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Austria

7 Christmas Markets to visit

7 Christmas Markets to visit

It is the time of year when we begin thinking about a short break to one of the many Christmas markets across Britain and Europe. I have chosen seven Christmas market experiences to consider from the many that are available. Choose one of these and you will not be disappointed Winchester When we think of Christmas markets we usually think of other parts of Europe but we have some very atmospheric ones in the UK. One of my favourites is the one in the shadow of the magnificent Winchester Cathedral. Once the capital of England and home to Alfred the Great it is a very atmospheric city at Christmas time. The Market surrounds an ice rink in the Cathedral’s Inner Close. There are a great many arts and crafts mostly from the UK in the wooden chalets huddled in the…

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Cycling down the Danube (2)

Cycling down the Danube (2)

Further down the Danube I ended the post Cycling down the Danube (1) with the prospect of a 3km hill climb to my hotel at the end of a day of being lashed by wind and rain almost constantly. The rain had stopped, the wind had dropped to breeze strength as I arrived at the junction where the road to Maria Taferl left the Danube’s riverside road. I stopped and retreived the map and route instructions from the waterproof pannier. It was a forlorn hope, but I was looking for an alternative. It was then I noticed a note under the days instructions which read “Stop for a coffee and cake at Cafe Braun in Marbach and ask the waitress to call Hotel Krone-Kaiserhof. By the time you have finished your coffee and cake the hotel will have sent transport for…

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Cycling down the Danube (1)

Cycling down the Danube (1)

Down the Danube As a recreational cyclist the idea of cycling in Austria, a country with wall-to-wall mountains, was distinctly unappealing. Austria, I thought, was not a cycle friendly country. However, I soon discovered that where there are mountains there are river valleys and most of Austria’s cycle paths follow rivers. Austria’s number one cycle track is the Donauradweg or Danube Cycle Path which follows the Danube from Passau on the German border to Bratislava on the Austria/Slovak border passing through Vienna on its way. Budget airlines make getting to and from the start and finish easy because they tend to fly to lesser known airports. Salzburg and Munich are within easy reach of Passau; Linz is right on the Danube and makes an excellent start. At the other end of Austria there are flights from Vienna or in Slovakia…

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Hiking Boots, Cheese, Schubert

Hiking Boots, Cheese, Schubert

“What,” I asked, “Do Schubert, cheese and hiking have to do with each other?” Visiting Bregenzerwald, a forgotten corner of western Austria I was soon to discover how the three are closely linked by their association with the lush alpine meadows of the region. Real tradition is important in Bregenzerwald and is still a part of everyday life. It was the desire to keep the traditional way of life of the small farming communities that was the impetus behind the formation of the Käsestrasse or Cheese Road. In Bregenzerwald the average number of cows per farm is twelve. Becoming part of the globalised agricultural machine would wipe out the livelihood of Bregenzerwald’s 1200 farming families and their traditional way of life. Working on the dual philosophy that small is beautiful and quality is better than quantity a group of visionary…

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