Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The day Swedish drivers swapped sides

Get Up & Go guest blogger David Ellis says that when Sweden decided to change to driving on the right side of the road 49 years ago this month, more than 80% of drivers opposed the idea saying it would result in roadway carnage.

After all, they argued, Swedes had been driving on the left side of the road since the first horses and buggies hit the streets 233 years before in 1734.

But with all neighbouring countries driving on the right-hand side of the road, and the majority of Sweden’s vehicles being left-hand drive imports, the government swept aside public opposition, and decreed in 1963 that driving on the right-hand side of the road would become law at 5am on 3 September 1967.

A massive education program was initiated called Dagen H (Dagen meaning “day” and H for Hogertrafik “right-hand traffic.”) Dagen H logos were printed on everything from milk cartons to bras, 130,000 Dagen H reminder signs erected along roadways nationwide, and Dagen H stickers slapped on anything that moved.

CHANGING from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the
right-hand side had its confusion for drivers in Sweden in 1967, but the country survived.

One-way roads, crossings, roundabouts and flyovers had to be redesigned, and 360,000 road signs were changed country-wide. Traffic lights were reversed and road lines repainted during the night before the change-over– and buses had to have new passenger doors cut into their right-hand sides.

Then on 3 September only essential vehicles were allowed from 0100 to 0600, with these forced to stop at 0450, and at 0500 to cross carefully to the other side of the road.

And on the first “working Monday” after, there were 125 non-fatal traffic accidents nationwide – compared with 198 normally.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Southern Wonderland

Get Up & Go guest blogger David Ellis resides in the Southern Highlands, south of Sydney, and he says that if you’re a green thumb and into all things florally and Springtime, the place to head this month is the NSW Southern Highlands.

Just an hour or so south of Sydney, one of Australia’s oldest and most-visited floral festivals will attract something like 65,000 visitors for the 65th annual Tulip Time from 13-25 September.

Ablaze at Bowral’s famed Corbett Gardens will be 75,000 tulips and 15,000 annuals, and with a theme of Alice in Wonderland, garden bed displays will cleverly depict such scenes as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the Cheshire Cat, Big Clock, Playing Cards and more.

And a further 40,000 tulips will add more rainbows of colour to parks and gardens across the Southern Highlands’ other major towns of Mittagong and Moss Vale, and a score of surrounding picturesque villages.

On Saturday 17 September a Street Parade through Bowral will include marching bands, floats, vintage farm equipment, street performers, a procession of classic cars – and 140 cyclists who’ll have just pedalled down from Sydney raising money for brain cancer research.

As well a heritage steam train will bring scores of other visitors from Sydney for not just the gardens, but the region’s internationally-famed street dining and shopping, and a Tulip Time market-place crammed with local foodstuffs and beverages, home-wares, clothing and jewellery… while awaiting wine buffs will be the area’s famed boutique wineries.

It’s a long way from Bowral’s first 500-bulb Tulip Time in 1960; for information and free assistance with booking accommodation call1300 657 559, or visit www.southern-highlands.com.au to book online.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Smile Cheese when you see the price

In his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, Get Up & Go guest blogger David Ellis says the world’s most expensive cheese doesn’t come from cows or goats, and you won’t find it in the plushest restaurants or finest delis in London, New York or Paris.

Instead this cheese comes from the milk of donkeys, just 100 jennies amongst a pack of 130 of them that live in a Special Nature Preserve outside the Serbian capital Belgrade.

And if you want to find out why it can command such a bizarre price, you’ll have to go to Belgrade to try it for yourself, because it’s not sold retail anywhere else in the world - and you’ll pay the equivalent of around AU$3000 a kilo for your little indulgence.

Serbian donkey cheese is white, crumbly and intensely flavoured - and the most expensive cheese in the world.

Called “Pule” it’s made in what’s said to be the world’s only donkey cheese factory, with 25 litres of donkey milk (6.6 gallons) required for each kilogram of cheese, and annual production a mere 200 kilograms. Those who’ve tried it in local restaurants, say it’s white and crumbly, intensely flavoured, has a natural saltiness to it, and is smoked in the final stages of production.

Highly nutritious donkey milk that’s beneficial to babies’ immune systems and is used in many European beauty and skin-care products, is also available at an equally pricey 40 Euros a litre (around AU$59) – because donkeys are simply not big daily milk producers.

And which reminds us that ancient Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra bathed nightly in donkey’s milk to preserve the beauty and youth of her skin… and to indulge her whim, needed 700 of the animals on stand-by no matter where she travelled.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Czech Republic's Kosher Wine Tasting

Guest blogger Catherine Marshall shares a special wine tasting with us . . .

This is the perfect place to host a kosher wine degustation: Trebic's Jewish Quarter which comprises, along with the city's Jewish Cemetery and the St Procopius Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In a café near the Jewish Gate, Szabo Tibor pours a Riesling and points to the platters before me: there is cheese and bread, meat spread and blue cheese spread and – could it be? – a slice of chocolate cake.

“Taste the wine, eat something,” he says. “Taste it again and you will see the taste changes.”

And indeed he’s right: something happens to the receptors on my tongue when I follow the food with wine. I try it again, with the chardonnay and the rose and the black grape varietal called Svatovavrinecke.

They’re lovely-tasting wines, but undetectable as a kosher, for such wines are classified not by taste but by the method of production.

“From the time you pick the grape, to the moment the cork goes in, only Orthodox Jews can [be involved],” says Tibor, himself merely a Gentile wine lover. “The process is supervised by a rabbi from Prague.”

Just one Jewish family remains in Trebic – home to the largest and best-preserved Jewish Quarter outside of Israel, from which thousands of Jews were transported to death camps during World War II. And only two kosher winemakers remain in the Czech Republic. Yet locals are keeping the Jewish memory alive: Tibor holds his kosher wine tastings, while resident Linda Navratilova immersive Jewish experience tours.

Back at the café, it’s time to taste the dessert wine, Zweigeltrabe. I take a sip, and follow it with a bite of chocolate cake. How appropriate that this wine should be served during Shabbat, for it’s as though I’ve tasted a piece of heaven.

The writer was a guest of Beyond Travel. More information: beyondtravel.com.au;


Monday, July 11, 2016


Dive into the pristine waters off Sabah's Sipadan Island


The triangle between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines is one of the most bio-diverse marine habitats in the world. Strong ocean currents, deep-sea trenches and sea mountains, combined with active volcanic islands have created a complex oceanographic environment that is paradise for nature lovers and divers alike.

The beauty of this region lies in its diversity, and the dive spots and marine life vary from island to island, but most people come for the world-famous Sipadan Island located off Sabah’s east coast.

Rising 700m from the sea floor and at only 12hectares, Malaysia's sole oceanic island is tiny, taking just 25-minutes to circumnavigate on foot. Declared a bird sanctuary in 1933 by the Colonial Government of North Borneo and re-gazetted in 1963 by the Malaysian Government, the island’s dense vegetation supports a large variety of tropical birds including sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. Exotic crustaceans including the amazing coconut crab roam the beaches and scurry among the undergrowth, with blue skies and tropical scenery Sipadan’s stock in trade.

But it is below the surface of the ocean where this island really excels. The late Jacques Cousteau, world-renowned oceanographer, once described the pristine waters around Sipadan as an untouched piece of art, helping to establish this dive mecca as the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia. The diversity of the island’s marine life is unparalleled, home to thousands of turtles, manta rays, schooling sharks, swirling barracuda, and awe-inspiring coral walls dropping more than 2,000m straight down to the sea floor. Its famed Barrier Reef is the largest in South East Asia and regularly voted by divers as one of the World’s top dive destinations.

So make sure you include this tiny gem – truly one of the last unexplored frontiers on Planet Earth, in any trip to Malaysia. Diver or nature lover, the experience is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

Getting There

The jump-off point for all Sipadan Island explorations is the town of Semporna, a one-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, followed by a 30-minute speedboat to Mabul.

For information about tours of Malaysia, please contact:

Tourism Malaysia, Telephone: +612 9286 3055, Fax: +612 9283 8311, Email: malaysia@malaysiatourism.com.au or visit http://www.malaysia.travel

Top 10 Dive Sites

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Big Booze Heist

Steward's mini bottles maxi trouble

IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, Get Up & Go guest blogger David Ellis says a 28 year old flight attendant has been charged in Memphis, Tennessee with stealing more than 1,500 minis of booze from flights she was working.

And rather than to simply enjoy herself or with family or friends in her time off, she allegedly pinched them to sell.

The attendant worked for Delta Airlines’ subsidiary Endeavour Air which sells minis to passengers for US$8-$10 each, and it’s claimed she regularly slipped the tiny bottles of whiskey, vodka, rum, gin and exotic liqueurs into her bag at the end of shifts, later putting them on classified ad websites for just a dollar each.

She was arrested when undercover liquor licencing agents made a number of online purchases, and subsequently charged her under American “profiting from crimes of opportunity” laws with Theft of Property Over $10,000 and Unlawful Sale of Alcohol, and the almost-bizarre Unauthorised Transportation of Alcohol and Unauthorised Storage of Liquor For Sale laws.

And even more weirdly while Endeavour Air could have earned $12,000 from the legal sale of those 1,500 minis on board, all she got from selling them illegally was $1,500… not very rewarding considering she could face from 3 to 15 years in jail when she appears in court again later this year.