Sunday, November 4, 2012

The worm turns . . .

This is seriously silly, but intrepid traveller, David Ellis seeks the strange and whacky things that make up our world . . . he found hundreds of people with obviously little better to do, descend on the English village of Willaston in Cheshire every July for the World Worm Charming Championships.
The idea is to lure as many worms as possible out of a designated area of farm turf in half an hour, with contestants using a wondrous array of devices to 'vibrate' the soil, which makes the inquisitive worms come up for a look.
It’s an ancient art often used by anglers seeking bait, and in 1980 after a Willaston farmer’s son, Tom Shufflebotham lured over 500 worms out of the ground in a half hour, the International Federation of Charming Worms and Allied Pastimes was formed to conduct the annual Willaston Championships.
Today it attracts worm charmers from around the world, some contestants simply thumping the ground with their open palms, others driving wooden stakes in and rubbing them with steel rods, while some choose the most popular method - driving a garden fork into the ground and 'twanging' it like a guitar.
And in more recent years, some have bent the rules a little, sprinkling the turf on which the Championships are held with cold tea and beer to encourage the ever-thirsty worms to pop up for a drink.
The current record of 567 worms charmed out of the ground in thirty minutes was set by locals Miss S. and Mr M. Smith in 2009.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



And ride she did! Pauline Webber enjoyed one of Australia’s best bike rides and discovered the pleasures of communal bike riding.

(Book now for this year’s great ride.) Images below by Pauline Webber

Victoria may indeed be the Garden State, but it is also the bicycle state, with cycleways, railtrails and the dynamic Bicycle Network Victoria looking after the interests of pedal-pushers.
For the past 28 years, this organisation has hosted the annual RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride and I saddled up to join the 2011 tour from Swan Hill, in the state’s northwest, to Castlemaine, 590km southeast.
With 3500 cyclists and 500 volunteers, it’s a huge feat of organisation. Every morning, the enormous circus of tents, catering pavilion, bar, nightclub, luggage trucks, maintenance shop and coffee carts is packed up and re-erected at the next campsite. Most riders take their own tents, but there’s also a Sleep Easy package of tent set up for you each night and a hotel package handled by cycle tour company Alltrails. Combining camping with motels works well, though accommodation en route is booked out well in advance.
We are eased in with a gentle 50km circuit round Swan Hill past vineyards and orchards heavy with summer fruit. The next few days are easy 80 to100km routes through the pancake-flat Murray River valley, the sky a huge blue bowl over fields of wheat and canola.
This is very much a family event - toddlers in trailers are towed along behind mum and dad while kids barely old enough to reach the pedals go tandem or ride solo. Older folk maintain a steady pace while super-fit high school students whiz by them in colour-coded pelatons.
I get chatting with Len, 81 years old and on his seventh ride. “I lost my wife 11 years ago,” he tells me. “I couldn’t let her down so I learnt to cook, clean the house and I took up cycling. I’ve made lots of friends and kept myself fit. I think I do ok.”
Astonishingly, Len is only one of several octogenarians who are Great Ride.
Many riders do the tour again and again, saying it’s a great way to get to know the state. “You see places you’d never go to in other circumstances,” one tells me. Some towns on the route really get into the spirit of the thing and it’s always a buzz to hang out in those that put on a carnival for us. I’ll definitely go back to Barham, Maryborough and other communities that made us so welcome.
Plus “it’s an environmentally sustainable way to travel” says one of the volunteer road marshals, who is on her 11th ride. “These kind of holidays leave a pretty small carbon footprint.”
Among the 1000 school, there are some Aboriginal lads from remote communities. For many, it’s their first taste of the world beyond home. “It builds their social skills and confidence,” says Graham Buckley, who brings students from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands each year. “For a few, it can be a life-changing experience.”
I burn up the aphalt for a while
Conversation in transit is one of the pleasures of communal bike touring. I burn up the asphalt for a while with WARBIES Gabriel and Jo. The acronym stands for “we are right behind you”, a great thing to know when you get a puncture, take a spill or find your brakes have gone.
Jo, a slight, fair-haired young woman is doing her first WARBIE tour. “I like being a bit of a role model,” she says. “There aren’t many female WARBIES and I reckon it’s good for other girls, especially the school girls, to see a woman take a position of responsibility.”
Like Jo, Gabriel has done the ride many times and feels he gives something back by volunteering. Almost all the volunteers I meet have done the ride many times.
I make a few discoveries as the days pass, not least that a fierce headwind can be harder on the thighs than a hill. I find hot tea is the best pick-me-up after a day on the road, that lying snug and dry in a tent listening to rain patter down outside is one of life’s pleasures, that computers and mobile phones are non-essentials and that there’s no better way to make friends than over a beer and chicken curry in a giant communal dining tent.
The secret to a happy ride, I’m told, is to go at your own pace. On Day 4, I do pedal-chat with Lyn and Val, whose shocking-pink “Grannies on Bikes” T-shirts are hard to miss. Both retired, they formed the club because they’re determined to stay fit into old age. We’ve been riding along together for a while and I’m thinking we’ll probably keep company for the rest of the day when Val says, “Well, we better be getting along. See you in camp.” And with that, they both shoot off into the distance.
Now I’m back home, I do regular rides so I’ll be match-fit for the 2012 ride. Watch out you Grannies!

Don't miss
RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride 2012,
November 24 – December 2
Lakes Entrance to Phillip Island
Registrations open April 2012

Bicycle Network Victoria

images by Pauline Webber



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Turkey town houses remembered

This time last year I had sailed into Turkey and stopped in Istanbul - the city has an abundance of riches: historic artefacts, castles, treasures, mosques - but some of the local buildings took my fancy. . .

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Europe here we come!

The new (spring) edition of Get Up & Go magazine is about to hit the decks, you'll see by our lovely cover - that it looks suspiciously like Switzerland - bingo.
We have Europe as a special feature this ssue with wonderful stories on Hallstatt (Austria); Zurich (Switzerland); Madrid (Spain); Paris (France); a Christmas markets cruise through Germany and some crazy writers kayaking in Venice!
Asia is covered with Macau, China, Taiwan, Cambodia and India.
And one of our writers not only talks the talk, but walks the walk - as he counts his steps on the Kokoda Track. This year is the 70th anniversay of the Kokoda Track.
Samoa and Brunei are on the fun list and Ita Buttrose is our frequent traveller this issue.
Australian stories include a pub where you are served gourmet freral food! Go wild in Tasmania; experience glamping in Queensland and much more.
Our competition is a beautiful cruise with Evergreen Tours from Budapest to Amsterdam worth more than $19,000.
Don't forget to sign up for our free e newsletter -we are giving away recently released dvds . . .

Enjoy the spring issue of Get Up & Go and why not subscribe for a friend? Christmas is only 71 sleeps away . . .
Images: cover of Get Up & Go and sublime Hallstatt in the autum, picture Copyright (c) Kraft.Hallstatt

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Get Up & Go: Some swish Swiss dishes

Get Up & Go: Some swish Swiss dishes

Some swish Swiss dishes

For a tiny, landlocked country, Switzerland makes the most of every corner's cuisine. The Swiss love their tucker and visiting recently I joined the throng.
Switzerland's neighbours are the influence for the table here - France, Germany and Italy press the flesh and have infiltrated Swiss kitchens for centuries. Historically, Switzerland was a farming country - and still is in many parts and the most popular crops were potatoes and dairy products from happy cows. Chocolate has been top of the food chain too.
Much of what is popular and served up in homes and indeed restaurants are regional dishes. In modern Switzerland Italian food is common including the staples of pasta and pizza. Swiss cheese dishes include Emmental cheese, Vacherin and Appenzeller. And the berautiful cheeses from the various regions in the mountain areas have their special flavours from the mountain herbs growing in the lush pastures that the cows love.
A typical Swiss breakfast (and my favourite meal in European countries) might display good, artisan breads, butter, honey, cheese, cereal, milk, hot or cold cocolate, coffee and tea. (Except in some of the hotels in the Italian region - especially Lugano where I stayed in Hotel Lugano Dante - and had the most splendid brekkie - check out the picture for cake. Any country that serves cake for breakfast gets  my vote as a winner.
Lunch in Switzerland is usually a meal of pasta,potoates, meat, fish, seafood and veggies - see my lovely tuna salad, served in a mountain top cafe above Lugano.
Dinner can range from a full meal to a snack.
Fondue is still on the radar, as is Aloplermagronen - a nostalgic dish of macaroni, carameleised onions, potoes, melted chese and served with a dish of apple sauce. Basically macaroni chees but with the added potatoes - pretty heavy.
Another favourite edging towards the German tradion is Zurcher Geschnetzeltes - sliced veal in cream sauce and mushrooms, served with rosti.
I'm not saying I returned from Switzerland four kilos heavier than when I left - but I'm not denying it either.
I did manage to have a green salad every day! And a Swiss chocolate too.

Hotel Lugano Dante
Zunfthaus zur Waag (for veal dish)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Norfolk Island's historic splendour

                    Norfolk Island: basks in historical splendour

                                            By Guest blogger - Rama Gaind

“Holy cow!” I exclaimed as I saw some of them break away from a herd and cross the road, while others kept nonchalantly chewing on the succulent green grass, oblivious of the hold-ups they had caused to vehicular traffic.
  Les Quintal, our guide on the orientation drive around Norfolk Island, quickly replied: “this is their right”.
  The farmers have grazing rights to the roadside pastures so cows have the right of way – and they know it!
  What’s more, it’s not surprising to also see cars give way to chickens, ducks and geese crossing the road.
  Norfolk is a pristine, petite island of 3455 hectares sitting splendidly in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Australian mainland and 1063 kilometres from Auckland.
  You’ll be surprised not only by its sheer sprawling magnificence, but also the amiability, warmth, openness, and yes, a certain eccentricity that’s most appealing.
  Norfolk Island was where the “worst of the worst” convicts were sent, for this was an infamous prison in the British Empire in the 1800s. Unpleasant stories of their mistreatment and anguish abound, but the island is inhabited by descendants of the original mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ill-fated voyage on the Bounty.
  What’s more, the ghosts of the past are still very much alive among today’s living!
  Discovered by Captain James Cook in 1774, the British used it as a penal colony, twice.
  The original township of Kingston, which is in the world heritage-listed Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic area, still stands guard on Slaughter Bay, and comprises a golf course and a cemetery where the headstone inscriptions impart unsettling stories. 
  The island’s sorrow becomes apparent as you meander through the ruins of the buildings built by the convicts. While some have been restored and are in use as museums, homes and government facilities, the roofless ones are exposed to the elements.
   With a population of 1800no, make that 1700 at present as the other 100 are working off-shoreNorfolk is eight kilometres by five kilometres with 170 kilometres of roads, no public transport and a surprising number of things to do for such a small place.
  Scenic views abound from the top of Mt Pitt and Captain Cook’s Lookout; the ‘grand Gothic-style’ St Barnabas Chapel with its stained glass windows is precious; take a tour of Norfolk Blue to see how Robyn and Paul Menghetti produce a unique breed of cattle; and marvel at Cyclorama, the 360-degree giant panoramic painting that follows the story of the Bounty and its crew.
  Driving is stress-free, with hardly any traffic, one roundabout, no traffic lights, a 50-kilometre speed limit (30 kilometres in school zones), seatbelts were only introduced a year ago and you must not forget to practise your ‘Norfolk wave’ by acknowledging the passing driver with the gentle lift of the hand or one finger.
  Roads have quaint names like Poverty Row, Puppies Point, Cats Lane; phone numbers are five digits long; the residents are listed in the telephone book by their nicknames; and be enthralled by the special Norf’k language, a lilting blend of Tahitian and Old English.
  This self-governing, external territory of Australia is a tax haven where tourism is the only source of income. It makes for an ideal destination for long weekend escapes.
  Take your passport, there are no long queues at customs and the friendly officials will greet you with a beaming smile!

Rama Gaind was a guest of Norfolk Island Tourism and Air New Zealand.

Travel facts
Air New Zealand has direct flights from Sydney starting at $572 per person, from Brisbane at $535 per person and with a domestic connection ex-Melbourne from $960.
Bookings can be made at

Air New Zealand flies out of Sydney at 9.10am and leaves Norfolk Island at 2.30pm on Mondays and Fridays. It leaves Brisbane at 11am and Norfolk Island at 3.50pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Pic 1
Splendid panoramic views can be seen from Norfolk Island, over the Pacific Ocean, to Nepean Island (foreground) and the uninhabited Phillip Island.

Captain Cook’s Lookout: on his second voyage around the world, Captain Cook discovered and named Norfolk Island on 10 October 1774. Photo: Rama Gaind

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seriously super schnitzel

Vienna is not ALL about the schnitzel, but, as far as I am concerned I wouldn't visit without enjoying this local specialty. On a recent visit I discovered the stunning Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper where, while partaking in the Art of Enjoyment, I indulged in the art of the perfect Wiener Schnitzel.
This restaurant showcases traditional cuisine in the best way possible - Viennese tradition and modern design. The culinary focus is on the schnitzel, prepared according to the original recipe and using the choicest cuts of veal, and other Viennese specialties such as grilled fish and meat, pasta and seasonal dishes are prominently featured on the menu.
The name Wiener (Viennese) Schnitzel dates to the mid-19th century. The now classic dish may have originated as the costoletta alla milanese, a similarly prepared but thicker veal cutlet.
Legend has it that in 1857 the famous Austrian field marshal Count Joseph Radetzky brought the recipe back to  Vienna from the Italian territories under Habsburg rule. The story goes that when Radetzky submitted a report on the situation in Lombardy, an aide-de-camp to the Austrian Emperor added a side note abbout a 'deliciously breaded veal cutlet'. On Radetzky's return to the Imperial capital, the Emperor personally requested the recipe.
Gasthaus zur Oper, Walfischgasse 5-7, 1010 Vienna.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travelling light

Somone put an image of a little 'teardrop' caravan on facebook that looked pretty cute and I remembered taking pictures of one I found in a local museum in Victorville CA, along Route 66. The museum is an homage to Route 66, the pop culture surrounding it, the myths, legends and realities of the fabled highway - the Mother Road.
These darling littel caravans - teardrops -  are so economicalyl fitted out - as long as you don't carry television sets, microwave ovens, dish washers etc. - keep it simple and you can travel with ultimate charm and a lightweight load.

Read all about Route 66 in the current issue of Get Up & Go magazine -

Monday, July 9, 2012

New edition of your fave magazine out now!

Get Up & Go winter edition has been published. This issue has some wonderful features to inspire you, thrill, move, educate and interest you. For example: did you know you can stay in a temple in Korea and participate in all the minutes of the temple days - lots of bending here. Drift down the River Kwai and discover this region of Thailand; hang out in Samoa for fun; discover Abu Dhabi and middle eastern hospitality; and take three separate train trips - up the Eiger in Switzerland, along the Maharaja's route in India and across the Nullarbor in Australia.
Remember the old tv series Route 66? Well, we go there. Read all about it.
And the BIG competition is still going - WIN a Great Australian Flight with Bill Peach Journeys across Australia worth almost $28,000 - the best prize up for grabs in Australia this year.
How about subscribing to the magazine for a friend or relative - let them in on the big secret of Get Up & Go. Happy travels.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Unhappy packages - for a happy divorce

Our loyal reader and enthusiatic traveller David Ellis is always on the hunt for weird and whacky tales. His continuing search has uncovered a British travel agency that has joined others in the USA selling the ultimate in packages to the Caribbean for unhappy couples…
It’s got a two-day getaway to the Dominican Republic that includes a night’s hotel accommodation – and an appointment before a divorce judge the next morning who can end unhappy marriages in just ten minutes, with an order that’s recognised in the UK (and USA.)
And the quickie divorced now-singles can either extend their holiday to celebrate, or fly straight back home after their court appearance.
As well, if just one partner chooses to make the flight and the divorce is uncontested, the agency, QuickDivorceUK can arrange the necessary power-of-attorney on behalf of the partner who stays at home, as well as providing a translator, a lawyer, and all legal paperwork to ensure that custody of children and division of property is to the satisfaction of both parties.
QuickDivorceUK says its fee of GBP4,500 (AU$6620) can save months or even years of court appearances and battles in the UK, and gives quickie divorcees a couple of days break in the balmy Caribbean as well.
Amongst big-names who’ve taken advantage of the Dominican Republic’s quickie divorce laws are singer Mariah Carey who ended her marriage to record company chief, Tommy Mottola there, and Mia Farrow and Andre Previn who also divorced in ten minutes before a Dominican divorce judge.
The place looks so lovely that couples might get all romantic again and stay hitched?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

For coffee connoisseurs

We seem to talk a lot about food, wine, coffee and cakes on Get Up & Go's blog - 'why no't I say! Travel and being a tourist is about tasting the flavours of all your destinations - and Sydney, if you are a visitor or a local is not exception. Edwina Storie, for Get Up & Go, did the hard yards recently in the search for great coffee:
Australians are proud coffee snobs. We are particular about our blends, our brands and our baristas. The InterContinental Sydney has launched a High Coffee experience that meets the standards of all discerning caffeine drinkers.
Inspired by the tradition of high tea, it is led by the bold flavours of the bean complemented by a feast of sweets and savouries. The menu was created by award-winning chef and coffee connoisseur, Stefano Manfredi, and features his signature Espresso di Manfredi by Piazza D’Oro coffee.
Get Up & Go had the pleasure of tasting the delicacies in the elegant Harbour Room. The decadent experience was highlighted by cardamom-spiced espresso martinis, salted caramel an espresso bavarois cream éclairs, and cinnamon and ginger chocolate crème brûlée.
High Coffee is served in the heritage-style Cortile Lounge of InterContinental Sydney between 11:00am and 4:30pm. Priced at $55 per person, the experience includes a martini upon arrival, Café Freddo, a coffee of choice and the three-tiered stand of treats.

Booking can be made through restaurant reservations on 02 9240 1396, or

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vienna's sparkling gem - Topazz

The success of a good blogger is to post frequently - well, it's been weeks. I've been up to my eyes in deadlines and a trip away to Austria. The stay (eight days) in Europe's most harmonious country filled all my senses - and time - so no blogging. Best to start with the hotel I stayed at in Vienna.
After the long flight over via Dubai with Emirates (and Business Class on the A380 is something special indeed) I shared a cab with a couple of other writers and after a tricky street finding mission our taxi driver found the new hotel (opened last April).
The Topazz is a funky hotel that is boutique-sized and while honouring the area's rich artistic past - the hotel is setting a precedent for the city's future accommodation.
Topazz is Vienna's first green upscale hotel and combines landmark architecture with a resource-saving philosophy that starts with low energy usage and carries through to locally resourced food and the use of green building materials.
And all that worthiness makes for a pretty gorgeous looking place too.
Enter at ground level to be greeted by cheerful front desk staff;
head to my room (one of only 32 guest rooms set over eight floors) and I'm greeted by muted, earthy tones, lush curtains and inspired wallpaper. The little details are squeal inducing - the bedside lamps have fake fur around the rim of the shades (very Varga Girls) and the main desk lamp is a splendid piece with gold duck feet!
I spent four nights sleeping in Topazz and my bed was a dream. I love the European way with double/queen beds. There are two separate, single doonas - so if there are two of you sharing the bed, you don't have to squabble over the doona and if on the single side - you're not swamped by thousands of feathers.
This luxury boutique hotel hits the spot for breakfast too - one of the most varied and interesting spreads I've ever encountered - and eaten before 10am.
Breakfast of champions
As soon as I enter the Salon for brekkie one of the staff is there to take my coffee order. There's a table with individual bottles of freshly squeezed juices, fruit syrups to add to soda water (elderflower is seriously good), and a variety of teas that scream for attention.
A la carte is available but I couldn't get to order for two days as I was making a dent in the buffet.
Beautiful, artisan baked breads, lovely, gloopy pots of jams and spreads, tiny little jars of yoghurt with house-toasted muesli in the lids - just tip, to scoop and eat, and the best breakfast offering Vienna can produce - the kukelhoff, a butter and chocolate cake in swirls cooked in a ring tin. Can't go past it - and wouldn't swap if with something sensible for a bucket full of euros.
All our group swooned over the breakfast and the chef came out and talked about how he sources his product and ingredients locally and how he likes to mix up traditional Viennese cuisine with a modern twist. (One of the favourite dishes enjoyed by my companions was the poi lentils served in a glass pot with an egg cooked in the lentils . . .one of the group, a food writer extraordinaire waxed lyrical about the egg/lentil dish as one of the best things she ever tasted!
In the centre of things
The hotel is located centrally and within a few minutes you'll be gazing at the city's landmark, St Stephens Cathedral, the Kholmarkt and the famous Anker Clock - the riches of the city are at your feet.
The hotel's facade is dotted with oval windows and set at staggered intervals they match the different levels of the neighbouring houses.
So next time you are heading to Vienna, try for something special - sparkle in the hotel Topazz. Visit:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Penchant for Portugal

Feeling a bit nostalgic for Portugal. It's the kind of country that gets in your blood. I only visited the country once - to Lisbon, then a cruise on the Douro River through the magnificent, unspoilt Douro Valley then a couple of days in Oporto . . .if you get the chance - do go. A couple of pictures to set the scene in Lisbon . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Anyone for a sandwich?

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, Get Up & Go reader David Ellis says that in Britain they’ve just celebrated what’s claimed to be the 250th anniversary of the invention of that great institution, the sandwich.
And the biggest celebrations were centred on the town of Sandwich in Kent, where its said that a quarter of a century ago this month John Montagu, the-then Fourth Earl of Sandwich, called on a servant to bring him “a slice of beef between two pieces of bread” so he could continue a game of cards without the need to stop for lunch.
Several others at the table asked if they could be given “the same as Sandwich,” so allegedly giving the world its most famous culinary mainstay.
Many disagree with the story and claim that “sandwiches” were a part of life in areas of Europe well before the Earl laid his claim to history… with the French town of Honfleur, that’s “twinned” with Sandwich, even sending representatives to the British town this month to show their skills in making baguettes, alongside others from across England, America, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Russia in showing off their talents at sandwich making.
The current earl of Sandwich also hosted a lunch for VIPs – with VIP sandwiches, of course – and noted that his famous forebear had funded Captain Cook’s 1770 explorations of Australia and the South Pacific, with Cook discovering what are now the Hawaiian Islands and naming them the Sandwich Islands after his card-loving benefactor.

(Photos: Roast beef sandwich – CampbellsKitchens

             Town of Sandwich – VisitKent)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kicks on Route 66

I got my kicks on Route 66 last week. A  drive out of Los Angeles and we were heading down the long, lonesome highway. The iconic road  (how many singers have sung its praises) is a joy - we visited the Joshua Tree National Park (if there are any Gram Parsons fans out there - you'll remember the significance/incident) and we stopped at the Bagdad Cafe - where the charming film was made;  and I tried a chocolate malt milkshake at one of the old highway truck stops. A Route 66 story will appear in a future edition of Get Up & Go magazine and we can share more of the history of this amazing highway - one that peope take across the breadth of America - we only did a couple of days for the experience but we took it to the end of the road - at Santa Monica pier.
If you are interested there's a great book on the road by Jerry McClanahan published by National Historic Route 66 Federation - not sure if it's still in print - or maybe you know of other books?
More to come - to get your kicks on Route 66 . . .
From Jerry McClanahan:

"While Route 66 tourism has evolved to the point were the actual trip is more important than the destination, every expedition needs a proper beginning and rewarding end. Traditionally seen as a 'westbound' journey, most of the people who come from the world over to 'get their kicks on Route 66' on the Mother Road, start their tour in Chicago, with the promised land of California drawing them like the sun to a western sunset . . ."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Los Angeles - wow!

I'm in Los Angeles attending an amazing travel trade show called Pow Wow - there are buyers for American product from all over the world here. Buyers are travel business buying rooms, packages, experiences for their company's clients, they come to America on behalf of international companies. There are 500 media here - including me. We get to walk around and met various people from every facet of American travel experiences - and it's fascinating. The events put on at night are spectacular - the entire Universal Studious turned over to 6000 of us! Oh, what a night. Tonight will be bigger still - Earth, Wind and Fire will be playing for us . . .as we party to mucho fab music and eat Wofgang Puck's food, we'll thanks LA for showing us a good time.
I did a hop-on-hop-off tour for two hours yesterday around LA with Starlight Tours - I thoroughly recommend the tour group.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 - the Year to Visit Britain

Only 100 days to go before the beginning of the London Olumpic Games - and us Sydneyites, proud of our Games - wish them well and a great success.
But besides that - there are 100 GREAT anniversary reasons to visit Britain this year - here are the first 10:
1. Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne -
2. Bond is 50 - he doesn't look it but Britain's dashing secret agent makes it to half a century this coming October in Skyfall.
3. Dickens is 200 and the museum of London recreates Victorian London to celebrate.
4. Shakespeare is 400 - double the age of Dickens. Britain is going Bard crazy with the World Shakespeare Festival inviting over 60 theatre companies to perform in myriad languages; Visit which presents 37 plays in 37 days in 37 languages.
5. The Sandwich is 250 - it was invented in Britain.
6. The Titanic sank 100 years ago. Belfast's new museum is the toast of the town - see the interactive displays and breathtaking recreation of the ship's dining room.
7. The Beatles released their first single 50 years ago - yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah . . .
8 The craziest take on the Olympics, the Cotswold Olympicks began the same year that Shakespeare was born in 1612. Madcap sports events make it one of Britains quirkiest attractions.
9. The Science Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, a pioneering computer scientist.
10. 40 years ago the musical Grease opened on Broadway - whats that got to do with Britain you ask? Leed's castle, a majestic attraction will screen the hit film as part of its Jubilee festivities.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fall in love with autumn Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go autumn issue is full of the best ideas for fantastic travels. Want a romantic holiday? Tour the elegant Champagne region of France and taste the good stuff along the way - follow our lead!
We have a wonderful story on Chile's High Plains - a special part of South America, and we give the lowdown on the best of Buenos Aires! John Olsen, the much admired Australian artist talks travel and for fans of Downton Abbey - well, we go to the location, castle and all!
If you haven't visited Greece for a long time there's a magnificent new museum to tour - the New Acropolis Museum - poli kala!
If there's a golfer in your holiday party then we show you Ireland's leisure links and if your way is the cruising way - then jump on a ship for China or Russia - we've got the tickets! There are many stories to involve you and inspire you - Korea, China, Brunei, cambodia . . .and more.
We always have substantial competitions in Get Up & Go, but this issue we give you something bigger than Ben Hur! Bill Peach Journeys, by private plane to see the best of Australia from land, sea and air are the most desired trips in this country. And we are offering a competition for someone to win the Great Australian Aircruise - valued at $27,990 - so, enter the competition for the chance to WIN. And while you're there subscribe for mum or a friend for Mother's Day - or for that matter any day! Happy reading. Visit: www

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A right royal QM2

The Queen Mary 2 - here are some interesting facts about the big boned gal!
Can hold 2600 passengers and 1250 crew, more than the population of Daylesford (Victoria) at 3460;
has a maximun speed of 30 knots or 55km/h; Four ocomotives side by side could fit in Queen Mary 2's massive funnel, which is 13.4m by 6.7m at its widest ppoint;
the ship's engines produce enough thrust to launch a jumbo jet; there are 1310 staterooms with Wi-Fi; there's a six-storey Grand Lobby;
the library (pictured)

is the largest at sea (8000 books;
1858 sqm spa spans two decks with 24 treatment rooms; three-deck high main dining room spans the full width of the ship and has a sweeping staircase - and there are 700 scones served at high tea each afternoon.
Read all about my cruise on the Queen Mary 2 - a short cruise but long on luxury.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The more ($$$$$) the merrier

Get Up & Go's trusty fact finder David Ellis says operators of upmarket SeaDream Yacht Club are used to having affluent guests come up with some unusual requests that make them stand out from the crowd.
But it was a group of Aussies in 2005 who still stick most in their minds. And not just because one of them paid a near-$700,000 to charter one of the twin SeaDream mega motor-cruisers to take 100 family and friends on a week-long voyage through the Mediterranean to celebrate his 60th birthday (and with 95 crew to ensure they did it in style.)
“Those guys made history,” recalled SeaDream’s President, Bob Lepisto on a sales visit to Australia last week. “They drank more beer in a week on board than anyone has ever done before or since in SeaDream’s 10 year history – so much in fact, that we were only half-way through the sailing when we realised they’d drunk a whole week’s supply and we had to go ashore and re-stock the whole yacht.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Calling for Hotel Windsor memories

Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor is asking people to share their memories and memorabilia of the famous hotel, from valet parking receipts to special menus, to help it build an archive that will preserve and celebrate the building’s history and the changes in fashions and social trends it has witnessed.
For decades, the Hotel Windsor has been Melbourne’s choice for special family celebrations, weddings, romantic trysts, and social and business functions. Now, on the eve of its 130th anniversary in 2013, the hotel is keen to ensure these moments live on for future generations.
“The Hotel Windsor has been an integral part of the fabric of Melbourne for almost 130 years,” Victoria Batters, Hotel Windsor marketing manager, said. “The history of the building, its design and development over the decades, has been thoroughly documented but there is a lot of social and cultural history that is missing. This is what we want to gather and collate, for our own records and to share with Melbourne.”

The hotel is particularly interested in receiving photographs, videos and records of weddings at the hotel, as a barometer of changing social trends. But any records and recollections of an event will be welcome, as the hotel prepares to celebrate its 130th anniversary ahead of many of the world’s leading grand hotels including the Savoy in London and the Ritz Paris.

“We’re looking for items such as menus people may have taken as a souvenir, invitations to a special event or dinner, valet parking tickets, and, of course, photographs that perhaps show the fashions of a particular time or aspects of the hotel,” Ms Batters said. “We’d also be grateful for any written recollections of a special event such as a wedding or anniversary and memories of Melbourne and the hotel at the time.”

The hotel is asking for memorabilia to be donated if possible, but otherwise is happy to take copies of materials submitted and return the originals. “Materials will be used as part of displays for the public and to up-date our historical files and records,” Ms Batters said. “It will also be useful for media, who often ask for historic images and anecdotes about the hotel and for online archives. We realize material will be very precious to owners and every item will be treated with the utmost care.

“The hotel hosts around 70 weddings every year so we’re estimating there have been about 3,500 wedding receptions here in just the last 50 years, and at least as many events, ranging from fashion shows to book launches and business conferences. It would be wonderful to compile a visual and written record of all of this.”

The names of people who submit information will go in to a lucky draw to win an accommodation package at the hotel. And any particularly special highlights will win their owner an afternoon tea for two, at the discretion of the hotel.

Material can be submitted by regular post to: The Marketing Manager, The Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, Melbourne, 3000 or by email to

The 180-room Hotel Windsor was built in 1883, pre-dating some of the world’s leading grand hotels including the Savoy in London, which was built in 1889, the Waldorf Astoria in New York which dates back to 1893, and the Ritz Paris which opened in 1898.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Heston And Hulstone Work Up An Olympic Appetite

Heston And Hulstone Work Up An Olympic Appetite: Michelin-star chef Heston Blumenthal has unveiled the Olympic and Paralympic Games inspired menus created by rising star Simon Hulstone, which cabin crew will serve to three million British Airways customers during the Games....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Afternoon tea with a chocolate theme

At the Langham Melbourne Hotel, there's a weekend treat that's not to be missed. Amid the chatter and clink of silver cutlery against fine china and the sound of laughter from the tables - a crowd gathers to taste some of Melbourne's finest sweet fare! I enjoyed afternoon tea there last week, and first came the heavy silver pots of tea (no teabags here). My tea was perfect for the eating road ahead for me - it was an elegant white needle tea - all the way from China. First up on the menu was a selection of finger sandwiches - egg, salmon, chicken; followed by the next layer down the tiered plate - baby quiche. Ahh next were the scones, with thick raspberry jam and solid King Island cream.
After a polite time between tea and scones I waddled over to the chocolate table and oohed and ahhed until I began to place the different offering on my plate - meringues, tarts, continental cream slice, baby cup cakes, all things of chocolate dropped from heaven.
No I didn't have them all - but I did my best to taste the rest.
Meet for the treat in Aria restauranrt for Tiffin Afternoon tea and also have the Chocolate Indulgence.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vietnam Culinary Food for Thought

As tantalising as it sounds, Helen Wong’s Tours’ special 12-day Vietnam Culinary Delights itinerary has plenty to whet the appetites of food-loving travellers and budding chefs. the mature traveller has embraced foodie, culinary tours and this one is a corker!
Beginning in capital Hanoi, this new itinerary from Helen Wong’s Tours’ Premium Choice programs focuses on such delectable experiences as dining at La Verticale, set in a charming 1930s villa and owned by renowned chef Didier Corlou.
In contrast, travellers will join a local farming family to learn how to make an authentic specialty savoury pancake wrapped in rice paper, amongst a host of treats, and enjoy a simple home cooked meal.
There’s also a visit to a wet market in search of fresh ingredients for another fun cooking class which focuses on herbal remedies as well as step-by-step cooking techniques.
And if that isn’t enough, guests dine in one of Hoi An’s premier restaurants before moving to historic Hue to further tickle the taste buds at a private garden home.
There’s a farewell dinner at a fine dining restaurant in Saigon – the perfect finale to such a tasty tour during Helen Wong’s Tours 25th anniversary.
The 12-day Culinary Delights tour, which also spans across to breathtaking Halong Bay and Cai Be in the Mekong Delta, is priced from $4420 per person twin share from Australia.
Price includes return international flights, guaranteed five-star hotel accommodation, domestic air fares, daily breakfast and most lunches and dinners, specified transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees with English-speaking guide.
A Vietnam visa for Australian passport holders and $420 in departure taxes, security and fuel charges (subject to change) are also included along with a Helen Wong’s Tours travel kit and cabin bag. Visit: for details for Helen Wong's Tours.