Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ultimate road trip

In his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, Get Up & Go contributor David Ellis says that if you complain at election time about the condition of some of our country roads, consider the lot of those who have to use the North Yungas Road in Bolivia – known locally as El Camino de la Muerte, or The Road of Death.
Running 60-something kilometres from the administrative capital of La Paz to Coroico in the Amazon rainforest region of the country’s north, the road rises as high as 4650m in some places and drops to around 1200m in the mountains at its final destination.
But it’s the way that it clings to the mountainous cliffsides that have earned it its gruesome nickname, coupled with the fact its just 3.2m wide, has no guard rails, and in most places falls 600m or more into valleys below.
Add to this the torrential rain that can make the surface like glass and its little wonder that before an alternative road was built, the North Yungas Road claimed between 200 and 300 lives a year, including in one horror accident more than 100 passengers in a bus that fell off the side into a ravine below.
And yet despite being only 3.2m wide, heavy trucks that still use the road actually pass each other – bizarrely each travelling on 'the wrong side of the road' to do so, but meaning that the driver of the truck heading downhill is on the outside of the road, and therefore can see just how close his wheels are to the 600m drop below him.
While fewer trucks are now using the road, its still popular with thrill-seeking holidaymakers in 4WDs – and in recent years has been luring increasing numbers of mountain bike enthusiasts who are catered for by local companies that take them and their bikes to the highest point of the road for a 50km-plus, heart-stopping downhill ride that’s dubbed The Dice With Death….


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bali flavours

Back in Sydney after a red eye flight from Bali. Have featured a couple of images from the various food outlets of the Ayana Resort & Spa in Jimbaran. In four days there wasn't enough time to eat at all the restaurants but managed to get around to a few and taste the offerings and put on three kilos. More to follow in future issue of Get Up & Go magazine. Currently reminiscing about the food but seriously missing the private pool, and my butler - why can't I always have a butler?
Nasi goring and Bali fruits at breakfast - yummy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bali the beautiful

Last day in Bali after a short but very sweet experience staying at the Ayana Resort and Spa perched above Jimbaran Bay, since Sunday night. After intensive eating, swimming, eating, viewing the view, today, a few of us will leave the comfortable confines of the 75hectare compound for a lightning trip to Seminyak and Legian for a shopping expedition.
Spa treatment day here was an amazing Bali Treatment where my body was covered in a paste of turmeric powder, sandalwood and yoghurt, packed down and almost dried and then rubbed off. Next came the almond oil to assist the massage - I felt wonderful but suspected at one stage of being marinated for a curry pot!
An evening at the rock bar - yep, real rocks on the cliff above the beach - offered a soft sunset and after a dinner at a restaurant where you kick your shoes off and wiggle your toes n the sand while eating local seafood.
Here are a couple of images from the resort and enjoy the 'floating breakfast'. I had the brekkie in my own pool and it was enhanced by sharing it with a couple of visitors - it would have felt a bit silly standing on tip toe in the pool cutting up toast and eggs on my own. This is a treat for couples who want that extra bit of romance while on holidays. In fact the entire resort and award winning spa is a treat - beats the real world any day. Visit:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All is fair in Sydney

Pick any Saturday or Sunday from the end of September to mid November in Sydney (or for that matter any city and surrounds in Australia) and you'll find a suburban or city-based food fair or local craft fair.
Close to me in the inner west last Sunday as the Summer Hill Food Fair. This is a small village close to the railway line and populated with all strata of people. The food fair was meticulously organised and down the main street the aromas enticed the visitors: barbecued octopus, pizza, grilled prawns, lamb curry, spicy kebabs, pad Thai, cakes, baklava, gelato and superb coffee.
A South American band was playing sexy salsa for entertainment and the sun shone – and all was well with the world.
An ex- Get Up & Go art director was there too promoting her charming shop 'Sweets work shop', and selling lovely gifts and affordable works of art.
Fetes, bazaars, fairs and craft shows are quintessential elements of colour and familiarity of community and I find if I am visiting other cities, states or countries I like to tag along to the wanderers as goods are inspected, stuff browsed over and friendly banter is to be had. This is another way of having an authentic travel experience.
So, if you are a local, or a visitor planning any city visits, check the local council websites and you can be part of all the fun of a fair.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Europe and Britain touring - the Insight way

Premium tour operator Insight Vacations has released it’s 2011 Premium Europe and Britain program, offering an extensive range of holiday options with a style to suit every type of traveller. These include Discovery Tours, snapshot-style tours of Europe suited for the first time traveller; Regional Tours which focus on highlights in a specific region or area; Easy Pace, featuring longer stays in each city for more in-depth exploration; Country Roads, which veer off the beaten track; Gold,a range of deluxe itineraries and Select Choices, a range of independent-style itineraries without the hassles.

The new program includes 25 exciting new itineraries, including the 16-day Treasures of the Balkans. Designed exclusively for members of Insight’s online Travel Forum, this tour was such a big success that Insight decided to include it in the brochure. Designed with the seasoned traveller in mind, this is one feature-packed adventure, however there is still plenty of time to soak up the sights and culture as you travel through exotic destinations such as Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Hungary.
Insight’s 16-day Treasures of the Balkans is priced from $3625 per person, twin share, land only (single supplement option from $1170). Departures available from 14 May until 01 October, 2011.
(The lovely images are: Montenegro (orthodox church) ; Dubrovnik and Budapest.

For more information, visit or see your local travel agent.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have you read this magazine?

The spring edition of Get Up & Go is out and about. We've tweaked the design, given you bigger and more beautiful images and have stories that will have you booking holidays right now.
Read about how to deal with the tricky bits in India; a Cambodian movie star; a trip on Canada's Rocky Mountaineer; a tale of Porto in Portugal; lion kings of Kenya and much more to titillate on o/s destinations.
At home we cover every state with tall tales and true. Walk with me on Tassie's Maria Island; go four-wheel driving in Kakadu and enjoy South East Queensland's gourmet corner.
WIN a cruise for two with P&O Cruises and subscribe for the next great issue - Christmas is around the corner - how about a subscription for a friend - just go to
Get Up & Go now!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

London's Savoy Hotel reopens - divine darling!

Glittering with new crystal chandeliers, gold leaf and polished marble floors, London's Savoy hotel reopened on Sunday after a three-year, multi-million-pound refit to restore its former splendour.
London's first luxury hotel, which hosted luminairies from Marlene Dietrich to Claude Monet, has been renovated from top to bottom in a mammoth project costing 220 million pounds (250 million euros, 350 million dollars).
British actor Stephen Fry was the first guest to check in, arriving in a Rolls Royce to be met by hotel managers in the famed art deco lobby.
"It feels the same but it's really different," sales director Simon Gilkes told AFP, adding: "It wasn't about changing the Savoy but restoring the Savoy. We wanted to keep the heritage and elevate it."
New chandeliers in Murano crystal light up the public rooms, and in the lobby the old tattered carpets have been replaced with gleaming marble.
A new bar has been installed in the old Beaufort Room where George Gershwin played to guests during WWII, selling champagne, cocktails and cabaret in art deco surroundings adorned with gold leaf worth more than 38,000 pounds.
In an example of the painstaking work carried out by more than 100 craftsmen, one woman took almost six months to renovate the hand-lacquered wood and gold paint in the insides of the lifts.
In addition to 38 new rooms built with views of the River Thames, there is a new Royal Suite covering 325sq.m, complete with a ventilated shoe closet and costing a recession-busting 10,000 pounds a night.
The Savoy was built in 1889 to cater for the nearby Savoy Theatre and over the next century was home to Hollywood and acting royalty, including Sarah Bernhardt, Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin and Frank Sinatra.
But it also became the favourite haunt of prime ministers and the royal family, and it was here that Queen Elizabeth II, then a young princess, was first seen in public with her future husband, Philip.
Aside from hosting glittering parties and A-list guests, the Savoy also prides itself for being at the forefront of modern technology -- it was the first hotel in London to use electric lights, elevators and 24-hour service.
But despite all the building work, the hotel retains its lived-in feel and remains quintessentially English, with straight-backed valets ready to cater to your every whim and a classic 'high tea' still served each afternoon.
Situated just a short walk from the theatres of London's West End, the Savoy is to London what the Ritz is to Paris -- and indeed Cesar Ritz, who founded the eponymous hotel chain, was the Savoy's first manager.
These days, it is owned by Canadian group Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, which took over five years ago.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art & About Sydney 2010

Are You Looking At Me? Laneway Art

We haven't got to the excellent laneway exposition status of Melbourne yet but someone's trying! Contemporary Australian artists have transformed eight laneways in central Sydney into temporary art installations as part of Art & About Sydney 2010.
Nine artists are exploring the potential of forgotten city lanes in a new way, through light projection, sound, text and imagery.
The contemporary artists working on Are You Looking At Me? include Simryn Gill, Jan van der Ploeg, Jon Campbell, Justene Williams, Mikala Dwyer, Simon Yates, Newell Harry, Nike Savvas and Rocket Mattler.
Conceived by international art curator Barbara Flynn, the Are You Looking At Me? Laneway project will both delight and challenge the public whilst enlivening and reactivating under utilised urban spaces.
“Each artist has come up with a new work especially for the project. Their art will so radically transform the space, it will be as if people are seeing the laneway for the first time. Their art will transcend temporality and become an unforgettable part of the living memory of Sydney,” said curator Barbara Flynn.
Last year, an estimated 100,000 people explored the By George Hidden Networks - Laneway Art project.
The Are You Looking At Me? Laneway Art project will remain in place until January 31.

Art & About Sydney runs until 24 October 2010. The full program will be online in early September:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ten top tips to travel smart

Travel smart
1. Copy your passport and driver’s licence: take a photocopy and keep them separate from the original or take a photo of them and keep it on your phone. Do the same with your travel insurance documents.
2. Stay covered: Make sure you know exactly what your travel insurance covers (regarding medical and emergency assistance) and that the policy will be recognised around the world. In some countries, if they don’t recognise the insurance underwriter, they may not admit you to a hospital. Make sure your insurer has a 24-hour assistance phone line. Program the help number into your mobile.
3. Shoot your luggage: have a photo of your luggage and any valuable items stored on your phone to show to someone who doesn’t speak English if they get lost.
4. Suitcase saviours: wet wipes and hand sanitiser are invaluable. Gaffer (electrical) tape can be used to repair luggage, hold up mozzie nets or repair shoes. Pack a sarong, to use as a sheet, towel, pillow case, head scarf or shopping bag.
5. Stay in touch: sign up for a free Skype account to call people using the internet, or purchase a local SIM card for your phone, but you’ll have to get a new card and number in every country you visit. Alternatively, buy a SIM card aimed at travellers such as TravelSIM ( Keep the card and use the same phone number every trip.
6. Cash & carry: pre-paid credit and debit cards offer the most convenient form of travel money. Visa is the most world-widely accepted. Even in techno-savvy Japan you’ll find that you can’t use many ATMs – always look for the Cirrus or PLUS logo.
7. A good book: load audio books or podcast radio shows into your iPod.
8. Adaptors and batteries: For iPods, digital cameras, phones, laptops and camcorders, carry a power adaptor and rechargeable batteries. Don’t lose the charger or cables, they are hard to replace overseas.
9. Good nights: travel with an inflatable neck pillow for long-haul flights, ear plugs and an eye mask.
10. Stay well: essential medical kit items include cold and flu pills, painkillers, throat lozenges, band aids, laxatives, something to stop diarrhoea and vomiting, antiseptic cream, eye drops and antihistamines. Tea tree oil soothes itchy bits and doubles as an antiseptic and anti-fungal. Take enough prescribed medications to last the trip, and a copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining why you need them. If you suffer from food allergies carry ‘food alert’ translation cards (see And don’t forget a spare set of specs and your prescription just in case.

Picture is guests of MV Orion on a zodiac cruising the coast of the Kimberley, WA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Zoom zoom to Broome

If you have compiled a bucket list for Australian destinations, I hope Broome is at the top of the list. This sunny, open-hearted town in northern WA, on the edge of the Kimberley wears its history on its sleeve, has much to tell us about the past and captures the imagination of a would-be, could-be or is - an adventurer. Some of the old shopfronts remain static and enjoy the vintage look, while flash harry establishments like Paspaley Pearls shine with the gloss of big city shopping.
Recommended for a 24-hour stopover before embarking on the cruise to Darwin around the Kimberley on MV Orion:
* walk along Cable Beach
* have a coffee at the cafe on the beach across the road from the cable Beach resort (the beach cafe at the resort was closed for lunch!)
* spend some money at the boutique shops in Chinatown
* have dinner at the Zoo cafe
* buy a pearl
* take an hour tour round town in a Chinatown taxi
Go to bed, have a good sleep, a lazy breakfast and there you are - 24 hours gone for good.
You'll have to comeback to enjoy the other treats of Broome.