‘Life looks bet­ter from the banks of an in­land sea’

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

Some­times, even the most tur­bu­lent sea­sons can be soothed into seren­ity by a sight­ing of waves flow­ing softly to land. Ask Maxim Gorky. Ex­iled from Rus­sia in the wake of the Moscow up­ris­ing of 1905 (a pre-cur­sor to the revo­lu­tion that would en­sue in 1917) and his im­pris­on­ment in St Peters­burg, the great au­thor would find him­self at the edge of Lake Saimaa in Fin­land. And though he was al­ready di­vorced from her, he would write to his first wife, Eka­te­rina Volzhina, and tell her: “It’s beau­ti­ful here, like a fairy tale.”

He had a point. Life usu­ally looks bet­ter on the bank of an in­land ex­panse of wa­ter – and Europe is awash with such lo­ca­tions. From Scan­di­navia to the Balkans via north­ern Italy and the qui­eter cor­ners of Bri­tain, the vi­sion of a hot day re­flected in the mir­ror of a lake will al­ways en­hance a few days (or a fort­night) of es­capism, whether the time is used for re­lax­ation, ex­plo­ration or ac­tiv­ity. The fol­low­ing 20 nat­u­ral joys are all dis­tinct en­ti­ties, yet all have some­thing in com­mon. You may want to glimpse them in the com­ing months. ferry trip to Peschiera at the op­po­site end). From £561 a head – flights ex­tra. within its ter­ri­tory, 30 miles south of Zurich. Switzer­land also spe­cialises in train lines that inch through glo­ri­ous rocky vis­tas and Ex­pres­sions Hol­i­days (01392 441245; ex­pres­sion­shol­i­days. co.uk) salutes this in its By Rail to Lake Lucerne trip. This seven-night tour rolls in from Lon­don via Paris and Zurich, slum­bers in a five-star ho­tel in Weg­gis on the north shore, and in­cludes a three-day rail pass for wider ex­plo­ration. From £1,960 per per­son in­clud­ing train travel. Fin­land’s abun­dance of lakes seeps into its ur­ban areas. Tam­pere is a case in point – the third-big­gest city in the coun­try, in­fused with a postin­dus­trial charm by its po­si­tion at the meet­ing of Lakes Nasi­jarvi and Py­ha­jarvi (the Tam­merkoski Rapids are a splash-and-spray di­vider). With at­trac­tions such as the Nasin­neula Ob­ser­va­tion Tower (sarkan­niemi.fi), it makes for a niche but al­lur­ing mini-break. A three-night stay at the four-star Grand Ho­tel Tam­mer, fly­ing from Heathrow on July 12, starts at £508 a head with Ex­pe­dia (020 3684 2907; ex­pe­dia.co.uk). Swe­den can boast the big­gest lake in the Euro­pean Union in Lake Van­ern, but this tiny (in com­par­i­son) neigh­bour of the 2,180 sq mile be­he­moth opens a win­dow on to the calm Scan­di­na­vian con­di­tion. Last Septem­ber saw the in­stal­la­tion of five glass-sided cab­ins on Hen­rik­sholm, a sliver of is­land in the mid­dle of Lake An­im­men (which lies 100 miles north-east of Gothen­burg) – the idea be­ing that guests learn to switch off in a pris­tine ru­ral set­ting. The cab­ins con­tain dou­ble beds and can be hired from 3,995 krona (£343) per per­son for a three-night full-board stay at vastsverige.com/en/72hcabin.

If you tire of the shore, you can al­ways get out on the wa­ter

Plan a pil­grim­age to the Church of the As­sump­tion on Lake Bled in Slove­nia, above; Ho­tel Eden Roc on the Swiss side of Lake Mag­giore, below left

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