Aimée Smith, 08 March, 2023
To mark International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating our inspiring female figures.
Inspiring women make a difference to Inntravel holidays on a daily basis – from the friendly travel experts in our offices to our excellent partners on the ground. And then there are those female icons whose amazing lives and actions have helped to enrich the destinations we visit.
So, in honour of International Women’s Day, we'd like to present a small selection of the many women who definitely deserve to be written into the Inntravel story.
The lady laird
As Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited stately home, Traquair House has seen its fair share of lairds. But only one woman has ever held the title – the current incumbent, Catherine Maxwell Stuart.
It’s no small feat running a great manor, but Traquair’s lady laird takes it in her stride, also finding time to write, play a part in local politics and manage the estate’s ancient, award-winning brewery. And if you ever visit Traquair – as we strongly recommend you do on our walking holiday in the Scottish Borders – you may well find that it’s Catherine herself showing you around.
Viewed from the mainland, the Farne Islands are unremarkable: barren, rocky outcrops sitting low in the North Sea. But to venture closer is to enter the most incredible natural world – of plunging cliffs, bobbing seals, and thousands upon thousands of nesting sea birds.
Humans have always played second fiddle here, with the exception of local lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling. Grace became an overnight celebrity back in 1838 when she and her father battled wild, stormy seas to rescue the survivors of a shipwreck. Her heroics are remembered today on the mainland, in Bamburgh village, where there is a museum dedicated to her life.
We can’t imagine anyone would book a trip just because we told them it featured a really good taxi journey – but everyone wants their holiday arrangements to run smoothly, and that’s where Silvia Novais comes in.
Having taken over the family taxi business from her father, Silvia has become something of an institution on our walking holiday along Portugal’s Costa Vicentina. She is utterly reliable, punctual and committed to going the extra mile for Inntravel customers – on one memorable occasion, she even made contact with a customer the night before they were due to leave Portugal to confirm that the clocks were changing and to ensure that they had remembered!
Her life may be shrouded in mystery – even her date of birth is disputed – but what we do know about the world’s greatest flamenco dancer is fascinating.
Carmen Amaya was born into a long line of Romany dancers, but she broke with many of the conventions of ‘traditional’ flamenco, creating a style so impassioned that she is said to have shattered the stage floor on more than one occasion! Carmen’s work took her all over the world – from Paris to Buenos Aires to the White House – but she made her home in Begur, a lovely town we visit on our Catalan coast walking holiday.
In the idyllic valleys that lie beneath Slovenia’s Kamnik-Savinja Alps, residents have lived and farmed in harmony with nature for centuries. And there are few keener local conservation advocates than mountain guide Mojca Ošep.
When you visit the area with us, we arrange for you to spend half a day with Mojca and to tour the farm that has been in her family for over 400 years. Mojca will also take you on a guided walk into the valley of Robanov Kot, pointing out wild herbs, flowers and features of the landscape as well as regaling you with tales of her own family's history and that of the region she loves.
It’s hard not to be intrigued by a woman who has worn the crowns of two nations, journeyed from France to Jerusalem on crusade, and given birth to two English kings. Especially when this same woman also spent 16 years of her life imprisoned – at the hands of her own husband, no less.
Eleanor of Aquitaine is often named medieval Europe’s most powerful woman, but her agency was largely in keeping with her times. We say ‘largely’, because she got her way in the end: returning to live in her beloved Aquitaine before finally being laid to rest in Fontevraud – whose magnificent abbey we visit on our Loire cycling holiday.
Many Inntravel hotels are expertly managed by wonderful women, and the Hotel Gosauerhof is no different. In its case, the two delightful women at the helm are sisters Anni and Brigitte Laserer.
Their homely hotel is made exceptional by two things: its location – the Gosauerhof enjoys glorious views of Austria’s Dachstein Mountains; and their hosting. Brigitte is a real character, while Anni is a passionate cook: her traditional dishes are justly renowned in the local area, and savouring one of her delicious cakes on the hotel terrace, while gazing up at the mighty Dachstein, is the perfect way to conclude a scenic day’s walking in the Austrian Lake District.
There is much you might expect to find on the Danish coast: from gorgeous villages of thatched-roof cottages to castles of fairy-tale wonder and vast expanses of white sand. What you may not expect is a glimpse of Africa, yet this is exactly what the Karen Blixen Museum offers.
One of Denmark’s foremost writers, Karen Blixen is best known for her bestselling 1937 memoir Out of Africa, which later inspired an Academy Award-winning film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. You can relive many of Karen’s memories of Africa at her former Danish home in Rungstedlund – now a fascinating museum set in extensive and beautiful gardens and woodland.