travel

Ubud Escape by Scott Allford

Being an Australian, I had always been against travelling to Bali as it is synonymous with a certain type of Australian traveller. However, due to a sudden forced vacation, Bali was the cheapest and easiest destination for a few days. While Kuta and Seminyak definitely aren't places I aim to travel to again, Ubud really resonated with me and provided me with the relaxing holiday I needed. 

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New year's day flyby at Mauritius' Underwater Waterfall by Scott Allford

The Underwater Waterfall in Mauritius has been popping up in bucket lists recently, and is quickly becoming one of the top places to see in your lifetime. Although there is no actual waterfall, it is simply sand and silt flows, it is still an awe inspiring sight to behold. 

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Agra & Rajasthan by train by Scott Allford

Since the 1850s, India has had a close affinity with trains. Today the country boasts one of the largest rail networks in the world. So when we decided to see a few of the countless UNESCO treasures that dot the sub-continent, we naturally chose to go by train. We quickly discovered that travelling by train in India is a lot more than just getting from A to B, it is a cultural experience in itself.

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Fête Impériale 2016: A Night at The World's Most Beautiful Summer Ball by Ryan Buaron

The 2016 edition of the glamorous Fête Impériale in at the Winter Riding School.

The 2016 edition of the glamorous Fête Impériale in at the Winter Riding School.

Damenkarussell Maria Theresias in der Winterreitschule der Hofburg painting at the Schonbrunn Palace. (Image Credit:  Schoenbrunn.at  )

Damenkarussell Maria Theresias in der Winterreitschule der Hofburg painting at the Schonbrunn Palace. (Image Credit: Schoenbrunn.at )

A night in the elegant Austrian capital will never be complete without attending one of its many celebrated balls which is known for its grand, imperial flair and harks back to the days of the Habsburg empire. As early as the start of the year, we planned out our 2016 European summer vacation centering around 24th of June 2016, the night of the Fête Impériale 2016, dubbed as the world’s most beautiful summer ball and one of the important events on the Viennese social calendar. The choice of the ball was not an accident, I have been a staunch admirer of the equine species, and despite having my back issues, have ridden in a few countries: Iceland, Denmark, Malta, and Mongolia. It was my interest in the Lipizzaner horses that brought us to Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, which not by coincidence, is also the home of the Fête Impériale.

Daniela Fally of the Vienna State Opera in a wondrous performance.

Daniela Fally of the Vienna State Opera in a wondrous performance.

Dancers from Opera Graz entertain the audience with a graceful dance number.

Dancers from Opera Graz entertain the audience with a graceful dance number.

A waltz performance: what a remarkable sight indeed which threw us all back to imperial times!

A waltz performance: what a remarkable sight indeed which threw us all back to imperial times!

Arriving at the glittering ball from the red carpet in Michaelerplatz on a warm summer’s night was a sight to behold. We immediately hied off to the Winter Riding Hall where the grand opening of the Fête Impériale 2016 took place at around quarter to 10pm. The riders entered the hall followed by the debutante’s committee and then a stirring, heartfelt performance by Daniela Fally of the Vienna State Opera, and the ballet dancers of Opera Graz. Afterwards dancers in uniform gowns and white ties entered the hall and performed waltzes which reminded me a little bit of the fairy tale balls of my childhood set to the classical music my father used to play when I was growing up, it was truly impressive and truly magical.

Steeped in history and tradition, the Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) is a centre of  ‘High School of Classical Horsemanship’ and it’s Winter Riding School, touted (and we agreed) as the world’s most beautiful riding hall, was not only used for horsemanship but as a backdrop for many of Maria Theresia’s court festivities like the ‘Ladies Carrousels’ as well as many masquerade balls making the Winter Riding School the oldest still-existing ballroom in Vienna. Normally, balls take place during the carnival season in Austria, but the summer ball tradition, held in high regard by empress Maria Theresia, has been recently revived by the Fête Impériale.

Under the patronage of Dr. Heinz Fischer, the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, the Federal State of Styria and the Austrian Commission for UNESCO, this year’s Fête Impériale had an estimated 2,500 guests from all over the world including royals like Princess Benedikte of Denmark.

Hofburg Palace.

Hofburg Palace.

Mausi, the resident cat at the Spanish Riding School.

Mausi, the resident cat at the Spanish Riding School.

The Stables of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

The Stables of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

A Lipizzaner selfie.

A Lipizzaner selfie.

Aside from the performances in the Winter Riding Hall, there was much fanfare and music in the adjacent Stallburg, right next to the stables. Earlier that day, we had the privilege to visit and meet the beautiful Lipizzaners. The Lippizaners were bred by the House of Habsburg from Arab, Barb, Spanish and Neapolitan stock in the 16th century but its breed dates back all the way to AD 800 making it one of the oldest breed of horses in Europe. Today associated with nations of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia known as the "airs above the ground." The horses at the Spanish Riding School are trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage. The school is the only institution in the world which, for more than 450 years, has practiced and continues to cultivate classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the Haute Ecole - which makes it to the list of UNESCO’s of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Apart from the school in the capital, Piber, a West Styrian village, with its lush fields and alpine pastures, has also been home to the famous Lipizzaners, and the only stud in the country to breed Lipizzaner stallions. These same horses will later demonstrate their skills in Vienna. During summer breaks, the stallions head down to the Heldenberg in Lower Austria where they spend their holiday while being gently trained and carefully exercised. Top international riders, up and coming stars of the Spanish Riding School as well as dressage coaches attend special courses and seminars in Heldenberg as well at this time.

The Next Escape's Dave Ryan Aguirre Buaron and Scott Munroe Allford attending Vienna's most prestigious ball.

The Next Escape's Dave Ryan Aguirre Buaron and Scott Munroe Allford attending Vienna's most prestigious ball.

On top of the Fête Impériale, the school also has a host of events throughout the year from concerts, tributes, as well as the regular morning practice which are a delight for everyone.

Our 360 Video of the Fête Impériale 2016, Vienna, Austria. (Best viewed on HD and mobile.

All in all, the spectacular summer night at the Spanish Riding School, and the majestic history behind it made for one very unforgettable evening in Vienna, one that we will remember for many years to come. For more information about the Spanish Riding School, please visit their website.

DAVE RYAN A. BUARON, OWNER AND CO-FOUNDER THE NEXT ESCAPE: TRAVEL, ARTS, SPORTS AND LIFESTYLE

TRAVEL TIP: See The Louvre in Under 3 hours by Scott Allford

A visit to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to the Louvre. However, even the biggest art fans can find it a bit overwhelming. An artist recently told me that he really can’t stay there for more than 3 hours because it gets a bit boring. The problem is that the place is huge, and if you don’t know where things are you can end up wandering aimlessly. So in order to maximize your time, I’ve put together a guide to see the best of the Louvre in under three hours. 

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Superhero Travel – Batman vs Superman destinations by Scott Allford

I have to be honest, I think about travel quite a bit. When I’m not travelling I love to research travel destinations, because it gives me a chance to imagine what it would be like in those places and not think about work, bills, etc. This month brings the latest superhero blockbuster - Batman vs Superman, and it got me to thinking, “Can I really go to Gotham?” Not just New York, or the filming locations, but actual places with those names. It turns out that I can. In fact, there are quite a few destinations that would certainly give some DC comic geeks a severe case of wanderlust. Here are my top 3.

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11 Essential Travel Tips That You Must Remember! by Scott Allford

I’ve been travelling for a while now, and it’s been over a decade since I had a place to call my own in my home country. I’ve had a lot of great travel experiences and some not so great ones as well, but I like to think that as a whole they’ve brought me to where I am now and will help me to have even better experiences in the future. Fingers crossed!

I’ve read a lot of different blogs giving pointless ‘tips’ about you shouldn’t do when you travel – “Don’t pose like you’re holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” “Don’t post too frequently about your travels on Facebook.” Seriously, if you want to do those things, go for it. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s your holiday. Rather than writing about what you shouldn’t do, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learnt to do to make my travels even more enjoyable. 

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Contest: Fly In Style to Singapore or Hong Kong! by Ryan Buaron

We've sent you to exotic paradise, raffled of some serious bling, now we will be flying you to exciting Asian cities in style!

Lucky winners will get Flights and Hotel accommodations for 2 worth PHP 30,000.00 to either Hong Kong or Singapore, gorgeous Zalora outfits, gift cards and vouchers. Find out in our newest contest on The Next Escape!

 

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Product Review: Skyscanner Website by Ryan Buaron

The Eid  (Hari Raya) holidays is fast approaching and as expats living in Malaysia, this is a great opportunity for us to take a break and travel. Through the past 3 years - we’ve traveled to Penang (Malaysia), United Arab Emirates, and Oman around this time of the year. This year we are planning an intense 6-day holiday which spans 5 European countries, 9 international flights and 8 airports. The reality show Amazing Race is nothing in comparison.

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Contest: Travel First Class Around Europe For Two by Ryan Buaron

Here's your chance to travel Europe First Class for FREE!

Now, Rail Europe , the worldwide leader in European Rail distribution in partnership with The Next Escape: Travel, Arts, Sports and Lifestyle have teamed up to bring you this opportunity to snag a Eurail Global Pass worth 1662 AUD (around 1300 US$) valid for two people for unlimited first class travel in and around 28 countries.

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TROLLING A COUNTRY: Filipinos as Social Media Tools by Ryan Buaron

Polish bloggers Anna and Agnesz weren't just prostituting themselves for petty 'likes', they had a mission in mind, take advantage of a country's hospitality and trash it big time for website traffic. At the end of the day, they were laughing their way to the bank.

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WHITE PAPER: Nobody Likes To Read Anymore: Moving Forward and Retooling Engagement Strategies In Social Media by Ryan Buaron

With the explosion of social media use worldwide, there’s a massive amount of information available at any given time. The amount of clutter online makes it especially difficult and tricky for businesses, organizations and personalities to reach intended audiences and viral content. In recent years, photo messaging and sharing applications like Snapchat, Instagram, Plague online networking services like Twitter and online media companies like Buzzfeed have proven to be extremely popular, and all of the these rely heavily on limited text (Twitter, Snapchat, Buzzfeed) and a deep focus on image use. Despite this shift to image driven social media applications and services, mainstream businesses as well as a huge number of blogs are still stuck in information heavy websites. This white paper will discuss the need to shift to visually focused posts and sites.

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