Summer and winter – Filzmoos in Austria has something for everyone

In this article, guest author Claire Palmer shares with us her family’s favourite holiday choice of Filzmoos, Austria, the perfect destination for summer walking or winter skiing, your choice for a gentle or full-on family activity holiday!

The traditional mountain village of Filzmoos has been a much-loved destination for my family in both winter and summer since we first discovered it when my 19 year old son was a 19 month old! Building and development is strictly controlled so it has retained its alpine chocolate-box charm with no high-rise buildings to mar the breath-taking views of the Bischofsmutze (Bishop’s Mitre) peak and the Dachstein glacier range. There is no shortage of things to keep our two teenage boys occupied and the village has kept pace with their requirements as they have grown.

The mountain village of Filzmoos, Austria

The mountain village of Filzmoos, Austria

Uncrowded slopes meet the needs of any ski enthusiast

The whole family learnt to ski (snowboard in my younger son’s case) in Filzmoos, including my father who learnt at the ripe old age of 74 and still holidays with us 19 years later, an inspiration to us all! All the instructors in the excellent ski schools speak very good English. Filzmoos is only known to one UK tour operator which means the slopes are uncrowded and the lift queues short, even in the school holidays. We love that the gentle nursery slopes are right in the middle of the village and the more challenging runs finish in the middle of the village so, if some of us have been on the “red” runs and others opted for a leisurely cruise on the wide, well-groomed “blue” pistes, we can all easily meet up in one of the many restaurants and cafes for a warming hot chocolate (Gluhwein for me, please).

Skiing for all the family in Filzmoos, Austria

Skiing for all the family in Filzmoos, Austria

Speaking of restaurants, the typical Austrian mountain food is delicious and filling. My sons never tire of the local specialty dessert – Germknodel – a yeast dumpling filled with plum jam and served with vanilla custard. When they were younger it was a whole meal in itself, now it follows a huge Tiroler Grostl, a sizzling cast iron pan of diced potatoes, bacon and eggs fried with herbs.

Activities abound in any season

At Christmas our “must-do” outing is a sleigh ride up to the Oberhofalm and Unterhofalm for the “Advent Idyll” walk around the frozen lake featuring fire pits, candle-lit decorative scenes and huts selling spiced Gluhwein. Watch out for the trick-playing Perchten, horned beasts from folklore dating back to pagan times.

Campfire around the lake at Filzmoos, Austria

Campfire around the lake at Filzmoos, Austria

On Christmas Eve Father Christmas arrives in the village square by sleigh and he and his angel-helpers give out sweets and sparklers to the children. Gluhwein is, as always, on offer for the adults!

Father Christmas comes to Filzmoos

Father Christmas comes to Filzmoos

Our favourite summer outing is also up to the Oberhofalm and Unterhofalm inns but this time by hiring electric-assisted mountain bikes to ride through the woods, arriving in time for lunch outside on the terrace under the sun umbrellas, gazing at eagles circling in the bright blue sky and the majestic snow-capped peak of the Bischofsmutze, now so much closer.

The electric bike will take you up to Unterhofalm

The electric bike will take you up to Unterhofalm

On the way up our refreshment stop is a trough with a spout that gushes pure mountain spring water straight from the ground at an amazing 5 degrees C. Bliss! These electric bikes are amazing machines! The fittest in the party can pedal just as on a normal bike and I can choose how much assistance to have from the battery power, enabling me to go up slopes I could only dream about otherwise!

Inside the Oberhofalm

Inside the Oberhofalm

Discover local flora and fauna

Once up at the mountain inns there are numerous marked walking paths across the high alpine pastures and around the small lake. In fact Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails and I love to see the wild mountain flowers in spring and summer. I’ve found gentian, carlina and many others that I can’t identify but no edelweiss yet, sadly.

Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails

Filzmoos has 200km of marked walking trails

Another favourite walk of ours is the Marmot trail where we take the Wanderbus high up into the mountains where one can see marmots (although the only ones we’ve seen so far are on postcards!) then walk back down to the village, admiring the incredible alpine scenery and views at every turn.

Take the Wanderbus up the mountain with stunning views at every turn

Take the Wanderbus up the mountain with stunning views at every turn

Plenty to do for the adventure seeker

For something a little more adrenalin-fuelling for our teenagers, we take the Wanderbus to the neighbouring village of Ramsau where there is a summer toboggan run. Riding the toboggan down on spiralling metal rails that loop out on stilts over the valley is certainly exhilarating, as is going up the mountain on the chairlift and hiring a mountain scooter to ride back down. A completely new experience for all of us! Ramsau also has a bathing lake, archery, hang-gliding or a long cable car ride up to the Dachstein glacier for skiing or to visit the ice caves. A walk out on the Dachstein Sky Walk, a platform overhanging the valley 250 metres straight below, gives a spectacular panorama but I prefer to look out not down!

Teenagers and speed lovers enjoy the Ramsau toboggan run

Teenagers and speed lovers enjoy the Ramsau toboggan run

Despite only having 1,450 inhabitants, Filzmoos village has everything we have ever needed and so we relish not having to use a car and therefore not having to worry about how much of the refreshing “golden nectar” we have drunk!

There's everything you need in the village centre at Filzmoos, Austria

There’s everything you need in the village centre at Filzmoos, Austria

As well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley and tennis court, there is a well-stocked supermarket, butcher and delicatessen, a wonderful bakery with coffee shop, pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, bowling alley and, most importantly, numerous restaurants and cafes serving scrumptious coffee and specialty cakes such as Viennese Sachertorte or apple strudel and cream. After 18 years of holidaying there we have still not run out of things to do and there are many excursions we have still not taken.

You can rent Claire's apartment in Flizmoos, Austria

You can rent Claire’s apartment in Flizmoos, Austria

Two years ago we realised our dream of buying a one-bedroomed apartment in the village, within five minutes walk of ski slopes and restaurants. This sleeps up to 5 and is available for hire. Please email Claire Palmer at myskiapartment@gmail.com for more information.

14380197632_4dfeab4859_qAuthor Bio: Many thanks for this article to Claire Palmer, who has loved to travel ever since she was a child touring Europe by caravan for the summer (her parents were teachers) and spending part of her childhood in New Zealand. Since having her own children she has travelled extensively as a family both in Europe and back to New Zealand. She loves Austria and, since realising a long-held dream of buying a property there, is taking German lessons in preparation for spending much more time there when her sons have left school.

For more Austrian adventures:

May Day at The White Horse Inn on Lake Wolfgang, Austria
Lost in the Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
Riding the steam train – on the Schafburgbahn at St Wolfgang

This article  is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Take a closer look at Crete

The Greek island of Crete is the largest island in Greece and as the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, it’s one of the most visited areas for holiday makers. With reliable sunshine and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder that Crete, as a holiday destination, has been growing in popularity over the last couple of decades.

The beautiful landscape of Crete

The beautiful landscape of Crete

History and hiking in Crete

Once the centre of the Minoan civilization, Crete is steeped in history with a smattering of its own cultural traits aside from the cultural heritage that being a Greek island brings.

The name of Crete is probably taken from Mycenaean Greek, ancient texts of which first referred to the island of this name. It is an island with a high mountain range spanning the country from east to west providing a popular destination for hikers, thanks to the stunning views and interesting landmarks.

View over the beautiful valley Greek near Patsos in Crete Photo: Thomas Munter on Flickr

View over the beautiful valley Greek near Patsos in Crete

A variety of climates

A big consideration when visiting Crete should be the temperature at the time of your visit – while many will enjoy the hot sun and beaches, others may want to visit at a time of year when things are altogether a little cooler. Crete is located on two climactic zones: the Mediterranean and the North African. The atmosphere is usually quite humid, getting less so the closer to the sea you are and winters tend to be refreshing and mild. From November to May, it is not uncommon for snow to fall on the mountains, but it rarely happens in the lower areas. In summer, temperatures can reach as high as 30 degrees Celsius, sometimes more. Crete resorts and hotels will offer air conditioning, but these temperatures can sometimes be a little much for some people.

Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete Photo: Wikimedia.org

Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete

Getting Around in Crete

There are three large airports in Crete – being Niko Kazantzakis at the capital Heraklion, a smaller airport in Sita and the third being the Daskalogiannis at Chania. There are also plenty of ferries from mainland Greece to Crete, most of which come from Athens, so you can put together a holiday to include the mainland.  There is, however, a lack of modern highways and a great deal of under-serviced roads. Nevertheless, there are often reliable bus services and while there are no train lines in Crete, you won’t find it too difficult to get around.

Harbour at Heraklion in Crete Photo: bebopeloula on Flickr

Harbour at Heraklion in Crete

Something for everyone

Regardless of your interests, there’s plenty to see and do in Crete. If you are on a family holiday, the Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos is a must. Open since 1995, it’s a given for the to-do list thanks to the wealth of activities for children and the beautiful marine life to see. There’s also the Amarillis Stable in Stalis, where you can go and enjoy the beautiful scenery from horseback. Treks can be long or short depending on what you want to do; it’s a fantastic way to see the island.

Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos, Crete

Aquaworld Aquarium in Hersonissos, Crete

For something fun, if a little bit childish, there’s the Happy Train at Elounda, in which you get a guided tour of the island from the comfort of an open-topped train. The scenery is beautiful from the hills. There are also a large number of historical and archaeological museums for those of you with a passion for history, including the Nautical Museum of Crete and the fascinating Archaeological Museum of Agios Nikolaos.

Where to Eat & Drink in Crete

On the cheap: Mojo Burgers – Keeping it simple and very reasonably priced, this burger bar wouldn’t feel out of place in Shoreditch. With prices starting from a couple of euros for a hot dog, and under five for a burger, this is a definite stop for a bite to eat in Rethymnon.

Best of both worlds: The House – Steak House Restaurant – A must visit for steak fans, and pretty much anything else. A mix of Mexican, Italian, English and much more, this steak house offers a massive menu and very reasonable prices. Set just outside Malia, it’s within easy reach from most of the major resorts.

The House Steak House Restaurant in Malia Photo: The House

The House Steak House Restaurant in Malia

Blow the budget: Ta Dyo Rou – Set in the old town of Rethymno this wine and cooking shop, or inomageirio, puts an emphasis on quality over portion size. Look out for the traditional Greek meatballs, a real speciality. The shop is also a great place to pick up bulk buys of local wine and organic beer.

Best Cocktails: New York Beach Club – Set right on the sand, this all night long bar serves up excellent cocktails, but some do come at a premium. A great place to relax and watch the sunset, or stay until it rises again!

If this has whetted your appetite for Crete history and culture, you can usually get cheap Greece holidays from Cosmos Holidays without looking too hard!

For more Greek island experiences:

Shipwrecks or Turtles? – taking a boat trip on your Greek holiday to Zakynthos
Three days, three beaches on Zante
Highlights of a trek through Crete

Photo Credit: View over the beautiful valley by Thomas Münter , Crète 2014 – Heraklion by bebopeloula , Aquaworld Aquarium -Hersonissos Crete ,Greece by 4652 Paces, The House Steak House Malia from SteakHouseRestauranttheHouse , Crete Anogeia from wikimedia.org , Venetian Fortress of Koules in Heraklion, Crete from wikimedia.org

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Keep on Discovering with MSC Cruises – video

Do you have fond memories of past holidays when you stayed in the most basic of accommodation or travelled on a shoestring budget and yet had a great time? Or the camping holidays with the family where you dodged the showers, ate burned bangers on the barbecue and called it fun? These days, perhaps you want to enjoy the same joyful experiences with friends and family and explore the world’s possibilities, but do it in a bit more comfort? Me too.

When I saw the latest video from MSC cruises it certainly struck that cord with me. As we move on in life, our sense of curiosity and discovery may not be any less, but we want to travel in a little more style, have a comfortable bed, delicious food and treat ourselves to as much luxury as our budget allows.

If you can’t see the video above, view it on YouTube here

Just a few weeks ago I returned from a Mediterannean Cruise with MSC Cruises and enjoyed the opportunity to discover six new destinations within one week and to do so in comfort. Each day of the week took us to a new port; from Barcelona we stopped at Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina and Tunis, getting a taste of different things to see and local cultures in each place we visited.

Our cruise stop in Tunis on MSC Splendida Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Our cruise stop in Tunis on MSC Splendida

In Marseille we admired the millionaire yachts in the Vieux Port and climbed the hill for a view from Notre Dame de la Garde, in Genoa we explored some of the old Palazzos with hidden gardens on Via Garibaldi. From Naples, we took an excursion to visit the ancient Roman site of Pompeii, lying in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and from Messina in Sicily we had a lovely day in the hilltop town of Taormina, with pretty cobbled streets and the ancient Greek theatre with a view of Mount Etna.

The Greek theatre at Taormina on our cruise stop with MSC Cruises Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Greek theatre at Taormina on our cruise stop with MSC Cruises

In Tunis we visited the pretty whitewashed village of Sidi Bou Said, known as the Santorini of Tunisia and explored the different archeological sites that make up the ancient city of Carthage. On our return to Barcelona we were able to visit Casa Mila, Anton Gaudi’s famous modernista apartment building and see Sagrada Familia, still a work in progress. Of course I’d have liked more time in each one of these places to see more, but it gave us a fascinating taste of some places that we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on our cruise with MSC Cruises Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on our cruise with MSC Cruises

On board MSC Splendida there was plenty more to entertain us, whether it was the evening shows, each one full of vibrant and energetic song and dance routines or favourite classical and pop songs. We dined in the elegant Villa Verde restaurant with a wide choice of international and Mediterranean specialities and could always find something delicious to eat in the self service restaurant when we came back on board and needed a patisserie, sandwich or slice of pizza to keep us going until dinner time. We relaxed with a view of the ocean or harbour from our balcony stateroom or sunned ourself in the Zen pool area at the back of the ship as the MSC Splendida sailed us on the next Mediterannean destination.

Zen Pool deck on MSC Splendida with MSC Splendida Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Zen Pool deck on MSC Splendida with MSC Splendida

Of course, when my kids were younger, our style of travel was a bit different and was determined by a more limited budget. Then, we might have camped to keep the costs down and braved the changeable English weather.

Family camping holidays in Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Then, we might have camped to keep the costs down and braved the changeable English weather

Now we like a comfortable and stylish place to stay, like our stateroom on board MSC Splendida, which you can see below.

Our Stateroom on MSC Splendida Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Now we like a comfortable and stylish place to stay, like our stateroom on board MSC Splendida

Then we might have cooked our dinner a gas burner with a big pan of pasta or a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

Cooking on a camping holiday Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Then we might have cooked our dinner a gas burner

Now we are able to spoil ourselves on a cruise holiday with waiter service and delicious dinners without having to put on the washing up gloves.

Dining on MSC Splendida Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Now we are able to spoil ourselves with waiter service and delicious dinners

If you find you have a thirst to discover the world but want to do it in style and comfort then I would highly recommend you consider a cruise and take a look at the new MSC Brochure and Product Book, to help choose the cruise holiday and ship that is right for you. Please visit the MSC Cruises Website for more information or follow the conversation on Social Media #Medwayoflife.

Other articles in my MSC Mediterranean Cruise series

Join me on a week’s Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruise
Bonjour Marseille – Day 2 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Palazzo and Gelato in Genoa – Day 3 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Naples and an excursion to Pompeii – Day 4 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Messina and an excursion to Taormina – Day 5 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Tunis and Carthage – Day 6 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
A day at sea and back to Barcelona – Day 7 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise

This article was brought to you in partnership with MSC Cruises.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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