Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scandinavia: Great Danes

‘Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town’ . . . continues to enchant visitors with its traditions and easygoing personality. But there's more to explore as its varied and eclectic architecture ­– old and new – stirs 'for' and 'against' controversy, eventually melding into the visual fabric of the city, just as it always has.

If you're not walking, boat or bicycle is the way to discover Copenhagen. Denmark's capital city is a true, natural beauty that has, over the centuries, been designed, primped and polished to within an inch of its life. Always on show, and stepping up to the mark as a pretty, chocolate-box-toy-soldier presentation, the city on the water has burst out of its uniform ambience and over the past decade presented a collection of new buildings which have changed the face of the harbour shoreline, canals and through some of the quiet streets.

When you think of Denmark, what comes to mind? Hamlet, pastries, a little mermaid, fine china, a certain princess, Vikings, beech forests, Hans Christian Andersen, herrings and very down-to-earth sensible people? All of the above, but what shines the light on modern Denmark, the ancient centre of Scandinavia, is design. Everything in the country, and especially the city of Copenhagen is about excellent design. Whether it's mediaeval churches, Renaissance castles and country homes, ordered streets and canals, or pretty, colourful harbour-side storied houses of the cities' that flourished in the 'golden age' from 1588-1648, the element of design surprise continues to grow and be embellished to mellow into the 21st century.

A leader in industrial design for the last century or so, Danish design conjures names such as Bang and Olufsen (audio and stereo brand), Bodum (coffee chic), Royal Copenhagen (fine china) and Geog Jensen (the famous Danish silverware brand).

The essence of the country’s individual design is to be found in its timeless simplicity, quality materials and functionality.

Danish architecture, in Denmark and abroad is a standout on the international architectural scene. And it is often at the centre of public scrutiny and controversy. For example, take one of the world's most famous buildings, the Sydney Opera House designed by Jorn Utzon. This universally admired building was bankrolled by a public lottery, caused so much dissention within the ranks of the state government in the 1960s that the design was drastically modified, much to the architect's disappointment at the time.

Utzon designed beautiful buildings all over the world and in his own country. In the dock area of Copenhagen, the Paustian furniture store, also Utzon's brainchild is a place of inspiration. Contained in the stunning building is Denmark's largest collection of quality furniture and carpets, lighting and accessories and basically the best interior design from Scandinavia and the rest of the world. Perhaps not the best place to pick up some souvenirs but fine for picking up design and decorating ideas.

Two newish buildings that have had Copenhagen residents atwitter over the past few years are the amazing Copenhagen Opera House (designed by Henning Larsen), completed and opened in 2004 and the Royal Danish Library (known as the Black Diamond), a looming construction pressing the shoreline and designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen. It is named for its outside cover of black marble and glass.

The Black Diamond has a host of detractors and as many admirers. It leans dramatically over the waterfront and reflects the water and light, constantly changing its hue. This extraordinary building is an extension to the 19th century red brick Royal Library. It certainly catches the eye and the imagination as you glide by in the harbour.

Best view of these beauties before actually heading indoors to experience Opera and books is to take a canal boat trip and get your bearings of the harbour and all it offers. In fact it’s a lovely way to start your discovery of Copenhagen.

In and around town by foot or bicycle you’ll find beautiful old buildings from various eras that undoubtedly caused a stir in their time too.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a fine art museum is an imposing grand period design standing on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard. This museum is full of wonderful items including Etruscan art, 19th-century paintings from Denmark and France and many sculptures than span 5000 years. There are a few starts on show here – but two favourites are the work of Paul Gaugain and more than 30 pieces by Rodin. Take a rest from art here and you’ll be having coffee and cake or maybe a meal at a beautiful tropical plant filled winter garden restaurant.

Also one of the oldies but goodies is the famous Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park that has charmed adults and thrilled children for more than 160 years. It’s not Luna Park or Disneyland, but an area with old-fashioned gardens, a host of food pavilions and rides galore from the innocent, romantic rides of the past to the modern Demon – a corkscrewing roller coaster and the dead drop Golden Tower. The Tivoli is at its best at night when the magic of lights turn the park into a fairytale enclosure. Kitsch and schmaltz rule the day and from the behaviour of the visitors this is just the atmosphere desired.

Along the waterfront the Amalienborg Palace is an austere standout as there are four ‘mansions’ in the square making up the one home for the royal family. The buildings surround the centre square and the royal precinct is guarded by sentries. There is a ceremonial changing of the guard at noon daily. Amalienborg is one of Copenhagen best examples of Baroque architecture ­that didn’t run riot with the curls and swirls.

Head inland to view the splendid Frederikskirken, the marble church with its glorious dome that can be seen from all over the city.

You can’t visit Copenhagen without a thought for Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. It’s odd that she sits patiently looking toward the shore and not the harbour, which could take her away from all the attention and fuss. Nostalgia aside it feels disrespectful to see tourists putting their arms around her and invading her tiny space on a rock.

If you still have a hankering for unusual architecture there’s Holmen’s red brick warehouses, barracks and foundries that were built on reclaimed land in the 17th century for the Danish military. Holmen is home to schools specialising in drama, film, architecture and music. For architecture fans the Royal Danish School of Architecture holds regular exhibitions in Meldahis Smedie in Holmen.

But brilliant design isn’t just about buildings. Copenhagen’s restaurant and café scene underwent an amazing transformation in the mid nineties. This modern Scandinavian revolution has produced, to mention the tip of the eatery iceberg, Café Victor, Dan Turells, Café Sommersko, Ultimo and Quote. These new and very fabulous eateries and wine bars made their name for their interpretation of Danish cooking as well as their good looks.

Window shopping shows the sophisticated design side of fashion, from men’s and women’s clothing to cutting edge shoes and accessories. Homeware shops have so many innovative kitchen implements and interior design items that the best advice you can get before travelling to Copenhagen is to pack your suitcase to half full, then take half out ­ - there’s serious shopping to be done here.


There’s good food, great accommodation, excellent transport and activities to keep you going for a week or so, but spare a thought and perhaps your appetite for what is considered by many to be Denmark’s crowning design glory ­– the open-face sandwich. Forget wraps, baps, filled croissants, bagels and foccacia – this is the real Danish deal, cheap and more than cheerful.

‘Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town’ song written by Frank Loesser for the film Hans Christian Andersen (1952) starring Danny Kaye.

By Bev Malzard

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Book now for Battlefield Tours in 2017

Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours to pay homage to

Darwin Bombing with 75th anniversary tour in 2017

Australia’s number one battlefield tour operator, Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours (MMBT) has launched a new commemorative tour to mark the 75th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin in February 2017.

“For more than 20 years, MMBT founder and acclaimed Historian, journalist, TV presenter and battlefield guidebook author Mat McLachlan has been leading pilgrimages to major battlefield sites throughout the world, including the Western Front, Germany, Gallipoli, Vietnam, Singapore and beyond,” said Managing Director, Peter Smith.

“The Bombing of Darwin anniversary tour provides an ideal opportunity for Australians to learn the local impact of World War II whilst discovering one of the country’s most naturally beautiful regions,” added Mat McLachlan.

The Bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942, was the largest single attack ever mounted in this country, with 242 Japanese aircraft attacking Darwin’s harbour and township, sinking eight ships and killing more than 240 people.

MMBT’s five-night 75th anniversary tour (16-21 February) will put visitors in the heart of the city for the emotional anniversary and commemorations, and visit key sites including Stokes Hill, Fort Hill Wharf, WWII airfields, Adelaide River War Cemetery and the Darwin Military Museum, as well as cruising Darwin’s iconic harbour.

The tour is priced from $1497 per person, twin share.

“Recent major battlefield anniversary celebrations, such as the 2015 Gallipoli Centenary, have driven heightened awareness of battlefield travel and significant growth in demand for tours. We’re constantly striving to develop fascinating new tours to diversify our range of memorable wartime travel experiences,” concluded Mr Smith.

For more information, please visit: http://battlefields.com.au/darwin-75th-anniversary-2017/

To view and experience Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours’ new look website, and the broad range of tours available to book now, visit: www.battlefields.com.au, call 1300 880 340 or visit your favourite travel agent.

Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is part of McLachlan Tours - a family company with a 30-year track record in the Australian travel industry. McLachlan Tours is accredited with the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), a member of the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) and Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), and can customise itineraries for travel agents’ clients anywhere in the world.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Spirit of Italy captured in new Alitalia uniform


Alitalia unveiled a striking new staff uniform collection at a catwalk show held at the Nazionale Spazio Eventi in Rome recently before an audience of media representatives and specially invited guests from around the world. The collection has been designed and tailor-made by a team of nearly 500 people in Italy, with fabrics made in Tuscany, silk in Como, men’s uniforms tailored in Puglia, and leather accessories such as gloves in Naples, and shoes in the Marche region. Created by Italian haute couturier Ettore Bilotta at his atelier in Milan, the new ‘Alitalia Collection’ takes inspiration from the glamorous golden days of Italian fashion in the 1950s and 1960s and Italy’s rich heritage, culture and national identity. It also celebrates the people of Alitalia, their professionalism, style and passion for the airline.

Before we see the new uniforms and learn where the inspiration of the designs came from, just look at some of the past uniforms - mostly hits but a couple of misses!

Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said: “We are introducing a new look which captures the spirit of Alitalia today as it continues on its journey of renewal and growth. In doing so, we also celebrate its illustrious 70 year history. Our aim was to create a stylish collection which would represent Italian excellence around the world. This is a country at the forefront of global style and design.

Ettore Bilotta said: “Being given the opportunity to design the new uniforms for this much loved Italian symbol was very exciting and gave me the opportunity to create a special collection which symbolises Italy and our pride in Alitalia as its ambassador to the world. Alitalia is one of the most recognised airline brands in the world and I had to deliver something truly special. Working closely with Alitalia on every aspect of the design process was crucial. This ensured the whole project was created, managed and completed in Italy by Italians, and to showcase the arts, culture, people, design and landscapes of this great country.”

Aubrey Tiedt, Alitalia’s Chief Customer Officer, said: “Our new Alitalia uniform emulates the beauty, style and elegance of Italy. We want our customers to experience the best of Italy in everything that we do, and there is no better way of highlighting our desire than with our new uniform.”

2016 - Style

To represent the essence of Italy in the new collection, the designer studied Italian architecture, monuments, and everyday lifestyles but elected to draw inspiration from the country’s landscapes, eventually focusing on the terraces of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. These terraces were the inspiration for the new hat design, which exudes a style inspired by the glamorous 1950s and 1960s, when women always wore elegant and beautiful hats and gloves. Alitalia’s brief to the designer was to create a new style which would be timeless and enduring, by using classic Italian elements combined with everyday practicality for both male and female staff.

The cut and colours of the collection have been selected to complement the silhouettes of all. Bilotta has used red to symbolise Italian passion, and green to represent the best of Italy, its countryside, and the richness of its culture and history. A blend of 96 per cent fine Italian wool and four per cent Elastane has been used for enhanced comfort and functionality.

For female cabin crew uniforms a burgundy slowly changing to a lighter red was achieved by using a chevron print design. For female ground crew, a charcoal grey gradually changing to green was also realised using the same print design. This design process is followed on each garment, including a white blouse features tapering chevron print columns in red for cabin crew and green for ground crew. All females receive three options – a one piece dress, a two piece jacket and skirt, and a trouser option.

The male uniform also uses the intricate chevron design in dark charcoal grey and wood green. A double-breasted waistcoat, using the same colour tones, will be worn by all male cabin crew, with male ground crews wearing the same colour scheme in reverse. A red tie will be worn by cabin crew to complement the red female cabin crew uniform, while male ground crew will wear a green tie to complement the green female ground crew uniform. Stylish wool crêpe overcoats in burgundy for female cabin crew, green for male cabin crew and female ground staff, and charcoal grey for male ground staff, add to the collection.

Accessories such as ties, waistcoats, cardigans, scarves, belts, shoes, gloves and bags, perfectly balance the uniform, and use modern Italian contemporary and classic design elements to create items which are in vogue. The leather accessories for female cabin crew are in wood green, in burgundy for female ground staff, and in black for all male staff.

The new uniforms will be gradually introduced system-wide from early July and worn by Alitalia’s 5,700 cabin crew and ground crews, including check-in and lounge staff. New uniform designs are under way for the airline’s flight crew and operational staff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SOUTH AMERICA Santiago: A putsch in a punch at La Piojera

Once the air would have been thick with a pungent fug of Cuban tobacco and seditious schemes yet today, years after the last dictator was deposed, La Piojera (the flea pit) still retains that vital air of free speech and dangerously creative thought.

Owned by the same family for a century and formerly known as 'Restaurante Santiago Old' the name is derived from that given to it when former president of Chile, Arturo Alessandri Palma, called it a lowly 'flea pit' when on a visit in 1922.

You want it in a dirty glass?
This nondescript hole-in-the-wall in the Mapocho district, lies just across the road from the over-hyped, French-designed Central Market, a feature on many conventional tourist trails.

In stark contrast to its shiny, pompous neighbour, the grimy La Piojera's floors are wet with untold spilled drinks, beaten-up furniture, take-it-or-leave-it service and a rowdy, convivial crowd sporting lots of black, tattoos and Che Guevara beards. 

Rough neighbourhood
Back in the '80s, seditious left-wing plots were hatched here by minor revolutionaries and poets like Jorge Teillier, Rolando Cárdenas, Alvaro Ruiz and Aristotle Spain. The famous opera singer, Ramon Vinay, was known to get up and rattle off Verdi on top of a wine barrel.

Dangerous mutterings were once heard in dark corners, fearful of Pinochet moles, but today subversion is served in a plastic 10oz cup and called a 'terremoto' (earthquake), a cheap and nasty concoction of rough white wine, grenadine and a scoop of pineapple ice cream. Here, they like to add a straw for a touch of sophistication.

This proletariat temple and working class chapel is worth the visit if you are looking for the quirky, seldom seen underbelly of Santiago.

For information about tours that include this and other out-of-the-way sights in Santiago, contact Movidas Journeys

- guest post by Get Up & Go contributor, Roderick Eime

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Europe's best food festivals for 2016

Rail Europe’s Five European Food Festivals for 2016!

There is no doubt that many Australians have come to love European cuisine, with some of the most popular being French, Italian, Spanish and Greek. However, Europe’s culinary horizon extends far beyond the Mediterranean nations and Rail Europe shortlisted five countries and their food festivals for the discerned foodie traveller.

Tapas, Spain
Catalonia, Spain

Being the European Region of Gastronomy for 2016, Catalonia will be boasting its rich culinary heritage including its 63 Michelin Star restaurants, 12 wine regions and a series of gastronomic hotels. Visitors can expect to have their senses spoiled by vibrant colours, rich aromas and unmistakable flavours of Catalonian cuisine wherever they go in the region.

Exploring Catalonia and around Spain is easy with a Spain Pass or via France-Spain High Speed tickets if heading over from France.

VegfestUK Bristol, England

UK’s largest annual vegan event, VegfestUK Bristol will run over two days from 21-22 May 2016. Visitors can expect to enjoy a weekend of live music, taste international vegan food from about 160 stalls, 15 caterers, bars and juice bars; pick up on some useful cooking skills, nutritional tips; and even learn about the vegan philosophy and lifestyle.

Bristol is 1.42hours by train west from London. Travellers can explore England and the around the UK using a Britrail England Pass.

Prague Food Festival

Prague Food Festival

Running for 10 years now, the Prague Food Festival is an extravagant event that takes place on the verdant lawns of the Royal Gardens at Prague Castle. Taking place from 27-29 May this year, the best chefs and restaurants will wow visitors with their culinary interpretations and creativity. From soups to desserts and beverages of all sorts, there will be endless tasting opportunities, discussions and classes to keep visitors engaged.

Discovering the culinary delights of Prague, Czech Republic and Eastern Europe is easy with a European East Pass.

Stockholm, Sweden
Taste of Stockholm, Sweden 

Running in its 25th year, Taste of Stockholm will take place from 2-6 June. From a two-day event and 90,000 visitors when it first began, the event today runs for five days and welcomes 350,000 visitors. This year will see 24 restaurants, 14 food trucks, 45 chefs (including four Michelin star chefs), 35 bakers and 30 small food-entrepreneurs from around the country educate, inspire and spoil the senses of every visitor.

Travelling around Sweden and Scandinavia can be done cost effectively with a Scandinavian Pass (covering Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway).

Wiesbaden, Germany
Rheingau Wine Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany
Germany, well known for its beers and Oktoberfest, is not the first place foodies will think of when it comes to wine, yet it is a country that produces quite a wide variety of wine, some of them featured in the Rheingau Wine Festival. Running for 40 years now and entering its 41st year, the Rheingau Wine Festival will take place from 12-21 August, where a variety of wine estates and local delicacies from Rheingau and Wiesbaden will be featured.

Wiesbaden is a 46min train ride from Frankfurt. Travellers can explore this region and other parts of Germany using a German Rail Pass.

Manager Australasia of Rail Europe, Ingrid Kocijan, says, “Backed by rich history, culture and long-standing traditional cooking methods, Europe is a kaleidoscope of gastronomic experiences. There is certainly a lot more of European culinary experiences to be had beyond the norm or what is already popular.”

For more information on European rail tickets and passes, visit www.raileurope.com.au / www.raileurope.co.nz.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

USA - New York BROOKLYN: Endless possibilities

Visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the beautiful cherry blossoms this spring - and make a day of it in Prospect Heights!

Explore the endless number of diverse activities and attractions that this popular Brooklyn neighborhood – Prospect Heights, has to offer. Don’t miss the local charm found in the neighbourhood’s historic brownstone architecture, local stores and thriving restaurant and bar scene.

Marvel at the design of the memorial arch in Grand Army Plaza, and stroll through Prospect Park bracketing the neighbourhood. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Hanami: Cherry Blossom Viewing - Cherry-blossom viewing, known as hanami, is a centuries-old Japanese custom, a springtime occasion for merriment and the contemplation of life's beauty and transience. Visitors and locals can partake in this tradition at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (below) , home to scores of flowering varieties for public enjoyment. Guided tours focusing on the blooms are held on Wednesdays during the April viewing season, and the more-frequent garden highlights tours touch upon them as well (bbg.org/cherries).

Culture & Entertainment
Barclays Center – The 18,000 seat Barclays Center is home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and, most recently, the NHL’s New York Islanders. The Islanders are headed for the playoffs, making now the perfect time to experience the adrenaline-filled atmosphere of a Barclays Center hockey game. The venue is also host to boxing, circuses, family shows and concerts, including Florence and the Machine (June 14), and Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas (July 8) this summer (barclayscenter.com).

Brooklyn Museum – Brooklyn Museum possesses an extensive permanent collection of ancient Egyptian masterpieces, African art, European painting, decorative arts, period rooms, and contemporary art, in addition to rotating cutting-edge exhibitions and programs. Current exhibitions on display at the museum include:
Brooklyn Museum – Brooklyn Museum possesses an extensive permanent collection of ancient Egyptian masterpieces, African art, European painting, decorative arts, period rooms, and contemporary art, in addition to rotating cutting-edge exhibitions and programs. Current exhibitions on display at the museum include:
Prospect Park - Go horse-back riding or ride the carousel, visit the Prospect Park Zoo, walk through the breathtaking Long Meadow, treat your four-legged friends to a dip at Dog Beach and ice skate at LeFrak recreation center. Attend the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell, New York’s longest-running, free outdoor performing arts festival featuring live music (prospectpark.org).
Ample Hills - Offering creative flavors such as Snap, Mallow, Pop (marshmallow ice cream with buttery Rice Krispies clusters) and The Raw Deal (vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and homemade brown butter chocolate cookie dough), Ample Hills (above) is a great spot to take the kids, in addition to anyone with a sweet tooth. All ice cream is made from local, organic ingredients (amplehills.com).
El Atoradero - a popular Poblano Mexican joint that originally operated in the Bronx, El Atoradero features homemade Mexican eats and outdoor seating, ideal for the warm spring weather (elatoraderobrooklyn.com).
El Atoradero - a popular Poblano Mexican joint that originally operated in the Bronx, El Atoradero features homemade Mexican eats and outdoor seating, ideal for the warm spring weather (elatoraderobrooklyn.com).
Chuko Ramen - Chuko Ramen serves up ramen and Japanese inspired dishes with unexpected ingredients and flavour combinations (barchuko.com/chuko-ramen).
Tooker Alley- Serving up classic and modern cocktails, Tooker Alley is a speakeasy that gets its name from the location of Chicago’s famed Dil Pickle Club (tookeralley.com).
O.N.A. – The trendy woman’s boutique features bold, modern clothing and accessories from local designers (onanyc.com).
1 of a Find Vintage - Don’t leave Brooklyn without purchasing some vintage items, whether it’s clothing or home goods (1ofafindnyc.com
1 of a Find Vintage - Don’t leave Brooklyn without purchasing some vintage items, whether it’s clothing or home goods (1ofafindnyc.com).
Empire Mayonnaise - For unique souvenirs from the neighbourhood and a taste of Brooklyn’s artisan culture, Empire Mayonnaise sells a wide variety of mayonnaise flavours including Bacon, Roasted Garlic, Sriracha and White Truffle (empiremayo.com). Unnameable Books - For the book worms, Unnameable Books sells new and used books and also hosts events including talks, book launches and readings (facebook.com/unnameable).

More information can be found at www.nycgo.com.

35th Anniversary Sakura Matsuri – From April 30 to May 1, Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts the weekend-long Cherry Blossom Festival, known in Japanese as Sakura Matsuri. During the festival, which is celebrating its 35th year at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, visitors can enjoy an array of events and activities celebrating Japanese culture, including J-pop concerts, traditional Japanese music and dance, taiko drumming, martial arts, bonsai-pruning workshops, tea ceremonies and manga art (bbg.org/sakura_matsuri).

  • This Place – This Place explores the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, as place and metaphor, through the eyes of twelve internationally acclaimed photographers (through June 5, 2016). 
  • Agitprop! - Agitprop! connects contemporary art devoted to social change with historic moments in creative activism, highlighting activities that seek to motivate broad and diverse publics (through August 7, 2016). 
  • Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) - This site-specific installation recalls the birth of new public art in Coney Island, and the emergence of a uniquely American and wholly “Coney Island” style of painting.
  • For more information, visit www.brooklynmuseum.org.
Brooklyn Public Library – Visitors can take in the stunning architecture of the Brooklyn Public Library (above) and enjoy its collection of 1.5 million books and magazines (bklynlibrary.org).


The Islands - The Islands gives visitors a taste of the Caribbean with savory jerk chicken and calypso shrimp (zomato.com/the-islands).

Tom’s Restaurant - A family owned and operated diner known for its pancakes, egg creams and key lime rickeys, Tom’s Restaurant is an iconic diner in New York City’s restaurant scene (tomsrestaurant.net).

The Vanderbilt- A seasonal American gastropub with an intimate and stylish setting, The Vanderbilt serves everything from eggplant lasagna to grilled pork chops (thevanderbiltnyc.com).


Weather Up- The old-fashioned cocktail bar and popular local hot-spot is the perfect place to relax with a high-end drink (weatherupnyc.com).


Prospect Heights borders main streets Atlantic Avenue, Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue. It is a quick ten minute subway ride from Lower Manhattan and less than a half hour from Midtown. The 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, and R trains all stop in the neighbourhood, as do public buses, making for a smooth and seamless commute from no matter which borough one is staying.