Contributors: On the cover: ‘Blue Laguna Above Mist’, shot by Aurélien Berrut.
Alex Karpov, Aurélien Berrut, Demostenes Uscamayta Ayvar, Frans Rombouts, Kaarel Mikkin Konstantyn Kinash, Manfred Horvath, Lois Lammerhuber, Peter Matthews,Peter Rigaud, Sean McLachlan, Valerie Odile
Editor-in-chief Alex Karpov Creative Director Konstantyn Kinash Advertising Director Nina Onyshchenko Design and layout Konstantyn Kinash
Editorial Coordination TTI Club “Crystal Lotus“ vzw Belgium, 8400 Ostend, Duindoornlaan 216 Tel.: +32(0)59 612030 +32 488 331775 email@example.com www.tticlub.org www.eventtourismmagazine.com
CONTENTS: EVER...? 4 6 8
Blue Laguna, Iceland Socotra Island, Yemen Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
EVENT TOURISM MAGAZINE
Welcome to the issue
EVENTS 10 14
Hanami: japanese sakura blossoms festivals New Zealand’s Traditional Māori Kai Festivals
Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital city
DESTINATION 28 34 42
Bosnia & Herzegovina: the future has begun Maldives: life in paradise Heidberg
GOURMET 46 50
The home of Hennessy Estonian Cuisine
Dear readers and partners, I am truly delighted to present you a new design of our magazine. EVENT TOURISM was born as project of Young Journalist Academy (www.yjacademy.org) in Belgium one year ago. It grew up now in a modern professional digital magazine, which informs about new tourist destinations, events, projects and travelling news. I want to express my sincere thanks to you, dear reader, without whom there would have been no magazine. My gratitude also goes to our team and all our contributors, who help to turn this magazine into a relevant and interesting publication, without whom it would never have seen the light of a day. Let us introduce you February issue with a beautiful cherry blossoms Festival in Japan, with Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital city, with Imperial Vienna. We will discover with you new tourist destinations in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Maldives, visit the home of Hennessy, try Estonian Cuisine and celebrate Horeca Awards 2012. And that is a small selection of what is inside. We hope it inspires you too.
Belgian Hospitality Awards
Editor-in-chief Alex Karpov
TRAVEL STYLE 58
Thailand slow travel: for deeper experience
Top reasons to visit the City of Nizams
EVER TRIED..? BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND
Located 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik, Icelandâ€™s most famous attraction is actually a combination of mineral-rich freshwater and seawater from deep within the earth that is naturally heated to between 36-40 Â°C. The milky-blue waters flow over vast black lava fields giving the whole place an other-worldly feel. The futuristic-looking Svartsengi geothermal plant in the distance serves as the R&D center for the spa skin care line and adds to the cosmic effect. You really do feel like you could be on another planet.
Japanese Sakura Blossoms Festivals
Hanami is an important Japanese custom and is held all over Japan in spring. Hanami literally means viewing flowers, but it generally indicates cherry blossom viewing. It's said that the origin of hanami dates back to more than one thousand years ago when aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful cherry blossoms and wrote poems.
The cherry blossom tree holds a very prominent place in Japanese culture and tradition. For the Japanese the cherry blossom is no ordinary tree rather it is a tree to be celebrated and boy do the Japanese celebrate it! The country of Japan is famous for its Cherry Blossom festivals that are held in full fervor during the peak season. It is the spring season during which the Japanese cherry blossom trees begin to bloom and with that start the festive celebrations. The tradition of cherry blossom festivals revolves around all sorts of outlandish entertainment with folk music being one of the most prominent attractions of the festivals. In modern times the cherry blossom festivals are a time when concerts are arranged and there is a lot of musical activity going on in the country. The streets are filled with rides and games of different kinds for the children to enjoy. The traditional Japanese dress known as the kimono is also brought out on the streets in the form of special kimono shows that becomes a fusion of Japanese culture. Beautifully arranged flower displays are also amongst the attractions of the festive seasons. Basically the cherry blossom festival season is a mix of all sorts of activities ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other. On the one hand the Japanese will be hosting
beauty pageants whereas on the other end there will be a religious ceremony going on. The spring season, which is the season of celebration, brings back the fresh cherry blossom flowers that cover the landscape in their purple haze. The first week of April is perhaps the ideal time to witness the cherry blossom trees at their level best bloomed and beautiful to the extent that they can be really awe inspiring. Although the cherry blossom festival is being celebrated all over the country in some way or the other there are certain regions that are renowned for the activities that take place there. The two most popular regions are that of Shinjugyoen and Ueno Park. An interesting part of the Japanese cherry blossom festival season is flower watching. This unusual tradition actually bled into Japanese culture through China a long time back. The tradition is known as Hana-mi and is considered to be a spiritually revitalizing activity to engage in. Basically you will find many people, friends and families gathered around cherry blossom trees with their picnic baskets enjoying the sweet sights and smells that create a wonderful ambiance around them. Wherever there are cherry blossom trees there will be food stalls. The food items on the stall will
all be revolving around the use of cherries. You will be able to find some of the most amazing treats to tantalize your taste buds during the peak season at these stalls. A number of important festivals are held each year at pre-designated venues. The most popular venue amongst them happens to be the Kumamoto Castel Cherry Blossom Festival. T his yearâ€™s cherry blossoms are forecast to open according to their average schedule in most of Japan, except in parts of Western Japan where they are predicted to open earlier than usual. Below are the forecast dates of cherry trees opening their blossoms and the estimated best viewing periods this year. Rain, wind and temperatures can have a strong effect on the process of the season, for example, they can delay or shorten it considerably. Therefore, use the forecasts on your own risk.
Estimated Best Viewing
April 1 to 10
April 2 to 11
March 30 to April 7
March 27 to April 4
March 29 to April 6
April 1 to 9
April 2 to 11
April 2 to 10
April 1 to 9
April 9 to 16
April 16 to 23
April 17 to 24
April 29 to May 6
May 7 to 14
Dates estimated according by Japan Weather Association and japan-guide.com based on the association's forecast.
New Zealand's traditional
Māori kai festivals For centuries Māori - the indigenous people of New Zealand - have had great love and respect for the fertile land of their ancestors, believing that the earth is the giver of all life as from the soil comes food, and the same food is cooked beneath the ground in hangi style. Traditional Māori food was once reserved for Māori functions and events but now tourists can sample these delights at New Zealand’s growing calendar of kai Māori festivals.
Kāwhia Kai Festival Hamilton Waikato The Kāwhia Kai Festival is a full celebration of the indigenous culture with particular focus on native Māori food. Locals call Kāwhia "kai food heaven" because of the plentiful supplies of seafood and wild game, and festivalgoers feast on wild pork, a wide array of New Zealand shellfish as well as mud snails. Held in early February, the festival is timed to coincide with New Zealand’s national holiday - Waitangi Day - on 6 February. Each year more than 2500 kono / traditional flax baskets are specially woven to serve up portions of delicious hangi kai which has been cooked in a series of gigantic underground ovens - often required to feed more than 10,000 visitors. On the menu: toroi / marinated mussels and puha / watercress, inanga / whitebait patties, kanga wai /pirau fermented corn, wild pork and puha spring rolls, koki / shark liver pate, and mud snails.
Maketu Kaimoana Festival Bay of Plenty This authentic celebration of local kai is set in New Zealand’s pie capital - Maketu, in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty region. While the emphasis of festival food is on kai moana / seafood, the festival also has a reputation for rewana paraoa or Māori potato bread. Held each March, the festival is renowned for being more than just about food - it is a celebration of people, culture, entertainment and fine wines, and has continued to grow in popularity being unique in its situation and cultural significance. On the menu: kaimoana / New Zealand seafood basket, prawn salad, seafood kebabs, curried mussels, paua / abalone fritters, seafood pizza.
Kai in the Bay Festival Hawke's Bay The Kai in the Bay festival - staged in Hawke’s Bay in mid-November - serves up pre-European and contemporary Māori fare, as well as some unusual wild foods native to New Zealand. The festival is held in Napier - known for its Art Deco architecture and palm tree-lined streets - and aims to promote the culinary arts around preparing and serving traditional Māori foods for the 21st century. The event includes more than 50 food traders selling mouth-watering treats such as whitebait fritters, pig on the spit, and crayfish along with more unusual items like huhu bugs, weka birds, parengo seaweed, and titi / muttonbird. On the menu: koura mara / rotten crayfish, shark liver pate, kanga piro / fermented corn, huhu grubs, and kina/ sea eggs.
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival West Coast
Visitors can try some gourmet "bush tucker", or native New Zealand food, at this annual festival held in March in Hokitika on the rugged West Coast of the South Island. Listed among the "world’s unmissable festivals" by US travel guide Frommers, the wild foods festival is a unique celebration inspired by some of the more weird and wacky ingredients provided by New Zealand’s bountiful landscape. Popular kai includes New Zealand whitebait fritters, ‘westcargots’/ garden snails in garlic butter, gorse flower wine, mountain oyster / sheep testicle, ponga fern pickles and huhu grubs (an endemic New Zealand beetle). On the menu: Wild pork, pickled / barbecued / or live huhu grubs, eel, pukeko / NZ swamp fowl, kebabs, muttonbird, wasp lavae icecream, mountain oysters.
International Kai Festival Nelson
Waitangi Day is also marked in the city of Nelson, at the top of the South Island, with a special celebration of both Kiwi and international food flavours. Founders Heritage Park and Whakatu Marae work closely together to stage the Kai Fest event which provides visitors with an authentic experience of New Zealand’s indigenous culture. Nelson is a region rich in wine production and locally grown and gathered foods, and festival visitors can wander the many stalls sampling a wide range of kai served up in small, reasonably priced portions. Cultural performances are an added attraction and include powhiri / welcome and kapa haka / Māori dance. Traditional Māori massage is also on offer throughout the day, and arts and craft stalls showcase traditional Māori crafts. On the menu: Mussels and watercress, kumara / sweet potato, kina / sea urchin pate, marinated fish.
Text: Konstantyn Kinash Photos: PROMOTE ICELAND
Forget the, Caribbean and Hawaii. These days people are flocking to Iceland. The worldâ€™s northernmost capital city Reykjavik, has gained a cachet as hot spot for European cool. It's a once a cosmopolitan city and a village, an ancient culture and a forward-looking society, a pocket of cafe chic surrounded by inhospitable landscapes, both isolated and plugged in to the world at large. Iceland is drawing crowds now perhaps because it is on of those increasingly rare entities: an original.
eykjavik (population 120,000) is flagrantly charming and urbane, as if determined to refute the assumptions a visitor might carry about remote North Atlantic towns. This is particularly true in the old section, wich can be toured on foot by anyone with good shoes and good legs. Few of the buildings stand more than three floors tall, and many are painted in cheerful palette of sorbet tints. Here you’ll see the traditional construction style: wooden homes clad in sheets of corrugated tin, often boasting gardens overstimulated by 20 hours of daily sunshine. By contrast, the new suburbs showcase the latest in uber-chic glass-and-steel modernity.'
With only a day in Reykjavik, one must decide between touring the town or the nearby countryside, a difficult choice indeed. I give the latter a slight advantage, and particularly recommend the most popular tour in Iceland: an eight-hour journey dubbed "The Golden Circle." Even thought I'm not a fan of bus tours, this one gave me one of my best days in any port, ever. The excursion neatly sweeps through the essential saga of Iceland: geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, history, and breathtaking panoramas of treeless landcapes. Mere minutes after the tour embarks, the city gives way to windswept plains. Here and there are clumps of trees, but these have all been imported. First stop is
at Hveragerdi, a sheltered valley where large greenhouses enable the production of vegetables. Thanks to projects like this, Iceland is now self-sufficient in tomatoes. But in little else: almost every other product has to be imported, which helps account for the shockingly high prices. Next is a visit to an emerald lake nestled inside the 55 meters-deep Kerio volcanic crater, our first introduction to Iceland’s tenuous geography. Sitting smack dab on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, the island is threatened by no fewer than 130 volcanoes, loiter in the tour you’ll catch distant views of very active Hekla.
Volcanic activity is intrinsic to Icclandic life. Numerous geothermal springs provide all the island's heat, electricity, and hot water, a resource that is renewable, pollution-free. and practically free of cost. The lack of oil- and coal-fired generators is one reason Iceland enjoys some of the cleanest air in the world. It also has the cleanest water, free of even trace amounts of pollutants. Please drink from the tap (though youâ€™ll notice a smell of sulfur from the hot water taps, for obvious reasons). The theme of seismic activity continues with a stop to see the Strokkur geyser at a place called Geysir (pronounced gay-seer and the source of the word geyser). The original Geysir geyser was plugged in the 60s by zealous tourists
throwing stuff into it to try to incite an eruption, but thankfully neighboring Strokkur remains an old faithful, spouting 30-meters plumes every 10 minutes or so. On the next stop, you'll gasp as the bus deposits you on the lip of Iceland's most famous waterfall. Gullfoss. Meaning Gold Falls, dramatic Gullloss is where the Hvita (While River) plunges 30 meters in a double cascade into a narrow canyon caused by a tectonic shift. Walking trails lead to precipitous lookouts where you gain a stark appreciation of the harsh and unyielding nature of this island. The excellent road system, though, suggests the brutal geography has at least in part
been tamed. The juxtaposition of bleak wilderness and advanced infrastructure is one of the curious contradictions of the place, a legacy of Scandinavian values that supports heavy social spending (Iceland achieved independence from Denmark in 1944). There isn't much lo see of Ihis original institution but some grassy mounds, yet Thingvellir has more to offer: graphic evidence of how Iceland is literally being pulled apart as the Eurasian and North American plates move in opposite directions. You can actually walk through this rift (it's widening at a rate of 1/12th inch a year; you have time). If you opt to tour the city of Reykjavik itself, youâ€™ll invariably
find yourself at its most noted monument, the modernistic, hilltop Hallgrimskirkja (Hallgrim's church), whose spire is visible from anywhere in the city. Stairs lead to a lookout post at the top affording great views of the city. Walk downhill into the old town and youâ€™ll come to the main shopping street, Laugavegur, a stylish row of smart shops and fine restaurants. Be prepared for sticker shock. The most popular tourist takeaway is the Icelandic sweater, which is very nice, but note that the average Icelander would never wear one. Austurvollur is the central square, surrounded by outdoor cafes popular with locals who migrate from one cafe to another as the sun moves around the square. The square sits on the site of the grain fields of Iceland's first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson. It was his descendants who established the Althingi, and the latter-day seat for this aged parliament is a stout basalt building fronting the square. The old port, just a block away, is a colorful bazaar of fishing boats old and new, big and small, including some very large ocean-going trawlers. Fishing is the mainstay of Iceland's economy. There are a number of museums worth visiting. The Culture House and the National Museum will give you a good briefing on the island's history and culture. The most vivid is the Saga Museum, uniquely fashioned from a set of former water storage tanks and housing life-like dioramas depicting key moments in Icelandic history and folklore.
It borders a park with a path that leads down to Nautholsvik, a beach built to take advantage of thermal springs. Water here is a tolerable 20 degrees (C) year-round, and locals gather in hot tubs heated to a balmy 35 Â° C. Not surprisingly, taking advantage of thermal springs has become a signature pastime, and a nice way for cruise passengers to while away an afternoon and mingle with Icelanders. There are seven geothermal swimming parks in Reykjavik, the largest being the centrally located Laugardalslaug. Admission is just a few euro. Your ship will undoubtedly offer a tour to Blue Lagoon, the most famous geothermal facility and perhaps the best. It's located 45 minutes from town amid a moonscape of sharp, black lava rock. The pools here are a byproduct of a geothermal energy plant, and while it might look a little industrial as you come near, it's actually quite splendid. The plant uses superheated water to produce steam to turn turbines, and then the steam is reconverted to water and fed into the lagoon. The 95-degree water is rich in blue-green algae and the lagoon is lined with soft silica mud, both purported to exfoliate the skin. The sensation is sublimely relaxing. Changing rooms, showers and restaurant facilities are provided. I could go on and on, which only goes to prove that if you only have a day in Reykjavik, youâ€™ll just have to return.
Imperial Vienna A stroll around Vienna is like a journey back in time to the cityâ€™s imperial past. Examples of the capitalâ€™s rich cultural heritage and reminders of bygone imperial splendor await you around every corner.
Text and photos: WienTourismus www.wien.info
or 640 years the Habsburgs ruled their empire from Vienna. Many of the city’s landmarks go back to the Baroque era, and the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. In 1857 Emperor Franz Joseph gave the order to raze the city walls and construct the Ringstrasse in their place. A stroll along the city’s showpiece boulevard is a sightseeing experience to remember as the Ring is lined with grand buildings and beautiful parks on both sides. The Hofburg in the heart of the old town served as the residence of the Habsburg emperors and empresses, and was the epicenter of a great power from 1278 to 1918. Today the extensive complex is home to a number of leading museums and official staterooms. The Habsburgs’ former summer residence is Vienna’s top tourist attraction. The imperial family had the run of 1,441 rooms at Schönbrunn Palace, and today the original state rooms are open to the public. The grounds of the palace are home to architectural gems such as the Palm House and the zoo. Built in the reign of Empress Maria Theresa in 1752, Schönbrunn is the oldest zoo in the world. Although it has been thoroughly modernized in recent years, great care has been taken to preserve the original Baroque buildings. Empress Maria Theresa was so attached to her husband Franz I Stephan of Lorraine that she shares her last resting place with him in a double tomb in the Habsburg burial crypt, the Kapuzinergruft. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the religious and geographical heart of the city, and the giant Pummerin bell in its tower features on television as it rings in the New Year each year. The celebrations don’t end there. Throughout the ball season the words “Alles Walzer” signal to the assembled guests that it is time to join the dance at the Festsaal in the Hofburg or one of the city’s many other palaces. The Viennese are also true to the good old days of empire in their daily lives, enjoying delicious Kaisersemmel bread rolls, and treating themselves to a Kaiserschmarrn shredded pancake.
Hofburg 1st district, www.hofburg.wien.info/en
Between the thirteenth century and the fall of the empire in 1918 the Hofburg served as the Habsburg dynasty’s primary residence, with new wings added in several major construction phases over the years. The original Gothic buildings around what is now the Schweizerhof were steadily extended, with building activity reaching its peak in the Baroque era and the nineteenth century. A sprawling complex comprising several wings grew up, forming a major architectural focal point in Vienna’s historic city center. Today the Hofburg is home to the Austrian National Library (Nationalbibliothek, www.onb.ac.at), the Museum of Ethnology and the Imperial Treasuries (Schatzkammer, www. khm.at), the Court Silver Collection (Silberkammer), the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum (www.hofburg-wien.at) and the Spanish Riding School (www.srs. at).
Schönbrunn Palace Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 13th district, www.schoenbrunn.at Schönbrunn Zoo, Schönbrunner Schlosspark, 13th district, www.zoovienna.at
Schönbrunn Palace, located in Hietzing, in the west of the Austrian capital, is one of the world’s largest palace complexes. Following the destruction of the original buildings on the site during the 1683 siege of Vienna, Fischer von Erlach’s grandiose designs for Schönbrunn became a mirror of the Habsburgs’ far-reaching political ambitions. The palace and formal gardens were completed in 1696, and were completely remodeled under Maria Theresa after 1743. The neo-Baroque adaptations of the nineteenth century took their cue
from the era of Maria Theresa’s rule, which was widely regarded as the heyday of the Habsburg Empire. After 1918 ownership of Schönbrunn Palace passed to the state, and today it is the city’s most visited cultural monument and an important recreation area.
Imperial Burial Vault (Kapuzinergruft, Kaisergruft) Neuer Markt/Tegetthoffstrasse, 1st district, www.kaisergruft.at
The Imperial Burial Vault, part of the Church of the Capuchin Friars on Neuer Markt in the old town, is the main burial site of the Habsburgs and deeply symbolic of the history of the dynasty. It is the final resting place of almost all of the Habsburg emperors since the start of the seventeenth century (except for Rudolf II, Ferdinand II and Karl I), containing the remains of some 150 members of the ruling family. The crypt goes back to a Habsburg foundation, and was extended several times over a period of several centuries. The sarcophaguses and tombs are decorated with religious motifs and symbols of the transience of worldly power. The Habsburg crypt is under the stewardship of the Catholic order of the Capuchin Friars, and is open to the public.
Augustinerkirche and the Herzgruft Josefsplatz, 1st district, www.augustinerkirche.at
The parish church of St. Augustin was the scene of numerous imperial weddings. It witnessed the marriages of Empress Maria Therese and Franz Stefan of Lorraine, Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth, Crown Prince Rudolf and Princess Stephanie. It was also the scene of the proxy wedding (a common practice concluded before the bride traveled to her husband for the actual
wedding ceremony) of Napoleon and Habsburg Archduchess Marie Louise. The Augustinian Church is also home to the Herzgruft where 54 Habsburg hearts are contained in silver urns ( Guided tours on Sundays after mass at around 12.15 and by prior arrangement).
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) Stephansplatz, 1st district, www. stephanskirche.at
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is both Austria’s most important Gothic building and the best-known symbol of Vienna. Dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, the church was declared the seat of the Bishop of Vienna in 1469 and that of the Archbishop of Vienna in 1722. The cathedral largely owes its current appearance to elements built between the twelfth and the early sixteenth centuries. The Habsburgs had a significant hand in its design, and Duke Rudolf IV’s played a particularly crucial role when he commissioned the large-scale expansion of what was then St. Stephen’s Church. Until the sixteenth century, the Herzogsgruft crypt in the cathedral was the most important burial chamber of the ruling Habsburgs. The Cenotaph of Rudolf IV and the tomb of Emperor Friedrich III are of particular artistic interest.
Karlskirche Karlsplatz, 4th district, www.karlskirche.at
The Karlskirche (St. Charles of Borromeo) church in Vienna’s fourth district is one of Europe’s leading examples of Baroque architecture. Its symbolism and the use of antique architectural elements tell of the Habsburgs’ aspirations to a universal empire. Work began on the building in 1714 according to plans by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. After his death, his son Joseph Emanuel completed the church in 1739.
Ringstrasse In 1857 the city walls were razed to the ground, and the space they left behind became one of the largest building sites in Europe. Over the coming years the showpiece boulevard encircling Vienna’s city center saw the emergence of a glittering array of Historicist public buildings, private mansions, parks and memorials. Highlights include Otto Wagner’s Postsparkasse, the Museum of Applied Art, Stadtpark, State Opera, Hofburg, Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum, the parliament building, the Burgtheater, the university and the former stock exchange.
Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum Kunsthistorisches Museum, Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1st district, www.khm.at Naturhistorisches Museum, Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1st district, www.nhm-wien.ac.at
During the construction of the Ringstrasse two museums – the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum – were built to showcase the collections of the ruling dynasty. Finished in 1891and 1889 in the Historicist style, the twin museums were originally designed as part of the ultimately uncompleted Kaiserforum. The buildings introduced the rich collection of imperial art and natural history exhibits that had previously been held in the Hofburg to a broader public.
Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten, Obere Augartenstrasse 1, 2nd district, www.augarten.at
The Augarten park in the former Danube wetlands in Vienna’s second district dates back to a seventeenth century complex which over subsequent years was continually adapted by the ruling imperial family. The eighteenth century garden pavilion, an important classical music venue
in its day, today houses the factory of the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory, a museum on the history of porcelain making and a restaurant. Now the boarding house and home of the Vienna boys’ choir, the Augarten Palace dates back to a stately home which was acquired by Emperor Joseph II in 1780. The Josephstöckl, Joseph II’s private summer residence, is named after this popular Emperor who loved the Augarten and opened the grounds to the public in 1775.
Prater The Prater in Vienna’s second district started life as an imperial hunting ground in the Donauaen wetlands. The name Prater stems from pratum – the Latin word for meadow or hay-field (prado in Spanish, and prato in Italian). The meadows and the tree-lined boulevards give the park, referred to locally as the Green Prater, its distinctive character. The Prater Hauptallee was laid out as a horse-chestnut lined promenade
in the sixteenth century. The system of pathways was expanded under Emperor Joseph II who also added the Praterstern (Prater star) intersection and the Lusthaus pavilion as a focal point. After Emperor Joseph II opened the park to the public in 1766 the Prater soon became one of the city’s best-loved recreation areas.
Hofmobiliendepot • Imperial Furniture Collection Andreasgasse 7, www.hofmobiliendepot
Any pieces of furniture that could not be accommodated in any of the Habsburg palaces and residences – or had fallen out of favor – were transferred to the Hofmobiliendepot which is located roughly half way between Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg. Today the depot is home to the Imperial Furniture collection, a modern, light-filled museum where visitors from all over the world can see selected items from the enormous imperial inventory.
Tips for Researching Vienna Features: www.habsburger.net (German and English) is an excellent source of information on the history and lives and times of the Habsburgs. A team of historians from the University of Vienna have converted huge volumes of archive data into user-friendly material on this easy to navigate multimedia website.
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA The future has begun
Text: Frans Rombouts Photos: Frans Rombouts, Demostenes Uscamayta Ayvar
osnia and Herzegovina once was the centre of Yugoslavia. When this country fell apart, various states emerged. Probably the most diverse among them is Bosnia & Herzegovina, or BiH -the abbreviation that the locals like to use. Diversity comes at various levels: culture, nature, cuisine, language and, of course, ethnic groups. We all remember that it took quite some efforts, and unfortunately also a lot of lives, to find a balance of coexistence in the present situation: three-states-inone-country. In building up the country BiH could count on the assistance, financial and other, from countries as well as from various NGOs, such like Oxfam Italy. With the help of various donors Oxfam Italy mounted a number of projects, helping the population to improve the living conditions and standard of life, to increase long-term sustainable self-sufficiency of the people and to prepare farmers and small-sized companies for the moment when they will have to face stiff economic competition. With partners like the Italian ministry of foreign affairs, the
region of Tuscany and the European Union, Oxfam Italy has been active in Bosnia & Herzegovina for 10 years and a number of their projects have reached the end of the first phase. One of the common goals in all of the projects is to assist the local producers of traditional agro-food products, and to create and strengthen durable ecotourism itineraries. Here, the focus is on three areas: the valleys of the Neretva and Drina rivers, the Una Sana and Pliva areas. Other projects involve the promotion of the scattered hotels and hospitality in the Drina valley, the development of cultural tourism in Sarajevo, Mostar and Skopje. The aim is to attract foreign travellers to BiH in order to eliminate the prejudice that this country is still suffering from warfare and to demonstrate that the ethnic groups have found a modus vivendi. Of course, the scars of the painful past are still visible; they are engraved in gunned-down walls, in destroyed houses, in shell holes in buildings, in woods still full of land mines... And in the tombstones of the people who died a useless death.
On to the future But during our recent visit we also met people who are rebuilding their country and their existence, farmers and winegrowers who are proud of their products, and above all, proud of their roots. BiH has a soul that is far from ethnic tension but that cares for nature and the cultural and culinary heritage. Brave and stubborn as they are, they are determined to keep up the good work, and to succeed. Unfortunately, these changes for the better and the trends towards a positive future are invisible for those who indulge in the past. However, the results of all the hard work cannot be ignored. Sarajevo is becoming a magic capital, a place of harmony of colours and flavour. Year after year, its music and film festivals -in 2012 already in their 18th year- are attracting increasing numbers of enthusiasts. In Mostar the world-famous Old Bridge has been rebuilt using the original materials and techniques.
Sarajevo This part of Europe has always been the meeting point of different cultures, and they all left something behind in architecture, cuisine, and local customs and folklore. The town of Sarajevo is probably the nicest example of ‘East meets West’. For westerners, this town is the East, and for easterners it is the West. During a walk in the town centre, you will find yourself in an Ottoman quarter, some minutes later you are in a typically Austro-Hungarian part of town, and yet a short walk further you cannot but notice traces of the southern Slav unification and of socialist Yugoslavia. Mosques, catholic churches and synagogues stand side by side and you may even hear the muezzin call for prayer with the sound of christian church bells in the background. There is hardly a better example
of multi-culturality than this. And yes, it was here that the murder of prince Franz-Ferdinand incited the First World War. But it was also here that the Olympic Winter Games were held in1984, with the snow falling only one day before the opening ceremony. A miracle, some said. The streets of the old city abound with craftsmen, hammering copper coffee sets. The Bosnian coffee itself, the ‘bosanska kafa’, is roasted on the spot and then stamped in a stone mortar or ground in a small copper coffee mill. Then it is boiled in water till it starts foaming. And the traditional die-hards take it from the heat and after a while put it back again, and repeat this another time. Indeed, a coffee house is a good place to take the pulse of a city, the markets are another. Like the Markale or Ciglane markets
in the town centre, colourful showcases of everything that the land produces: apricots, peaches, pomegranates, figs, melons, grapes, plums... Not to mention the immense variety of vegetables, right from the field, most of them organic. They are displayed side by side with all kinds of mushrooms and vegetables. Other stalls abound with the finest cheeses, like Livno, Travnički or ‘sir iz mijeha (cheese in the sack) from Nevesinje. Its origin dates back to the period of the Illyrians. These Indo-European tribes came to the Neretva valley some centuries B.C. and stayed. A mixture of raw sheep, cow and goat milk is curdled and put in sheepskin sacks, which are then hung outside the farmhouse to cure during about 6 months. These 40 to 70 kilogram sacks are brought as a whole to the market, delicious!
Mostar Mostar has been an economic as well as cultural centre since the times of the Ottomans, who moved in at the start of the 15th century after some 100 years of opposition, and built a ‘city’ some decades later. Well, ‘city’ may be somewhat exaggerated. Archaeologists believe that there were only 19 houses in the first settlement. In about 60 years the town became the administrative centre of Herzegovina. In 1566 the original suspension bridge was replaced by a stone one. This ‘Old Bridge’ is now UNESCO World Heritage. New market sites and neighbourhoods developed, as well as a strong trade relationship with Dubrovnik in present-day Croatia. Till today Mostar remains one of the most picturesque towns of the greater region. Another one, worth a visit is Počitelj further south. This medieval village on the flank of a hill,
overlooking the Neretva, has been completely preserved. In our days, it has been taken over by a significant artist community. On your way from Mostar to Počitelj, do not forget to admire one of nature’s marvels in BiH: the karstic river spring in Blagaj. The Buna river surges up from under a 200 m high cliff. With some 43 cubic metres of good drinking water a second, it is the start of one of the cleanest rivers in this part of Europe, and consequently rich in fish. There are even some fish farms on the Buna. Overlooking the spring is Blagaj Tekija, an Ottoman-Dervish ‘tekke’, a monastery annex study centre built around 1520 in a mixture of Mediterranean and Ottoman architecture. While in Mostar, a visit of ‘Okusi Ercegovinu’ is a must. It is the best place to get a comprehensive overview of typical products, ranging
from wines to honey. There is only one way of getting to know the products better: going to a ‘konoba’ (restaurant) and ordering the local specialities. Some of the items on the menu will look familiar and will remind you of Greek and Turkish cuisine, like dolme and baklava. Of course, the influence of the Ottomans shaped Turkish, Greek and Balkan cuisine. Other names of dishes do not sound familiar at all, like sarma (minced meat in cabbage leaves), klepe (kind of ravioli with minced meat) or sudukice (long, spicy skinless grilled sausages). And why not try some ‘škripavac’ (‘squeaking cheese’) or poljak soup, made from dried beans that look like small stones? On our journey through BiH we were especially charmed by the lamb, roasted as a whole and by the octopus and potato stew, prepared in an earthenware pot that is covered with hot charcoal ash.
Trebinje Trebinje is the southernmost town of BiH, some 25 km from Dubrovnik. So, not surprisingly, Trebinje has the looks and feel of the Mediterranean It did not suffer from the war to the same extent as Mostar or Stolac; the old town was left intact. This dates back to the 18th century and soon developed into a trading and crafts centre with the name of Kastel. Like a lot of other towns and villages in BiH it was built on the banks of a river, the Trebišnjica. Prosperity came from a number of old mills on the river. When, not so long ago, the Grancarevo dam, 15 km north of the town, was built, the rising water
would have swallowed Arslanagic bridge. However, to preserve this architectural masterpiece, it was taken down stone by stone and rebuilt in Trebinje. Four km west of Trebinje, the monastery of Tvrdoš was built on an early Christian church, which according to the latest research was founded by Czar Saint Constantine and his mother, Saint Helen, in the 3rd century. The entire complex was thoroughly restored in 1509. For two centureis, from about 1550, it was the seat of the ‘Hum Herzegovina’, the Metropolitan heads, and it became the major religious and cultural centre of the region. The monks used to make wine for their own consumption,
and only recently they started to distribute it in the outside World. Their wines were received very well on the international wine scene, especially the Vranac (‘black horse’), which was awarded several medals by Decanter Magazine. This is not the only wine marvel of BiH, there are also the Zilavka and Blatina wines. I truly hope that we will soon be seeing these wines outside BiH. Just like the excellent extra vergine olive oil, the outstanding raštika sage honey and all the cheeses. These products – and their passionate producers deserve it!
Maldives the sunny side of life
he airport at the Maldivian capital, Male, is located right beside the docks where waiting boats are ready to ferry holidaymakers to the islands, an immensely sensible piece of planning which means youâ€™re on the water within minutes of getting through passport control and collecting your suitcase. One look at the brightly painted boats and the astonishing colour of the water is enough to reassure you that it was worth every minute of the long flight. The Maldives are a group of 1190 coral islands in the Indian Ocean located south-west of Sri Lanka and spanning the equator. Around five hundred of them are resorts, the like of which fantasies are made; tiny desert islands with little straw thatched villas for bedrooms, some set on stilts and known as water bungalows, others set a few metres from the shore and known as beach bungalows, all decorated in the Asian style of teak and cream cotton, many with four-poster beds. The luxury of walking out on to your water bungalow balcony, down the wooden steps and donning fins, mask and snorkel for an immediate view of the reef is typically Maldivian.
A holiday here involves much ambling through sand pathways amid bougainvillea, frangipani, hibiscus and lush tropical vegetation. At night the perfume is heavy; during the day the palm trees offer protective shade. The particular clump of vegetation which hides a music centre might sound twee but every time I passed it the well-chosen, low-volume instrumentals simply added to the relaxation of it all. On Kuramathi Island there are three resorts, Kuramathi Village, the Cottage Club and Spa, and the Blue Lagoon, in ascending order of exclusivity and cost. Guests can move between bars and restaurants for a little variety and it only takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Hence the constant lazy plodding from bungalow to breakfast, dive centre to spa, restaurant to bar. Kuramathi Village is the liveliest of the resorts where the bar - and waiter service - extends onto the beach where the most outlying table is just metres from the water. Equatorial stargazing means that from this perch I could see the plough over my right shoulder and the Southern Cross over my left while the moon flooded the beach with light. Over yonder in the heart of the bar, a live band was belting out covers of Tom Jones, Westlife and the Ketchup song. Anything more sophisticated would demand too much of the senses. If the environment alone doesnâ€™t slow you down, any remaining tension can be literally pressed out of you at the spa where Helene Pettersson from Sweden and her team of Indian masseurs have devised the best treatments from their respective massage traditions. In the Indian practice of Marma Massage the masseur uses Ayuervedic oils and her feet to stretch out tense muscles, using a rope for balance as she glides along your back, front, arms and legs. This follows a traditional full body massage and a glorious Indian head massage, the entire treatment lasting a blissful 90 minutes. Honeymooners who canâ€™t bear to be apart for a moment can have the Adam & Eve special, a double massage followed by an hour of privacy in the herbal bath with a bottle of champagne on the side.
All this relaxation is great for romance. Honeymooners love the place but so do couples who have been together for years. Lovers, some into their seventies, hold hands and rest arms over each others shoulders. Simply being together in such a stress-free and beautiful environment seems to do the trick. Both Kuramathi and the resort island of Baros are introducing ceremonies for the renewal of wedding vows. Not that there is any difficulty in appreciating the romance of the islands on your own either. The single traveller who wants to holiday without hassle, to sit peacefully in a bar without attracting unwanted attention, will find the Maldives unobtrusive, while the diving, sailing, wind surfing and snorkelling opportunities guard against any element of isolation. Baros is a much smaller island than Kuramathi. You can walk the circumference in about 10 minutes. It is gentler and more sedate but the options to go diving or visit a spa are still available. At night the Lagoon Restaurant specialises in Flambe dishes, cooked at your table. In the Maldives they use the term ‘repeater’ for guests who continually return. On Baros they have one German visitor who has been 43 times. Sometimes he brings his family, sometimes he comes alone to dive, but he always knows exactly which bungalow he wants. Snorkelling and diving are a prime reason why people go to the Maldives. These are coral islands, formed by the lime secretions of the living organism, coral which has formed rings, or atolls of islands in the area. The coral is still growing and the fish life which surrounds it is superb. Reinhard Kikinger, Kuramathi’s marine biologist never tires of explaining the marine environment to snorkellers, divers and even those who have no wish to encounter the deep face-to-face. His twice weekly slide shows are probably the highlight of many a visit. Reinhard is one of those environmentalists who approves of snorkelling and diving, despite some damage to the coral reef, because he believes the greater the awareness of what lies beneath the waves, the less likelihood there is of people abusing this environment through land-based activity in ignorance. “So please don’t purchase the turtle souvenirs for your living room,” he concludes gently after a presentation. “Leave the turtles live in the seas.” The Indian Ocean breezes that keep the Maldives cool, also make for wonderful sailing and wind surfing. Equipment and instruction are on hand at the watersports centre. The island has a well-equipped medical centre that handles emergencies for many of the islands in the vicinity and with medical staff residing on the premises so that patients can be treated at any time of the day or night. A decompression chamber is installed to cope with diving accidents and the German medical staff is well equipped to handle them. They admit that the opportunity to dive in their own spare time is part of the attraction of living in the Maldives.
Heidelberg A dream destination in more ways than one
Famous around the world and a perennial favourite among international tourists. Heidelberg is all this and more. The town has so much to offer including the Old Bridge and the mighty castle, the university and its student hangouts, a great choice of culture and entertainment, hearty cuisine and a picturesque setting on the Neckar river amid the foothills of the Odenwald forest. All reasons that explain the popularity of a town that according to Goethe had a quality of the ideal. 44
A magnet for millions With around three million day-trippers every year, Heidelberg can boast some of the most impressive visitor statistics in Germany, Europe and probably the world. In some ways this is a shame, because one day really isn’t enough. Those who stay just a little longer will discover a host of attractions away from the beaten track and have more time to soak up the unique atmosphere that sets Heidelberg apart from your average university town. 700 years of history and a dwarf who could hold his drink The main attraction for all visitors, of course, is Heidelberg Castle, perched on the slopes of Mount Königstuhl some 70
meters above the Neckar river. It’s easy to see why, too. The castle and its neighbouring buildings are among the most impressive sights anywhere in Germany. Although you can explore the ruins under your own steam, it’s well worth joining a guided tour, if only to appreciate the history of the castle, which has experienced its fair share of ups and downs over 700 years. To get them through these turbulent times, it’s likely that the lords of the castle would have made regular use of the royal wine cellar. This is home to the biggest wine barrel in the world. Made from 130 oak trees, it is seven metres wide, over eight metres in length and has a capacity of precisely 221,726 litres. For a time, the Elector Karl Theodor employed
the Italian court dwarf Perkeo to guard the barrel. Perkeo’s name is said to have been derived from his fondness for drink. Whenever anyone asked him if he would like another glass of wine, the answer came back “perché no?” Falling in love with Heidelberg’s old town From the castle a path takes you straight down into the old town. At the centre of this is the market square where you’ll find another of Heidelberg’s many beautiful fountains, grand period houses, lots of cafés and even more little shops. Towering above this delightful scene is the famous Church of the Holy Spirit. From here it’s just a stone’s throw to Kornmarkt, for many Heidelberg’s prettiest square. The Madonna
from 1718, who is held aloft by angels atop a fountain pillar, was meant to entice Protestants to return to the ‘true faith’ following the Catholic Revival. Today we can all enjoy the statue, which together with the castle forms one of the town’s most popular postcard motifs. Student life: between pub and lecture theatre The next square, Karlsplatz, is also decorated by a fountain which offers a playful take on the famous humanist and cosmographer Sebastian Münster. That such feats should be honoured reveals much about Heidelberg. Because over the course of the centuries a great many scholars have shaped the intellectual and cultural ideas of this former electoral seat. Georg
Willhelm Friedrich Hegel, Robert Bunsen, Max Weber and Karl Jaspers, for example, are just some of the famous names who have studied or taught at the university – the oldest on German soil. Today, around 28,000 students are enrolled there, and although they work hard, it’s not uncommon to see them in the numerous cafés and drinking establishments. Because drinking is another Heidelberg tradition, as you can experience for yourself over a glass of wine in beautiful old student pubs such as Sepp’l and Zum Roten Ochsen. Text end photos by: “Heidelberger Kongress und Tourismus GmbH” For more information visit: www.tourism-heidelberg.com
rance maintains many gastronomic heartland. However, the Poitou-Charentes region, sidling the shellfish-studded Atlantic coast may best them all. Containing a variety of soils and microclimates, the vineyards around Bordeaux and Cognac produce wines and cognacs appreciated throughout the world. Complimenting these libations are markets and restaurants offering comestibles of unsurpassed quality. Basking in the reputation of their region, many producers and restaurateurs maintain the highest of standards with the seeming ease of tried and true professionals. Some of the region’s vineyards offer elegant meals and wine tasting in stately chateaux and a few towns offer wine appreciation courses. Top restaurants staff chefs and certified wine tasters adept at complimenting each course with the appropriate swill. If you have a few days to savor this region’s haute cuisine, you’ll likely return home, taste buds swaggering with attitude.
Fear not if you lack a bottomless stomach. The Poitou-Charentes region offers numerous diversions. There are charming farm villages and fishing towns with a slew of Romanesque churches sprouting from gently undulating fields and woods. La Rochelle brims with 17th and 18th century buildings from the center to its yawning harbor. Cognac retains a number of medieval timber and stone dwellings. In Blaye you’ll find the 17th century citadelle, built to ward off invaders plying the Charentes River toward the prize of Bordeaux. In Bordeaux awaits an 18th century Old Town, home to a number of fashionable boutiques and a wide range of entertainment options. The countryside around Bordeaux bristles with regal chateaux and rich vineyards. Several chateaux offer room and board in settings reminiscent of landed aristocracy and the canvasses of 19th century Impressionists. Sailboats and beaches glimmer along the
coastline and a couple noteworthy golf courses stretch nearby. However, if you’re looking to go to the source, the tending of fields happens everywhere. Harvesting and juicing occur in autumn when deemed opportune. Several vineyards offer tours of their fermentation facilities and cobwebbed warehouses. One of the largest drink-warehouse in the world belongs to the cognac maker, Hennessy. Within its cool stone structures around 200,000 barrels age, some since the 18th century. At Tonnellerie de Vicard you can observe the intricate art of oak barrel cooping. And, while you’re dipping into grape-land you can always purchase a case of a pleasing vintage direct from the producer. As an added bonus, carrying it will burn off those delectable calories. For more information visit: “Holidays in France Atlantic Coast & Cognac Country” www.visit-poitou-charentes.com
Being located in Northern Europe, Estoniaâ€™s four seasons are the creative inspiration for the connoisseurs of good cuisine who are keen to prepare and enjoy food made from fresh, flavourful seasonal ingredients
always enjoy dipping into a new cuisine, so when I headed off to Estonia I was curious as to what kind of food I was going to get. Would it be like Russian cuisine? Scandinavian? A bit of both since the country is sandwiched between those two areas? Turns out it's a mix with its own local twist. At least that was my impression. I was only in the country a week and so take all my observations with a dash of salt. The first thing I noticed is that bread comes with everything. The most distinct kind is a heavy black rye bread. Breakfasts include bread and an assortment of cold cuts and cheeses to fortify you against the cold day. Bread reappears for lunch and dinner and snacks. You'll see kids tromping down the street with
a slice of black bread and butter for a snack. Estonian cuisine includes a lot of meat, especially pork, usually served with some form of potato. One dish I tried was juniper-smoked pork with honey cabbage, mustard sauce and potato-groat porridge. A good recipe that was only adequately done at the place I tried it. In the winter Estonians like soups and stews. My favorite is seljanka, a meat soup that warmed me up after a cold morning chasing the Estonian army through some snowy woods. More on that story in the next post. The vegetable soups thickened with cream or yogurt will keep you going too. Despite being a maritime country, fish doesn't rank high on the menu. Herring, eel and flounder are found the most, although I didn't try any of
them. Eating Spanish food every day, I'm accustomed to simple, direct flavors, while Estonians like to mix up their flavors. Trying to buy pure honey was a bit of a challenge. Most brands are mixed with pollen or bits of various herbs. A lot of Estonian cheeses tend to have seeds in them, like this sampler plate shown above. My favorite was the one mixed with the rye seeds. I got this at the Seaplane Harbour Museum, which unlike many museums has a surprisingly good and affordable restaurant. The best cheese I tried was a heavily smoked cheese called Lepasuitsu Eesti juust. If you like smoky cheeses, hunt this one down. This mixing of flavors even extends to beer. Some of the main
brands and microbrews I tried were sweetened; one of them was honey flavored. Mead, sadly, was nowhere to be found. A good place for Estonian beer in Tallinn is Hell Hunt, a bar/ restaurant that's hugely popular with both locals and tourists. As for the harder stuff, there's no shortage of Estonian and Russian vodka. Estonia is also known for Vana Tallinn ("Old Tallinn"), a sweet liquor that wasn't to my taste. It's made with vanilla pods, orange, lemon, bitter orange oils and a bit of cinnamon mixed with Jamaican rum. Often called the "Baileys of Estonia," I brought some back to my Baileys-loving wife and she found it overly sweet just like I did. We'll foist it off on some unsuspecting guests. Apparently this is what the Estonians do. Several told me that it's mostly an export brand.
In the bigger cities you'll find plenty of other cuisines. Besides the usual staples such as Chinese, Indian and Italian, there are plenty of Caucasian restaurants featuring the cuisines of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. These places will give you a very different dining experience and I recommend visiting at least one while you're in Estonia. At Must Lammas in Tallinn I tried a dish of crisphead lettuce with grilled chicken filet and garlic-cheese sauce that was excellent. Visiting Estonia in winter, I missed all the fresh herbs, berries and nuts the country folk like to gather. Everyone raves about the local strawberries. I did have a fun culinary experience, though. Plus I took the Estonian advice to eat a lot of garlic to keep from getting a cold. It worked!
BELGIAN HOSPITALITY AWARDS 2012
here is a fair number of culinary contests. Mostly, the chef has to demonstrate his technical abilities in order to create a good looking and tasty dish. All focus is on the table and on sommelier’s the wine expertise. And yet, hospitality is far more than a nice dish and good wine. The total experience offered to the guest is important: hospitality in the true sense of the word. In 2006 the idea of a contest,
focussing on hospitality, was born. After two years of refining the concept, the first edition of the ‘Flemish Hospitality Awards’ was organised in 2008. Organiser Paul Peeters wanted to put the hospitality branch in Flanders in a positive light, with the emphasis on the small and medium-sized enterprises. From the first beginnings, this initiative was supported by a number of partners, including ‘Horeca Magazine’, Belgium’s professional magazine for the restaurant, catering and hotel branch.
Text: Frans Rombouts Photos: Alex Karpov
After the first two editions the contest ‘Flemish Hospitality Awards’ evolved to the ‘Belgian Hospitality Awards’.
Hospitality The Hospitality Awards target restaurant, catering and hotel managers who are passionate about hospitality and who have a strong business concept. Indeed, the hospitality concept is of the highest importance, and not the nicest dish or best beer on tap, for which there are already enough contests. One exception being the ‘En Garde!’ contest for the best recipe with cream of the year, incorporated in the Hospitality Awards by Debic. The Hospitality Awards has a broad meaning: there are some twenty categories. Common to all of them is a catering activity or accommodation services. There are dedicated awards for restaurants, brasseries, hotels, bed & breakfasts, tearooms and coffeehouses, icecream parlours... Right up to wellness centres, provided they offer meals. On top of these there are awards for novelties in the hospitality branch and for children-friendly hospitality establishments like restaurants or brasseries. There is even an award for ‘Best Washing-up Employee of the Year’ and ‘Best Staff Team’. Furthermore, there prizes for Lifetime Achievement, for promising young business, as well as the Horeca Magazine press award.
However, the greatest honour is reserved for the Hospitality Ambassador, the ‘winner among the winners’.
Jury procedure After an hospitality business has enrolled for the contest, a member of the jury visits the place for an anonymous screening according to the specific criteria for that category. At the end of the visit the member of the jury identifies himor herself and has an interview with the manager, based on a questionnaire submitted by the candidate at the time of enrolment. This leads to a classification within the specific category. The high-ranking establishments get a second visit, this time by ‘mystery shoppers’, and fully anonymous. The results of these two visits lead to a final ranking of nominees. The entire procedure is supervised by a bailiff.
Hospitality Awards Gala On 28 January 2013 all nominees gathered in the Limburghal in Genk. They presented their establishment to the public at a ‘Hospitality Village’. After a VIP reception, a gala dinner and a sparkling show, the winners of all categories were announced. For more informatie: www.horecaawards.com (in Dutch and French)
THAILAND SLOW TRAVEL
FOR DEEPER, MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE
Once we step outside Bangkok and the modern speed of city life, we experience the real Thailand, the land of smiles. The Thai way of life is slow in origin: slowly in accordance with the time and with the seasons, the true speed of life. Slowing down your travels allows you to spend more time in one place and truly experience what life is like for the locals there. 58
Embrace this opportunity to explore a new culture, enjoy the food, learn about the customs and mingle with the local people. This is particularly easy in Thailand where the food is delicious and the locals are so friendly. One future holiday travel scenario is that of ‘slow travel’ where air and car travel are rejected in favour of forms of transport with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few tips to help slow down your Thailand travels, or simply to make any trip a little more eco-friendly.
Seek Alternative Transportation Options: Train travel is easily accessible in Thailand and is a great way to see the country and interact with the locals. It is also very inexpensive and is of course more environmentally friendly as well. Traveling by ferry is another great alternative to flying in Thailand, and also provides some incredible scenery, when traveling to some of the islands in the South of Thailand.
Walk: Another way to slow your travel down and make it more eco-friendly is to walk. Not only will you see and experience more, but you’ll save money on taxis and transportation. During any major festival such as Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, instead of taking taxis or tuk tuks, walking is a great way to see the celebrations, not just in the city center but in other parts also. Below four locations are highlighted as slow travel destination.
Those are perfect for green, community-based and laid-back tourism, with its strong local spirit and seven national parks. Krabi Ko Klang Ecotourism Village: Ko Klang is a small, calming island perfectly suited to those who seek utter relaxation or to really get back to nature. Its name is literally translated as ‘Middle Island,’ is home to one of Krabi’s sizable communities. The local people seek ways to best harmonize with the island’s abundant resources and natural charm. They joined forces to designate Ko Klang as an ecotourism destination. Discover their lifestyles through handson activities such as replanting mangrove trees, kayaking, or bird watching Nan province’s Wiang Sa district: Located in the central part of
Nan Province, Wiang Sa is not to be confused with the district of the same name in the southern province of Surat Thani. Home to some breathtaking caves, the stalactite and stalagmite formations are worth a closer look. The surrounding countryside, mountains and nature are ideal for quiet contemplative trip, but be sure to explore further afield to visit temples and take in the scenic riverside spots for picnics and allow yourself a quick dip to cool of f and play in waterfalls. Mae Hong Son's Pai district in the North: This small riverside town in Mae Hong Son Province is a popular escape from the city, close to the border with Myanmar. For the seasoned motorbike travelers, this makes for a picturesque journey. Motorcycles and bicycles can be rented locally although Pai
is explorable on foot or from the back of an elephant too. Pass waterfalls and dense flora and fauna for a truly memorable northern experience. Loei's Chiang Khan District in the Northeast. Chiang Khan is hugely popular with Thai tourists who make the trip from Bangkok every weekend. A bicycle is the perfect way to navigate the narrow streets and many homestays provide them free of charge. Laos is barely a stone’s throw away and it is possible to enjoy a drink on the banks of the Mekong River while overlooking northeast Thailand’s nearest neighbor. There are not any bars or nightlife to speak of and Chiang Khan is so sleepy that it virtually grounds to a halt at night. The strengths of Pai and Chiang Khan include their interesting local ethnic groups and lifestyles.
Top reasons to visit
Hyderabad the City of Nizams
Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh is one of the fastest developing cities in India and the city is known as the preserver of the unique culture of India. It is surely one of the most visited place in South India and every year tourists from every nook and corner of the world travels in Hyderabad for a memorable holiday. Well, there are many solid reasons to visit Hyderabad and here are some of them: Images of the past: The city of Hyderabad is a living example of the images of the opulent days of its ancient rulers. This 400 year old city is a must visit destination for history lovers. There are many places to visit in Hyderabad that reminds of the glorious past like Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Golconda Fort and so on. There are also many attractions that have remnants of art and culture of the Qutub Shahi and Asaf Jahi dynasties Mouth-watering dishes: One of the main highlights of the Hyderabad tourism is the Hyderabadi food which is a blend of Mughlai and Persian cuisines. It is famous for its rich and aromatic nature that comes due to the liberal use of exotic spices, ghee and fresh fruits. The Hyderabadi food uses fresh fruit instead of dried fruits. Biryani, one of India's most popular foods, is flavored rice with meat or vegetables and an important part of Hyderabadi cuisine. Rich culture: Hyderabad is known for its rich history and culture with a rich and varied heritage in arts, crafts and dance that was formed during the rule of Nizams. One who travels in Hyderabad must visit the Salar Jung Museum to witness the cultural side of Hyderabad. It is one of the biggest one-man collections of antiques of the world who was
Salar Jung III. Some of the top items here are Persian carpets, Moghal miniatures and daggers, Chinese porcelain, jade collection and Japanese lacquer and other fabulous items. Paradise for shopping lovers: Hyderabad is surely the best place in India for shopping. In fact, the city has been a major shopping center of India for years, right from the Mogul kings to the British rule to the present day. People come here to shop for, antiques, jewelry items, beautiful dresses, rare semi precious gems, natural pearls and handicrafts. Due to a pleasant Hyderabad weather, there will be no problem for tourists to travel around looking for souvenirs to take back home.
Other attractions: Gandhipet Lake also known as Osman Sagar is one of the top places to visit in Hyderabad. Spread over an area of 46 square kilometers, here people come to enjoy the lush greenery. One important lake is the Hussain Sagar Lake where 33 statues of different celebrities is breathtaking sight for one who travels in Hyderabad. One can even experience skiing in sweltering summers by visiting the Snow theme Park. It is the only such park in entire India where you can enjoy skiing in artificial snow. Apart from this, there are Film City Birla mandir and Osmania University which are amongst the top places to visit in Hyderabad. So, itâ€™s time to plan your trip to this â€œCity of Nizamsâ€?.