Wintertime at Austrian Delight
This amazing and beautiful villa is actually a baroque castle built in the 12th Century. The castle is situated on a magnificent estate in the Austrian countryside.
The magnificent estate
The castle is surrounded by extensive grounds with a lovely pond inhabited by all varieties of waterbirds, ducks and fish. Thoroughbred horses graze in fields of the historical park cooled by the shade of the enormous century old trees. A romantic picnic is a perfect mid-day retreat. The castle is located only 45 kms from Vienna, the capital of Austria. Nearby is the Danube valley, "Wachau", with it's famous vineyards, monasteries, castles and old villages. The area is known as one of the most beautiful parts of the country and is perfect for day trips and sightseeing tours. The castle has nine bedrooms and 7 bathrooms that accomodate 18 people. The rooms are spacious and decorated elegantly in the English country style.
On the first floor you enter the castle through a large hall into the vestibule where you will find a small salon. There is a sauna on this main floor as well as a great hall with an open fireplace.
The 2nd floor offers a large salon, a library with an open fireplace, a dining room with Chinese style décor, a spacious kitchen and a hall for social functions. All the guest bedrooms are on the 3rd floor. An excellent chef and two housemaids, who have maintained the castle for over ten years, provide service to their guests and are extremely helpful and dependable. Eight hours of maid service per day is included in the rental of the castle. The chef is hired at 20 euros per hour and additional maid service is provided at 10 euros per hour.
There is a luxurious outdoor pool and a tennis court (sand surface) set in a historical rock garden for your outdoor relaxation and exercise. Other outdoor activities include biking on bike paths, walks throughout the peaceful estate and horseback riding. Also, downhill and cross-country skiing are a major winter activity and are found at only 30, 45 or 60 minute drives from the castle.
"We had a wonderful time! The property is extravagantly comfortable. The on-site employees were very helpful and efficient."
- GB, Palos Verdes Estates, CA.
The News In Europe
To help you plan your upcoming year of travel, I thought I might share some interesting news items from the European theatre.
Record Snowfall Starts Early Ski Season
Alpine ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy are rejoicing this year. With unprecedented November levels of snowfall (more than they've gotten since the 1950's), they are now open and ready to show skiers a fine time!
Rome Planning Another Airport
Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, in Fiumicino, is almost to capacity. The nearby Ciampino airport has become busier the last few years as well. So, officials announced recently that a third commercial airport is being planned in Viterbo, about 60 miles north of Rome.
Trajan's Market and New Museum Open In Rome
After two and a half years of restoration, Trajan's Market in Rome has reopened to the public. Also, the new Museum of the Imperial Forum is open. The new museum contains many artifacts and a computer show recounts how the Forum was built and rebuilt as different emperors were crowned from 46 B.C. to A.D. 113.
Restored Terminal Opens In London
After a $1.68 billion restoration, the St. Pancras Terminal in London has been formally reopened by Queen Elizabeth II. Eurostar service to Paris and Brussels began November 14. This Victorian-age terminal was the world's largest enclosed space when it was completed in 1868, and now includes an upscale shopping mall, restaurants, the world's longest champagne bar, and a soon-to-be-completed luxury hotel.
Archaeologists Find Grotto In Rome
As archaeologists get closer to reopening portions of Augustus' palace this coming spring, they have announced the discovery of an ancient underground grotto. They believe it is the same cave in which Romulus and his twin brother Remus were nursed by a she-wolf. The vaulted grotto, discovered inside Palatine Hill, is decorated with mosaics and an image of a wolf. It was turned into a shrine by Emperor Augustus.
Eiffel Tower Restaurant to Re-Open
The restored Jules Verne Restaurant, on the second level of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has re-opened. The upscale restaurant is being overseen by the famous French chef Alain Ducasse.
New Websites Help Travelers
If you're one of those long-legged travelers that wishes you had more leg room, there are three new websites that may help. Seatguru.com compares seat size and legroom on nearly 50 airlines. Airlinequality.com rates seats on more than 325 long-haul airlines. Flatseats.com compares fold-down beds in first class and business class.
Wi-Fi Access on Airlines
A recent survey found that nearly two thirds of all airline passengers would like to surf the Internet and check e-mails while flying. Several airlines are rolling out plans to make Wi-Fi access available to air passengers. American Airlines hopes to outfit all its 767's by 2008. Virgin Atlantic and Alaska Airlines are following suit. Wi-Fi would be integrated into seat back entertainment systems, so passengers wouldn't even need to bring their own computer to access the Internet.
Great Wheel of Belfast Opens
The 196 foot high Ferris wheel has opened in Belfast, Ireland. It stands near the City Hall and is expected to draw large crowds of tourists throughout 2008. A 15 minute ride costs approximately $13.00 per person.
Passport Crisis Easing
A sharp increase in passport applications followed last January's implementation of a law, enacted in 2004, requiring those returning to the United States by air from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a passport. The new law was aimed at tightening border controls and blocking those trying to enter the country illegally. About 12 million passport applications were received last year, but applications were expected to approach 18 million this year. As delays made the wait as long as 12 weeks during the summer, legislation was just passed by the House to make it easier for the State Department to rehire retired personnel to pitch in. The processing time is now down to about 10 weeks and, with the new legislation, should soon drop to the normal 6 week process.
Colosseum Makes List of Seven Wonders
In July the Colosseim in Rome was included in a modern-day list of the Seven Wonders of the World. The other six are China's Great Wall, Peru's Machu Pichu, Brazil's Statue
of Christ Redeemer, Jordan's Petra, Mexico's Chichen Itza, and India's Taj Mahal.
Many European newspapers and websites are written in English to help you keep abreast of the latest "happenings" there. Here are a few to look for:
In Italy Corriere della Sera is an English language section of a well-known national Italian newspaper that is published daily in Milan. Dolce Vita is an online magazine dedicated to the Italian style in fashion, design, cuisine, wine and travel.
In France, French News is an English language newspaper providing national and regional news, travel guides and property listings. Connexion is a subscription-based newspaper offering news, information, and classified ads for English-speaking expats living in France.
In Spain, El Pais is the leading daily Spanish newspaper. The English edition, published in association with the International Herald Tribune, is available only in PDF format.
Portugal News is the only Portuguese newspaper on the net that covers all the major news about Portugal in English.
In Greece, Athens News is a daily newspaper featuring news, business, arts, and sports.
Emmanuel (L) w/family
Dear Travelers and Friends,
Each year we explore and revisit various parts of the world searching for new environs for our clients. This year our staff traveled to Mexico, Provence, the French Riviera, Greece, Asia, and South Africa, where we visited many excellent villas, houses, castles, apartments and condominiums. We've chosen the best of the best to list on our website. Rest assured that our new properties pass the same demanding standards that we require of every property we offer. We have over 30 new villas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, ten new properties in the Lakes Region of Italy including Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, and twenty new properties on the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini.
Whether you are interested in renting a windmill in France, a castle in Italy, relaxing before a warm fire in a cozy chateau in Austria or taking a dip in the private swimming pool of a spectacular villa in Puerto Vallarta, the holiday rentals are filling up quickly, so reserve your winter or summer vacation now for the best choice of dates.
Some owners have decided to film their properties. We are working hard to make those videos available to you soon! So, keep checking our site for those wonderful images, with music, and start dreaming of your next villa rental experience... Rentavilla.com will take you there!!
Happy Holidays to you all,
Emmanuel de Ricard, President
Villages in picturesque hillsides
Thoughts on Provence
Provence is a land of emotion and light, a crossover of people and cultures. Throughout history Provence has thrilled and excited painters and poets and fostered new thinking in its celebration of Art and Literature. Provence also shaped the idea of raw beauty, of the forever bond between life and freedom. You will be reminded of this powerful legacy in its dwellings, in the layout of its towns and aspect of its villages, monuments and squares, and in the planning of its gardens. There is an unrivaled quality about the sky and the air that you breathe here, that you can never totally forget. Once you visit you will plan to return, and one day you will find you have difficulty tearing yourself away!
Cezanne's Provence: Aix en Provence is a town surrounded by countryside - and what a countryside! Stunningly elegant, in a world halfway between the real and the imaginary, full of the traditional architecture of Bastides and Mas to welcome you.
You'll find cool and gurgling fountains, cafés everywhere, and a history both fascinating and funny, like a light comedy. Between work and play, from the Cours Mirabeau to the Mount Ste Victoire watching over the town, everything in Aix breathes excitement, youth, and happiness.
The Luberon is said to be blue; you will find this out one evening when the sun goes down and you almost lose sense of space and time in front of this strange and fascinating mountain, shaped like a crouching animal in a dark halo of blue.
Villages are arranged like fragile paintings on its southern and northern foothills. Villages perched on the mountain flank still exhibit, here and there, the ruins of a fort, oak trees, cedars, the "guarrigue", orchards, olive groves and vineyards, all contributing to the mountain's energy, from its feet to its crested summit. Whether looking directly at it or not, its silent presence is felt. Between harshness and tolerance, between primitive stone "borie" dwellings , farmhouses and "mas", everything here has taken a special form of beauty.
Relax in the village square.
The poet and writer Mistral and his Provence: The Alpilles.
From rock to stern mountain peaks, from crests to broken cliffs, this whole stony island watches like a sentry over the plains. Vines are strengthened by the strong, bleached light reflecting over the ground, and olive leaves sparkle.
Over there, you get to the villages nestled in those elevated lands, greeted and welcomed by the slender silhouette of the cypress swaying in the wind.
Several names come to mind, such as Les Baux de Provence, unconquerable fortress and living memory to a dazzling and strong, tempered feudal system. Not too far away there is Saint Remy, a large village full of love, kindness and life, that invites you to discover its customs and traditions. It will not give everything away in a day, so be prepared to remain longer if you want to get to know it as Van Gogh and others have done before you!
St Tropez is a perfect line of narrow and colourful facades being reflected in the sea, a happy and joyous harbour, and squares full of chatter, narrow crowded streets, and deep water. It is a huge, peculiar and special legend. In short, a place like nowhere else! Lost at the end of its peninsula it lives life as it likes and in the way it has chosen. There is a matchless atmosphere that attracts and holds you there!
The Citadelle dominates and keeps watch. Painters have immortalized this place and certain names are still uttered with reverence.
St Tropez is Pampelonne, the white beach lined with wonderful restaurants, boats crowding it like a harbour at lunch time, Senequier and its red tables, the Place des Lices and its "boules" players, the Saturday morning herb market and the mast of its sailing boats jostling and tinkling in the harbour. It links simplicity and glitter and has a rebellious temper that nothing will curb. The corsair Bailli watches over her, helps and saves her! When a pretty girl walks past, all of St Tropez marvels!
As you leave the village you will find vineyards, olive groves and cypress, music, and a happy youth enjoying life. Find stunning houses, lavish gardens and crystal clear water in the creeks - all this to welcome you.
We would like to help you discover the amazing variety of dwellings in this magical land of Provence, and share their healing soul. It will be a privilege to spend your holidays here. And although the soul of the South is sometimes a tormented one, you will find a gentle and soothing house to connect to the delights of this rich and peaceful atmosphere!
What a fantastic location!
St. Laurent des Arbres
San Siro-Menaggio / Lake Como, Italy
Casa Pescatore is an extremely pretty original fisherman's house, on Lake Como, next to the pebbled shore and above the water. It is situated in the picturesque public lake resort of San Siro on the northwest side of the lake. It consists of 2 double bedrooms, a loft that has 2 single beds, a separate studio bedroom, and 3 bathrooms. Casa Pescatore is a charming accommodation. Its stylish interior is comfortably decorated. The main house has a painted wooden boat that adorns the kitchen ceiling.
Main floor: A kitchen/dining room with balconies and access to the panoramic terrace. Upper floor: an additional living room with balcony; a bathroom (bathtub/hydro massage); a double bedroom with ensuite bathroom (shower). Top floor: a double bedroom with gallery with 2 additional single beds (suitable for kids/the gallery is inside the double bedroom); and another bathroom. Casa Pescatore is equipped with a TV (regional channels), dishwasher, bathtub with hydro massage, terrace, loggia with wooden table and six chairs, sauna (external entrance), and a large outdoor terrace for sunbathing with BBQ. A studio apartment (new in 2002) that has a separate entrance can be rented in conjunction with the main house. It contains a kitchenette with table, double bed, bathroom with shower and a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake.
"I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our stay at Casa Pescatore in Lake Como the first two weeks in September. The villa was absolutely perfect for our family. It was exquisitely decorated, very comfortable and in an ideal location for relaxation and day trips around the lake. I would love to stay there again and would definitely recommend your services and this villa in particular. Thank you for your help in providing a dream come true vacation for us!"
- SM, Portage, MI
Festive Holiday tart
This is a very easy tart to make – the fresh cranberries are cooked with sugar, red currant jelly, and cognac until tender but not popped. Softened gelatin is added to thicken the filling before it is poured into the tart shell and chilled. It has become one of my family's favorites, especially during the Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays!
One single pie crust, baked in a 10 inch tart dish, and cooled.
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1⁄2 cup cold water
6 cups (3 12-ounce packages) fresh cranberries
1 3⁄4 cups sugar, to taste
1 cup red currant jelly
2 Tbsp cognac
Soften the gelatin in the cold water.
To make the filling, combine the cranberries, sugar, jelly, and Cognac in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not overcook or the mixture will become too watery; the cranberries should be soft but not bursting. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the gelatin and let cool completely.
Pour the cranberry filling into the tart shell of your choice and chill for at least 1 hour.
For a little laugh
Rush, rush, rush ...Oops!
Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes