Monday, 4 December 2017

The Best Destination For Enchantment

Image result for TasmaniaThe Destination With The Best Enchantment is the lovely island of Tasmania in Australia. Vistas of stunning beauty are everywhere, though it is the leisurely traveller who will discover them. Places like Freycinet and Cradle Mountain are just some spots where the patient traveller will have moments of heart-stopping serendipity – so graceful and idyllic are the surroundings. The changing light at dusk or in the fall can create truly magical scenes, but budding photographers will find picture-perfect scenes all over the island. Beaches or buildings , farmlands or forests, mountains or marinas – everything seems ideally picturesque in Tasmania.

Even the animals seem especially enchanting. We had wonderful views of eagles swirling in aerial courtship, and wallabies in abounding conference. Warblers waited to be photographed and normally-elusive beetongs scurried away into the bush only after we saw them clearly. A deceptively innocent-looking possum politely stood on my porch trying to get invited inside my chalet, and an exceptionally enormous wild wombat placidly munched grass at my feet like a tame sheep in the gathering dusk.

People are friendly, too, and genuinely pleased to meet you. They take time to chat, and to share local lore on the bakery with tastiest meat-pies or the best vantage point for a photograph. In 2005 Tassie seemed to be what New Zealand was like twenty years earlier – rustic, scenic, unhurried and uncrowded.  Places like Launceston have immaculately preserved their old buildings, and the fact that our visit to Tasmania coincided with a vintage-car rally simply evoked a bygone era with exquisite vibrancy.
Image result for Cary LewincampThe fresh flavour of the seafood in Tasmania ranks among the best in Australia, and the haunting loveliness of Cary Lewincamp’s guitar music among the finest of its kind in the world. Like a rare wine or a precious work of art, the true beauty of this southerly hideaway can only be experienced languidly and thoughtfully.

For those who will vacation quietly, carefully and expectantly, there is an awaiting blessing called Tasmania.

(Images by and other sources

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Best Destination For Music

In a world that is becoming increasingly smaller through travel and the electronic media, music is the universal language that crosses boundaries today with rhythmic regularity. It is as easy to find an excellent old-time Dixieland jazz-club in Shanghai as it is to find a Cantonese pop-music concert in London, and there always seems to be an African dance presentation going on somewhere in Berlin just as classical Western music performances seem to be available in Singapore at any time of the year. Exquisite Spanish-guitar virtuso performances can be heard throughout the Philippines, and authentic Indian dance-performances proliferate off the African coast, on the island of Mauritius. Various cities across the globe have their own distinctive music festivals and the avid music-tourist is often overwhelmed with choices.

Experienced globe-trotters and savvy travel-professionals, however, point to just one country if asked to identify a tourism destination that is defined by music more than anything else. It is a country with superb classical architecture, stunning scenery, fascinating cuisine, some very good wines, great sports facilities - and oh yes, sublime local coffee! It has an air-hub par excellence, and both road and rail infrastructure to equal any place in the world - yet all these winning tourism features are overshadowed by the sound of music. This is Austria, the country that enchants visitors with auditory delights like nowhere else on earth.

Tourists from all over the world flock to Austria to tramp the paths and film-locations where the screen Von-Trapp Singers immortalised The Sound Of Music, and soak up the melodies of Rodgers & Hammerstein. They visit the birthplaces, homes and old haunts of great Western composers such as Brahms, Mozart, Hayden, Schubert, Schumann, and Wagner. They relive the glories of these great musicians, and luxuriate in the timeless melodies.They witness performances of Strauss and Strauss, and thrill to the wonder of the fairy-tale Viennese Waltz. They watch the cherubic faces of the Vienna Boys Choir and revel in the purity of those incandescent voices. On these great musical attractions alone, any nation could have a dynamic and world-class tourism industry. But Austria has much, much more to offer!

There are the often overlooked genres of traditional Austrian music such as Old Farmhouse, Schrammel and Alpine, each with their quintessential Austrian distinctiveness and allure. There are the evocative melodies of neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as other nations in and around the Danube-Danau region. There are festivals dedicated to a single instrument, and these can include anything and everything from the Gypsy Accordion to the Australian Didgeridoo. Austria also hosts events celebrating jazz, opera, tango, new folk, and even Brass Band - the latter attracting participants from at least 15 nations around the globe.

During a single visit to Austria in early 2009, I picked up an events-magazine and read publicity for performances of Contemporary music such as Cabaret, Café’ Concerts, Electronic, Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Opera, Operetta, Pop, Rock, World Music and Funk Mundial, the cosmopolitan electronic Brazilian-styled dance rhythms. There were also performances of International music from places as diverse as the Balkans, Ukraine, Egypt, Spain, Texas(!), New York’s Harlem, Serbia, and various parts of Asia. Salzburg’s Summer Scene had Indian Classical music among its offerings, and Vienna’s Volksoper was staging Chinese Opera. And we haven't even started to talk about the glorious Christian Sacred Music that I personally find inspiring and rejuvenating...
Yes, music permeates the very fabric of Austria - it flows down its Alpine brooks and swings through its concert-halls with exhilarating freedom and diversity. Music defines much of Austria's history, and energises much of its present-day life. And for the intrepid tourist, it makes Austria The Best Music Destination In The World.

All images courtesy of Austria National Tourism Organisation
© Österreich Werbung / Trumler, © Österreich Werbung / Fankhauser, © Österreich Werbung / H.Wiesenhofer
© Österreich Werbung / Wiesenhofer