How to Plan a Diesel-Powered European Delivery Trip

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Castle ruins in Dürnstein

Castle ruins in Dürnstein

The Wachau, Austria

One of my favorite places in the world is the Wachau region of Lower Austria, nestled along the Danube River.  From touring the vineyards, to hiking up the mountain in Dürnstein where Richard the Lionhearted was held captive during the Crusades, to sitting at an outdoor restaurant sipping a glass of Grüner Veltliner that was made just steps away, the possibilities are endless.

The Wachau is a short drive from Vienna so stay at one of the many wonderful hotels there, including the Imperial, the Ritz-Carlton Vienna, and the Palais Hansen Kempinski, and indulge in day trips.

Portorož, Slovenia

At the turn of the last century, Portorož in Istria, Slovenia, was one of the most important European seaside resorts (along with Gradež, Venetian Lido, and Opatija) and was frequented by royalty and the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The neighboring town of Piran is perhaps the crown jewel of the Adriatic, with vineyards reminiscent of Tuscany, incredible coastal views, and a rich Italian-Adriatic cuisine – but avoiding the throngs of tourists and high prices found nearby.

The Kempinski Palace Portorož, which dates back to 1910, is the place to stay in the region and was designated a Cultural Monument in 1983.  Guests will find countless cozy nooks and crannies in which to relax, including a cigar room and the Restaurant Sophia, named after actress Sophia Lauren, who stayed at the hotel in the 1950s.

Štrbské Pleso, High Tatras Mountains, Slovakia

The High Tatras Mountains, which run along the border of northern Slovakia and southern Poland, are filled with breathtaking beauty, raw nature, and exceptional character. Spanning an area of 154 square miles (399 square kilometers), the mountain range has the tallest mountains in the Slovak republic and the range’s 17 tallest peaks (which are all on the Slovakian side) range as high as 8,200 feet (2,500 meters).

One of the most picturesque parts of the High Tatras is Štrbské pleso, a mountain lake that is the second largest glacial lake on the Slovak side of the High Tatras.  Surrounding the lake is a village, Štrbské Pleso (with an upper-case “p” in Slovakian), which is home to 200 inhabitants.

The Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras is a fairy tale like building that overlooks the mountain lake and pampers its guests.

Graz, Austria

Graz, a city of 250,000 inhabitants and six universities, straddles the Mur River in southeastern Austria.  The Old Town district is one of the best preserved city centers in Europe.

Don’t miss the magnificent views of the city from the Schloßberg Castle.  You can walk up or take a ride on the Schloßbergbahn funicular railway.  The Kunsthaus Graz, or Graz Art Museum, is affectionately called the “Friendly Alien” due to its appearance.   The Tramway Museum has trams going back to 1873 and the Graz Luftfahrtmuseum or Museum of Aviation is near the airport.   Finally, visit Schloß Eggenberg, a Baroque palace on the western edge of Graz which dates back to 1460. The extensive gardens and museums, as well as the the 24 state rooms, each of which signifying an hour of the day, make it worth the visit.

The Grand Hotel Wiesler overlooks the Mur River and the Old Town.  Don’t miss the outstanding Jugendstil mosaic by the Austrian artist Leopold Forstner in the Grand Salon where breakfast is served.

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