Mozart's city, Augsburg, has a lot going for it. It's on the Romantic Road. There are lots of museums stuffed into historic residences, so you get a sort of 2 for 1 deal, museum with antiques. There's a university and a Roman Museum, too.
Then there is the interesting story of Jakob Fugger the Rich and his social housing complex, still in use, still cheap, from back in the day, a day in 1521 that is, when the upper class felt a need to give back a bit.
Interesting place, this Augsburg. Read all about it: Augsburg Germany Travel Guide.
What could be better than a cozy b&b, a great meal, and a visit to a famous rock art engraving site at night, when flashlights can provide the glancing, dancing light that brings the animal figures to life? Fiona Maclean describes it all for you: A Passion for Portugal - Rock Art in the Foz Côa Valley.
When you're ready to go, here are the essentials: Foz Côa Guide.
Rail Europe is offering 30% discounts on TGV tickets purchased between May 14 through 5:59 pm ET on June 10, 2013 (when you enter coupon code FAST30 during checkout). Go to the Rail Europe TGV Booking Page to check out the offer.
For my money, Portugal is the most innovative country when it comes to lodging options. We've long touted the unique opportunities available in Pousada stays, where you might find yourself in a former convent like Convento de Belmonte, where you can eat at a highly rated restaurant serving the most amazing local food presided over by chef Valdir Dudek Lubave, then step out into the Roman ruins at the front of the building or just go back to your room and gawk at the amazing views of the Serra da Estrela mountain range.
But there's another option for those who find lodging to be part of the vacation experience, and that's Solares de Portugal, which Julie Fox tells us about in her blog post Solares de Portugal: Special places to stay:
My first experience of staying in restored Portuguese manor houses came about by accident and now I'm hooked. These lovely old buildings allow me to indulge fantasies of living in stunning historical settings and to find out more about Portugal's past on a very personal level.
These homes are different from the hotel-like Pousadas in that the owners are there to help you; Solares are a sort of historic guest house. If this sounds good to you, I encourage you to get more detail from the fine article linked above.
And if you like ruins (and like imagining what they might become if turned into guest houses) head for the site linked in the article, ruin'arte. Great photography.
Without the amazing contribution of Vincent Van Gogh, who painted some of his finest works while a mental patient there, Saint Remy might have been a sleepy backwater in Provence. Today the small town is alive with art and artists. See the hospital where Van Gogh spent his time in Saint Remy, as well as the abandoned Roman village that became the new town, over which the artist likely trod in making his art: Saint Remy de Provence Map and Guide.
Provence Escapes is offering a very interesting art tour this fall. Judi Janofsky, travel writer and one of the owners of Provence Escapes explains:
"This is the year of the painters. We'll explore Aix-en-Provence where Cezanne lived, with visits to his home, studio and the quarry where he painted, and to St. Remy, where Van Gogh, committed to an asylum, painted his provocative Starry Night and many of his best known pieces".
And there's more, a tour that includes many of the places we covered in our Week in Provence:
During the tour, guests also will visit some of Provence's most endearing sites and villages, including the famous antique market town of L'Isle sur-la-Sorgue, the perched village of Joucas, home of two internationally renowned sculptors, the mountainous town of Brantes and the ochre-colored village of Roussillon. Plus wine tastings, a cooking class and time for shopping.
You may never have heard of it, but the Festival of Sant'Efisio is Sardinia's largest festival and longest procession, a four day event that stretches from the Islands capital of Cagliari to the ancient Roman settlement of Nora. It's colorful watching the initial day's parade through Cagliari, with decorated ox carts, colorful costumes, and the saint in his golden carriage. All in payment for Saint Efisio's intervention in Cagliari's plague. See what you'll likely see in next years festival if you plan a trip: Illustrated Guide to the Festival of Sant'Efisio.
Back in the old days, travel via train in Europe was simple. You bought a rail pass. There was one kind. It was good in all the countries that signed up to offer it. You flashed it at the conductor and that was all you needed to do. You went where you wanted, when you wanted.
Today things are more complicated. But the one universal, big rail pass is on sale, and that makes a tempting offer for travelers, especially those who don't want to be held to a schedule, those who'd like to take off on a rainy day just to enjoy the view from the windows for example.
Here's the deal: Get $100 off Youth and $75 off Adult Eurail Global Pass bookings from May 2 through June 12, 2013. Explore 24 countries by train.
See this and other Rail Europe offers: Special Deals.
If you're tired of going to museums all the time to look at amazing handicrafts like jewelry making, weaving, embroidery, and lace making, why not consider a trip to the Island of Sardinia? We've just witnessed the Sant'Efisio celebration in Cagliari, featuring over 3000 people in traditional costume like you see above; a more colorful parade you'll never see.
Of course it's not just a parade. It's a procession that lasts four days in which Cagliari's patron Saint, standing proud in his seventeenth-century gold plated coach is pulled by a pair of oxen from Cagliari to Nora and back, followed by the faithful, some in bare feet. They've had plenty of practice--this is the 375th time they've pulled it off.
But you see, there's a little problem. The ferry system is suffering. Companies have gone out of business and fuel is expensive. Prices are way, way up. People who've been going to Sardinia for years can't afford to ferry their families and their vehicles to the island any more. And that's leaving a big tourism gap.
If you're coming from a far off land like America, you can plan your vacation by visiting Sardinia at the beginning or end of your trip where you can rent cars both on the mainland and on the island and save money by taking a budget airline instead of the slow and lumbering ferry. Then you can benefit from the decline of traditional tourism from places like Germany. Some hotel companies have been forced to discount their room rates quite deeply; a lodging specialist we talked to mentioned discounts of 50%.
So, if you like traditional arts and crafts, or are really a fan of spectacular archaeological sites, look into planning a trip to Sardinia--and save money this year. For a start, check out our index of Sardinia's Top Attractions.
Would you trade a place serving good, honest, local cuisine for an international food court with cuisines determined by a gaggle of Michelin-starred chefs? This is the question posed by Istanbul Culinary Backstreets today, as another tradesmen's restaurant has been lost to a "development" which has as its not-quite-fleshed-out centerpiece a high end food court. Is expensive mall food coming to dominate what was once a sought-after culinary destination?
These questions, of course, are rhetorical. What will happen will happen. Life goes on. But we can be allowed to consider what will be lost. How one approaches high cuisine is inherently different from the common approach to traditional grub. When you choose to kneel at the altar of high cuisine, you sit at a table bathed in a pool of light meant only for you--so that you can focus your worshipful thoughts on the plates set before you created by someone on high. The experience is lonesome, solitary, dictatorial. To some it's almost a religious experience of the Old Testament type. But then, consider the tradesmen's restaurant, where
"the workers from the small shops on Cumhuriyet Caddesi would share tables with the bureaucrats from TRT Radio. At the next table, an old locksmith from the streets off of Elmadağ Caddesi might share a loaf of bread with an independent bookkeeper who was still around thanks to paying stabilized rent in a charitable foundation-owned building. For all of the people who crowded the room on a regular basis, Tunçlar was the center of their Venn diagram, the point at which disparate lives overlapped for some good, honest home cooking." ~ In Istanbul, a Workers' Lunchtime Paradise Lost
I love this paragraph. Eloquently described is the simple function of food raised high (but not too high). It's the social part of eating. And now, in some ways, it's the last supper.
Will we allow twitter and facebook to be our only social contacts with the world, or will we always seek out the experience of breaking bread with others who are different from us so that we can understand them?