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Skiing in Europe

For those of you who love winter sports... The ski season has begun! Step out of your comfort zone this year and find new challenges in new places. Top quality snow, modern facilities, stunning scenery and, last but not least, a great après-ski atmosphere! Here is a selection of the best ski resorts in Europe:

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The best ski resorts in the Alps

We've been waiting a while but it's here at last: snow season! What if we travel a little further afield this time instead of going to the same old resorts? Today we're going to take a look at the highest and most famous peaks in the Alps and tell you about the best ski resorts in that 1,200-km-long mountain range.

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5 Highlights of A Leipzig Getaway

In terms of tourism, Germany is much more than just Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. In recent years, some cities from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) are gaining prominence like any other, having shaken off the dust and deadweight of the Socialist regime they lived under during the Cold War. One of these newly emerging cities is Leipzig, its waxing popularity driven by the art scene, its recent history and the great vitality of its inhabitants. In the following we pinpoint the reasons that make Leipzig the ideal destination for your next getaway.

Leipzig – A Music Destination

Listen up, classical music lovers! Music is very much in vogue in Leipzig, and I mean goodmusic, largely owing to the city’s past. It is famous for composers of the calibre of Johann Sebastian Bach, who was cantor of the Choir at St Thomas Church, one of the oldest in the world. And of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, who entertained their contemporaries as musicians and as a couple. For Felix Mendelssohn, Leipzig was where he spent the last few years of his life, while the city is the birthplace of Richard Wagner. The Augustusplatz is the city’s music hub and the site of the Gewandhaus concert hall, a Brutalist-style building which houses one of the most widely acclaimed symphonic orchestras. Right opposite stands the Opera, the third oldest in Europe. Oddly enough, the two institutions share the same conductor.

Leipzig – A Defiant City

The chain of events that led to the downfall of the GDR unfolded precisely in Leipzig. Throughout 1989, a number of masses and peaceful protests were held around the Church of St Nicholas that gradually wore down the old, established regime and led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, the feared secret police of East Germany, witnessed these events in silence, as, faced with growing grass-roots pressure, they declined to intervene. Leipzig boasted numerous printing presses in the second half of the 20th century and, in order to monitor their activity, the Stasi had their headquarters set up in the so-called Haus zur runden Ecke (House of the Rounded Corner). Today it is a museum showcasing the workings of the former State security, which so hobbled the lives of the GDR’s citizens.

Leipzig – A Trade Centre & River Port

Leipzig has long been a major trade centre and, to provide merchants conducting their business with shelter from the inclement weather – rainy and overcast most of the year – around twenty covered arcades were built. Two of the best known arcades are Speck’s Hof – the oldest in Leipzig, which currently showcases some magnificent paintings and ceramic medallions, and the Mädler arcade with its stylish glass skylight and the historic Auerbachs Keller restaurant, where Goethe overheard the stories that inspired Faust when he was studying in Leipzig. As a tribute to the celebrated writer, there are two statues dedicated to the main characters in this paramount work of universal literature.

Leipzig’s commercial calling is partly due to the White Elster river, a sub-tributary of the Elbe, which numerous canals criss-crossing the city flow into. They also provide a different way of discovering it – from a small boat.

Leipzig – An Artistic Melting Pot

The Saxon city is currently one of the favourite destinations among painters, designers and creators from the world over on account of the lively art scene that has blossomed in the Spinnerei, once Europe’s largest spinning mill. Today it is an unusual, colossal cultural centre where contemporary art is produced and exhibited. It features twelve art galleries, a hundred art studios and over a hundred cubicles rented out to creators who flock to Leipzig to soak up the latest trends and share their know-how with other colleagues. Here, they feel very much at home.

Leipzig – A Grand City

Leipzig is a distinguished city with character and some striking monuments and other buildings. Prominent in the Augustusplatz is the Paulinum, one of the Leipzig University buildings, featuring a facade emulating the Paulinerkirche, the former university church which was senselessly dynamited in 1968 during the times of the GDR regime. Another building which stands out, at least for its height, is the City-Hochhaus, known as the “wisdom tooth” on account of its design. The top floor of this landmark houses the Panorama Tower restaurant and viewing platform. Their lunch menu is very reasonable and the eatery is worth visiting, if only for the splendid views.

The city also features a colossal monument which, apart from being oversized, also has an unpronounceable name – the Völkerschlachtdenkmal– which was built to commemorate the Battle of the Nations in 1813, specifically the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig by a coalition of nations, namely Prussia, Russia, Sweden and Austria.

Come and discover this German city – check out your Vueling here.

Text by Tus Destinos

Images by Robin Kunz, Michael Bader, Peter Hirth, LTM-Tom Schulze, Nils Petersen

 

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Romantic Settings the Scent of Vineyards and Alpine Charm in Germany

Fantastic medieval castles, beautiful scenery, enchanting villages, splendid vineyards, tasty cuisine and a touch of romanticism – what more could you want in a getaway? Well, all that and more awaits you on one of the most popular itineraries in Germany, known as the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße, in German).

The route starts at Würzburg, which lies about 110 kilometres south-east of Frankfurt, and ends in Füssen, 82 kilometres south-west of Munich. Between those two points, you will come across over 60 towns and villages steeped in culture, as well as stunning scenery. In all, an itinerary covering some 400 kilometres to savour what was once an important trade route in the Middle Ages and, since 1950, one of the leading tourist magnets in Germany.

The Main Sightseeing Spots

As there is a lot to see on that long trip, we have made a selection of the places we consider the standout spots to stop at.

Würzburg. Situated in the heart of Franconia’s grape-growing region, this town is famous as the home of a veritable jewel of Baroque architecture – the Würzburg Residence, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber. One of the best preserved medieval towns in the country and one of the major attractions on the Romantic Road, so be sure to make a stopover to visit it. We recommend strolling along the medieval wall to soak up the panoramic views it affords of the city and its surrounding area.

Dinkelsbühl. Another of the gems you will encounter along the Road is this picturesque town, which managed to avoid destruction in both the Thirty Years’ War and the Second World War. It is thus well preserved and the essence of its medieval past intact. A striking feature that meets eye when walking through the town is its numerous towers, numbering sixteen in all.

Nördlingen. While less frequented than the previous ones, much of the historical charm of this beautiful medieval town in Bavaria has been preserved. Curiously, the town was built over a crater caused by the impact of a meteorite that fell to earth over 15 million years ago. It covers an area measuring 25 kilometres in diameter.

Augsburg. The largest city along the route and one of the oldest in Germany. It was founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Having enjoyed independence for a period of its history, the city flourished and generated considerable wealth, becoming one of the most prosperous in Europe. A prominent city landmark is the Rathausplatz, a large pedestrian square in the very heart of the Altstadt, while other noteworthy sights include Renaissance and Baroque buildings.

Wies Pilgrimage Church. Located in Steingaden, this is a must-see spot for art lovers, as the architectural style of the building is among the most noteworthy in the Bavarian Rococo.

Neuschwanstein Castle. Wrapping up our list of recommendations is this stunning piece of architecture which was actually the model for the castle design in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. No wonder, then, that Neuschwanstein means “new swan stone”. Overlooking the Pöllat Gorge in the Bavarian Alps, its construction was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria – the “Mad King” – in 1866.

Some Pointers

The best way to get around along the Romantic Route is by car, as it gives you greater autonomy when moving from one town to the next. You can pick up a hire car at Frankfurt airport. The route is signposted, so you just have to follow the indications to find your way. Those who prefer an alternative means of transport can take the coach, for which tickets can be booked in advance for specific legs of the journey. The more intrepid among you can also enjoy the pleasure of cycling through the bucolic landscapes as, on the whole, the route does not present any steep slopes.

Since this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, we recommend that, if possible, you schedule your trip for the spring or autumn, as in summer it is far more crowded.

Now that you’re up to speed with the ins and outs of this fantastic route, it’s time to plan your own itinerary. Check out flights to Frankfurt here.

 

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by vince42, Tilo 2007, Rictor Norton & David Allen, ilovebutter, Holger Baschleben, Allie_Caulfield, Brian Wiese

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