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Archive for austria

Austria’s Salt Empire

By Linda Tancs

Hallstatt is a medieval village on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region. Salzkammergut means “domain of salt,” an apt description for the ancient salt mine dominating the area. Of 40 miles of tunnels, about 14 miles are walkable. Three tiers are currently mined by nearly 40 employees today. A funicular railway connects to the mine as well as to Skywalk Hallstatt viewing platform, where the town and its majestic landscape unfurl before your eyes on an observation deck some 1,200 feet above the rooftops.

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The Heart of Skiing in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Some say that Lech is the heart of skiing in Austria. That’s a fair statement, as is the fact that it attracts blue bloods galore. The ritzy resort in the Arlberg region no doubt earns its chops as the cradle of Alpine skiing thanks to 190 miles of ski runs and over 124 miles of high Alpine powder runs, an area teeming with enough snow to guarantee a season from November to April. The free local and ski buses provide convenient transport, along with 88 cable cars and lifts. The most popular ski track is the White Ring (Der Weisse Ring), where the legends have trained, but you’ll find tracks for all ages and performance levels. Off the pistes why not visit Skyspace Lech, a futuristic-looking dome built into the landscape that provides an interesting convergence of light, sky and earth.

Playing with Vegetables in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Your mother no doubt encouraged you to eat your veggies, not play with them. Turns out playing with them is a good idea. Just ask the members of Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra. A unique Austrian ensemble, they’ve been creating sounds from vegetables since the 1990s, playing concerts around the globe. Now there’s some food for thought.

The World of Ice Giants

By Linda Tancs

Just a small town in the northern part of Salzburg′s Pongau area, Werfen, Austria, has a big claim to fame—home of the world’s largest ice caves, a labyrinth reaching for almost 25 miles. The World of Ice Giants ( Eisriesenwelt) is known as a dynamic ice cave, allowing for a chimney-like flow of air as the cave galleries and fissures form a link from lower entrances to higher openings, a process begun about 100 million years ago. The seasonal changes in outside air temperature result in amazing ice sculptures in the interior of the limestone caves, particularly when water entering the rock fissures in the spring drips into the cooler areas. Open from May to October, the cave tours begin directly at the cave entrance, which offers panoramic views of the Salzach valley in good weather. Dress for freezing temperatures inside the caves, even in summer.

From Tyrol to Italy

By Linda Tancs

From Austria’s highest peak (Grossglockner) to the Adriatic Sea, the Alpe-Adria Trail is a 466-mile trek winding its way through Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Signposted throughout, the trail is divided into a series of stages, each taking about six hours to walk. The hiking season begins in April and ends in October, the whole stretch taking up to six weeks. If you go now, you’ll likely see snow lingering on the high passes in Carinthia and Slovenia.

The James Bond Experience

By Linda Tancs

The latest James Bond Museum is evocative of an action scene from the film franchise, considering that it’s carved into a snowy mountain summit in Austria and reachable only by gondola from Sölden. The locale is a fitting tribute to Ian Fleming, the spy novelist who inspired the film series. He moved from England to Austria to study languages, a move that inspired his literary career. The museum site also played host to the 2015 film Spectre, starring Daniel Craig as Bond. In addition to a screening room, the facility has nine themed galleries featuring aspects of filmmaking, such as title sequences, music, special effects, stunts, spy gadgets and cars.

Body Art in Austria

By Linda Tancs

Special effects bodypainting is just one of the championship categories at the annual World Bodypainting Festival in Klagenfurt, Austria. Taking place this year from July 8 to July 14, the earlier dates comprise 50 workshops in bodypainting, facepainting, make-up and special effects. The main days from the 12th to the 14th feature art, street food, judging and music. Now in its 21st season, prepare to be awed.

A Crystalline Adventure

By Linda Tancs

Swarovski Crystal Worlds was opened in 1995 to mark the centennial anniversary of the company’s founding. Located in the town of Wattens (about 20 minutes northeast of Innsbruck), its crystal art exhibitions allow you to experience every facet (no pun intended) of this popular adornment. The Chambers of Wonder include a nostalgic and technological view of the company from its founding through to magical moments on stage, screen and runway. All of the chambers are entered through a “green giant,” an imposing structure that forms the focal point for the multi-sensory installations housed within it.

Austria’s Fair Spring

By Linda Tancs

Dating to the Middle Ages, Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s top tourist attractions. Originally called Katterburg, its current name was adopted in 1642, derived from Emperor Matthias’s alleged discovery of the schöner Brunnen (“fair spring”) during a hunting expedition in 1612. A former hunting lodge, the grand estate seen today was used as a summer residence by the imperial family beginning in 1745. The tour of the imperial apartments and the magnificent state rooms includes the residential suite of rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth in the west wing, the state rooms in the central section of the palace, the imperial apartments of Maria Theresa and Franz I Stephan and the Franz Karl Apartment, which was occupied by Franz Joseph’s parents, Archduchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl. The property is easily reached at Schönbrunn station in Vienna via underground, bus or tram.

Into Thin Air in Austria

By Linda Tancs

The best way to climb the majestic Nordkette mountain range (the heart of Innsbruck, Austria) is to step onboard the Nordkettenbahnen (cable car). The futuristic Hungerburgbahn hybrid funicular railway travels through a tunnel, then over an imposing bridge across the Inn River, and finally traverses an incline of 46 percent to reach the Hungerburg, over 2,800 feet above sea level. If the panoramas from the spacious gondolas don’t meet your requirements, then continue on to the final stage of the Nordkettenbahnen, the Hafelekarbahn. It takes you from Seegrube to Hafelekar, a 7,400-foot-high summit that promises 350 days of cloud-free views a year.

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