Thursday 11 April 2013 | By William Coulston |
Courtesy of British Airways I had two business class tickets to London last Tuesday on the inaugural 777 flight and I arrived back in Oz yesterday – still not sure what time zone I’m on anyway…… my review
This was the inaugural Boeing 777-300 service new aircraft and into Terminal 5 Heathrow
Seats - we had row 12 the two seats together in the middle facing backwards. With the pearlised screen to block out your neighbour on the aisle this became a very nice private space - however we had no perception of anything as we could not see any windows
You also have to climb over the person on the aisle seat when they are sleeping trying very hard not to hit their legs which I did twice!
There were a couple who had the backward facing window seat and the forward facing aisle seat so they face each other and could talk I would probably opt for this next time.
Seat in any position very comfortable - more so than Emirates Business Class seat which I don't like in bed mode and on a par with the Qantas Skybed or United's Business Class seat which I do like
However there is no where to place things like magazines and the seats need a small drinks tray between the seats to put your glass on and save putting your meal tray down. There is a drawer at the bottom of the seat on the side which fits shoes and magazines and assorted odds and ends
Food and beverage
the meals are served on a tray with a cloth which is placed on your tray table
Not stylish enough - I prefer Emirates or Malaysian where a cloth is placed on your tray table then your tray with another linen cloth is placed on that
Salt and pepper in paper sachets not shakers which was disappointing
My main course Sydney to Singapore was terrible and the scrambled eggs into London you could have bounced off the wall, however London via Singapore to Sydney the meals were stunning.
Wine - only sav blanc white or two reds - no chardonnay
Champagne is Tattinger
There is a self service food and wine snack bar which is great on the long sectors
Entertainment - fantastic a huge range of movies etc and the screen is quite large
Flight was full except the last sector I did go and check out Premium Economy and economy Personally I would not pay for Premium as the seats did not look that much bigger than economy (of course depends on the service level) The new First cabin looks stunning and I loved the window treatment
Express Path Sydney works very well both for passport and security checks and also on arrival
I did not like Terminal 5 Heathrow – very grey very clinical could have been anywhere –One point to note
Walking into the vast departures check-in hall there is no clear signage where to go if you are Business Class Tell clients to turn right and head for the “First” check-in area at the end of the Hall Business class is just before it.
Sydney – Qantas Business Class lounge – full and we struggled to find two seats and as usual no snack food – give me finger sandwiches anytime
Singapore – British Airways own lounge – great showers and good selection of food and wines etc
London Terminal Five – BA Galleries – very hard to get to whoever designed this terminal’s flow must have taken something!
Very Large lounge nicely divided into different spaces the showers are one floor down between the First lounge and the Concorde room
Great view of one runway
Reasonable selection of food being evening the dinner offerings were disappointing and looked un-appetising – curries or pasta and a small salad bar
BA Terminal Five Arrivals Lounge was great and the scrambled eggs and hash browns some of the best I’ve ever had
Easy to find walk out into public arrivals hall take the lift to 3rd floor and its right in front of you
Only downside – no public phone except for a strange credit card phone push button 1 for local calls in the Uk and I kept getting a USA international operator!
Carey Limousines – very good
The driver was booked for 7am and I had asked them to meet us at the arrivals lounge
At 6.55am the chauffeur walked in to locate us
New black Mercedes E class
Just Airports Limousines
I used this company from London City to Heathrow
32 pounds one way which for London is a very cheap price you either pre-pay with a card or pay the driver cash
Booked the car for 5.00pm pickup driver came a tad early
Comfortable 4 seater estate car that would take 3 passengers and 3 cases and bags
Not a limo but clean and comfortable and miles better than battling the London tube at peak hour!
They charge an extra 5 pounds for arrival service plus car parking
I stayed one night at the Goring and one night at the Ritz
I also had site inspections and lunch at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Claridges
Site inspections and afternoon teas at The Four Seasons and the Savoy
Site inspection at the Stafford
Always book Virtuoso rates at these hotels
If I could take the best of each hotel and mix it together you would have the best in the world
Best for location– the Ritz, The Stafford and Claridges
The Goring is a five minute walk to Victoria Station or a 20 minute walk past Buckingham Palace to get to Piccadilly
The MO is opposite Harvey Nichols and 5 minutes walk to Harrods
The Savoy is a 2 minute walk to Covent garden
I loved The Goring ( being upgraded to the Belgravia Suite helped! ) a stunning two room suite with silk used as wallpaper
I love the character of the hotel, the staff and the quirkiness
The room light switch - you press one of four buttons –bright, calm, cosy or oohhh!
Best bathroom I have had for ages except it took ten minutes to get the shower to go from either ice cold or boiling to perfect
also the king size bed had a split mattress not the best I’ve slept on
The Mandarin Oriental is very Victorian in style lots of marble in the lobby area,
Fabulous restaurant very buzzy
The rooms I saw were ok but did not grab
Perfect location in St James
very small uninspiring lobby
loved the bar with an amazing collection of collection of caps
the rooms are spread over the main building and across a courtyard in the mews
some rooms/suites OTT e.g. same wall paper pattern used on the ceiling
I have clients who will only stay here but it did not grab me
I would stay here next time as the location is perfect
We had a beautiful lunch with exquisitely served food in the lobby restaurant
Rooms are huge and decorated either in art deco or Edwardian style
We were much fussed over here and felt very special
The Royal Suite I liked but the Ritz Royal Suite is better
The Map room is amazing and is the business centre – a very relaxed place to sit and check your emails
The Four Seasons
loved this hotel only downside location at Hyde Park Corner - a bit of a walk to get anywhere
The hotel does have a new black phantom Rolls Royce limo for free use by guests within a mile of the hotel
We were treated to this stunning car which took us back to the Ritz - people stopped and starred when we arrived back at the Ritz!!
Felt very special
Fabulous afternoon tea with Bollinger
fabulous rooms and suites some with terraces on the first floor
there is a stunning arrivals lounge on the top floor with a perfect view across London fro Westminster past the wheel to the new Shard
We were upgraded to a Junior Suite - the hotel has smoking floors – which for my travelling partner was great and windows that open which for me was even better
Did I liked it? Yes however - It was missing that x factor although the room grew on me
Afternoon Tea was still being served at 8pm in the Palm Court however this is on the side of the lobby and did not intrude
Breakfast in the beautiful restaurant being served by waiters in tails and white tie we did feel like we were royalty – at 7.30 am
We were the only two in the Restaurant – the same at the Goring the morning before – very quiet
Very nice however Goring's breakfast was better and my hollandaise sauce was served cold not warn which was not good
The bathroom was disappointing with plain large white tiles on the floor
Otherwise the suite was delightful - very French in style
The Royal Suite is amazing and at 3500 pounds per night not outrageous
I was shown a superior king bed room perfect marble bathroom so maybe my suite was due for a bathroom upgrade
The banquet conferencing rooms in the adjoining William Kent House were astoundingly beautiful
Stunning lobby and very switched on staff everyone knew who I was and that a car had been booked to go to Heathrow
Lead in rooms very very small - don't sell - upgrade here
I saw the Maria Callas Suite which had great views over the Thames
Afternoon tea was very nice and the two bars are fabulous
Downside for me is the location - I much prefer being in Mayfair
This was my first time back in London in many years - it had not changed - I still love Mayfair
The congestion charge must be working as the traffic was light in the centre of the city
Last Thursday Fortnum and Mason was empty and you could have shot a cannon ball down Regent Street and not hit anybody
That day it was freezing cold and it did snow
The next day - last Friday - completely different - still very cold but shops full and around Oxford Street and Regent street many many people
Buckingham Palace now has selected evenings when the palace staterooms are open for exclusive viewings at 70 pounds
in April right through to end of the year bookings through the Royal Collections web site
The Tube - Oyster cards cost 5 pounds to buy then you top up. Its cheaper just to buy a paper day ticket
my zone 1-2 cost 8 pounds
Pret a manger shops everywhere offering great value for sandwiches and snacks
Likewise Marks and Spencer food shops offer a great range with price similar or cheaper to here
Petrol is around 1.35 pounds per litre so not cheap if you are self driving
No graffiti and I only saw two people begging the city is clean gleaming and sparkling
In a nutshell that’s my 62 hours last week in London
Wednesday 10 April 2013 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Already famous for being one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, The Ritz Hotel has received a little more news coverage as of late due to Margret Thatcher, as she was one of The Ritz loyal residents. This magnificent hotel that sets the benchmark by which other hotel are measured, is full of rich history and covered in elegance and style.
Since 1906 the Hotel has been host to many of the Rich and Famous. This summer The Ritz London is excited to be a participant of the Coronations Festival, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation.
The Ritz London is offering ‘The Festival Fantastic Program’.
To see full details, Click Here >>
Wednesday 20 February 2013 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
To contact our friendly team and enquire today, Click Here >>
Rio De Janeiro
With an abundance of outdoor performances, cultural attractions and festivals, the people from the city of the renowned ‘Carnival’, sure know how to be happy. With years worth of culture and a buzzing atmosphere, the city makes everyday living feel like an exciting and adventurous holiday. Locals live in bold colour, they get dressed up and they dance through the streets - It’s a beautiful city brimming with breathtaking colours.
Australia is known for their down-to-earth, fun-loving folk, so it’s no surprise that Australia has made the list, two times over. The relaxed vibe, stunning beaches and an array of eateries are just a few of the reasons why the people of Sydney are in spot number two, and are some of the happiest people in the world.
Having fine architecture on your doorstop from the famous figurehead, Antoni Gaudi would be enough to keep a lot of people very pleased. Now add a rich history, great shopping, beaches, as well as endless tapas and sangria, and you have yourself an amazing place to live. With its amazing weather and position as one of Europe's fastest improving Cities, it’s no wonder the people of Barcelona can’t wipe the smiles of their faces.
Imagine riding around a quaint little city on a stylish vintage bike; taking in the pristine parks, and breath-taking canals; stopping for some melt-in-your-mouth poffertjes and exploring the amazing city which comes alive every evening. This charming place is always entertaining and keeps the locals of Amsterdam an always happy, bunch of people.
Known as Australia’s fashion capital, Melbourne provides a relaxed atmosphere, mixed with strong hints of culture and class. Often referred to as the ‘Garden City’ and home to over 4.1million Melbournians, the city combines a city landscape, with bay-like beaches, diverse cuisine and an abundance of cultural activities. Ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities, it’s no wonder Melbourne also made its mark on our happiness scale.
The Capital and largest city in Spain is host to many influencers in the European Union, with their taste in fashion, food and fun, second to none. In addition, Madrid offers plenty of museums and culture, mixed with its party lifestyle and flamenco twist. Top off your experience with a visit to their beautifully, well-kept parks... The perfect place to nap under a tree with some Ensalasilla Rusa and do as the locals do, unwind.
From the cable cars, to Fishermans Wharf, everyday in San francisco is like being on the set of a movie; the nightlife, the dining, and the iconic golden gate bridge. People travel far and wide to cross The Big Red Sir Bridge, and the lucky people of San Francisco can take a stroll across it whenever they wish. The very pleased people of San Francisco are so pleased with their town in fact, that they’ve made our top 10 too!
A saying I believe all the people of Rome live by “Eat well, Travel often”. With its beautiful surroundings, amazing history, their selection of fine wines, and an array of boutique restaurants bordering every laneway - It’s no wonder the Romans lead the good life.
The city of love offers more then just a sparkling Eiffel Tower to keep the locals happy. The cheeses, breads and pastries; the beautiful clothes and chic locals, as well as the pebbled pathways and stunning museums... What’s not to be happy about? Did you know however that Parisians also average 10 weeks of holiday time, each and every year? It’s no wonder they’re happier than ever.
Buenos Aires is an energetic city, filled with energetic people. The city offers a little bit of everything, there’s an abundance of sunshine, it provides highly affordable living and they ensure Sunday’s are set aside for relaxation. They shut down shop, spend time with their family and friends, or simply take it easy.
Monday 4 February 2013 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Rio Je Janeiro- Brazil
Where age and body shape means nothing, but wearing a one piece will be frowned upon. Rio Je Janeiro is the place to get into that Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
and show off some skin. Indulge in some cheeky cocktails and play a quick game of paddleball.
Anyone who is a ‘anyone’ is seen at Miami Beach. Your almost assured to see someone famous. Though the Miami Strip comes alive at night, the beach in itself is an event. It’s where the bold and beautiful come to freshen up their tan, or just to flaunt what they’ve got.
Bordered by Tapas bars and endless sangria, a day down on Valencia beach is a day well spent. Enough beach for almost everyone in Valencia, you will have no problem finding a spot. Either spread out your towel and catch some rays, or hire a couple of sun beds and get comfortable.
Santa Cruz- California
Santa Cruz has something for everyone. With the historical amusement park on the broad walk, complete with the old Big Dipper; Surf Spots for the egger big wave surfer; Off-leash dog beaches for all the dog lovers; or you can sit and watch the pelicans dive for food. Santa Cruz makes you feel like a character in your own movie. A definite spot to sit and take in its charms and quirks.
Australia is well know for its beautiful beaches in its every corner, though one city that has ever-growing popularity is Sydney. The Capital of New South Wales continues to draw visitors in with the picturesque beaches, the warm weather, the waves, and the boys in blue protecting the shores of Bondi Beach may be helping too.
4.2km of sandy beaches to play with, though in the summer time it seems this just isn't enough. Barcelona at anytime of the year is quite busy, though through summer the seaside is more lively and busy then the Autobahn in Germany. If traveling in Summer, once you have your spot, be sure to be in for the long hall. There are many locals walking around selling coconuts and cold beverages so a whole day in the busy paradise is easy done.
Tel Aviv- Israel
The temperatures are hot in Tel Aviv so hitting the water will be a must, but be sure to steer clear of the jellyfish. You’ll come across many people in next to nothing, but usually looking very fashionable. After a nice cool off in the water, find one of the many men walking around with ice creams and popsicles to hit that sweet spot.
Where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic you’ll discover there is more to do then work on your tan. Take a stroll along the sand or let a camel do all the work for you. This relaxed city is enticing and after a day on its beautiful beaches, treat yourself to some of its fine seafood.
It hard to choose just one of the many beautiful beaches that the Philippines has to offer, but Palawan has to top the cake. No photo could not do these beaches justice. Whilst relaxing in this postcard location, watch the locals ferrying between the villages or explore some of the jungle surroundings. The scenery will take your breathe away.
Only an hour away from the fast-paced London City and your in the Beautiful Seaside town of Brighton. Still with all the perks of the big city, such as classy restaurants and bars and clubs, Brighton is relaxed and offers nothing but a good time. The heat may not be the main reason for getting in the water most of the year, but the clear aqua water will be.
Thursday 13 December 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
AmsterdamThis picturesque city is the largest of all cities in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is Vibrant and well known for its diversity. This amazing city mazed with beautiful canals offers an exciting nightlife, festivals all year round, as well as world famous museums and historical sights. The perfect place to unwind, ride a bike, dine on pancakes and enjoy the cobbled canal-side walkways.
For more Information on Amsterdam >>
San FranciscoSan francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States and is renowned for its cool summers. There is plenty to see and do in this amazing city - Firstly check out the museums, parks and beaches, but secondly, don’t forget the famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and its former prison, as well as China town.
For more information on San Francisco >>
LondonLondon is full of endless landmarks, history and beautiful, well kept parks. There is no shortage of markets, street restaurants and diverse nightlife. London is excitingly noisy, distinctively multicultural and boasts the perfect contrast of a city which remains rich in history whilst promoting innovation and forward movement. The frantic energy within the city is endless, it captures you and is kind enough to take you along for the ride.
For more information on London >>
HamburgHamburg is known as Germany’s Gateway to the the world, this is due to it having the country’s biggest port and the second busiest port in Europe. When in Hamburg make sure you take a stroll around the port, walk through the city centre and around City Hall. If you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, and you’re able to keep your eyes open, check out ‘Night of Museums’, in which over 50 museums take part to keep the history and culture on-show until 2am. In addition, Hamburg is currently hot on the heels of Berlin as the European capitol of cool, we recommend you jump on the bandwagon ahead of the cool crowd and beat them to the punch!
For more information on Hamburg >>
Copenhagen is the perfect mixture of fairy tales, modern day living, smooth jazz and hard bass. It’s hard for the city to be considered a holiday destination alone, and is rather a place of constant discovery. There’s much to see and do in Copenhagen, from day trips to the beach and amusement parks, plus you can also take part in their varied event calendar, including the Copenhagen Jazzfestival, Copenhagen Pride, Night of Culture and the MIX Copenhagen Film Festival. The splendour of this jam packed city is complimented by its intimate surrounds and offers a taste of everything and something for everyone.
For more information on Copenhagen >>
BarcelonaInfamous for partying, it’s likely that Barcelona is atop many other ‘best-of’ party lists, but as a city, we have found it offers visitors with so much more. There’s an abundance of outdoor markets, street entertainment and fiesta’s, shopping, museums, churches and outstanding architecture. At every turn, visitors can marvel at monuments, gardens and buildings, with each telling the historical tale of the city. An ideal place to simply wander, get lost, be amazed and find new wonders with each and every new day. With great food to be found in secluded lane-ways and salty fresh seafood paella by the beach, Barcelona has it all... and then some!
For more information on Barcelona >>
Hobart Tasmania’s capital city may be the smallest capital city in Australia but it’s rich in natural beauty and amazing landscapes. Hobart is home to the majestic Mount Wellington, many wineries and vineyards, as well as the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory. A nice way to end your day of activities is to head out on a boat cruise or to enjoy the live music, great atmosphere and delicious food on offer at one of the many local pubs or bars.
For more information on Hobart >>
Seoul Seoul is South Korea’s Largest city and blends just the right amount of ancient traditions with cutting edge digital technology. There are many breath-taking Buddhist temples, endless street vendors, extraordinary architecture, markets and shrines. Seoul is known for its dynamic trend-setting and non-conformist style, as well as their many activities, including adventure sports, amusement parks and beautiful mountain climbs.
For more information on Seoul >>
Mexico CityDowntown Mexico City is an urban area filled with Historical buildings and landmarks. Mexico City has also been known as the City of Palaces, due to the large number of stately buildings. Mexico city boats the largest museums in the world, ensuring there’s plenty of history and culture to soak up on your visit.
For more information on Mexico City >>
Christchurch Christchurch is filled with buildings that show its English Heritage, especially along the Worcester Boulevard. The city is better known as the Garden City, which is well deserved when you see the trees that grow as if in a forest all around the city. After sitting around the Botanical gardens head to the Christchurch art Gallery, pick up some snacks from the farmers markets and get involved in a creative workshop, before ending your evening with a dabble at the Casino.
For more information on Christchurch >>
Monday 26 November 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Camels it seems are quite a misunderstood animal, but have been present in Australia’s history since 1860. They were brought here as part of the Bourke and Wills expedition. There are many places in Australia where camel riding has become very popular. From climbing on a camel at dawn and watching the sun rise along Cable beach in Broome, to taking in the sunset in Port Macquarie. Camel riding is a box ticker for all ages and one which should be on everyone’s list.
To discover your closest camel riding location, follow the links below >>
Tuesday 13 November 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Camel Safari’s- Port Macqaurie
Camels in Coffs Harbour
The Camel Company
1. Sri Lanka:Sri Lanka has so much to offer in the way of heritage, culture, pristine views and festivities. This small, tropical and warm island in the Indian Ocean is a must-visit for 2013. Every year in mid April, Sri Lankan's celebrate the Sinhalese and Hindu new year festivals, as well as a symbolic Buddhist festival in August. The festivals consist of cultural dances, decorated elephants, fire and whip-dances, as well as various other cultural celebrations.
Find out more about travel in Sri Lanka >>
2. MontenegroIn terms of size, Montenegro is a small Country but it is filled with overwhelming beauty. It has amazing walled towns; well preserved historic monuments; the second largest canyon in the world and a coast that is just as good, if not better than its well known neighbor Croatia. Montenegro is filled with so much natural beauty that you could get lost for days within its mountainous landscapes or down at the popular glacier lake, Black Lake.
Find out more about travel in Montenegro>>
3. South KoreaOne of South Koreas most popular destinations is its capital Seoul. Seoul has many famous sites including the Seoul Tower and even a Teddy Bear Museum. During mid July also check out the city of Boryeong in Chunchungnam-do where they host a Mud Festival with an abundance of cultural insights. In your spare time South Korea is a great Country for hiking and trekking or learning some famous martial arts like Taekwondo.
Find out what to do in South Korea >>
4. EcuadorEcuador is a small and diverse South American gem. In this amazing country you can come across volcanoes, pacific beaches, blue lakes, greener than green valleys and even the Amazon. The country is well known for its adventure sports such as hiking, horse riding, biking, kayaking and snorkeling. Whilst walking through the many markets and colonial towns it’s evident that the Ecuadorians live a relaxed way of life. They adopt a slower pace, they’re friendly and more than happy to take the time for a chat with a stranger; perhaps in some part, their positive outlook is due to the beautiful plant life and amazing array of native birds which surround them.
Find out more about Ecuador >>
Located in Central Europe, Slovakia is a small country with a great and vivid history, as well as an ideal destination for relaxation. The country is filled with well marked hiking tracks, some of which leading to mineral and thermal springs. The country has 9 national parks for you to go and explore, with their castles and chateaux’s another must-see for visitors. For an adventurous and off the beaten track holiday, Slovakia is your answer.
Find out more about Slovakia >>
6. Solomon IslandsThis Island Nation is made up of over 1,000 islands which are separated into 9 main island groups. Situated in the South West of the Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands are very humid all year round with the slightly cooler months being June through August. The Solomon Islands are filled with cultural beauty, something which must be taken advantage of on your visit here. Whilst on one of their many islands, try and get hands-on with some of the cultural activities, which are undertaken on a daily basis by the island’s natives. The locals are very friendly and by getting an insight into their way of life your experience will only be even more enriched.
Find out more about Solomon Islands >>
7. IcelandDespite the misleading name, Iceland is generally quite a warm place. Full of plenty of natural beauty, Iceland is absolutely stunning. During the month of June you can soak up as much of this beauty as you like as the sun barely sets, and night fall never really hits. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained on those long and seemingly endless days, why not try hiking or ice climbing on glaciers, whale watching or visiting the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa.
Find more about Iceland >>
8. TurkeyTurkey has beautiful beaches, and more history and culture than you could imagine. Turkey is the perfect place to explore and get lost in old ancient ruins and architectural heritage. Turkey is more then 3 times the size of the United Kingdom, so if you do venture to this amazing country be sure to spare plenty of time to make it to all of the notable landmarks, including Gallipoli Cove.
Find out more about Traveling Turkey >>
9. Dominican RepublicDominican Republic is a Caribbean country with warm weather almost all year round. Though a lot of the country consists of rugged highlands and deep valleys, the real beauty is in all its little perks and pleasures. For example, the supremely tasty food which is served in unique outdoor restaurants (ideal for people watching), and also turn into lively venues of an evening; another pleasure, try indulging in the great and inexpensive shopping at the countries capital Santo Domingo; and of course the picturesque beaches, clear water and many beautiful national parks which have made the Caribbean so very famous.
Find out more about Dominican Republic >>
10. MadagascarMadagascar is a very unique island country situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Due to it being so isolated, Madagascar has been found to contain a mix of plants and animals which you can’t find anywhere else in the world. To see some of these rare sights, a visit to Madagascar’s largest reserve, Tsingy de Bemaraha which is a UNESCO heritage site, is a must. While you’re there you should also experience the kayaking, windsurfing and even the deep sea fishing on offer. BUT - Make sure you pick the right time of year to visit or you could be stuck with some serious and heavy rain.
Find out more about Madagascar >>
Wednesday 31 October 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Virgin Galactic's New LauncherOne and Air Launch Rocket are set to transform satellite launch. Also set to be the lowest price in the market. Virgin Galactic is dedicated to dramatically reducing the price of getting to space.
Check out the amazing work by Virgin Galactic and keep upto date with all the news!
Monday 29 October 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
There are many parents that are at a loss for ideas and activities for their kids to do over the school holidays. Coming up with different and exciting plans for what might seem to parents to be an eternity, can be both daunting and difficult. We have put together a few ideas to get them moving and to keep them entertained and learning! School might be out for summer but that doesn’t mean they can’t take the opportunity to learn some new skills.
A day in the salt water is a day well spent. Learning to surf is not only a fun form of exercise, but statistics have shown that up to 70% of Australian Children can’t stay afloat in the water. Challenge your kids to learn this vital and important skill, but in a fun and active way. Check out your local Surf Schools and get the kids into the ocean for some supervised, beachside learning. And as always, don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and slide when hitting the waves this Summer holidays!
Arts and Crafts-
Arts and Crafts is a great activity for a rainy day. It allows kids to explore ideas and concepts and use their imagination to create something of their very own. There are bundles of arts and crafts centers around Australia and as an another great and free alternative, why not check out your local Bunnings Warehouse for their arts and crafts classes on the weekends. Embrace your child’s sense of imagination, encourage some creativity and watch them engage their inventive skills.
All around Australia there are a variety of markets for you to choose from and enjoy. From your Farmers Markets, Craft Markets, Boutique Markets and Vintage Fairs; markets provide a great day out for a the whole family. Spend the day; find some trinkets; listen to live music and sample some great food.
For information on markets and fairs all over Australia, click here >>
Or for Craft Markets in your area, click here >>
Queensland is lucky enough to be home to many Theme parks. In summer you can’t go past a great day at Wet n’ Wild. There are slides for all ages; a wave pool; a relaxing floating beach for those who want to unwind, and of course a very exciting kids area featuring a pirate ship. If Wet n’ Wild isn’t up your alley, why not try something a little more adventurous and ‘scary’? For a heap of high thrill rides and park entertainment, check out Warner Brothers Movie World or step it up yet another notch and head to Dreamworld for the most exhilarating of all thrill rides!
You can find details of all available Theme Parks here > >
Help the Environment-
Teaching your Children the importance of looking after our environment is a very rewarding experience. Letting them know that we all have a responsibility to care for our Earth can be a hands-on learning experience that is entertaining, stimulating and educational. Getting your child involved in Earth Day, Clean Up Australia Day or even Save a Frog. All are exciting and fun ways to teach your children that we all play our part in keeping our environment beautiful.
To Save the Frogs, Click Here >>
For Earth Day crafts, Click Here >>
To help Clean up Australia, Click Here >>
For Earth Watch, Click Here >>
Wednesday 10 October 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, has recently announced that its passenger-carrying suborbital space vehicle, SpaceShip Two (SS2), successfully completed its first glide flight test. The spaceship;s engine, RocketMotorTwo (RM2), underwent another successful full duration test fire, marking the first time the company and its partners have undertaken test flight and test firing on the same day. Both milestones prime Virgin Galactic to reach powered flight by the end of the year.
Friday 5 October 2012 | By Tahnee Wherritt |
More On Virgin Galatic
It’s not unusual for families to head to the beach for their Summer holiday, however a recent trend sees the family’s four-legged friend now accompanying the trip too. Dog Surfing is making waves the world over, with dog lovers opting to lose the leash and hit the beach.
The international trend only seems to be gaining fans and followers, with Huntington Dog Beach in California hosting the annual Surf City Dog Competition and Surf Dog Australia doing some positive promoting on their very own facebook page.
So if you’re looking to try something new this Summer, head to your favourite beach destination, pack the pooch and get the whole family involved in what’s sure to be some very entertaining surf sessions.
Though you may not see your tail-wagger carving it out on the face of a 6ft wave or doing anything too ‘gnarly’, it’s a great day out for the family and an entertaining addition to any Summer holiday.
For more information...
Check out ‘Doggo’ for dog friendly beaches and parks all over Australia.
Hit Surf Dog Australia’s Facebook page to see other surfer dogs and get your Surf dog supplies.
Tuesday 17 July 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
You’re probably aware that space tourism is just around the corner with Virgin Galactic. It’s difficult to imagine what the experience may be like and what the standard norms are for packing your bags and hopping on board for a journey out of this world, literally.
From take-off to landing, the flight duration is between 90 and 105 minutes. Passengers will experience approximately 4 minutes of complete weightlessness.
As weight regulations are of the strictest concern, travelers are going to have to be very careful about what they take on board. The complete set of regulations haven’t yet been finalised, however many gadgets and objects will be prohibited for safety reasons.
For most of the flight electronics will be working. iPods and iPhones have been given the okay. After all, there’d be nothing like your favourite track and a Facebook check-in from outer space. Due to weight and size restrictions, laptops wont be allowed on board. But really, who’s complaining?
As the Virgin spaceships are pressurized, there wont be any need for pressure suits. The company is designing flight suits, which will be provided for passengers. Trendy ones, so we’ve heard.
Bringing a pair of clean socks on board is encouraged, as passengers will be prohibited from wearing their shoes. This is for safety reasons, as there’s a decent chance your foot may greet someone’s head.
Passengers have little more than hairstyles and lipstick to work with to perfect their look, as they will on camera for the duration of the trip.
Want to get on board?
World Travel Professionals were personally selected to become an ASA (Accredited Space Agency). Tickets for this ‘out of this world’ experience are $200,000 with deposits starting at $20,000. For more information, you can contact our National Sales Director Greg Wilken.
Email: Greg Wilken
Thursday 29 March 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
Phone: 1800 067 819
The beautiful Istanbul is the largest city of Turkey. Here are a few tips and busted myths to help you maximise your stay.
Istanbul is among the culturally-richest cities in the world. It's uniquely both European and Asian. Get amongst the diversity that the city has to offer; try new foods, meet new people. Its a rare and rich experience.
Jump on a ferry and cross the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus divides Europe and Asia, and connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. For no more than a couple of dollars, you can enjoy a delightful ride across the Bosphorus and embrace the gorgeous skylines. Aim to catch a sunset, you'll be glad you did.
Despite what you may have heard, Istanbul isn't exceptionally dangerous for women traveling alone or in small groups. In fact, Turkish culture is enormously hospitable. Locals have been warmly welcoming all travelers for centuries!
And no ladies, it isn't mandatory that you cover up. Istanbul is a modern and stylish city; the fashion's hip and trendy. You'll see a mixture of dress-codes, from head scarves and traditional villiage-wear to no scarves and mini skirts. So you can be yourself. Just remember to bring a scarf to wear into any of the gorgeous mosques.
You wont run out of things to do. A few must-see historic sites to get your "To-do List" underway include the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, the Topkapi Palace and the Islamic Arts Museum.
Visit a traditional Hamam for some soaking and steaming - your skin will love you for it! For the ideal experience, you'll want a steam, bath and scrub, and a massage.
Guzel vakit gecirin (Turkish for have a wonderful time)!
For more information, or to book or enquire about a unique experience of your own in Istanbul contact us today >>
Friday 24 February 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
Or, if there's any other destination that you'd like more information on, let us know >>
The world’s trendiest destination hotels are constantly increasing their game to impress you. You may have noticed that the hotel minibar is continually upgrading, with elegant wines, swanky snacks and stylish sweets. From a humble selection of basic treats, these kits have come to offer luxury foodie goods, intimacy packages and even Havaianas!
The Morgans Hotel Group - with London based ‘social enterprise’ collective, have recently compiled a unique and chic offering with an effortlessly stylish design. Their “Minibar for the Mind” contains conversation starters, tailor-made reading prescriptions and a blank notebook so that hotel guest can reflect on and document their dreams and fears. The gorgeous box set hopes to create a more meaningful and enjoyable experience for travelers.
Monday 13 February 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
KUTA LAGOON RESORT & POOL VILLAS from $268 pp.
SAVE up to $206 per couple
Kuta Lagoon Resort & Pool Villas is located in the heart of Kuta, a short walk to Kuta Beach, shops and entertainment areas. The resort features a lagoon style pool with pool bar, 24-hour restaurant and day spa, situated in the heart of Kuta. Stay 7 nights including breakfast daily, return transfers, 2 FREE bottles of beer plus FREE daily scheduled shuttle bus to Kuta Beach for only $268 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr-30Jun12 & 16Sep-31Oct12
Includes 2 FREE nights + EXCLUSIVE: 1 FREE lunch for 2 guests
PHUKET, THAILANDPHUKET ORCHID RESORT & SPA from $213 pp.
You SAVE up to $352 per couple
Phuket Orchid Resort & Spa is less than two minutes walk from Karon Beach. It is the ideal location to take advantage of the many water sports and offers two swimming pools surrounded by palm trees, lush gardens and poolside bar and kids club (5-11yrs). The hotel also has its own shopping centre for daily needs, beach wear and handicrafts. Stay 8 nights including breakfast daily, return transfers, plus 1 FREE 3 course Thai or Western Dinner^ for 2 guests for only $213 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01May-30Jun12
Includes 4 FREE nights + EXCLUSIVE: FREE 3 course dinner for 2 guests^
FIJICLUB FIJI from $169 ppSAVE up to $350 per couple
Comfortable, relaxed and located on Nadi Bay and close to the airport and town, Club Fiji offers bures just metres from the beach with views across the ocean and the Mountains of the Sleeping Giant. Stay 6 nights in a Garden Court Bure including breakfast daily and FREE return airport transfers for only $169 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr-30Jun, 21Jul-14Aug and 26Aug-31 Oct12
Includes 2 FREE nights + EXCLUSIVE: FREE pizza dinner for 2 guests
COCONUT PALMS RESORT from $349 pp.
SAVE up to a massive $474 per couple
Set in tropical gardens and located only 5 minutes from the heart of Port Vila Coconut Palms Resort offers a great value for money holiday. Stay 7 nights in a Superior Orchid Room including breakfast daily and return airport transfers for only $349 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr-30Sep12.
Includes 3 FREE nights + AU$100 food & beverage credit per room per stay
CLUB RARO from $395 pp.
That’s a SAVING of up to $144 per couple
Set amongst beautiful winding mosaic pathways, swaying palms and tropical gardens, Club Raro creates a warm, friendly and relaxing atmosphere to put you in the holiday mood. Stay 6 nights in a Standard Room including tropical breakfast daily and return airport transfers for only $395 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr - 31Oct12.
Includes 1 FREE night + NZ$100 food & beverage credit per room per stay
MIRAMAR AT WAIKIKI from $371 pp.SAVE over $442 per couple
Perfectly situated in the heart of Waikiki, the Miramar At Waikiki offers guests classic and attentive Aloha service just steps away from world class shopping and dining and a leisurely 1-½ block stroll from the World Famous Waikiki Beach. With 4 restaurants and a swimming pool with poolside bar, it is an ideal choice for those seeking quality service and prime location. Stay 6 nights including transfers for only $371 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr-30Sep12.
EXCLUSIVE room upgrade + 2 FREE nights included
SHERATON PARK HOTEL from $597 pp.
Receive a USD$125 GIFT CARD
The Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, ideally located within walking distance to the Disneyland Resort, the Anaheim GardenWalk and the Anaheim Convention Center, is your perfect Southern California haven. Settle into one of our 490 guest rooms and suites, all featuring private balconies with views of either the lushly landscaped patio and pool area or the Disneyland Resort and GardenWalk. Stay 5 nights including a 2-Day Disneyland Resort 1-Park per Day Ticket for just $597 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01Apr-31Oct12.
Includes USD$125 Resort Credit gift card per room
CIRCUS CIRCUS HOTEL & CASINO from $422 pp.
That's a SAVING of up to 20%
On the northern end of the Strip, Circus Circus Hotel & Casino is a full service resort with all the round-the-clock excitement of a Las Vegas casino and starring the world’s largest, permanent circus and America’s largest indoor theme park! Offer includes an amazing Grand Canyon Overnight Tour that also takes in Lake Mead & Hoover Dam. Stay 5 nights including a Grand Canyon Overnight tour for just $422 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 01-12Apr12 & 22-26Apr12.
EXCLUSIVE reduced rate on Grand Canyon Tour
HARBOUR PLAZA NORTH POINT from $232 pp.
That’s a SAVING of up to $124 per couple
Harbour Plaza North Point is located in one of Hong Kong’s most progressive areas between the exciting Causeway Bay and Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island. The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi internet and FREE shuttle to the airport express station, Causeway Bay and Cityplaza Shopping Mall. Stay 4 nights including, return transfers, plus 1 FREE High Tea set for 2 guests for only $232 per adult twin share.
Valid for travel 1-10Apr12 & 1May-16Sep12.
Includes 1 FREE night + FREE High Tea for 2 guests
PARK INTERNATIONAL HOTEL from $345 pp.SAVE $272 per couple
Located in fashionable Kensington, the Park International Hotel offers high quality accommodation, dining, entertainment and leisure facilities, along with warm and friendly service from the dedicated team. Having recently undergone a renovation the Park International Hotel ensures a comfortable and relaxing stay. Stay 5 nights including an EDF Energy London Eye Standard Ticket for only $345 per adult twin share. Valid for travel 01Apr-21May12, 7-24Jun12, 9-16Jul12 & 11Sept-31Oct12.
EXCLUSIVE: Includes 1 FREE night
Click here to download the complete Travelscene Top 10's Best 10 Brochure online >>
Click here for Bookings and enquiries >>
Conditions: Valid for Sale to: 10Mar12. Prices are per person based on 2 adults sharing the cost of accommodation. Surcharges apply for travel outside of the above dates. Taxes and prices are correct as at 03Feb12, are subject to change without notice & subject to availability. Special conditions apply for bonus offers. ^Phuket Orhid Resort & Spa; 3 course dinner is a set Thai or Western dinner and only valid 1 per room per stay. Bali Visa: A visa is required and payable on arrival in Denpasar. A 30 days for approx. AUD$26 (USD$25). A departure fee is payable in Denpasar at a cost of approx AUD$19 (Rp150,000). Hawaii: Room upgrade is from Standard to City View. Las Vegas: Price is based on Sun-Thu night stays.Stay/Pay specials are only valid on consecutive night stays and free nights are already included in cost. Prices do not include taxes or charges collected directly by third parties. Savings based on cost of free nights or reduced rates, included meals, upgrades and included value add-ons. Surcharge may be imposed on credit card transactions. Please see Top 10 flyer for full conditions.
Friday 3 February 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
Refinery 29 is an online global hub of fashion, beauty and shopping for trend-savvy individuals worldwide. This article by the R29 team is packed with inspiration for stylish travel-lovers. Four Refinery 29 Editors shared their dream escapes and divine packing lists so that readers can spend their holiday in style. These delightful stylish escapes are comprised so well, you'll want to follow them to a tee!
Here's a sneak peak:
Dream Vacay 1.: Belize
By: Christene Barberiche, Editor in Chief
Accommodation: Matachia Resort & Spa
She says: "I'm really not a beach vacation person, but Belize has been at the tippy-top of my dream vacations list for like, ever. Finally, this March, I'll be booking a week's escape at the (hopefully!) magical Matachica Resort & Spa. There's just something about tropical rainforests, quiet beaches, Mayan ruins, and a good hammock that seems to fit the bill right about now."
Read more >>
Dream Vacay 2.: Mexico City
By: Piera Gelardi, Creative Director
Accommodation: Condesa DF
She says: "I'm not great at sitting still so I love me some city vacation! I've heard such amazing things about Mexico City in the past few years and I'm dying to go check out the melding of old and new in the city and the blossoming art and music scenes. I'm going to call Condesa DF home for the five days I'll be there in March. It's in the 'SoHo of MC."
Read more >>
Dream Vacay 3.: Hokkaido, Japan
By: Connie Wang, Global Editor
Accommodation: Shikotsuko Daiichi Hotel Suizantei
She says: "When they say Japan has everything they really mean it. On the northern island of Hokkaido, you can go on a skiing session in the mountains, explore the hot springs in their many national parks, and get blitzed at a bar on Sapporo (in Sapporo, their capital city) all in the same day. Oh, also gorge on some of the best seafood in the world."
Read more >>
Dream Vacay 4.: Courchevel, France
Wednesday 1 February 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
By: Kristian Laliberte, Senior Editor
Accommodation: Les Airelles
He says: "As much as I'd love to be on the beach, I want to get in some skiing this season. In Courchevel, I can still work on my tan and get some deep powder. It ain't VT — the Trois Vallées is one of the largest ski resorts in the world. Plus, the apres-ski scene isn't just hot cocoa — there are designer boutiques, glam creperies, and oui, even nightclubs."
Read more >>
Are you seeking a holiday that promises a genuine escape from reality? Here's eight bizarre accommodation options that promise a truly out-of-this-world experience.
1. The Balancing Barn, England
This hotel was designed and built by Living Architecture, a holiday home company from the UK. Using modern architecture and high quality materials, and situated in the peaceful and beautiful Suffolk, it was designed to work on the connection between environment, architecture and happiness - a perfect balance in fact.
2. Wild Brown Bear Hotel, Finland
The incredible surroundings are the focal attraction of this hotel. A fairy tale setting for wildlife-lovers and nature-enthusiasts. It provides the opportunity to spy on bears and wolverines, kayak through the peaceful lakes and commune with Finland's natural side.
3. Hotel Saratoga, Cuba
Hotel Saratoga screams "ultimately cool"! Its rooftop pool overlooks some of the best views in town, and is high enough to diminish the noisy hustle and bustle of the city! If you're nearby Havana, this hotel is the place to stay.
4. Akköy Evleri Cave Hotel, Turkey
This rock-cut hotel is situated in Cappadocia. It comprises of fire boutique rooms designed as caves and built in ex-cave houses. This caveman style experience doesn't lack exceptional service either.
5. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
This amazing place is located on the edge of Ngorongoro volcano, promising superb views over the Savannah. The surrounding conservation area, protected by UNESCO, places hotel guests on the path of wild animals. Marvelous safaris await you with this truly African experience.
6. Adrère Amellal Ecolodge, Egypt
This resort is closely situated to the Sahara desert, allowing its guests to explore its freedom and unspoilt beauty. With no phone, no internet and no electricity, this true escape from reality is all about astonishing sunsets over the sand dunes with not a single distraction at all.
7. Palacio de Sal, Bolivia
From the walls and floors to the beds and chairs, everything here is made entirely from rock salt. This unique hotel is located on a vast expanse of white salt on the Eastern shores of the Great Salar de Uyuni. Enjoy the great night views of the stars, light shows on the salt lake, relaxing salt spas or the salty golf course.
8. Great Orme Lighthouse, Wales
This old lighthouse was built in 1862 and was used as a warning for ships up until 1985. Today it comprises of a beautiful history and a 180 degree view over the cliffs of north Wales and the Irish Sea - for those who like a room with a view!
Click here to enquire about or book your own out-of-this-world experience >>
Monday 30 January 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
Whether it’s for the marine life, wild parties, skinny dipping or soothing time in the sun, beaches make for a satisfying escape from reality. The diversity of experience from beach to beach is astonishing. Here’s a handful of the world’s most incredible beaches - must see destinations for beach-lovers!
A Nudist’s Paradise:
Paradise Beach, Rab, Croatia
The Croatian island of Rab has claimed its title as the birthplace of modern skinny dipping. Permission was granted in 1936 from city authorities to bathe naked in the inlet of Kandalora, and people from all over the world have been doing just that ever since.
Sandy Hot Tubs:
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
At Hot Water Beach in New Zealand, you can dig up your very own man-made hot tub. Nearby volcanos on the edge of New Zealand’s North Island develop large underground reservoirs of extremely hot water. The water cools slightly as it escapes to the surface, emerging at temperatures as hot as 64 C.
Short and Sweet:
Lover’s Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico
This semi-hidden cove sits on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. The beach is small and the sea can get rough, so these dramatic landscapes are best enjoyed via a quick boat cruise. Short, and very sweet.
The Beach of the Bohemian:
Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay has a unique appeal for travelers, with pubs, cafes, bookshops and buskers lining the streets. With a lingering scent of the flower power generation, many artists, musicians and and beach-bums call this slice of paradise ‘home’.
Party, Party, Party:
Las Salinas, Ibiza, Spain
This 1,600 meter-long crescent of sand in the island’s southernmost tip, is the most happening beach of them all. With music blasting from Las Salinas’ beach bars from morning till night, this is the place to be for beach-goers that love to party.
Action and Activity:
Cape Maclear, Malawi
Cape Maclear sits on the edge of Lake Malawi; a lake so large it feels like an ocean. The huge abundance of fish species and marine life - and the absence of brine, sharks and jellyfish - have labelled this destination heaven for divers and snorkelers.
Luxury on the Water:
Sun Island Beach, Maldives
Considered by many to be the world’s best beach, this treasure in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a luxury-lovers’ favourite. Many are drawn by thought of sleeping on the water, literally. Nearby coral reefs attract thousands of tropical fish, snorkelers and divers too.
A Penguin’s Paradise:
Boulders Beach, Cape Town
Here you’ll discover one of the the scenes that South Africa is most famous for - penguins on a beach. Boulders Beach is home to a colony of 3,000 jackass penguins that can be easily spotted waddling in and out of the water.
Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Well-known for it’s role in the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this picture perfect beach attracts thousands of visitors each day. The white-sandy shores are hugged by steep limestone cliffs. Coral reefs make it an excellent spot for snorkeling too.
A Dreamy Escape:
Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti
With the softest sands and calm waters, Bora Bora is the ideal destination for true beach lovers. Embrace the tourist spirit and feed the sharks, hunt for pearls or look through World War II memorabilia while your there.
Monday 16 January 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
Where’s the best place to escape the grind and remember that a whole world is still out there? A mountain. A beach. A Greek idyll. Only you know who you are and what suits you.
But we’ve got a decent idea. Actually, we have seven. What follows are seven trips for seven traveler types, all of whom deserve an adventure this year - and a friendly 2012 reminder to not forget the sunscreen!
1. The outdoorist: Mount Whitney, California, United States
Challenging, and accomplishable. Consider 4,421-meter Mount Whitney; the tallest peak in America’s lower 48 states, and reputedly the highest walk-up summit on the globe.
Not all make it to the top, but the vast majority come during the mountain’s short climbing window between June and August when the 18-kilometer Whitney Trail - the most accessible route up - isn’t caked in snow and ice.
What’s the payoff along the way? Glistening streams, wildflowers and waterfalls. Waiting at the top is an eternal view of California’s Owens Valley and of course, those equally eternal bragging rights.
2. The beach baron: Boracay, Philippines
The world is filled with ranked beaches, but one worth putting on the radar is Boracay, a resort-studded speck of an isle about 320 kilometers south of Manila, which placed second in 2011’s TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Beach Awards.
Less than 10 kilometers long, Boracay’s powdery shores are complemented by enough top resorts, full-service spas, kite-surfing rental shops and full-body beach massage touts to keep everyone happy.
Summer 2011 reports of a giant development involving four new hotels and additional tourism projects on Boracay, which will no doubt draw an even larger wave of beach aficionados. That makes 2012 the year to get there before they do!
3. The wildlife lover: Pantanal, Brazil
Pandas, whale sharks, gorillas, white rhinos. The odds of glimpsing any endangered species in the wild are shrinking fast. So are their natural habitats, with a few hopeful exceptions.
Take the Pantanal, southwestern Brazil’s vast tropical outback, which recently garnered a spot on CBS’s "60 Minutes" as one of the last remaining reliable places to spot giant anteaters, giant otters, hyacinth macaws and - one of the world’s most elusive and threatened charismatic mega-fauna - jaguars.
Your best chance of spotting one, or many, is likely in the Pantanal. “So far, we’ve had multiple jaguar sightings on every trip, including several indescribable ‘wow’ moments,” says Ged Caddick, a veteran naturalist and founder of Terra Incognita Ecotours, which runs a variety of wildlife journeys around the world.
Nearly half of the tour is based on a river bank at a Jaguar Research Camp in a remote state park where guests cruise up and down with their zoom lenses waiting for those "wow" moments!
4. The eternal honeymooner: Santorini, Greece
Is it a good time to be planning that dream honeymoon to Greece - a beautiful country in its third year of economic crisis and which is now on the brink of punishing debt restructure? “Greek tourism is actually not doing as badly as you might think,” The Guardian recently noted. This in spite of the fact that “according to credit ratings agencies, Greece is a worse economic bet than either Pakistan or Ecuador.”
Bottom line: if there’s a safe, romantic haven hiding out in any country this financially bungled, it has to be Greece’s eternal newlywed-magnet isle, Santorini. With stark volcanic cliffs and strings of whitewashed villages, the pride of the Cyclades may have actually been buoyed by the falling euro, with reports of “banner years” in 2010 and 2011 -- and promising signs in 2012.
Couples who are rightfully drawn to Santorini are a world apart from all that. They’re too busy escaping on cruises to the neighboring islet of Thirasia where a quiet cliff-top taverna has a glass of ouzo and plate of fava beans with their name on it. Or basking in hot mud springs on the nearby “Burnt Islands” of Palaia Kameni and Nea Kemeni. Or parking in the seaside town of Oia for one of the world’s most life-affirming sunsets, joined by other starry-eyed couples who haven’t encountered a business section in days.
5. The coffee whisperer: Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Savoring a sunrise and local joe in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains is the world’s most honest caffeine buzz. Blue Mountain Coffee - Jamaica’s magic bean - is commonly hailed the finest, scarcest premium coffee in the world! It can be tough to find a genuine cup of this full-bodied wunderbrew even in Jamaica, unless you go straight to its source in the island’s rugged east end - about as removed from Jamaica’s beach traffic as you can get.
The Blue Mountain Coffee crawl begins at Craighton Estate, a historic, 18-hectare plantation only 30 minutes' winding drive from Kingston. The tour begins with a cup of just-brewed 100 percent Blue Mountain Coffee on the estate’s grand Victorian balcony and continues with a trip through the property’s aromatic grounds.
The place to savor the bold Blue Mountains is Strawberry Hill, a mountain retreat with private luxury villas and gardens covered with coffee bushes, mango trees, bamboo and tropical flowers.
6. The cultural anthropologist: Pyongyang, North Korea (and beyond)
Yearning for a real getaway where you can form your own firsthand, sociopolitical opinion about how economic globalization affects industry and local communities? Taking a trip with Global Exchange is like hanging out in a National Geographic special.
The U.S.-based human rights organization leads hundreds of short-term “Reality Tours” around the world, all geared toward getting travelers in touch with the planet at the grassroots level. Enlightening trips to more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America explore a range of local topics from health and the environment to education and civil rights.
7. The big eater: Sardinia, Italy
“Agritourism” may sound like a new travel buzzword, but the concept has been big in Italy for decades - particularly in rolling country steeped in local, agrarian tradition, like Umbria, Tuscany and (our favorite, further out) Sardinia -- one of the country’s most rustic corners.
Hundreds of rural properties throughout Sardinia’s four provinces open their farmhouse doors to travelers craving an authentic taste of outer-Italian-isle-style farm life. Accommodations vary from simple farms in the Barbagia to Costa Smeralda agri-villas with vegetarian cuisine and relaxation classes. Agrarian activities run the gamut. Some farms offer horseback tours and guided hikes. Others operate more like moderately priced bed-and-breakfasts. Few hosts expect that their guests will actually be interested in putting in a day’s work behind the plow.
A handful of agritourism web sites list farms with links to homepages and online booking options all over Italy. Try Agritour and Agritalia. Regional agriturismo offices can provide further information.
Thursday 12 January 2012 | By Maria Boskovski |
CNN Go, Turner 2011. <CNNGO>
It’s not as if you need an excuse for travel… but if you do, here are the anniversaries, gatherings and essential destinations to put in your diary for the year. Your 2012 travel planning starts here.
1. Honour Scott’s Polar Centenary
British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole arrived on 17 January 1912, by which point they already knew they were beaten by Amundsen’s triumph on 14 December 1911. A century later, the Antarctic summer of 2011-12 will be a bumper one for visits to the frozen continent. Scott buffs should aim for Cambridge, England (home to the Polar Museum, part of the Scott Polar Research Institute) or his statue in London’s Waterloo Place. But the ultimate is to visit his frozen-in-time hut at Cape Evans on Ross Island, Antarctica.
The Scott Centenary concert tour featuring the City of London Sinfonia will tour England in February. See the Scott Polar Research Institute for details.
2. Follow Napoleon across Russia
Da da da da da da da da, daa daaa…BOOM! (That’s Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannon fire.) Yes, this year marks the 200th anniversary of 1812 – and Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia and the battles provoked by it. Head to Moscow, where the Battle of Borodino Panorama gives a vivid impression of the events of a key skirmish. Or go further north to St Petersburg’s Hermitage and Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps, which contain paintings and memorabilia from the campaign. This could also be the year to finally tackle Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace, set around the conflict – though you may need to set aside the entire year to get through it.
The 360-degree panorama of the Borodino battle – complete with sound effects – is at Kutuzovsky pr 38, Moscow.
3. Visit Namibia’s protected coast
Namibia is a special country, blessed with an abundance of easy-to-spot wildlife, beautiful desert scenery and vast, wide open spaces. This year you can visit the epic Namibian coastline in the knowledge that the entire Atlantic shore is now part of one of the world’s largest protected areas, encompassing four parks: the Sperregebiet National Park, Namib Naukluft Park, newly created Dorob National Park and the infamous Skeleton Coast protected area. Many areas, especially in the south, can be explored independently – though ideally with your own wheels – but getting into serious Skeleton Coast wilderness requires a charter flight and deep pockets.
Chameleon Safaris offers good-value safaris across Namibia, including the Skeleton Coast.
4. Go football crazy in Poland and Ukraine
This summer’s European Football Championship shines a light on two of Europe’s least appreciated destinations. Poland and Ukraine are providing four venues each, and the rewards for travelling fans are set to be huge. Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw, Poland’s host cities, frame a journey around that country, and you can tick off Krakow on the way to Europe’s best-kept secret, Lviv in Ukraine. Kiev, which is especially lovely in the summer, Kharkiv and football-mad Donetsk complete the set of Ukrainian host venues. Both countries offer some of the best-value travel in Europe, with easy transport links to ferry the continent’s supporters to and frommatches.
Get details about the venues and travel at UEFA.com.
5. Chase Australia’s Top End eclipse
Eclipse chasers have had a bountiful few years, pairing one of nature’s greatest shows with visits to Easter Island, Bhutan and Mongolia. This year’s total eclipse on 13 November crosses parts of the South Pacific, with the most significant landfall across Arnhem Land and Cape York in Australia’s Northern Territory and Queensland, respectively. This is wild territory, and access to many areas is restricted by both permit requirements and wet season transport difficulties. However, the remote Palmer River area, inland from Port Douglas, Queensland, sees less rainfall than coastal areas and looks set to be a key eclipse-chasers destination.
Camping, facilities and a gold rush museum are available at the Palmer River Roadhouse on the Mulligan Hwy.
6. Meet the Maid of Orleans on her 600th birthday
France’s greatest heroine was born 600 years ago this year, offering a great excuse to explore her former stamping ground. Joan of Arc was a teenage visionary and military hero who took the fight to the English in the Hundred Years War. Following her trail will lead travellers to some wonderful parts of France, from Orleans, where her boldness led to the lifting of a long siege, to the beautiful Reims Cathedral, where Charles VII was crowned King of France, having been inspired by her visions of his succession. Joan was tried in Rouen Castle and executed in the city’s Vieux Marche, where a modern church marks the location of her immolation.
In preparation, read Mark Twain’s fictional but illuminating Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.
7. Discover a new Middle East
The Arab Spring swept through the region in 2011, offering revolutions that were variously realised or repressed. Few countries in the Middle East and North Africa were unaffected, but the most significant change may be in Western perceptions of the region. Despite their troubled political systems, these countries are steeped in history and offer hospitality unrivalled anywhere else; they’re also are home to a young, energetic and ambitious population. Why not pay a visit to Tunis or Cairo – or any of the other cities that hit the headlines in 2011? You might be among the first to return, and you’ll definitely be warmly welcomed.
Keep an eye on the headlines for the opening date of the amazing new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, projected for some time in 2012.
8. Explore Maribor’s Old Town
Sharing the European Capital of Culture crown with Guimarães, Portugal is the unheralded Slovenian gem of Maribor. The plan is to use the year in the spotlight to increase the profile of Slovenia’s second-largest city, which is off the usual Ljubljana-Lake Bled-Triglav route through the country. Events are still being confirmed, but expect art, music and other festivals to accompany the well-established theatre, classical music and folklore performances. The real stars of the show will be Maribor’s delightful Old Town and imposing castle, combined with a laid-back air best sampled from a cafe in one of the city’s many delightful, diminutive squares.
Štajerc, a pub-restaurant at Vetrinjskaulica 30, is the place to head for if you’re in the mood for reasonably priced local dishes.
9. Play arcade classics at the Smithsonian
Parents, kids, geeks and gamers should rejoice and head for the US capital. The collection at DC’s Smithsonian American Art Museum has over 7000 works of art, but an exhibition this year proves this is no mere load of frames gathering dust. The Art of Video Games explores the evolution of arcade and computer games over 40 years, and promises to make almost everyone who visits feel nostalgic (and possibly ancient). Some 80 games will be featured through still images and video footage. Better yet, you warm up your fingers and then play Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst and World of Warcraft.
The exhibition will run from 16 March to 30 September. See the Smithsonian for more details about exhibitions.
10. Check out Korea’s Expo
Today’s descendants of World’s Fairs, expos are large public exhibitions organised around a particular theme and featuring stands representing individual countries (think World Showcase at Disney World’s Epcot). The modern versions fascinate as much for the ways that countries strive to portray themselves as for the exhibits themselves. Yeosu in Korea is staging EXPO 2012, with a theme of ‘Living Ocean and Coast’, and the port city is a fitting venue with its spectacular coastline. Inside the Expo, expect thought-provoking, futuristic displays and dramatically designed pavilions.
Expo 2012 will be held from 12 May to 12 August.
Top 10 things to do in 2012, Lonely Planet, 2011 <Lonely Planet/Antarctica>