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Austria’s Moments of Bliss comes alive in Sydney

April 17, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) has launched its 2014 campaign “Moments of Bliss”.

At the same time, ANTO has farewelled well-known marketing and information executive Manuela Moedlhammer, who is doing some travelling before heading back to Austria. Her replacement, Nicole Becker, has already joined the ANTO team.

Speaking to travel industry supporters of Austria at a function in Sydney on Tuesday night, ANTO’s director Australia, Astrid Mulholland-Licht, said Austria had always been a place where people and cultures come together, where for centuries the most diverse influences from East and West, North and South, were blended into a culture of its own.

ANTO team - Astrid Mulholland-Licht and Nicole Becker

ANTO team: Astrid Mulholland-Licht and Nicole Becker

“In its second year, ANTO’s ambitious marketing and social media campaign ‘Austria. Moments of Bliss’ focuses on Austria as Europe’s Meeting Place,” Mulholland-Licht said.

“Take a dash of Mediterranean liveliness and zest for life, a bit of Northern European efficiency, add a sprinkling of Eastern European humour, combined with a deep appreciation for fine music, art, and tradition, stir thoroughly and – bitteschön – you have a recipe for the uniquely Austrian way of life!

“As a visitor to Austria, you’ll encounter these elements in many different ways: carefully preserved natural beauty, priceless treasures of art and culture, charming towns and bustling cities, delightful cuisine, inspirational events and cozy hotels await at every turn.”

There are plenty of examples, some of which are listed below.

FESTIVAL FEVER

Two of ANTO’s favourite festivals and performances in 2014

  • Vienna State Opera: From the inaugural performance of Don Giovanni in front of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth in 1869, to grammy nominations in 2014 and countless other accolades, the Vienna State Opera is one of the world’s foremost opera houses. Aside from outstanding productions with stars like Villazon, Gheorghiu, and Kirchschlager, the Vienna State Opera is also an architectural highlight in its own right. As the first building commissioned by the Emperor to replace the old city wall, it is a wonderful example of Neoclassicism in Vienna. Visitors can take guided tours through the opera house, and/or visit the Vienna State Opera Museum just across the street. The State Opera also hosts the famous State Opera Ball each winter, which is one of Vienna’s most prominent society events. 

Promising premieres this season include The Magic Flute on 7 June 2014. The program for the 2014/2015 season will be published later in the year. Also of note: As of December 2013, the Vienna State Opera offers an excellent worldwide (adapted to time-zones) live streaming service for select performances. Included in the price are several viewpoints of the stage, the score as well as translations.

  • Grafenegg: This small festival in Lower Austria features the world’s best orchestras (even the Sydney Symphony already performed there) and is a special tip for connoisseurs. We think it deserves much more attention, first for its outstanding program, and then for its charming location and intimate setting. Grafenegg castle is an architectural gem, with beautiful grounds and a charming Christmas market in winter. The ultra-modern open-air stage contrasts beautifully with the old castle in the background. 

The Grafenegg Festival 2014 will be held from 14 August to 9 September and includes performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra among others.

TAKE THE TRAIL AND TAKE YOUR TIME

ANTO’s favourite scenic and easy hikes in Austria

  • Hohe Tauern National Park: Austria’s largest National Park and arguably its most beautiful, the Hohe Tauern National Park, includes parts of Tirol, Carinthia and SalzburgerLand. It offers a wide variety of trails spanning all difficulty levels. If you must choose, however, and have only one day to spend there, we recommend seeing the Krimml Waterfalls in SalzburgerLand. The highest falls in Europe, and the fifth highest in the world are located on the fringes of the National Park. Start at the foot of the waterfalls and steadily hike along the three sections of the waterfalls to the very top for spectacular Alpine views. The trail takes you through unspoiled nature very close to the falls so you can experience the power of the water. The hike should take about 1.5 hours, all on a marked and well maintained trail. 
  • Zirbentrail: The best way to experience the Alps is to do as the locals do: Take in the beauty of the jagged mountain peaks on foot, and reward yourself afterwards with a delicious meal and a lively conversation at a cozy mountain hut. A great place to do just that is in Innsbruck, Tirol. One of Innsbruck’s most beautiful hikes is also one of the most leisurely: You can take the Patscherkofel gondola up the mountain and start on a 2 hour 30 minute walk along the circular and mostly level Zirbenweg (Stone Pine Trail). After a rest at one of the mountain huts, simply take another scenic ride back down the mountain. 
  • Walking around Lake Neusiedl: Beautiful and easy walks abound in the far east corner of Austria, where the deep red sun hugs the earth, and the horizon extends far into the distance. The region is a paradise for hikers – with its gorgeous vineyards, villages and local delicacies, the Lake Neusiedl World Cultural Heritage Site and National Park enchants visitors from around the world – yet never feels crowded. The local Tourist Office in the village of Purbach organizes short wine-walking tours which also include stops at wine cellars as well as tastings. 

ON THE FOODIE TRAIL

There is a lot to arouse a true gourmet’s excitement in Austria. Whether you are dining at a gourmet temple, or a simple country inn: in a country where farm-to-table is not a concept, but a way of life, you’ll encounter a love for good food, a fervent dedication to highest-quality ingredients, and a long history of combining traditional recipes with other culinary influences.

  • Austria’s top restaurants according to the Gault Millau guide 2014: Still at the top is Vienna’s Steirereck, which offers excellent modern Austrian cuisine in a beautiful setting in the Stadtpark. For years the Rosengarten-Taxacher, at the Relais & Châteaux Hotel Rosengarten, has been an insider tip. Now the restaurant in Kirchberg, Tirol, has been voted among Austria’s four best restaurants: Award-winning chef Simon Taxacher uses only the best local ingredients to prepare Mediterranean-style cuisine in the heart of the Alps. Top notes have also been awarded to the long-established restaurant Obauer, in Werfen, SalzburgerLand. Sourcing ingredients for its delicious menu from local farmers, Obauer’s cuisine is regional, seasonal and always creative. And last but not least, the Taubenkobel in Burgenland is the fourth top-player in Austria’s restaurant scene. Over decades, Evelyne and Walter Eselböck have transformed a simple “Gasthaus” into a gourmet temple, featuring an ever changing menu with panonnian influences. 
  • Naschmarkt Vienna: Taste your way through local and international specialties amid the Art Nouveau splendor of the surrounding Otto Wagner buildings and Vienna’s famous Secession. With such a setting, shopping for culinary souvenirs is double the fun: Stop at Gegenbauer’s for asparagus vinegar and black currant seed oil, or at Urbanek for Austrian cheeses. The Naschmarkt has also become a popular meeting place with many small restaurants that offer outdoor seating and are the perfect spot for people watching as you enjoy an excellent meal with fresh ingredients from the market. We recommend: Umar, Neni, and the Naschmarkt Deli. 
  • Gemischter Satz, Vienna’s signature wine: Many are surprised to learn that urban Vienna is also a wine region. But within the city limits, 320 winemakers tend 1,680 acres of grapes – mostly in the river-flanking areas of Nussberg, Kahlenberg, Bisamberg and Mauer. At the charming wine taverns at the outskirts of the city, “Gemischter Satz” has long been one of the most popular local wines. It is made from up to 20 different grape varieties, all planted in the same vineyard, and harvested and pressed together. Originally, growers used the varying degrees of ripeness and acidity as a way to ensure consistent quality and guard against the risk of poor harvests. Today, Vienna’s signature wine has evolved into an excellent varietal served in many fine dining establishments as well. Look for wines from Fritz Wieninger, Rainer Christ, Richard Zahel, Michael Edlmoser, Mayer am Pfarrplatz and Cobenzl, a group that was the catalyst for this resurgence of Gemischter Satz in Vienna. 
  • Trockenbeerenauslese – Burgenland’s Noble Sweet Wines: Austria is the only place in the world that produces award winning sweet wines in a National Park! The Seewinkel National Park is located in a bend on the east side of the shallow 125 square mile Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland. The lake’s reed belt and the numerous saline ponds in the region provide a habitat for unique flora and fauna which live symbiotically with grapevines. 

Edited by : Peter Needham

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