This revolutionary insurance proves you’re never too old to travel
Expensive travel insurance needn’t signal the end of your vagabond days, thanks to COTA Insurance to whom age is but a number.
*This article has been created in partnership with our sponsor, COTA insurance*
Does travelling catch up with you? At 91 years young, Patricia Grove asked herself that very question. But after recently completing her 75th cruise, there are no signs of Mrs Grove packing up her suitcase for good. That’s not to say things aren’t a little tougher for senior travellers – particularly when it comes to travel insurance.
Often many older Australians, despite being fit and well, are declined travel insurance just because of their age, while those who are approved for travel insurance face high premiums and restrictions. For some, the cost of travel insurance determines whether they can afford to continue to travel overseas.
“I wouldn’t step outside of Australia without travel insurance; things can happen anywhere,” Mrs Grove says, which is why she is a loyal customer of COTA Insurance, a not-for-profit that specialises in affordable travel insurance for Australians who are over 50.
[caption id="attachment_43410" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Admiring a world wonder[/caption]
“We want all Australians to be able to travel, regardless of their age. That’s why COTA started in insurance in the first place – older people were being declined insurance, primarily because of their age,” says Daryl Bateman, Chief Executive Officer of COTA Insurance. “We worked with underwriters to address that, so that we have no age limits under our single trip travel policies. This has allowed thousands to travel, knowing they are protected.”
“I’ve had two occasions where I’ve had to call on COTA while overseas,” recalls Mrs Grove. One of these occasions was in Singapore – on the day Mrs Grove was due to board a Princess Cruises ship. While waiting for the transfer to the port, Mrs Grove took a fall and cut her knee badly. She had to be taken to hospital and was given multiple stitches, but this didn’t mark the end of her journey, nor did it break the bank.
“The ship waited for us for 45 minutes!” Mrs Grove exclaimed. “When we arrived, there was a wheelchair and officers and nurses, and the doctor on board looked at it every day. It would have cost a mint!” But thanks to COTA, Mrs Grove says she never had a moment where she worried.
“COTA really have proved to me that they’re the way to go – I have confidence in them and they’re less expensive. It couldn’t be easier.” With no age limits for single trip policies, and a simple phone process for those with existing medical conditions, COTA Insurance is the perfect choice for older Australians with wanderlust.
COTA Insurance is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s. Visit cota.com.au for a PDS to see if it’s right for you.
10 ways to do a digital detox in Switzerland
With isolated retreats, the best picnic spots in the world and heart-thumping activities among the forested slopes of its many spectacular peaks, exploring the Swiss Alps in summer is the ideal way to refresh one’s mind and body.
*The article has been created in partnership with our sponsor, Switzerland Tourism*
Taking an enforced break from our devices doesn’t mean we need to journey to some remote corner of the Earth until the signal drops out.
We just have to put ourselves somewhere so beguiling it holds our attention, and do things while we’re there that keep us so focused we forget about everything else or so relaxed we don’t care about anything else. Switzerland in the summertime is that place. (Warning: some activities listed here are as addictive as social media.)
1. Watch cows come down from the alps adorned with blooms
On the last Sunday in September every year a festive procession of beauties wearing fresh blooms wend their way down from the alpine pastures where they have been sunning themselves all summer.
Accompanied by their proud farmers and a chorus of chiming cow bells, the herd enters the village of Charmey with yodellers, alpine horn blowers and flag wavers providing the entertainment and markets selling regional arts, crafts and food.
[caption id="attachment_43397" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Walk the high Alps for some draw-dropping scenery[/caption]
2. Gaze at a waterfall or two (or 72)
Seeing 20,000 litres per second of glacier meltwater thundering through the interiors of a mountain makes the Trümmelbach Falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley a sight to behold.
Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls are actually easy to access – there are even lifts. And don’t miss the Staubbach Falls either; you take an easy hiking tour from Lauterbrunnen to view some of the 72 waterfalls in the region.
3. Sleep in an alpine hut
A quaint wooden hut surrounded by a pristine alpine landscape, the solitude only broken by the sound of birdsong: it’s the stuff that Swiss holiday dreams are made of.
[caption id="attachment_43398" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Stay in your very own mountain hut[/caption]
No television, no broadband, some can’t even be reached by car, Switzerland’s alpine pastures are dotted with huts that offer up pastimes from hiking and wildlife watching to revelling in the restive quiet. Huts can be easily booked; go to alp.holidaybooking.ch and pick your piece of pastoral paradise.
4. Hit the trail
The 4.5-kilometre Jochpass Trail in Engelberg spoils riders with its sheer beauty, as they cruise past mountain lakes, gently flowing streams and majestic glaciers. Designed to cater to beginners and experienced bikers alike, the 440 metres of descent start at Trübsee mountain station and takes in curves, bumps and rollers. It’s accessible from June to October.
5. See eye to eye with an ibex
On the Niederhorn Ridge, with the awe-inspiring sight of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains nearby, it is the gentle meandering of the impressively horned ibex that will capture your attention.
[caption id="attachment_43401" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Don't leave without photographing an ibex[/caption]
It is possible to get up close to these furry alpine residents on a wildlife tour with a passionate guide, armed only with binoculars and a camera and spurred on by a sense of adventure. Sir David Attenborough eat your heart out.
6. Walk the vineyards of Lavaux
Wine regions don’t come much more stunning than the UNESCO-listed vineyard terraces of Lavaux on the banks of Lake Geneva. Walks here take in uniform rows of vines and historic towns, with the still waters of the lake and the mountains that fringe it stretching across the horizon.
Once you’ve finished the 10.4-kilometre walk (it should take you about four hours), head to Chexbres and cool off in a lakeside pool with a glass of the region’s delightful white wine in hand.
7. Go for a dip in the Rhine
Swimming in the mighty Rhine, one the most famous rivers in the world, is an experience not to be missed. And it’s actually easy with a Wickelfisch swim bag; invented in Basel, the starting point for your swim, the bag is shaped like a fish and allows you to keep your clothes and valuables dry while you float effortlessly downstream on the current past the beautiful architecture of this city.
[caption id="attachment_43402" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Mighty rivers of glacier meltwater roar through green pastures come summer[/caption]
8. Eat you way from farm to farm
Bike route 44 through the Bernese Jura region is understandably celebrated as much for its stunning alpine vistas and pristine nature as it is for the 50 ‘Métairien’ or farm restaurants that present ample opportunity to sample delicious local food and produce prepared and served up by the folk who are lucky enough to call this place home. Try the buttery, crisp rösti for a real treat.
9. Try fondue with a view
It is impossible to visit Switzerland and not eat fondue, and one of the best places to sample the dishes is the ‘fondue trail’ from Gstaad to Saanenland.
The region is known for the variety and quality of cheeses produced here, some of which go into making the famous hot and gooey dipping sauce.
You can take everything you need to have a fondue picnic in the mountain air with a fondue backpack from the Schönrieder dairy, containing fondue mix, a fondue pan, burner, forks and bread. Easy and cheesy!
10. City SUP and sunbake
In Zurich stay in a hotel that loans out bicycles, like 25hours Hotel Langstrasse (25hours-hotels.com), and cycle to Lake Zurich for a stand-up paddle with SUPSwiss (supswiss.ch).
Afterwards ride to one of the city’s historic open-air public baths on the river Limmat.
Frauenbad is women-only and Flussbad is men-only. Nudity isn’t compulsory but stretch out in the afternoon sun without a top or a care and get that book finished.
To learn more, visit myswitzerland.com
Jazz, soul and sights: promises of a walking tour through Harlem
From Morningside Heights to a walking tour through Harlem, Upper Manhattan marches to the beat of its own drum, writes Kristie Hayden.
It’s no secret that one of the best modes for discovering New York City is by foot. All senses are alive as you see the faces of the city up close, feel the lay of the land, hear the many levels of its song and taste the local cuisine.
To explore the urban neighbourhoods with a New York native not only puts the story of the place in context, it leaves you with a greater appreciation for the cosmopolitan city that so clearly exists in all tenses; past, present and future.
A recent documentary about Bruno Mars trotting the blocks of Harlem to meet and jam with locals inspired me to visit this working class community, albeit with zero musical talent. While Bruno’s day ended with a free concert at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre, mine gave me the lowdown of these colourful streets thanks to my walking guide. Shawn went beyond the cookie-cutter tour experience to immerse me in the story that shaped the pointy end of an otherwise affluent New York borough.
[caption id="attachment_42795" align="alignleft" width="670"] The Apollo Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in the US[/caption]
Far from the busyness south of Central Park, Harlem life feels slower, more suburban and more communal.
In the early 19th century, more than half of New York’s population was foreign-born. Churches sought to unify communities, finding common ground between cultures and politics with gospel. In the early 20th century, St. Philip's Episcopal Church on West 134th Street became one of the first of Harlem’s churches to purposefully attract African-Americans to its congregation.
[caption id="attachment_42799" align="alignleft" width="1275"] Traffic under Riverside Drive Viaduct, HarlemStrivers’ Row, formally designated the St. Nicholas Historic District, is a leafy neighbourhood on 138th and 139th Streets. The Neo-Italian and Georgian townhouses sit back to back in rows and are adorned with elegant rod-iron gates and, unusually for New York, rear laneways, courtyards and spacious parking. First populated at the turn of the 20th century, the neighbourhood was a white enclave for many years however, since the 1920s, young black professionals, lured largely by the gospel community and Harlem’s affordability, have owned the elegant houses.[/caption]
Next, the historic Astor Row, on West 130th Street, reveals 28 semi-detached row houses dating back to 1883. Flanked by verdant trees and colourful gardens, the neighbourhood was neglected for much of the 20th century. In 1981, the houses were designated a New York City landmark and the community raised money to restore their facades, their rotting wooden porches and their utilities. In 1992, Ella Fitzgerald performed a benefit at Radio City Music Hall to help fund the restoration.
Harlem’s western edge, bordered by the Hudson River, is home to Columbia College in Morningside Heights and neighbouring public City College in Hamilton Heights. This is the academic corner of Manhattan’s north.
Founded as King’s College in 1754, Columbia College is one of eight distinguished Ivy League colleges in the eastern United States. While their heritage buildings are blanketed in ivy, the universities’ cultures exude academic excellence and, often, social elitism. As we wandered past the original Columbia library, I imagined Barack Obama throwing his hat in the air after graduation. I also considered the first women to graduate, as 1983 saw Columbia become the last Ivy League school to admit women 229 years after its founding. And another important note, the cafeteria served the best latte I’d had since landing at JFK.
[caption id="attachment_42796" align="alignleft" width="670"] CCNY is the first and oldest campus of the New York City public university systemDown the road, City College, established in 1847 as The Free Academy, aimed to provide access to children of immigrants and the working class based solely on academic merit. The school’s first president exclaimed, “The experiment is to be tried, whether the children of the people, the children of the whole people, can be educated; and whether an institution of the highest grade, can be successfully controlled by the popular will, not by the privileged few." In 1907, the college moved to its current location in the heart of Harlem. Once dubbed the poor man’s Harvard, the school has produced 10 Nobel Prize winners. A successful democratic ‘experiment’ to say the least.[/caption]
Built almost entirely from Manhattan schist rock and set on 36 tree-lined acres, the Neo-Gothic city campus is one of the most unique properties in New York. Schist, the most prevalent bedrock in Manhattan, has a glittering appearance caused by flecks of white mica within the rock. Due to its strength, naturally occurring schist anchors New York’s highest sky scrapers.
During Bill Clinton’s presidential tenure from 1993 to 2001, his administration was a great supporter of Harlem. In 2008, the Clinton Foundation, whose office remained in Harlem until 2011, provided grants to attract businesses to the area, building on Clinton’s long-term commitment to help the community to achieve greater levels of progress and prosperity. The Harlem Restaurant Program sought to revitalise the hospitality industry, attract more tourism and improve the quality of life for its residents.
Today, the restaurant scene is a thriving illustration of Harlem’s multicultural heritage. Many restaurant precincts across the neighbourhoods give off a new-generation vibe thanks to affordability for young entrepreneurs to set up shop.
Famous restaurants like the Red Rooster in one of Harlem’s liveliest neighbourhoods, and those along 116th Street’s Restaurant Row, have become drawcards for tourists from across the globe in recent years. Yet Shawn draws me to lesser-known establishments. Lenox Fish Market and BLVD Bistro NY, on Malcolm X Boulevard will have you eating soul food like a local. And Accra, on Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard epitomises West African cuisine.
[caption id="attachment_42794" align="alignleft" width="1500"] The urban historic apartment buildings are a staple of the Harlem neighborhood[/caption]
Bill’s Place on 133rd Street, dubbed Speakeasy Row. An intimate club launched by Harlem native and legendary saxophonist Bill Saxton.
Ginny’s Supper Club and MIST Harlem for live music and performances and Ashford & Simpson's for open mic nights.
Amateur Night at the Apollo to see the stars of tomorrow.
Harlem is located on the northern end of the New York borough of Manhattan, approximately 30 kilometres north-west of John F Kennedy International Airport.
For walking tours of Harlem, visit www.realnewyorktours.com.
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