Saturday, March 30, 2019

What's New in Ottawa's Food and Drink Scene

  • Throughout 2019, beloved cheesemakers St. Albert Cheese Co-operative celebrate 125 years of making delicious cheese—especially loved are the squeaky cheese curds used in poutine!
  • Speaking of poutine, Ottawa gives you two separate opportunities in spring to indulge your cravings. Enjoy French fries, gravy, and cheese curds at Poutinefest on Sparks Street(April 25-28) and Ottawa Poutinefest outside Ottawa City Hall (May 2-5).
  • New! Ottawa’s Chinatown neighbourhood welcomed Corner Peach in January 2019, a cool café during the day that transforms into a “fancy diner” at night.
  • New! The food hall concept has arrived in Ottawa with the launch of Queen St. Fare, which opened in early December 2018 on, yes, Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. Choose from Mexican, Vietnamese, pizzas, burgers, and plentiful vegetarian options—not to mention great local craft beer and talented mixologists. The venue— adjacent to a stop along the (coming-in-2019) Light Rail Transit system called the Confederation Line—has a capacity of 390 and hosts regular live music events.
  • The second annual Vegan Night Market takes place April 6 at Lansdowne.
  • New! OCCO Kitchen, which has delighted diners in Ottawa’s Orléans neighbourhood for years, opened a downtown location at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel in early 2019.
  • New! The Rabbit Hole hides its expansive stone-walled basement under a small street-level space on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! Popular chef Joe Thottungal opened a sister restaurant to Coconut Lagoon: Thaliserves platters that cover sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy flavours all on one plate, right in downtown Ottawa.
  • New! In Almonte, Ontario, a new distillery has opened that makes its products with milk byproducts, reducing waste and supporting local dairy farmers. Dairy Distillery’s vodka—called Vodkow, of course—is sold in clear glass milk bottles!
  • New! Brew Revolution joins the local craft brewery scene when it opens in the west-end suburb of Stittsville in spring 2019.
  • New! Kichesippi Brewing Company opens a new—much larger—tasting room in spring 2019.
  • A stalwart of the ByWard Market neighbourhood, the Fish Market Restaurant (along with its downstairs wine cellar Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro and its upstairs pub Coasters Seafood Grill) celebrates its 40th anniversary in April 2019.
  • New! An Ottawa coffee company is tackling the issue of unsafe drinking water on First Nations reserves in Canada. For every 40 bags of coffee sold, Birch Bark Coffee Company can provide one water filtration system. Great coffee for a great cause!

Friday, March 29, 2019

The wonder of the Marquesas

The archipelago of French Polynesia closest to the Equator, it is also the farthest from the island of Tahiti, at a distance of about 1,500 km (900 miles), it includes a dozen islands and islets of which only six are inhabited. 

Like all the islands in French Polynesia, the Marquesas are actually the top of gigantic submerged volcanoes, now inactive, risen from the bottom of the ocean between 1 and 6 million years BC. Geologically «young», these lands make all the roughness and size of their scenery with their powerful ridges, cliffs diving straight into the sea and their peaks rising sometimes to over 1,300 m in altitude. 

The settlement of the Marquesas by Polynesian sailors coming from the West dates back to around the year 1000. Once they were settled, the Marquesans developed a highly structured and complex civilization. It was not until 1595 and the brief landing of Spanish navigator and explorer Mendana that the first contact was established between Europeans and Polynesians. 

The early 19th century saw European settlements. then in 1842, France annexed the archipelago. The shock of colonization caused a dramatic decline in population, which only ended in the early 20th century. Today the Marquesas count about 8,300 inhabitants. The islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa are the most populated. The main activities are agriculture, fishing and tourism, which can enhance the important natural and cultural heritage of these islands.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Three wildlife encounters you can only have in Yukon, #Canada

Yukon Territory, in Canada’s north west, is one of the few natural havens on Earth where wildlife is not just surviving but thriving. Home to only 38,000 people, the population of moose, bears, caribou, and sheep (to name a few), far exceeds the human residents.

The number of Australian travellers, photographers and wildlife-lovers visiting Yukon is increasing each year, and with good reason. Read on for three close-encounters of the wild kind you won’t find anywhere else.

Yukon ‘Ice Bears’

Only in Yukon can you encounter grizzly bears in their sub-arctic wilderness home. The Ni’iinlii’njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park in the Territory’s far north is one of Canada’s most pristine wilderness areas, its limestone caves, salmon runs and grizzly bears undamaged by civilization and the passing of time.

Located in the Park, Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures offers once-in-a-lifetime grizzly bear excursions, with professional guides providing safe encounters with breathtaking grizzlies and other wildlife, starting with a two-hour helicopter ride from Dawson City, with incredible views of snow-covered mountains, rivers and arctic tundra.

Immerse yourself in the unique culture of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, dating back thousands of years, and allow the serenity of this tranquil piece of heaven permeate your being and make you wish you could stay forever.

Celebration of Swans

Canada’s leading bird festival swoops into Yukon Territory in April, as thousands of trumpeter and tundra swans come home to rest, feed and breed. Each year, bird-lovers flock to Marsh Lake, where the Swan Haven Interpretive Centre is the festival hub for this spectacular phenomenon.

Up to 13,000 swans fly over Whitehorse and the southern regions annually, signalling the end of winter, as they return to raise their young after spending the winter in the Canadian Pacific Coast region.

Yukon is a bird-lover’s paradise, home to more than 200 species of birds throughout the territory, including the Bald Eagle, Great Gray Owl, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Bufflehead, Northern Hawk Owl, Great Horned Owl, Boreal Owl, and Horned Lark.

In addition to Swan Haven, key places to observe birds in the Yukon include the Albert Creek Bird Observatory near Watson Lake, Teslin Lake Bird Observatory, and McIntyre Marsh Bird Observatory.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The whole of Yukon is a wildlife sanctuary; a place where the moose outnumber the humans two to one. The Territory boasts three national parks, six territorial parks and four Canadian Heritage Rivers, a haven for more than 165,000 caribou, 70,000 moose, 22,000 mountain sheep, 7,000 grizzly bears, 10,000 black bears and 250 species of birds.

You’re in with a great chance of spotting wildlife meandering alongside the road and on the hiking trails, but for a fail-safe way to encounter these magnificent creatures, head to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where 700 acres of lush green hills, marshes, steep cliffs and flat-lands, are the perfect ecosystem for 13 species of northern Canadian mammals. We’re talking bison, moose, mule, deer, woodland caribou, elk, mountain goats, Canada lynx, and foxes, to name a few.

Just 25 minutes from downtown Whitehorse, you can walk, ski, snowshoe or bike the five-kilometre viewing loop, or jump on a bus tour with a knowledgeable interpreter. However you choose to experience it, be prepared for wildlife encounters you’ll never forget.

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 North.

For more information about Yukon visit

Monday, March 25, 2019

Thunderstruck by the Zambezi

For most of us, the word Zambezi conjures up images of bygone adventurers returning from unspoilt wilderness with tales of derring-do. Thankfully, Zambia's most famous river remains much unchanged today, teeming with phenomenal wildlife and ripe for exploring.

One of the best bases from which to experience the mighty Zambezi in all its glory is Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma operated by luxury boutique safari company, Sanctuary Retreats. Named after Dr David Livingstone's faithful friends Sussi and Chuma, the property is built on a dramatic bend of river on the edge of Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in one of the most beautiful parts of the Zambezi, amidst Jackalberry trees and Phoenix palms, providing unrivalled views and exclusivity.

Reopening midway through last year after an extensive refurbishment, the lodge’s twelve luxurious Sussi treehouses, linked by elevated wooden walkways, offer a sophisticated take on modern safari life. Each one features stylish interiors such as local artworks, handcrafted rugs, and easy chairs dressed in a map print evoking the intrepid trails of the Lodge’s erstwhile namesakes – Sussi and Chuma, plus plenty of indulgent touches including freestanding baths, a fully stocked minibar and gym boxes for in-room workouts. Adding to the feeling of exclusivity, the riverfront terrace of each treehouse has also been redesigned to deliver guests with even greater privacy and shade.

Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma also offers two private houses, each with two bedrooms, its own dining area and deck with plunge pools, as well as a private chef and dedicated staff – perfect for families, multigenerational travellers, or those seeking the ultimate exclusive safari getaway.

Victoria Falls (Roderick Eime)
Of course, the biggest game in town is the world-famous Victoria Falls just a few kilometres downstream. To appreciate its full impact, the best time to visit is from February to June, directly after the region’s summer rains, when the Zambezi River is in full flood and you’ll see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at its greatest volume.

First described to Europe by Livingstone and known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders, for most visitors the Falls can be a sensory overload. The constant roar is accompanied by a cloud of brilliant spray, where the mile-wide Upper Zambezi falls 300 feet into the Lower Zambezi in an unforgettable natural showstopper.

The Falls are a spectacular sight from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, as the water pours over the edge, with rainbows constantly forming and collapsing in the tropical sunlight. Sussi & Chuma offers guests walking tours of the Falls through ebony groves and mopane forest bordering the River, but for a truly breath-taking bird's eye view, try a helicopter flight over the top.

Of course, the Zambezi has much to offer aside from Victoria Falls. A sunset cruise is a great way to spend a few hours on the river before drifting back to the lodge, a warm shower and delicious dinner. Sanctuary's boats are specially designed, with guides taking the boat through a series of Grade 2 rapids before finding a spot to beach for a break and a sunset cocktail. The combination of Zambezi spray on your face followed by a delicious cocktail while watching the sunset over the majestic Zambezi River makes for an unforgettable experience.

Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma also offers up plenty of safari drives and walking safari opportunities in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, where guests can follow in the footsteps of Livingstone – literally, as he first made his way across the ridge and beheld the Smoke that Thunders. As well as elephant, impala, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, zebra in large numbers and an exciting array of birds, guests may even be lucky enough to enjoy a rare sighting of the African Wild Dog that occasionally passes through the park.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Switzerland, a Land of World Record Breakers

Switzerland might be a small country that is roughly two-thirds the size of Tasmania, but this country is big on breaking world records. Here, Switzerland Tourism has rounded up 12 of the country's most amazing world-record breaking attractions.

1. World's Steepest Cogwheel Railway

With a 48-degree gradient, this cogwheel railway is one of the biggest attractions on Lake Lucerne. Ascending 1,635m from Alpnachstad (where the ferry stops), the railway travels 4,618m up to the fun park of Mt Pilatus. Operating between May and November the ride takes about 30 minutes passing through rugged rock faces and lush vegetation.

2. World's Longest Suspension Bridge

Stretching across 494m, the Charles Kuonen Bridge offers adrenaline seekers an unforgettable thrill. Connecting a hiking trail between Grachen and Zermatt, views from the bridge are equally thrilling, being set against the world's most recognisable mountain peak, the Matterhorn.

3. World's Longest Tunnel

With a long and legendary history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard Base Tunnel took 17 years to construct. The 57km tunnel runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2,300m. Apart from being an engineering feat, the Gotthard Base Tunnel also leads the way in ecological evolution being powered by hydroelectricity.

4. World's Oldest Covered Wooden Footbridge

Dating back to the 14th century and as part of the original fortifications, the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne was destroyed in a fire in 1993, but quickly restored back to its original form. A major highlight in Lucerne, the bridge is decorated with pictorial panels initially installed in the 17th century, depicting historical scenes of the city and country.

5. World's First Revolving Cable Car

Not far from Lucerne is the 3,062m high Mt Titlis, home to Europe's highest suspension bridge and the glacier chairlift 'Ice Flyer'. To get up there, one must take a thoroughly scenic 30-minute ride on the Titlis Rotair, the world's first revolving cable car travelling above the spectacular alpine landscape.

6. World's Highest Consumption of Chocolate

Given Switzerland is well known for its high-quality chocolate, it comes as no surprise that the Swiss enjoy indulging in their country's sweet treats, consuming an average of 8.8kg per person in 2017. Switzerland's most famous chocolate brands include Nestle, Lindt, and Toblerone.

7. World's Highest Density of Michelin-Starred Restaurants Per Capita

2019 recorded a total of 128 Michelin starred restaurants in Switzerland, resulting in the country having the most number of top-rated restaurants per capita. The latest Swiss restaurants that landed in the Michelin guide include focus in Vitznau and Pavillon in Zurich.

8. World's Longest downhill ski race 

Attracting an average of 30,000 spectators each year, the history of the Lauberhorn-Wengen FIS Alpine Ski World Cup dates back to 1930 and takes place every year in mid-January. With the downhill course stretching over 4.4km, run times are usually 2.5mins where top speeds reach about 160km/h.

9. World's Longest Staircase 

Located in the Bernese Alps, the pyramid-shaped mountain peak of Niesen overlooks Lake Thun in Interlaken from 2,362m asl. Ascending the peak can be done via a funicular, which departs every 30 minutes from 8am to 5pm, or by the impressive 11,674 steps.

10. World's Only Peak-to-Peak Suspension Bridge

Boasting spectacular views of more than 24 snow-capped peaks of at least 4,000m asl including the Eiger, Monch, the Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, and even Mont Blanc, the Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 is the world's first suspension footbridge linking two mountains peaks. To get there,

11. World's Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant

Holding the record of the oldest continuously opened vegetarian restaurant in the world, Haus Hiltl in Zurich has a history dating back to 1898. With a buffet offering more than 40 varieties of salads, an Indian buffet and fresh food juices, Hiltl is today a popular dining venue that is all about healthy indulgence.

12. World's Best Tennis Player

Apart from incredible natural assets, impressive engineering feats and talented chefs, Switzerland is also home to the world's best tennis player, Roger Federer, who was born Basel. The nation's art and architecture capital, Basel is located on the River Rhine and borders France and Germany.

See for for more information on travel in Switzerland.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Africa’s ‘Magical Beasts’ and where to find them.

African safaris are usually top of most people's bucket lists when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its myriad national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals.

With so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'magical beasts', the fabled 'Big Five' (lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo), remains the pinnacle wildlife experience. Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. Michael McCall from luxury safari specialist, Sanctuary Retreats, offers up his suggestions for where visitors to Africa are most likely to tick off their Big Five wish list.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

"The Serengeti is definitely at the top of my list. Not only is it a classic Tanzania destination, but it's also just one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

"Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighbouring Kenya, the Park is justifiably regarded as being one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees, literally, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the Park in search of food. And of course, with the herds of grazers, come the predators. I always tell guests one of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies, offering a really spectacular wildlife show.

"In terms of where to stay, Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp moves between three different locations across the year, which means guests can follow the migration as it travels across the Serengeti. Plus, we operate the permanent Sanctuary Kusini Camp where wildebeest congregate on the camp's doorstep every year.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

"Number two on my list is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right. The caldera's vast, steep walls loom over the valley below, and are what lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals inside it.

"With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, we recommend visiting in December, January, February or late June through to early October for the best game viewing opportunities. Our Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp is located right in the heart of the Park on the crater rim and is a fantastic place to catch all the action as it is home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

"With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, no list would be complete without the Okavango Delta. The Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is mix of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

"Covering almost a third of the entire Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, with plenty of forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, which all adds up to superb game viewing!

"Moremi is probably best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, often deliver even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Sanctuary Retreats operates three luxury camps in the Okavango Delta – Sanctuary Stanley's Camp. Sanctuary Baines' Camp, and Sanctuary Chief's Camp, all of which offer great game viewing experiences, and which can be either booked alone or in combination with each other.

Masai Mara, Kenya

"The final destination on my list is one of Africa's most famous and popular game parks, the Masai Mara – the Kenyan extension of the Serengeti. Many people consider Kenya the birthplace of safari, and there is no doubt the Park offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience the Big Five.

"The Great Migration usually passes through the Mara between July and October each year, which is when travellers can expect to see dramatic river crossings, where plenty of crocodiles lay in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

"Our flagship property, Sanctuary Olonana, is situated on a private stretch of the Mara River right in the heart of the reserve, the Masai Mara and is the ideal base from which to explore the Park, with a range of activities on offer including game drives, cultural visits, bush dinners, sun-downers, scenic flights and balloon rides."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Good On Ya Gippsland: new food destinations in rural Victoria

Recently touted as one of Australia's 10 Most Underrated Destinations, Gippsland continues to advance as Victoria's best-kept secret for a soul-and-stomach-nourishing weekend escape. Here are just three new venues which have opened since Christmas.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ten Must Visit Attractions in Seoul - plus 90 More

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Tourism Organisation announced the top "100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots" for 2019. Ten of these tourist spots are located in the heart of Seoul and brings together a mix of historical sites and new attractions that are rising in popularity. So for anyone who is planning a trip to Korea here are some locations to lock in your itinerary!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Small Packages: Tiny Homes to Stay in across New South Wales

by Marsha Rodram / Destination NSW

Holidaying in a unique dwelling has long been a travel trend from treehouses to yurts and glamping. In 2019 some of the hottest holiday stays are in tiny homes — cabins with a minimalist aesthetic that are small in size, but big on character.

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