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Spring has finally sprung and with beautiful weather comes the welcome excuse to get outside, just in time for Mother’s Day! Before you get mom any ordinary plant, check out our top ten list of the most beautiful gardens around the world for some inspiration. Take mom along for the day or make a future getaway out of these. Happy Mother’s Day! Read more
Spring and summer seem to be festival seasons, and this time of the year, there’s plenty to celebrate. Warm weather, blossoming flowers, the ability to carry your wife long distances – wait, what? Across the globe, there are tons of strange and spectacular festivals commemorating everything from macaque monkeys to body painting. We’ve selected seven we find a little bit odd, but entirely awesome. Read more
Get an early start on your winter vacation plans with airberlin‘s rock-bottom rates on flights to Europe. Ski in the Alps or spend the holidays in Berlin with round-trip airfare to Austria, Switzerland, and Germany for as low as $627 from the U.S.
Sample round-trip fares from New York City include:
- Dusseldorf: $597
- Berlin: $627
- Zurich: $636
- Hamburg: $679
- Dresden: $679
- Vienna: $721
- Munich: $727
- Salzburg: $782
Low fares are also available to the same cities from Miami (from $687), Fort Meyers (from $712), and Los Angeles (from $796).
Travel is valid on select dates from November 1, 2012 through February 28, 2013, though we found the lowest rates from mid-January through late February. Visit airberlin.com and enter your cities and dates using the booking engine on the left-hand side. This sale ends August 31, so lock in your flights while these low rates last.
For more trip-planning information, see our Europe destination guide.
China is notorious for pirating movies, watches, and handbags. Recently, however, a Chinese village took imitation to the next level by copying an Austrian town in its entirety, right down to its street signs. Incredibly, “pirated” places in China are not all that new. From Austria to Australia, here are some examples of China replicating famous landmarks from around the world.
Original: Hallstatt Village, Austria
Chinese Copy: Huizhou
Hallstatt is a former salt mining town turned UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its pristine alpine landscape, epitomized by the surrounding Dachstein Mountains. The town’s long history is also a huge draw for visitors who flock here to experience the world’s oldest salt mine, or view the 1,200 flower- painted human skulls at gothic St. Michael’s Chapel. No one, however, is more enamored with Hallstatt is than the residents of the Chinese town of Huizhou. A city in the southern Guangdong province, Huizhou’s latest urban plans involved cloning the Austrian village right down to its smallest detail, from Hallstatt’s pastel colors, to copies of its angel sculptures. Read more
Retreat to an elegant mountain resort in the Austrian Alps this summer. Stay at the 4-star Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, a renowned Design Hotels property, for only $153 per night for three nights. You’ll save over 30% on seasonal rates, plus receive daily breakfast and all applicable taxes.
The designer behind Hotel Kitzhof combines traditional alpine materials with contemporary lines to create a ruggedly upscale space. Enjoy views of the snow-capped Alps from the lobby’s panoramic windows, local specialties in four hotel restaurants, and unique cocktails at the Kitz Lounge. The property also features an indoor swimming pool, a spa, fitness facilities, and a garden. All rooms include complimentary high-speed Internet, leather armchairs, flat-screen TVs, and desks made from antique wood.
Hotel Kitzhof is just a five-minute walk from Kitzbuhel, a medieval town renowned for its picturesque cobblestone streets, incredible vistas, and world-class outdoor sports, including mountain biking, hiking, tennis, and golf.
To book, visit the Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort website and enter your travel dates. Rates for the Design Hotels 3FOR2 Promotion will appear; pricing is listed in Euros. Or, call 800-337-4685 and mention the same promotion.
The itineraries listed on the website of BikeSherpa (www.bikesherpa.com), a newly launched bike tour company run by an American expat in Germany, are enough to make any adventure traveler grab their passport and hop on a bike, whether they’re a newbie or have logged hours in the saddle.
There are comfortable rides through Germany’s Black Forest, showcasing the country’s gourmet cuisine and wineries; there’s a challenging trek through Italy, Austria, and Slovenia for intermediate-level riders; and there’s plenty in between, including a river cruise and cycling trip from Amsterdam to Bruges.
Just as enticing as the trips themselves: The fact that you can go for free.
It may only be entertainment, but the settings of movies and TV shows do have the power to transport. So it made me think that with the Oscars just a few weeks away, I should share my picks for the top 10 movies that capture both the romance and beauty of a place – and are actually fun to watch.
Bora Bora: Couples Retreat Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau may be the stars of this 2008 comedy, but Bora Bora steals almost every scene. Filmed at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort (doubling as the fictitious Eden Resort – and shown above at left), the movie is not as winning as Wedding Crashers, but it will make you want to raid your bank account and fly off to this ridiculously romantic paradise.
New York City: When Harry Met Sally I live in New York City and this 1989 romantic comedy nails what I love most about my hometown – winter, spring, summer, and fall. With scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Central Park Boathouse, Yankee Stadium, and Katz’s Delicatessen (a sign still hangs above the seat where Sally showed Harry how to fake it), this Nora Ephron-written, Rob Reiner-directed classic is like calling a dear friend who lives here each time you watch it.
Craving a winter adventure guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience that will also (pardon the puns) earn you an avalanche of cool points? Then pack your thermals for an overnight stay in an igloo or ice hotel.
Believe it or not, bedding down in such frosty accommodations is a trend that has warmed up considerably over the years. The opening of ICEHOTEL, in Sweden’s Lapland region, two decades ago has been followed with the construction of other icy lodging options, mainly in Europe. Most are built seasonally and melt in the spring.
While novelty is certainly part of the draw for these snow-centric spots, several have created a following among the ski set because of their proximity to the pistes: Guests can strap on their skis and hit the slopes long before the lifts have even opened.
For a taste of ‘old world’ charm without par, head to the 120-room Baur au Lac, Zurich’s destination of choice for royalty, film stars, musicians, presidents and jet set for more than 165 years. Austria’s Empress Sissi spent a summer at this five-star retreat; Richard Wagner premiered one of his compositions there; and a baroness convinced the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel of the necessity of the international peace prize. History doesn’t get more colorful than that!
But not all is tradition and glory past at Baur au Lac, which has been owned and operated by the same family since its opening in 1844. Set in its own park a short walk from Zurich’s famous Bahnhofstrasse and steps from Lake Zurich, the hotel has recently completed a $50,000,000 renovation, raising the bar for service and comfort. The centerpiece was the reinvention of the hotel’s Pavillion restaurant by starchitect Pierre-Yves Rochon. Formerly open only in the summer, this long-time Zurich favorite in a pastoral setting now works year-round. The hotel is also home to Rive Gauche restaurant and bar, an enclave of cosmopolitan chic and the place to see and be seen in Zurich.
When you’re packing your bag for Labor Day this year, make your passport as essential as the SPF. With Austria’s Pink Lake turning three and New Zealand Gay Ski Week maturing at eight, you can beat the holiday crowds by avoiding them altogether – in another country.
Pink Lake (September 2-5)
On the picturesque Lake Woerthersee in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia, the Pink Lake Festival has drawn a diverse group of roughly 3,500 (aged 21-50 with 80/20 gay-lesbian mix) to the area’s resort towns in each of its past two editions, with participants hailing from Germany, Italy, Slovenia, the UK, and Austria (naturally), and as far flung as Thailand, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Think less segregated circuit weekend or Pride and a more all-inclusive international gay get-together on the Austrian Riviera.
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