the morning!

Take Tram#1 for a sightseeing ride along the ‘Ring’.

Must do

For a night out of drinking and chatting with newly made travel mates – you could visit one of the many Heuriger’s that sporadically opens throughout Vienna. A Heuriger is similar to a restaurant, however only serves its most recent wine (Heuriger = this years produce) and a limited selection of food from its buffet. You will experience a great sense of Gemütlichkeit (cosiness) at these unique locations. Sit back, relax, chat, drink and soak up the atmosphere.

Safe bet

It’s reassuring to know that Vienna is one of the safest cities in the world, so if you’ve sampled too much of the tasty local beers or schnapps, you should find yourself safely stumbling back to your hostel without being threatened by anyone or anything.

scratchdeeper.

Vienna is a city that on first glance is historical and beautiful, however if you dare to scratch a little deeper your experience will be so much more. The usual tourist spots around Vienna, in particular inside the Ring should definitely be part of your stopover, however I urge you to take some extra time to actually experience the true Viennese culture, like visiting a traditional coffee house, or taking a walk down Praterstern or the Donau Insel. It is then you will start to appreciate why Vienna was recently ranked 4th in a world wide quality of life survey….

YOUR SMILE IS OUR JOB.

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Come alone, with your buddy or with your family (up to 4 people in the room), the price doesnt change. € 45 per room per night including breakfast, free internet and parking!

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With only 64km separating Vienna and Bratislava, they are said to be the two closest capital cities in the world. A day trip to Bratislava from Vienna is easily done by boat, train or bus to experience this beautiful and very affordable Eastern European city. For a unique river adventure make your way to Vienna’s Schwedenplatz. Three times a day starting at 8:30am you can catch the new highspeed Twin City Liner and in 75 minutes you’ll arrive at the Propellor Dock in Bratislava. The last boat to leave Bratislava is 6:15pm and prices start from €15. Or you can take a one hour train ride from Wien Südbahnhof for around €10. If you have a little more time on your hands or want to continue your journey to another intriguing Eastern European city, then Budapest is only a 3 hour train ride from Vienna (leaving from both Südbahnhof and Westbahnhof each day).

1 Night = 3%, 2 Nights = 6% 3 Nights = 9%, 4 Nights = 12% 5 Nights = 15%

incl. breakfast, bedsheets, 1/2 hour free internet and parking! up to

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HOSTEL HÜTTELDORF Schloßberggasse 8 A-1130 Vienna Tel: +43/1/877 15 01 huetteldorf@hostel.at www.hostel.at

14.11.2006 16:38:07 Uhr packedmagazine.com

29


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Great bars & hostels in

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Packed Magazine issue 5, Dec06-Feb07