Monday, 5 May 2014

A Trip to Astonishing Austria

Let us go on a virtual date with Austria, the land of scenic splendor, rich culture and history, located in southern Central Europe. Over the last decade, it has turned out as one of the most preferential destinations amongst travelers all throughout the world, cheers to the warm hospitality of the natives.


Vienna, the capital city, has places to amaze you right from natural beauty like Wienerwald to manmade architectural marvels like palaces and churches. If you plan a visit during summer, then throng with locals in its Sand, an artificial beach that is created every year. Otherwise, one can devote a day at Prater amusement park. From its popular Giant Ferris Wheel, relish the flabbergasting view of the city. Not to skip at the Prater, is the lately constructed Madame Tussauds Wax museum. If you are on for orchestra, then head towards the Vienna opera house, an abode to the famous Vienna philharmonic orchestra.

Schönbrunn Palace is the homeland of Emperor Franz Josef as well as the summer residence of Hapsburg family. Of late, it is part of cultural heritage of UNESCO because of its historic importance. This baroque complex has an alluring park, the Palm House, the Gloriette and a zoo.

The Fortress Hohensalzburg, is the brilliant and mighty landmark of Salzburg, the city of Mozart. This castle is a silent illustrator of the Roman-Catholic Archbishops who ruled Salzburg up to the late 18th century.

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is the connection between the two states Salzburg and Carinthia, leading to the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner (3,798 m) and its iceberg, the Pasterze. This 48Kms of ride with 36 bends through the amazing hilly roads is an experience of a lifetime.

Climb up the Schlossberg and gaze at the landmark of Graz, the Uhrturm (clocktower), dating back to the 13th century.

Designed by artist André Heller in 1995, Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Kristallwelten) a modern-art museum and its fixtures are motifs of crystals, colors and light. It homes many creations of famous artists. Under its magnificent Crystal Dome, one can witness some incredible performances in the Crystal Theatre.

Situated in Werfen at 40Kms away south from Salzburg, the Eisriesenwelt, is a natural limestone cave. Covering more than 42kms of area as well as representing an astounding underground world of natural ice effigies and creations, this is the largest cave in the world. Entry is permitted from May to October.

The Belvedere, designed by baroque architect Lukas von Hildebrandt, is a must visit. It was originally constructed as summer palace of Prince Eugen von Savoyen. Its museum houses the world's largest Gustav Klimt collection alongside of the creations of other artists like Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

Krimml Falls, a three-levelled and 380mtrs high waterfall is Europe's biggest and a treat for the lenses of photographers.

Gastronomic Gulley

Austria offers an array of lip-smacking indulgence.
Wiener Schnitzel- is meat covered in breadcrumbs and fried.
Tafelspitz, or boiled beef served with potatoes and horseradish, is a famous Viennese dish that's served on Sundays accompanied by herbed dumplings.
Apfelstrudel is a famous dessert.
Bauernbrot or Vollkornbrot is bread considered as a rural staple.
Semmelwhite flour rolls.
Sachertorte is a chocolate torte, stuffed with apricot jam and wrapped with chocolate icing, sweetened cream, or schlagobers.
Knödel, another favorite, is about dumplings of either savory or sweet in taste.

Souvenirs from the land

High quality items like glassware and handbags to winter sports kit are available in every shopping corner. Before you take off from Vienna, must have a look at Steffl and Ringstrassen Galerien, two renowned spots for upmarket wears. For the antique lovers, pay a visit to the market at Am Hof Square, held on Fridays and Saturdays. The farmer's market in Freyung is an attention-grabbing place to bargain for handicrafts, specifically during the Christmas. A flea market at Naschmarkt, takes place on every Saturday can be tried out for various unusual and wonderful decorating items. Local high-quality handicrafts, is the specialty of Innsbruck and Salzburg.

Come and explore the mighty mountain summits, lush green fields, crystal-clear waterways and satiate your taste-buds; at Astonishing Austria!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Holiday Destinations in the British Isles

West Wales

Not only is the coast to die for in West Wales, with beaches that could be in the Caribbean with their golden sand, tranquil blue sea and dolphins swimming by, but there is also plenty to do on a rainy day. In Pembrokeshire, attractions such as Oakwood Theme Park and Folly Farm attract visitors in their droves, particularly when the weather isn't quite right for heading to the beach.

Devon and Cornwall

Both of these beautiful counties attract hoards of holidaymakers both from the UK and abroad every year. From families with young children to hardened surfer dudes looking for big waves and big parties, Devon and Cornwall really do have something to offer to everyone. The iconic Eden Project is a great attraction for a rainy day, and there are plenty of wildlife sanctuaries, railways, walks and country parks to keep you entertained. Of course, the beaches are also stunning and in the sunshine, there really is no better place to be.


Ask any foreign tourist which part of the UK they are most looking forward to visiting and they will say London. This historic city is one of the most iconic places in the world, and yet many British people have never visited. It is full of museums, art galleries, famous buildings, fabulous restaurants and fascinating tourist attractions like the London Eye. You will never be bored in Britain's capital, whether you are looking to party the night away, explore the landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace or simply soak up the atmosphere. It is worth timing your visit wisely, in the run-up to Christmas it is particularly busy, but it also offers the opportunity to enjoy a lovely festive market in Hyde Park. London Marathon day is another love it or hate it time to visit the capital, millions of people flock there to run or to support. The atmosphere is amazing but the traffic and public transport can be a nightmare, as can finding accommodation.

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland

If you long to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, opting to avoid the throngs of tourists heading to other parts of the UK during holiday time, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland may well be your best bet. These incredible, unspoilt areas offer visitors the opportunity to really relax and get away from it all. Some of the Hebridean Islands are pedestrian only, and can be reached only by boat. The pace of life is relaxed and in tune with nature. You can see incredibly rare wildlife such as sea eagles, sea otters and beavers, as well as more common but no less magnificent deer, dolphins and whales.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Top 4 Tourist Cities In Greece

Greece is a scenic country located at the crossroads of Europe, Western Asia and Africa. This particular position gives it an uninterrupted access to a wide range of cultures that reflects on its rich history. The landscape is mountainous, making it a heaven for cross country skiers and adrenaline seekers. This European country is highly developed and is blessed with a high standard of living. The wine produced here are globally famous. If you are planning to visit Greece, read on to find the top cities which are a tourist attraction.

Four tourist cities in Greece:

1. Athens
Long known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, Athens holds a special place in Greece and in world history. It is the capital and the largest city in Greece. It is home to ancient structures such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites Acropolis of Athens and Daphni monastery. A visit to Greece is incomplete without a visit to Athens. It also boasts of the National Archeological Museum, which features the oldest Greek antiquities alongside the Acropolis Museum.

2. Thessaloniki
The capital of Macedonia, Thessaloniki has a special status in Greek history. It is an important commercial and economical centre of Greece and in some cases is referred as the cultural capital of Greece. The place has a rich history spanning 2300 years and it is reflected in their architectural structures. Thessaloniki even has a mention as the World's best party place. Greece package tour providers help you to include Thessaloniki in your itinery.

3. Patras
Patras, the lesser known cousin of Thessaloniki, is known as the European platform for hosting the largest and the most boisterous carnival festival. It even rivals Brazil as the carnival capital. Ancient structures related to the Greek and Roman era litter the Patras landscape. The region has its own Patras Carnival which includes huge satirical boats and parades. The pleasant Mediterranean climate adds to the allure of the region. It has a rich history spanning over four millennia and was an important region since then. Holiday packages to Greece will be incomplete without taking a stop at Patras.

4. Heraklion
Heraklion is a major archaeological excavation site boasting of ancient ruins which are still visible today. It is a heavenly abode for ancient structural lovers. The panoramic harbor and warm climate make it an ideal hotspot for vacationers. Many professional Greece holiday service providers make it a point to give their patrons a tour of Heraklion.

The above four cities encompass the whole cultural and heritage aspect of Greece. Visit Greece for a memorable experience.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Interesting Things to See in the Tampa Area

If you were to look for an area in the United States that has just about everything, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area may be one of those places. It has some of the best beaches in the country, great theme parks within an hour and one-half drive, museums, animal attractions and science centers. The weather is great, cruise lines are close at hand, and if you like city living Tampa is the third largest city in Florida and St. Pete the fourth. It has just about everything except mountains.

You can have a great time soaking up the sun and just hanging out. But if you are looking for some real fun and interesting things to do, here are a few ideas:

1. Beaches. There are many excellent choices within short driving distance of downtown Tampa, but Fort De Soto County Park may stand out as the best for many people. It has been voted the top beach in America by Trip Advisor, and although it averages in excess of 2.7 million visit the park its seven miles of waterfront can accommodate a lot of visitors.

2. Amusement parks. Only about an hour or a little more from downtown Tampa is Orlando, the amusement capital of the world. But just north a little ways is an excellent park in its own right: Busch Gardens Tampa. It has a collection of some of America's top roller coasters, but perhaps what sets it apart is the Serengeti Plain, a large place where African animals freely roam.

3. Other animal attractions. A great choice here is the Florida aquarium, which is ranked as one of the best in the world. Some of their interactive exhibits are really interesting and creative, but try to get on the Eco-Tour aboard their catamaran. They have a wide variety of marine animals, but they rightly emphasize those from the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay area.

4. Science centers. The Museum of Science and Industry of Tampa will keep kids busy with a lot of hands-on gadgets to play with. The Imax Dome is also worth checking out. For a real local flavor of Tampa there is the Ybor City Museum. It's small but gives an excellent history of Cuban immigration to Tampa and the role the cigar industry played in the city's early development.

Speaking of Ybor City, this is really a quaint area not far from the cruise-line docks and not a bad option for spending some time in. I've noticed that in the last five years this area has been spruced up quite a bit.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A Fortress, a Photo Collection, a Dance Step

Luxembourg is a city of contrasts. On the one hand there is the cosmopolitan area of Kirchberg, with its European and financial quarters, contemporary office buildings and an increasing number of housing areas. On the other hand, the capital's old city, located around the "Bockfelsen", highlights the 1000-year-old history of the fortress. Since 1994 this part of Luxembourg is part of the Unesco World Heritage Sites. Famous architects such as the French Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban developed the fortification to such an extent that it was referred to as the Gibraltar of the North. Even the historic old city has always been cosmopolitan.

From the 16th century onwards those in charge of the fortification included the Roman emperors, Burgundians, Habsburgs, the Spanish and French Kings and eventually the Prussians. The last parts of the fortification were demolished after the London conference in 1867. The remains can still be visited today and are very much a unique tourist attraction.

In July 2012 the fortification museum "Dräi Eechelen" in Kirchberg was inaugurated. It welcomes visitors just next door to the museum for contemporary art. The casemates are the capital's must-see, old underground tunnels of which 17 km are preserved and can be accessed from two different locations. Above-ground, a stroll over the Corniche, a footpath which native author Batty Weber called the most beautiful balcony in Europe due to its panoramic view on the historic outskirts, is yet another highlight. In addition, visitors can also stroll along the defence wall or wander on the historic Wencelas tour to gain an insight into the past. Exceptional visits are organised by the Friends of the History of the Fortress; the perfect way to discover the capital's historic setting.

Since 2010, the dancing procession of Echternach, named after the charming abbey village in the east of the country, is part of the immaterial world heritage. When Willibrord, the founder of the local Benedictine monastery died in 739, pilgrims flocked to Echternach to pay homage to the missionary. The first testimonials of the three-step dance steps go back to the 11th century. Despite the common opinion, especially in the media, people don't hope forwards and back-although the routine has changed over the course of time.

Since 1947 the following applies: to a polka melody pilgrims take a left and then a right jump. This religious ritual supposedly showing Christian joy, incorporates the body into the prayers. Even today, the dancing procession on Pentecost Sunday attracts more than 12'000 people each year, of which 8'000 do the jumping steps. The Abbey Museum highlights the life and deeds of holy Willibrord.

In Clervaux, in the north of the country, the photo collection " Family of Man" consists of yet another highlight. The collection has been curated by world known fashion and art photographer Edward Steichen, who was born in Luxembourg in 1879 and emigrated with his parents at the age of two. As the head of the photography department at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) he chose 503 out of more than 2 Million pictures, which went on display in New York in 1955. His pictures have one important message: the unity of people. Steichen highlighted various aspects and parts of human life: birth, love, family, work, old age, belief and war. Only five pictures of the exhibition were taken by Steichen himself, the others were taken by 272 other great photographers from 68 countries, such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, August Sander and Ansel Adams. In 1966, the American government gave the last completely preserved exhibition as a gift to the Luxembourgish state.

Since 1994, the permanent exhibition is displayed at the castle of Clervaux. After a few years of restoration works, the historic collection was reopened in summer 2013 in presence of members of the Steichen family. The "Family of Man " is part of the Unesco's world documentary heritage since 2003.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Must See Places in Burma

There is a Kiplingesque cadence to so many Burmese names: Shwedagon, Rangoon, Mandalay, Irrawaddy, Chindwin, and Maymyo. Names that stir half-memories of Eastern romance and Imperial adventure.

Unsurprisingly, these are the places that still form the heart of most itineraries to Burma - and rightly so. There is Kingly Pagan now rendered Bagan with its vast dry scrub plain, with orange-coloured outcroppings framing an atmospheric skyline, crowded with the domes and spires of temples and pagodas, and the Irrawaddy or Ayeryawady River flowing below.

Rangoon or Yangon remains Burma's premier city, and to appreciate this quintessentially colonial city which still houses perhaps the greatest collection of colonial buildings in the East, one has to spend a couple of days luxuriating at the Strand. Of course, the highlight of Rangoon remains the vast gilded, shimmering bulk of Shwe-Dagon pagoda. Situated on Singuttara Hill it dominates the skyline.

For tours, I strongly recommend getting away from the rutted track of the 'highlights' and experiencing the south from Mawlamyine (Moulmein), which is in the heart of the Mon country. Enjoy a luxury cruise up the Salween River and navigate peacefully through wetlands of paddy in a kayak.

Mandalay has a famous name but it is not a place that I would recommend - instead go east, into the Shan Hills. At the turn of the 20th century, Colonel May of the Indian Army established the popular hill station of Maymyo (May Town), now more liltingly named Pyin Oo Lwin. Take the train from here to Hsipaw crossing over the vast Gokteik Viaduct, which is one of the highest in the world - a real highlight. The Shan Hills are delightful, and staying at Hsipaw allows you to explore the charming rural communities around Kyaukme.

A cruise for a couple of nights down the Irrawaddy is a must. This great river once knitted the country together, and the steam-boats have been replaced with increasingly luxurious vessels that allow for a fantastically relaxed exploration of the idyllic villages with their traditional ways, arts, and crafts along the river.

End your tour at Bagan. This is where the great Bamar king Anawrahta embarked on a great spree of pagoda building to mark his conversion from Mahayana to Theravada Buddhism. His successor continued this building and the result is a great 'Pagoda City'. Kalaw and Inle Lake are other must see highlights.

I do then, however, strongly recommend heading west to Arakan (Rakhine State) to enjoy the charming old-world Sittwe and evocative and atmospheric Mrauk-U before spending several days chilling out on the silken sands of Ngapalli beach.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Things You Probably Don't Know About Fraser Island

Perhaps you may have heard of a place called Fraser Island off the southern Queensland coast. Tourists and travellers alike may have frequented this popular holiday destination.

However, those of you who have only known the island to be the largest sand island in the world and nothing more, you'll be surprised to discover more exciting things about Fraser Island in QLD Australia.

Research shows that Aboriginal Australians first inhabited the island known due to abundant seafood resources. But the name Fraser Island comes from Captain James Fraser, and wife Eliza whose ship, the Stirling Castle got shipwrecked while travelling from Sydney to Singapore in 1836.

Their vessel with 18 crew and passengers on it was caught up on coral while sailing through the Great Barrier Reef.

This tourist spot was first known by the name "K'gari", a language of the Butchulla tribe which means paradise in English. It isn't called paradise for nothing for there exists various marine life in its surrounding waters, with an exciting dynamic flora and fauna therein.

Likewise, the island is home to ancient rainforests, woodlands teeming with eucalyptus, mangrove forests, sand dunes, coastal heaths and lots of natural wonders of creation. The island is very accessible from Hervey Bay, since this is the nearest large town, along with Maryborough and Bundaberg.

It used to be that the northern part of the island belonged to the city of Hervey Bay and the south part, to the city of Maryborough. This also includes the highly visited Eurong community and the Kingfisher Bay Resort.

But today, almost all of Fraser Island is now a part of the Great Sandy National Park under the administration of Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. It is said to be the largest island of Queensland.

As any tourist would know, its major landmark is the SS Maheno shipwreck. Originally built as a luxury passenger ship in Scotland in 1905, it was sold to a ship-breaker in Japan after being taken out of service sometime in 1935.

While on tow to Osaka to be dismantled, it encountered a strong cyclone just 50 miles off the Queensland coast. It became beached on Fraser Island coast on 9 July 1935. Today, the shipwreck is one of the favourite attractions of tourists who go on Fraser Island nature tours.

Aside from the island tours, visitors are also treated to a majestic site of the humpback whales in Hervey Bay and some species of dolphins, dugongs and sea turtles that frequently visit the surrounding waters. Other cetaceans like the great white, tiger and bull sharks are also frequent visitors.

Apart from that, mud crabs and various fresh water fish species are aplenty in the island's lakes. Giant earthworms and long finned eels have also been sighted on the island.

Natural sand and rock formations also abound in the island aside from fresh water lakes. The Eli Creek, having its own unique and diverse wildlife is flowing 80 million litres of water on a daily basis.

The sandblows were responsible for the creation of the oldest known dune system dated to be 700,000 years. Dunes were created when sands were blown by the wind and caused a movement overlapping each other and intersecting waterways and forest covers. No vegetation of any kind exists on dunes.

When touring the island, you'll be amazed at the sight of the coloured sands found at Rainbow Gorge, The Cathedrals, The Pinnacles and Red Canyon. The sands are thought to have gotten their colour thousands of years now when it got mixed with clay. The mineral pigment, hematite, found in clay stained the sand with its colour.