Sunday, July 20, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Alternative accommodation - a delightful solution


In the current (Winter edition) of Get Up & Go magazine we have an article on Airbnb. There is some controversy around the company in the USA at the moment but we promote the concept as it is another way for travellers to experience up-close-and-personal local attractions and people. Get Up & Go is not endorsing the product but just sharing the various experiences.
 
                                             Rob & Ro Porter, from Victoria, Australia.
We interviewed a couple from Victoria, Rob and Ro Porter who do most of their accommodation stays with Airbnb as it suits their frequent travels all over the world. Following is Ro Porter's experience and advice on choosing this way to stay:

In our twenties, Rob and I were happy to be on the Hippy Trail of travel where accommodation had to be cheap and lively. Now, in our sixties, accommodation has greater priority but we still seek an atmosphere of vitality along with the ‘luxury’ of private bed, bath and sitting rooms.

Airbnb has been a delightful solution for us. Essentially we love the variety of excellent value accommodation we now access in fabulous locations. However, the most fabulous aspect for us is the interaction we enjoy with our ‘local’ hosts and hostesses. 
 

 
                                              Top: Apres dinner on Sardengne.
                                              Above: Best homemade jams in Provence.

Because we value the chance to be in special locations and to enjoy interaction with local people, we have developed this approach to using Airbnb.

When booking a place, we make sure we give a very quick description of why we are heading their way. There is always a lovely meeting-cum-handover-key time and if they have a feel for you and your travels, they are so happy to provide you with information and ideas to enhance your stay. As you can imagine, there is nothing better than getting a local to tell you the transport, dining and wining tips.


                                                   Studio in Montmartre.

If we are planning to stay for a week or longer, we look for somewhere that gives us access to our own kitchen and sitting room as well as the usual bed and bathroom. This sometimes means that our host/hostess leaves their apartment to us while they stay elsewhere.  This was our experience in Montmartre and it was perfect.  It could mean that we find ourselves in holiday rental apartments such as we did on Sardinia. If you take this option, be aware that out of season these can be somewhat desolate. Also, some commercial places use Airbnb. They are easy to spot from the booking site so you can avoid them. We found in places like Morocco they were often riads that were already listed in guide books. 

 
                                             Top: The Lighthouse and the family in Morocco.
                                             Above: A family gathering in Lisbon.

If we have a short stay, we find the traditional B+B style of being in the actual home with our host/hostess is good. Again, one gets the same lovely local information as well as private bathroom but the other spaces are shared. However, we have found that we appreciate the chance to meet and talk with family members.
Airbnb possibilities are everywhere: we have stayed in a lighthouse! If you have a hire car, make sure there is parking available. Remote locations are wonderful but do ensure you know if you need to be self-catering or if meals other than breakfast can be provided. Although the name Airbnb implies breakfast is provided, it is one of the wild cards we appreciate. Usually, if your host/hostess is on the premises, it is either wonderful or sublime. However, some are best described as interesting or adequate. Many times we have been invited to dinner with our hosts and hostess. Often, we have been given little tours or taken to enjoy a favourite site or activity. You just never know what will eventuate.

                                         On the beach in Dubai with our Airbnb apartment owner.

Finally, Airbnb is very efficient so bookings, payments and directions are painless. Do read the reviews before you book to get an idea of what is ahead of you. Trust your instincts: if it doesn’t sound like you, then don’t book it. Smart phones and tablets are useful so you always have your directions and contact details on hand.
Airbnb has meant we feel as though we have made new friends. Their quirks, foibles and generosity of spirit have made our travels something we live, rather than simply observe.
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Australia's best burger joints . . .


Burgers and beaches prove a winning combo for Australia’s favourite burger joint, according to TripAdvisor travellers

TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site*, today announced the 10 best boutique burger restaurants in Australia, according to the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers. From a converted truck in Pokolbin to a hidden gem in Byron Bay, these outstanding burger joints provide beef that’s a cut above.

Top 10 Boutique Burger Joints in Australia
1.       Burger Me Fresh, Coolangatta, QLD (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 39 reviews)              
Since opening almost a year ago, Burger Me Fresh has been impressing customers with its fresh, creative menu. Claiming the number one spot on TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Boutique Burgers list, Burger Me Fresh’s delicious burgers are served with your choice of a fresh juice or real fruit smoothie. “There's honestly nothing better than a delicious non-greasy burger ... and Burger Me Fresh just get it right, ” said a TripAdvisor reviewer.





2.       Andrew's Hamburgers, Melbourne, VIC (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 41 reviews)
For over a decade Andrew’s Hamburgers have been dishing up the quintessential hamburger – classic, well-established recipes served with the promise of an unbelievably tasty burger experience. Credited with setting the standard of burger creation in Melbourne, TripAdvisor reviewers agree. One reviewer wrote, “I first visited 10 years ago and they were sensational then and nothing has changed.”

3.       Planet Burgers, Exmouth, WA (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 36 reviews)
This unconventional food truck has been impressing Exmouth locals and tourists for over 20 years, serving up its famous souvlaki, burgers and fries. With a menu unlike any other burger joint around, TripAdvisor reviewers are undoubtedly impressed and one wrote, “I had the hamburger and can honestly say is best one I've ever eaten.”




4.       The Bottle of Milk, Lorne, VIC (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 135 reviews)
Since 2008, The Bottle of Milk has been creating some of the country’s most loved burgers. Located on Victoria’s picturesque coast, the burgers at The Bottle of Milk are a delicious take on the beach-side classic ‘burgers and chips’. According to a TripAdvisor reviewers, “the moment we took a bite from our burgers we knew we would be going back again.”

5.       Longboards Laidback Eatery, Surfers Paradise, QLD (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 104 reviews)
Longboards Laidback Eatery creates a relaxing atmosphere where many visitors and locals go to enjoy live music and a super-sized, high-quality burger. Opening its doors at 7am, Longboards pays homage to the world’s top surfers and artists and servers the surfing community burgers until late every night. “Delicious burger BIG enough for two!” exclaimed a TripAdvisor reviewer.



6.       Penguin Stop Café, Penneshaw, SA (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 31 reviews)
Penguin Stop Café is known by the community for serving the best burgers on Kangaroo Island, and have famously friendly staff with consistently exceptional service. The Egg and Bacon Burger and Chicken Burger rate best amongst reviewers, who wrote, “friendly staff, easy location to access. The food was fresh and tasty.”

7.       TUBE The Ultimate Burger Experience, Townsville, QLD (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 75 reviews)
TUBE is a locally owned small business owned by long-time friends who have a passion for quality food, dining and giving something back to the local community. The taste of the burger definitely lives up to its name with one TripAdvisor reviewer who praised, “the quality of the ingredients coupled with the great fresh flavours and the ingredients were fresh and the steak was of exceptional quality. Our new permanent burger spot.”



8.       Beloporto, Byron Bay, NSW (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 37 reviews)
Beloporto is Byron Bay’s hidden gem when it comes to top burger restaurants. Specialising in Portuguese Chicken Burgers, travellers should look no further for great value. One TripAdvisor review agreed and said, “take the time to find this place, the other reviews are not exaggerating. These burgers are that good! Chips are yummy too.”

9.       Missy Moo’s Burger Bar, South Freemantle, WA (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 34 reviews)
With an extensive range of burgers, Missy Moo’s Burger Bar is value for money and caters for all tastes and preferences - lamb, beef, fish and vegetarian. Known for their large portions, each burger is also named after a nursery rhyme, and served with a steak knife. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “really good food and cool atmosphere, I love going to this place! The staff are really friendly too!”



10.   Tuk Tuk, Pokolbin, NSW (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 61 reviews)
Tuk Tuk is one of the busiest burger bars in the Hunter Valley. With exceptional service and an extensive menu, there is no doubt Tuk Tuk has something for every customer. The ‘Three Way Pork Burger’ and the ‘Rosemary Little Lamb Burger’ rate amongst reviewers favourites and one TripAdvisor reviewer who could not get of enough of the burgers wrote, “They are the best burgers I have ever had and I have eaten burgers all over the world.”
As the country’s boutique burger craze continues to dominate the gourmet fast-food industry, TripAdvisor reviewers prove to be experts when it comes to finding the hottest spots. Traditional burgers, seasonal menus and unexpected combinations have all made it to the list of the nation’s finest establishments and no matter what travellers are looking for, they will no doubt find something to satisfy their burger urge.    

The TripAdvisor list of the 10 best burger joints in Australia is based on the reviews and opinions of TripAdvisor travellers, taking into account the quality, quantity and ratio of reviews mentioning burgers, as well as overall reviews for the establishment.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Get Up & Go: South Africa's colourful Cape Malay

Get Up & Go: South Africa's colourful Cape Malay

South Africa's colourful Cape Malay


Full of history and natural wonders, Cape Town offers up a special pocket of colour – that’s a standout.
Cape Town in South Africa is everything and more you could ever learn about it. The city spreads across the bottom of the mountain range that is topped by the protective shadow of Table Mountain; it leans towards the sea and is a hotchpotch of various architecture from the gated elegant McMansions and villa communities to simple suburban beauties. There are shanty houses, old blocks of flats and new, smart and edgy developments.
One area of Cape Town has set itself as an example of longevity, savvy survival and colourful enough to entrance visitors to its doorstep. It’s the Malay Quarter, Cape Malay at Bo-Kaap. Stroll around the gently undulating streets and be delighted at the sight of pretty houses, immaculately painted in bright, vibrant colours – fuchsia, lavender, jade, sunflower and cobalt - with gleaming white trim. The effect is stunning and a rainbow pattern of little homes along a terrace.
 

 

Not always so neat and pretty these homes were built to house slaves from Malaya and Indonesia, brought to South Africa because of their skills in building, tailoring, gardening and cooking. Not a happy time for many a century or so, with houses packed to the gunnels with the slaves.
With the emancipation of slaves in 1834, many moved to the Bo-Kaap district, then a settlement for disadvantaged communities. The district is on the top of Signal Hill and above the bright colour line is Table Mountain. The district has been listed as a National Monument because of the pre-1840 architecture still standing.
This is a bright spot less than two kilometres in extent. This is a happy, multicultural home to more than 12,000 inhabitants.

Cape cuisine
Also out of this area comes the magic of Cape Malay cuisine, a splendid fusion of spices and traditions from – and although called Malayans, most of them came from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Indonesia in the Far East. Each section of these communities brought with them sweet and sour culinary traditions and creativity in the use of fragrant herbs and spices. This group had the largest influence on South Africa’s cuisine than any other group. Who would have thought that when the Dutch settlers brought t them into the Cape colony in the 17th century, that today their food, and resilience has outlasted the Dutch regime.


One of the most famous delicacies from the Cape Malay kitchen is ‘Bobotie’, traditionally a ‘Monday’ dish, made from leftovers from Sunday’s cooking. There are hundreds of variants in this dish – but the essential ingredient is ‘begrafnisrys’ (funeral rice); rice with turmeric and raisins, so called because it was served as a funeral meal by Cape Malayans.
Bobotie has become highly popular in South Africa as is now regarded as an indigenous dish. Soaked bread is mixed with minced meat and flavoured with fried onions, curry powder, apricot jam, fried almond slivers and sultanas. Add some lemon juice and halfway through cooking – cover with a topping of egg custard to give it a golden crust on top.


Served with sambals and atjars, Cape Malay curries are famous for the full-bodied flavour. So if you hanker for spice – you’ll find the most fragrant dishes served Cape Malay style in Cape Town.
There’s nothing dull about this region on earth – colour, spice and the magic of the glorious scenery, this cape flies!
Visit: www.southafrica.net and for a cooking safari www.bokaap.co.za
Bev Malzard was a guest of South Africa Tourism and flew to South Africa with South African Airlines' codeshare partner qantas

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?
Slaves had one day off a year when they paraded through the streets. To avoid punishment for singing about oppression they had to disguise themselves. Hence, the flamboyant costumes of today’s Cape Town Carnival.