Hotel review: The Lindis, New Zealand
The Lindis is an incredibly remote yet refined high country lodging experience in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island. Appropriately named after the picturesque alpine roadway, the Lindis Pass, you pass through when driving north from Queenstown, the lodge can be found deep in the heart of the Ahuriri Valley on a 240-hectare sheep and cattle station, Ben Avon.   It is this dramatic setting that makes it the perfect place to enjoy complete stillness. Details The Lindis Luxury Lodge Where: 1490 Birchwood Road, Ahuriri Valley New Zealand. Contact: +64 3 976 1589 First impressions The sheep are merino (used for their wool, not their meat) and hundreds, if not thousands (4500 live on the station), play host as you drive the 15-kilometre dirt road into the property before reaching the dramatic iron gates that guide you to the hotel.   Taking two years to build, a design of wood, glass and steel, blends seamlessly into the valley with its roofline mimicking the natural undulations of the surrounding mountainscape. With some of the darkest and clearest skies in the world, stargazing at The Lindis is extraordinary. Here, you can choose to do everything or nothing at all. With an impressive line-up of activities, including fly fishing on one of the world’s best stretches of water for doing so (listed as top five in the world), you won’t be bored (unless of course you want to be).   Horse riding, hiking, and e-biking through the valley and into the alpine mountains is also on offer. And then of course there is the hot tub, sitting alone in the middle of the valley, with nothing or no one else around, this is one of the best places for a soak I have ever seen. The Lindis is currently working on some more accommodation that will be rolled out later in 2019 - individual glass pods, buried deep in the mountains. They will surely be incredible; definitely a reason to return again soon. [caption id="attachment_49283" align="alignnone" width="600"] Lose yourself in the vast, open spaces[/caption] The suites With only five suites at The Lindis, each with its own exceptional view out over the Ahuriri Valley, the accommodation experience is an intimate one. Choose between two Master Suites, and three Lodge Suites.   The Master Suites command a larger and more private space at either end of the building, and are definitely worth the extra splurge. With a private sitting area, both indoors and outdoors, a large bath tub, and a double-sided gas fire place - these suites offer both luxury and privacy, and the perfect platform from which to enjoy the quiet and calm of the valley. The mini bar, full of local drinks and snacks, is complimentary during your stay. [caption id="attachment_49285" align="alignnone" width="600"] With only five suites at The Lindis, every view is a good one[/caption] [caption id="attachment_49286" align="alignnone" width="600"] Step into your dramatic bathroom[/caption] The food and wine Head chef Cesare Stella and sous chef Aurelio Stella (Cesare’s son) hail from Italy, but now call New Zealand home. With light streaming into the Great Hall, from where all dining takes place, this is a lovely space to enjoy their daily-changing menu which showcases local and seasonal produce from their very own kitchen garden, as well as their Italian heritage.   Cesare kindly took us on a tour of his garden one sunny morning; his passion for quality produce was inspiring. New Zealand wines are paired with the meals each evening, and hand-selected world class wines are available for purchase from an impressive cellar. The activities The property is situated on one of the best stretches of water for fly fishing in the world, the internationally renowned Ahuriri River. The season runs from November to April, so if you are lucky to be staying at The Lindis over that period you can wander down to the river, running right in front of the lodge, to give it a shot yourself.   Guests will also be able to watch local anglers from the lodge as they fish for trout over the summer months. Another highly recommended activity is the gliding experience. With one of the world’s best soaring environments right on their doorstep, the dramatic landscape is best enjoyed from the air.   Flights around nearby Mt Cook or even Milford Sound are also possible. We loved taking out The Lindis’s e-bikes (sounds lazy I know!) to better explore the valley. Andy, the activities manager, dropped us off at the end of Birchwood Road, about 22 kilometres from the lodge, and we then rode back from there – a stunning ride along the braided river. Horse trekking is also possible with 16 horses in The Lindis’s stable.   Taking in the high country farm land, through native New Zealand beech forest and sub alpine herb fields, this is another spectacular way to enjoy Ben Avon station and the surrounding Ahuriri Valley. Lastly, don’t leave without having a soak in the spectacular wooden hot tub which sits happily on its own in the middle of the valley. It is very beautiful here. [caption id="attachment_49284" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take in the high country farm land[/caption] The IT Verdict The ultimate getaway for a remote and pristine wilderness experience.   Score: 4/5   We rated: The architecture; the comfortable beds; the delicious and seasonal Italian-inspired cuisine; the hot tub; the biking; and the stars.   We’d change: We would remove the TVs, who needs a television when you have the valley to look at by day, and the stars to look at by night?   Notes: Rooms start from $2000 per night, and inclusive of tax, breakfast, dinner. We recommend splurging a little bit more and booking one of the Master Suites.   Remember: It pays to be aware of the remote nature of this experience. The Lindis strongly recommends taking out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your stay. There is no mobile phone reception, but wi-fi is of course provided.
The ultimate Gunung Mulu National Park travel guide
Where in the world can you witness life so diverse in form and colour that it could have come from the pen of some hallucinating science fiction author? Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysia’s Bornean state of Sarawak, is renowned for its near limitless variety of insects, glowing fungi, bizarre bird life, striking frogs and lizards, and seemingly random additions like a giant porcupine.   Its rich animal and plant life have made it the subject of many an Attenborough-voiced documentary, the most recent being Netflix’s Our Planet, which showcased its unique carnivorous pitcher plants.   Throw in some of the world’s biggest caves and you can see why it’s made it onto the World Heritage list. Journey here to go right into the heart of Borneo and the natural world at its most marvellous, weird and wonderful best. When to go To get a feel for the size of its enormous caves and inspect the bizarre insects and reptiles that call it home, you need to take on some of Gunung Mulu's world-class hiking trails. The best time to do this is during the dry season from July to September, when the paths won't be as muddy and it means you can stay a little drier - this is a rainforest after all. This period also represents peak season, so you'll have to book your accommodation and any tours you want to do well in advance. Getting there Fly to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur (most major carriers fly here) before catching a domestic flight to Miri. From this small city in Sarawak, the Malaysian portion of Borneo, you can take a 30-minute flight to Gunung Mulu with the Malaysian Airlines subsidiary MASwings, which runs two flights a day to the national park. Staying there Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa For a comfortable 4-star stay, a great option is the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa for around $190 a night. This would be our choice for a way to relax and rest your legs after a long day in the park. It's also just three kilometres from the airport and the entrance to the park. Benarat Lodge A decent budget option would be Benarat LodgeBenarat Lodge for around $80 a night, where you’ll enjoy a different breakfast each morning to fuel up for your day exploring Gunung Mulu National Park. Fees and permits You’ll have to pay a Sarawak Government National Park Entry Fee RM10 per person (about $3.50) for each day that you enter the park. It’s a good idea to book ahead if you want to do a multi-day tour to the Pinnacles for instance; tour packages range in price from RM40 ($13.90) to over RM500 ($173) per person for a three-day guided trek. Must-see sights Canopy Skywalk At 480 metres long, this claims to be the longest tree-hung skywalk in the world, and what a place for it, suspended high up in the rainforest with views of rivers below. Book a guide to learn about the plants that cling to the trees up in the canopy, and have a macro lens ready for insects. [caption id="attachment_49278" align="alignnone" width="600"] The canopy skywalk: don't look down[/caption] Paku Waterfall A muddy, two-hour trail setting off from the park’s headquarters rewards walkers with the sight of Paku Waterfall, which emerges from dense jungle to cascade down a sloping cliff. The natural swimming pool below offers relief from the humidity before the trek back. Explore the caves Most people come to Gunung Mulu to visit its caves, which represent some of the biggest underground networks in the world. Deer Cave is a vast cavern that holds the impressive sight of the Garden of Eden, a sinkhole in the cave that’s allowed light to stream in and a rainforest to flourish beneath.   After that head to Lang Cave nearby to see sleeping bats up close. Clearwater Cave (the biggest in Southeast Asia, pictured) and the Cave of the Winds are found on the same walk (see map) and contain a beautiful clear stream, and impressive stalactites respectively. Watch the bat exodus There’s a sight to behold in Gunung Mulu so impressive that the parks authority set up bleachers for visitors to be able to witness it in comfort. Millions of bats pouring out of Deer Cave at dusk create spectacular, flowing ribbons of black mist twirling a path over the rainforest.   There are about 12 species of bat that live in the cave that form this mass exodus. Head to the Bat Observatory between 5 and 6.30pm to catch them heading out for the night and keep an eye out for hawks picking them off, an early evening snack for the birds. [caption id="attachment_49273" align="alignnone" width="600"] Swarm of bats leaving the caves in Gunung Mulu National Park[/caption] Hiking trails Pinnacles trail Another highlight that cannot be missed are the Pinnacles (pictured main), a series of limestone karsts that rise to sheer, knife-like points towering above the forest, rising to 45 metres in places. It’s a three-day walk to reach them. Mulu Summit trail Climb to the summit of the mountain that lends the park its name, a strenuous four-day hike. Staying in camps along the way, you’ll be accompanied by a World Heritage guide to gain a real understanding of the forest. Headhunters’ trail Tracing an old tribal route through the park, the Headhunters’ Trail takes two days but is relatively undemanding; head here to do the Pitcher Plant Trail to walk among the carnivorous plants that rely on animals to survive. Animal spotting Where to start? There are few places on the planet that can boast the variety and density of wildlife that you will be able to spot at Gunung Mulu National Park. Bornean Keeled Green Pit Viper There are countless vibrant reptiles in Gunung Mulu, but this striking green-and-yellow viper surely stands out among them. It will be hard to pick out among the leaves of the forest, so it’s best to try and spot one with the help of a guide; plus being venomous you wouldn’t want to step on it… let the guide go first. [caption id="attachment_49276" align="alignnone" width="600"] These vipers do their best to camouflage among the forest[/caption] Malayan Sun bear The smallest bear in the world, the Malayan Sun bear is also known as the honey bear owing to its love of honeycomb that it forages for using a ridiculously long tongue. Unfortunately loss of habitat and the bears’ capture for the harvesting of bile for traditional medicines are a threat to its survival. Bornean tarsier A night tour of Gunung Mulu will be required to spot this tiny 12- to 15-centimeter-long primate. At night they forage on the floor and up in the low undergrowth for insects. A tidy creature, it has dedicated grooming claws and a tail strong enough to support its weight so it can be ‘hands-free’. Rhinoceros hornbill The first question you’re asking is ‘what is the horn of the rhinoceros hornbill for?’ It acts as a large resonating chamber to amplify its haunting call. It’s a surprisingly big bird at nearly a metre in length and it has a balletic, falling aerial dance that it enacts as part of a mating ritual. You’ll want to have your zoom lens attached.  
How To Avoid Bali Belly
Everything you need to know about Bali belly
The dreaded Bali belly is a common affliction for travellers to Indonesia: here’s what it is, how to avoid it and what to do if you pick it up. While Bali is a perennially popular destination for Australians, with 1.18 million of us travelling to Indonesia in 2017, there are some health risks to consider. One of these is the common malady, Bali belly. What is Bali belly? Bali belly is essentially all the symptoms of gastro, but with a quick onset and varying degrees of misery. Typically, symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, muscular aches, headaches, diarrhoea and cold/hot flushes.   It can leave you stuck in the bathroom rather than enjoying your Bali holiday, and it shows no discrimination in who it strikes, though diabetics and IBS sufferers are more susceptible. Symptoms usually strike within two to five hours of contamination. This can occur through drinking local water (even brushing your teeth in the sink rather than using bottled water is a risk) or eating food that hasn't been fully washed in filtered water. How can I avoid it? It can be tempting to eat at the nearest restaurant when you arrive late or you’re jetlagged after a flight, but better safe than sorry. Try to go to the more popular dining venues and if you have any doubts at all, avoid fish, chicken or meat dishes. Generally, eating in venues that are more popular and reputed is going to decrease the likelihood of exposure to Bali belly.   If you don’t typically eat highly spicy food, be aware this can upset your stomach and make you more vulnerable to belly aches and diarrhoea. Perhaps save your adventurous spirit for your activities rather than your dinner.   Make sure the water you are served has been filtered or bottled, and any fruit and vegetables are fresh and have been washed in filtered or bottled water.   Avoid ice in your drinks as it may not be filtered.   Avoid street vendors and any food served on plates that haven't been washed and dried in boiling water and detergent.   Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after eating.   Avoid buying fruit that can’t be peeled. Fruits such as bananas, watermelons and rockmelons can all be peeled and are thus more trustworthy than fruits that may have been washed and exposed to E. coli bacteria before purchase.   Avoid raw or rare-cooked meats or fish.   Avoid buffet food that has been unrefrigerated, exposed to the sun or touched by hands other than yours.   Drink bottled water, use bottled water to brush your teeth and avoid ingesting water in the shower. What can I do if it strikes? Your poor belly will be in turmoil, so don’t make matters any more unpleasant by eating spicy, rich food, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, and eating fruit or fermented foods. All of these foods are likely to cause further bloating, dehydration, diarrhoea or digestive turmoil generally.   Headaches, nausea and fever are all potential symptoms, though you may suffer none or all of these depending on the particular viciousness of the strain you pick up.   In Canggu, the hotel I stayed at had a ready stock of basic medications such as Panadol and diarrhoea prevention, and they also offered to modify the breakfast menu so that I was served plain porridge (purely white rice and water) without dairy, sugar or flavourings. If your accommodation isn’t able to assist with ready-to-hand medication, you can always offer to pay them to go to a pharmacy and collect Panadol and belly settling medication for you. This is the best avenue to take if you are only experiencing light to mild symptoms and you don’t have a fever.   If you have a fever, where your temperature is clearly up and your skin is warm to the touch, you feel fatigued and you are experiencing cold and hot flushes, then go to the doctor. Hopefully, you have been conscientious enough to organise travel and medical insurance that covers doctor visits. My particular travel insurance had a $100 excess. My treatment costs, in addition to the medication, amounted to $150. I was reimbursed $50 by my insurance upon submitting a copy of my receipt and doctor’s certificate.   The doctor will take your temperature, ask about your symptoms, check your heart rate and blood pressure and prescribe accordingly. If it’s a fever with a belly ache and headache, then likely you’ll be prescribed a course of antibiotics alongside painkillers and hydration solution. I was offered a multivitamin IV drip, but this is expensive and I responded quickly to the antibiotics without necessitating an IV. This is a personal call.   Opting to have a doctor attend your hotel typically has a $80–$100 surcharge, so if someone can take you there or you’re up to walking, do that.   The best foods to opt for while you’re experiencing symptoms and as you are recovering are basic vegetable broths or soups, plain potatoes (boiled or steamed), bananas, sorbets or natural gelato (vanilla, banana or strawberry are ideal rather than rich, high-sugar varieties), coconut water (great for replenishing electrolytes), plain rice and plain porridge (oats and water, or rice and water).   Ultimately, stay hydrated no matter how horrible your belly feels. If you end up dehydrated, you’ll only feel worse and risk prolonging aches, nausea and digestive disruption. If your symptoms don’t alleviate after a day or so, go directly to a doctor rather than putting on a brave face. Check your travel insurance and medical insurance policies before you go on holiday, and if it’s too late, check them before you go to the doctor and know what you’ll be eligible to claim.   When you return to Australia, see a doctor if you experience any further symptoms to ensure you haven’t been misdiagnosed and for your own peace of mind.   Now for the fun stuff! Read our ultimate guide to travelling Bali and start planning.
How to spend 48 hours in Chiang Mai
Thailand’s unofficial second city is a stark contrast to bustling Bangkok, but while this less frenetic city’s charm may lie in its unhurried vibe, its creative and culinary scenes are booming. Megan Arkinstall spends TWO DAYS exploring cool, calm and collected Chiang Mai. DAY ONE 8am Start your day on the right foot with a coffee from Akha Ama Coffee La Fattoria, located in Chiang Mai’s Old City. Set up by Lee Ayu in 2010, this social enterprise was created to help his Akha hilltribe community sell their coffee beans at a fair price.   Sourced straight from the hilltribe’s farms, Akha Ama’s (Ama means ‘mother’ in the Akha language) the single-origin beans are roasted, brewed and served in three locations around the city. [caption id="attachment_48907" align="alignnone" width="600"] Start your day off right with a coffee from Akha Ama Coffee La Fattoria[/caption] 9am With more than 300 temples (wats) in Chiang Mai, temple hopping may seem like an overwhelming task. Thankfully the Old City, which is easily navigable at just one-square-mile in size, is home to some great examples.   Absolute must-sees include the 14th-century Wat Phra Singh, one of the finest examples of Lanna-style architecture resplendent in teak carvings and gold; and the 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, which houses a revered standing Buddha, giant reclining Buddha, and formerly enshrined Thailand’s all-important Emerald Buddha. Also within walking distance is Wat Phan Tao, constructed entirely of teak; Wat Chiang Man, the city’s oldest wat; and the Three Kings Monument. 11am Khao Soi, the famous curry noodle dish of the north, is so good at Grandma’s Khao Soi it often sells out before 1pm, so we recommend you hightail it here mid-morning. Located between Wat Rajamontean and Wat Khuan Khama, the nondescript shop can be easily overlooked, so keep your eyes peeled.   Served with chicken, pork or beef, topped with crispy noodles and accompanied by lime and chillies, the broth is rich and deliciously spicy. [caption id="attachment_48910" align="alignnone" width="600"] Behold, Khao Soi: the famous curry noodle dish of the north[/caption] 2pm Beat the afternoon heat for a couple of hours and retreat to Fah Lanna Spa. Located in a quiet street in the northern part of the Old City, it has 25 treatment rooms set around a central leafy tropical garden featuring a wooden walkway and several ponds.   Try Tok Sen massage, a style that is unique to Chiang Mai based on ancient Lanna wisdom. It aims to clear blocked energy using a wooden tool, similar to a hammer and chisel, to ease muscle tension through physical and sound vibration. [caption id="attachment_48908" align="alignnone" width="600"] Beat the afternoon heat for a couple of hours and retreat to Fah Lanna Spa[/caption] 4pm On the eastern side of the Mae Ping River is the riverfront neighbourhood of Wat Ket. Sweet-toothed travellers will love family-owned boutique bakery Forest Bake, which is housed in an adorable petite log cabin. Here you can pick up fresh bread made from natural wild yeast and hand-kneaded dough, as well as cakes and desserts that look as good as they taste.   If you’re a tea lover, be sure to stop at the oh-so-pretty Vieng Joom on Teahouse, which offers up to 50 varieties of tea from all over the world to enjoy in house or take home. 6pm Stop in for an early dinner at Woo Cafe, which serves a Thai fusion cuisine in the most blooming beautiful setting (the space is literally filled with flowers) and also houses an art gallery and lifestyle shop.   The Riverside Bar & Restaurant is also just down the road and is a popular spot to enjoy a cocktail on the river with live music every night. [caption id="attachment_48912" align="alignnone" width="600"] Woo Cafe is literally filled with flowers[/caption] 8pm Retreat back to 137 Pillars House, also located in Wat Ket. Housed in the historic 125-year-old Baan Borneo, the former northern headquarters for the East Borneo Trading Company, the homestead was lovingly restored from a crumbling ruin to a luxury 30-suite boutique hotel.   The original teak beauty oozes old-world charm and each spacious room has a private balcony overlooking the tranquil gardens. [caption id="attachment_48906" align="alignnone" width="600"] Retreat back to the tranquil 137 Pillars House, located in Wat Ket[/caption] DAY TWO 7am Start your day at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the country’s most sacred temples. Tucked away in the mountains north-west of the Old City, the 14th-century wat offers panoramic views of Chiang Mai at 1056 metres above sea level and is reached via a dragon-shaped Naga staircase (309 steps). 10.30am Back down to Earth, Nimmanhaemin Road (or Nimman, as it is commonly known) is a trendy area with a heap of hipster-style cafes, premium shops and art galleries.   Your mid-morning coffee choices are endless – try the minimal, all-white Barisotel by The Baristro; Ristr8to known for its mind-blowing latte art; or the industrial-cool Graph at shopping and cultural centre One Nimman where you’ll also find a collection of designer boutiques. [caption id="attachment_48909" align="alignnone" width="600"] You'll find industrial-cool Graph at shopping and cultural centre One Nimman[/caption] 12.30pm Think Park is located at the northern end of Nimmanhaemin Road and is an open-air lifestyle space with restaurants, cafes and shops; there’s often live music and festivals held here throughout the year.   There are plenty of places to lunch in the Nimman area, but a popular pick is Rustic and Blue, an eclectic cafe with a farm-to-table ethos. The menu features hearty Western-style dishes including vegan options, as well as artisanal bread, homemade seasonal jam, homemade ice-cream and more. [caption id="attachment_48911" align="alignnone" width="600"] Rustic and Blue is the eclectic cafe with a farm-to-table ethos[/caption] 2pm If you’re an arts and crafts buff, be sure to make your way to Bo Sang Handicraft Centre on San Kamphaeng Road, around 10 kilometres south-east of the Old City. Along this road you’ll find a plethora of workshops and showrooms selling the likes of pottery, silverware, sculptures, jewellery, wooden carvings, paper parasols and silk products. 4pm Take the time to visit MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, a converted warehouse with a striking mirrored facade, also located in the San Kamphaeng area. It features one family’s private collection of contemporary Thai art, as well as temporary exhibitions in a range of disciplines. 6.30pm It’s time to hit the night markets – if not for the bargain souvenirs, then for the lively atmosphere, cheap street food and pretty, colourful lanterns hanging from the trees. The stalls stretch on for two blocks, selling everything from silk to handbags to traditional Thai bites such as sai oua (northern Thai sausage), aab (spicy salad) and sticky rice. 9.30pm After a busy day of shopping and eating, head to the cosy surrounds of Jack Bain’s Bar (back at 137 Pillars House) to relax over a cocktail before calling it a day. Try the signature Aged Teak, with malt whisky, red vermouth and grapefruit juice, served alongside charred cinnamon sticks.
The best travel experiences to have in your 50s
If 50 is the new 40 then it follows that the destination birthday celebration now belongs to the quinquagenarian too. Here, a few suggestions on where to go to celebrate your semi-centenary. Bali What it says about you The good times just keep rolling What to do With well-priced flights and a multitude of accommodation options, you can decide to go small and luxurious with that special someone (try Alila Villas Uluwatu with its luxurious private pool villas and stunning sunset pavilion for Champagne supping) or hire the biggest villa you can find (browse Bali Villa Escapes or Bali Villas) for a party for the ages. Make a wish Organise a traditional sky lantern ceremony to bring the celebrations to a spectacular end. [caption id="attachment_33814" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Stunning views of the Bali surf.[/caption] The Himalayas What it says about you You’re not letting another birthday slow you down What to do One for the adventurous semi-centenarians, heading to The Himalayas (which are most accessible in Nepal, India and Bhutan) means you literally get to celebrate your big day on top of the world. If you have spent a good part of your life hiking you can attempt a climb, or you could just indulge in the peace and remove of the destinations. Make a wish Attend morning puja at a Buddhist monastery and request a prayer be made in your name. [caption id="attachment_22283" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Valley on the way from Monjo to Namche Bazaar in the Himalayas.[/caption] New York City What it says about you Sleep is for 60-year-olds! What to do If the aim of the birthday game is to be spoilt, then the Big Apple is going to do just that with choice: award-winning shows, endless bars and restaurants, shopping to make your head spin, world-class museums and special occasion experiences that just keep on coming. Make a wish Have breakfast at Tiffany’s by booking a table at the Blue Box Cafe in Tiffany’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, and then head downstairs for a spot of present shopping. [caption id="attachment_31952" align="alignnone" width="584"] New York[/caption] Italy What it says about you Only the best will do What to do Where do we start? Eat, drink and be merry would be our best advice, and given Italy’s culinary reputation, winemaking prowess and stunning beaches/islands/countryside/historic sights, it’s a definite can do, from taking an after-hours tour of the Sistine Chapel to sipping Chianti over a long lunch in the Tuscan wine region of the same name. Make a wish Hire a villa – try Tuscany (of course), Sicily, Umbria or the Amalfi Coast – and live the dolce vita for a while. [caption id="attachment_25749" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Towering palazzi sits along the beach of Camogli in Italy.[/caption] Antarctica What it says about you Good things come to those who wait What to do With every cruise company worth its salt launching luxury expedition ships into this awe-inspiring destination (Silversea, Lindblad Expeditions and Crystal Cruises to name a few), finding the perfect option is easy. What all have in common though is the once-in-a-lifetime access they offer to the world’s last real frontier, a wintery wonderland of breathtaking scenery and wildlife. Make a wish Book on Scenic and you can see Antarctica from above by helicopter and below via submarine! [caption id="attachment_47592" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Exploring Antarctica is an experience like no other.[/caption] Japan What it says about you Old meets new is right up your alley What to do Stay in a traditional inn, or ryokan – an essential shortcut to experiencing Japanese culture at its most charming and hospitable. As for food, from a tempting tempura bar in an old Kyoto geisha district to bustling markets and barbecue joints in the ‘nation’s kitchen’, Osaka, there's plenty to choose from here. Make a wish Atop the mountain at Izunokuni Panorama Park , you can not only gaze across an incredible vista that stretches from bay to hills to forests to the star of the show, Mt Fuji. [caption id="attachment_48361" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Sunrise over Mt Fuji and Numazu fish market (photo: Jac Taylor)[/caption] Marrakesh What it says about you You're ready to feel seduced by Morocco’s ‘Jewel of the South’ What to do Morocco’s fabled ‘Rose City’ is a mesmerising metropolis fringed by rolling desert, oasis-like palmeries and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.   Undoubtedly one of the most mesmerising cities in the world, filled with sights, scents and colour, work your way through its fascinating neighbourhoods, past its breathtaking architecture, sampling its culinary wonders and discovering its must-do attractions. Make a wish Secure yourself a spot on the terrace of Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier as the sun begins to set. Order a pot of Moroccan mint tea (a sweet amber-coloured tea made with fresh mint and sugar) and sit back to watch the open-air theatre unfold in the famous square below. [caption id="attachment_47536" align="alignnone" width="1500"] The Ben Youssef Madrasa was once the largest Islamic college in Morocco and remains one of the finest examples of Arabic architecture in the country[/caption] Malta What it says about you You're a trendsetter What to do Malta, the underrated gem of the Mediterranean, is a hub of history, culture and pristine waters.   From its tiny UNESCO World Heritage capital of Valletta and time-warped hilltop city of Mdina to its traditional fishing villages, natural wonders and prehistoric temples, this small island nation is a microcosm of all Europe’s best bits. Make a wish Just a boat ride from the seaside resort of Sliema on Malta (the archipelago’s main island) is the small island of Comino. Here, you’ll find the Blue Lagoon – well worth a trip for its crystal clear, turquoise waters. [caption id="attachment_47159" align="alignnone" width="600"] Summer in Malta[/caption]
The best and brightest hotel openings around the world
The latest and greatest hotels, resorts and unique stays to check into and check out right now. Gorgeous George, Cape Town Housed over two heritage Cape Town buildings (one Edwardian, the other dating to the 1920s), Gorgeous George definitely lives up to its bold moniker, with each of its 20 rooms and 12 suites exuding a sophisticated industrial chic vibe (thanks to the use of concrete and steel) softened with African influences, Delft-inspired ceramics and a colour palette of blues, whites and greens.   There’s a restaurant, bar and sexy rooftop pool terrace. [caption id="attachment_48875" align="alignnone" width="600"] Gorgeous George definitely lives up to its bold moniker[/caption] Market Street, Edinburgh Sandwiched between historic buildings in Edinburgh’s Old Town, Market Street’s sleek Brutalist facade (rendered in milky sandstone) instantly sets it apart within its surroundings.   Inside it’s more of the same: sleek interiors (designed by FG Stijl) with modernist furniture scattered throughout the 98 rooms and public areas including a Champagne lounge. The whole thing is tied back to its location with the unexpected use of traditional Scottish tartan. [caption id="attachment_48877" align="alignnone" width="600"] You'll fine Market Street sandwiched between historic buildings in Edinburgh’s Old Town[/caption] The One Palácio da Anunciada, Lisbon Retrofitted into a 16th-century palace in the heart of Lisbon, each of The One Palácio da Anunciada’s 83 rooms and suites marries modern interiors with pretty flourishes of colour and texture. The light, elegant aesthetic also pervades its restaurant and bars; sitting under the ornate ceilings in the signature Condes Ericeira Restaurant (below) is worth the stay alone. [caption id="attachment_48878" align="alignnone" width="600"] Expect modern interiors with pretty flourishes of colour and texture[/caption] Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London Originally opened in 1902 (as the Hyde Park Hotel), the grand Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London’s well-heeled Knightsbridge district has reopened after a multi-million-pound renovation (and a headline-making blaze that broke out in June 2018 just one week after the completion of works).   The interiors have been luxuriously reimagined by designer Joyce Wang, with a subtle Asian influence running throughout. Every one of its 141 rooms and 40 jaw-dropping suites have been given a facelift, as have its restaurants and bars including the light and pretty Rosebery. [caption id="attachment_48876" align="alignnone" width="600"] Designer Joyce Wang heroes a subtle Asian influence running throughout[/caption] Kāmana Lakehouse, Queenstown, New Zealand Kāmana Lakehouse is the latest addition to Queenstown’s hotel offering. [caption id="attachment_47314" align="alignleft" width="600"] The beauty of the Kamana Lakehouse[/caption] Located high above Wakatipu Lake, the boutique property’s 73 rooms feature contemporary design (inspired by the Kāmana bird and its natural habitat) and luxe amenities, while the Living Space provides guests with a convivial social space complete with fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows with views to the lake and the surrounding mountains. LUX North Male Atoll, Maldives With bright jolts of colour that pop against the endless blue of sky and sea, LUX* North Male Atoll in the Maldives sets itself apart from other properties in this paradise. [caption id="attachment_47313" align="alignleft" width="600"] Walk the jetty at the new Lux Maldives[/caption] Its 67 two-storey residences sit on the beach or over water, each boasting a rooftop area, private pool and butler-style host. There are numerous restaurants, one overseen by the Maldives’ only Peruvian chef, Beach Rouge with its pool-club vibe, and an over-lagoon wellness spa. Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong Reflecting Phuket’s unique history and culture through its decor and guest experiences, the 180 spacious and vibrant rooms of Hotel Indigo mimic the area’s tropical location and buzzy nightlife. [caption id="attachment_47310" align="alignleft" width="600"] Take in the views at The Cloud rooftop swimming pool[/caption] There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre, authentic local dining experiences and a Muay Thai boxing ring with professional trainer on site. Four Seasons Bengaluru In the Indian city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), Four Seasons has installed the 230-room Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru and Four Seasons Private Residences into the hospitality, retail and corporate Embassy ONE development. [caption id="attachment_47309" align="alignleft" width="600"] Outside the Four Seasons[/caption] Conveniently located 30 minutes from the airport and well connected to the CBD, the sleek hotel features a selection of dining options, a pool, lush botanic gardens and spa. Iraph Sui, Okinawa Located in Japan’s unique tropical paradise, the luxurious rooms of this boutique property all have balconies overlooking white-sand beaches, with several boasting private pools. Plus the spa incorporates local Okinawan ingredients. [caption id="attachment_47311" align="alignleft" width="600"] The pool at the Iraph Sui[/caption] Tengile River Lodge, South Africa Luxury safari and experiential travel company andBeyond has recently opened the brand new Tengile River Lodge, a luxurious lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and boy is it magical. The nine-suite lodge offers a high level of exclusivity and sense of tranquillity with a contemporary bush design. Each of the suites features a private deck with a swimming pool, an outdoor lounge and a master bedroom that opens out onto a luxurious bathroom with an outdoor shower and views over the river. Built with an extremely light footprint, using sustainable construction materials and an environmentally friendly design, the lodge has also been cleverly positioned on a bend of the Sand River, so that each suite is nestled in the tree line along the riverfront and boasts a magnificent view out over the Sand River, an area inhabited by a world-renowned diversity of wildlife. The elegant design concept is based around blending luxury with the natural landscape and bringing the outdoors inside, drawing inspiration from the textures of the surrounding bush. Pullman Luang Prabang, Laos This new five-star resort is located 10 minutes away by car from Luang Prabang’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. [caption id="attachment_44535" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Located in Luang Prabang, it is within 2.9 miles of Night Market and 3 miles of Mount Phousy[/caption]   Its 16 hectares encompass 123 modern guest rooms with large terraces, a two-bedroom villa and a healthy scattering of infinity pools and streams. The Pullman Luang Prabang is now the largest hotel in town, but its low-rise architecture – which draws on traditional Laotian influences – sees it blend in well with the surrounding natural landscape.   Guests can dine on international cuisine at L’Atelier and sink a cocktail overlooking paddy fields at the Junction. One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda   Promising a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, One&Only Nyungwe House sits within the dense Green Expanse of a tea plantation, next to Ancient Montane rainforest.   Wild experiences such as chimpanzee Trekking or walking among majestic mahogany trees allow guests to max out the incredible setting.   The 23 rooms and suites combine local African craftsmanship with a contemporary look and feel, Plus there’s a Spa that uses natural products from luxury brand Africology. FREIgeist Göttingen, Germany   Located in the historic university town of Göttingen, in Germany’s Lower Saxony, Hotel Freigeist is a relentlessly modern new build (and a member of Design Hotels) featuring 118 rooms.   The décor continues the theme, with wood and copper fittings throughout contrasted against a palette of grey bricks, neutrals and shots of blue, and Basquiat-inspired artwork.   The whole thing has a Nordic vibe (enhanced by the on-site sauna), but in Intuu, its signature restaurant, it’s Japanese/South AmericaN Fusion all the way. Omaanda, Namibia   Omaanda is nestled in the Namibian savannah in the heart of the Zannier private animal reserve. Its 9000-hectare footprint, which offers lashings of peace and quiet and natural beauty, houses 10 luxury huts inspired by traditional Owambo architecture.   Ambo Delights restaurant offers cuisine inspired by the best local produce, while the bar at the edge of the heated swimming pool has views over the savannah. The Shangai Edition    A perfect blend of old and new Shanghai, the 145-room Shanghai EDITION sees Nanjing Road’s 1929 Art Deco Shanghai Power Company building fused with a new-build skyscraper.   Its various food and drink options include star chef Jason Atherton’s HIYA (translated to ‘clouds in the sky’), a Japanese izakaya-inspired eatery on the 27th floor. Six Senses Maxwell, Singapore   The Six Senses group has had a busy year, having already opened properties in Singapore and Fiji; now comes Six Senses Maxwell.   A sister property to Six Senses Duxton, the wellness brand’s first city hotel, the 120-room property is also retrofitted into a historic Singapore colonial-style building and features Euro-chic interiors courtesy of French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The Apurva Kempinski, Bali   The first Kempinski hotel to open in Bali is a suitably grand reflection of Balinese architecture and craftsmanship.   Situated in the Nusa Dua area of the island, the hotel boasts 475 rooms, suites and villas and all the requisite inclusions expected from the luxury brand, from five dining options to a 60-metre swimming pool to an ocean-facing spa and a cigar and shisha lounge.   It even has its own beachfront wedding chapels.  
How to experience Geisha culture in Japan
The secret world of a geisha, their lifestyle, and what it takes to become one. Listen carefully and you can hear the delicate sound of shuffling geisha heading towards Kyoto’s tea houses as dusk falls like chiffon across the Gion district. Admiring onlookers, mesmerised by their timeless beauty, stop and stare as they flutter along like butterflies, their jewelled hair dancing in the breeze. What exactly is a geisha? Long shrouded in mystery, the geisha lifestyle has captivated people from all corners of the globe. Young Japanese women dress like them, little girls play kimono dress-ups and some, entranced by the celebrity-type lifestyle, join the ranks to become one. But it’s a tough highway to hoe to reach geisha status. [caption id="attachment_48624" align="alignnone" width="600"] The geisha lifestyle has captivated people from all corners of the globe[/caption] Geisha history and the prostitution myth During the late 600s saburuko (serving girls) were the first known geishas to wait tables, make conversation and sometimes offer sexual favours. By the late 16th century major Japanese cities had constructed walled pleasure quarters where oiran (courtesans) lived and worked as licensed prostitutes.   The original role of the geisha – meaning arts person – was as an assistant to the oiran, and regulations precluded them from engaging in personal relations with customers. Geisha became extremely popular in the 1750s and by the 1800s were considered accomplished professional entertainers, far removed from the ‘ladies of the night’ perception. Where do geishas live? Former Imperial capital Kyoto is considered the birthplace of geisha culture, and is still one of the best places to experience it. Here, geisha are called geiko, and their younger counterparts are maiko. Young women who want to become a maiko (dancing girl) are usually aged between 15 and 20 years old.   First though they must find an okiya – a shared boarding house for aspiring maiko – run by an okasan (the ‘mother’ of the house) willing to sponsor her. As a sponsor, the okasan will pay for everything during the maiko’s nenki (her contract).   Not all girls will be accepted though, as during the maiko’s apprenticeship the okasan can shell out as much as 10 million yen ($130,000) to support and train them. The money goes towards her lessons as she learns how to perfect the subtle hand and foot movements of Japanese dancing, the precise steps of a tea ceremony, and social etiquette while performing cultural arts.   Alongside buying high quality kimonos the okasan will also give her maiko a monthly allowance of around 20,000 yen ($250) for clothing and make-up. The houses are not large though and she’ll usually share a room with four other maikos.   It’s strictly a business portfolio for the okasan. They reap the benefits from earning a percentage of the maiko’s income as she begins to work during the second year of her apprenticeship. And like going to university and repaying a student loan, the maiko will repay the sponsor back once she becomes a geisha. [caption id="attachment_48625" align="alignnone" width="600"] Kyoto is considered to be the birthplace of Geisha culture[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48626" align="alignnone" width="600"] Geisha's will usually share a room with four others during their training[/caption] What is the true meaning of a geisha? To enter into geisha-hood is to leave the modern world behind. The training period can last as long as five years, and they must follow strict rules to reach the coveted status. No longer called by their real name, they adopt a stage name given by the okasan.   Contact with family and friends is limited and mobile phones and any form of social media are off-limits. It’s like taking a vow of chastity – if she becomes romantically involved she has to leave the house. When there is attraction, a maiko has to learn how to create a barrier as it’s strictly forbidden for men to touch them, but she must also be playful in order to keep customers. [caption id="attachment_48627" align="alignnone" width="600"] Training can take as long as five years[/caption] An interview with a geisha In one of Kyoto’s tea houses, I meet 21-year-old Kahohana (beauty of flower), who recently graduated to geisha. In a softly spoken, trained lyrical voice she tells me about her apprenticeship. “At first our days are very hard, we are not used to it,” she says, tilting her porcelain painted face to one side, “we have to sleep on wooden pillows to keep our hair in place and it took me six months to learn how to walk along in okobo, the high wooden sandal worn by the maiko.”   Now she has completed her training, I ask Kahohana if she enjoys her work as a geisha. “Yes, yes, very much – I really love to dance and play Japanese instruments at the theatre and to perform in front of people at tea ceremonies.” She controls her smile, careful not to break into a grin for fear of ruining her make-up. “I also really like to dress in beautiful kimonos”, she adds before tottering off to her next appointment. [caption id="attachment_48629" align="alignnone" width="600"] The original role of the geisha – meaning arts person – was as an assistant to the oiran[/caption] Maiko vs geisha Young woman such as Kohohana consider themselves fortunate. Not all maiko reach the ceremony known as ‘turning the collar’ (erikae), where they transition to geisha status, and even then employment is not guaranteed. Some geisha work other jobs, and others return to study.   To be successful and in high demand a geisha has to be many things. Alongside being a gifted entertainer, she has to ‘listen’ with expressive eyes, know when to be a sounding board, and also be knowledgeable in the arts, history and politics. She is like a therapist, a confidante, and if she has mastered her skills, her diary will be full of appointments. In just two hours a geisha can charge 60,000 yen ($750) and in six hours, around 180,000 yen ($2200) for a private session. A percentage goes to the establishment she’s working in, but a geisha working between the ages of 25 and 45 years can earn a substantial income in her career. [caption id="attachment_48631" align="alignnone" width="600"] Not a hair out of place[/caption] Geisha make-up Most of all geisha and maiko must look as though she’s just stepped out of a Madame Tussauds’ wax museum: not a hair out of place, her allure is in her appearance. It takes time though to perfect the face of Japan. Maiko and geisha start getting ready around 3pm and work from 6pm onwards.   Make-up and hair can take one to two hours as she’ll paint her face and nape of the neck – considered the most sensual part of a woman – in oshiroi: the iconic white powder associated with geisha. As a geisha, she’ll apply red lipstick to both lips, whereas a maiko only makes up the bottom lip. The kimono alone can take 30 minutes. [caption id="attachment_48630" align="alignnone" width="600"] It takes around three hours to transform into full Geisha makeup[/caption] How to spot a geisha Transitioning into the world of geisha-hood is to pledge to be gracious, elegant, yet quietly strong and articulate. Even after a night of performing and accompanying men to theatres, geisha can be seen taking tiny steps in Gion district’s lamplight as they head home, perfectly composed, still carrying the air of secrecy to one of Japan’s oldest and most idolised professions. Details: Wendy Wu Tours runs an immersive 14-day all-inclusive Trails of Japan Tour starting from $9640 – guests attend a geisha performance and visit the Gion district in Kyoto.   Want to experience more of Japan? Here is our ultimate travel guide to the best eats, stays and experiences in Japan.
Switzerland activities, Things to do in Switzerland
22 things to do other than skiing in Switzerland
Skiing and Switzerland go together like a hand and (ski) glove, but there is so much to do when the weather turns cool and the land is blanketed in snow... Read on to see what other activities you can do outside of skiing in Switzerland...  1. Head up in a hot air balloon Go hot air ballooning at Château-d'Oex, the venue for the International Hot Air Balloon Week every January, when around 90 balloon pilots take to the skies. Flights are available all year round, and encompass the whole Alpine landscape from Mont-Blanc to the Eiger, taking in the Grand-Combin, the Matterhorn and the Jura, as well as the regions around Lake Geneva and the canton of Fribourg. 2. Watch a White Turf horse-race Attend White Turf, the annual horse-racing meet in St. Moritz that takes place on ice instead of turf every February. 3. Zipline with First Flyer Reach speeds of up to 84 kilometres an hour ziplining on the First Flyer down Grindlewald First. With 800 metres of steel cable and up to 50 metres high, ziplining provides an exciting journey through stunning winter scenery, and comes to an end thanks to a giant spring device. [caption id="attachment_28333" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Paragliding in Grindlewald is a perfect way to see the spectacular Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.[/caption] 4. Ice-skate on Lake Zurich Ice-skate at Lake Zurich at the Seehotel Sonne’s Live on Ice. Located in the gardens of the hotel, right next to Lake Zurich, the rink is open from early November until early February. After you are finished on the ice, you can warm up at the mulled wine stand. [caption id="attachment_28303" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Fairy lights, candles and mulled wine; Seehotel Sonne’s Live on Ice in Lake Zurich is perfect for couples.[/caption] 5. Hike with a Saint Bernard Try hiking with a Saint Bernard; every weekend from the end of December until the end of February, the Barry Fondation (owner of the 300-year-old breeding kennel from the Great Saint Bernard Pass Hospice – the Holy Order of the Great Saint Bernard Monastery) organises walks accompanied by Saint Bernard dogs in the Valais mountain village of Champex-Lac. You walk the dog, and little people can take a sled ride pulled by them. 6. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to Lake Lauenen in the Bernese Oberland. Leaving from the pretty village of Lauenen, the tour takes roughly one hour and fifteen minutes, gliding through the pristine Rohr nature conservation area to Lake Lauenen and then back again. Each sleigh takes up to six months to make by master craftsmen Ernst and Ueli Reichenbach; sheepskin rugs keep you cosy on route. 7. Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen, close to the fateful Reichenbach Falls where the fictional detective met his end. The museum is located in the basement of the old English church in the heart of the village. It features exhibits relating to the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, including a faithful reconstruction of the living room at 221B Baker Street. 8. Experience a dogsled ride Jump on a dogsled in Speicherschwendi with Christine and Michael Hanselmann and learn how to handle a team of sled dogs, before experiencing the pure exhilaration of slicing through the snow behind these mighty malumuts. Also try Huskystuff in Alt St. Johann or a Husky Lodge near Lucerne. 9. Strap on snow shoes Strap on snow shoes and go walking (not skiing) in the snow. There are endless destinations across the country where you can hike through exquisite villages and scenery for anything from a few hours to a few days. Choose a trek that involves overnighting in a mountain hut for a true Alpine experience. 10. Para-glide down a mountain Jump off the side of a mountain. After taking a gondola up Grindlewald First, you’ll strap in for a tandem paragliding flight back down again, taking in the spectacular vista of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. 11. Get on a Toboggan Toboggan through mountain scenery. After a leisurely post-bus ride through the beautiful Rosenlaui Valley, jump aboard a toboggan and start your rather more adrenalin-packed descent at the foot of the mighty Wetterhorn.   The Eiger Run, which starts at Alpiglen and ends at Brandbegg, is also a great option. Many toboggan runs are lit up at night, adding a new element of loveliness. [caption id="attachment_28311" align="alignnone" width="1000"] A breathtaking view while strolling up the mountain for a toboggan ride. Switzerland.[/caption] 12. Try out a fatbike Rent a fatbike and get riding. As the name implies, fatbikes have extra-wide tyres that are designed specifically for riding in the snow and on ice. Currently taking the country by storm, there are lots of places you can indulge, including Andermatt, Valais and Gstaad, where the third annual Snow Bike Festival will take place on 17-22 January next year. 13. Go on a Mount Titlis Cliff Walk Walk Europe’s highest suspension bridge, the Mount Titlis Cliff Walk, at 3041 metres above sea level and 500 metres off the ground. Not for the faint-hearted, the bridge is just one metre wide, 100 metres long and suspended by steel cables. It even sways! This isn’t for anyone with a fear of heights! 14. Climb a glacier in Interlaken Go ice-climbing on a glacier in Interlaken with specially trained mountain guides who will instruct you in the safe use of ropes, ice axes and crampons. There’s no need to be a bodybuilder: routes of differing grades will be set up on ice walls so everyone, big and small, can try it out. After the effort of going up, rappelling down the deep crevasses is pure fun, and all gear is provided. swissalpineguides.ch 15. Ice-kart in Verbier Feel the need for speed? Try ice-karting in Verbier, driving karts specially designed for the snow with studded tyres, adjustable bucket seats for children, roll bars and a fitted safety remote control which allows the staff to control the speed of the karts if necessary (especially handy when children are on the track). 16. Chocolate at Confiserie Isler Stay warm with some hot chocolate at Confiserie Isler in Stäfa, and learn about the fine art of chocolate-making. You’ll make and decorate chocolates, produce your very own moulded Easter bunny, and Finish off with an aperitif. 17. Do a Snow tube run Launch yourself down well-groomed tracks atop an air-filled tyre. You can go snow tubing at Titlis Glacier Park, which has groomed runs that have you spinning in circles before coming to a bumpy but safe stop. 18. Learn about the wildlife Go wild for wildlife in Val Müstair, where game warden Jon Gross will take you hiking through the landscape to observe the habits of numerous animals that are found there. 19. Admire the alpine night sky Do some stargazing at Alpine Astro Village in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Val Müstair, from three-hour night sky observations to a seven-day New Year’s Stargazing in the Alps program of gazing and photography throughout the long clear Alpine nights. 20. Warm up at a Ski resort Enjoy some après ski action, even if you don’t ski. Ski resorts are fun places to be after dark when restaurants and bars fill up with visitors and locals and a convivial atmosphere prevails. Warm up from the inside with local staples like fondue and Glühwein. 21. Stay at the luxurious Whitepod Check into Whitepod, an eco-luxe hotel made up of 15 individual self-supporting pods sitting 1400 metres above sea level at Les Cerniers, with magnificent unobstructed views of Lake Geneva.   Each one has a pellet-burning stove and all the comforts of home, with breakfast served in the central pod-house, and endless nature just beyond each pod’s adjoining deck. [caption id="attachment_28313" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Whitepod is an eco-luxe hotel in Les Cerniers with magnificent views of Lake Geneva.[/caption] 22.  Catch the Cricket on Ice Watch Cricket on Ice in St. Moritz at the premier event on the Swiss cricket calendar (who knew there was one?).
ili - the first handheld portable translator
The best travel gadgets for your next adventure
If you spend a lot of time travelling, firstly, you’ve come to the right place. And secondly, you will be well aware of the advantages travel gadgets can bring to any adventure you embark on. If you’re headed for a getaway, no trip is complete without a couple of digital accessories. Here are 10 of our favourite sidekicks to help make your journey as stress-free as possible. 1.  JBL LIVE Headphones - to drown out the rest of the world Whether you’re on a long haul plane ride, wandering around a bustling city, or on a bus to go sightseeing - JBL’s new LIVE Wireless Headphone Series is set to be every adventurer’s dream gadget.   With a sleek aluminium design, they’re also packed with a myriad of sophisticated features, including touch-control, voice assistants, and JBL’s leading signature sound.   Imagine drowning out the craziness of the world with the touch of a button? With its new Ambient Aware technology, prepare to have full control over how much background noise you let in. Paired with a TalkThru feature that allows the volume to be lowered immediately using an easy touch-control - It’s the perfect travel companion fit for every situation.   Plus with it’s lightweight feel, they can easily be tucked away in your carry on, without taking up too much space. So for the travellers that are forever on the go, these wireless headphones will become a necessity in your life. We guarantee it. [caption id="attachment_49041" align="alignnone" width="600"] The ultimate noise-cancelling accessory[/caption] 2. Victorinox Connex Collection – the luggage with a brain As a company that works in travel, you better believe we have tried and tested our fair share of suitcases. And we know better than anyone, a good one can make all the difference.   Enter, Victorinox.   If you aren't familiar with the innovative styling of this luggage brand, you're probably aware of some of their other incredible successful inventions – like, say, the Swiss army knife? [caption id="attachment_47224" align="alignleft" width="600"] Sleek suitcase style for every adventure[/caption] Like the knife, their range of Connex luggage is designed with the same level of finesse, utilising on high quality materials with a striking, linear design.   As the name Connex suggests, the hard and soft side cases are perfectly connected, allowing for customers to mix and match across the collection.   They are also available in 100% pure polycarbonate or polyester, both lightweight yet extremely strong.   And as far as state-of-the art components go, their extra-quiet wheels and integrated multi-tool for on-the-go charging of electronic devices is top of the range.   Imagine that, never running out of battery during your travels again!   3. Ili – to stop you getting lost in translation According to research conducted by Booking.com, two thirds of Aussies believe they’re wasting their holidays, citing language barriers as their biggest obstacle.   To help travellers overcome this, the website partnered with ili, a device that will make you think you’re living in an episode of Black Mirror.   ili is a hand-held translator that lets you speak English directly into its microphone and have your words translated into Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish. Not only is ili super-fast, giving you answers in as little as 0.2 seconds, but – and here’s the beauty of this device – it also requires zero internet connection.   Need directions in a foreign country? Unable to order food at a restaurant? Need to communicate with locals in lesser-known towns? ili can help you with that. 4. Super Straps – to take the weight off your back For most travellers, carrying a heavy backpack all day is just an unfortunate reality – and so are the trips to the chiropractor that come as a result. That’s why Super Straps are the new necessity. The ergonomic design that retrofits to your backpack can lighten your load by up to 47 per cent, instantly relieving shoulder, back and neck tension when your bag gets heavy.   For those keen on facts and science, we got you. Super Straps work by creating an arc that helps distribute the weight of your backpack across five times its surface area. After attaching them, you pull on the cords to shift the entire weight closer to your spine. Your posture will thank you later. 5. Slick Gadget glass screen protector Is there anything worse than a cracked phone screen? We think not. Investing in a glass screen protector is a basic necessity for all tech-savvy travellers.   This titanium armour and liquid glass screen protector from Slick Gadget creates a durable coating for your number one travel accessory. The device repels oil and water, plus it is antimicrobial, heat tolerant, flexible and breathable. It is also 500 times thinner than a human hair... Weird? Yes. Cool? Also yes.   Considering how much we rely on our phones these days, the assurance that comes with guaranteed screen protection basically pays for itself. 6. Scrubba – the pocket-size washing machine When you’re a traveller, the key to looking like you have it all together (and haven’t spent the last two weeks running for planes and trains), is clean clothes. Enter Scrubba, the pocket-size washing machine. [caption id="attachment_42653" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Scrubba portable washing machine[/caption] The key to Scrubba is its unique design. The flexible internal washboard provides a machine quality wash in just minutes, making it the perfect accessory for busy travellers, outdoor adventurers and campers.   Described as a modern take on those old-fashioned washboards, it only takes Scrubba six steps to send your clothes from zero to hero. Simply fill, roll and clip, deflate, rub, rinse and dry. And you won’t throw your back out while doing it. 7. PakMaster – keeps your clothes crease free Another key to looking like you have it all figured out, is when your clean clothes are also ironed.   The Pakmaster, created by Victorinox Travel Gear, is a clever and practical accessory designed for crease-resistant packing, and will save the day in any sartorial emergency. [caption id="attachment_42651" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Pakmaster helps keep your clothes crease free[/caption] The device ensures shirts, blouses, trousers, jackets and everything in between, arrives at your destination with almost no wrinkles. A board eases the task of folding, as the accessory opens flat for effortless positioning of garments. 8. FixnZip – an instant zipper fixer This little tip is for all those times you’ve broken a zip, taken it to get fixed and thought ‘there’s got to be a better way!?’   The FixnZip is a replacement zipper slider that you can install sans tools or sewing. It works on a wide range of travel and outdoor recreation items including luggage, tents, duffle bags, dresses, pants, skirts, handbags and sleeping bags.   The device comes in three sizes: small, medium and large, and like a metal chameleon, each FixnZip has the ability to fit an array of different zippers. 9. LOFO – the world’s first lost and found app When any app creates a solution to an old-world problem, you know it’s going to be a game-changer. Enter, LOFO: the first global centralised market place for people to find their lost items or pets.   In short, LOFO is a lost and found app, helping the 78,000 Australians that lose an item every day.   The intelligent active matching algorithm will match lost items with found ones based on the information provided: such as location, colour etc. With both the loser and the finder receiving an instant notification of the match.   Forgetful humans, rejoice! 10. Quicksand Mat – for sand-free beach time While there is an array of things that can go right at the beach, there’s also an array of things that can go very wrong. And getting sand everywhere is definitely one of them.   By investing in a sand-free mat, like the Quicksand Mat, travellers can watch sand, dirt and dust disappear before their very eyes.   The double layer weave is made from 100 per cent PE fabric, making it perfect for both camping and the beach. It also comes complete with four schmick D-rings around the outer, allowing it to be firmly affixed to the ground.   And should you have a little too much fun on your mat, rest assured. They can be easily cleaned and dried. 11. LuminAID solar-powered inflatable light When an item’s popularity stems from an appearance (and subsequent investment) on Shark Tank, you know it’s good.   For those who have better things to do than watch a business-themed reality TV show, allow me to introduce you to the LuminAID. Basically, this handy contraption exists as a solar-rechargeable light that inflates to diffuse light like a lantern. It’s perfect for camping, hiking, and all other times light is required.   When fully powered, the highly efficient battery can last for up to 16 hours on the low setting, and eight to 10 hours on high. It’s also waterproof, lightweight and extremely entertaining to look at. 12. The Trtl Travel Pillow – for sweet dreams inflight If you’re reading this article, chances are you love to travel. But with an affinity for travel can come a lot of time attempting to sleep on planes. If you’re like us, and the idea of using inflatable and bean-filled pillows sends a shiver down your spine, you best keep reading.   The Trtl Pillow is the answer to all of your plane-sleeping-woes. Upon initial inspection, it looks like a neck brace, which features an H-shaped wire support system that can support your head during rest.   Not only is the Trtl a scientifically proven long-haul neck support pillow, but it is half the size of a traditional travel pillow, machine washable and can be easily attached to luggage. 13. SteriPEN – a magic (water purifying) wand There are already plenty of food-related camping hacks that can come in very handy on the camping trail, but when it comes to water, it’s best not to take shortcuts.   The SteriPEN is the world’s leading manufacturer of ultraviolet, handheld water purifiers – and if you’re into H20 health – an extremely necessary investment.   The device charges by USB and when on a full battery, will treat up to 50 litres of water.   It’s also extremely simple to use: just put one end into the water you’re attempting to treat, swirl it around a few times and voilà. Safe drinking water for travel, outdoor recreation and home emergencies.
The Kyoto vs. Osaka debate: The experts weigh in
You’ve squeezed one last week’s leave from work and you’ve scored an amazing flight deal – but now you’ve only got time to see one city. So which is it going to be: Osaka or nearby Kyoto? We’ve asked a couple of experts to weigh in on this sumo-style showdown between two very different cities. Kyoto: the elegant elder The ancient capital of Japan before it was left behind by the expanding court, unable to fit in between its perfect circle of five mountains, Kyoto has remained a kind of time capsule containing everything that is intricate and beautiful about Japan.   Despite the estimated 50 million-plus tourists who descend upon its temples and shrines, forests, cobbled streets and even modern neighbourhoods, there are still quiet moments and flashes of pure tradition in every day spent here.   A geisha (or ‘geiko’ here in Kyoto) can still be found shuffling quickly through the alleyways of the Flower District (Gion) to a tea ceremony job or evening entertaining important corporate guests; in the post-sunrise languor of the day, it’s still entirely possible to have the pathways of the sacred Arashiyama bamboo forest entirely to yourself, the shafts of sunlight curling amongst the incense smoke from the Shinto shrines within it.   “Kyoto’s ability to preserve history and tradition whilst keeping it relevant is a constant source of fascination for me,” says Kyoto expert Alison Roberts-Brown, who works with Kyoto City Tourism. “It’s a place that beckons you to return again and again; there’s so many layers of history and culture which have never stopped evolving, there is always another layer to discover.” [caption id="attachment_48444" align="alignnone" width="643"] The peaceful Arashiyama Bamboo Grove[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48445" align="alignnone" width="643"] The grand Fushimi Inari Shrine should be a must see in Kyoto[/caption] It’s impossible (and inadvisable) to visit Kyoto without giving over a few days to its enviable roster of temples and shrines, from the golden temple of Kinkaku-ji and the ultimate Insta-destination Shinto gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, to the edifice that is Kiyomizu-dera temple, presiding over streets lined with perfectly presented souvenir shops that – mostly – keep things typically tasteful, Kyoto-style.   Even the sweet shops expect you to dress respectfully and, preferably, elegantly – especially those that predate most of the buildings around them. “The 17-generation-old Kyoto sweet company Toraya is good example,” says Alison. “One of Japan’s oldest confectionery businesses, they were supplying the Imperial family back in the 1700s, and the business now operates 70 odd shops and even one in Paris.   Their traditional confectionery is still exquisitely presented; I recommend saving an hour to sip tea and sample their wares at the location they have been operating since 1628, the Toraya Ichijo Shop and Cafe.” [caption id="attachment_48435" align="alignnone" width="628"] Employers of sweet company, Toraya, back in 1925[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48449" align="alignnone" width="629"] A Toraya product - 'Mt Fuju in Four Seasons'[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48451" align="alignnone" width="629"] A traditional tiered confectionery box made in 1776[/caption] Just like its sweet-making, Kyoto takes its arts and crafts extremely seriously, Alison says. “Trades or craftsmen’s skills are passed down from generation to generation, and it’s not unusual to find a traditional artisan in Kyoto whose family business spans more than 10 generations.”   Keen to share these inherited arts and crafts Kyoto City has established the ‘Kyoto Artisan Concierge’, which connects people in search of genuine experiences with artisans so they can observe artisan demonstrations in the creative atmosphere of their studios and have hands-on experiences too. Quietly, carefully, beautifully.   But just a touch over an hour away by train, there’s a very, very different vibe indeed. [caption id="attachment_48446" align="alignnone" width="578"] Don't pass up a visit to the magnificent Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto[/caption] Osaka: the cheeky little sister Let’s get this out of the way – Osaka is not that little at all. In fact, with a city population of 2.6 million and a greater metropolitan population of over 20 million people, it’s one of the world’s larger cities and outstrips Kyoto. However, in its tastes and its ambience, shopping-mad, food-obsessed Osaka is as different from Kyoto as chalk from cheese, with a cheeky vibe that contrasts sharply with the latter’s conservative bent.   “If Kyoto is serene and soothing, Osaka, just a short train ride away, is the opposite,” says Bea Holland, doyenne of all things Japan at japlanguide.com. “Bustling, noisy, maybe a little grimy, Osaka is fun from beginning to end.”   From end to end, really, if you look at the Osakan city map, crisscrossed with kilometres-long, pedestrian-only ‘shopping streets’ that form the bones of any visitor’s itinerary and are fleshed out, on visiting, by day-to-night crowds bustling shoulder to shoulder through each arcade.   It doesn’t stop as you descend the ubiquitous staircases underground; Osaka is built upon a subterranean wonderland of unashamed capitalism, making up some of Japan’s longest and densest underground shopping malls.   [caption id="attachment_48437" align="alignnone" width="653"] Dotonbori is one of Osaka's prime tourist destinations[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48441" align="alignnone" width="651"] Visit one of the largest aquariums in the world- Osaka Aquarium[/caption] You can easily dive from the main railway station, JR Osaka, into the Umeda shopping area, then happily bob along in the sea of humanity sweeping through the 600-metre Shinsaibashi shopping street, take a deep breath at the canalside Dotombori pedestrian mall, before diving headfirst back into the bargains and impossibly kawaii (cute) goodies in the boutiques along Ebisubashi arcade.   Don’t forget the way back to Dotombori, though, because the fickle and fun-seeking Osakan crowd will be flocking here come sunset for their second obsession after shopping: food.   The canyon-like walls of the Dotombori mall are like a Tetris stack of food offers, jumbled together in an overwhelming patchwork of colour that lights up come nighttime to pick out a giant waving crab here, a cartoon octopus waving a cartoon knife at passersby there. Watch where the queues form and jump in behind them. Today’s hot restaurant property is tomorrow’s has-been heap with this lot.   “Osaka is about all things octopus,” tips Bea, “and you have to indulge in both takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (a local specialty cabbage and seafood pancake) while you're there. Grab takoyaki from any street vendor and they will be delicious. For okonomiyaki, find a bar with a sizzling hot plate and settle in. Our record is five in one sitting, but I look forward to breaking this!” she grins. [caption id="attachment_48452" align="alignnone" width="644"] Okonomiyaki - a delicious savoury Japanese pancake[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48439" align="alignnone" width="465"] Try tasty Japanese snack, Takoyaki (fried octopus balls)[/caption] Part of the fun of Osaka is not only following the ‘It’ crowd, but the alternative crowds too, who have made this quirky city their home the way traditional Kyoto may never be able to stomach.   The cool kids of Amerikamura neighbourhood seem to have the greatest density of tattoos and body art in the country – a gutsy effort, when this is still absolutely associated with organised criminals in Japan – and you’ll most likely find them rocking out in the very street, accompanied by someone’s retro ghetto blaster, or someone else’s speakers from an open window.   Over in Den Den Town, it’s all about electronics, but it doesn’t take long to wander into serious manga and otaku territory: where the kids live cosplay 24/7, hanging out outside sex shops and cartoon shops with equal insouciance.   Certainly, Osaka has all the straight-up, more family-friendly attractions too. The bayside aquarium is gobsmackingly beautifully done and is actually the world’s largest, with multistorey tanks you can walk around on walkways that take you side by side with giant sea creatures such as sharks, rays, jellyfish and king crab (the safest guys in this crab-hungry city). Beside this, in the harbourside area, the 112.5-metre Tempozan Ferris Wheel makes for an impressive ride for the non-vertiginous.   One of the many toy stores in Den Den Town [caption id="attachment_48442" align="alignnone" width="614"] A beautiful Osaka sunset behind the Tempozan Ferris Wheel[/caption] But when it comes to what makes Osaka different, it always comes back to its subculture: its hedonism and complex cool.   “There is no nicer way to spend an evening than exploring the wonders of the Chuwa Dixie building, Osaka's 'jazz bar building',” Bea says of her favourite pastime here.   “There are five floors, each one holding a unique and interesting bar to enjoy. Find a favourite and hole up, or work your way up or down. You might stumble across live performance, but for the most part, you'll find bar owners presiding over a huge record collection and choosing favourites to play on their very superior sound system.”
8 Ways to experience Mt Fuji without hiking
From a ferry trip with uninterrupted views to a brand-new architect-designed observatory, here are eight alternative ways to experience Japan’s iconic Mt Fuji. Mt Fuji is big. Really, exceptionally big. Big enough to see from Tokyo, over 100 kilometres away; even its foothills span two prefectures. But its influence over Japan stretches way past its mere size.   That perfect volcanic cone features everywhere in Japanese folklore and has over the millennia, been recreated in everything from cakes and seasonal sweets to soap, towels, toys, even cartoon-character mountains that enter the national subconscious from an early age.   So we really think turning up on a bus, taking a quick pic from a lookout on a day trip from Tokyo and heading home again does not do the mighty Fuji-san nearly enough justice – nor the mind-blowingly beautiful and fascinating surrounds that count Fuji as an ever-present part of the scenery. So here we have eight amazing ways to give Fuji-san the love it deserves, and make your trip to central Japan something special too.   1. Cross Mishima Skywalk suspension bridge   How else to give Japan’s tallest mountain the proper gravitas than to gaze upon it from Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, the fabulously engineered, 400-metre-long Skywalk.   This thing sways in the wind over a forest gorge in the most picturesque of locations, so the views should stop you looking down. You can also catch sight of Japan’s deepest bay, Suruga Bay, forming a suitably spectacular spot with photo stops galore. [caption id="attachment_48362" align="alignnone" width="452"] Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, Mishima Skywalk[/caption] 2. Hang upside down on top of a mountain – or simply soak your feet   The Japanese really know how to live, with thoughtful ways to make visitors happy every step along their sightseeing route.   Atop the mountain at Izunokuni Panorama Park (you can guess the main star of the panorama here), you can not only gaze across an incredible vista that stretches from bay to hills to forests to the star of the show, Fuji, but your mini ninjas can choose to do it from the cute obstacle play course set right here on the mountaintop, while you can get your shoes and socks off and blithely sit with your tootsies in a steaming bath, right here out in the open, while you enjoy and photograph the view. [caption id="attachment_48363" align="alignnone" width="575"] Enjoy panoramic views of Mt Fuju from Izunokuni Panorama Park[/caption] 3. Drink craft beer made from Fuji’s 100-year-old snowmelt   The respect the Japanese hold for Fuji-san does not end with the mountain itself.   That snowy peak basks in the sun, slowly melting into the purest of water, which then soaks into the volcanic earth itself and is filtered over and over again before finally emerging, a century later, into the streams and waterways around the region. This water is rather reverently used for such purposes as nourishing the finest (and therefore most delicious) of eel, helping to produce breathtakingly expensive tofu, and also highly prized sake.   Over at Baird Brewing Company near Numazu, however, they’ve come up with a more novel way of tasting the snow that melted at the end of the First World War, give or take. The range of specialty craft beers do indeed taste rather crystalline in their clarity, and visiting the forest-bound brewery to sample them is worth the trip. [caption id="attachment_48364" align="alignnone" width="430"] For the best craft beer, visit Baird Beer at Numazu Fishmarkets[/caption] 4. Take a golf-buggy ride to a fairway with a view   The luxe Izu Marriott Shuzenji not only boasts views of Japan’s favourite volcano from its Fuji-facing rooms, but its deer-speckled golf course is also perfectly positioned for maximum vistas.   Guests can even jump in the driverless electric golf buggies for a spin around the course at sunset to watch Fuji-san’s western face turn golden, forming a heart-melting backdrop as dusk brings the resort’s antlered wildlife out to reclaim the golf course for another evening. [caption id="attachment_48368" align="alignnone" width="838"] Izu Marriott Shuzenji premium guest room has magnificent Mt Fuju views.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_48369" align="alignnone" width="838"] Enjoy the views while relaxing in the Marriott's hot spring spa[/caption] 5. Take a holographic tour at brand-new Yume Terrace   With the Tokyo Olympics rapidly approaching, its stadium architect Kengo Kuma is flavour of the month (or even year) – but the stadium is far from his only triumph. In Shizuoka Prefecture, his dreamy, octagonal observatory and deck is making a name for itself in its own right.   Nihondaira Yume Terrace, fashioned from local cedar and swathes of glass, is a quiet, mindful space seemingly a world away from the busier lookouts and decks closer to Mt Fuji, and inside are ultramodern displays using everything from stained glass to holographs to detail the story of Mt Fuji’s formation.   6. Rise early for seafood breakfast with the clearest view   A whole lot more hectic is Japan’s second-busiest seafood markets, the Numazu Fish Market on deep Suruga Bay.   As the 5am markets heat up inside, the sunlight strengthens outside to reveal Fuji-san reflected in the waters and dominating the view, though the workers around you may continue to bustle from boat to bobcat, auction room to loading dock. Charm your way as close as you dare to espy the three-metre Suruga Bay spider crabs, giant deep-water fish and tuna, down to the tiny baby mackerel and whitebait that typify traditional breakfasts around here.   Head to any of the restaurants in the surrounding streets for a bowl overflowing with fresh seafood – as raw as you dare – for a breakfast you won’t forget. [caption id="attachment_48372" align="alignnone" width="569"] Seafood stores in Numazu Fish Market[/caption] 7. Ride the rainbow ferry across incredible Suruga Bay   The high-speed ferry across Suruga Bay from Toi to Shimizu may well be one of the most underrated experiences in the area. The deep waters beneath make the surface mirror-still, there are fresh seafood sticks and sweet buns being grilled out on the back deck, and even the ferry itself is daubed with a rainbow to make the experience as lovely as possible.   And of course, watching over you for the 65-minute journey is Mt Fuji, in an uninterrupted view across the water to rival any lookout you can name. [caption id="attachment_48373" align="alignnone" width="613"] View of Mount Fuji with Suruga Bay and Numazu town[/caption] 8. Stay at the hotel with Fuji in every window   For such an incredible spot, gazing remarkably close-up upon perhaps Asia’s most famous mount, it seems astounding that there isn’t another foreign face to be seen at Nippondaira Hotel – but that was this reviewer’s experience.   The hotel doesn’t even pretend to want anything else for its guests, with Fuji-facing rooms enjoying uninterrupted views across a flat landscaped garden, and multi-storey floor-to-ceiling windows spanning almost every public space in the hotel so you can breakfast, lunch and (yummy fine French) dinner with Fuji-san himself. [caption id="attachment_48374" align="alignnone" width="581"] Stunning views of Mt Fuju from Nippondaira Hotel (photo: Jac Taylor)[/caption] For more information about travelling around Japan, visit our Japan guide. 
Philadelphia Holidays
The best experiences you can have in Philadelphia
Once the national capital (after the American Revolution), Philadelphia or the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ is known for its historical significance, but a wave of new restaurants, bars and art programs has created a hybrid of the old and new. Here, a few of Philly’s best bits. One of a kind sights [caption id="attachment_48286" align="alignnone" width="600"] Philadelphia is a world leader in street art & murals.[/caption] Historic finds abound at landmarks such as the US Mint founded in 1792; the Museum of the American Revolution, complete with George Washington’s original Headquarters Tent and a full-scale replica privateer ship; the National Liberty Museum, with its 21-foot glass Flame of Liberty sculpture; and the momentous buildings of Independence National Historical Park, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.   There’s more to see left of centre, too, such as Al Capone’s prison cell at the Eastern State Penitentiary, the cabinet of medical curiosities that is the Mütter Museum and the world-leading public art program that has earned Philly international recognition as the City of Murals. From culinary history to sandwich greatness [caption id="attachment_48288" align="alignnone" width="600"] The city's architecture covers both the historic and the modern.[/caption] While fine dining in Philly is fantastic (the City Tavern offers the same recipes it served the founding fathers in the 1770s), it’s wholesome, homestyle eats that put this city on the foodie map.   The iconic Philly cheesesteak pairs finely sliced beef with melted cheese (or Cheez Whiz for the true believers) – top it up with fried onions if you like – with the city’s most famous found at Art Deco joint, Jim’s Steaks, on South Street. Meanwhile, the Travel Channel’s ‘best sandwich in America’ – a roast pork and provolone creation – can be found in the country’s oldest continuously operating markets and culinary cornucopia that is Reading Terminal Market. Don’t forget to try the ubiquitous hoagie (a deli sub sandwich) too. Good sports [caption id="attachment_48287" align="alignnone" width="600"] You haven't "done" Philly until you've tasted a Philadelphia Cheesesteak.[/caption] If you were looking for a place to see the USA’s major-league sports live and large, Philly is it. The city has a pro team in no less than five major-league sports, meaning you can see nail-biting matches of basketball, ice hockey, NFL football, baseball and even soccer, amongst joyful local sport fans year-round.   Outside the stadiums, events such as the two-day Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta – the country’s largest collegiate regatta – and the Blue Cross Broad Street Run ensure there’s always something to watch, or even take part in.     To experience your own Philadelphia, call Qantas Holidays on 1300 443 485 or visit qantasholidays.com.au/uniquely-philadelphia

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