villages tagged posts

Hallstatt is the Heart of Austria’s Beautiful Lakes District

Austria's village of Hallstatt reflected in the lake of the same name

Hallstatt

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hallstatt is reflected so perfectly in the lake that it is often described as one of Europe’s most beautiful villages. The Chinese admire it so much they’ve built an exact replica. But it is just one of many “screensaver worthy” scenes in Austria’s Lakes District.

Set between the foothills and the Alps, this region, called Salzkammergut in German, is about 300 kilometers west of Vienna and just an hour’s drive southeast of Salzburg. With 76 lakes and soaring limestone mountains, the Salzkammergut offers exquisite scenery and water sports not to mention hiking, biking and fishing.

It is difficult to believe there are so many different blues, but each lake lays claim to its own unique shade. Centuries-old, flower-decked wooden holiday houses, simple lakeside cottages, and rustic boat sheds adorn each lake shore. Wildflowers carpet rolling fields; woodpiles are stacked with designer precision (Austria wins Olympic gold for wood stacking); small boats tootle on the waters; huge trout and arctic char slither underneath; walkers and cyclists breathe the clear mountain air.

The name Salzkammergut...

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Photo Friday: Bali’s rice paddies around Ubud

Rice paddies around Ubud in Bali

I took this photo for Photo Friday on an early morning walk with a local guide through lime green rice paddies of Bongkasa alongside the Ayung River around the village of Baung in Sayan, which is not far out of Ubud in Central Bali.

It is enchanting to walk through such a lush landscape and watch the farmers work the paddies as well as learning about Hindu traditions and the local names for all the local tropical plants and flowers. After the walk, our guide took us home to his village compound, where we enjoyed coffee and cake with his wife and baby daughter and his extended family and learned how a traditional Balinese home is configured. All in all, it was a fascinating experience.

I arranged this walk through my accommodation, Bambu Indah, which is a delightful eco luxury boutique hotel with 11 antique Javanese bridal homes that were brought to Bali, restored and decorated with authentic Indonesian furniture and crafts...

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Melbourne’s Best Weekend Getaway: Mornington Peninsula

Millionaire's Walk in Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula

Millionaire’s Walk in Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula

About an hour’s drive from Melbourne and wedged like the boot of Italy between Port Phillip and Westernport Bays, the Mornington Peninsula can make you wonder, at times, whether you are in Australia. Great swathes of blue water peak out between horse studs, alleys of pines and vistas of vines making it feel like a playground more Mediterranean than Melbourne.  But then those rolling green hills dotted with sandy bunkers could easily be in Scotland. Yet one glance at koalas lazing in aromatic gum trees and sun-drenched beaches with brightly colored bathing boxes and you realize you are in in the middle of one of Australia’s most appealing holiday destinations. Up until now, it has been a well-kept secret amongst Melbourne’s savvy insiders, but the Mornington Peninsula has so many world-class wineries, restaurants, beaches and gardens that it’s time the rest of the world discovered what it has to offer. For most of the p...

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