Top Five Places To Visit In Austria

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria

It’s tough to have a short list of my top 5 places to visit in Austria. For me, it’s the perfect destination. Austria is known for many things including its history, natural beauty, and Alpine terrain. It’s a perfect vacation destination for travelers in search of a new adventure in Europe. Winter sports enthusiasts regularly visit to ski and snowboard on the iconic Austrian Alps. But there is much more to Austria than snow. In fact, Austria has some of the most historic architecture in all of Europe, and a myriad of towns and cities with their own unique cultural feel. Here’s my short list:

Vienna

Vienna is widely considered to be a cultural haven for music, fine art, and architecture. Known for many diverse architectural styles throughout the city, travelers can expect to find many well-preserved examples of Romanesque, Baroque, Classicist, and Art Nouveau styled structures. Vienna is also celebrated for its rich performance-art tradition, hosting over 200 balls a year. It also hosts a variety of classical music concerts featuring many of the famous composers who once called Vienna home, including Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and others. Christmas in Vienna is a magical time with its many Christmas markets. No visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to one of their outstanding cafes. Austrian cakes, like the “Sacher Torte” are world famous. Why not try a cake and coffee at a famous landmark like the Demel.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Vienna

Salzburg

Situated near Germany’s southern border with Austria, the city of Salzburg, like its capital counterpart, is famous for its long-standing musical traditions. Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Mozart and features the Mozart Museum, his former home. Beyond the numerous examples of historic architecture and artistic attractions, Salzburg is surrounded by a breathtaking Alps mountain range. A visit to Salzburg allows you to explore the experiential contrast of rich history and stunning natural beauty simultaneously. Take the funicular to Hohensalzburg Fortress for a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside. It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, dating back to 1077.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Salzburg

Salzkammergut

Salzkammergut – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is an Austrian resort area surrounded by serene blue lakes, verdant hills, and snow-peaked mountain ranges. For over a century, it has served as one of the countries prime tourist destinations. Salt production started the area (“salz”) and dates to the Bronze Age. A tour of the salt mine in Halstatt is well worthwhile. Outdoor recreational activities abound including mountaineering, horseback riding, swimming and cycling. The Salzkammergut region is also famous for the many luxury spas and hotel resorts inhabiting the area. If you are visting in the summer months, a slow boat ride on Lake Halstatt will be serene and provide gorgeous views of surrounding towns and mountains.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Salzkammergut

Innsbruck

Famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, the city of Innsbruck is widely considered to be one of the best winter sports destinations in the world. Visitors not so keen on skiing or snowboarding, or those visiting during the summer months, can find plenty to do in the historic city as well. Explore the Innsbruck Cathedral, the bell-making museum, or one of the city’s many local restaurants. Innsbruck is nestled in the heart of the Alps and is one of Austria’s most scenic cities. A 20-minute train ride takes you up the mountain to Seefeld, where you can then take a funicular and cable car to Rosshutte. On a clear day, you’ll see the mountain tops of 4 countries- Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

innsbruck-506820_640

Zell Am See

For travelers who are looking for the ultimate in natural scenery, and wilderness adventures, the town of Zell am See is a ‘must-visit’ destination in Austria. Surrounded by majestic alpine mountains, world-class ski slopes, and tranquil blue lakes, Zell am See hosts numerous outdoor recreation events throughout the year. During the winter, it hosts a number of ski and snowboard competitions. The driving here is also out-of-this-world, be sure to take the Grossglockner Alpine Road from here for some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the country.

Top Five Places To Visit In Austria - Zell Am See

I’m a fan of most European countries but Austria has my heart. If you haven’t been, you must get there. You’ll go back again and again, like I do.

Visiting Spain: Visit the Essentials First

visiting spain

It doesn’t matter what your travelling preferences are, we all love a fiesta, and what better place to have a fiesta than by visiting Spain itself? Located in one of the warmest parts of the European continent, Spain does not only offers long sunny days, but also a rich history and culture. This country can cater to anyone’s taste. Partying all night, visiting museums and researching Spanish history or eating their delicious cuisine until your heart pops out. The only thing that you should know is where you’re heading, and this is where we step in. Look at the list below, and try to find the best Spanish ciudad for your holiday, especially if it’s your first time:

Madrid: The heart of Spain and capital of flamenco

It doesn’t do to visit Spain and not see the capital of the country, does it? As any other European capital, Madrid has everything to offer – bars that are open until late at night, great shopping centers and some of the most amazing parks in Europe. One such is the El Parque del Buen Retiro, or simply shortened to El Retiro. It was once a royal ‘’hangout’’, and it staged many concerts and garden plays. Nowadays, it is a great tourist attraction (even though greenery might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Madrid), as people can rent one of the many rowboats and paddle in the huge man made lake in the center of the park. However, Spain is the only place in the world where you can see a live performance of flamenco dances, and Madrid is the best place to do this.

madrid

Barcelona: The diamond of Catalonia

You’ve no doubt heard of Barcelona. There are numerous tourists who hit the road to Spain and decide to visit this place only. And it doesn’t matter how many days you stay, Barcelona is a city which you can never fully explore. If you really want a European holiday of your lifetime, you should find one of the best Barcelona holiday packages that are offered, and see the home of the extremely impressive pieces of Gaudi’s architecture such as the legendary La Sagrada Familia. Moreover, taking a walk-through Las Ramblas and having a cup of coffee in one of its many cafés is definitely something that you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

barcelona

Seville: From bullrings to beautiful barrios

To all the animal rights activists out there – no, we don’t agree with this either, but we must agree that this is one of the symbols of Spain and an inevitable part of Spanish history. Even though bullfighting originated in Ronda, Seville is its spiritual home. So, is it a form of art or simply animal cruelty? Well, it would be best to visit one of Seville’s many bullrings and see for yourself. However, don’t you think for a second that Seville is only good for this. As the heart of Andalusia, this magical city has many other things to offer – such as the Barrio Santa Cruz, one of the most beautiful barrios of Spain, or Alcazar (perhaps better known as Dorne from HBO’s Game of Thrones).

seville

Granada: The place that’s the richest in Spanish history

First and foremost: you’re visiting Spain and you want to try tapas. Since Granada is one of the rare places in Spain where you get tapas for free alongside your drink, it should be on the must-visit list. Moreover, this is a place where you’ll see the most important historical monuments of this country. It is a paradise for every history buff. One of the best things you can see here is the Alhambra fortress – a fortress so huge that you will need a whole day to explore it to the smallest detail. If you want to imagine what it looks like, it’s said that you must imagine the world’s most beautiful gardens, add a fortress and multiply the whole image by ten. Alhambra overlooks the whole city of Granada, offering a most breathtaking view. And it’s also an excellent place to take amazing Instagram photographs! The ticket is around 13 euros, and it’s open from March to October, so make sure to plan your stay there accordingly.

granada

And these are only the essentials. Spain has so many other things to offer, such as 24/7 Ibiza parties, spring days in Valencia, visiting the tomb of Christopher Columbus, walking across the world’s scariest bridge, seeing the Museum of Funeral Carriages, or eating at the world’s oldest restaurant in Madrid. Spain should be your next destination. And maybe even the one after that, because you can go there as many times as you want, and you’ll still have more things on your bucket list.

The Paris Series (Part 2) – Sainte-Chapelle

Among the many things that Paris is famous for, its collection of museums is second to none. There are over 50 museums and noteworthy monuments in and around Paris. There are of course many very well known ones including the Musee du Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Musee Picasso and monuments including the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Chathedral, Chateau de Versailles and more.

One of Paris’ greatest jewels, and often overlooked sites, is Sainte-Chapelle. As you walk down Boulevard du Palais, you’ll see a line of people that appear to be waiting to enter the Palais de Justice (a large building from 1868 that still functions as a court house). Behind the entrance and in the courtyard is what they are actually waiting for – the entrance to Sainte-Chapelle. (Unlike some other museum sites, your Paris Museum Pass does not get you queue-cutting access here).

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Sainte-Chapelle is a royal medieval Gothic chapel dating back to the 1200s and Louis the IX of France. Although damaged during the French Revolution, Sainte-Chapelle contains one of the most extensive and beautiful collections of stained glass anywhere in the world. As you enter the chapel, you’ll see a sample of stained glass and a gift shop. Look for the stairs on either side of the room to ascend a very narrow staircase to the second floor and you’ll enter the main room. You will be awestruck. It is absolutely spectacular and breathtaking !

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5 Must-Try Activities During an Evening Desert Safari in Dubai

If you want to witness the dazzling sunset in the Arabian Desert at night, and later catch a glimpse of  the stars high up in the heavens, go on an evening desert safari in Dubai. A desert safari is one of the best adventures you can experience in Dubai.

Exploring the beautiful topography of the Arabian Desert and trying out the different activities that come with the tour you choose will definitely make the safari truly memorable, and something that will be etched in your heart and mind forever.

By going on a desert safari in the evening, you will see the wonderful sights and enjoy all the must-try activities in the Arabian Desert under cooler, more comfortable temperatures.

Desert Safari in Dubai

Here are five activities you have to try when you go on an evening desert safari in Dubai:

1.    Dune bashing

A desert safari won’t be complete if you don’t go dune bashing. While onboard a 4×4, you will go on a thrilling ride to navigate the picturesque sand dunes of the Dubai desert.

With the sun setting in the background, you will have a more glorious, lovelier view of the desert as you go over the different sand dunes.

Since you will be going around the sparse desert wilderness when the sun is already going down, you will be more comfortable inside the vehicle as well. You can even open the windows a bit to feel the cool breeze if the driver allows you to.

2.    Camel riding

You won’t be going on an authentic desert safari if you don’t get to ride a camel during your tour as well. Riding a camel is quite a novelty while you also get to see the wonderful sights of the Dubai desert up close.

Whether you are riding on a camel or simply standing beside one, make sure you get lots of photos with the beautiful sunset in the background.

Desert Safari in Dubai

3.    Fire show

If you want to witness something truly exciting, you’re in for a treat at the camp.

After experiencing a heart-thumping fast ride up and down the sand dunes, you can look forward to relaxing and watching what’s in store at the desert camp.

A fascinating fire show is part of the night’s repertoire of skilled entertainers. Prepare to be amazed as the skillful fire showman manipulates different fiery implements complemented with his fantastic acrobatic abilities.

Everyone in the crowd would be in awe of the dazzling fire display from start to finish, so make sure to have your camera with you and capture the beautiful fire show.

Desert Safari in Dubai

4.    Get a henna tattoo

Once the tour is over and you arrive at the desert camping grounds, make sure you take home a beautiful souvenir by getting a henna tattoo.

Let a henna tattoo artist work his or her magic on your hands, arm or leg. In the end, you will have a unique work of art on your body which you can show off. Since the tattoo is only temporary, it will last for only two to three days.

5.    Enjoy a buffet dinner

One important thing that separates a morning desert safari from one scheduled in the evening is that the latter comes with a scrumptious buffet dinner.

At the end of the tour, you can treat yourself to a buffet dinner complete with a variety of mouthwatering barbecued treats. The buffet tables and stations also have an assortment of authentic Arabian and vegetarian dishes so there is an option for everyone. You won’t be disappointed by their dessert and beverage offerings as well.

The desert safari camp and clear skies will be the backdrop of the al fresco dinner you’ll enjoy in the company of other safari-goers. You can also try puffing a shisha or drinking a traditional Arabic coffee during the evening.

A nighttime desert safari will allow you to explore Dubai’s wilderness, however sparse, and try various activities more comfortably.

Best of all, at the end of the tour, you will enjoy a delectable dinner with the clear, wonderful sky and the Arabian Desert as your background.

If you’ve come to Dubai as a holiday-goer, be sure to make the most of your trip by booking your stay at a hotel accommodation which can also arrange for other unique experiences in the emirate.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Hafiz Umer Ali Zaib is the Social Media Specialist at Luxury Tours, a leading provider of tours, cruises and safaris across the UAE. The company’s top offerings include the Dubai Desert Evening Safari, City Tours, Dhow Cruises, Mountain Tours, Limousine Service, Discounted Tickets for theme parks, and a variety of many other excursions.

Best Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Museums

Amsterdam is known for many things, but one thing you may not think of when dreaming of this Dutch city is Museums. Few people realize that Amsterdam is actually home to over 50 museums, many of which are very interesting and thought provoking. Some of them are strange. Here is a list of some of the interesting ones you might want to check out the next time (or first time) you travel to Amsterdam.


BEST MUSEUMS IN AMSTERDAM

Het Grachtenhuis Museum
This is a special museum located on one of the most beautiful and upmarket Herengracht canal. It explores the history of the canal district (a world heritage site) with 3D animation, models, projections and an interactive multimedia exhibition. A very modern look at Amsterdam’s history and a great way to start to your visit.

Tulip Museum
The tulip is often used as a symbol of the Netherlands, so this museum is quite popular with locals and tourists alike. If you love botany, history, or tulips in general, this is the museum for you.

Anne Frank House
The hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during World War II is now a museum and is one of the biggest attractions in Amsterdam. See how hard it was and view the original diary on display while at this location. Book a rental car at Schiphol Airport and take the 20 minute drive to the historic museum. This is a must do but get there early because the lines can be long.

Amsterdam Museums - The Anne Frank House

NEMO Science Museum
A hands on museum, NEMO is very popular among children. Science and technology are the themes here, so it’s a must visit if you’re with kids on vacation. Get a Museumkaart or I Amsterdam City Card for free admission. Ask about discounted group rates!

Torture Museum
This place brings out the macabre in everyone. View a collection and learn about some of the oldest cruellest torture methods of the past. Thankfully most of these methods are no longer in use. The fact that most of what’s on display are actual artifacts is particularly disturbing.

Museum of Bags and Purses 
To me, being surrounded by this many handbags and purses seems like a scene from the previous museum!

National Maritime Museum
The museum is dedicated to maritime history and contains many artefacts associated with shipping and sailing. The collection contains, paintings, scale models, weapons and world maps. Moored directly outside the museum is a replica of the Amsterdam, an 18th-century ship which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies.

Van Gogh Museum
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam, explore the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh work. A must-see for any traveling virtuoso, see his work and learn about his life story. You won’t be disappointed!

The Rijksmuseum
This is the Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. It showcases national treasurers and artifacts from over 800 years of Dutch history. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum. Again, a must visit!

There are of course more museums, including the Museum of The Canals, the Costume Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Houseboat Museum and more. They make for an interesting day and a way to quickly immerse yourself in Dutch culture and history.

Can you think of any interesting or strange museums that are in Amsterdam?

Planning A Trip To Perth

Planning A Trip to Perth

Image Source. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Perth is one of the most unique Australian cities. It’s situated on the west coast miles away from everywhere else and it has developed its own customs and traditions over time. If you’ve got plans to travel to Perth, here are some tips that will help you get the best out of your trip.

Pack for the heat

The temperature in Perth is warm pretty much all year. In the summer (December through to February), it can often stay above 30 degrees with minimal rainfall. As a result, when travelling to Perth, you should pack for the heat – this means light clothing and sun lotion. You’ll also want to check out the beaches of Perth, so remember to bring some beachwear.

Rent a car

Perth is very spread out and you’ll find it difficult to get around by foot. Whilst you can use public transport, this can be pricey. As a result, it’s worth hiring a car for the trip. You can book this online so that there’s a rental car waiting for you at Perth airport. Renting a car could also allow you to journey out into the outback and beyond if you’re up for a wild road trip.

Take your hiking boots

On the outskirts of Perth, you’ll find a number of scenic hiking trails – the most iconic being the Bibbulmun track. For this reason, it’s worth taking your hiking boots so that you explore these routes. There are guided tours of the Bibbulmun track and guided day-trips that can take you along the most scenic stretches. Alternatively, you may prefer to tackle it on your own (there’s plenty of accommodation along the trail for stopping at when you need some rest).

Plan for a ‘Sunday Session’

When it comes to hitting the local bars, forget Friday night and Saturday night – in Perth Sunday is the time for drinking (known to the locals as ‘Sunday sessions’). Many bars across the city have their own deals and events on, so it’s worth keeping this day free so that you can experience the thrills. This is also a good time to find deals on meals out as many local restaurants also like to get involved.

Visit the galleries and museums

Perth also has its fair share of museums for those looking for an education activity. Perth Cultural Centre is an area of the city that contains the biggest museums and galleries including the Western Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The Perth Royal Mint is also an attraction worth visiting – here you can explore the history of Perth’s gold rush days and learn the process behind turning gold into ingots. On top of this, there’s Fremantle Prison, that you can visit via boat. Many of these attractions are low cost and some are even free to enter such as the Art Gallery of Western Australia making them great for those travelling on a tight budget.

6 Steps to Create High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

When running a restaurant, one of the essential aspects of promoting and marketing the business involves choosing what photographs to use. A high-impact image can engage the senses, making the viewer see, smell, feel and even taste the food without having been able to try it yet.

A professional food photographer can accomplish these, and more. Hiring the top experts in food styling and photography is key to generating appetizing images for your restaurant website and other marketing materials.

It takes years of experience to produce quality food images. To help you understand how the experts pull it off, here are a few steps detailing how they create tantalizing restaurant food photography.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

1. Gather the equipment

The tools used vary depending on the project. More often than not, you may find food stylists and photographers armed with more than just cameras and the dishes themselves.

When it comes to food photography, the aim is to make the dish as irresistible as possible. This often involves using techniques that focus on making the dish look good and deliciously tempting even when the food prop has been sitting out for an hour because of the shoot.

For instance, stylists may brush oil over the ingredients to make them glisten. Scoops of ice cream are replaced by mashed potatoes or shortening as they don’t melt under the light. As such, you may notice food stylists armed with brushes, toothpicks and other tools designed to make the dish look fuller and fresh.

2. Use natural light

Natural light has a way of making dishes look fresh and appetizing. As such, photographers will often schedule the shoot during the day. Plates, silver and other dining elements are shot outdoors or near a window to make the most of the natural light available.

At times, photographers will use flash and reflectors. When bounced off a wall or the ceiling, the light from the flash will provide additional light and soften any harsh shadows.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

3. Use props

Although the dish should be the focus of any image, at times, stylists and food photographers will add additional relevant elements to put the dish into context.

For instance, an image of a slice of cheesecake may include a fork and may be accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee and some small condiments. Peppercorns and herbs may be sprinkled all over a chopping board that features a large slab of grilled meat.

It is important to strike a balance between context and clutter. A few extra elements may help but there is no need to fill the photo with food or other objects.

Stylists and photographers also need to be aware of the colors and textures of the elements and props being included in the image. Contrasting colors and textures can help make ingredients pop out more.

Props need to be carefully inspected before being used in the image because the slightest imperfection will be magnified in the photo. Plates and utensils need to be spotlessly clean while the ingredients should look fresh and devoid of any blemishes.

4. Shoot from different angles

Perspective can change how the viewer may feel about the dish. Professional photographers will often try to take as many shots from different angles as they can for a single shoot.

A shot taken from directly above the dish can be used to include ingredients and other relevant elements. This type of shot illustrates what goes into the dish.

High-Impact Restaurant Photographs

On the other hand, a shot taken from the side can show how the dish would look when served. For instance, a shot of a slice of cake taken from an angle can show the different layers inside.

5. Shoot quickly

Stylists and photographers need to plan, experiment and practice the shots days before the actual day of the shoot. Unlike studio lighting, natural light changes depending on the time of the day and weather.

The look of ingredients and even entire dishes can also change in just a few hours, minutes or even seconds. Vegetables are an example. To make them look fresher, they are often undercooked.

When it comes to salads, the dressing can be put in a small bowl on the side. This is to prevent the dressing from covering the ingredients or making them look limp.

By practicing and experimenting with different angles outside the shoot, the team can also determine what they need to bring and how to set up the shot quickly. This is especially important in cases where several dishes need to be styled and photographed in one session.

If you’re taking a specialty burger photo, taking an angle shot from the side would be preferable to one taken from above as the side shot would highlight the burger patty itself while a shot from the top would have to accommodate other elements such as the sides, utensils, etc., else, you’ll be left only with the image of the top (sesame seed) bun.

 

6. Add steam

With the exception of desserts and other dishes served cold, steam is a popular element that can be added to an image. Steam emanating from the food gives it the impression that it just came off the stove, oven or grill.

Natural steam is difficult to produce. Most foods do not produce enough steam to be captured by the camera. Plus, food can get cold quickly, reducing the amount of time when the photographer can take the shot.

Food photographers and stylists need to be creative with steam, with some resorting to using garment steamers and microwaved sponges or cotton balls, or devising even more inventive ways to create it for their shoots.

Experienced stylists and photographers have several other techniques that they use to produce stunning food images. With this guide, you have a basic idea of the amount of work and effort it takes to create stunning and delectable food photographs.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Barry Morgan is the creative force behind Barry Morgan Photography. His passions are photography, food and family, although not always in that order. He believes you should love what you do, to do exceptional work. Cooking was always a family affair in his home so naturally, once his passion for photography took root, he was drawn to food photography. Barry Morgan Photography now works with hundreds of clients, turning their tasty dishes into mouthwatering visuals.