56th Parallel Promotes Siberia Adventure Opportunities


Sydney-based 56th Parallel adventure travel specialists are promoting Siberia as a place to add to your bucket list.

Often perceived as desolate, inaccessible, the world’s image of Siberia is beginning to change. Now Russia’s harshest lands are emerging as a place to relax, play and explore, with tour company, 56th Parallel making trips to Siberia easier and more luxurious than ever before.


The 56th Parallel website www.56thparallel.com will aim to share Siberia’s true beauty with the rest of the world. The company offers a range of itineraries catering to all tastes, from action-packed adrenaline tours, to more leisurely experiences based around exploring Siberia’s ancient and modern cultures, customs and cuisine. Clients can also create their own customised, private itineraries. Clients can enjoy everything from the ballet, to rafting and rock climbing, the banya (Russian sauna) and vodka tasting.

With nine UNESCO sites and nearly 100 sites under consideration, Siberia’s natural beauty has always inspired tourists, artists, photographers, wildlife lovers and adventure sports entusiasts for generations.

Check out the promotional video from 56th Parallel below…

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Real Russia Launches Explore, Discover & Experience Tours

Vladivostok Voyager

Premier providers of travel and visa services to the Russian Federation, Real Russia, have launched a series of tours to take travellers beyond the clichés of Russian culture – vodka, fur, spies – revealing the true beauty of this country. These tours will take you everywhere from the 60,000 lakes of the north west region of Karelia, to the volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east.

 Vladivostok Voyager
Vladivostok Voyager

Travellers can peruse the tours online at www.realrussia.co.uk and pick from a range of classic trips like the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian tours, to lesser known explorative expeditions like Vladivostok Voyager. Once you’ve been inspired by a trip, the team at Real Russia tailormake the trip to your individual requirements according to season, duration, personal preferences and budget. The tours on offer can take you through all nine of Russia’s time zones, in any season, even the harsh winter.

Real Russia has provided inspirational tours to Russia and former Soviet states including Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan and the Baltic countries for more than a decade. The UK-based company is and officially accredited specialist agency and has partnered with local companies in 50 cities across Russia.

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Discover Austria’s Hidden Treasures

Austria is much more than just skiing, après-ski and the Sound of Music.  However, because everyone is familiar with Austria in winter, most do not consider taking a trip to this beautiful land during the spring and summer months.  So what does Austria boast in summer?  More mountains, pastures and luscious lakes than you could possibly imagine, that’s what!


To inspire you, the Austrian Tourist Board has produced a definitive video collection of insider tips on Austria’s Hidden Treasures and must-do activities. The USP of Austria is top-notch service and the perfect combination of culture, nature and local and organic cuisine.

Have a peek, then enjoy the reality!

Austria’s Hidden Treasures Video Collection

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Highlights from Lithuania’s Curonian Spit

Last week I visited Lithuania with several other British journalists.  First we visited the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site Nida on the Curonian Spit, then the industrial town of Klaipeda.  Check out highlights and sights from the trip here…

Curonian Spit Church

Picture 1 of 23

Curonian Spit Church

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The Golden Valley of the Alps

Considering a rural, mountain adventure, packed full of natural beauty and rich history?

The Rauris Valley could be for you.

Rauris ValleySalzburg’s Hohe Tauern National Park boasts many special spots, but the Rauris Valley is a secret golden jewel.  Shaped by a rich history, it offers today’s visitor a holiday that is relaxing and exhilarating.  At 1,800 km², the valley is the largest national park in the Alps, and boasts a rich variety of unique and natural treasures.

It is also home to tales of time gone by, of gold mining and mule packing. Its natural history attractions include the Tauern Window and the Valley of Vultures – a fantastic wildlife viewing habitat… Make your way up from the far end of the Rauris Valley to the glacial regions and you’ll stroll through every climate zone and habitat you would encounter if you were travelling from Central Europe to the Arctic.

Whether walking across these high-alpine pastures or following the footsteps of the mule packers, watching the bearded vultures, exploring one of the many self-guided trails, such as those in the Rauris Virgin Forest or at the foot of the Sonnblick Glacier, you’re sure to experience fascinating encounters leaving lasting memories.

In 1986, the Rauris Valley was selected as the primary site in the Alps for the reintroduction of bearded vultures (this year will see the final release of bearded vultures into the wild).  Since then, it has been possible to observe these impressive animals and their cousins, the griffon and golden eagle, in the wild, along with marmots and chamois.

The valley is not only one of the most beautiful but also the largest natural hiking playground in the Hohe Tauern National Park.  From tranquil trekking through glorious countryside to mountain tours leading up to glaciers. In just a few minutes, the Rauris Hochalm Lifts whisk nature lovers to the heart of the Hochalm hiking area.  With over 295 km of superbly marked hiking paths and alpine trails, the Rauris Valley is one of the most adventure-filled hiking areas in Europe.

During the summer months, around forty farms and mountain huts are staffed and fling open their doors to visitors. “Gold Fever” breaks out in Rauris every summer, as treasure hunters chance their luck as they pan the river for fine platelets of pure metallic gold. Though commercial gold-mining ceased in the last century, to this day there are still three beautiful gold-panning sites for locals and visitors to enjoy. Under the watchful eye of a local expert, become a real treasure hunter and, with a little bit of luck, find your very own pot of gold.

Traditions and folk culture is alive and kicking in the Rauris Valley, still practised in their original, authentic form.  As the saying goes, “we don’t just give guests a place to stay, but let them share in our traditional lifestyle”.


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Learn to Sail in Romantic Rovinj, Croatia

Discover your sea legs and romantic Rovinj this year, with a luxurious sailing break in Western Istria, Croatia. The recently opened five-star Monte Mulini is offering couples the chance to learn a new skill, and more about each other, during a five-night stay which includes a 3-day sailing excursion along the lively coast of Rovinj.

Western Istria is a sailor’s paradise with crystal-clear waters and huge variety of flora and fauna make this coastline a natural paradise. For three days you can explore the 22 islands and islets on your own personal sailboat, complete with English-speaking skipper to coach you through the sailing basics. By the end of the trip you will know how to lift, lower and trim the sales and honed your skill at other essentials, including simple manoeuvres and weighing and slipping anchor.

At the end of a long day on the water, the Hotel Monte Mulini is a luxurious haven for couples. The true romance of its location is evident immediately on arrival, as its dramatic glass wall over three levels greets guests as they check-in with undisturbed views of the sea. The remaining public areas are similarly designed to maximise natural light and all guest rooms benefit from balconies offering fantastic views of the chic pool area and the surrounding bay and nature reserve.

For a bit of well-earned pampering, spend some time in the Hotel Monte Mulini’s spa. Set over two levels with reception and treatment rooms on the upper level, above the pool and sauna area, the Monte Mulini Wellness Centre includes a VIP Salon with zones which can be booked by individuals or couples for individually designed treatments which last for up to four hours.

Gourmet couples are well catered for at Hotel Monte Mulini. Mediterraneo is the hotel’s à la carte restaurant with 54 seats in a spacious terraced area for alfresco dining and relaxation on warmer days. While guests sample delicious Mediterranean fusion cuisine they can enjoy fine views of the pool area, the bay and romantic sunsets. On cooler evenings a further 118 covers are available inside, but guests still benefit from the views.

The traditional Croatian Wine Vault restaurant on the lowest level is a fine dining restaurant with 60 seats serving French delicacies, with an extensive wine list including the best labels from Croatian and around the world.

Rovinj itself is Croatia’s Blue Pearl of the Adriatic with its cobbled streets, Venetian architecture, natural forest parks and beautiful churches and chapels is a short stroll along the marina from the hotel and offers endless opportunities for aimless wandering. One of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean, the old town is perched on a narrow peninsula high up on a hill, crowded with terracotta-roofed houses and crowned by the 18th century Church of St Euphemia, the  bell tower of which dominates Rovinj’s skyline. A central square is edged with lively cafés and restaurants spreading out on to a charming harbour crammed with sailing and fishing boats – all in all perfect for watching the world go by.

The Hotel Monte Mulini’s luxury sailing break is available between 15th May and 11th June and costs €2,750.00 for two people. Included are five-nights accommodation in a deluxe room, with a full buffet breakfast, and a 3-day charter of a private yacht and skipper.


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Czech Cities Come to Life with Easter Markets

Znojmo City
Znojmo City

The Czech Republic is one of the most popular places visited by European and American Westerners alike.  If you are taking a trip this Easter check out some of the beautiful Easter Markets – they are simply not to be missed!  An Easter Market is held every year in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in Prague. Stalls with souvenirs and Easter products lure locals and visitors alike from 20 March to 11 April. In addition to shopping, an interesting cultural programme awaits. Spectators will enjoy folklore, folk music and dance in Old Town Square. There will also be a workshop for children, providing the youngest ones the possibility to braid switches into so-called “pomlázky” (birch rods) and to dye eggs.

Market places will of course sprout up in a variety of places in the Czech Republic. The South Moravian city of Znojmo, for instance, will celebrate the spring holidays from 29 March to 4 April. Easter markets filled with artisans, culture and attractions for children are being prepared. Children also can look forward to tours of Znojmo underground designed specially for them. www.znojmocity.cz

In Ceský Krumlov, Easter markets are held from 1 to 5 April and the attractive programme will be complemented this year by passion plays in the monastery garden. www.ckrumlov.info

People can also celebrate Easter at castles and chateaus. From 3 to 5 April, the event titled Princely Easter at Krivoklát will take place. You can expect to see an Easter market and concerts as well as masses and theatre performances. www.krivoklat.cz

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Szczecin in Poland Brought Closer

Szczecin: Tallshipps at Harbour
Szczecin: Tallshipps at Harbour

It’s getting cheaper and easier than ever before to visit Poland, thanks to the launch of a new route by Ryanair.  From 21 May, the budget airline will fly twice a week to the north-western Polish city of Szczecin from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport.  With flights expected to start from as little as £20 one way, a trip to Poland is sure to be kind on your pocket.

A candidate city to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016, Szczecin is Poland’s seventh largest city and the regional capital of Western Pomerania, the country’s top sea and sun destination. Offering visitors a whole host of attractions from sandy beaches and national parks, to bustling towns and a rich, varied history, Western Pomerania is a hit with Poles and tourists alike.  It’s no surprise that Szczecin has been nominated for the European capital of Culture in 2016.

For more information visit the Polish National Tourist Office.

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Spring & Summer Events in Lithuania

Uzupis District, Vilnius
Uzupis District, Vilnius

Tourists and locals alike enjoyed the exceptionally festive year Lithuania had in 2009. The country celebrated two significant occasions during 2009: the official 1,000th birthday of its name; and the European Capital of Culture was awarded to Vilnius, encouraging tourists to uncover more about the Baltic gem.  The festivities have not stopped their and this year should prove to be just as much fun…

Kaziukas Fair, 5-7 March, Vilnius
The festival is dedicated to St. Casimir the patron saint of Lithuanian born in the 17th century. It is one of remarkable calendar festivals with deep traditions, each time presenting ingenious handworks, and having no rivals in the surrounding areas. For more information visit www.vilnius-events.lt/en/festivals/kaziukas-fair

Street Musicians Day, 1 May, Vilnius, Klaipėda
On the first Saturday in May thousands of people go out to the streets to play music. Street Musician Day is the event which unites all who speak the world’s most universal language – the language of music. www.gatvesmuzika.lt/en/

15th International classical music Festival “Pažaislis Music Festival”, 30 May – 29 August, Kaunas
The listeners of the most particular taste may find in the schedule of the festival something what interests them, starting from the old music and finishing with jazz, from the subtle chamber music to the grand vocal instrumental pieces, from the modern music premieres to the impressive pageants of Lithuanian dramaturgy in the surroundings of Kaunas Castle. www.pazaislis.lt

Read more…

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Kurent Festival, Ptuj

just-slovenia-logoSlovenia’s oldest town, Ptuj (pronounced Petooey), will host the annual Kurent Festival between 6th and 16th February. The ten-day traditional event is intended to banish winter and to welcome the arrival of spring.

The main celebrations take place during the weekend of 13th February when Kurenti dressed in distinctive sheepskin costumes adorned with feathers, horns, ribbons and cow bells, parade through the streets, clanging instruments to ward off evil spirits.
Considered to be the country’s most important carnival, the Kurent includes many musical and artistic events, street theatre plus a masked ball, as well as the weekend carnival parades, when revellers smash clay pots on the ground to bring good luck and health.

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