Month: January 2017

seattle

The Scenic City of Seattle

The city of Seattle is set to become one of the hottest and fastest growing US destinations in 2017, but what does it have to offer its visitors?

When thinking of your dream holiday, I’m sure a trip to the Caribbean or a relaxing South Pacific cruise comes to mind, yet studies have shown that Washington’s city of Seattle is expected to be one of the most popular travel destinations for British holidaymakers in 2017. Seattle, nicknamed the Emerald City due to all of the vibrant greenery, is a city where art and nature meet and a foodie’s fantasies come true.

Recent statistics show that 2015 saw a record number of visitors in Seattle – a figure that has been increasing through the course of this current year and is set to soar during 2017. A total of 38.1 million people visited Seattle during 2015, equating to an increase of 2.6% from the previous year. Overnight visits also increased by 2.3% to 19.7 million, helping toward an overall expenditure of 6.8 billion in the city over the course of a year – a very impressive 5.8% increase from 2015, proving that Seattle makes just as great a holiday destination as the next city.

Obviously, tourism is a large part of Seattle’s recent success rates, helping the economy by causing a 3.4% increase in travel related jobs – there were over 73,000 jobs of this kind back in 2015; a figure that is still on the up and these jobs represent almost 6% of all employment in the country (1 in 17 jobs). Although this may not sound like a striking figure and despite the fact that Seattle is the largest city in Washington, these statistics really are quite remarkable when considering the size of the US as a whole and how many states are within it.

So what is it that’s pushing Seattle further and further up the ‘hot-spot’ ladder?

Well first of all, beautiful scenery is always a bonus and although Seattle is situated in a partly built-up environment, its close proximity to the North Pacific Ocean means there are plenty of beautiful sights to see. Don’t get me wrong; urban environments can be scenic too – especially at sunset with the modernised skyscrapers sat just in front of the horizon, or just the general hustle and bustle of happiness on the streets. However, the beauty of historic landmarks such as Mount Rainier or the relaxation of ferry trips across the calm waters for a day trip to Bainbridge Island are the type of elements most enjoy.

snoqualmie-falls

Snoqualmie Falls

The San Juan Islands offer a day trip and are full of opportunities for all kinds of visitors. With guided tours available, wildlife spotting, whale watching and sea kayaking are just some of the possibilities these islands have to offer. Also, the views from the top and bottom of the 270 foot Snoqualmie Falls are striking and the nearby Salish Lodge and Spa, which overlooks the falls, is the perfect place to get a pampering or grab a gourmet bite.

Seattle really does have something for everyone, whether you’re going it alone or with your family. Vertical World allows the kids to show off their wall-climbing skills on a low-elevation see-through wall, so why not leave the kids to get on with it while you enjoy one of their relaxing yoga classes? Or if wildlife is more your thing you can get up close and personal with the inhabitants of the Tropical Rain Forest at Woodland Park Zoo, allowing you to reconnect with nature and visit beautiful Malayan tigers, colourful tropical birds and cuddly-looking sloth bears – whether they are actually cuddly or not, we can’t be too sure!

greek-adventure-continued

A Greek Adventure Continued …

As well as an overnight stay in Athens’ most elite hotel, Lee had the luxury of setting sail on one of Variety Cruise’s very own cruise ships – the newly rebuilt Mega-Yacht, the Harmony V. This cruise ship is a modern, elegant yacht with a sleek high-tech look, very similar to the private yachts to be found in many famous ports of the world. The 56 metre long 8.4 metre wide Mega-Yacht was launched back in June 2009 and complies with Eurosolas safety regulations while its powerful engines, generators and state of the art twin stabilisers allow for safe and comfortable cruising.

Onboard, a spacious lounge with classy seating and an American Bar leads into a dining area, decorated with warm colours. Both areas offer large windows, providing the most beautiful views of all destinations the ship cruises to. The 200m-squared sundeck offers a shaded outdoor area for all day dining, and an additional bar as well as sun chairs and loungers. The swimming platform on the Harmony V stern allows for easy access to the ship and for a wide range of sea-related activities.

Lee took the pleasure of lapping up all that the country and its surrounding islands had to offer…

“My adventure started on August 18th when I flew from the UK to Athens. I’d been to Athens before, but knowing l was about to embark upon a completely new experience made the whole process a lot more exciting. In usual circumstances, I would have flown out on the Friday, being transferred to Marina Zea by direct road transfer. However, I decided that I was going to take full advantage of the trip by staying at one of Athens’ most impressive hotels; Hotel Grande Bretagne, where I rested up on the Thursday night. Friday morning came around very quickly and, after a sound night’s sleep, I was prepared to embark on my week-long adventure. I made my way to Marina Zea – admiring the beautiful Greek views along the way – where I was to board the luxury yacht and start my adventure in the afternoon. There wasn’t a huge amount of people on board, making the experience all the more intimate and, knowing everyone was in the same boat (no pun intended) it was easy to make friends with my fellow cruisers.

greek-adventure-continued-1“On board the ship was Joseph Serafimidis, Director of Operations, who I became very fond of throughout the week. When on a small ship like this, or on any cruise for that matter, everyone on board is given a daily briefing, informing the passengers of the schedule and what to expect from each destination. Joseph was incredibly humorous and lightened the mood during these briefings, making it a lot easier for everyone to take in the information. Joseph was also a talented man, speaking in English, Spanish and Greek, showing the true versatility of the Variety Cruises staff and how they adapt to cater to the needs of their passengers. The staff on board were incredibly attentive throughout the week.

With trips like this, and cruising in particular, it’s expected that things might go wrong. For example, sometimes the weather prevents you from certain stops or activities, yet the Variety Cruise employees almost always found ways around these issues to ensure everyone on board had a great time regardless.

“So we set off on our journey to the island of Kea, departing via Cape Sounio. I must say, the whole boarding and setting off process was quick, efficient and frankly, stress-free, leaving me with nothing but faith in Variety Cruises for the remainder of the week. On our way to the island, I spent my time admiring the beautiful views that surround Greece; calm blue waters, the blinding sun blurring my view of the horizon, and everyone on board taking pictures of the landscapes with their smartphones and digital cameras.

a-greek-adventure

A Greek Adventure

Located right in the heart of the Greek capital since 1874, landmark Hotel Grande Bretagne makes for a luxurious overnight stay, with suites and services fit for a royal. Although it only takes around 3-4 hours to fly from London to Athens, this journey seemed to be particularly grueling and it’s safe to say that, after arriving in beautiful Athens, I could hardly wait to explore the grounds of the lavish hotel. With breathtaking views of the magical Acropolis, lush Lycabettus Hill and the original Olympic Stadium, it was clear to see that the multi-awarded, 5-star Hotel Grande Bretagne offered everything you could wish for and more; an unrivalled perspective of Athens’ mythical history and deep culture.

The hotel’s extensive infrastructure includes 15 meeting rooms, with the ability to host anything from 6 to 800 attendees. In addition to this, and with meticulous attention to detail, the hotel’s 320 rooms and suites link together charming old-world elegance with state-of-the-art facilities, providing its guests with the best of both worlds, and promising to suit the desires of every traveller.

a-greek-adventure-1Due to its prime location, the hotel is within walking distance of exclusive shopping areas, museums and the majority of the city’s other main attractions, although unfortunately, this time around, I wasn’t able to enjoy these as such, being scheduled to set off on my weeklong cruise first thing in the morning. The Acropolis and the milestone of Parthenon are situated within close distance of the hotel, and Plaka – the old historical neighbourhood of Athens – is clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis. Monastiraki Flea Market is also close by, and is ‘the’ place to go for unique antiques and gifts, as well as a selection of hand-made souvenirs.

Over the last 11 years, Hotel Grande Bretagne has been recognized internationally and has been rewarded with an extensive list of rewards, emphasising just how top-of-the-range the hotel is. Back in 2006 and 2007, Hotel Grande Bretagne was awarded with a stream of Philoxenia Awards, including Most Luxurious Hotel in Greece, Best Historical Hotel in Greece, Best Traditional Hotel, Most Luxurious Hotel Property, Best Hotel Restaurant and Best City Hotel, as well as numerous other achievements from bodies such as Travel & Leisure Magazine, Forbes and Expedia. As we well know, the reputation of a hotel or any property, for that matter, can change drastically, and experiences are subjective, but Hotel Grande Bretagne has strived to remain one of the world’s most prestigious venues. In 2015 alone, the hotel received further recognitions such as The Top 100 Hotels 2015: Europe, The Tripadvisor Hall of Fame Award 2015, and Gold Standard Award, whilst ranking among the world’s most elegant hotels list. Does it really get much better than that?a-greek-adventure-3

barbados

A Taste of Barbados

Those considering taking time out in the new year have been spoilt for choice when it comes to locations, and to add to the list, we take a look at the Caribbean island of Barbados and all that it has to offer its potential 2017 visitors

With a population of approximately 275,000 people and an official language of English, Barbados could just be the perfect destination for an intimate yet somewhat familiar holiday – of course with a hint of Caribbean luxury. To give you all a bit of background, the island – with a capital of Bridgetown – is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence, as up until 1966, Barbados was a British Colony. Regardless of this, and despite the fact that it takes an approximate nine hour plane journey to get to Barbados, many British holidaymakers are enticed by the familiarity of the English-speaking destination. Barbadians are typically friendly people, and welcome tourists onto the island with open arms – 39% of visitors claim that the friendliness of Barbadians is their reason for repeated visits.

Getting far away from the typically miserable British weather is appealing to anyone, and although Barbados can’t guarantee sizzling heat all year round, you’ll never experience day­time temperatures below 21 degrees. The country generally experiences two seasons, one of which includes noticeably higher rainfall. Known as the ‘wet season’, this period runs from June to November, while the ‘dry season’ runs from December to May. Annual precipitation ranges between 40 and 90 inches and from December to May, the average temperature ranges from 21 to 31 degrees, while between June and November, it floats somewhere between 23 and 31 degrees. The Barbados climate includes pleasant and revitalising north-east tradewinds almost every day, and ocean temperatures are wonderfully warm all year round.barbados-2

Speaking of oceans, Barbados is the home of some of the most glorious beaches in the Caribbean, and Crane Beach, in the parish of St. Phillip, has consistently been recognised as one of the top ten beaches in the world. The island is 21 miles by 14 miles and is surrounded by the beautiful Atlantic Ocean the whole way around. Fine white sand and clear blue sea causes thousands of luxury-hungry holidaymakers to vacate to the island all year round. All beaches in Barbados are open to the public and access to them is considered a right of way. Not only are Barbados’ beaches perfect for basking in the sun all day long, they also host an array of sights for the wildlife and animal lovers out there.

Two of the world’s rarest sea creatures make their nests on the beaches of Barbados; the Hawksbill and the Leatherback Turtles. The Hawksbill nests between April and November, mainly on the west and south coasts of the island, whilst the mighty Leatherback, the largest of all turtle species, nests between February and July on the windswept beaches of the cast and south­east coasts. A long history of hunting these animals for their meat, eggs and shells has reduced Caribbean populations to fragments of their former size. As such there is currently a ban on turtle hunting in Barbados to allow population recovery of these endangered species. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project personnel carefully monitor the number of turtles making their nests on the island. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project is based at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The Project provides a 24-hour Sea Turtle Hotline year round, which the public and visitors can use to call in information on turtles nesting, hatching of eggs, or lost or injured turtles. Project staff are called on to relocate nests made too close to the high tide line, to rescue hatchlings disoriented by hotel lights, and to rehabilitate turtles that have been accidentally hooked or partially drowned in fishing nets. In addition, Project staff patrol high-density nesting beaches nightly during the height of the nesting season, measuring and tagging nesting females and recording nest locations, showing that the preservation of the island and its natural inhabitants is incredibly important to Barbados’ residents.

barbados-1Barbados is the home of over 39 diving sights, as well as some of the oldest diving wrecks, making it the perfect location for the more adventure- hungry visitors out there. For those who aspire for more than just a day spent upon flawless white beaches and beneath perfect blue skies, Barbados offers a number of exciting excursions to satisfy even the most adventurous soul. Offshore, the ocean beckons with the call of a deep sea fishing excursion or diving expedition to explore the shipwreck capital of the Caribbean. Closer in, the “white horses” provide ample surfing opportunities, including kite surfing and wind surfing along the southern coast, plus board surfing at Soup Bowl in Bathsheba and all along the eastern shore. Inland, the diverse terrain of the island offers a number of activities to enjoy, including biking through the tropical forest, discovering the water-carved caverns of Harrison’s Cave or hiking among the flora and fauna of Welchman Hall Gully, Flower Forest or the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.

Not forgetting the foodies out there, as the “culinary capital of the Caribbean”, Barbados is especially appealing to a vast array of food lovers, and with a multi­cultural society, feasting and dining in Barbados’ many first-class restaurants promises to, alone, be a sufficient reason to visit the island. Also, with the introduction of the Barbados Food and Rum Festival held in November, Barbados is fast becoming known for its appeal to the most seasoned foodies who continue to flock here to feast on fine food and beverages all year round.

Barbados has all this to offer and more, but don’t just take our word for it, go and taste for yourself!

tenerife

Tranquil Tenerife

Continuing with our ‘luxury destination’ focus, we take a look at the beautiful Canary Island of Tenerife, and what Tenerife Select – Tenerife Tourism Corporation’s luxury brand – has to offer its potential guests for 2017

Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands, and is the ideal luxury holiday destination to take a break and unwind. As the most popular Spanish island, and with a land area of more than 780 square miles, Tenerife makes up 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. More than five million tourists visit Tenerife every year – the most of any of the Canary Islands – proving that it is a much-desired location for holidaymakers from all across the globe, and it’s clear to see why.

Its diversity of landscapes, all-year-round spring-like weather and proximity to Europe make Tenerife the perfect getaway for an unforgettable and frankly, flawless holiday experience. The weather in Tenerife is a safe bet, and with an average annual temperature of 22 degrees centigrade and a stream of breathtaking sights to see, it is the ideal location for any holidaymaker wanting a break from the – usually – dismal British weather. Many people assume that, to find the most exotic, volcanic destination with sizzling heat, you need to take long and tiresome journeys or leave Europe, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Tenerife is a three to four hour flight from most European cities, and with two serving airports – Tenerife North Airport and Tenerife South Airport – visitors can expect nothing less than a stress-free journey to this lavish location.

No other destination in Europe hosts a fuller or better quality infrastructure than Tenerife. Of course, there are the magnificent four and five star luxury resorts that make Tenerife the dreamed- of location that it is, but there is also so much more. The island boasts a generally modern and fully-equipped hotel industry alongside a wide range of first- class entertainment and leisure options; exceptional hotels with attention to detail, restaurants with extraordinary cuisine and atmosphere, a wide array of golf courses, spa centres and much more, making it the perfect destination for couples, lone travellers and families alike. Alongside huge, exotic resorts, you will see that there are charming little boutique hotels, some in lovely historical villages, and country houses surrounded by spectacular scenery. For those holidaymakers who are looking for more privacy, there are fabulous villas scattered around the island, offering up the chance to live the lavish lifestyle of a true royal. They are all very exclusive; with everything down to the smallest detail, and a large amount have a la carte services that might even include your very own butler, cook, massages at home and more!

Does it really get much better than that? Yes it does… You can order a bath to your liking with the scent you prefer, and afterwards have a relaxing massage on the terrace while you gaze at the sea next to your private pool. The villas are always in places of privilege – most of them on the coast – in quiet settings surrounded by gardens, allowing you to feel like you’re in your own personal paradise and we can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find it very difficult to leave!

A trip to Tenerife will provide you with a thousand unique experiences. Alongside the expected beautiful beaches that boast fine volcanic sand and clear blue waters, water parks and animal conservation centres, as well as water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing, the island is the host of a spectrum of interesting and fun landscapes to witness and activities to immerse yourself in. In Teide National Park, you’ll feel like you’re on another planet with monstrous volcanoes and exceptional views. Why not travel around it in a rented four-wheel drive or a convertible sports car? As the highest peak in Spain, Mount Teide reaches a height of 3,718 metres and has an impressive crater – a sight definitely worth seeing. If being at sea is more your thing, then you can sail the Atlantic in an elegant yacht. You could be watching whales and dolphins while sipping cocktails and enjoying some sun on deck, or walking historic trails to get to know the island’s volcanoes. The possibilities the beautiful Canary Island of Tenerife presents are endless.tenerife-1

dubai

The Desires of Dubai

Let’s take a look at what the beautiful Arabic city-state of Dubai has to offer its potential luxury-seeking visitors for the 2017 season, with a special focus on how this location caters to the increasing demand for cruising

Dubai is the host of rich culture and history as well as exquisite views and attractions, and Inspired Travel thinks this is the perfect destination for luxury-seeking holidaymakers to spend their next vacation. It is clear to see that Dubai is becoming an increasingly popular location for British holidaymakers looking for a luxurious break and, with its exceptional landmarks, scenery and lavish lifestyle, it’s clear to see why. Although it has always been a desired location for many holidaymakers, Dubai has become more and more popular overtime. It’s unusual and, quite frankly, very difficult to find a destination that hosts the best of both worlds, yet Dubai seems to have this down to a T with its fascinating desert and highly developed city overflowing with modern architecture immediately adjacent to each other – quite possibly the main reason as to why Dubai has become such a sought- after location for visitors with interests in all aspects of travelling.

The city is one of the seven United Arab Emirates and is well served by airlines, with direct flights from London taking under 7 hours, making the travelling experience a whole lot less daunting. As with any holiday location, Dubai has its best and worst times of the year to visit, although this depends on what you’re looking for during your trip. One of the best times to visit with regards to getting the most out of your money is during the months of June to August, as Dubai’s hotels and general facilities tend to offer a wider range of deals and discounts on accommodation and promotions on dining and attractions.

For those seeking the perfect holiday heat, you might assume that the best time of year to visit Dubai is during the hottest months; typically between April and October. However, during this time of the year, highs are in the 100s and, although rainfall is scarce, humidity levels rest around 90% or higher. Although weather like this might seem like somewhat of a privilege in comparison to the miserable British rain, it makes any outdoor activity – including even a relaxing day at the beach – almost unbearable. The best time of year to take a trip to Dubai, in terms of sensibility, is between the months of November and March. Although these are Dubai’s winter months, daily highs range from the upper 70s to the low 80s (around 20-30 degrees Celsius), making it the perfect time to sprawl out along the Persian Gulf’s white sands. You can also expect a few raindrops here and there, although this is almost always short lived.dubai-1

canadian-rockies

A Canadian Rockies Adventure

We wanted to share our journey through the Canadian Rockies, from Calgary right across to Vancouver, telling the story of natural beauty at its best; both in words and picture

When travelling in the second largest country in the world, you have to be a bit fussy about what you want to see. Most of us don’t have the luxury of an unlimited time option and you simply cannot underestimate the size of this place; it’s huge!

My own adventure began in Calgary and ended in Vancouver, taking me across one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world: the Canadian Rockies. These mountains stretch across the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, with ice-capped peaks, dramatic wilderness, glacier-fed lakes, beautiful National Parks and a diverse range of wildlife that you can’t see anywhere else.

Knowing that Canada had more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined, and some of the most majestic waterfalls known to the Earth, I knew I was in for a treat. As soon as I stepped foot out of the city and into the vast wilderness of the Canadian Rockies’ National Parks, I couldn’t help but be amazed by everything I saw. From every angle and with each blink, there was something new to ogle at, be it colossal mountains, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, Elk grazing on the side of the road, or even the occasional black bear; my immediate thought was, how can you not fall in love with Canada?

I was lucky enough to be in what was turning out to be one of the most spectacular sceneries in the world, and no less with a new camera that promised me spectacular shots. I had organised to review the Fujifilm X-E2S, an X Series great that had made its name in the photography industry, both for professional and amateur use from its release in January 2016. Although slightly overshadowed by the release of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 (their newest flagship model), this retro style mirrorless camera was marketed as a durable, compact and lightweight answer to travel photography – a welcome solution to having to lug around a heavy digital SLR, whilst still maintaining high quality images.

Most people’s go-to travel cameras are very compact, light and easy to use, but unfortunately, these often result in photographs that leave you feeling a bit disappointed. I am usually the other extreme from this point of view, having taken my Nikon DSLR everywhere with me since I was a teenager, including across Asia, Europe, the USA and the Caribbean. So, it was a big step for me to switch to the X-E2s. Having said that, I immediately saw the benefits of such a light body and lens combination – it fit nicely in my daypack and produced no strain at all when carrying it around my neck. I was looking forward to discovering more about what this little camera could do and knew some of its features would become very useful with such wonderful scenery surrounding me.

The Rocky Mountains are over 70 million years old with a peak height of 14,440 feet, providing some pretty beautiful geological sights for those that are interested. The higher you go, the more the peaks protrude into jagged edges with thick folds of snow covering their steep inclines.canadian-rockies-1

fal-river-festival

The Fal River Festival – Cornwall

We decided to head to Cornwall’s most popular visitor destination, the Fal River in the West Country of the UK for its annual celebration of life on the river. Here, we spent the week touring the river and sampling some of the delights that the area has to offer.

The South Coast of England is blessed with more than its fair share of stunning locations. The rolling South Downs and the South Downs Way, The Jurassic Coast through Dorset and the rolling hills of Somerset are all incredibly beautiful and draw crowds, year in and year out, who travel to marvel at the spectacle of the Great British coastline.

It is my personal opinion, though, that the real Jewel in the crown can’t be witnessed until you travel further West and into the depths of Cornwall and, in particular, one of my favourite places on earth; Falmouth.

Everyone has their own favourite part of Cornwall, usually dictated by family summer holidays and nostalgic memories of tatty camping sites and long salty days on the vast sandy beaches. The location itself is reminiscent of much farther flung destinations; squint your eyes on a good day and you could be sitting on a beach in the Costa Blanca. Open them and there’s just enough British essence; fish and chips, lilos, sandcastles and deckchairs to remind you of where you are.

There’s a palpable shift of pace that becomes apparent as you head into Cornwall; the A30 seems to invite you into the county via the rolling countryside and dramatic landscape and on a good day, when the traffic allows, the highway offers you the sensation of gliding through the terrain with the promise of a slower pace waiting to greet you once you arrive.

That’s the romantic description of the journal into the Cornish countryside, although some might argue that the stretch from Exeter to Falmouth is a real slog, and all too often (roughly) 100 miles of hell. This all depends, of course, upon what time of day or night, or indeed the time of year you choose to travel.

fal-river-festival-1I have been the victim of coastal journeys as an unwilling customer of National Express coaches during the summer holiday traffic, where the journey from Brighton to Falmouth could take anywhere upwards of 12 hours.

Regardless of this, it’s a place that I’ve been fascinated by since I was a relatively small boy, and it’s a fascination that stays with me to this day.

The River Fal Festival has been a regular feature for the town, with 2016 offering up a 7-day long, packed schedule of activities for the 11th year running.

The festival, brilliantly organised by Fal River Cornwall and supported by a whole host of local companies, such as principle sponsor, Falmouth University, Skinners Brewery, (sadly no relation), Enterprise Leisure boats and the King Harry ferry. The event is a true celebration of life around the river.

The programme for 2016 included a staggering 150 events ranging from cinema on the water with the King Harry Ferry, lots of open studios, a circus camp and a whole host of engaging events at the National Maritime Museum.

winter-holiday-austria

Enjoy a Winter Holiday in Austria

What better way to celebrate the winter season than to immerse yourself in a real-life winter wonderland with a holiday to Austria? Let’s take a look at the beautiful country and all that it has to offer this winter

Winter trips away are becoming more and more common for British holidaymakers. Most people will still jump at the chance of sizzling in the heat, booking a relaxing trip to enjoy the Caribbean sun. However, why not make the most of the colder season? Our team questions the relevance of weather-escaping holidays and focuses on the benefits of a mountainous and scenic Austrian holiday, whether you’re looking for an action-packed weekend away or a two-week long celebration.

Austria is a German-speaking country (although other local official languages include Hungrarian and Solvene) situated in Central Europe and is the home of approximately 8.66 million people – almost the same as the UK’s capital city of London alone, proving that Austria makes for an intimate and cosy family holiday destination. Bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north and Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Austria is best known for its mountainous villages and alpine terrain, covering almost 84,000 square kilometres. The capital city, Vienna is home to the Schonbrunn and Hofburg Palaces, which, along with other landmarks and attractions, make Austria a historically and culturally-heavy country.

Austria is approximately 758 miles away from the UK and, although that sounds like a pretty fair distance, the many ways of travelling to and from the beautiful country makes the journey process a whole lot easier, and the destination more accessible than the average person assumes. Speaking from personal experience, although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a 20-hour coach journey to what feels like half way across the world, it is probably the most suitable means of travel for larger groups of people who might not have the funds to supply the whole family with plane tickets, and it’s reassuring to know that this means of travel is always available if all else fails. Additionally, with several airports, easy access is granted to visitors with all kinds of holiday plans, however Salzburg Airport is well-known for serving the city and ski resorts in particular.

Anyone avoiding booking a holiday to Austria because they desire ‘hot weather’ should do their research first. With regards to climate and weather, Austria presents visitors with the best of both worlds; being located in a temperate climatic zone means that Austria lies between both the polar and tropical regions, causing a slight contrast in climate behaviour. The lowland regions of Austria in the north and east have more continental-influenced conditions, with hotter summers and colder winters. Meanwhile, the southeastern areas of the scenic country have long, warm summers – similar to those of Mediterranean countries. On the other hand, in Austria’s western areas, the Atlantic climate is felt more – mild winters and relatively warm summers. Unlike in the UK, rain is quite evenly distributed across the duration of the year, however April and November are usually the wettest months while September and early October tend to be the driest. With regards to snowfall, snow cover usually lasts from the end of December through to March in Austria’s valleys. From November through to May, at an altitude of around 1,800m and in some areas above 2,500m, snow cover is permanent. Although a rough guide to the expected weather forecast can be given, at a high altitude, weather conditions and temperatures can change very drastically, so it’s always good to be prepared.winter-holiday-austria-1

wurzburg-residence

Würzburg Residence – Germany

A masterpiece of German Rococo, the Residence was commissioned by two prince-bishops, the brothers Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schonborn, as an Episcopal palace. Its construction between 1720 and 1744 was supervised by several architects, including Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch. However, the Residence is mainly associated with the name of Balthasar Neumann, the then young and unknown creator of its remarkable Baroque staircase.

TIEPOLO

Born in Venice, the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is considered the last great master of Venetian art. He created numerous altarpieces and frescoes for churches, castles, palaces, and villas in Italy and Germany. Almost all the interior decoration of the Würzburg Residence was created by Tiepollo, including magnificent ceiling frescoes in the Imperial Hall and above the staircase, or Treppenhaus, completed from 1751 to 1753.

ROCOCO STYLE

The Residence is such a fine example of German Rococo that it had a style named after it: Würzburg Rococo. Typical of this style are the vast trompe-l’ oeil painted ceilings and large, domed rooms. The term Rococo is derived from the French word rocaille, meaning “rock-work,” a decorative trend for both interiors and facades featuring abstract, shell-like forms and curves. Trees, flowers, and Chinese scenes were among the most popular motifs. Stucco craftsmen and woodcarvers became as revered as architects and painters for the quality and splendor of their work.

THE PATRONS

Many of those involved in the building of the Würzburg Residence were members of the Schonborn family, a powerful 18th-century dynasty of princes and electors on the rivers Rhine, Maine, and Moselle. Among them was Johann Philipp von Schonborn, who became prince-bishop of Würzburg in 1719. He was succeeded by his brother, Friedrich Karl, one of the chief instigators of the Würzburg Residence project. The brothers engaged renowned architects and painters from all over Europe for what was to become a Gesamtkunstwerk — a unique synthesis of various branches of the arts into a total experience. The Residence was devastated by a fire during World War II and underwent a painstaking 27 milion-dollar reconstruction program between 1950 and 1987. Today, 40 rooms are open to the public, with a splendid array of 18th-century furniture, frescoes, tapestries, and other treasures.

Venetian Room

venetian-room

This room is naed after a tapestry depicting the Venetian Carnival. Further ornaments include decorative panels with paintings by Johann Thalhofer, a pupil of Rudolph Byss.

Treppenhaus

wurzburg-treppenhaus

The work of the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the largest fresco in the world adorns the vault of the staircase. It is an allegorical depiction of the four continents.

Garden Hall

wurzburg-garden-hall

This low, vaulted hall, supported by slender marble columns, has Rococo stuccowork by Antonio Bossi dating from 1749. There is also a painting on the ceiling by Johan Zick, dating from 1750, depicting The Feast of the Gods and Diana Resting.

Imperial Hall

wurzburg-imperial-hall

The centerpiece of the palace, the sumptuous Kaisersaal features 20 half columns in red stuccowrk, each almost 29 ft (9m) high, and a large oval dome. The three ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo testify to the close relationship between Würzburg and the Holy Roman Empire.

White Hall

Antonio Bossi’s stuccowork rests on a pale gray background in this almost colorless room, which was designed to contrast with the brightly colored Treppenhaus and the glittering Imperial Hall.

Hofkirche

wurzburg-hofkirche

The interior of the court chapel (1743) is richly decorated with paintings, sculptures, and stucco ornaments. The side altars were designed by the architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and feature paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Arms of the Patron

The richly decorated facade by Johann Wolfgang der Auwery bears the personal arms of Friedrich von Schonborn, Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg.

Frankonia Fountain

wurzburg-franconia-fountain

A fountain, designed by Gabriel von Seidel, was constructed in the parade square in front of the Residence om 1896. It was funded by donations from the inhabitants of Würzburg.

Prince’s Hall

This oblong room (1772) with stucco reliefs by Materno Bossi was used as a dinning room, games room, and a concert hall.

FRESCO DETAILS

Tiepolo was not without a sense of humor: on the Treppenhaus fresco he included a portrait of the architect Balthasar Neumann dressed as an artillery officer and with his dog by his side.

1720-44: Building of the Würzburg Residence.
1732-92: The Residence garden is laid out and landscaped.
1751-53: Decoration of the Residence with ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo.
1765: Ludovico Bossi oversees the decorative stuccowork in the stairwell.
1945: The palace is damaged in a bombing raid during World War II.
1981: The Residence becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2003: The restoration of Tiepolo’s Treppenhaus frescoes begins.

Save

Save