Posts Tagged 'Travel'

24 hours in Vienna, Austria (The Travel Magazine)

The Eurovision Song Contest may have been and gone, but there are still plenty of reasons to visit the Austrian capital this summer. Once the centre of the largest empire in the world, Vienna has a rich intellectual and artistic legacy that is reflected in its buildings, statues and perfectly manicured parks.

But it isn’t all about its imperial heritage, Vienna seamlessly blends old and new: Baroque architecture and gay-themed traffic lights, 19th century coffeehouses and legendary hot dog stands. Situated in eastern Austria, on the banks of the Danube River, Vienna retains its regal air while offering a glimpse of the avant-garde.

Must spend the afternoon

Vienna is the epitome of coffeehouse culture. But if it’s a Starbucks to-go that you’re after, you’ve come to the wrong place. Afternoon coffee and cake is taken to a new level here, with many people whiling away hours reading the newspaper over a frothy melange coffee and a generous portion of apfelstrudel. This world-famous tradition dates back to the late 17th century and was recently added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Café Landtmann prides itself on being responsible for the Viennese coffee house institution and was once regularly frequented by the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and composer, Gustav Mahler.

Must see

Spanish Riding School The Winter Riding School
Spanish Riding School The Winter Riding School © WienTourismus / Lois Lammerhuber

As to be expected from the international capital of classical music, Vienna’s concert calendar is crammed with operas, theatrical performances and music shows – many of them take place in historic locations and some even throw in dinner and a palace tour too. ‘Sound of Vienna’ offers up a local extravaganza with music from Mozart and Strauss, operetta, ballet and waltz.

A different kind of ballet is presented at the Spanish Riding School where Lipizzan horses have been dazzling audiences for years with their distinctive paces and pirouettes, which they perform in perfect harmony with the music. There are various options to see the White Stallions: during morning training, at a tour of their stables or an afternoon show, and you don’t have to be an equine enthusiast to appreciate any one of those options.

Must stay

Fuelled by its belief that “pretentious excess gets in the way”, Hotel Daniel combines simplicity and edgy urbanism. With its lazy interior, urban garden and rentable Vespas, this hotel likes to do things a little bit differently, and offers hammocks in the bedrooms and an aluminium caravan in the garden for those who think the same. It’s well located, just a short walk from the main train station, and neighbours the illustrious museum and palace, Schloss Belvedere, which is a stop-off point for any art lover.

Must eat

Sachertorte © WienTourismus / Peter Koller

Vienna is a giant bakery, so make sure to wear your elasticated waist trousers when venturing out to sample its culinary scene. It’s not just home to the Sacher-Torte, arguably the most famous chocolate cake in the world, but also shredded pancakes (Kaiserschmarrn), dense Bundt cakes (Gugelhupf), Topfelstrudel (apfelstrudel’s younger, cream cheese-filled sibling) and Christmas cookies of all shapes and sizes. There are ice cream parlours on most street corners and shops devoted to the humble wafer – Manner on Stephansplatz claims to sell around 4,000 wafers a day.

Top tip: Sacher-Torte lasts for up to two weeks and Hotel Sacher sells it in an easily transportable box, making it the perfect present to take home from your trip – as long as you don’t devour it beforehand.

If you haven’t got a sweet tooth, you won’t go hungry: goulash and schnitzel are widely served, and you can’t leave town without trying one of Vienna’s very own weiners. Bitzinger, next to the Albertina museum, is a sausage stand that serves up the essentials: sausages and beer. Come rain or shine, businessmen, hippies and students alike can be found gathered around this Würstelstand late into the night, eating a cheese- or curry-infused weiner in a hollowed out bun. If you’re after something a little more formal, then try Motto am Fluss on the banks of the Danube.

Must visit museum

View of the Volksgarten, museums and Parliament
View of the Volksgarten, museums and Parliament © WienTourismus / Christian Stemper

Vienna has an extensive selection of museums, ranging from predictably ornate art galleries, to slightly quirkier offerings, such as Johann Strauss’ apartment or Sigmund Freud’s office (albeit minus his famous couch, which lives in London). The Leopold houses an extensive collection of work from the city’s very own Gustav Klimt and his younger contemporary Egon Schiele.


Travel Guide: 48 hours in Montreal, Canada (The Travel Magazine)

Montreal from Mont Royal
Montreal: Skyline from Mont Royal (c) wikimedia/Taxiarchos228

Montreal is a unique blend of Europe and North America. Its heady mix of British and French culture has given rise to a bilingual metropolis in Eastern Canada that boasts colonial history, architectural beauty, an abundance of green spaces and a vibrant food scene.

The island of Montreal was originally inhabited by the indigenous Iroquois people before being colonised by the French in the 1600s. Fast forward a couple of hundred years and Montreal became occupied by the British who allowed the French to continue living there, which helped shape the city’s inimitable identity as a slice of one continent, on the edge of another.

Must See The View

Montreal is a city best explored on foot, so pack your trainers and take in the skyline atop Mont Royal. Lovingly referred to by locals as their “mountain”, Mont Royal is a short hike that offers serenity in the midst of the bustle of downtown. Standing at 234m tall, it’s the highest point in the city and boasts impressive views of skyscrapers, the St. Lawrence River and the pilgrimage site of St. Joseph’s Oratory. At the top of the mountain sits a 200 hectare park, designed by the same man who created New York’s Central Park, and a lake, which is home to ice-skaters in the winter and surrounded by sunbathers in the summer. There’s no wrong turn once you get to the top, so take your time walking, cycling, rollerblading or, depending on the season, skiing around this tranquil spot.

Must Eat

While Canada is not exactly famed for its cuisine, Montrealers are passionate about poutine. Quebec’s trademark dish is simple: chips, gravy and cheese curd. One of the best poutine places in town is La Banquise, which is open 24 hours a day and offers close to 30 different varieties of the comfort food.

Poutine La Banquise
Poutine La Banquise (c) wikimedia/Sjschen

A Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich is another essential that will set you back less than $10, and is well worth the almost year-round queues to get into the 80-year-old restaurant. The oldest deli in Canada, Schwartz’s is a sparsely decorated Hebrew joint that has seen celebrities and visitors from all over the world walk through its doors to taste its world famous smoked meat.

Stock up on all the maple syrup you can carry at trendy Jean-Talon Market in the heart of Little Italy. You can sample the local cheese, fruits, vegetables, meats and pastries that line vendors’ stalls, and choose your lunch at the seafood counter. Finish off your meal with some maple taffy (made right in front of you by pouring hot maple syrup over ice and rolling it up around a stick), which provides for some sweet and sticky entertainment.

Must Watch

Canadiens de Montréal
Canadiens de Montréal (c) wikimedia/Kristina Servant

Ice hockey is not a sport in Canada, it’s a religion. Montreal’s gods are the Canadiens and they are the most decorated team in the NHL. Tickets sell out at lightning speed so if you don’t manage to get seats to see them do battle, try some of the amateur leagues in the city. If it’s not hockey season then console yourself by checking out some of Montreal’s street fairs and music festivals that take place throughout the summer months and attract big name acts.

Must Visit

The Notre-Dame Basilica is striking from the outside, but even more remarkable from the inside. Akin to a kind of decorative, medieval theatre, the neo-gothic church is an intense work of art, filled with three tiers of ornate banisters, religious statues and hundreds of intricate wooden carvings. So impressive is the lavishly decorated basilica that the man who designed it, an Irish-American Protestant architect, allegedly converted to Catholicism just before his death in order to be buried there.

Old Montreal
Old Montreal (c) flickr/christine592

Old Montreal is a timeless labyrinth of cobbled streets that should be observed at first on foot and then from behind the window of a cosy café, with a coffee and a pastry in hand. Olive et Gourmando is a popular hang out that serves delicious baked goods, while Dulces de l’Erable gives everything a maple syrup twist and houses a small maple syrup museum below. Steeped in centuries of history, Old Montreal hosts an array of hidden architectural jewels, such as the city’s first bank and Montreal’s World Trade Centre (the latter has a piece of the Berlin Wall on the site where Montreal’s very own city walls once stood). Complete your stroll through Old Montreal by wandering along Old Port for a different view of the city and the river that surrounds it.

Must Enjoy Café Culture

Coffee connoisseurs should head straight to Pikolo Espresso Bar for a caffeine kick. Montreal’s coffee scene has been gathering momentum over the past few years and Pikolo’s hipster baristas are intent on taking it to the next level. Le Plateau-Mont-Royal is another trendy place to stop and grab a cappuccino, whilst admiring the bohemian neighbourhood’s creative street art.

Must Shop

A regular on the world’s Top 50 Fashion Capitals index, Montreal has got every style covered. Funky boutiques and antique stores line the historic region, while high street names are represented in abundance on St. Catherine’s. When temperatures plummet, shopaholics head indoors and underground to peruse the vast network of 1,700 shops within the city’s metro system. Don’t leave Montreal without taking home a bottle of the region’s famed ice cider.

Must Stay

Le Pomerol is a great-value, homely hotel situated in downtown Montreal, just around the corner from the main bus terminal. Idyllic breakfast picnic hampers are left outside your door each morning and light snacks are served in the afternoon.

Located within the Golden Mile, Le Meridien Versailles is a boutique hotel with contemporary rooms that provides easy access to museums, shops and art galleries.

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