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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Top Five Great Train Journeys for 2019



Starting in Australia, the Great Southern journeying between Adelaide and Brisbane will operate from 6 December 2019 – 21 January 2020. A 3D/2N itinerary from Adelaide to Brisbane, highlights will include exploring the Grampians, discovering the capital city of Canberra and enjoying a stunning beachside dining experience. On the return 4D/3N itinerary from Brisbane to Adelaide, travellers will also enjoy the beachside dining experience before exploring the iconic Hunter region and seeing the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road.

Across the ditch in New Zealand, the five-hour Coastal Pacific is back in the Great Train Journeys portfolio after a two-year suspension due to earthquake damages. A daily service running until 28 April 2019 between Christchurch and Picton via Kaikoura, travellers can then also easily connect to the TranzAlpine in Christchurch and the Northern Explorer via the Interislander service. Starting at AU$98 per person, passengers will be wowed by the rugged Kaikōura Coastline, Canterbury Plains, the marine wildlife thriving in the New Zealand waters and the country’s bush-clad mountains.

In South America, Tren Crucero is now available for booking. Travelling between the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quito and Guayaquil, highlights on the 4D/4N journey include the wild Pacific Coast, traversing the hair-raising but thoroughly scenic Devil’s Nose Pass, and marvelling at the Avenue of the Volcanoes in the Ecuadorian Andes. Starting at AU$2,559 per person, departures are Tuesday from Quito and Saturdays from Guayaquil.

Over in Switzerland, the Ultimate Great Train Tour of Switzerland has been specifically designed for the luxury and comfort seeker. Starting and ending in the art and culture capital of Basel where travellers can easily connect to their river cruises, the 13D/12N itinerary including hotel accommodation and breakfast will run from 1 April – 13 October 2019. Priced from AU$4,194 per person, highlights on this tour include the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express, the Gotthard Panoramic Express, the GoldenPass Line and an excursion to Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe.

Across the English Channel in the UK, travellers are reminded that the Belmond British Pullman offers a series of themed day journeys that perfectly complement any London based itinerary and also serve as an ideal introduction to the operator’s extensive collection of great train journeys. Starting at AU$610 per person travellers can choose from The Golden Age of Travel, Murder Mystery, Historic Bath and Valentine’s Day Lunch.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Memphis: Travel guides tip as a must-see in 2019


The home of blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll was recently named on the prestigious Frommer's list as one of the Best Places to Go in 2019, plus Home to Go listed Memphis as one of the best destinations in the USA for Millennials in 2019  and travel site Travel Lemming included the city in its Emerging Destinations 2019 list. 

Best known for its rich musical legacy and vibrant culinary scene, Memphis is a must visit and in 2019 the city will celebrate its bicentennial year - and that's a party not to miss!
To celebrate, we've put together a list of hot spots and events you need to see or do in Memphis during 2019: 

Memphis in May - bicentennial edition 
The month long festival which usually honours a specific foreign country every year through a variety of different events, is (for the very first time!) paying homage to Memphis at next year's festival. Honouring its home town as part to the bicentenary celebrations and its founding contributions to rock, soul and blues, Memphis in May will include the Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship Barbecue cooking contest and the Great American River Run. A regularly updated list of bicentennial events can be found here
 
Little known neighbourhoods
Take a trip through the less touristy parts of town to really experience Memphis. The historic neighbourhood of Cooper-Young is totally on-trend but also totally relaxed, making it the perfect place for tourists who want to explore like a local. Great food and drinks, plus a happening arts and music scene mean that you can easily spend a day (and night) exploring this hidden gem. For even more of an arts fix, head over to the up and coming district of Crosstown. You can also enjoy some hula-hooping, comedy, or nightly punk music shows.
 
Graceland
You can't travel to Memphis without visiting the home of The King, Elvis Presley, which has recently undergone a $45 million, 40 acre expansion. Spanning 200,000 square feet, the estate features interactive exhibits, an entertainment complex featuring new museums, restaurants, gift shops and more - you must tick it off your Memphis bucket list!
 
Memphis Music Hall of Fame
Located in the heart of Memphis, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame honours Memphis musicians for their lifetime achievements in music and those who changed the world of music as we know it. The museum and exhibition introduces guests to some of the greatest musicians of all time - each of whom are responsible for shaping modern music. 
 
Big River Crossing
Reaching almost a mile in length, the Big River Crossing is the longest public pedestrian bridge in the US. The scenic way stretches across the famous Mississippi River, creating ties to attractions throughout the Memphis, West Memphis and the delta region. As the connecting point of Main Street to Main Street, the 10-mile corridor includes pedestrian and bicycle ways, along with a Big River Trail System.
 
Mighty Lights
After exploring the Big River Crossing be sure to stick around in the evening for the Mighty Lights installations which illuminate the two bridges over the Mississippi River with a light show on the hour, every hour. Choose a bar along the water and watch the lights as the sun sets. 
 
From legendary BBQ to discerning distilleries
Along with its lively music culture, Memphis recently experienced a gastronomic growth spurt, welcoming a host of new restaurants - including BBQ joints that the state is world-famous for, plus breweries and spirit-makers including Old Dominick Distillery which celebrates the whiskeys of 1866 Memphis. 


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Alaska Highway road trip: 5 show-stoppers along the way



Aussie road trippers seeking the ultimate driving holiday can’t go past the renowned Alaska Highway in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The term ‘scenic drive’ doesn’t begin to describe the rugged beauty along this wilderness route, with snow-covered mountains, spruce forests, ancient glaciers and abundant wildlife making this a driving paradise.

As this iconic route winds through historic communities and soaring mountain ranges, you won’t want to miss the key photo opportunities along the way. Read on for five unmissable stop-offs on this unforgettable journey.

Sign Post Forest

As you cruise through Watson Lake, east of Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse, keep your eyes peeled for a road-side collection of more than 77,000 signs from around the world. This unique time capsule dates back to 1942 when US Soldier, Carl K. Lindley erected a sign marking the direction and distance to his hometown, Illinois. The trend caught on, with locals and visitors from across the globe continuing to add their own sign posts. You can BYO or make one at the Watson Lake Visitor Information Centre to contribute to this peculiar, colourful collection. If you’re travelling from late August to mid-April, you’re in the prime location to witness the mystical aurora borealis. During summer, head to the Northern Lights Centre, where you can experience the magic of the northern lights through some high-tech panoramic video and surround sound.

Carcross

Just 72 kilometres from Whitehorse, the historic town of Carcross is well worth a pit-stop. Check out some incredible First Nations’ artwork and stop for photos at the staggering totem poles towering overhead. A couple of kilometres outside the village, you’ll find the Carcross Desert, affectionately known as the world's smallest desert. 10,000 years ago, this was the bottom of a large glacial lake. Today, the sand dunes run to the shore of Bennett Lake, known for its beautiful beach covered in fine, white sand. Take a walk along the lake shores and discover the fascinating tales of Klondike gold stampeders who carved a treacherous trail on their way to Dawson City more than 120 years ago.



Whitehorse

It’s time to stretch your legs in the friendly town of Whitehorse. Stroll the Millennium Trail past the impressive Whitehorse dam and along the Yukon River to tour the regal S.S. Klondike sternwheeler, the last of its kind to operate on the river, now a National Historic Site. And don’t miss the Beringia Interpretive Centre, where you’ll meet the beasts that roamed Beringia before the last Ice Age, from mammoths and the giant short-faced bear, to the steppe bison, and the scimitar cat. Stop for lunch at one of the many funky cafés dotted along the main street, including Café Balzam, a creperie inspired by French cuisine based on locally produced fare.

Haines Junction

You’ll want to stay awake as you approach the friendly town of Haines Junction. We’re talking jaw-dropping panoramas of epic mountains that stretch beyond your windscreen to the horizon. Haines Junction, surrounded by the magnificent Saint Elias Mountains is the gateway to UNESCO site Kluane National Park and home to abundant wildlife, including the highest concentration of grizzly bears in North America. Check out the Da Kų Cultural Centre in the village and join a ‘campfire talk’ to learn more about the rich culture of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

Being half the size of Switzerland, Kluane National Park deserves more than a pit-stop to fully appreciate its splendour. Hundreds of hiking trails beckon, abundant lakes offer wonderful canoeing, and the Tatshenshini-Alsek river system, fed by ancient glaciers, is the ultimate white-water destination for thrill seekers.

Beaver Creek

The four-hour drive to Canada’s most westerly community of Beaver Creek is peppered with unmissable stops. Watch the mesmerising Dall sheep through the telescopes at the Tachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre in the Slim’s River Valley as they graze on the mountainside. Better still, climb the park range to Soldier’s Summit for a closer look.

Head on to Destruction Bay, a picturesque town that belies its name, with the glittering turquoise Kluane Lake and abundant wildlife. Cruise along the shores of the lake all the way to Burwash Landing where you can visit the Kluane Museum of Natural History, featuring no less than 70 species of Yukon wildlife and artefacts from the area’s Southern Tutchone people. A little further along, you’ll reach your final stop of Beaver Creek, on the Canada-US border, home to the White River First Nation for the past 10,000 years.

The good news is your road trip doesn’t have to end here. Follow the Klondike/Kluane Loop drive over the Top of the world Highway to Dawson City and then back to Whitehorse. One thing is certain: your unforgettable Alaska Highway road trip will create stories you’ll be sharing for years to come.

Getting to Yukon Territory

Air Canada has direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with connecting flights to Whitehorse and Dawson City available on Air Canada and Air North.

For more information about Yukon visit www.travelyukon.com.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Expert advice on family holidays



Experts at booking bespoke travel experiences for families, The Goldman Group outlines bucket list destinations for their own families in 2019

With so much insight and experience organising other people’s holidays for over 30 years, how do the Goldmans choose where to travel for their next family holiday?

Australian travellers are always keen to experience ‘the next big thing’ when it comes to travel, so what are the new trends for 2019? Multi-generational travel is increasingly popular, with extended families seeking immersive cultural experiences, exploring beyond the beaten path, and developing authentic connections with locals in far-flung places across the globe.

According to Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of The Goldman Group, new destinations which will top the charts for families in 2019 include Iceland; Galapagos Islands; Cuba; Antarctica; Botswana; and Mongolia.

From sleeping in a traditional yurt, catching the Northern Lights, or spotting a blue-footed booby, here’s a taste of where the Goldmans would love to go in 2019.



David Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Iceland

Visiting Snæfellsjökull National Park, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon and seeing the Northern Lights has long been on my bucket list, and I plan to tick it off in 2019. Iceland seems like a nature lovers paradise, from roadside waterfalls, to hidden hot springs, to camping by glaciers it has all the components of a healthy family trip where natural wonders, history and culture can be explored.

Where I would stay: Hotel Rangá offers fantastic views of the Northern Lights, as well as renowned continental suites, decorated and themed after the seven continents.



Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Mongolia

The Orkhon Valley is saturated with history, and home to many ancient states, making it a fantastic excursion for the entire family to enjoy. Recognised by UNESCO World Heritage as a cultural landscape, you can discover old Turkish Orkhon inscriptions from the 8th century, the Tuvkhun Monestry and the Erdene Zuu Monastery.

Where I would stay: Mongolian gers, or yurts, are the traditional nomadic style of housing in the country, allowing you to get closely acquainted with the way of life and culture of the Mongolian people. Manly locals still live in gers – even on the edges of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. You can find sprawling ger districts full of families who want to live in the classic style while still enjoying all the conveniences of life in the capital city.



Tom Goldman, Founder, The Goldman Group

Galapagos Islands

Arguably the most famous wildlife spotting destinations in the world, the Galapagos Islands is home to the most unique wildlife in the world - including 30,000 giant tortoises. From the opportunity to spy blue footed boobies, to a lagoon filled with pink flamingos, to snorkelling the reefs off San Cristobal Island - visiting the Galapagos Islands is a family adventure like no other.

Where I would stay: Red Mangrove Hotel, an eco-luxury oceanfront hotel located in the heart of Galapagos on Santa Cruz Island in the town of Puerto Ayora. You can share the deck with sea lions, marine iguanas and numerous species of seabirds and even Darwin’s finches.

As far as other destinations on the family’s buckets lists, Cuba, Antarctica and Botswana are the pick of the bunch.

“Destination diversity, and the creation of bespoke itineraries is a specialty of The Goldman Group. We receive requests for customers to explore far flung places around the globe on a daily basis, and are constantly inspired for our own family travels,” says Anthony Goldman. “The only problem is – sometimes it’s hard to choose!”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Top 2019 travel predictions


From cultural exchanges and eco activism, to virtual agents and a 'less is more' mentality – here are the biggest travel trends for next year

Leveraging its unique position as a travel and technology leader, Booking.com, a global leader in connecting travellers with incredible places to stay, has delved into its insights from over 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries, to reveal eight travel predictions for 2019.

Where to Travel in 2019 - the Annual Adventure Edition



From destinations on the rebound, to places where events and political changes are making it more exciting or accessible to visit, the adventure experts at G Adventures have mined their data and married it with customer insights, as well as topical world events, to forecast the 10 hottest spots to travel to in 2019.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Experience Traditional Markets in Korea


Exploring the loud hustle and bustle of the markets in Korea is a great way to get a taste of the local life. With some markets being up to 700 years old, they offer visitors a glimpse of the history and culture that has taken place to establish what they are now.

Through the labyrinth-like streets, the markets have everything from electronics, fresh produce to steaming stalls selling all kinds of food. These markets are tucked away throughout Seoul and gives visitors a chance to escape the modern city life and experience traditional Korea. So, here are few of the must-see markets when visiting.

Starting with the largest and oldest, Namdaemun market has over 10,000 stores and is constantly buzzing with locals and tourists alike. The market offers shoppers a comprehensive array of clothing, fabrics, jewellery, toys, housewares and appliances all at affordable prices. A crucial part of visiting any market would be trying out the famous street foods. At Namdaemum market you can visit two famous food alleys kalguksu alley (Korean handmade noodles) and galchijorim alley (braised hairtail fish). Both alleys are only a few metres long but specialise in their signature dish and is a popular option for lunch. The lively atmosphere and the warm generosity of these street vendors are guaranteed to leave you satisfied and full.

 

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Next up, Gwangjang market was established back in 1904 and is said to have over 65,000 people visiting each day. This market is most well-known for its large variety of food stalls and is a must-visit for any foodie travelling in Korea. All the dishes are freshly made with local produce and visitors can watch the action happen as the meals are prepared right in front of them. The market particularly prides itself on its famous bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), dumplings and bibimbap (mixed rice). But a trip to Gwangjang markets wouldn't be complete without trying its 'Mayak Gimbap' which translates to 'narcotic rice rolls'. Although this is not a literal translation it gains its title from its addictiveness and returning customers. For the brave-hearted, a walk down yukhoe alley (raw beef) is another must. Buchon yukoe is a Michelin recommended restaurant (Bib Gourmand 2018) that serves up fresh beef tartare topped with sliced pear, sesame oil and a raw egg.

 

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If the food wasn't enough reason to go, on the second floor you'll find one of the largest collection of fabrics in Asia and an opportunity to custom design your very own traditional Korean outfit known as Hanbok. This is a perfect way to bring a little bit of Korean culture back home with you from your trip. Moreover, palaces in Seoul give free entry to anyone wearing a Hanbok, so it might be a good idea to visit the nearby Changdeokgung Palace after exploring the markets.

 

Last but definitely not least, rapidly rising in popularity is Tongin market. Compared to Namdaemum and Gwangjang market it is smaller in size but has been drawing attention with its interesting 'Dosirak' Cafe (lunch box system). Here you can trade in your wons (Korean currency) for olden day Korean tokens and a plastic lunch tray, which will allow you to explore the markets like a buffet. 5,000 won (approx. $6 AUD) will get you 5 choices and is a convenient way to try a little bit of everything. A popular dish among locals is the "Gireum teokbokki"(oil rice cake), this is a dish that has been unique to Tongin market since the 1950s and is a must-try when visiting.

 

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To see a more comprehensive list of markets in Korea visit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SH/SH_EN_7_1_6_3.jsp

Email: visitkorea@knto.org.au 

Web: www.visitkorea.org.au

Web: www.visitkorea.org.au

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SeeKorea


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