Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tauern Spa: A Review

Tauern Spa Logo

Tauren Spa is an oasis of water and wood, nestled among the Austrian Alps. Although the spa is a little out of the way, this is a choice location for any hotel, let alone such a luxury retreat. You can absorb the breath-taking views not only from the warm salt-water pool or the outdoor bar, but also from your room. Most of the rooms at Tauern Spa have a view to die for, but make sure you specify if you want the best panoramic views and book well in advance if you plan to visit over the weekend. 

Tauern Spa
Tauern Spa from outside
The simple, modern, and luxuriantly comfortable bathrooms and bedrooms are the perfect place to kickback after a day in the mountains. If the hiking trails, bike routes, ski trips, or shopping sprees leave you a little achy, the range of treatments and chill out areas will melt away any tension you arrived with. The relax room with a library, and the sauna are the most peaceful corners of the retreat; soak in the heat while you gaze up at emerald pastures and snow-capped mountains. There are plenty of deckchairs, and to the relief of parents and tranquillity-seekers alike, there are even separate kids pools, family expeditions, and a play room.

Relaxing in Tauern Spa
Relaxing in Tauern Spa
When you wake up to the bright Austrian sunlight, next on the list is breakfast, and it doesn’t disappoint. Don’t be put off by the buffet style assortment, they say it’s the most important meal of the day and Tauern Spa certainly seems to agree; the food is great quality and thoughtfully prepared, easily one of the better hotel breakfasts you will have on your travels. The Hotel dinner gets five stars, too, one for each course! You will sit down to 5 courses of modern Austrian food, and international cuisine, beautifully presented in a contemporary restaurant accented with traditional Austrian spirit.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wildlife and nature surrounding the Danube River

Wildlife on the Danube river
The Donau-Auen National Park
You will find DonauauenNational Park situated in a lush ‘green ribbon’ that lies in between the two closest capital cities in Europe; Bratislava and Vienna. Established in 1996, The park spans over 40 square miles and is a highly important conservation area; as well as a centre for science and research.
The second largest river on the continent, The Danube, flows through Donauauen untamed, feeding and watering the plentiful wildlife, and sustaining what is the last large wetland ecosystem in Central Europe. The park is full of things to do, and is an excellent place for explorers of all ages.

Danube river banks
Danube river banks

Spot rare and endangered species such as the Beaver and the Kingfisher; take one of the many walking tours; or rest up and sail the Danube. The neighbouring town of Orth also holds the tourist and information centre for the park, where you can learn about the environment in much more detail, get yourself some maps and check out the day’s tours and activities. Additionally the National Park House was opened in 2007 and was built beautifully in order to reflect and complement its surroundings. Shops, exhibitions, cafés, and events can all be found within.
Falling trees next to the Danube river
The Donauauen National Park is one of 6 protected parks in Austria, and locals use the well-established hiking and cycling routes to see the most of the vast forests and bodies of water that make the park so special. The most popular route is 11 km long and is aptly named the Napoleon Loop, as it passes a memorial to the 1809 Battle of Aspern-Essling, as well as some battlefield sites, and the headquarters of Napoleon himself. 

As well as these main activities, there are places you can go for a swim, or take part in water sports. For a whistle-stop tour of the park, you can even board the Admiral Tegetthoff in Vienna and sail right through the park, arriving in the medieval town of Hainburg.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spare Some Time to Visit the Augarten Palace

The Augarten Palace
The Augarten Palace

The Augarten Palace or ‘Palais Augarten’ is a striking Baroque palace nestled in an old Jewish district of Vienna. It now serves as a boarding school for the Boys’ Choir of Vienna, and had retained its original sweeping appearance, decoration, and furnishings despite extensive damage caused by the Second World War.
The palace was designed and built in Austria’s popular Baroque period, nestled in a beautifully landscaped park that exists to this day. The Palace was a well-used place, and even featured a salon where some big names in music such as Wagner and Liszt came to hang out. Great balls for 18th  and 19th century aristocrats to dance the night away at were commonplace, and the largest party ever to be held Augarten Palace was the 1873 Viennese World Fair.
In the 20th century, the palace was occupied by the Austrian chancellor before being badly damaged in the war. Since 1948, however, the world famous Vienna Boys’ Choir has lived, practiced, and performed here, although the building itself is state owned.
The grounds contain a lively market, restaurant, and beautiful gardens as well as the palace and concert hall that was opened in 2012 especially for the choir. You will also find a porcelain museum and studio of contemporary art. The porcelain manufactory holds morning tours that many deem to be a hidden delight of their visit to the Palais Augarten. You can see the whole porcelain making process, and watch artists hard at work with their tiny brushes. Saturdays are an especially busy time in this area of Vienna, as the markets swell and tourists and locals gather to eat, drink and enjoy the landscape. An experience you will definitely find hard to beat on your wonderful trip to the Austrian capital.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Radisson Blu, Vienna: A Review

Radisson Blu hotel vienna
The Radisson Blu hotel in Vienna

The Radisson Hotels are a well know international chain of hotels known to offer high quality service and comfort. The Radisson Blu is a contemporary hotel right in the heart of the Austrian capital, Vienna. You can walk from the Radisson to many Viennese hotspots including the Opera House, The Hofburg Palace, and St. Stephens’s Cathedral.  The hotel, of course, includes a gym, sauna and treatment rooms, and all of the rooms include the modern comforts we have come to expect from a five star place like the Radisson.

This hotel is as central as you can get, in Vienna’s shopping district, and on the same block as two U-Bahn stations. Despite the centrality you will notice the hotel itself is very quiet, so you can be well rested for your Viennese adventures. In terms of adventures, you can be sure the Radisson concierge will have a good knowledge of the area, restaurant recommendations, and speak great English if you aren’t up to scratch with your German. 


Vienna boasts dozens of fantastic restaurants, but if you want to stay closer to home for dinner, try the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, ‘Sapori’. The Radisson offers an international menu but Sapori offers authentic Austrian dishes, too. You can enjoy a continental breakfast at the Radisson, but at an extra charge. Perhaps it would be better to step out and enjoy a traditional Austrian breakfast, and watch local life go by from one of the many nearby cafés.

The rooms at the Radisson are chic, luxuriant and comfortable with all the amenities you will need, including room service and high speed Wi-Fi. The bathrooms are also very spacious and a great place to enjoy a hot bubble bath before your night out on the twinkling streets of Vienna. If you don’t want to gamble with your accommodation and are looking for international, high-standard service, look no further than the Radisson Blu.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Learn about Austria’s Famous Chocolatier

Mozart chocolate
Mirabelle's famous Mozart chocolate balls

If you ask any traveller who has been through Salzburg what the best Austrian chocolate is, they are likely to say ‘Mozartkugeln’. Although Mozartkugeln means ‘Mozart Balls’ I can assure you that they taste much better! This traditional Austrian delicacy is made by coating marzipan marbles in praline, and then adding a chocolate coating to form a seductive three-layer sweet that simply melts in your mouth.
These bite size delights were created in 1890 and coined by Salzburg’s master confectioner, Paul Furst. Mirabell chocolate has now expanded to meet insatiable demand; however, you can still visit their birthplace in Salzburg, learn about Furst and Mozart, and pick up some chocolaty souvenirs while you’re there. It’s pretty hard to get Mozartkugeln outside of Austria, there are a few Deli websites that will export them but people say that Salzburg city is only the place you can pick up an authentic Mozart Ball, so if you’re passing through the source, try to grab a handmade version. 

Mozart balls

The most popular and widely distributed Mozartkugeln are the ones made by Mirabell in Salzburg. They are an established Austrian brand, and follow Furst’s original recipe. They are also incidentally the only perfectly round versions of the sweet! The company have longstanding links with the International Mozarteum Foundation in the city, preserving Austrian heritage and educating people about the life and music of W. A. Mozart.

Mirabell boast that they have created 1.5 billion Mozart Balls, which would cover the earth circumference if laid side by side! I, however, recommend laying them side by side in your stomach, or taking them home for friends and family as something a little different, and quintessentially Austrian. If you want to rival Furst, and try making them at home, Mirabell have been kind enough to put some recipes up online for you to download. Mozartkugeln now come in several delicious flavours so do yourself a favour and get an assortment!