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11 day train journey through Austria

 

Travelling by train through Austria is now faster and easier than ever before.

What better way to explore Austria than travelling through stunning mountain scenery, lush alpine meadows, historic towns and picturesque villages. The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) takes you to your favourite vacation destination. Whether you are heading to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and “The Sound of Music”, to Graz, across the famous “Semmering Railway” line, which is part of the UNESCO world heritage or to St. Anton and Bregenz, Austria’s westernmost province.

Discover Austria off the beaten path with this 11-day sample train journey, which takes you from Vienna to the Arlberg via Graz and Salzburg

Day 1 & 2: Vienna

Austria’s capital offers a unique blend of imperial traditions and stunning architecture. Famous for its many cultural events, classical concerts, imperial architecture, coffee houses, cosy wine taverns, and the very special Viennese charm. Visit Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, with its beautifully tended formal gardens, the Gloriette monument, the Palm House, and the world’s oldest zoo. In the old town don’t miss out on Vienna’s prime landmark, the gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and explore the splendid baroque Belvedere Palace, displaying the largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt.  On your second day in Vienna watch a morning practice at the Spanish Riding School or attend a Vienna Boys’ Choir performance. In the afternoon explore Vienna’s lush art scene and visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the MuseumsQuartier.

The Belvedere Museum, Vienna
Day 3 & 4: Graz
The Graz Fairytale Train

On Day 3, explore the charms of Austria’s second largest city – combine arts, architecture, and culinary highlights. Take the train from Vienna Central Station to Graz (approx. 2h30min). Walk up Schlossberg for great views over the city’s roofscape, visit the Armory, the largest historic arsenal in the world, and get a ticket for the Kunsthaus (Museum of Modern Art), also called the “Friendly Alien”.  On your second day in Graz, find out why it is called “Austria’s Culinary Capital”. Start your day at the Kaiser Josef Markt farmer’s market and try the culinary “sights”. You haven’t fully experienced Graz until you’ve sunk your teeth into at least one of them. There is no way around pumpkin seed oil – drizzled on anything from salads to vanilla ice cream. Visit chocolate manufacturer Zotter just outside of Graz and don’t forget to try a glass of Styria’s home-grown Sauvignon Blanc.

Day 5 & 6: Salzburg

The train from Graz to Salzburg takes about 4 hours – along the gentle hills in Styria to the gateway to the Alps. Salzburg, a UNESCO World Heritage city, has an unforgettable panorama: Fortress Hohensalzburg and the spires of Salzburg’s 50 churches rise up along the river. Thanks to Mozart’s legacy and the acclaimed Salzburg Festival, the city’s cultural life is rich and star-studded, with classical music. Visit Fortress Hohensalzburg, the unmistakable landmark that defines the Salzburg skyline. Dating to 1077, it endures as the largest preserved castle in central Europe. For a splendid view walk from the Fortress to the Museum of Modern Art on the opposite hill. From here walk down to the Festival District, at the foot of Mönchsberg, with two famous festival halls and the Felsenreitschule.  On your second day explore Salzburg in Mozart’s footsteps. Start your day at legendary Café Tomaselli, walk via Alter Markt over to the Getreidegasse street and visit Mozart’s Birthplace. Afterwards visit the Salzburg Cathedral, where Mozart was baptized and try the original Fürst Mozartkugeln, which has been made from pistachio marzipan, layered in nougat, and dipped in chocolate for more than 130 years.

Hotel Sacher, Saltzburg
Day 7 & 8: Excursions from Salzburg

Take a trip down south to Werfen (approx. 45min) and visit the World of Ice Giants. After the ice caves walk up to Hohenwerfen Fortress to watch the spectacular falconry demonstration. Continue further south to see Central Europe’s tallest waterfalls, the “Krimml Waterfalls”. Hike from the village of Krimml up to the top of the waterfalls (1.5h).  Take an early train from Salzburg to Hallstatt (approx. 2h30min). Hallstatt’s lakeside view may be the Alps’ most famous panorama. Visit the world’s oldest salt mine at the Salzwelten, where humans have mined salt for 7,000 years. For above-ground adventure, punt like a local on Hallstättersee lake in a wooden Fuhr boat. From Hallstatt, you can take the bus back to Salzburg and further explore the stunning Lake District on your way.

Day 9: Innsbruck

From Salzburg take the train to Innsbruck (approx. 2h). “The Capital of the Alps” is nestled in the Nordkette mountains. The Hungerburg Funicular takes you straight from the city centre up to 2,000 metres from where you can enjoy the views of the city and surroundings. Back down in Innsbruck visit the city’s landmark, the Golden Roof and try some Tirolean specialities.

Innsbruck
Day 10 & 11: The Arlberg Region

1h15min west of Innsbruck you find yourself in breathtaking nature. Take a direct train from Innsbruck main train station to St. Anton. Famous for skiing during the Winter months, in summer the Arlberg region is the perfect destination to take a breath and hit the reset button on your body, mind, and soul. On your first day, hike to Formarinsee lake, Austria’s most beautiful place in 2015, and finish your day in a mountain hut with traditional Austrian food.  On the last day of your Austria journey explore one of the locals hidden gem, the Verwalltal valley. Regular shuttle buses bring visitors from St. Anton into the Verwalltal valley, where cars are not allowed. Lake Verwall is known for its strong natural energy, making it an ideal spot to recharge, or go on one of the most beautiful hikes of your life and let the mystical Green Ring inspire you. A scenic hiking trail that winds from Lech Zürs over several peaks, invites you to explore its local myths. Artists and story-tellers have created installations along the way that will teach you about the Arlberg’s lore.

The Alberg Region

Are you tempted to try this itinerary out yourself?

Contact Travel Masters or The Travel Studio for more information!

 

 - Text provided courtesy of Rail Plus

Wilderness Air

As General Manager for Wilderness Air Botswana, Alex Henderson heads up a team of 74 employees, of whom 20 are pilots, and oversees the operations of 19 aircraft – five C206 and nine C208 Cessnas, and four GA8 Airvans. Over the last 13 years Alex has contributed immensely to the success of Wilderness Air in both Botswana and the Zambezi region, and has played an important role in growing the staff and promoting both the Wilderness Air and Wilderness Safaris’ brands in these regions.

Alex was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, just outside of Harare; this is where his love for flying and the outdoors began. After completing his Commercial Pilots Licence at 43 Air School in Port Alfred, South Africa in 2004, he joined Sefofane Zimbabwe (which later became Wilderness Air Zimbabwe) as a line pilot flying a Cessna 206. In 2009, Alex moved to Maun to join Sefofane Botswana in order to gain more experience flying Cessna Caravans.

Cessna F406

After two successful years in Botswana, Alex re-joined the Zimbabwe team in 2011, taking with him the first Caravan to be operated by Wilderness Air Zimbabwe – a definite highlight of his aviation career. It was during this time that he decided to pursue a new career path, accepting a managerial opportunity within Wilderness Air Zimbabwe and Zambia. As General Manager for the Zambezi region, Alex oversaw the operation of four aircraft, namely three C206s and one C208, and managed 15 employees, of whom six were pilots. He returned to Maun in 2016 to take on the role of GM for Wilderness Air Botswana.

“Even though I have always wanted to be a pilot (my dream was to fly for an airline), I am extremely passionate about the Wilderness brand and its core sustainability ethos,” confirms Alex. “I am proud to have chosen a managerial career path within Wilderness Air. In this role, I can drive excellent service delivery and efficient schedules to our guests and staff, focusing on Safety, Compliance and Risk Mitigation at the same time”.

About Wilderness Air:

  • Wilderness Air operates a varied fleet of light aircraft, chosen for their ability to transport visitors comfortably to remote wilderness destination with dirt airstrips.
  • The company began operating in 1991 with one aircraft based in Botswana servicing two camps in the Okavango Delta. Today, Wilderness Air is also based in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and operates over 35 aircraft.
  • Wilderness Air is privileged to fly into some of the most pristine wilderness destinations in the world. It believes flying is an integral part of guests’ travel experience and that its pilots’ ‘passion and professionalism’ can make a genuine contribution to journeys that change lives.
  • Wilderness Air is proud to be the air partner of Wilderness Safaris, Africa’s leading authentic and sustainable ecotourism company with private access to some of the finest wilderness and wildlife areas in southern Africa.

For more information on Wilderness Air and their partners Wilderness Safaris, contact Travel Masters or The Travel Studio

Wanderings Travel Newsletter
Autumn Issue Out Now!

2018 is off to a flyer, with yet more travel destination experiences being offered and new cruise ships taking to the high seas. Just recently saw the exciting launches of the Crystal Debussy and Viking Sun, with Symphony of the Seas and Norwegian Bliss also taking to the waters very soon. Luxury small ship expedition cruising seems to be the hot topic at the moment as we look forward to the launches of 4 boutique expedition ships from Ponant, and the stunning new Scenic Eclipse.

Here at Travel Masters and The Travel Studio we have also had a memorable start to 2018, collecting the Brand Support Award at the recent CruiseCo Awards, along with a nomination for Agency Promotion of the Year at the 2017 CLIA Awards for our annual Cruise Sale Day. We have a new member of the team join us at Travel Masters as we welcome Liz to the agency. Liz comes to us with over 20 years’ experience in the Travel Industry and lists North America and Europe as her specialist destinations. There is so much happening in the world or travel currently, so this edition of the Wanderings has been stretched out to 12 pages full of travel ideas and inspiration to help you plan your next holiday. Don’t forget to follow our Facebook page for the latest news.

Happy Travels!
Julie & Neil

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NEWSLETTER

Contact us today and speak to our Travel Advisers about special offers and destination ideas featured in the Wanderings, and let us help you plan your next dream holiday!

Are you looking for the answers in our Travel Trivia section? Click HERE for full details!

Destination Focus – Explora Rapa Nui on Easter Island

With its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and home to a culture whose origins and evolution are still largely unknown, Easter Island is an attractive and mysterious destination. A mild year-round climate allows for walking the island’s geography and traveling along the coast of numerous “Ahus” that are home to the gigantic sculptures called “Moai”.   Who, when and why were these sculptures created? It is a mystery. It is presumed that the island has been inhabited since the earliest centuries of our times, and the Moai are hundreds of years old.  It is possible that the first tribes came from the Marquesas Islands and settled there during the 4th century A.D, but nothing else has been deducted from the difficult and scarce early archaeological findings. It is also known that numerous tribes have lived on the island and have fought amongst themselves, razing much of the territory in the process. It is not known why they destroyed the majority of the Moai.

Located 8 km from Hanga Roa, on a 9.6 km2 plot of land, unsuitable for agriculture and containing no archaeological remains, explora Rapa Nui is located in a privileged location from which to explore the island.   With over 30 explorations, either on foot, bike riding or on a boat, explora Rapa Nui offer guests a deep exploration experience that includes visiting places that are even unknown to some locals and feeling the history of the Rapa Nui culture with its landscape and archaeological remains.

explora Rapa Nui

All explorations provided at explora Rapa Nui have cultural shades, are always led by a local guide trained at the Explora Hotel’s School of Guides, and are made in groups of a maximum of eight people.  They include hikes and bike explorations among archaeological remains, volcanoes, beaches, prairies, and cliffs as well as snorkeling and scuba diving explorations where we explore under the world’s most pristine sea waters.

All guests at the explora Rapa Nui have the possibility of choosing different explorations every day.  These explorations have different lengths and difficulty levels.  Full day explorations give you the privilege of having lunch at the seaside or at Anakena beach, just to name a few examples, while those that take half a day allow you to return to explora Rapa Nui to choose a second exploration during the afternoon.

Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

The 30 rooms of explora Rapa Nui are designed to take full advantage of the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, ensuring deep rest after a long day of exploration. At explora, they actively seek disconnection from everyday routine, which is why the rooms are not equipped with televisions or Wi-Fi, which is only available in the hotel’s common areas.

All meals have been designed to enable you to perform various explorations and still feel light, agile, and healthy.   All dishes are always accompanied by a superb Chilean wine, although they also carry a menu of Premium wines for those that would like to try other alternatives.

Moai at night

Your stay at explora Rapa Nui is all inclusive – all meals with drinks (including lunches whilst on excursions), exploration activities,  open bar and transfers to/from the nearby Mata Vari Airport.  A five night duration is recommended to enjoy the full experience of explora Rapa Nui.

EXCLUSIVE AMENITIES – Book with Travel Masters & The Travel Studio and receive the following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • $100 USD equivalent Gift Card to be utilized during stay valid in the shop store only (no cash value if not redeemed in full) Original hand crafted
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Contact us today and speak to our Travel Advisers for rates and availability, and let us help you plan your dream Easter Island experience.

 

Vancouver’s Health and Wellness Culture

You don’t need to be attending a wellness retreat to want to bring a sense of balance to your trip. Many travellers are increasingly looking for ways to add healthy activities to their vacation, keep up their fitness regimens, and return home feeling better than ever. Whether you’re visiting Vancouver for an active vacation and looking for conscious choices, or in the city on business and looking for some “me time,” Vancouver has plenty of options that are good for the mind and the body.

Walking the City

Even though the food in Vancouver is excellent, you might find you return home a little thinner than you left. Why? Because Vancouver is such a walk able city, you’ll find yourself clocking a surprising number of miles as you stroll between attractions, dining, shopping and diverse neighbourhoods! The city’s downtown core is compact, measuring just 2 km (1.2 miles) across at the widest point. Once you arrive at your hotel, there’s a good chance that you might never see the inside of a car. For instance, from the Vancouver Convention Centre (next to the cruise terminal and a good number of hotels), a walk into Stanley Park is just 20 minutes, Robson Street shopping is 10 minutes away, and the historic neighbourhood of Gastown is 5 minutes east.

Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal

Active Sightseeing

In Vancouver, getting active is a great way to get in some sightseeing! If you’re staying downtown, you’re still no more than a 20-minute walk away from losing yourself among ancient rain forest on a relaxing hike in Stanley Park. The city’s seawall is a favourite attraction and the perfect excuse for a day spent strolling or cycling. Further afield, you’ll find provincial forests, municipal parks, and greenways that provide excellent hiking opportunities for all ages and abilities – try Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, Deep Cove’s trails overlooking the fjord, and Pacific Spirit Regional Park on the edge of the University of British Columbia’s campus. Those that prefer two wheels to two feet will love the bike lanes that criss-cross Vancouver, making a bicycle a great way to travel between attractions throughout the day. More intrepid types will want to explore the North Shore – the home of freestyle mountain biking! Other active options include urban kayaking around False Creek for a different perspective on the bustling city, stand-up paddle boarding from English Bay or Kitsilano Beach, or a kayaking tour up Indian Arm for a tranquil nature experience less than an hour from the city.

Open Spaces in Stanley Park

Conscious Eating

From gluten-free to vegan, Vancouver has long been open to different diets, but in the past few years, conscious dining has really come into its own. To some, it means a purely plant-based menu, while to others, it means local, seasonal dishes that offer a connection to farmers, growers and fishermen. While almost every restaurant will offer enticing vegetarian choices, spots like The Acorn and Zend Conscious Lounge are acclaimed for their all-vegetarian menus. The birthplace of the 100-Mile Diet, Vancouver’s restaurants flaunt their local credentials whenever possible—places like Burdock & Co., YEW Restaurant and West Restaurant are great options. And seafood fans will want to look for the Ocean Wise symbol on menus through the city, denoting a sustainably-sourced choice.

Spa

A well-chosen treatment can add a sense of balance to even the most hectic travel itinerary. There’s no shortage of spas in Vancouver where you can be massaged, wrapped, slathered, indulged and primped, from clinics that specialize in treating sore muscles, through to luxurious spas where you’ll want to hang out all day. You’ll find spaces catering to guys looking for a little pampering, spas that focus on treatments and techniques from around Asia, packages to revive you in the face of jet lag, and others that lull you into a relaxed state. For a true sense of place, try an “only in BC” treatment using local elements such as West Coast seaweed and cedar steam. But whatever you choose, you’re sure to emerge as your best self.

Yoga

With a focus on living a balanced lifestyle, Vancouverites were early adopters of yoga – after all, this is the home town of yoga-wear giant Lululemon! If you’re the sort to travel with your own mat, you’ll find plenty of green spaces for you to grab a few “oms” while you’re here. But if you would prefer to join a class, you’ll have no problem finding one – it’s said that 1,500 classes are offered in Vancouver each week! Lululemon is a great resource for finding local studios offering an exhaustive schedule of practice styles. Vancouver-based chain YYoga has two locations on the downtown peninsula: one on Burrard Street and another in Yaletown, while another option close to downtown is One Yoga in Gastown.

Pushing Your Limits

Whether running a marathon, cycling up a mountain, or taking part in a triathlon, many travellers are looking for ways to participate in active pursuits when they’re in a destination; you might even be hoping to build your vacation around one! Vancouver’s mild climate means there are running events every weekend throughout the year, but highlights include the Vancouver Sun Run 10K (April), BMO Vancouver Marathon (May), Scotiabank Half Marathon (Jun), and Lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon (Aug). Cyclists might plan on entering the Whistler GranFondo (Sep) – an epic 122 km (76 mile) road ride from Vancouver up to the mountain resort of Whistler, while for all-rounders, the Subaru 5i50 Vancouver Triathlon (Sep) could be the perfect challenge.

Vancouver is truly one of the worlds great cities, and in addition to being a destination of it own, it is also the gateway to the Canadian Rockies and the Inside Passage of Alaska.   Why not speak to Travel Masters or The Travel Studio about how you can make your journey to Vancouver (and beyond) a wonderful experience…

Raffles Singapore unveils new Suite Categories and Guest Experiences

Raffles Singapore announces its up-coming reopening that is planned for the second half of 2018. Since February 2017, the iconic heritage hotel has embarked on a careful and sensitive phased restoration. Its reopening will see the introduction of exquisite new suite categories, vibrant lifestyle experiences and refreshed dining concepts.

New suite categories

For more than a century, Raffles Singapore has offered its well-travelled guests luxurious all-suite accommodations. The restoration will update its distinctive suites with new amenities and technology while maintaining the sense of space and colonial ambience.

When Raffles Singapore reopens, it will have three new suite categories: Residence Suites, Promenade Suites and Studio Suites. The total suite count increases from its existing 103 suites to 115 suites.

The new Residence Suites, comprising four 1-bedroom and one 2-bedroom suites, will be located in the Raffles Arcade and are named after famous local cinemas during the early to mid-1900s. This is in homage to the days when the neighbourhood was known as “The Place of Cinemas”. Suites names are Alhambra Suite, Diamond Suite, Marlborough Suite, Odeon Suite and Theatre Royal Suite.

Intimately nestled in the front-most corner of the Main Building are two new Promenade Suites that overlook Beach Road. A tribute to the late 1800s era when Raffles Singapore faced the beachfront, the suites will be named Lady Mountbatten Suite and Lady Sophia Suite, which were converted from existing boardrooms.

The new Studio Suites that are being added aim to complement the array of suites in the Main Building, enveloped by the colonial charm of the Grand Lobby.

Raffles Arcade: A lifestyle destination for the community and Singapore

Once reopened, the Raffles Arcade will showcase social spaces and a variety of lifestyle experiences. This includes a refreshed Raffles Gift Shop that will house a History Gallery to illustrate the heritage of Raffles Singapore. The Arcade will also be home to a brand-new Raffles Spa, a holistic sanctuary for hotel residents and the community to escape the bustle of the city.

Signature dining experiences at Raffles

Signature restaurants and bars since the 1900s, Long Bar, Tiffin Room and Writers Bar, will continue to be a distinct part of Raffles Singapore dining experiences when the hotel reopens.

Home of the Singapore Sling for over a hundred years, the Long Bar’s plantation-inspired décor will be refreshed, and the famous Long Bar counter restored. Visitors and guests will be welcomed to continue the tradition of throwing peanuts on the floor as they sip on a chilled glass of hand-shaken Singapore Sling.

A part of Raffles’ history since 1892, Tiffin Room will continue to serve up delectable North Indian cuisine. Offering authentic specialties served in Tiffin boxes, it will also present an interactive dining experience with tableside service by chefs, complete with freshly ground spices to enhance the occasion. The restored interior décor includes reinstating the wooden floorboards in Tiffin Room to bring back features from the early 1900s based on research by our heritage consultants.

Furthermore, the signature Afternoon Tea will now be served at the new lounge in the Grand Lobby, allowing guests to enjoy a quintessential Raffles dining experience amidst the soft daylight streaming in from the skylight.

Established as a tribute to famous writers that have come through the doors of Raffles Singapore over the years, Writers Bar will be expanded to a full bar and be the place for bespoke cocktails, discreet elegance and intimate conversations.

New event spaces for weddings and social gatherings

Jubilee Hall has been converted into a new 300-guest ballroom, named Jubilee Ballroom as a tribute to the Jubilee Theatre, originally a cinema in the 1930s at the same location. Elegant and sophisticated in hues of cream and gold, complimented with an air-conditioned pre-event foyer, the Jubilee Ballroom will be the ideal venue for weddings and social galas.

All other event spaces will be refreshed, including the East India Room, Casuarina Suite as well as outdoor venues Palm Garden, The Lawn and Gazebo. The previous ballroom has been renamed Palm Ballroom as a nod to the Travellers Palm, the emblem of Raffles. All event spaces will also have striking lighting elements and the latest audio-visual technology, to be relevant for today’s social galas and events.

The restoration of Raffles Singapore is supported by award-winning interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, who has worked on numerous restoration projects around the world.

Raffles Singapore is due to reopen for the second half of 2018, so if you are planning a trip to Singapore and would like to step back in time and enjoy one of the world iconic hotels, contact Travel Masters or The Travel Studio and we’ll make sure you have a chilled Singapore Sling handed to you on arrival!