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Summer in the Austrian Mountains (St Anton)

Summer in the Austrian Mountains (St Anton)

Included excursions to Lindau & Bodensee and Linderhof Palace & Oberammergau. Skiers love it in winter, but in summer Austria gives you mountain pine air you could bottle and sell, glacier fresh beer, scented meadows, crystal lakes and waterfalls, a history of music, houses painted with optical illusions, and sheer, sky-scraping peaks that’ll have you fumbling every moment for your camera or sketchbook.

St. Anton is located some 1304 metres above sea level is one of the world’s most sought after ski destinations which has resulted in the establishment of excellent quality hotels, a wide range of shops, bars and leisure facilities. The mountains, which attract the skiers in the winter become a walker’s paradise in the summer and provide a spectacular backdrop to this attractive and friendly village. As the snows melt and the pretty alpine flowers burst into life, the quieter and charming character of this lovely resort comes to life.

The food, beer and wine are what you’d expect from Alpine Austria – fantastic, and cheaper too in summer. You also get the St Anton Summer Card which gives you special benefits, not least the use of the cable cars for one day free of charge.

All in all, a great break in some of Europe’s most serene and spectacular country, and a terrific change from traffic in the city or towels on a crowded beach.

Excursions

Lindau and BodenseeLake Constance (Bodensee) is almost 40 times the size of Lake Windermere. We take a boat trip on the lake, during which we will technically be in no country on Earth, due to the fact that neighbouring states can’t agree where the borders are. Part of the eastern shore is Bavarian, and this includes the island of Lindau with what is famously Bavaria’s only lighthouse. There are lots of attractive gardens and parks here, as well as interesting little shops selling clothes, local wines and cheeses, antiques, toys and gift. But Lindau is best known for its beautiful old quarter, full of picturesque caf�-flanked squares and higgledy-piggledy building styles. A lot of the houses have crow-stepped or staircase-style gables, making the roofs look as if they were built out of Lego bricks. One of these, the Alte Rathaus (Old Town Hall), is painted with colourful frescoes bustling with muses, cherubs, dignitaries, sailing ships, biblical allegories and trompes l’oeil. Lindau Rathaus is another exuberant example.

Linderhof Palace and Oberammergau

Linderhof - an extravagant, ornamented, shameless wedding cake of a Schloss, born in the wrong century exactly like its king. For handsome and dashing Ludwig, king of Bavaria at 18, gay, an artistic daydreamer with no pragmatic political skills, belonged to a different era where kings lived for hedonism and dull ministers did the bean counting. The forgiving Bavarians loved their wonderful, wacky Ludwig, but the new German Empire and its Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, took a Prussian view of his spendthrift ways, and branded him as ‘mad’. Poor Ludwig ended his days dethroned, humiliated, and floating face-down in Lake Starnberg, but his architecture remains as his monument. Linderhof has to be seen to be believed, a rococo revival mini-Versailles, OTT from its palace gardens and Moorish follies to its Hall of Mirrors and its tapestry chambers. Ludwig probably was a bit mad to have it built, but we’d have to be mad to miss it (note: tour includes grounds and park buildings. Admission to the Palace €8.50).

We shadow the river Linder downstream for around 8 miles until we come to the village of Oberammergau. At one time there was an Alpine craze for ‘Luftmalerei’, colourful house frescoes. Perhaps it was those long snowy monochrome mountain winters with nothing to do, but the craze spiralled into a fiesta of one-upmanship which left Oberammergau famously festooned and today one of Bavaria’s foremost must-see attractions. There are loads of woodcarving and art shops here, so it’s a real treat to explore as well as gaze at. The village is probably most famous for its once-a-decade Passion Plays, and you can tour the theatre for a small entrance fee.

Summer in the Austrian Mountains (St Anton)

Summer in the Austrian Mountains (St Anton)

A great break in some of Europe’s most serene and spectacular country.
Departure 23rd Aug 2015

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