Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Strasser Glass Collection Exhibition at Ambras Castle

Ambras Castle Inssbruck (photo credit:
Ambras Castle Inssbruck (photo credit:

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the most visited tourist sites in Vienna, and indeed one of the most iconic buildings in the entire country. This beautiful Renaissance building houses some fascinating temporary exhibitions, but also has some equally fascinating permanent ones. The Strasser Glass Collection, permanently on display at Ambras Castle, is a fine example of this. 

The Strasser Collection is named after Professor Rudolph von Strasser who won the lifetime 
achievement OscART award for his work in the field. The Strasser glass collection is one of the most important collections of its kind across Europe. Europe has been home to some of the most renowned centres for glass work, particularly during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

This wonderful collection has some truly fine specimens from this period, from some of the most well-known centres for glass making, including Innsbruck, Silesia and Venice. The collection is quite large, and the beauty of each delicate glass object will make you want to stop and marvel of how it must have been produced and how much pleasure its owners must have derived from it! 

Speaking of production techniques, apart from the collection, the exhibition also explains the meticulous process of historical glass arts, including blowing glass objects and glass decoration. You also get a glimpse, rather quite a good understanding of, the history of glass making in Europe, and how it evolved over time. Seeing the illustrative examples in the collection makes things even more fascinating. You can also see how the designs and preferences change from one period to the next, which is very interesting.

If you are in the least bit interested in crafts and the processes of making things, and of course, if you like to see beautiful objects, do not miss this exhibition in Ambras Castle at the Vienna Museum of Art History.Watch a video of Ambras Castel here.

Discount Skiing Resorts in Austria

A skiing holiday really doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are quite a few, perhaps lesser known, ski resorts in the Central Eastern Alps and particularly in Austria, which can help you enjoy the pleasures of the piste without breaking the bank. I’m sharing a small list of budget ski resorts in Austria that could help you save money this ski season. 

Schladming is a tiny city located in the state of Styria, and is a very short distance from Salzburg, which makes it quite convenient to visit. Located in the Enns valley, Schladming is a small and charming resort that provides access to skiing across the gorgeous ski paradise of Ski Amadé. Schladming was originally a mining town, but has become a popular winter resort in recent years, so there is plenty of accommodation and other tourist support available with lots of budget options. 

Sölden is another popular Austrian skiing resort that offers a wide range of budget options for winter visitors. Sölden currently hosts the first World Cup races of the season. It has gained a reputation for its classic après ski culture. Sölden has a thriving tourist population, and as such, the resort is well equipped to cater to a range of visitors, with plenty of budget options for accommodation etc. 

For someone who prefers a quiet skiing break to the more bustling scene of popular pistes, Westendorf can be a good option. This is particularly attractive for beginners, or those who want to avoid crowds. Westendorf is a charming little village and the beginners slope, with a chairlift, is right in the middle of the village, so it gives a great opportunity to experience quiet Austrian day-to-day life during the ski break. 

St. Anton can be the perfect option for groups and revellers who want a bit of a party vibe on their ski holiday. This busy resort is famous for its legendary après ski scene. St. Anton is well versed with providing for large groups and parties, so if you are a group, you are likely to find attractive deals and offers on accommodation

Typical Winter Weather in Austria

snow over Hallstadt
Hallstadt town in Winter

Winters in Austria can get very cold indeed, no matter where you are. Exactly how bitingly cold it gets depends on where exactly in Austria you happen to be. The country has a largely temperate climate present in much of Central Europe. Eastern and southern parts of Austria including the Danube valley enjoy a mix of Mediterranean and Eastern European continental climate. 

Average winter temperatures range from 1 degree to 4 degrees, but can deviate from this depending on where you are. Night temperatures can go below minus 20 in some places. Alpine winters are of course, the harshest and coldest winters in Austria, and the Austrian Alps are said to be colder than the Swiss or French Alps. Winters can be sunnier in the Alps than in the Alpine valleys, which can be foggier and see more rainfall in winter than the higher terrain. 

The northern part of Austria has a continental climate, and winters are characterised with generally dry and cold weather. Winters in Salzburg can therefore be expected to be much dryer and certainly colder than summer months. Temperatures can remain below freezing to the north of Austria in winter. 

The low lying region to the south and south-east, flanked by the Alps to its north, enjoys the mildest weather characterised by Mediterranean weather patterns. Winters in Graz can therefore be expected to be milder, than say, Innsbruck which is not only higher in altitude but much more to the West. The Danube valley to the east enjoys less harsh winters. That is not to say that winter months in Vienna will not be chilly, as they are very likely to be so, but the weather is milder when compared to the highlands and northern part of Austria. 

Winters in Austria tend to be cold, and temperatures linger around freezing in general.  But the intensity of the cold weather can vary depending on where you are and how high above sea level you happen to be.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Planning a Trip to Innsbruck

hotel Inssbruck
Modern Ramada Hotel in Innsbruck

Needless to say, skiing is the main objective for most people heading to this beautiful Austrian resort town. But, this is not all there is to Innsbruck. In fact, there are so many things to see, do and enjoy in Innsbruck and even someone who is only an amateur skier, such as me, can enjoy their time in the city. 

If you like going up slope and looking at the view, only don’t particularly like to ski down the slope at the end, or are just taking a break from doing that, the Innsbruck funicular ride can provide a good way to spend some time. The ride itself can be quite amazing, but the real reward is the spectacular views you are offered at the top; both of the town as well of the magnificent Alps. The funicular stations are a futuristic delight in the signature style of architect Zaha Hadid and quite a treat to see. 

If, like me, you are curious about people and cultures, you might like to visit the Folk Museum, which has quite an interesting collection of not just art, but artefacts and objects from the folk history of the region. This includes Tirolean weapons that the Tirloeans used in their battle of independence. This place is truly fascinating and definitely worth a visit. The museum is housed in an old Franciscan monastery and is surrounded by the serene and beautiful park. 

It’s hard to miss the golden roof, beckoning you into old town Innsbruck. So even if you haven’t planned this iconic ‘Innsbruckian’ monument into your schedule, chances are you will end up visiting. This a three storeyed roof covered with gold plated tiles, that covers a porch built for the king Maximillian the first, presumably to sit and enjoy the Alpine views in true royal style. 
Innsbruck is known worldwide for its skiing, but that is definitely not all there is to it. You can certainly find things to do and places to visit other than skiing in Innsbruck and I highly recommend you plan these into your trip!

Exploring the Second City of Austria: Graz


Although Graz is Austria’s second largest city, it is often overlooked by tourists planning to spend their holidays in favour of Vienna, Salzburg or the skiing resorts of the Tirol. This is a great shame, as this historic city, located to the far south-east of the country, has such a lot to offer.  

Take its ‘Old Town’, which is often considered to be one of the best-preserved city centres in Europe and recently designated UNESCO World Heritage status. Here visitors will discover many of its historical landmarks, to include the architecturally impressive Rathaus (Town Hall), the gothic Dom Cathedral and Uhrturm clocktower, the city’s most identifiable landmark, which dominates the city skyline, high upon the steep Schlosberg hill.

Graz was proudly named the European Capital of Culture in 2003, a fact which is reflected in its wonderfully diverse collection of museums and galleries. If you only have the time to visit just a handful, I would highly recommend the Schloss Eggenberg Art Gallery, the city’s Natural History Museum and the Kunsthaus: a visually stunning modern building which houses an impressive exhibition of contemporary art. 

It may come as surprise to many visitors to discover that due to the city’s unique geographical location, it enjoys Austria’s mildest and driest climate. The city also boasts more sunshine hours than both Vienna and Salzburg. This means that the plant life to be found in the city’s numerous parks and open spaces are uniquely more akin to that of the Mediterranean, rather than that of the rest of Austria.

So, if you fancy discovering all that Graz has to offer, why not check-out the following official website address: