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Monday, September 17, 2018

Five Tips to Enjoying Switzerland for First Timers


In order to help first time travellers to Switzerland make the most of their stay, Switzerland Tourism has shared five hot tips.

Use the Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass gives users unlimited access on all of country's public transportation including buses, trains and boats; up to 50% off mountain rail and cable ways and free access to more than 500 museums. Also, children under 16 years of age travel for free when accompanied by an adult using the pass.

One of the most incredible experiences one can have in Switzerland is to take in the sights via a panoramic train journey. For example, the Bernina Express goes from Chur to Tirano crossing 196 bridges and through 55 tunnels; the GoldenPass Line goes from Interlaken to Montreux; the Gotthard Panoramic Express links Lucerne with Ticino via a boat and train journey; and the Glacier Express is the world's slowest express train ride between Zermatt and St Moritz. Swiss Travel Passes come as e-tickets and can be purchased from www.myswitzerland.com/rail. 

Take a Hike!
The Swiss love their nature surrounds and all sorts of outdoor activities, especially hiking. On any given day, be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, there will be locals hiking along the endless trails around the mountains, lakes, hills and pastures. To really get a sense of this local hobby and appreciate the natural assets of the country, a 
hike or walk will expose first time visitors to some of the most spectacular sights of the country that may otherwise be missed. There is more than 65,000 kilometres of waymarked trails across the country catering to all levels waiting to be explored.

Visit a Museum
In a country two-thirds the size of Tasmania (yes, Switzerland is pretty small), it's home to more than 900 museums! That's one museum per every 7,500 inhabitants. Luckily for Swiss Travel Pass holders, more than half of these 
museums are free to enter. Unlike many museums around the world, most of the Swiss museums are interactive, featuring the latest high-tech innovations that help to better engage with and educate their visitors. From art, history and textiles to sports, transportation and technology, there is a museum for everything. The most visited museum in the country is the Swiss Museum of Transport located on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Castles can also be accessed using the Swiss Travel Pass.

Keep it Local
Switzerland has four distinct languages regions serving up equally distinct flavours - Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch; and even within these regions, dishes will vary between towns, cities and villages. That goes for cheeses and wines, too. The Emmental and Gruyeres cheeses, for example, come from two different language regions and feature very different textures and flavours. As with wines, most cantons produce their own wines, so accompanying any local traditional dish with some local drops will give one the full experience. Apart from these 
top restaurant picks, Taste my Swiss City, a series of foodie trails designed by locals, is the latest initiative that will suit the urban explorer.

Know When to Visit a Mountain
Visiting a mountain peak might be a must-do, but knowing when to go is key. The best time to ascend any mountain is early in the day preferably by mid-morning, before clouds form obstructing the views.

The highest mountain railway in Europe is the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 3,454m asl, accessible via Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg. Mt Titlis, home to Europe's longest suspension bridge and the country's largest igloo village (only available in winter) sits at 3,062m asl and is accessible via Lucerne and Engelberg on the world's first rotating cable car, the Titlis Rotair. And over in Zermatt, getting up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise which is home to Europe's highest cable car station at 3,883m asl takes 45mins in the cable car.

For more information on Switzerland, visit 
www.myswitzerland



Sunday, September 2, 2018

English Earl wrote off six Jaguars






David Ellis

CLASSIC car buffs in the UK are eagerly waiting to see what will be paid for an "ultra-rare" 1966 Jaguar E-type when it goes to auction in mid-October.

Because it is one of just three E-types to feature a unique "quad headlamp, shark gill bonnet" created by Abbey Panels that specialises in premium car body re-panelling for well-heeled bespoke customers, plus it also has a competition-capability engine and racing wheels as well.

And more bizarrely, it is the only remaining E-type of no fewer than seven owned by the Sixth Earl of Cawdor, who unbelievably crashed and wrote-off every one of the other six.

Which was such a good effort that His Lordship's daughter, Lady Liza Campbell wrote of it in her autobiography 'A Charmed Life: Growing up in Macbeth's Castle,' a book in which she told of living with her father in Scotland's Cawdor Castle, the centuries-old family seat of the Campbell's and which featured in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

And of how her father "fuelled by drink, drugs and extramarital affairs after being overwhelmed by the enormous responsibilities associated with owning and running Cawdor Castle," managed to write-off those six Jaguars - and yet miraculously survive all half-dozen prangs.

"Pa typically crashed at night, after dinner," she wrote. "His philosophy being that obeying a red light after midnight was a waste of precious time.

"And instead of spotting any correlation between drinking and the crashes, my father came to an altogether different conclusion: That E-types were rubbish. and after the seventh crash he took to driving Ferraris."

His family had that last E-type repaired after his death in 1992, and eventually sold it in 2003.

Now those circa-2003 buyers are putting it to sale again on October 17 through H&H Classics Auctions, with expectations that with its colourful history, it could fetch up to 50,000 British pounds (around AU$88,000.)

PHOTO CAPTION:

[] THE only remaining Jaguar E-Type of no fewer than seven owned by the late Sixth Earl of Cawdor - who crashed and wrote-off all other six - will go to auction on October 17. (Image: H&H Classic Auctions)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Popular Vegan locations around the world


TOP 5 COUNTRIES FOR TRAVELLING IF YOU'RE VEGAN

Veganism is growing in popularity, and if you're new to the dietary movement, it can be a scary prospect for when you're travelling.

Trying to find delicious, nutritious and easy vegan food can be a struggle at the best of times. Add in a totally different culture, new language and different cuisine and it can be enough to make anyone want to pack their passport away and stay at home.

Exodus Travels is passionate about exploring the world in a way you've never seen before – this means immersing into cultures and experiences that are true to the region you're discovering. Thankfully, a lot of countries have been borne on vegan and vegetarian fundamentals, which means travelling and exploring these regions is a breeze.

Here are our top vegan destinations:

INDIA

Even though all these spots are great for vegans, India takes out the number one spot with flying colours. With more than 500 million people (nearly half the population!) being vegetarian, it's no wonder the region is a bustling hotspot for vegetarian and vegan travelers. Get your fill of spicy rice dishes and mouthwatering curries, or snack away on dosas as you make your way through tiger safaris, Taj tours and cycling through Kerala. India's cuisine is naturally gluten-free and packed with lentils, chickpeas and rice. Which makes India easy and tasty for celiac travelers to indulge in the food scene.

Discover Highlights of Northern India – 9 days from $1,285

THAILAND

From quick street food to world-class restaurants, there are plenty of Thai vegan options for any budget. While Thai food abroad is very different to Thai food at home, you can still get wonderful options that are sure to whet the palate.  In Thailand the local language is your friend - ensure you learn the words 'jay' for vegan and 'mangarawirat' for vegetarian. Thai dishes like phad thai phak (fried noodles with vegetables) will keep you going between temple-hopping and jungle safaris.

Explore the north and south of Thailand – 14 days from $2,405

BALI

What is best known as a paradise for honeymooners, beach lovers and adventurers alike, Bali is also the home to some of the best vegan food you'll find abroad. The whole island has a very strong plant-based diet, so you'll find yourself in an abundance of scrambled tofu, hummus, smoothie bowls and tempeh at every turn. We're even seeing a trend of local chef-created, mouth-watering cashew cheese! Perfect with a chilled glass of rosé if we do say so ourselves.

Try our Bali Coast to Coast tour – 13 days from $2,195

COSTA RICA

Costa Ricans are known for their healthy, all-natural lifestyle. So it is no surprise that Costa Rica is a haven for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free eaters alike. Traditional dishes consist of rice, plantains, beans, fruit and veggies. This means that anyone and everyone can enjoy the local flavor. Costa Rica is a mecca for gut health gurus from around the world. You'll find plenty of restaurants specializing in a vast mix of cuisines, all vegan-friendly.

Enjoy your days surfing on iconic beaches, soaking in thermal baths or trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest. Then hit the local markets and restaurants worry-free.

Discover the natural highlights of Costa Rica – 8 days from $1,935



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Safari glamping comes to the Barossa



Roderick Eime

You've seen them in the high-end African safari camps and the remote Australian eco-outposts, but now you can enjoy a 'safari' glamping experience right in the middle of South Australia's Barossa Valley – albeit without the megafauna.

Discovery Parks – Barossa have just launched their own mini safari camp in a secluded section of their Tanunda park. The private enclave within the park contains 12 eco-friendly safari tents set 'outback style' among mature native redgums. These are no 'pole and peg' tents either. Steel framed and wrapped in galeproof tarpaulin, they are permanent, sturdy structures.

The central firepit is a natural meeting point in the common 'hub', adjacent a resort-style lap pool and undercover picnic and BBQ area with dedicated equipment.



When Vacations visited, we were quite likely the first guests in our tent, already pre-warmed with reverse cycle air conditioning against the brisk mid-winter weather. Inside there is a couch, occasional table and narrow sideboard. Meals are best enjoyed on the covered patio where there are folding director chairs and a sturdy wooden table.

There's a full hotel-style bathroom with quality amenities and a decent galley kitchen to prepare your own meals complete with microwave, fridge and all the utensils. At the moment the tents are without TVs (and may well stay that way) and are best suited to singles, twin share or couples. The expansive park has numerous quality accommodation options for families and those seeking more modest digs.

So while you're daydreaming about your African safari experience, whet your appetite at this authentic 'glampsite' just a short walk from Tanunda's main street.

For more information and to book visit www.discoveryparks.com.au or call 1800 356 801.

What’s for lunch?



Even in the Barossa Valley, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better lunch spot than Elli Beer’s new ‘the eatery’ located in her mum’s ‘The Farm’ on Pheasant Farm Road at Nuriootpa.

Opened last October, Elli has teamed with and renowned chef Tim Bourke, formerly of Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge, to create a bright new dining experience in what was the function centre.

Tim’s daily menu derives from his favoured charcoal grill and is open for lunchtimes only, 7 days a week. There’s a wood-fired oven on the decking turning out super pizzas too. Plus you can book a private dining experience for up to 24 guests with an ever-changing ‘Feed Me’ menu.

Get stuck in!

Pheasant Farm Road Nuriootpa 5355
Monday - Sunday: 12 pm - 3 pm
tel:+61885621902

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Brief history of Seattle


SEATTLE HISTORY:

FROM TALL TIMBER TO HIGH TECH

What might have happened if Seattle had retained the original name bestowed by its first pioneers, "New York - Alki?" Would we now be nicknamed "The Little Apple" instead of the "Emerald City?"

The little party of pioneers from Illinois who landed on Alki Point on a cold and rainy November 13, 1851 had thought to bestow lofty ambitions on their tiny community of log cabins when they named it after New York. They soon changed the name to Seattle, after the local Indian Chief Sealth, and moved it to its present location on the deep waters of Elliott Bay.

British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver had explored Puget Sound more than a half-century earlier when he sailed to its farthest reaches aboard the sloop H.M.S. Discovery. Giving just about everything in sight an English name (Mt. Rainier, for example), Vancouver honored many of his friends and paid many a political debt.

During the last half of the 19th century, the soggy little city on Puget Sound gradually grew beyond its tide flats waterfront and its mud streets to become a major port of call for ships plying the Pacific Coast. The surrounding hills and islands furnished thousands of shiploads of lumber for a growing San Francisco and the California gold mines. The term "skid road," meaning an unsavory part of town, originated in Seattle from the route (Yesler Way) down which logs were skidded from the hills to the waterfront.

Looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) from Second Ave.
The Occidental Hotel is on the right and beyond it, Yesler’s Mill with the smokestack.


South of the road, brothels and saloons thrived; the respectable part of town began north of the road. The Northern Pacific Railroad was completed to Tacoma in 1887, connecting Puget Sound to the East. The competing Great Northern Railroad arrived in Seattle five years later.

In 1889 a disastrous fire burned most of the city to the ground. Seizing the opportunity for urban renewal, city engineers raised downtown streets several feet above the high tide level, leaving intact store fronts below street level. Today's Underground Tour explores these old ruins.

The arrival of the steamer Portland in 1897 with a "ton of gold" from the Klondike signaled Seattle's metamorphosis from grubby little waterfront town to primary commercial, shipping and marketing center of the Pacific Northwest it is today. The city served as outfitter, ship builder and transshipment port for the thousands of prospectors and millions of tons of goods heading north to the gold rush.

Seattle hosted the first of several world's fairs held in the Pacific Northwest when the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition opened in 1909. Much of the present campus of the University of Washington is a legacy of that event.

During the next three decades, strikes, labor unrest and a strong union movement kept Seattle in the national news.

With the advent of World War II, Seattle boomed, as did most cities in the U.S. Puget Sound became a major naval base; tens of thousands of troops received their training at nearby Fort Lewis and shipped overseas from Seattle's waterfront. The Boeing Company, a small airplane manufacturer founded in 1910, grew to become the primary manufacturer of heavy bombers flown by the U.S. Army Air Force, the B-17 and B-29. The Museum of Flight, part of which is housed in the original Boeing factory building, traces this story.

Boeing figured prominently in the post-war era, introducing America's first passenger jet (the 707) to commercial aviation in 1959. By 1957 The Boeing Company and its suppliers accounted for nearly half of all the jobs in King County. In the 1960s the company gained its leadership as the world's leading manufacturer of commercial jet aircraft, a lead it still holds.

Famous monorail, built for the world's fair (R Eime)

The 1962 Seattle World's Fair signaled a renaissance in the Pacific Northwest that saw it emerge as a major tourist destination and one of the country's most livable cities. The economy changed as well. Forestry, fisheries and agriculture gradually declined in importance while computer software manufacturers, bio-medical industries, and aerospace came to dominate the economy. With its proximity to the Pacific Rim, extensive port facilities, high-tech and communications industries and educational institutions, Seattle has assumed the role of a primary participant in the trade and commerce with Asia that will lead the economy into the 21st century.

Supplied by Visit Seattle

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Great Migration - what you need to know



There is any number of amazing sights and attractions to see and do on an African safari, but witnessing the Great Migration is usually high on most travellers' wish lists.

And this is hardly a surprise. The Great Migration is undoubtedly one of Nature's most unforgettable spectacles: 1.5 million wildebeest accompanied by 200,000 or so zebras engaged in a never-ending journey, following the rains in a circular 1,200-mile route, through a wilderness that takes in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve.

For anyone thinking of undertaking an African safari to Tanzania or Kenya, a luxury boutique safari operator has put together a quick checklist of everything you need to know about the Great Migration to make you get the most out of your trip.

What is the Great Migration?

First of all, it's important to understand that the Great Migration is an on-going event, which doesn't ever really end. Basically, it's a circular grazing path determined by the availability of food. Literally, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra start in Tanzania's Serengeti in January where they give birth to their young. The grass is still short in this part of the Serengeti, making it safer for the new-borns to stay protected from lurking predators. As the rains end, the herds start to move westwards, following the rivers on their way to the Masai Mara in Kenya. In summer they finally arrive, crossing crocodile-infested rivers to get there. And in the late autumn and winter, the herds move back towards the Serengeti, chasing the rainy season, and the process begins again. In essence, it's a year-long search for food, water and safety, and there are countless opportunities for safari-goers to witness all the beauty and drama along the way.

The Wildlife

The major players on the Great Migration are undoubtedly the wildebeest, almost 1.5 million of them. And if you head out on safari in the first few months of the year, you'll be guaranteed to see an awful lot of them.

Travelling alongside the wildebeest are hundreds of thousands of zebra. And it turns out there's a very good reason for this: zebra eat the longer grasses leaving wildebeest the shorter grasses, which they prefer. Zebra are also helpful in remembering the course of the Migration, and keep a look out for hungry river predators. Wildebeest return the favour by employing their incredible sense of smell to locate water sources almost every day of the Migration. But of course, there's plenty other game to see as well including gazelles, elephants, lions, leopards and cheetah – all part of the migratory entourage.

So, if you go on safari during the Great Migration, as well as witnessing this incredible natural wonder, expect to see all of the animals typical to the African savannah.

The best way to see the Great Migration

One commonly held misconception is that all the wildebeests and zebras migrate together at the same time. Clearly given the huge numbers of creatures involved, the reality is quite different.

One of the best ways to see the Great Migration is from the safety of a safari vehicle. And depending on the time of year, expect to stop and watch as hundreds, if not thousands, of animals run across the road, spurred by a primal need to move and eat. But to fully appreciate the immense scale of the Migration it's hard to beat a hot air balloon ride at dawn across the Serengeti, with endless herds of migratory wildebeest and zebra spread out below as far as the eye can see.

Lodges and Camps

Another important element that can really elevate any safari experience is where you spend the night. So much more than just a place to lay your head, tented camps and lodges are an integral part of any safari. Stay at one of the remarkable properties located in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Tanzania and Kenya, which make an ideal base from which to explore the local wildlife and to observe the Great Migration at close range. One of these, Sanctuary Kichakani Migration Camp, is a special mobile-tented camp devoted entirely to the Great Migration, which moves as the herds move, transitioning from the Western to the Northern and finally the Southern part of the Serengeti throughout the year. This means that you won't miss anything, no matter what time of year you choose to travel.


Main pic: Shripal Daphtary @shripald 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Grab a mini-break in tropical Port Douglas





Don’t want to burn all your annual leave in one go? Head to tropical Port Douglas for a short refresher. It’s a breeze.

Words: Sonia Lal
Images: as supplied


The inflatable yellow raft bobs excitedly in the water beside me while my hand firmly grips the rope handle on the front, ensuring it won’t slip away and escape down the rapids. Just an hour ago I was stepping out of an airliner onto the hot Cairns tarmac. Now I am in a full body wetsuit knee-deep in the Mossman River of Port Douglas.

Our group of six are embarking on a river-drift snorkelling adventure in the Mossman River, situated beneath the Mossman Gorge. The freshwater river is so pure, our guides Glen and Will inform us, is so pure it can be drunk. In fact, they encourage it.

Mossman River drift snorkel

Zig-zagging down rapids and snorkelling when the water is calmer is how we spend the next three hours. Translucent fish the size of my thumb swim in large schools beneath the surface and large rocks cover the river bed.

When the water is tranquil our rafts transform into makeshift lounges and we sit atop them, our legs dangling over the edge as we let the current lead us down the river.

During these serene moments, Glen and Will relate the history of the vegetation surrounding the river. The trees, ferns, and other plant species, we’re told, date back to Gondwanaland and are believed to be around 300 million years old. With the pride in their voices and the knowledge they possess about the ecosystem, it’s clear no two other people could love the Mossman River as much as they do.

It’s as if we are floating through prehistoric times.

To the Outer Reef


Aqua Quest on the outer reef

The AquaQuest lurches in the swell as it makes its way towards the outer perimeter of the Great Barrier Reef. Many of us are sitting outside on the upper deck in the hope of warding off seasickness and the fresh air proves helpful for some..

The rocky two and a half hour journey across the Coral Sea comes to an end at the first dive site - St. Crispin’s - and any thoughts of seasickness are quickly forgotten as excitement fills us.

“All divers to the bottom deck please!”

That’s our call and all introductory divers, including me, make our way down to the bottom deck. The much-anticipated descent to the Great Barrier Reef is about to begin.

Our instructor, Kai, gives us an in-depth safety briefing and talks us through the use of our scuba equipment. Sundresses and board shorts are quickly swapped out for wetsuits, weight belts and tanks. I find my tank a bit heavier than expected, but what did I expect? This is my first scuba dive and we all wobble comically, laughing nervously as we attempt to get to our feet.

Diving underwater for the first time can be frightening and some our group get a bit panicky the second our heads go beneath the surface. After several practice goes, we’ve overcome the instinct to rush back to the surface and breathing underwater becomes slightly less terrifying. Kai assesses us individually and gives us the thumbs up (down actually, which means, ‘let’s dive’).


Diving on the outer reef with Divers Den

Initially, the water is murky, thanks to recent storms, and not much can be seen. However, at three metres and below visibility improves and we begin to see coral in pastel hues of green, yellow and purple. The coral isn’t as bright as you see in the brochures, but Kai says that this is actually a good sign because when coral is stressed it releases algae, which causes it to become brighter in colour. So, the slightly subdued colours we see indicate a healthy reef.

Tiny bright blue damselfish skirt past us while clownfish weave in and out of the coral and rock hollows. A large cod glides inches above the ocean floor and not far behind it is a wrasse, distinguishable by its trademark thick lips. Schools of zebra-striped surgeon fish flit by and disappear further down along the reef. The marine life of the Great Barrier Reef is on full display.

Once back in the boat we remove the heavy diving gear and Kai starts to tell the story of how this dive site got the nickname Gone Again. It is a homage to the American couple who went missing in 1998 in the very same waters we’d just emerged from. We turned to each, mouths agape, glad he hadn’t mentioned this before.

To market, to market

Port Douglas Markets License (Flickr user variationblogr)

On our third day in Port Douglas the sun had definitely come out to play and the temperature nudged 30 degrees. After a magnificent tropical breakfast at the Sheraton Mirage Hotel, it was time to visit the Port Douglas Markets.

These markets are renown for their wide variety of fresh produce and that is exactly what immediately greets us. Colourful stalls are filled with bargain-priced fresh fruits and vegetables like avocados at just $4 a bag as well as more exotic foods like flavoured coconut chips, vanilla bean and cacao ice-cream, and pomegranate teas - all there for anyone with slightly more adventurous taste buds.

Food, however, isn’t the only feature of the markets. Stalls displaying all sorts of peculiar trinkets and salves like ‘magic’ crystals, crocodile facial oil, handmade ukuleles, pom-pom earrings, conical rainbow candles and silver turtle rings are there to tempt eclectic tastes.

When the adventure is done, spending some relaxing time at the markets is the perfect way to wind down a wondrous and thrill-packed weekend in Port Douglas. Easy does it.


FACT BOX

All these activities and more can be booked at:
www.visitportdouglasdaintree.com
or phone 07 4099 4588

Shortlink: https://rodei.me/TPDD

TAGS: Great Barrier Reef Drive #GBRDrive | Tropical North Queensland @tropicalnorthqueensland
#exploreTNQ | Queensland @visitqueensland #thisisqueensland | Australia @Australia
#seeaustralia
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