Tuesday, December 15, 2015

GERMANY: The Heart of Berlin

By guest blogger Philip Game.

We’re right in the heart of Berlin, yet the two-stop journey to the gleaming new glass-and-steel Hauptbahnhof (central station) requires a tortuous transfer at the gloomy old Friedrichstrasse station. Why so disjointed? And whatever happened to Unter den Linden, that once-grand boulevard running east from the Brandenburg Gate?

These questions do have answers. Today’s Berlin makes better sense as you come to appreciate the city's tortured history and the apparent determination to reunite East and West. Unter den Linden remains a construction site while work continues to restore the missing links in the U-Bahn (underground train) network.

Berlin's idiosyncratic personality is said to date back to the Cold War days, when young West Germans made their way to West Berlin to enjoy free tuition and exemption from military service. West Berliners lived day-to-day alongside a hostile presence, the Wall and the regime behind it.

Today, the Berlin Wall has all but vanished, although token stretches remain as canvasses for street artists too young to remember life in a divided city. But if you weren’t born yesterday, and remember when the Iron Curtain collapsed 25 years ago, do visit Berlin whilst you can still witness vestiges of the old, alongside the new.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Blue Mountains Girls’ Getaways

The girls got up and went to the Blue Mountains, close by to Sydney for a getaway.

By Guest Blogger Caroline Gladstone

Our butler Andrew greets us at Lavender Majestic, a beautiful sandstone cottage in Katoomba where all sorts of pampering is set to take place.

Cottage is a bit of a misnomer for this 1890’s home, built for Mark Foy, the department store entrepreneur and creator of the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel.

Dry Ridge Winery owner, Emma MacMahon.
Current owner Nicky Vaux extended the house, adding a new wing with extra bedrooms (one huge enough to have four single beds and comfy lounge chairs), and created an outdoor deck and barbecue area, where a hot tub built for at least six takes pride of place. It is the perfect venue for a girls’ getaway, be it a weekend or a week-long escape. While Andrew rustles up gourmet breakfasts, guests can add extra pampering treats such as a class at the Blue Mountains Cooking School or in-cottage catering.
Our butler Andrew serves the breakfast pastries.
Conservatory at Lavender Majestic.
After a deep tissue massage and plenty of lingering in the light-filled conservatory, we visit Dryridge Estate, the only cellar door in the mountains. Then it’s off to Blackheath to pick up our meal of slow-cooked lamb from popular restaurant Vesta, before heading home for a soak in the hot tub complete with a glass of bubbles.

Ahh, bliss.

Visit: http://www.bmgg.com.au/

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Instagram's most popular KIWI destination

Waiheke Island is Instagram’s most popular Kiwi destination

Instagram has named New Zealand’s top ten visitor attractions for 2015, based on the number of images geo-tagged to specific locations. Kiwis and international visitors shared the most pictures fromWaiheke Island. Worldwide, some 80 million images are posted to Instagram every day, making the platform a huge canvas for New Zealand.
Tourism New Zealand General Manager, Australia Tony Saunders said New Zealand scenery is unparalleled so travellers love to capture the spectacular surroundings and share it with their friends and family on social media.
"Thousands of Australians head over to Waiheke Island each year to view beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches so we weren't surprised to see it named the most Instagrammed spot in New Zealand.

"We get a huge amount of people sharing their photos of Waiheke Island and the rest of the country via @purenewzealand and the hashtag #NZMustDo.  We love that travellers want to share their journey and the stunning landscapes."

Instagram’s top ten are:

1.     Waiheke Island

2.     Mount Maunganui (@infarawayland)

3.     Hobbiton Movie Set (@shaun_jeffers )

4.     Sky Tower

5.     Takapuna Beach

6.     Lake Tekapo (@danielmurray.nz)

7.     Piha Beach

8.     Wanaka Lake Front

9.     Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

10.  Skyline Queenstown


Sunday, December 6, 2015

India's flower power

In his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, Get Up & Go contributor David Ellis says that next time you’re working on the flower vase, give a thought to the Mallick Ghat Flower Market on the banks of the Ganges River in Kolkata (Calcutta as most of us still think of it.)

Because here in the biggest flower market in Asia, something like 2500 vendors a day trade fresh-cut flowers by the hundreds of kilograms… some 1500-plus tonnes in fact, brought in daily from farms 60kms or more out of town.

Name a warmth-loving flower and you’ll find it at Mallick Ghat… travel writing colleague Roderick Eime who was there just recently discovering the markets to be a fascinating if chaotic 15- to 18-hours a day of frenzied bidding, bargaining and bustle as vendors and buyers haggle over prices.

Flower buyers and sellers mingle in a sea of colour (R Eime)
And almost cry as you learn that marigolds change hands from as low 60 rupees (AU$1) for a one kilogram bunch, 25 cut roses for just $3.50, wedding garlands a measly 400 rupees ($8) – with equally eye-watering prices for everything from sweet peas and sunflowers, to orchids and gladioli…

But Roderick warns that while Mallick Ghat’s certainly worth a visit during a stay in Calcutta, be ready to splash around a muddy calamity under-foot, and to be constantly jostled amid the competitive crowds. As well, being right alongside the sacred Ganges, prepare too for the sights of the faithful undertaking everything in the holy waters from religious bathing and washing to other activities normally reserved for the bathroom.

It’s all, Roderick says, something of an assault on the senses, with the fragrant perfume of those tonnes of flowers, competing with the ever-present aroma of one of India’s busiest, most densely populated and over-crowded cities.

The writer was a guest of India specialists, Active Travel

Visit: www.incredibleindia.org

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria: Sophia Loren stayed here

. . . and Kings and Queens and politicians and other movie stars - in Sorrento's treasury of indulgence

From its clifftop eyrie its front views are million-dollar of the Bay of Naples stretching to the horizon, parts of spectacular Sorrento below and of the Neapolitan Riviera’s coastline sparkling away to right and left. By guest blogger David Ellis.

From around the back they’re out over its own 2ha (5 acres) of parklands, and from one side of archaeological ruins from 50BC or possibly earlier, and from the other a few remains of a one-time Roman bathing pool. Beneath it lay parts of a villa Emperor Augustus once called home, an ancient Roman spa, and a fascinating centuries-old crypt inquisitive visitors can still explore today.

Seasonal outdoor dining venues like this offer a choice of
regional Campania, Mediterranean and international cuisines
And inside, it blends the most contemporary of facilities amid the ambience of an era long past, of modernity and classical elegance, 18th and 19th century works by great masters and contrasting Art Nouveau, furniture from the periods of Louis the XVI and Beidermeier, and painstakingly restored frescoes.

Is all this some grand museum, some coveted Italian government treasure house, a regal palace or priceless residence from Victorian times?

Children's playground in a corner of the hotel’s 2ha-plus private
park with 100 year old ornamental trees, citrus, olive, vegetable and flower gardens
No. It is a hotel, conceived by forward-thinking Raffaele Fiorentino in 1834 and managed by the Fiorentino family ever since, the current fifth generation rattling off names of guests like a Who’s Who of royalty, business, the arts, music, literature and film… even an Australian politician who would later go on to become his country’s Prime Minister (our lips are sealed.)

Names like Otto von Bismarck, King Louis of Bavaria, England’s Prince of Wales in 1874 who would later return as King of his country, Catherine Grand Duchess of Russia, King Rama VII of Siam (now Thailand,) England’s Princess Margaret …

And Richard Strauss, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Ritchie, Barbara Streisand, Marilyn Monroe… and Enrico Caruso who in 1921 spent his last days here in Suite 448 that’s now named after him.

The Blue Salon for taking gracious afternoon teas in an ambience of an era past.
Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills played their parts in the Billy Wilder film ‘Avanti’ here, and Sophia Loren, Edoardo Ponti and Philippe Noiret in ‘Qualcosa di Biondo’…

From the very beginning the Fiorentinos wanted their Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria to stand out from the rest for those undertaking the Grand Tour – not just for its clifftop location in the very heart of Sorrento, but for its décor, services and dining.

So rather than one over-powering monolithic structure they created three smaller interconnecting buildings… and as pioneering firsts back in 1834, installed unique private bathrooms in each of their 92 rooms and suites, new-fangled electric lighting, even a remarkable funicular railway inside a one-time Roman-era tunnel linking the hotel directly with Sorrento’s waterfront below.

Today, guests enjoy a choice of boutique venues and terraces rather than vast restaurants and bars, indoor and seasonal outdoor dining areas offering a choice of Michelin Star regional Campania, Mediterranean and international cuisines… and for those who must have their American-style buffet fix for breakfast, the Vittoria Breakfast Room has that together with a healthy organic corner and a pianist at play.

Other rooms include the Winter Garden with its overflowing flower baskets, the quiet Reading Room with photographs and newspaper cuttings chronicling those who have indulged here, the Music Room adorned with lush green plants and furnishings handcrafted by local artisans…

Premium Deluxe guest room fit for a Who’s Who of royalty, business,
the arts, music, literature and film… and a future Australian Prime Minister.
Large, grand and in many cases over-sized guest rooms and suites reflect the Victorian era with classic antiques contrasted by the latest in contemporary 21st century facilities, almost all having private terraces overlooking the azure Bay of Naples with its flanking hills of olive and citrus groves.

Guests can frolic in the large hydro-jet pool, be pampered in the only Spa on the Amalfi Coast to offer Australian-invented Intraceuticals Oxygen Facials (a hit with the likes of Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian and Justin Timberlake,) work out in the hi-tech Gym, walk or jog the 2ha-plus private park with its 100 year old ornamental trees, citrus, olive, vegetable and flower gardens, and children’s playground.

Sorrento's Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria overlooks the town’s
marina and captures million dollar views to left and right.
Or take the lift directly from the hotel down to Sorrento’s waterfront for outings by car, coach, train, ferry or private launch to nearby Capri, Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Amalfi, Ravello or Positano.

Prices start from Euro220 per room per night including buffet breakfast for two, complimentary Wi-Fi and taxes, and the hotel has its own carpark for self-drive holidaymakers. Book through your favourite travel agent.

(Images: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

AUSTRIA: I'm a sacher for a good cake

Haven't heard of Sacher Torte? Have you been living on Mars or are completely oblivious to a good slice of cake? The history of the torte (cake) is a sweet one. It was created in Vienna (not Salzburg), by a young apprentice chef Franz Sacher in 1832. The delicious cake is traditionally served with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream and is complimented with a cup of tea or coffee. The cake has a mysterious air - covered in a shining, silky chocolate coat with a small round motif decorating the side, once bitten into, life takes on a grander meaning. The cake is chocolaty and has a robust texture divided by a sting of apricots glaze. (SEE recipe below)

There are specialty shops all over Austria selling this indulgence, but you'll find the sweetest prize at the Sacher Hotels. And adding to the pleasure of the Sacher Torte experience is the fact that is it always sitting on the breakfast table/buffet daring you to take a slice to begin the day . . .of course we did. At the elegant, traditional Sacher Hotel in Salzburg (below) , the Sacher Torte disappeared quickly and there appeared to be a rotating delivery of said sweetie at the breakfast table. Visit: www.sacher.com/hotel-sacher-salzburg

Sacher Torte
Total Time: 1 hr 42 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 2 min
Cook: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Level: Intermediate


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces 
  • 3 ounces butter 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 ounce sugar, plus 3 ounces 
  • 5 egg whites 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted 
Apricot Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot preserves 
  • 1 tablespoon apricot brandy 
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 ounce butter 
  • 2 ounces heavy cream 
  • Whipped cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan.

In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. In a mixer, using a wire whisk, whip the egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the flour and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites, gently but thoroughly. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife in centre of cake. It should come out dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the apricot filling: puree the apricot preserves. Stir in brandy.

Slice the cake into 3 equal layers. Spread half of the apricot filling on the bottom layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread the remaining apricot filling and top with the last layer of cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze: in a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double-boiler. Bring the cream to a boil. Stir into the melted chocolate. Cool until it reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around the cake. Chill for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve a slice with whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Top 10 Things to do in Ecuador’s Amazon

The Amazon is one of Ecuador’s four distinct ‘worlds’ alongside the Pacific Coast, the Andes and the Galapagos Islands. The Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, home to 4000 species of trees and vines, 600 species of birds and 200 species of mammals.
There are plenty of activities that visitors to the equator-straddling country can enjoy in the Amazon. Here are the top 10 things to do in Ecuador’s Amazon region:
1.      Go white-water rafting. Rafting is the most popular adventure sport in Ecuador’s Amazon, with rivers of different levels of difficulty and accessibility available.

2.        Go kayaking. Ecuador is the third best destination in the world for rafting and kayaking, with the rivers flowing down from the Andes mountain range, providing excellent paddling.

3.      Hike through the Amazon jungle. Explore the extensive and diverse Ecuadorian Amazon by foot with the help of a local guide.

4.      Go birdwatching. With more than 600 species of bird, including macaws, toucans and tanagers, the Amazon provides an ideal location to birdwatch.

5.      Experience an Amazon River cruise. A number of itineraries are available which allow visitors to closely observe the flora and fauna of the jungle visit indigenous communities. River cruises provide comfortable floating accommodation while ensuring little environmental impact. 

6.      Try maito, a traditional Amazon delicacy. Served wrapped in a yaquipanga or banana leaf, the tambaqui fish (which lives in the rivers of the Amazon) is cooked using charcoal, with a mixture of onion, salted tomato and coriander used as seasoning.

7.      Visit local jungle communities. Take part in cultural ceremonies and find out a little about the people who call the Amazon home.

8.      Put warrior makeup on. Visitors can be painted with vegetable pigments as part of ritual welcoming ceremonies.

9.      Swim in a waterfall. Guests can visit the Latas Waterfall, where they climb up a river gorge, ending at a pool and waterfall, where they can swim.

10.  Stay in an eco lodge. The Ecuadorian Amazon is home to a number of luxury, environmentally-friendly lodges, providing the ideal base from which to enjoy all the rainforest has to offer.

For information on Ecuador visit the consumer site – www.ecuador.travel


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Get Up & Go: Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!

Get Up & Go: Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!

Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!


Spring Issue
Get ready for the big, beautiful read for spring. Get up & Go, Australia's premier travel magazine for 'grown ups' takes you on a magical travel ride to:

India with visits to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Rajasthan; Portugal to explore Lisbon; Poland to Krakow's museums; Finland to chill out; Ireland for the Game of Thrones series locations; Italy for history and gelato; Madagascar to find a special tribe.

Man of the Vezo tribe, Madagascar.

Guess where?

Sir Michael Caine
And fancy a date with Michael Caine? Well, that's not going to happen but we do talk to the legend!

Other stories along the way open the door to a nostalgic look at camping family-style in the 70s; best shoes to take travelling; Frequent Traveller is Mark Trevorrow aka Bob Downe; Toowoomba in Qld for the amazing First Coast wall art festival; Sovereign Hill in Victoria; Flinders Island and how about cricket hero Matthew Hayden talking fishing - and cooking curry!

Adnate's work at First Coat festival, Toowoomba.
It's all happening between the covers.

Subscribe now at www.getupandgo.com.au

Visit: www.insightvacations.com.au; www.ireland.com; www.goldencompasstours.com.au; www.royalcaribbean.com.au; www.airindia.com; www.fiftydegreesnorth.com

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Get Up & Go: Does size count?

Get Up & Go: Does size count?

World's smallest hotel. Does size count?

Now this is a small Danish . . .

In his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in the world of travel, Get Up & Go contributor David Ellis says the world’s smallest hotel has just one room – and that’s a mere 2.43m x 3.04m

But small as it is, this miniscule room has a double bed, ensuite with shower and toilet, a stocked mini-bar, flat-screen TV and a stereo unit with iPhone connectivity.

Located in the trendy Vesterbro district of Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, the Hotel Central and Café began life in 1905 as a shoe repair shop, the shoemaker adding a 2nd floor and moving into that in 1920. The shoemaker’s later became a goldsmith’s and then a café, and in June 2013 the second floor flat became the world’s smallest hotel.

Guests arrive to find fresh flowers, fruit and a welcoming bottle of wine in their room, and downstairs a tiny café that takes them back in time with vintage signs and various other bits of historic paraphernalia.

It costs 1,800 Danish krone a night (currently approximately AU$384) which includes breakfast for two at the Granola Café that is a half block away and owned by the same people who own the Hotel Central and Café.

If you’re interested in booking a night, email mail@centralhotelogcafe.dk

Friday, September 11, 2015

SWITZERLAND Zurich's Best Car Park

It's not often a visitor to Zurich gets excited about a Car Park - but you never know what this city is going to turn up. A couple of years ago the land in front of the Zurich Opera House was dug up to prepare it (down several layers) for a Car Park to service the city.

Going down a few layers revealed the well-preserved, substantial remains of a 'stilt' village: stilts, rudimentary tools, domestic implements, fishing nets and shamanistic tokens.
This find confirmed how the early/first people of this region lived. Villages were perched around Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), with the houses and community dwellings sitting over the edge of the water. Popular theory is that they lived over the water, up high because of marauding wild animals and there would always be food to be caught on the lake.

The remnants of life on the lake were sowell preserved because they had been immersed and lacked in mud/silt therefore not disturbed nor destroyed.
The remarkable age discerned and documented puts the life and times of the village at 4300 years BC!  So more than 6000 years to date.

The Car Park went ahead - very carefully and in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. There are display cases with some of the finds, a film of divers and what they found at the edge of the lake and the finest damn Car Park in town.

The vast square on top of the Car Park spreads out before the Opera House. The surface is covered in oblong squares of Switzerland's finest granite. Lots of grumbling from the locals at the exorbitant cost but there's every chance it will last as long as the stilt houses!
There are a few randomly placed chairs which are happily filled with people, their faces tilted to the ever welcome sun.

Just another surprise in Zurich - go see for yourself.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Become Gluten Intolerant (Funny) - Ultra Spiritual Life episode 1...

Get Up & Go: P&O Cruises in the South Pacific - an 80 year tradition

Get Up & Go: P&O Cruises in the South Pacific - an 80 year tradition

P&O Cruises in the South Pacific - an 80 year tradition

By guest blogger Roderick Eime

Everyone knows that cruising is just about the hottest thing in travel at the moment. It seems everyone is cruising and everyone else just can’t wait to go.

Just these last couple of years, all the big cruise lines have brought bigger and fancier ships down to Australia to cash in on our enthusiasm for the shipboard vacation experience.

Celebrity Cruises have brought the superb Celebrity Solstice, while Carnival has homeported both Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend in Sydney. The respected US brand, Holland America spoiled us with both Noordam and Volendam while Royal Caribbean Cruise Line have moved a small fleet here with Legend of the Seas going to Brisbane and both beauties, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas squeezing into a very busy Sydney.

Pacific Dawn entered service for P&O in 2007
Old favourites, the luxurious Princess Cruises, have had both Sun Princess and Dawn Princess here for some time. Then there are the many visits by ships on their round the world itineraries like Cunard and Azamara passing through.

But one cruise line stands above all others with their attachment to Australia and that is the 178-year-old Peninsular & Orient Line, known these days as just P&O.

A pioneer of steam ships back in the early 19th century and then known as The Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, P&O offered ‘excursions’ to intrepid travellers aboard the mail ships as they completed their rounds to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) and the Mediterranean. The first of these cruises set sail in 1844.

Pioneered here in Australia P&O cruises to the Pacific began in the 1930s with the classic mail steamers SS Strathaird, Stratheden and Strathallen. Their flourishing pre-war Pacific activities included cruises to Norfolk Island, Noumea, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the then New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).

SS Himalaya pioneered the P&O Pacific cruise revival
The SS Strathaird, which sailed for P&O from 1932-61, was of similar appearance to the postwar cruise ships such as the venerable SS Himalaya, Arcadia and Chusan and was one of five ‘Strath’ class steamers that served as both jolly tourist ships and sombre troop transports as well as refugee and immigrant ships; that dark chapter spelling a pause to pleasure cruises until 1953 when routes to the South Pacific were resumed. More adventurous travellers could employ the mail routes to travel as far as India, Ceylon and all the way to England via the Suez Canal or Cape Town.

With mail contracts gradually falling more and more to the new jet aircraft, the former mail ships were again returned to pleasure cruising, the milestone being 1968 when SS Himalaya was homeported in Sydney for dedicated cruise itineraries to the Pacific.

When the much-loved former migrant ship Himalaya was retired in 1974, another milestone for the company was achieved with the acquisition of US cruise line Princess Cruises and the abolition of ‘classes’ on cruise ships (something that didn’t hadn't sat well with egalitarian Australians).

From that time on, it was onward and upward for P&O including the takeover of rival brand Sitmar, well known as operator of the ‘fun ship’, Fairstar. There were several corporate mergers and demergers, but the most significant one came in 2003 when P&O Australia became part of the massive Carnival Corporation along with ten other cruise lines. Carnival then became the largest cruise company in the world. P&O still continued to cruise under its own brand, filling a niche in the cruise market that complemented other Carnival brands like Princess, Carnival and even Cunard. 

‘Pacific’ named ships Pacific Dawn, Pacific Sky, Pacific Pearl, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Sun and Pacific Star all sailed under the popular leisure brand throughout the ‘noughties’ gaining fans and followers who have since ‘graduated’ to other brands in the massive Carnival fleet as their lives’ circumstances changed, but their love of cruising did not.

Now, as we reach 2015, the level of luxury and technical sophistication of the P&O fleet and the world’s cruise ships in general is at a dizzying height. Gourmet restaurants, spa and beauty salons, water slides, surf simulators and even ice rinks can now be found on cruise ships out of Sydney.

This year P&O will expand its current fleet of Pacific Jewel, Pacific Dawn and Pacific Pearl by two to make five vessels in total operating from Sydney. Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will move over from Holland America and join the other ‘Pacific fleet’. The former HAL ships, Statendam and Ryndam, each carry a modest 1260 passengers, compared to 2020 aboard the largest P&O ship currently operating out of Australia, Pacific Dawn, which entered service for P&O in 2007.

P&O Cruises Australia have come a long way from their beginnings as part of the oldest cruise line in the world. Today their five ships service a fun, young and family-friendly market on routes to the South Pacific pioneered more than 80 years ago. Australians certainly love cruising and P&O have been there all the way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In a World First Tourism New Zealand Embraces New Colouring-in Trend

In a World First Tourism New Zealand Embraces New Colouring-in Trend: Tourism New Zealand is giving travellers the opportunity to 'colour their journey' with a series of adult colouring-in sketches available to download from newzealand.com. Colouring-in is believed to have the same effect on the brain as meditation has on the mind. Considering these benefits, Tourism New Zealand has created four sketches of iconic New Zealand locations from the new 100% Pure brand campaign...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Get Up & Go: A local's guide to the top 5 things to do in Northern Ireland

Get Up & Go: A local's guide to the top 5 things to do in Northern Ireland

Get Up & Go: A local's guide to the top 5 things to do in Northern Ireland

Get Up & Go: A local's guide to the top 5 things to do in Northern Ireland

A local's guide to the top 5 things to do in Northern Ireland

Guest blogger Lyndsay Scott shares her local knowledge.
Given Northern Ireland's turbulent recent history, this 'wee' country which straddles the north east corner of Ireland has, for many years, slipped under the tourist radar. Even now, Northern Ireland is, too often, left off the tourist agendas of visitors to the island. But times are changing and the world is finally beginning to take notice of what this rough diamond has to offer. In fact, over the past few years, Belfast has proudly hosted a wealth of international events, concerts and spectacles which really shows how much things have changed here.

Truth is, Northern Ireland is charismatic, spirited and with a rugged and varied landscape including dramatic mountain ranges sweeping right down to the sea, she is also breathtakingly beautiful.  Given the unique political situation here, it's a place of fascinating contrasts, where you'll pay for your Guinness with British currency. So if you want to discover the undiscovered, get the full picture and see Ireland from a different vantage point - make sure you head north to unearth the hidden gem of the Emerald Isle.
Here's a local's low-down on the top five things to experience in Northern Ireland:

1. Take in Belfast's street murals

The Northern Irish have a reputation for being a feisty bunch, and it has long been tradition to take to the streets to proclaim political allegiances, mark territories and vent frustrations. As a result, Belfast's troublesome history is literally etched on the walls of its grey, inner-city architecture in a fascinating display of colourful and subversive graffiti.
For an evocative experience, visit the unionist/loyalist areas and gaze up at images of masked gunman swearing allegiance to the British rule. Enter a nationalist/republican part however, and you will see heroes of the resistance movement immortalised on the concrete facades.

But it's not all politics, and recently, murals have appeared in vibrant tribute to some of Belfast's achievements, such as former Manchester United soccer player George Best and the Titanic, which was built in Belfast. To see all the best spots, take a black cab tour with commentary from a knowledgeable local.

2. Hit the coast

While you may not get the ideal beach weather - no matter which way you leave Belfast, you will, at least, be greeted with a coastline to rival the best of them. Head east into County Down and within 30 minutes, you'll get to the seaside resort town of Bangor, and the charming villages of Groomsport and Donaghadee where you can explore sandy beaches and sleepy harbour fronts lined with traditional bars, restaurants and handicraft shops. Award winning pub-restaurant Pier 36 in Donaghadee serves up some cracking seafood. Head west into County Antrim and you'll eventually hit the "North Coast", a celebrated, scenic route through many of the region's top tourist attractions.

3.Walk in the footsteps of giants at Giant's Causeway

Set against a rugged backdrop of the wild North Atlantic Ocean and imposing cliff faces, it's not surprising that this surreal spectacle of towering, hexagonal stone columns rising out of sea is the stuff of legends.  As the story goes, mythical giants carved this UNESCO World Heritage site in an attempt to bridge the gap between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The other explanation is that it was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption - but I know which story I prefer. Visiting this geological, natural wonder is free of charge, but you pay to use the car park and the Giant's Causeway Visitor Experience.

4. Discover Belfast's nautical past at Titanic Belfast

Brought back from rack and ruin, Belfast's former dilapidated industrial heartland has recently had a multi-million dollar facelift, and central to the shiny new "Titanic Quarter" is Titantic Belfast, one of Belfast's premier visitor attractions and a nod to the city's maritime and industrial heritage.
Located on the very slipway where the RMS Titanic was built in the former Harland & Wolff shipyard, the glimmering, aluminium edifice is reminiscent of the world's most famous ocean liner's main prow - or is it an iceberg!?
The world's largest Titanic visitor attraction will take you on a state-of-the-art experience with clever and lively exhibits charting the history of Belfast and the ill-fated ship, which sunk on her maiden voyage. But rather than considering it a maritime disaster, Belfast has began to take pride in the engineering triumph, and it is long running joke in Belfast that "it [the Titanic] was fine when it left us!" For tickets, opening hours and prices visit the website.

5. Grab a pint of the black stuff at a traditional bar

Just like their Southern counterparts, Northern Irish people love nothing more than a "wee drink" [read: a lot of alcohol] and "good craic" [read : good fun]. No trip to Northern Ireland is complete without a trip to the bar for a pint of Guinness - and of course, there are a lot to choose from.  The Duke of York pub is tucked down a cobbled  alleyway right in the heart of Belfast's historic and quirky cathedral quarter. Step into the warmth of the bar and feel your eyes adjust to the dark-wood interior while you gaze up a vast array of enamel signposts and antique mirrors decorating the walls. Irish traditional music makes for a fun and lively atmosphere at weekends.
For a blast from the opulent past, head to the stunning Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street, one of Northern Ireland's best known pubs and one of the finest examples of a former Victorian Gin Palace. Grab a booth, and watch the light flood in through the stained glass windows to illuminate the entrancing mosaic of tiles adorning the grand interior.

For more information on visiting Northern Ireland, contact Discover Northern Ireland on +44 (0)28 9023 1221 or visit the website.
 Visit: www.ireland.com



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Get Up & Go: To the Manor Born

Get Up & Go: To the Manor Born

To the Manor Born

Hidden gem hotel in Cremorne Point, Sydney
By Guest Blogger Sarah Green

Sydney is one of the most active cities in the world. From the annual Sydney to Surf Marathon to Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, cricket & footie games, entertainment at the Sydney Opera House and Fashion Week, the city is buzzing all year around.
For overseas or native visitors coming to Sydney, the costs add up for a weekend or full holiday trip, especially during these highly popular event days when the city is swarming and hotel prices increase.
The beauty of Sydney lies within the nearby harbour peninsula regions. An eight minute scenic ferry ride from Circular Quay will take you to Cremorne Point - a harbour precinct that offers one of the best views of the Opera House and city skyline.


As locals are aware, Cremorne Point is home to grand mansions that date Federation times. There are stunning views of the boats sailing along the water and in the midst of this quiet area is Cremorne Point Manor.
The Manor has operated since the late nineteenth century and as a quaint yet modern Sydney boutique guest house, this gem of a building is one of the oldest operating hotels in Sydney.  It’s claimed to have been built in the late 1880’s during the discovery of a coal seam in the area. The mining of the seam was halted, thanks to locals who opposed this intrusion, and the hotel remained intact.
The hotel owner, Jean-Claude Branch traced the hotel’s history and discovered it was built as a guest house in 1911 and has remained such ever since. The name was originally called ‘Redcourt,’ to reflect the clay tennis courts to the left of the hotel. To this day, it’s the only commercial building in the area.


Operating as a guest house for around a few decades as a heritage listed federation building, Cremorne Point Manor is so close to Taronga Zoo (4.7km) that hotel guests can hear the sound of the monkeys squawking and lions roaring during the evening.  There are only 29 bedrooms of varying size and this adds a homey feel to the environment, which brings back repeat business visitors and tourists.


Cremorne Point Manor boasts a string of impressive credentials including a AAA and Four Star Rating and the past three years has received a continuous ‘Certificate of Excellence’ from Tripadvisor.  The hotel rates are reasonable and highly competitive with the city hotels.  The Double en Suites range around $175 AUD, Family Suite at $319, King Harbour View at $259, King Spa Suite at $259, Queen en Suite at $195, Single Shared shower room at $95 and Double Shared Shower at $119. Continental breakfasts are $7 per guest.
The hotel is extremely active all year around and can reach 100% occupancy during peak event seasons. These include New Year’s and Christmas, the Sydney Marathon, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day.  As Jean-Claude confirms “The hotel is so close to the Opera House yet provides a tranquil setting away from the noise in the city, so Cremorne Point gives visitors the best of the Sydney experience.” He continues, “The views from Cremorne Point are sensational and for New Year’s, guests can see the fireworks without fighting the crowds. This is what makes the area and our hotel so special and a historic Sydney gem.”

Bookings can be made direct at: http://www.cremornepointmanor.com.au/
For more information, you can email stay@cremornepointmanor.com.au
Cremorne Point Manor,
6 Cremorne Road, Cremorne Point, Sydney NSW  2090,
P: +61 2 9953 7899
F: + 61 29904 1265

Get Up & Go Goes Cruising!

Get Up & Go Goes Cruising!: This new, bumper edition of Get Up & Go magazine heads out to sea and along rivers to show you what's happening on the water now. Greece, India, Australia, Austria, PNG and Cambodia are visited by ships – big and small. We talk to Dame Judi Dench – the best Bond girl ever and reminisce about The Sound of Music...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Anantara Golden Triangle Champions Natural Elephant Interaction with New 'Walking with Giants' Experience

Anantara Golden Triangle Champions Natural Elephant Interaction with New 'Walking with Giants' Experience: Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is renowned for its highly acclaimed onsite Elephant Camp, which offers guests an inspirational range of fun, interactive and educational experiences with its friendly herd of rescued gentle giants. In a natural extension of these ethical elephant activities, a new two hour Walking with Giants experience has been introduced offering a more personal and enriching encounter...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Get Up & Go: A Closer Look: What It’s Like to Be Under Quarantine

Get Up & Go: A Closer Look: What It’s Like to Be Under Quarantine

A Closer Look: What It’s Like to Be Under Quarantine

Norovirus pops up in the news when passengers fall ill onboard ships. Get Up & Go was on a ship in January 2014 with writer Sally MacMillan when she succumbed the the flu. We saw a guard urside her door and thoughtht he worst. Here she tells of how well she was looked after - she writes about an experience she had with Norovirus.
When you’re sorting out your travel insurance just before you leave for a well-earned break, the possibility of lost luggage or missed connections might flash through your mind. But coming down with Norovirus? It wasn’t on the top of my concerns when I flew from Sydney to Auckland for a 10-day R & R cruise on board Celebrity Solstice.
But oh dear: Almost as soon as I boarded the ship I felt decidedly under the weather. I thought it was just a side effect from some medication. I coped by spending a leisurely afternoon unpacking and reading, and dipped out of dinner with my group that evening, choosing a Spartan soup and bread-roll dinner from room service instead.
Next morning, I loaded up with anti-nausea pills, drank gallons of water to counter the light-headed feeling that was adding to my unpleasant sinking stomach and headed out to the lawn deck for a walk. That worked for a while. But after another day and night of self-imposed exile in my balcony cabin, I had to accept I’d been hit with a gastro bug.

Celebrity Today, the daily newsletter, advised anyone who might be suffering any sort of stomach symptoms to report to the medical facility for a complimentary consultation and treatment (if necessary). With dreaded word “Norovirus” now on the table, off I went to Deck 2 where a very efficient nurse interviewed me.
Because my symptoms were indeed consistent with a possible Norovirus, I was given some Imodium pills. I was also asked to sign a document stating I consented to being isolated in my cabin for 24 hours, and possibly longer if the symptoms hadn’t subsided.
The documents I signed made it very clear that if I attempted to break out of my isolation I would be “subject to disembarkation from the ship,” and could be reported to the local port’s health authorities if I attempted to leave. If I left the ship, I would also be ineligible for any compensation the cruise line would offer me for missed activities.
Not that there was any chance of escaping even if I’d wanted to. My keycard was deactivated on the spot and a cabin steward escorted me from the medical center to my cabin. Somewhat bemused by this not-in-the-brochure situation, I frantically tried to contact the friend I was due to meet in Wellington in the morning to say I might be stuck on the ship and then settled in to contemplate the next 24 hours.
One upside: I could now give in gracefully to doing nothing but relaxing, reading, watching movies and taking in the views, and recover. The information  emphasized the necessity of frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and hot water. Because I was on a restricted diet, I had to call a special number to order its delivery. No sneaky treats allowed and certainly no chocolates were going to be left on my pillow.
The choice of dishes for passengers isolated for Norovirus-type symptoms is simple: white rice, baked potatoes, chicken broth, chicken breast, watermelon (not honeydew or any other variety), white bread, mint or chamomile tea, and bottled water. Over the next 24 hours, my regular cabin steward delivered this fare on plain black plastic trays with disposable plates accompanied by plastic cutlery and paper napkins — and while he wasn’t covered in hazmat gear, he didn’t hang around to chat.
Nobody likes being sick on their vacation and as this was more or less a stricter version of the diet I’d already put myself on since I’d first felt queasy, I was happy to stick to plain food in order to feel better as soon as possible. By the time my isolation period was up — I didn’t have to report for a personal examination — I was able to report that all symptoms had abated and I was allowed to leave the ship for a couple of hours in Wellington. My keycard bleeped at the gangway and security had to check that I was officially cleared.  Yippee, I was free.
As far as I know, there had been no massive outbreak of the virus on the ship; certainly I didn’t see many people in the medical center. While there was no self-service in the Ocean View Cafe or Aqua Spa Cafe for the first three days of the cruise, I believe this was largely precautionary.
The rest of the cruise was everything I had wanted. My account was credited with the for-fee movies I’d watched during the lockdown; and while some passengers suffered involuntary isolation from seasickness during the rocky Tasman Sea crossing, I relished the conditions to the point of having a huge dinner at Murano.

When it comes to Norovirus, myths abound. Let us help you separate facts from fiction.
Not familiar with Norovirus? Check out our guide to everything you need to know about the disease and its spread.