Greetings from Austria

I really enjoyed my 30th birthday. So much so that as of this week I have celebrated it an additional 10 times. In a bid to cure my terminal ageing, Mrs P has surprised me with an Alpine spa break, hence sorry no New Europe this week.

Long known for their restorative powers, thermal springs have for millennia attracted the intelligentsia, the cultural cognoscenti and the wealthy from across Europe. Physical and mental health remains at the heart of holidays. However, ‘taking waters’ and undergoing various therapies gave way in the 18th century to bathing in the sea, and set the course for the modern tourism industry.

Nevertheless, places such as Bath, Harrogate, and Royal Tunbridge Wells are examples of how spa culture has positively influenced local economies in a way that has endured longer than the UK’s seaside towns. As the cult of ‘wellness’ develops ever more followers; as our big cities become increasingly polluted and stressful, and as new private health care opportunities emerge, the conditions feel right for a renaissance for spa towns.

Meanwhile, over here, the anti-ageing benefits of the mountains, fresh air and spring water, are being judiciously counterbalanced by melted cheese, chocolate and schnapps.

Wish you were here!