A first-timer’s guide to Marrakesh, Morocco
Marrakech is 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. Morocco’s fabled ‘Rose City’ is a mesmerising metropolis fringed by rolling desert, oasis-like palmeries and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.   Marrakech’s rich heritage dates back nearly a thousand years; what was once an old caravan town along the sub-Saharan trading routes flourished into one of the great cities of the Maghreb. Nowadays the blush-pink ramparts, soaring minarets and medieval-plan medina are a constant reminder of the imperial city’s storied past.   Artists, writers and musicians have long been seduced by Morocco’s ‘Jewel of the South’. Travellers find themselves entranced by the heady atmosphere, riot of colours and chaotic collision of Berber, Arabic and French cultures that lay the foundations of modern Marrakech. Design lovers will delight in the blend of ancient artistry and today’s thriving creative scene that makes up the very fabric of the city.   Iconic French fashion designer and former resident Yves Saint Laurent famously said, “A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. The city taught me colour”. Whilst the maze-like medina, with its tangle of alleyways and bustling souks might overwhelm the senses – one can just as easily find respite in the secret rose-scented gardens, the pools of palatial hotels and terrace cafes with sweeping views over rose-tinted rooftops, palm trees and Moorish architecture set against a bright blue sky.   So if you feel the allure of the exotic, chaotic and utterly enchanting Marrakech, here’s our guide to finding the magic among the mayhem. Getting there  Qatar Airways flies from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth to Marrakech via Doha and Casablanca. Best time to visit Avoid the scorching summer. Visit in spring (mid-March to May) when the roses are in bloom in Morocco, or enjoy a mild autumn (from September to November). Neighbourhoods The Medina This is the Marrakech conjured up in everyone’s imagination. Getting lost in the labyrinthine alleyways is all part of the experience. The 11th-century, UNESCO-listed old town is surrounded by 16 kilometres of rammed-earth walls. Once you venture inside one of the city’s grand gates it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. While the dusty, narrow backstreets are mostly for foot traffic, make way for pack-laden donkeys and buzzing motorcycles. [caption id="attachment_47539" align="alignleft" width="600"] Shopping for Berber rugs is a must in the souks.[/caption] The souks (markets) have barely changed in centuries. Souk Semmarine, the main artery that runs through the medina, is piled high with pottery, fabrics, carpets, leatherwork and antiques. As you delve deeper into the vibrant bazaar you’ll witness workmen noisily plying their trade in the blacksmith’s quarter, the dyers’ souk strung with richly coloured skeins of wool, stalls spilling over with leatherwork and handcrafted carpets as well as the Spice Square heavily perfumed with the scent of amber, musk and orange blossom.   You’ll probably hear the carnivalesque Djemaa el Fna before you see it (hint: follow the drumbeats and Gnawa music). It’s the pounding heart of the medina, brought to life at dusk as hundreds of makeshift stalls are spread across the historic square and locals gather for an evening out. Ville Nouvelle During the French protectorate in the 20th century, the ‘New Town’ was built adjacent to the medina. The wide boulevards lined with tangerine trees, European bistros and Art Deco buildings are in stark contrast to the old town.   The Gueliz district is the locale for high-end restaurants, expensive boutiques and numerous art galleries, whilst the upmarket Hivernage, on the western edge of the medina, is where you’ll find the ultra-luxe hotels such as La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour. Mellah The separate 15th-century quarter is where the Jewish community once resided. Remnants of its Jewish history are the Miaara Jewish Cemetery and a few remaining synagogues. Kasbah Bab Agnaou is one of the most impressive gateways into the old citadel. The medina’s southern district is known for its stately Saadian architecture and arty cafes. [caption id="attachment_47544" align="alignleft" width="600"] Locals gather in the medieval walled city[/caption] What to do Sip mint tea overlooking Djemaa el Fna 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_47549" align="alignleft" width="600"] Tea is served at Riad Yasmine[/caption] There’s a dizzying spectacle of soothsayers, snake charmers, magicians, fire-eaters, drumbeat dancers, airborne acrobats and mischievous monkeys performing tricks. Cooking Moroccan cuisine Learn how to make a tasty tagine, as well as other local favourites at La Maison Arabe’s cooking school. The half-day workshops are run by the historic riad, which was the first in Marrakech to open a restaurant for foreigners and entertained notable guests such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Jackie Kennedy.   Your efforts will be rewarded at the end of class when you get to tuck into a feast of Moroccan flavours in the elegant dining room. The workshop costs around $88 per person. Hit up a Hammam A hammam (bathhouse) is a unique Moroccan cleansing and purifying ritual. For first timers, it’s advised to visit a hammam tailored to tourists. Splurge on a spa day at the splendid Royal Mansour, even if it’s just to see the other-worldly, white-laced interiors. Opt for the 75-minute signature treatment. [caption id="attachment_47547" align="alignleft" width="600"] The lush courtyard here is its crowning glory[/caption] Yves Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech’s headline-grabbing attraction opened its doors in 2017. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of celebrated French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The building has a wow factor of its own – curvaceous lines, intricate lace-like brickwork, as well as an earthy terrazzo and terracotta facade. Berber Museum The small but fascinating museum located inside Jacques Majorelle’s former studio is a great introduction to Berber history and culture. The space exhibits over 600 Berber and North African objects collected by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. La Maison de la Photographie The former fondouk (merchant warehouse) has been repurposed into a gallery for vintage photography. Beautifully curated exhibitions showcase Morocco through the nostalgic lens of the past. Café Clock Located deep within the Kasbah district Café Clock is as much a cultural hub as it is a cafe. Events include hikayat (traditional storytelling) evenings and Berber-style music and dancing. If you do stop by for lunch, order the legendary camel burger. Secret Garden The recently renovated Le Jardin Secret has opened its doors to the public. It’s a true sanctuary in the Moussaine district of the medina. Find shade beneath the elaborate pavilion, take a stroll through the palatial grounds and admire the gardens brimming with lavender and fruit trees – olive, pomegranate, fig and date to name a few. There’s an admission fee of about $7 for the gardens. Jardin Majorelle The botanical oasis dreamt up by French painter Jacques Majorelle is a must-visit for fashionistas as the iconic blue villa later became the home of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. The couple found inspiration in the dreamy setting, where whimsical grounds are bursting with vivid bougainvillea, bamboo pathways and lofty cacti. [caption id="attachment_47541" align="alignleft" width="600"] Inside the Jardin Majorelle, with its signature blue villa.[/caption] Beldi Country Club A charming hotel favoured by glamorous jet-setter types, Beldi Country Club is a mere 15 minutes away from the city centre on the outskirts of Marrakech. Here you’ll uncover an eco-chic paradise – a sprawling five-hectare retreat with swimming pools, ancient olive trees, rose gardens and a glorious greenhouse. Where to shop Travellers have no trouble parting with their dirhams in this city. After your first spin around the souks, you’re likely to have walked away with a Berber rug under your arm and a pair of butter-soft babouche (leather slippers) on your feet. Once you’ve exhausted the souks, here are some worthwhile retail alternatives. Leave room in your luggage. In fact, bring an empty suitcase! Souk Cherifa A hip galleria-style shopping spot with boutiques sandwiched among the traditional souks. The stores are located in Mouassine neighbourhood, a somewhat up-and-coming design district within the medina. [caption id="attachment_47542" align="alignleft" width="600"] Exploring the souks of the medina is a quintessential Marrakech experience[/caption] Chabi Chic It won’t surprise you to know that two very stylish Parisian women are behind this contemporary store in the heart of the medina; it sells pottery, tableware, decorative objects and fashion accessories. Mustapha Blaoui This long-standing emporium is a treasure trove of beautiful Moroccan pieces; from intricate lamps, quality carpets to larger furniture. La Maison ArtC A high-end boutique in Gueliz run by Israeli designer Artsi Ifrah who lives and works in Marrakech making one-of-a-kind pieces from vintage fabrics. Historical sites El Badi Palace Visit the scattered ruins of a Saadian sultan’s 16th-century palace. The grand scale of the complex hints at El Badi Palace’s former glory, meanwhile beauty can still be found in the shimmering pools and sunken gardens. [caption id="attachment_47543" align="alignleft" width="600"] The ruins of 16-century El Badi Palace[/caption] The Saadian Tombs Said to be the only remains of the Saadian dynasty that ruled over Marrakech during the golden age of 1524–1659. Impressively laid with Carrara marble and decorative plasterwork, the extravagantly embellished tombs were long forgotten until they were rediscovered in 1917. Romantic spots A riad is a centuries-old Moroccan mansion transformed into a guesthouse, typically with an interior courtyard. Marrakech is the mecca of Morocco’s hip riad scene, with hundreds of atmospheric and often very affordable lodgings in the heart of the ancient medina. Hidden behind nondescript doors, many riads vaunt lush gardens, idyllic pools and sun-soaked rooftop terraces. [caption id="attachment_47545" align="alignleft" width="600"] Riad Yasmine’s photogenic plunge pool[/caption] El Fenn This eye-catching riad is luxuriously outfitted by Vanessa Branson (sister of Richard Branson) and Howell James. El Fenn remains a perennial favourite for aesthetes as each corner of this exquisite guesthouse pops with jewel-like colours and contemporary art. L’Hôtel Marrakech The passion project of British designer Jasper Conran, where guests sleep in luxe salons, each with a four-poster bed. The swoon-worthy interiors recall the glamour of the 1930s and boast Conran’s own personal collection of antiques. Dar Kawa Talented Belgian tastemaker and textile designer Valérie Barkowski transformed her Marrakech residence (formerly a 17th-century townhouse) into an intimate guesthouse. A sophisticated monochrome palette of black and smoky-grey is set against a bright, white backdrop. Riad Yasmine If you don’t mind sharing the sun loungers with a few posing Instagram influencers, taking a dip in this picture-perfect plunge pool is one of the perks of staying at Riad Yasmine. Riad Secret Jardin As the name suggests this is a peaceful haven, cleverly concealed behind heavy cedar doors. It’s owned and run by former French fashion duo Cyrielle and Julien, and while the saffron-yellow tadelakt (plastered) walls, stucco arches and filigree balustrades all impress, it’s the lush courtyard that makes it truly special. [caption id="attachment_47546" align="alignleft" width="600"] On the roof at the peaceful haven of Riad Secret Jardin[/caption] Riad Mena & Beyond This six-room riad is a design-enthusiast’s dream, with individually bedecked rooms that combine mid-century minimalism with Moroccan style. Plus, it has Philippe Starck-designed bathrooms, a heated outdoor pool and a bougainvillea-draped courtyard. [caption id="attachment_47540" align="alignleft" width="600"] Tranquil spots are easy to find at Riad Mena & Beyond[/caption] Where to see architecture  Ben Youssef Madrasa This 14th-century masterpiece was once the largest Qur’anic school in North Africa. It remains one of the finest examples of Arabic architecture in Marrakech. Koutoubia Mosque While non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques in Morocco, you can admire the towering minaret from across the city and listen as the muezzin’s call to prayer echoes throughout the walls of the medina. [caption id="attachment_47538" align="alignleft" width="600"] The towering Koutoubia Mosque[/caption] La Bahia Palace The opulent 19th-century palace was once home to the harem of notorious vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed, with sumptuous rooms for his four wives and 24 concubines. Exceptional examples of Moroccan craftsmanship can be admired in the details here.
Couple looking out window of suite on river cruise in Europe
Europe Taster Cruises with Avalon Waterways
Europe: so far away, so much to do, and never enough time... so let Avalon Waterways take care of it for you. When planning a trip to this fascinating continent it’s hard to choose where to go and how to do it. Do you tick off the classic European destinations such as Paris, London and Rome or discover some of the lesser known cities and towns. Do you travel by train or plane? Do you join a bus tour? Do you hire a car? Or do you sit back and discover Europe from its rivers?   River cruising through Europe is one of the most majestic ways to explore this great continent. You experience different countries, cultures, languages and cuisines with complete ease – no need to tackle a map, board a plane, or pack and unpack your suitcase (as clichéd as it is, it’s the true beauty of cruising). As you travel along the mighty waterways considered the lifeblood of Europe, your suite window provides the frame for an ever-changing and fascinating landscape – hillside vineyards, ancient gorges, medieval towns, historic windmills, crumbling castles, half-timbered houses and more. It’s magical, but it’s not always an option for all travellers to Europe… until now. [caption id="attachment_47454" align="alignnone" width="600"] Sit back and relax as you cruise to your next destination.[/caption] Travellers who want to add a cruising component to their European holiday but are time poor – or simply don’t want to spend a week or more on board a ship –will love Avalon Waterways’ new short cruise options for 2020. The luxury river cruise company is the first in Europe to offer ‘taster’ cruises of three, four and six nights, catering to those who want to see Europe from a different perspective in a shorter time, as well as first-time cruisers who want to, ahem, test the waters and learn what river cruising is all about.   Despite being much shorter in length, Avalon Waterway’s new cruises still pack a punch when it comes to experiences. With many smaller towns and villages dotting Europe’s riverbanks and with most sailing done at night, there’s more time for sightseeing and less time spent getting from A to B – which, incidentally, is a delightfully scenic experience on board a river cruise anyway. So it’s a win-win all round. [caption id="attachment_47457" align="alignnone" width="600"] The serenity of cruising through Europe is second to none.[/caption] In just four days, you can experience Europe’s second longest river, the Danube, cruising from Vienna to the brilliant Hungarian city of Budapest on A Taste of the Danube. You will sail through the picturesque Wachau Valley with the choice to bike through its vineyards, take a tour of an 11th-century Benedictine abbey in Melk, stop in the 18th-century town of Bratislava and walk its cobblestoned streets, and enjoy an on board performance by local Slovakian musicians. [caption id="attachment_47455" align="alignnone" width="600"] Take a stroll along the Danube in your final stop in Budapest.[/caption] If you have five days, you can explore one of Europe’s most important rivers, the Rhine, on A Taste of the Rhine. Boarding in Amsterdam, you’ll visit the 2000-year-old city of Cologne, sample wine in the hilly town of Rudesheim, cruise through the picturesque Rhine Gorge, and choose to explore the Dutch countryside by bike.   While the six-day Heart of Germany cruises on the lesser discovered Main River and Main-Danube Canal, with optional visits to the historic rally grounds used by the Third Reich at Nuremburg, the old Bavarian town of Rothenburg, and a walk through the medieval town of Bamberg. [caption id="attachment_47456" align="alignnone" width="600"] Experience the rich history and culture of quaint Bavarian towns.[/caption] Life on board Avalon Waterways’ ships is all about the balance of luxury and comfort. The cruise company is known for its spacious Panorama Suites, which are 30 per cent larger than most standard river ship staterooms and designed so all beds face the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows. These windows open up to create open-air balconies, the only ones of their kind on Europe’s rivers. And life on the river banks is filled with fascinating experiences from walking tours through historic towns, to active excursions such as cycling and hiking, to immersive experiences such as an art class or chocolate making, to indulgent pursuits such as sampling regional delicacies and wine tasting. [caption id="attachment_47449" align="alignnone" width="600"] Discover vineyards on one of many shore excursions.[/caption] Even if you are travelling to Europe on a whirlwind, Avalon’s new taster cruises are the perfect addition to your holiday, allowing you to view this continent from a different perspective. And if you’re a first time cruiser, it’s the perfect way to discover the magic that is river cruising.   Book now Prices start from $1140 per person for A Taste of the Danube; from $2164 per person for A Taste of the Rhine; and from $2182 per person for The Heart of Germany. Book now for 2020 for the best deals on offer, which include savings of up to $6800 per couple on select Avalon Waterways cruises. For more information head to avalonwaterways.com.au P.S. Everything is included in your Avalon Waterways’ fare: all meals, which usually comprise of the regional cuisine you are travelling through and include local wine and beer at lunch and dinner, onboard activities and entertainment (such as wine appreciation, historic lectures and live music), land excursions led by local guides, as well as complimentary wi-fi, coffee and tea, L’Occitane bathroom products and access to the on board fitness centre and whirlpool.   Any questions, head on over to avalonwaterways.com.au
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. 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.  
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. 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!   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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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! 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. 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. 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. 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.
Where to eat and drink in Hong Kong
When it comes to food, there are not many places on Earth where the locals take more delight in the act of eating, or where they have so much choice of where to go, than Hong Kong; the pursuit of food is almost a national sport here. From one-star Michelin restaurants where a bowl of noodles costs just $3 to fine dining to rival anything in Europe to funky eateries where the locals indulge their love of flavour and design, it’s all on the table here. To eat:  More for less It is ridiculous how many Michelin-starred restaurants Hong Kong has, but the awarding of this culinary accolade need not imply that a meal is going to cost you through the nose. Hong Kong has a raft of local, no-frills restaurants in possession of one Michelin star or a Michelin recommendation (one star adjacent), where the food is wonderfully flavoursome and shockingly inexpensive. Tim Ho Wan You might have heard of this humble chain, who have a number of outlets in Hong Kong serving up some of the best dim sum you are likely to taste. The wait can be long, but it’s worth it for the pork buns alone. [caption id="attachment_46642" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Michelin Star Yum Cha at Tim Ho Wan[/caption] Tsim Chai Kee Expect steaming bowls of noodles and wontons: the broth is delicious, the noodles wonderfully chewy and the wontons plump and plentiful.   Where: Wellington Street, Central Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan Fried Buns A standing-only bolthole serving up pan-fried soup dumplings that are crispy on the bottom and filled with pork swimming in aromatic soup.   Where: Lyndhurst Terrace, Central Hidden gems Mrs Pound  There are restaurants and bars to be found down every alley in Hong Kong, but a true hidden gem is Mrs Pound in the Sheung Wan neighbourhood, a speakeasy hidden behind a lock shop. Inside there’s a street food inspired menu.   Where: 6 Pound Ln, Sheung Wan [caption id="attachment_46643" align="alignleft" width="600"] Laksa prawn dumplings at Mrs Pound (Photo: Leigh-Ann Pow)[/caption] Yat Lok A lowkey, unassuming joint that fits in among the many food haunts in Hong Kong Central. Line up for the roast goose – which garnered its reputation for its shatter crisp skin and delicious flavour.   [caption id="attachment_46644" align="alignleft" width="600"] Award winning goose at Yat Lok in central (Photo: Leigh-Ann Pow)[/caption] Where: 34-38 Stanley Street, Central Djibouti Remember that “open a restaurant in an alley trend”? Well, Hong Kong invented that. And one of the first was Djibouti. Even now, the restaurant/bar attracts a cool crowd attempting to get their hands on the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Come for the baba ganoush, stay for the lavender-based cocktails.   Where: Shop 1, G/F, 2 Landale Street, Wan Chai High end RyuGin It has long been a boasting opportunity for Hong Kong travellers to say they have enjoyed a meal at RyuGin. Located on the 101st floor of the ICC, Hong Kong’s tallest building, the modern Japanese restaurant offers lucky diners panoramic views of West Kowloon’s harbor and Hong Kong’s skylines. As for the food, Michelin star chef Seiji Yamamoto flies ingredients from Japan on the daily, with the ten-course Kaiseki meal earning the restaurant two Michelin stars.     Where: West Kowloon, Hong Kong L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon If it's French fare in small portions you're after, you'll feel right at home at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.   Located within The Landmark (HK's luxury shopping center), the restaurant is owned by legendary chef Joël Robuchon, who holds the most Michelin stars in the world.   Where: Shop 401, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central To drink: No matter what you choose to drink, there’s guaranteed to be an outlet close by dedicated to serving it up in style. Cupping Room Coffee culture is thriving in Hong Kong, where the locals like their brews served strong. Cupping Room has four cafes serving up its own beans roasted in Hong Kong. Filters Lane At Filters Lane in Central the young staff busy themselves creating the perfect cup of brewed coffee from the beans they have roasted in the New Territories or imported blends. Even the decaf is thick, dark and robust.   Where: 111 Caine Rd, Mid-level, Hong Kong Craftissimo If your taste runs more to beer, you are going to want to visit Craftissimo in Sheung Wan, a dedicated craft brews bottleshop, or search out Craft Brew & Co. that has craft beers on tap. [caption id="attachment_46645" align="alignleft" width="600"] Craftissimo for dedicated craft brews (Photo: Leigh-Ann Pow)[/caption] Where: Tai Ping Building, Shop D, G/F, Sheung Wan, 22-24A Tai Ping Shan St, Sheung Wan
Beautiful Tahiti
Islands of Tahiti: what you don’t know will charm you
When it comes to French Polynesia, it’s often these little-known gems that captivate the seasoned traveller.  The Islands of Tahiti are pure perfection. Over-water bungalows might be synonymous with the Islands of Tahiti, but what do you say to renting your own private patch of pristine waterfront or pitching a tent in a lush camping ground? Dotted around some of the most spectacular parts of each island, campsites and Tahitian guesthouses (also referred to pensions or fares) gift visitors the opportunity to connect with locals and immerse themselves in traditional French Polynesia life. [caption id="attachment_46539" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Tahiti Islands has beach life down to a fine art.[/caption] Frolicking with whales is an everyday activity No visit to the Islands of Tahiti is complete with a mandatory cocktail-sipping-on-a-hammock session, or snorkelling vibrant coral reefs, but the adrenaline junkies among us need not miss out. Why not swim with pods of humpback whales in Moorea (in waters so rich with marine life you’ll feel like the bay leaf in ray and black-tip reef shark soup), hike the lava tubes of Tahiti and enjoy drift dives in Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass and Fakarava’s Tumakohua Pass?  Fist pump the air and repeat. [caption id="attachment_46540" align="alignnone" width="600"] Crystal clear views from above.[/caption] You can holiday on a shoestring Those without Swiss bank accounts can (and should) apply; budget-friendly accommodation, meals and activities are available on each of the islands – yes, even the fabled celebrity playground of Bora Bora. Close your eyes and picture roadside food trucks serving up the most decadent of crepes and super-fresh poisson cru, scenic island adventures courtesy of next-to-nix bicycle hire and those aforementioned campsites perfectly located by endless azure lagoon. As for those coral-fringed motus and beaches teeming with rainbow pops of tropical fish? The best things in life really are free. [caption id="attachment_46541" align="alignnone" width="600"] Unlike anywhere else.[/caption] You have a choice of festivals Whether you’re into cycling, running, tattoos or fashion, you can rest assured that somewhere, on one of the Tahiti’s stunning islands, there’s a festival that’s just right for you. Will you ink up at Tatau I Tahiti Tattonesia, take part in one of the Moorea Marathon or take a front row seat at Tahiti Fashion Week? The choice is yours – just don’t miss Heiva I Tahiti, the biggest cultural event on the calendar which engulfs the islands over a month-long celebration every July. There are 118 islands While there’s no denying the difficulty that is getting past the beauty of Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti, continue to push on through the vibrant lagoons and white sand patchwork (hardly the most taxing journey you’ll ever make), and your curiosity will be rewarded with a series of remote islands loaded with largely unknown experiences. [caption id="attachment_46542" align="alignnone" width="600"] Like an aquarium, without the glass.[/caption] Swim with migrating humpback whales and hike majestic peaks in Rurutu, zigzag up the flanks of an extinct mountain to reach the archaeological sites of Ua Huka and opt out of society entirely by renting a private island escape on Tikehau. This really is a ‘choose your own adventure’ holiday – Tahitian-style. [caption id="attachment_46544" align="alignnone" width="600"] Sneak peak![/caption] For books and further information, visit Tahiti Tourisme.
Azamara Pursuit Cruise Ship
7 reasons to take a trip aboard the Azamara Pursuit
Not your average mode of transportation between Ol’ Blighty and marvellous France, but as I learnt, climbing aboard the Azamara Pursuit is absolutely the best way to do it, and there are a few reasons why… It should be made clear before you read another word, that I, Olivia Mackinnon love cruising.   It’s in my DNA, you see. My parents actually met while working on board what they called, ‘The Love Boat’, but I suspect it was just a regular boat, with no links to TV cruising royalty whatsoever.   So for as long as I can remember, I have been wooed by the incredible grandness of cruise ships, and up until recently, I’d never been lucky enough to board one in the Azamara fleet.   The brand new Azamara Pursuit was setting off for her maiden voyage, and I had been invited on the two-night journey to experience all she had to offer… Grand is an understatement [caption id="attachment_46070" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Azamara Pursuit is grand in scale[/caption] Landing in London and then travelling to Southampton, UK, I was instantly desperate to climb aboard Azamara’s newest ship, Pursuit as soon as I clapped eyes on her. One of my favourite things to do aboard a ship is familiarise myself with the facilities: ‘Where is the restaurant, how far is my cabin from the pool, where is the spa?!’ I’m simply not satisfied until these questions are answered. However, aboard Pursuit I was enamoured with the luxury feel of the ship. The detail in every hand rail and piece of art. As a small-time cruiser, I simply didn’t feel worthy.   The common areas were furnished with incredible plush chairs, decorated with velvet trimmings and chic finishes, while the restaurant took the whole ‘white tablecloth’ dining experience to a new level with a sense of European style I haven’t ever seen on board a ship before. [caption id="attachment_46073" align="alignnone" width="600"] Spending time in the common areas was a joy thanks to this stunning and comfortable arrangement[/caption] The cabin The feeling of luxury was extended down the hall of the starboard side – as I’m sure it was on port side – and all the way inside my cabin. The bathrooms had more sink space than I was accustomed to. There was an established seating area, a roomy balcony and a beyond-comfortable bed. In fact, with the deluxe sheets combined with the gentle sway of Southampton’s River Itchen, I don’t know if I’ve ever slept so soundly.   I was particularly fond of the colour palette used in the cabins, a mix of moody greys, deep woods and a touch of blush. The marble finishes added a chic cherry to an already delectable cake.   Also, the shower pressure was near-normal – maybe even on par with what you’d get at home. Anyone who has ever cruised before will understand what a big deal that is. A Titanic experience, minus the tragedy What excited me about this trip was that I was going to get the chance to arrive in an entirely different country by the time I woke up in the morning. Yep, we were en route to Cherbourg, a port city in France where you could delight in both French naval history and quality croissants for the day. I also learned that this was the place the Titanic made its final stop on its fateful journey to America – but I tried not to focus on that as I disembarked. [caption id="attachment_46074" align="alignnone" width="600"] The furnishings were elegant, comfortable and luxurious[/caption] If that sounds appealing to you, visitors to Cherbourg are encouraged to visit Cité de la Mer, one of the port’s main tourist attractions, where you can find out more about the infamous ship’s final visit. The on (and off) board delicacies The Pursuit frequents many European ports during its varied itineraries, which means the food always complements your destinations. During my day in Cherbourg I was treated to fresh crepes, soft cheese, macarons and sparkling wine. I pretty much had to roll back to the ship. [caption id="attachment_46071" align="alignnone" width="600"] There are many sights to take in and they aren't all experienced from the ship's deck[/caption] Back on board, passengers celebrated the ship’s maiden voyage with a decadent oyster and Champagne buffet dinner. Chefs were ready and waiting at a personalised pasta station, ready to combine fettuccine with pesto, or spaghetti with carbonara sauce if your heart so desired. It’s differences like these that showcase the level of care – and luxury – you can expect to experience on board an Azamara ship – and from what I hear, the Pursuit’s elegance is certainly no exception to its sister ships: Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey. The pool Despite being August, the weather was a little cooler during our short cruise, and I’m almost certain that I was the only guest to brave the ship’s water amenities. I swam not only in the pool’s accompanying spa on the main deck, but also in the larger spa provided to guests before their scheduled treatment, as an indulgent precursor to what is already guaranteed to be a ‘cloud nine’ level of pampering.   Due to the lack of company in the spas, I felt there was more than ample room – my only gripe would be that they could be made a little warmer – however on a standard August day in Europe I imagine the cooler temperature would ordinarily be ideal. Destination Immersion experiences [caption id="attachment_46072" align="alignnone" width="600"] Just because you're on a cruise ship doesn't mean you don't get to experience the culture of the ports you travel to and from[/caption] The thing that makes the Azamara fleet different to regular luxury cruises is its desire to get passengers off the ship at port and truly immerse them in the activities and culture of that destination. This is what they call their ‘Destination Immersion’ programming.   For example, during my time in Cherbourg on the Pursuit’s maiden voyage, in addition to being treated to iconic French delicacies, we were also wowed by a side-splitting performance by a French dance ensemble. The short itinerary meant that while a full-day of exploration wasn’t an option, Azamara brought a taste of Cherbourg’s culture to us at port – and we loved every second of it.   Sailings with longer itineraries can expect even more incredible immersive experiences. From a three-day/two-night stargazing experience in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to exploring the inside of a volcano in Iceland, they somehow manage to make it about guaranteeing you have as great of a time off the ship as you will on board. They get around, a lot As of 2019, Azamara’s very first Melbourne departure will take place – and the list of destinations worked into their itineraries is longer than ever. This year, the ships will visit a record 250 ports across 69 countries with 94 overnight stays and 145 late-night stays – meaning you get the most out of the places you want to visit. Plus, this year marks the first visit to Alaska – yippee!
6 picturesque places to go on a long weekend near London
London is a great jumping off point for exploring the United Kingdom, and is certainly where most travellers begin (often without heading out of the city at all). This is a list of the best towns, counties and villages to get you out of the city for a long weekend, and explore the history of England along the way. Oxford Oxford, dubbed ‘the city of dreaming spires’, has been home to the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and Emily Davison, all who attended the world famous Oxford University.   If you visit however, you’ll be quick to learn it’s much more than a university town.   The city boasts incredible architecture, history and food, with a trip promising romance, relaxation and a little bit of learning in the middle. Getting there from London: Oxford lies approximately 90 kilometres north-east of London. The journey will take approximately one hour, by both train and car. Best things to do during your stay: EAT Gail’s Bakery Jericho on Little Clarendon Street offers the best in baked goods. Stop in for a croissant/cinnamon bun hybrid, a serve of thick cut sourdough toast with home-made jam and clotted cream or a ham and gruyere cheese croissant. The eat-in dining experience offers quality service, or alternatively, grab it take-away and seat yourself in one of the many university gardens. [caption id="attachment_45908" align="alignleft" width="600"] Gail’s Bakery Jericho on Little Clarendon Street offers the best in baked goods[/caption] For dinner, hit up the best restaurant in Oxford, the Oxford Kitchen, where you can enjoy rabbit croquette for starters, confit pork belly for main and finish it all off with a nectarine parfait. With exposed brick interiors, industrial meets chic in this acclaimed venue. [caption id="attachment_45909" align="alignleft" width="600"] Inside the Oxford Kitchen[/caption] Café Rouge is another great spot, particularly for a nice lunch in the courtyard on a sunny day. Grab a croque monsieur and a coffee, to hit the spot.   DO Punting, usually whilst sipping on a glass of Pimms, is one of the most iconic Oxfordian activities.   Punting is the English version of riding in a gondola, with the punter at the back of the seven-metre boat, rowing with a long pole that reaches the bottom of the river bed.   The best punting can be found at Cherwell Boathouse, where hiring a punt for up to six people on a weekend will cost $34 per hour or $170 for a full day, and slightly less on weekdays. [caption id="attachment_45907" align="alignleft" width="600"] Expect understated but upscale European dining on the river at Cherwell Boathouse[/caption] If you paddle far enough along the river you can stop at a riverside pub for a beverage, or to say hello to the cows grabbing a drink from the river bank.   SEE There are plenty of things to see in Oxford: just walking the street for one, or exploring the libraries and university buildings or shopping.   The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens and Arboretum are a must-see when on a visit to Oxfordshire, and the perfect spot for a picnic lunch or to sit and read a book (how appropriate!). [caption id="attachment_45910" align="alignleft" width="600"] The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world[/caption] If you are looking for something spectacular to see, and happy to drive 30 minutes out of the town, Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 19th century, is a sight for sore eyes.   Set on over 2000 hectares of mostly manicured gardens and forest, the residence boasts a French renaissance style and is home to the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. You can come and see how the other half lived as the manor house is now managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust and open to visitors. Poundon A country hamlet in Buckinghamshire, less than half an hour’s drive from Oxford, Poundon is the ultimate town for a romantic weekend away.   Surrounded by flowing fields of farmland, old local pubs and humble English cottages, Poundon (and a number of surrounding hamlet towns) is an amazing escape from busy London town, offering the authentic country experience you’re looking for.   Getting there from London: An hour and a half by car, Poundon offers a unique country experience not too far from the city. EAT For a fully immersive experience in an English country town, an old local pub can’t be beaten. With plenty in this area the choice is difficult. Perhaps you could be tempted by a roast at the Red Lion, a tiny pub just out of Poundon with a thatched roof and ceilings so traditionally low that you can scarcely stand up.   With its white facade in the centre of Poundon, the Sow and Pigs dates back to the 1800s. Describing its own menu as ‘swine dining’, this pub will not disappoint. Try the chef’s crackling with apple sauce and the baked camembert with garlic and thyme for starters and the slow-cooked beef brisket for main. You also have the choice to create your own burger for £11.50 and an array of daily desserts to finish it all off. DO Book yourself into a bed and breakfast for a cosy and romantic stay. The charming and peaceful Manor Farm Bed and Breakfast – right in the centre of Poundon and with gorgeous countryside views – has three en suite guest rooms, a communal kitchen and elegant lounge room that invites playing board games and reading books (with many of each supplied). Breakfast is made fresh daily and consists of homemade bread and condiments, or yoghurt, fruit and local honey. [caption id="attachment_45915" align="alignleft" width="600"] Book yourself into Manor Farm bed and breakfast for a cosy and romantic stay[/caption] Another great thing to do when in Poundon is to venture out to Bicester Village: a collection of factory outlets for upper-end brands. Here you’ll find Montblanc, Timberland, Cath Kidston and Gucci at a fraction of the retail price. [caption id="attachment_45914" align="alignleft" width="600"] Bicester Village is home to more than 160 boutiques of leading brands, each offering savings of up to 60%[/caption] SEE: The best thing to soak up in Poundon is the countryside. Take a walk around the narrow country lanes to relax, and even take a stroll past Poundon House, an Edwardian estate nothing short of breathtaking. [caption id="attachment_45916" align="alignleft" width="600"] Take a stroll through Poundon House[/caption] Bath Formerly the home of Jane Austen (and now home to the Jane Austen Centre), Bath is a cultural hub filled with history and atmosphere. [caption id="attachment_45920" align="alignleft" width="600"] Evening view of Royal Crescent, a heritage street in Bath[/caption] With much to do and see in this gorgeous West Country city, any visitor to London must venture out and explore it, at least once. Getting there from London: A two-hour drive or one and a half hours by train will get you from London’s city centre to Bath. EAT If you enjoy a bit of spontaneity, and very fine cuisine, Menu Gordon Jones is the best place in Bath. The concept, created by the up and coming chef Gordon Jones, is that every meal is a surprise. At £50 for a five-course meal, you sit and wait patiently for whatever the chef decides to serve you. This is not only fine dining, but an experience that can only be had in Bath.   Although this isn’t Cornwall, stop into the Cornish Bakery when in Bath for a pasty, scone and an excellent coffee.   For a brilliant breakfast, stop in at Bill’s for a stack of buttermilk pancakes (and nab yourself a side of bacon too!). Bill’s, with a gorgeous deep green frontage, reminiscent of an English pub, is hard to miss – so don’t. DO Bath’s compact city centre can be easily enjoyed by foot, but for a sweeping overview of its majestic architecture and attractions – from the Royal Crescent to the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey – hop on an open-top city sightseeing bus. [caption id="attachment_45922" align="alignleft" width="600"] Visit Thermae Bath Spa: where you can bathe in naturally warm, mineral-rich water[/caption] And for a little R&R after all that sightseeing, visit Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in naturally warm, mineral-rich water, just as the Romans used to do. This spa retreat in the middle of the city is inspired by (you guessed it!) the Roman Baths. SEE The Roman Baths, ancient religious spas situated right in the centre of the city, are a must see-in Bath (considering the city’s named after them). The baths, built in opulence, were public bathing houses that were filled using aqueducts and ancient heating systems, showcasing the sophistication of the Roman Empire. To make the most of your visit, book the ‘above and below’ tours, to see the site below and above ground. [caption id="attachment_45921" align="alignleft" width="600"] Enjoy Bath's rich history, brought to life at the Roman Baths[/caption] Cornwall A county to the south-west of London, Cornwall is made up of many picturesque towns and villages, and is best explored with a car. Getting there from London:  From London, to the most westerly part of Cornwall (and indeed, England), Land’s End is a five-hour drive and almost seven hours by train. EAT Wherever you are in Cornwall, make sure you’re eating clotted cream: on toast, on scones and even as ice-cream.   Another delicacy is the Cornish pasty – a hand-held meat and vegetable pie originally developed as a lunch for Cornish tin miners in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you’re looking for something more than cream and pastry, the 13th-century Turks Head pub in Penzance, complete with underground smugglers’ tunnel, is fabulous for enjoying local beer and seafood. DO Head to the Eden Project, home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world. With a giant flying fox across the tops of the forest, this is not only an educational experience but also an exhilarating one. [caption id="attachment_45924" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Eden Project: the largest indoor rainforest in the world[/caption] SEE Visit Polperro, an ancient fishing village in Cornwall. With narrow winding streets, this small, unspoilt town feels like something out of a fairy tale. There is also a resident stray dog, who hangs with the fisherman who still shuck their oysters on the shore. [caption id="attachment_45926" align="alignleft" width="600"] The harbour of the fishing village Polperro[/caption] Another noteworthy town in this gorgeous county, mostly unknown by tourists, is Charlestown. [caption id="attachment_45927" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Phoenix sets sail from Charlestown[/caption] An untouched 18th century port town that used to be bustling with trade. The port, still completely intact, was used as a set for the first season of Poldark. It’s perfect for photographs, antique shopping and a bite to eat; try scones and English breakfast tea in the Pier House, an inn with accommodation that overlooks the town’s Georgian harbour.   Penzance is another beautiful Cornish town. It boasts great shopping and friendly locals and amazing architecture that sparkles on a sunny day. Not far from the centre of the city is Saint Michael’s Mount, which can be ventured to via boat when the sea is not too choppy, or by foot when the tide is low. This mount, a small island just off the coast, is a civil parish and a Cornish Icon.   A 20-minute drive from Penzance is Cornwall’s furthermost point and one of England’s most famous landmarks, Land’s End. Steeped in history and ancient legend, this clifftop destination affords views out of the Atlantic Ocean and more opportunities to indulge in some of the things that Cornwall does best – from pasties to clotted cream ice-cream. [caption id="attachment_45925" align="alignleft" width="600"] Land's End is one of Britain's most magnificent (and visited) landmarks[/caption] Devon Another county south-west of London, Devon is home to exquisite country, coastal and riverside towns.   With so much to do in Devon, a car is the best way to make sure you can get a taste of everything it has to offer. Getting there from London: Approximately three hours by train, and a 3.5-hour drive from London to the centre of Devon. EAT Whilst in Devon, and England for that matter, it would be a sin not to sit down to a Devonshire tea. With English breakfast tea and scones, act like an authentic Devonian. [caption id="attachment_45929" align="alignleft" width="600"] A Devonshire tea is unmistakably a truly British custom known worldwide[/caption] While Devonshire teas can be found at all good cafes and restaurants in Devon. I suggest heading to Exeter for the Hidden Treasure Tea Rooms cream tea. Additionally, The Strand tea rooms, in Plymouth, does the perfect cream tea situated in an old cobbled street location. Finally, the Cream Tea Café in Barnstaple is devoted to Devonshire cream tea and is a must-stop in when visiting this county. DO Why not visit Agatha Christie’s private holiday home, ‘Greenway’ in Brixham, and wander through the rooms where she wrote many of her books? Whether you’re a Christie fan or not, this experience is imperative on a trip through Devon. [caption id="attachment_45930" align="alignleft" width="600"] Wander through Agatha Christie’s private holiday home, ‘Greenway’ in Brixham[/caption] Another must-do in Devon is to hike through the Valley of the Rocks, spotting ancient rock formations, herds of goats and picturesque views of the ocean. SEE Travel through Dartmoor via Dartmoor way, which follows a scenic route through the most beautiful villages and homesteads in the area.    
Rabat Morocco Africa
City guide to Rabat, Morocco
Look past the Moroccan greats of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fez to discover Morocco's capital Rabat, brim full of ancient treasures. Rabat is known for Old medina, the beautiful Kasbah, Souq shopping Rabat's Eat streets When dining in Rabat you should sample the best of both the Moroccan tradition and the French colonial influence.   A much-loved traditional restaurant can be found in the old medina. Dinarjat (+212 37 70 42 39) adds a little theatre to proceedings: you’ll be met at the medina gates by a man in traditional dress bearing a lantern who leads you through the labyrinth of old streets to the old wooden door of the restaurant. [caption id="attachment_31353" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Mosque in the old town of Rabat, Morocco.[/caption] Inside a 17th-century mansion you choose from a classic menu of lamb tagine, couscous and salads under vaulted ceilings.   For a taste of France, head to Le Grand Comptoir. Housed in a restored 1930s Art Deco building, it has that Casablanca romance; a place of martinis, jazz and rare steak. Out and about in Rabat If you only have a day or two in Rabat head straight for the 17th-century walled Medina, a rabbit warren of streets that carry that old North African sense of romance and adventure.   Dip in and out of the souqs and cafes and you could get lost, but not for long as you’ll eventually hit one of the ancient fortress walls.   Head north up the Rue des Consuls past grand old courtyards before leaving the Medina and entering another of Rabat’s treasures, the beautiful Kasbah les Oudaias, through the spectacular Bab Oudaia gate.   Relax in the Andalusian Gardens here and wander the narrow streets and blue-and-white walls of this 12th-century citadel that overlooks the Atlantic. Insider’s secret Summer heat getting too much? There's a lovely clean swimming beach right in the city. Retail reconnaissance Make your way to the 14th-century Grande Mosquée de Rabat Medina, which marks the start of Rue Souika, a thoroughfare of shops with the reed-covered Souq as-Sebbat at its eastern end.   Practise your bartering for Moroccan lamps, embroidered babouche slippers, jewellery and fabrics among baskets filled with bright spices and Turkish delight.   Don’t miss the bustling souqs in the neighbouring city of Salé, a short taxi hop over the bridge that crosses the Bou Regreg river.   Salé is known for its carpenters, who produce fine chairs, tables and trays. [caption id="attachment_31354" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Moroccan women and children having fun on a sunny day at the Kasbah des Oudaias beach in the city of Rabat, Africa.[/caption] Stop by one of the woodworking factories to pick up a gift. The ultimate experience Looking like some alien obelisk, the Hassan Tower forms a striking edifice on the banks of the Bou Regreg river.   The 44-metre high minaret, a slab of ornately carved red sandstone, is all that remains of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour’s effort to build the biggest mosque in the world, an attempt that was destroyed by earthquake in 1755.   Take a walk in the surrounding gardens and then catch a five-minute taxi to Rabat’s other must-see sight, the Chellah.   This medieval muslim necropolis was built on top of a Roman Fort. You’ll find the remains of a spectacular mosque here and the ancient ruins now play host to an annual jazz festival in September. Caffeine hits Avenue Mohammed V is a tree-lined boulevard with plenty of shady spots to sit and have a coffee.   Try La Comédie, which bakes its own pastries every day, and watch the world go by. Stay & play Affordable: The Repose has traditionally styled suites in a lovely old riad in Salé’s Medina.   Moderate: Riad Sidi Fatah is set in a traditional mansion in Rabat Medina.   Luxe: With its own hammam, wellness centre and pool, the Relais & Châteaux property Villa Diyafa is the ultimate way to indulge after a day in the hot, crowded souqs.
Ponant
The most delicious way to travel from Lisbon to Dublin
A gastronomic cruise flitting from Portugal’s medieval treasures, then famed French vineyards through to the fascinations and mysteries of Celtic castles and cobblestones. Gastronomy cruising from Lisbon to Dublin with Ponant; where do we sign up? Between perhaps the most famous stretch of culinary coastline in the world, and the French talent for experiencing the very best of everything, Ponant’s back-to-back cruise from Lisbon to Dublin  may be the most luxurious cruise we know.   France’s only luxury cruise line offers The French Touch: a way of living in which excellent gastronomy takes pride of place. Every day brings gloriously fragrant flavours, carefully selected cheeses and wines, specialty breads and sweet pastries imagined by Maison Lenôtre. Maison Taillevent now provides its fine vintage wines by the glass, Maison Veuve Clicquot accompanies gala cocktails, and the infamous Ladurée bakery has a place of honour for afternoon tea. And then there’s the prestigious gala dinners prepped by Alain Ducasse’s teams. You’ll want to tear yourself away from the incessant luxury on board Ponant’s L’Austral, though, as the decadence continues onshore. The first nine nights of the cruise involves several visits (and wine tastings) at the beautiful wine estates of the Saint-Estephe, Margaux and Pauillac appellations. In the evening, the moored ship will have Château Latour as a magnificent backdrop to a gala dinner onboard with expert wine and dish pairings.   Two days in Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world, follow along with its captivating wine-making tradition; don’t miss the chance to visit the Cité du Vin – the medieval village of Saint-Émilion – and other châteaux. Lastly, you will call at Belle-Île-en-Mer and Guernsey before arriving in Portsmouth, in the south-east of England to end the gastronomic portion of the cruise and begin your exploration through the Celtic Sea for seven more nights.   The Isles of Scilly are a strange, wondrous little archipelago whose landscapes seem to have come straight out of Enid Blyton's famous stories. Here, long sandy beaches stand alongside green fields, while ruins of old castles stand proud on hilltops.   You can step ashore at Cobh, a maritime port in County Cork in southwest Ireland, and discover the picturesque village of Blarney, famous for its castle, and Kinsale, a charming little port sheltered within the picturesque Bandon Estuary.   L’Austral will take you to the celebrated City of Pop, Liverpool, then to the Isle of Man, in the waters between the United Kingdom and Ireland; its capital, Douglas is a postcard from the United Kingdom of the Victorian era. During your stopover in Belfast, you can visit the Giant's Causeway, a massive geological formation and UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring more than 40,000 basalt columns, then it’s off to Dublin, a beautiful end to your voyage, its cobbled streets brimming with fabulous shops, pubs and arts centres deserving a few more nights at your leisure. The French Touch Whether you choose a Mediterranean cruise or a voyage into the heart of the Antarctic ice floes, Ponant’s exceptional levels of customised and attentive service are renowned, giving you the privileged feeling of sailing aboard your own private yacht.   A French crew welcomes you and sets about ensuring your comfort and wellbeing throughout your cruise on L’Austral, an impressive ship featuring innovative and environmentally friendly equipment, and just 132 elegantly designed staterooms and spacious suites with large windows, as well as lounge areas that open onto the outside. The cruise line’s hallmark is a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort. Experience a different kind of cruising on a back-to-back cruise from Lisbon to Dublin, departing on 13 April 2019 for 16 nights aboard L’Austral. Fares start from $11,053 per person twin share in a Prestige Stateroom on Deck 4. For more information visit cruising.com.au/book-today or call the Cruiseco concierge on 1800 270 747 to find your nearest Cruiseco Cruise specialist travel agent.
Sun International
Discover luxurious Africa on a soul-intriguing journey
Immerse yourself in the ultimate in South African luxury Sun International’s Sunlux Collection invites you to discover Africa’s wonders on a truly soul-intriguing journey, from Cape Town’s landmark The Table Bay, within the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; to the gracious Boardwalk in South Africa’s friendliest city, Port Elizabeth; Sun City’s The Palace of the Lost City, nestled in an extinct volcanic crater surrounded by the Pilanesberg Big-5 nature reserve; the timeless Time Square in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria; and the heart of Johannesburg’s Sandton at The Maslow. [caption id="attachment_44998" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be intrigued by the ancient[/caption] The Table Bay Be captivated by perennial beauty. The Table Bay, opened in May 1997 by former South African president and icon, Nelson Mandela, is situated on the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, in prime position against the exquisite backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.   The Maslow Time Square Arrive at the place that’ll take you further. The Maslow Time Square is a specialist 17-floor business hotel situated in South Africa’s first ‘green city’, Pretoria. The hotel is packed with state-of-the-art facilities and technology to satisfy the most switched-on business executive, but with the ability to switch to leisure mode as well.   The Boardwalk Quintessential elegance. Port Elizabeth is rated as South Africa’s friendliest city, with a charming coastal atmosphere perfectly mirrored by this quaint hotel itself. The Boardwalk conjures up scenes from a bygone era and is an ideal place to pursue your wildest or most elegant portside dreams. [caption id="attachment_44999" align="alignnone" width="600"] Be captivated[/caption] The Palace Be intrigued by the ancient. From its inception in 1992, The Palace has enthralled and amazed visitors from all over the globe. This addition to South Africa’s Pilanesberg landscape is dwarfed in years by the 1.3-billion-year-old extinct volcanic site on which it is built; it’s the perfect base from which to explore this timeless place.   The Maslow Sandton The mind’s preoccupation relies on the body’s location. Situated in the heart of Sandton’s financial district in Johannesburg, The Maslow is a specialist business hotel that is consciously positioned as a game-changer as well as a destination for professionals and a portal for travellers to discover unique fascinations within and surrounding this diverse city.   For more information, visit suninternational.com
Hyatt Regency Bali
Treat yourself (and the whole family) at this dreamy Balinese resort
Your ultimate blissful Bali getaway, with newly renovated rooms, a quiet beach, kids’ club, and beachfront eatery! Whether you want to spend your entire time chilling out by the pool or catching up with friends in one of the bars, the classic Balinese resort that is Hyatt Regency Bali has plenty of space and opportunities for you to completely recharge; it’s the perfect tropical escape. Originally built on a coconut plantation, the resort is blessed with the widest beachfront in the region and has the largest garden on the island. Families will enjoy the laid-back Sanur vibe, while couples will revel in its romantic, old-school charm. With 363 newly renovated rooms and facilities, the resort is eminently comfortable while at the same time retaining an authentic Balinese feel. [caption id="attachment_44994" align="alignnone" width="600"] Welcome to relaxation[/caption] Need to know Location The Hyatt Regency Bali is right on the main street of Sanur with 500 metres of beachfront and Bali’s top destinations close by: Seminyak is 45 minutes away and Ubud just an hour. Eat: The hotel has two restaurants: Omang Omang with its all-day dining, and Pizzaria by the beach. Outside the hotel you can enjoy hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars. Play: Though most people come to Sanur to relax, there are plenty of options for turning your mild a little bit wilder. Beach clubs are within 10 minutes of the hotel, and bars with live music or sports are a quick walk away – plus you’ll find chilled-out yoga studios as well as hip boutiques and salons. Within the hotel, guests can swim in one of three pools, mingle at the Beach Bar or get pampered in the lavish spa. Top Tips The hotel’s renowned, established garden makes a fabulous backdrop for family or romantic portraits. Book a photo session with a local photographer and snap some of your best Insta shots ever. The garden is home to about 500 species of flora and fauna, and trees from the old garden of Bali Hyatt have been restored and given a new home. Head to the spa to try a watsu (water shiatsu) treatment – essentially a massage on water! Sindhu market offers a glimpse of local life. A wet market by day and food market by night, Sindhu is Sanur’s unofficial melting pot. Located 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel, the market opens from 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm.   The resort is accepting bookings from 20 December 2018. Find out more at hyattregencybali.com

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