Sunday, January 20, 2008

Achensee, Austria

I recently had a chance to revisit Achensee Lake, which I first visited in 1969. The main town on the lake is Maurach which is on the southern bank of the lake at an elevation of about 3,000 feet and offers a good selection of typically small Tyrolean hotels.

Maurach is heaven for those looking for tranquil and peaceful relaxation during the winter months, where you find yourself next to a magnificent ice-covered lake, surrounded fields of white powder and snow-capped peaks. The Achensee region offers winter sports and relaxation for all ages and difficulties – most popular activities include cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, horse riding, etc. The Rofan gondola takes you to the Rofan ski area, which offers a wide range of skiing terrain for all difficulty levels.

Achensee is busier during the summer when you can expect tourists from all over Europe to fill the local hotels and campgrounds. Summer activities include hiking, sailing, kayaking and swimming.

The popular Achensee Dampfzahnradbahn rag railway also stops in the town and you shouldn't miss the Notburgamuseum, Achensee Museumswelt, the distillery Schnappsbrennerei Kostenzer and of course the Dalfazer waterfall.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The USS Constellation

Photo courtesy: Marion Watchinski

The majority of sea faring business is still alive and thriving in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, but few tourists see that part of Baltimore. Instead, they see water taxis buzzing back and forth as they ferry passengers to the many attractions such as the National Aquarium or the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

The USS Constellation, a restored 1854 wooden navel warship is docked in the harbor and open for tours. There is a special tour for children who can participate interactively in a program designed especially for them. By doing so, they can see how young boys, some at the tender age of 11 years, were expected to help "man" the ship over one hundred and fifty years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors have enjoyed this special trip back in time to actually see the limited conditions where sailors had to sleep, eat and perform the daily duties of working on a warship.

Not only is The USS Constellation a floating museum, it is also available for weddings and other important events. For more information, go to: