Sweden last year, which I planned myself, choosing the route of our fly-drive and selecting each hotel on its merit or rude-sounding name, I had set the bar quite high. How to match this?
I can tell you, it's been tough. We considered other Scandinavian countries and I spent a good few days focused on Finland until it dawned on me that I was planning a trip which was a carbon copy of the Swedish one and even then I couldn't find a hotel with a name which made me snigger* We moved into mainland Europe and flirted with the idea of driving through Belgium and the Netherlands before spending time in northern Germany on the Baltic coast. Could we contemplate a holiday which is car-based? Was I ready for marital disharmony and GPS confusion? No.
I remembered my own rule. If we have an adventurous holiday one year, book a lazy one the year after. Sweden was quite full-on, moving around the country. This year I wanted to stay put in a location which was potentially warmer but not too hot, particularly as this is an August trip. Austria seemed to fit the bill. I looked at several regions, airport locations, hotels and apartments. Places were being booked up quickly, some choices were no longer available.
I then discovered, quite by chance, an airport in the south of Austria, Klagenfurt, which is served by a Ryanair flight from Stansted, the closest airport to home. I'd never heard of the place, but it was the perfect choice as it is situated on Wörthersee, a lake in the Austrian region of Carinthia which is noted for its Mediterranean climate, similar to that of Lake Garda. We loved our holiday in Lake Garda so this destination seems ideal for us.
Dougie had never heard of Klagenfurt either so googled it and proceeded to have some sort of apoplectic fit. Apparently it is the location of the 2013 European Beach Volleyball European Championships which take place while we are there. The man was beside himself and not, as you'd think, because of the thought of nubile young female athletes in teeny bikini bottoms. No, this aged athlete of mine is an enthusiastic volleyball player himself, albeit of the indoor court variety. I have a feeling he will be sneaking a fluorescent vest top and his knee braces into the luggage, in case the chance arises where he could be called to help out. He's asked if he can turn his baseball cap round the other way. I've said no.
Accommodation was our next dilemma. Many of the hotels on Lake Wörthersee were already booked up so I continued to browse t'internet until I came up with an excellent compromise. On a neighbouring lake, Ossiachersee, is the Apart Hotel Legendär, which has contemporary apartments right on the lakeside. There had to be something unusual to attract me and the Legendär didn't disappoint. All the apartments are designed around a famous person from history - Leonardo de Vinci, Claude Monet, the Kennedy family - so there might be photographs, paintings and unusual objects to give a favour of the named legend.
The boys started arguing about which person's apartment they wanted to stay in. Dougie rather fancied Louis Pasteur or Casanova, Rory was leaning towards Albert Einstein or Vincent van Gogh. I was rather taken with Jane Austen or Mata Hari. In the end, the decision came down to the choice of room layout and the fact that we'd asked for an apartment on a high floor (good for the views).
We are staying in the Alma Mahler-Werfel apartment, named after the Viennese femme fatale of the 20th century. She was a famous beauty and socialite, married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius and novelist Franz Werfel. She also had numerous affairs with the likes of artist Gustav Klimt.
Dougie says I'm not to get any funny ideas.
The other plus points for this accommodation:
- Sauna by the lake
- Indoor pool, spa and gym
- Breakfast brought to your room every morning
- Each apartment has its own iPad and WiFi (can you hear my son cheering?)
- A 'culinary island' in the hotel lobby where you can purchase food to cook in your room.
|Alma Mahler-Werfel apartment|
|Apart Hotel Legendär|
We plan to hire a car from the airport and have some days lazing by the lake and others doing a spot of sightseeing. And, of course, a day or two at the Beach Volleyball. We are also positioned very close to the Slovenian border and, as it would only take 45 minutes, a drive to Lake Bled is a must as I've always wanted to see it.
Dear readers, your opinions helped me when we were going to Sweden last year. Any suggestions of what to do and see in southern Austria?
* I tell a lie. I did find the Hotel Krapi in Finland and laughed myself silly at the photo album on their website which grouped the images into 'krapi interiors', 'krapi restaurants' and 'krapi surroundings'.
Images courtesy of Apart Hotel Legendär