Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 24, 2017

© London 2012

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Party on!

Europe is rolling out the red carpet with diamond jubilees, sterling exhibitions and sporting gold

Britannia rules this year as a top European destination with the stellar lineup of the Summer Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee, the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad. But look further afield and you’ll discover that the continent is hopping with attractions and events throughout 2012. In fact, there’s so much going on that when we made a top-10 list for the year, we wound up with 11 destinations.

Austria: art about town

It’s an exceptional year for Vienna (vienna.at) with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt (klimt2012.info/en). A pioneer of fin de siècle Viennese Modernism, he is celebrated throughout the calendar with a wide range of exhibits, concerts and other activities. Don’t miss the Klimt exhibits at the Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (mak.at).

Also new is the concert hall, modern art gallery and cultural centre formerly known as 20er Haus that reopened as 21er Haus (21erhaus.at) in late 2011. And the Augarten Contemporary Gallery at the Belvedere Museum has been expanded with the three-year loan of a collection from Madrid's famed Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

The city’s hotel scene is also newsworthy with the Ritz Carlton’s (ritzcarlton.com) first Austrian property set to open this spring, steps from the Vienna State Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Britain: busting out

Still riding high on the Royal Wedding of last summer, Britain (visitbritain.ca) is awash in events, openings, celebrations and more spawned by the Summer Olympics (london2012.com) and Paralympic Games along with, the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.

The Olympics in London kick off July 27 with sporting events running to August 12, concentrated in London’s East end at Olympic Park (although activities take place further afield in the nation’s soccer fields and stadiums.)

In conjunction, the London 2012 Festival (festival.london2012.com) and the Cultural Olympiad will offer programs of music, museums, gastronomy, art and more with a generous helping of free events from June 21 to September 9 with headlining names that include David Hockney, Cate Blanchett, Philip Glass, Yoko Ono and Damien Hirst. The party lasts all year.

For literature buffs it will be the best of times, since this year also marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' (dickens2012.org) birth. Dickens' hometown of Portsmouth and his beloved London are both planning year-long events including major exhibitions, lectures, plays, film series and guided walks.

For Royal watchers, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (direct.gov.uk/diamondjubilee) for Queen Elizabeth peak on a long weekend (June 2 to 5) on London's River Thames with a regal pageant featuring 1000 boats and a flotilla 11 kilometres long. There will be concerts and plenty of pomp, only as the British Royals can deliver.

Denmark: fresh perspectives

Denmark (visitdenmark.com) is on a high. Recognized in the past few years as home to the world’s best restaurant, Noma (noma.dk) — an institution that is at the core of the popular New Nordic Cuisine — the tiny country is into a vibrant chapter that could be called Danish Modern Revisited. Consider how cool: a free smorgasbord app explores the culture and history of smørrebrød (open-face rye-bread sandwiches) and also offers a guide to the best places to experience that Danish lunch favourite in Copenhagen.

This is also where Scandinavia’s biggest hotel, the Bella Sky Comwell (bellaskycomwell.dk), recently opened. The architectural landmark, two towers of 23 floors each, comes complete with sustainable initiatives like rooftop beehives to help pollinate the city’s trees. Located in the Bella Convention Center, the plan is to drive traffic to Copenhagen’s newest neighbourhood, Ørestaden.

This year, Denmark’s beloved Queen Margrethe celebrates her 40-year reign with an exhibit of paintings done by her royal hand (January 28 to July 12) at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art (arken.dk).

France: a saint and a sunken ship

France (ca.franceguide.com) is already Europe's top tourist destination, and this year, in addition to great food, wine and fashion, the country has a couple of big anniversaries to celebrate.

The centenary of the sinking of the Titanic is marking a year-long run of events in the city of Cherbourg where the ship of legend made its first stopover April 10, 1912. A permanent exhibit opens at the Cité de la Mer (citedelamer.com): themes include the life and times of Cherbourg’s harbour as an important portal for immigration between America and Europe, the building of the Titanic, as well as life on board the fated ship.

Travellers are invited to follow Joan of Arc (orleans.fr/fetes-de-jeanne-darc-2011), from her birthplace in the region of Lorraine to Rouen, where she was burnt at the stake at just 19 years old in 1431. In May, Orléans, the city she freed from an English siege in her most famous victory, stages a week-long series of festivities in her honour.

Germany: ancient king and new artists

It’s the 300th anniversary of the birth of Germany's (germany.travel) Frederick the Great (1712–1786), the king who is recognized for turning Prussia into a major power as well as for his passions for art, literature, philosophy and music. The exhibition Friederisiko (friederisiko.de) at the New Palace in Potsdam (April 28 to October 28) will offer insights into the life of this accomplished monarch. Look for events in other locations, too.

The northern town of Kassel (kassel.de), also known as the Capital of the German Fairy Tale Route, hosts Documenta Kassel. One of the world’s most distinguished festivals of contemporary art, it was first mounted in 1955 and is held every five years. dOCUMENTA (13) (d13.documenta.de) from June 9 to September 16 is a must for art lovers and a wonderful success story for the pretty town.

Holland: big floral show

This year, the land famous for tulips hosts Floriade (floriade.com), an unparallelled horticultural fair that takes place once every 10 years. Running from April 5 to October 7, the six-month-long expo is set in a 65-hectare park in Venlo, two hours by train from Amsterdam (iamsterdam.com). The park is transformed into a natural wonderland with five varying floral and nature themes.

For a hotel with flare, check out the iconic De L’Europe (leurope.nl), a luxe property in the capital that reopened in summer of 2011 after a €61-million restoration. Fusing 19th-century architectural elements with 21st-century amenities, including iPad directories and motion-detecting lights, the hotel now offers 111 guest rooms including 42 palatial suites. It is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and was awarded a spot in 2011 on Condé Nast’s Gold List.

Iceland: northern light shows

Iceland’s tourism sector received four recent honours: readers of the Sunday Times voted it the Best Adventure Travel Destination in 2011 — beating out Norway and Switzerland — and National Geographic Traveler as well as Lonely Planet named it on their "Best of" lists for 2012. To boot, the city of Reykjavik (visitreykjavik.is) received the honourary title of 2011 World Festival and Event City, awarded by International Festivals & Events Association.

Thanks to an increase in solar storms, tourism to Iceland (visiticeland.org) will get a boost in 2012 with the promise of more activity from those elusive and magnificent Northern Lights. There are multiple packages running through March 2012 and picking up again nearer to year’s end from September through December.

Italy: pillow talk

Italy is abuzz with new or newly improved properties. In Milan (ciaomilano.it), the fashion/hotel news was the opening of the Armani Hotel Milan (armanihotels.com) in late 2011, a typically luxe and intimate affair — just 95 rooms — set atop Armani’s via Manzoni flagship store.

Florence has its fair share of five-star additions with the new ultra-luxe St. Regis Florence (stregisflorence.com), which is set in a palazzo along the Arno, and the Grand Hotel Villa Cora (villacora.it) located near the Boboli Gardens.

And in Basilicata, the Palazzo Margherita (palazzomargherita.com) is opening in 2012 as part of the tiny collection of hotels owned by Francis Ford Coppola. The 19th-century hilltop villa has a historic family connection: the nearby town of Bernalda was the birthplace of Coppola’s grandfather. Originally purchased as a family retreat — and the site of the wedding last summer of the director's daughter Sofia Coppola — it is a nine-room villa with interiors designed by Parisian Jacques Grange.

Poland: play ball

Soccer will play a big part on the national stage this year as Poland (www.poland.travel/en) and neighbouring Ukraine (traveltoukraine.org) host the EUFA Euro 2012 Championship (uefa.com/uefaeuro), June 8 to July 1. It’s the first time either country has hosted the biggest soccer tournament on the continent. The event brings a rash of new hotels, including a Park Inn by Radisson in Wroclaw, and a Doubletree by Hilton in Warsaw with 365 rooms. There are new venues as well: the National Stadium Warsaw, which opened its doors earlier this year, is the site of the opening game of UEFA EURO 2012, on June 8, between Poland and Greece.

Soccer fans might want to linger after the games: Poland, which offers a busy calendar of events outside the soccer field, remains an attractive and affordable destination — especially until it adopts the Euro.

Sweden: crime and dine

Sweden (visitsweden.com) is set to get new attention in 2012. The hit movie based on the blockbuster novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will bring even more fans of the Stieg Larsson crime series. Already, the Stockholm City Museum (www.stadsmuseum.stockholm.se) hosts walking tours of sites associated with the grim trilogy as well as maps for self-guided tours. Also, The New York Times singled out the region of Dalarna, a popular spot among locals, for its stunning landscapes in summer, local crafts, rustic foods in autumn and, in March, the Vasaloppet, one of the world’s biggest cross-country ski races. All within a few hours drive of Stockholm.

Gothenburg (gothenburg.com) has been crowned the Culinary Capital of Sweden for 2012. The major fishing port received the award as part of the country's Sweden: the New Culinary Nation initiative. Gothenburg's gourmet scene has seen significant growth, boasting five Michelin-starred eateries, top-notch seafood restaurants and a buzzing café scene. Look for more details on where to dine.

Switzerland: ride the rails

There’s big news for Switzerland (myswitzerland.com) in 2012 with the centenary of the boldest of Swiss undertakings: the construction of the Jungfrau Railways. The magnificent cogwheel train, which takes visitors high up to the Jungfraujoch (jungfrau.ch), dubbed the Top of Europe, will celebrate with events year-round. One great reason to experience this vertiginous railway in 2012 is the two-for-one offer of spending an entire week in the Jungfrau Region.

Also, the little country known for its spectacular scenery, received recognition as one of the top countries to visit this year from Lonely Planet and The New York Times.

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