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Austrian Alps have for a long time presented some of the most luxurious
skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Europe. The country's mountain
resorts have catered to thousands upon thousands of satisfied
holidaymakers, without compromising their traditional beauty and charm.
But how do you make sure you get the best holiday for your group, and
all at a price that will be pleasantly surprising?
Steep thrills or beginner's paradise?
There's a wide variety of resorts to choose from in Austria, and you're
sure to find the ideal place for you; whether you're booking a holiday
for a family of beginners, a pack of daredevils or a group with a wide
range of abilities, Austria's resorts will be able to provide. For
beginner skiers and boarders, Obergurgl and Lech are a couple of the
finest resorts to go for at this level. Set in a small traditional
village, Obergurgl is the quieter of the two resorts, but it is almost
guaranteed to have good snow. You are unlikely to meet any big crowds or
queues in the resort, and with the easy level of the pistes it makes
for an excellent place to learn. Lech is a larger and busier resort, and
more suitable for groups of varying abilities as there is a lot of off
piste on offer and a snow park and half-pipe for boarders. While some of
the slopes back to the centre are a little steep for beginners, there
is nothing too challenging.
those who want something to get the adrenaline pumping, St Anton is a
great place to go. Situated in the western end of the Tirol region, the
resort offers a wide area of mountain to explore as the ski pass allows
you to venture into Lech and Zürs as well. Like Lech and Obergurgl, St
Anton experiences a lot of snowfall, so it's unlikely that you'll be
stuck scraping your skis across the rocks. While it can get a bit
crowded, cars are not permitted in the village centre so it still feels
like the picturesque Alpine town you want it to be. It's got good après
ski opportunities too, as does Saalbach. Saalbach is one of the four
resorts that make up the "Ski Circus" – a ski area of over 200km of
marked piste. Saalbach has something for everyone, with a selection of
easy slopes and ski schools for beginners, as well as a variety of
harder runs and some fantastic off piste for skiers and boarders alike.
There are a number of snow parks and half-pipes to enjoy too, giving
large groups a great range of mountain activities to keep them occupied.
In February, Saalbach hosted the legendary Ästhetiker Winter MÄSH,
an exciting three-day snowboarding festival that saw some of the
world's best snowboarders entertaining the eager crowds. MASH stands for
'Music, Art and Snowboard Happening', and perfectly sums up the type of
event that it is. There were team snowboarding contests galore, adding a
little something special to everyone's ski and boarding holidays.
Booking the holiday
to a resort can often be difficult and a complicated process to organize for yourself. Booking a package deal will eliminate any
problems, however, as the company will arrange everything for you to
ensure a hassle-free holiday. There are plenty of cheap ski holidays on
offer, whether you're booking for a large family group or with a small
group of friends. There will be an option of catered or self-catered
accommodation for you to choose from, so you can choose the one that
best suits you.
The catered chalets on offer provide food that is cooked
to a high standard, and saves you from having to find a supermarket in
the mountains or cooking at the end of a tiring day on the slopes.
Austria does, however, have an excellent range of mountain restaurants to
choose from, so whether you're dining out every night of just once
throughout your stay, you're sure to find something to suit you.
you're looking for a quick weekend getaway for two or an exciting
winter holiday with family or friends, Austria's resorts will be able to
cater to your needs. With an excellent snowfall record and plenty of
exciting mountain activities on offer, they certainly won't let you
Every summer, the scenic Austrian city of
Salzburg plays host to the world-renowned Salzburg Festival. This exciting
showcase of the country’s most talented artists, as well as worldwide
celebrated operatic and dramatic performances, can be enjoyed in the city’s
Great Festival Hall, which has been its setting since the 1920’s.
Historically, the Salzburg Festival has
been in existence since 1877, when it was organised by the International Mozart
Foundation, named after Salzburg’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart.After a brief respite for the First
World War, the festival then continued in 1920, when Reinhardt famously
performed Hofmannsthal’s Jederman, on Salzburg’s Cathedral’s steps.
Since then, the festival has included a
number of iconic performances, to include one by the Von Trapp Family Singers,
whose life was famously dramatized in TheSound of Music. Salzburg is extremely
proud of being the setting for this classic film, which seems to be celebrated
at every turn when exploring the city!
Today the festival is as popular as ever,
drawing crowds of thousands from throughout Austria, Western Europe and the
world to this comparatively small mountainside city. The programme for 2013
includes concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic, a Mozart Matinee by Ivor Bolton
and a dramatic performance of Snow White.
The 2013 Festival commences on the 19th
July, running for five weeks until its Grand Finale on the 1st
September. As well as being treated to productions by some of the world’s best
conductors, musicians, actors and singers, those fortunate enough to have
tickets will also be dazzled by stunning pyrotechnic displays and a backdrop of
I would highly recommend the purchase of a
glossy, comprehensive programme to illustrate the festival’s broad spectrum of
performances and to act as a worthwhile souvenir of this magnificent event.
This, along with tickets and information of all artists can be purchased from
the festival’s official website http://www.salzburgerfestspiele.at/summer
Sound of Music filmed in Salzburg (picture credit: metroactive.com)
Okay, I’m going to put my hands up
and admit to the fact that I am a massive fan of the Rogers and Hammerstein’s
film The Sound of Music. I can hear
you sniggering, but do you know what? I don’t really care! As this film is
based on true events that transpired in the run-up to the Second World War and
because it is a picture that literally has it all, I am actually quite proud of
this sincere fondness.
This was one of the main reasons for
my wanting to visit the city of Salzburg in the first place. The city always
looked so idyllic and quaint in the movie itself and I was keen to see how much
it had changed since the film was shot back in 1965.
This turned out to be the biggest
surprise of them all! When I got to Salzburg and walked around the Old Town
especially, I very soon realised that Salzburg has hardly changed at all.
Nearly fifty years later, walking around the city you still recognise many
landmarks and buildings that were captured in the original film and this is
actually quite amazing!
Of course, if you have ever been
lucky enough to venture to Salzburg yourself, the Fortress which sits atop of a
hill overlooking the city is one of the first sights that instantly hits you. I
found that the Mirabel Gardens were still extremely easy to recognise, as were
a number of other buildings and fountains where the Von Trapp children danced
and sung around.
In an age
where there are numerous violent films depicting yet another poor unfortunate
being murdered, the film The Sound of
Music provides some much-needed escapism; a return to a bygone age of
innocence. There is so much to be said for this.
My policy when on
holiday in a new place is, go with the flow. It is all very well to have a
strictly planned itinerary ticking off all the right tourist spots, but nothing
can give you a taste of the place and the people like getting involved in a
local event. As it happens, the thing that was going on while I was in Vienna
is the city marathon.
The marathon was in
full swing while I was there, and little did I know that people actually travel
from afar in order to take part in it. The annual running event is in fact the
country’s largest, and in 2010 had over 33,000 participants from over 108
different countries. This year will be the event’s 30th birthday, as
it was first held back in 1984, so it’s bound to be most special!
The event includes
a full marathon which covers the full distance of 42.195kms. Running this
distance without immense training is difficult for most people, to put it
mildly. But thankfully, there is also a half marathon, in addition to a relay
event, and even two fun runs of 4.2 km. and 2 km for young people and kids.
Of course, you need
to register for the marathon and can’t simply start running on the track. But
watching the runners and cheering, and generally getting steeped in the
atmosphere is a lovely way to spend a day, especially if you plan a walking
route where you can explore the city at the same time.
Running the Vienna
City Marathon is bound to be an exceptional experience. The city is a unique
mix of so much history and character coupled with modernity. Surely, taking
part in such an invigorating event in an iconic city like Vienna, and running alongside
people from across Austria and the world will be an experience worth having.
And the marathon
itself is much more than a running event, and has a theme around which several
different events take place each year. Last year the theme was the 150th
birthday of famous art nouveau artist Gustav Klimt. The race this year will be
starting on Sunday 14th April 2013 9.00 am.