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INDIAN TOURISTS ARE BEING DRAWN TO VIENNA IN EVER LARGER NUMBERS

This capital city of Austria may well attract Indians in large numbers – charmed by its magnificent cityscape, splendid hotels, wide-ranging tourist attrac­tions and the hospitality of its peo­ple. The 415 sq km city – just about the size of Mumbai’s, but with a population of 1.8 mil­lion, in contrast to Mumbai’s 22 mil­lion – is celebrat­ing 150 years of its famed Ringstrasse (or Ring Road), with an offering of year-long festivities that will make it even more worthy of a visit.

One of the most mag­nificent boulevards in the world, the Ringstrasse was inaugu­rated by Emperor Franz Joseph on 1 May 1865. It defines the character of the city with its dense concentration of architecturally stunning buildings, monumental palaces and expan­sive parks, some 850 of them. It now circles Vienna where massive ram­parts once protected its imperial cen­tre from her enemies, its construction having been the greatest municipal

planning project of the time.

Vienna, after all, was once the seat of the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled by the Habsburg mon­archy. Established as the Austrian Empire in 1814, it expanded into the Dual Monarchy of the Austro-Hun­garian Empire by 1867, dissolv­ing abruptly at the end of War I in 1918. The Habsburg fam­ily grew to European prominence with the marriage and adoption

treaty by Emperor Maximilian I at the First Congress of Vienna in 1515. For several generations, the family ruled nearly all of Europe from the mighty Hofburg Palace, in the heart of Vienna. The city’s history dates back much further, to the first post- Christian century when the Romans established their military camp called Vindobona. Today, Vienna is consistently ranked amongst the world’s most livable cities.

In the past five years, overnight stays, or the number of nights spent, by Indian travellers in hotels in Vienna grew at a com­pound annual growth rate of 18.4 per cent to 64,621 last year, mentions Isabella Rauter of Vienna Tourist Board. “The city is multi-di­mensional and appeals to a diverse section of Indian tourists, right from young travellers to honey-moon- ers to families,” she says. “And these are the three target segments of the Vienna Tourist Board.” The Board is looking to 100,000 overnight stays from Indian travellers by 2017.

Overall, this city of 1.8 million hosted 6.3 million tourists from around the world who spent 13.5 million overnight stays in 2014. While Germans, Austrians, Ameri­cans, Italians and Russians comprise Vienna’s top five tourist segments, India, South Korea, China and Bra­zil have shown strong growth. Use Heigerth, tourist guide with the

Vienna Tourist Board, says Vienna has something for all ages and all kinds of travellers. Recreation areas of Prater beckon children, Vienna Woods and Lobau are ideal for day trips, hikes and bicycle tours for the young tourists, while honey-mooners can opt for the many Viennese balls that happen throughout the year or even swim or go boating in the river Danube. In Vienna, the Danube is omnipresent, whether in the form of the Donau-Auen National Park or Old Danube, Danube Island or Dan­ube Canal. “For those Indians who miss home food, there are plenty of restaurants offer­ing a delightful Indian fare,” she mentions.

Curiously, Vienna is one major city that has vineyards within its boundaries. Those who like wine can head for any of the numer­ous “heurige”, or wine taverns, that are on the outskirts of the city located in secluded gardens or homely parlours. In their comfortable atmosphere, they offer their patrons entertain­ment, fine Viennese wines and the fitting culinary accompaniment. The real Viennese heurige, in which only Viennese wines are served, are iden­tified by a bunch of pine branches and by the word ‘Ausg’steckt’ written on a board, which simultaneously shows when the tavern is open.

Hailed as the world’s music capi­tal, Vienna is very much alive with

the Sound of Music. It has been the birthplace or home to some of the great­est baroque, classical and light clas­sical composers in history. Those who lived there for parts of their lives have been Joseph Haydn (1732- 1809), the son of a wheelwright who was born in lower Austria, Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), born in Salzburg, and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), who was the son of a drunken, abusive court singer in Bonn. Franz Schu­bert (1797-1828) was born in Vienna to an impoverished schoolteacher, as
also the ‘Waltz King’, Johann Strauss, (1825-99) whose father was an Aus­trian composer of light music. Strauss composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles and other types of dance music, as well as several oper­ettas and a ballet. His two younger brothers, Josef and Eduard, wrote light music as well.

Gastronomy is an important ele­ment of Vienna. Amongst the most popular dishes of Viennese cuisine are the Wiener Schnitzel, a breaded and fried veal escalope, Tafelspitz, which is boiled beef, Fiaker goulash with Sacher sausages, and Backhendl, which is fried breaded chicken. For the vegetarians, there is Stuffed Pep­pers, Sacher style, Onion quiche, Bohemian mushroom goulash, and poppyseed noodles a la Sacher. For the sweet-toothed, there are sump­tuous Viennese desserts like the famed Sachertorte a la Sacher, Kai- serschmarren a la Sacher (pancake), and Apple Strudel a la Sacher, the ‘Sacher’ recalling their creator, Vien­na-born Franz Sacher (1816-1907), who was an Austrian-Jewish confec­tioner, best known as the inventor of the world-famous chocolate cake, the Sachertorte.

♦ SAROSH BANA

 

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Pune, says communication designer and artist Falguni Gokhale, is “an inter­esting city with a distinctive personality”. Gokhale, who set up and runs the award­winning design studio Design Directions with her hus­band Satish, has designed a Pune Brand logo and a heritage bus for the Pune Dar- shan tourist cir­cuit. The brief given by the

Pune Munic­ipal Corpora­tion was very abstract – “to capture the essence of the city” – she says. “I created the letter- forms for the logo in Marathi and English within a typical wada window frame,” she explains. “Though the calligraphic letters denote a sense of tradition, the rendering is

PornIiOT !

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From Genesis to Christ, and up to now, is the theme of a new book by a husband- and-wife team who run a specialised travel agency. The book, co-author Pornima Kamle points out, brings the sights of the Holy Land alive, taking the reader onto an exciting journey back through time. “The narrative is based on the holy sites in Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and their Biblical refer­ences. It also covers the festivals, cuisine and history of the Holy Land,” she says. Film and television actress Jennifer Winget, who released Walk on the footsteps of Jesus Christ modern. These are represented by various colours: green for environment, orange for culture, blue for knowledge and education, pink for celebration and youth, and grey for a sense of timelessness. The bird flying high denotes that the people of the city can achieve their dreams here. The bus, too, has tried to capture the colours of the logo joyfully in the various her­itage buildings.” A graduate of the National Insti­tute of Design, Ahmedabad, Gokhale needs to deliver effective design solutions for brand identity, pack­age design and communication strategy for corporate clients as per their timelines and budgets. “But I also fulfil my emotional and instinctive need to make things just for myself,” she says. And so, she dabbles in ‘this and that’ – painting, jewellery and miniature installations that capture her childhood memories of her grandmother’s home using traditional copper-and-brass Indian toys.