Cruising

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What to pack for a cruise – and 6 things not to bring

<p><strong>Cruise essentials</strong></p> <p>Packing for a cruise is a lot like packing for any other holiday. You’ll want to bring comfy walking shoes for sightseeing and to leave your best jewellery at home. But there are other items – beyond seasickness medications – that expert cruisers never set sail without. Here, a few of our favourite professional cruisers tell us what you’ll find in their suitcases.</p> <p><strong>Do: Stash all your pool items in your carry-on bag</strong></p> <p>“You may not see your checked bag until late on your first day on board,” says Gene Sloan, cruise editor of USA Today. “It can take hours from the time you drop your bag off with the ship-side porters for it to arrive up in your room.” As a result, when we asked him what to pack for a cruise, he recommended stashing your swimsuit, sunglasses and suntan lotion in your day bag so you have them available immediately upon arrival.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pack clothing that can be layered</strong></p> <p> “Weather from port to port can vary significantly,” explains Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of CruiseCritic.com. “Packing layers can help combat temperature changes, without the need to pack multiple outfits that can take up precious room in your suitcase.” McDaniel adds that this is especially important in places where the weather is unpredictable.</p> <p><strong>Don’t: Leave home without sunscreen and aloe vera</strong> “Chances are you’ll get more sun than you’re used to,” says McDaniel. “And while a good sunscreen can keep you from getting burned, aloe vera will give you some relief if you do.” So when you’re thinking about what to pack for a cruise, remember to buy the sunscreen and after-sun lotion at home – you could end up paying a markup on many ships.</p> <p><strong>Do: Bring a portable charger or two</strong></p> <p>If you’re someone who doesn’t like to unplug during a vacation, this one is a biggie – especially if you have more than one device or spend hours on social media or email. “You won’t have easy access to outlets around the ship,” explains Fran Golden, chief contributor of Porthole magazine. “And there may be a limited number of outlets in your cabin.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Toss your portable mug in your bag</strong></p> <p>Cruise ships often have complimentary coffee, and it’s usually part of the deck buffet. But your cabin isn’t, so many people go up on deck, grab a couple mugs of coffee first thing in the morning, and burn themselves as they walk back to their cabin. Mike Jirout, founder of the Ship Mate App, has this clever suggestion in his blog: If you’re a big coffee drinker, pack a portable mug with a lid in your suitcase. Travelling with kids? You’ll want sippy cups for their morning milk or juice.</p> <p><strong>Do: Throw in some kitchen magnets</strong></p> <p>“Little-known fact for those who haven’t cruised before: Cruise cabin walls are made of steel,” says McDaniel. “Packing magnets – or magnetic hooks – can help keep track of daily programs and other loose papers, or make it easy to hang items that need to dry. We’ve also used heavy-duty magnetic hooks for stashing away cameras, lanyards and even binoculars.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Bring along a marker board</strong></p> <p>If you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, magnetic marker boards are handy to bring along, says McDaniel. “Hang one outside your cabin door so that you can leave notes for your travel companions.” Now, you’ll never miss out on meeting spots or reservation details.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pick up a pashmina</strong></p> <p>Just because you’re heading to a tropical region, doesn’t mean you won’t want to bring a cover-up to use on board. “I always pack a shawl (a tan cashmere is my go-to-these days), even in tropical climates,” explains Golden, “because sometimes the air-conditioning on ships is intense.” Also, as ships reach full speed, the wind on outdoor decks picks up, and you’ll be happy you brought along a wrap.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pack plenty of reading material</strong></p> <p> “Make sure you have a couple of books on your Kindle or iPad, because for once in your busy life, on a cruise ship you will actually have time to read,” says Golden. “Sometimes I’ll even pick novels based on the destination where I am cruising, or a sea theme. If I have a balcony cabin, the balcony becomes my favourite reading spot.”</p> <p><em>Written by Sherri Eisenberg. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/what-to-pack-for-a-cruise-and-6-things-not-to-bring"><em>Reader’s Digest.</em></a><em> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine,</em><em><u> </u></em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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Top 10 murder capitals of the world

<p> </p> <p>For the most part, travelling the world is an exciting, educational and enlightening experience.</p> <p>But beneath all the warmth, hospitality and culture, there can be a very dark side to many cities which goes unnoticed by most wide-eyed travellers.</p> <p>Counting down are the top ten murder capitals of the world, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-50-most-violent-cities-in-the-world-2015-1#10-so-lus-brazil-had-6471-homicides-per-100000-residents-41">based upon the number of homicides per 100,000 people</a>.\</p> <p><strong>10. São Luís, Brazil</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/brazil/the-northeast/sao-luis">São Luís</a> is the largest city in the state of Maranhão, Brazil. It is a world heritage listed area, with its famous tiled buildings, and impressive museums and art galleries which entice tourists from all over the world.</p> <p>But the city also has the tenth highest murder rate in the world, with 64.71 homicides per 100,000 residents. In March this year, the city was rocked by a deadly spate of shootings which saw <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/06/ten-murders-in-five-hours-one-deadly-night-in-sao-paulos-dangerous-triangle">10 people killed in the space of just five hours.</a></p> <p>The city is also known for high rates of other violent crimes, including assaults, rapes and muggings. The violence is said to be primarily attributable to gang warfare which dominates the region. But locals say that the city’s military police are also to blame – having killed 6,697 people in the city over the past decade.</p> <p><strong>9. Cali, Columbia</strong></p> <p>It’s the capital of salsa music, and even played host to the World Games in 2013, but Cali’s appalling homicide rate of 62.25 people per 100,000 has left tourists thinking twice about exploring its lively streets.</p> <p>But credit should be given where it is due – crime in Cali has been falling since the early 2000s, when the homicide rate reached as high as 90 per 100,000 people.</p> <p>High crime has been attributed to a lack of investment in security, as well as mafia and drug wars, with over 1,700 assassins estimated to be working in the Cali to this day.</p> <p><strong>8. Fortaleza, Brazil</strong></p> <p>Beautiful Fortaleza is the fifth largest city in Brazil and home to incredible beaches and parks, but the drug trade and organised crime has seen the homicide rate skyrocket to 66.55 per 100,000 people.</p> <p>The rise in violent crime has been accompanied by a <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Travel-g303293-s206/Fortaleza:Brazil:Health.And.Safety.html">similar increase in petty crimes</a> such as theft.</p> <p>Tourists are frequently warned to exercise caution when travelling to Fortaleza due to the high rate of kidnappings in the city.</p> <p><strong>7. Valencia, Venezuela</strong></p> <p>Valencia is said to be home to some of the most attractive people on earth, including several beauty pageant winners.</p> <p>But it’s also one of the most dangerous places in the world, with 71.08 homicides per 100,000 people.</p> <p>In fact, former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her husband were brutally murdered by the roadside just last year.</p> <p>The reason for high crime rates includes easy access to weapons, corrupt officials and police, lax law enforcement and a prison system marked by violence.</p> <p><a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/01/violence-venezuela">90% of murders in Valencia go unpunished</a> – meaning that there is little to deter criminals from taking the law into their own hands.</p> <p><strong>6. Maceió, Brazil</strong></p> <p>A quick Google search for Maceió yields postcard-worthy photos of a coastal paradise, but besides its pretty beaches, the city is known for being one of the most violent cities in Brazil, with a homicide rate of 72.91 per 100,000 residents.</p> <p>The area is marked by poverty and an huge disparity between the rich and the poor, which has underpinned violence and crime.</p> <p>In recent years, Maceió has tried to reinvent itself as a tourist hotspot, with the government recently forking out millions for new police resources, and ‘peace lessons’ being rolled out in classrooms to teach children to be less violent. However, many holidaymakers remain perturbed by the high murder rates.</p> <p><strong>5. Distrito Central, Honduras</strong></p> <p>Widely considered to be <a href="http://news.nster.com/426-the-most-violent-cities-in-the-world-by-alex-flux.html?b=4">the most dangerous municipality in Honduras</a>, Distrito Central is largely controlled by street gangs, who are blamed for the high homicide rate of 77.65 per 100,000 residents.</p> <p>These gangs are involved in the distribution of drugs such as cocaine, morphine and heroin throughout Central America.</p> <p>The city is underpinned by extreme poverty; with almost 70% living below poverty line, and by corruption in the army, police and judicial system.</p> <p><strong>4. João Pessoa, Brazil</strong></p> <p>The easternmost city in the Americas is home to large areas of parkland as well as beautiful beaches fringed by palm trees – but the streets on the outskirts of the city are not so nice.</p> <p>With a homicide rate of 79.41 per 100,000 residents, João Pessoa is one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil. Tourists are frequently robbed at gunpoint, with statistics reporting that 135.8 people are robbed per 100,000.</p> <p><strong>3. Acapulco, Mexico</strong></p> <p>Yet another beach-fringed resort city, Acapulco is popular amongst tourists wishing to work on their tan and enjoy the nightlife – but it is also known for having the highest murder rates in Mexico, with a whopping 104.16 homicides per 100,000 residents.</p> <p>Like many other cities on this list, Acapulco is plagued by drug-related warfare and violence, with rival cartels fighting for control of turf following the death of a major cartel leader in 2009.</p> <p><strong>2. Caracas, Venezuela</strong></p> <p>Caracas is the capital of Venezuela – but it is also one of the world’s crime capitals, with 115.98 murders per 100,000 people.</p> <p>High rates of kidnappings, gun crime, drug-related violence and human trafficking make it a dangerous place to live and visit.</p> <p>These problems are compounded by the fact that police and other authorities are plagued by corruption and rarely investigate crime.</p> <p><strong>1. San Pedro Sula, Honduras</strong></p> <p>With an incredible 171.2 people killed per 100,000 residents – or 3 murders per day – San Pedro Sula takes the top spot on our list of murder capitals around the world.</p> <p>The country has faced extreme poverty after Hurricane Mitch destroyed major fruit plantations and factories – leaving many residents with no option but to turn to criminal means to support themselves and their families.</p> <p>The city is now known as a <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316843/Horrific-collection-photos-grim-reality-life-San-Pedro-Sula-Honduras.html">major distribution point for illegal firearms and drugs</a>, as well as a hub for cocaine trafficking – and there are frequently deadly fallouts between gangs, police and army personnel.</p> <p><em>Written by Ugur Nedim. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/top-ten-murder-capitals-of-the-world/">Sydney Criminal Lawyers.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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How to keep your grandkids learning while travelling

<p>The school year is over and holidays are upon us. But that doesn’t mean your children’s learning experiences can’t continue.</p> <p>If you’re planning an overseas trip with your family, you’re in for many benefits. Research shows travel has a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258161384_Health_and_Wellness_Benefits_of_Travel_Experiences_A_Literature_Review">positive impact</a> on mental and physical health, and family relationships.</p> <p>Travel is also an <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0047287513500588">educational opportunity</a>. It’s a rich experience seeing different parts of the world and understanding other cultures. And there are several things you can do to support your children’s learning.</p> <p><strong>How travel educates</strong></p> <p>The way children learn while travelling is in many respects comparable to what educational researchers call <a href="http://www.ascotkindergarten.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Play-based-learning.pdf">play-based learning</a>. Play-based learning and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00094056.2001.10521668">travel stimulate children’s minds</a> by boosting their creativity and imagination. Both can also help develop social and emotional skills and encourage language development.</p> <p>Travelling exposes children to new scenarios and problems to solve – such as following a certain route on a map. They explore new food, encounter people communicating in a different language, notice cars driving on the opposite side of the road and billboards showcasing products they have not seen before.</p> <p>All of their senses are challenged as they go through these new experiences.</p> <p>New experiences can provoke some anxiety, which is what sociologist and education professor Jack Mezirow refers to as <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-6300-797-9_7">disorientating dilemmas</a>. He argues such dilemmas are the first step to <a href="https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/53100/">transformative learning</a>, where the learner’s existing assumptions are challenged and beliefs transformed.</p> <p>Although Mezirow often associates transformation with elements of life crises, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1541344611421491">others</a> suggest transformative learning can happen in different contexts, most notably travel.</p> <p>But transformative learning usually comes at an emotional cost, such as a <a href="https://www.early-education.org.uk/sites/default/files/Helping%20children%20cope%20with%20change.pdf">change of routine</a> which can lead to mixed emotions, especially for children. This is why travelling as a family provides a buffer, as it often promotes a safe environment.</p> <p><strong>What you can do</strong></p> <p>Some of <a href="https://www.legofoundation.com/media/1063/learning-through-play_web.pdf">the richest learning</a>, for a child, can be disguised as exploration and adventure. Parents can maximise such learning during travel by subtly incorporating <a href="https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p_10/qklg_pd_intentional_teaching_transcript.pdf">intentional teaching</a> to the experience, just as educators do in play-based learning scenarios.</p> <p>Here are some ways to do this.</p> <p><strong>1. Do some pre-reading about the destination</strong></p> <p>This will help you identify where and how learning might occur. You might also engage your children in this. Say you’re going on a cruise to the South Pacific. Prior to departing you might look at a map of the Pacific with your children to identify the various islands located in this part of the world.</p> <p>You could also encourage your children to discover the special landmarks of different places using <a href="https://www.google.com/earth/">Google Earth</a>. Such activities will support the development of your children’s <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/tea.3660300605">prediction</a> skills. This helps children anticipate future experiences which increases their intellectual involvement with them.</p> <p><a href="https://readingstrategiesmsu.weebly.com/predicting.html">Educational research</a> has shown the act of predicting strengthens connections between children’s new knowledge and their existing understanding of the world.</p> <p><strong>2. Learn some of the language together</strong></p> <p>Learning even a little of the local <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-learning-a-new-language-improves-tolerance-68472">language</a> will open up aspects of the culture you may not have otherwise experienced.</p> <p>Together with your children, you can start learning the basics of the new language by downloading some <a href="https://elearningindustry.com/10-best-language-learning-apps-for-kids">interactive language apps</a>. Another fun way to expand your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation is by singing songs in the target language.</p> <p>Knowing a bit of the local language is a demonstration of respect which means people are more likely to open up to you, further supporting learning opportunities.</p> <p><strong>3. Model an inquiring mind</strong></p> <p>By asking and responding to <a href="https://garyhall.org.uk/importance-of-questioning.html">questions</a> with your children, you’re encouraging new knowledge and helping them engage in critical and creative thinking.</p> <p>For example, when you are walking down the street of the city you are visiting, encourage your children to take notice of what is going on around them and engage in <a href="https://carrotsareorange.com/open-ended-questions/">open-ended questions</a> such as:</p> <ul> <li>“How does this supermarket compare to the one we normally go to back home?”</li> <li>“Why do you think the houses are built that way?”</li> </ul> <p><strong>4. Throw in a little reflection at the end of each day</strong></p> <p>Travel will provide so many learning experiences, you will need to allow time for your child to pause and make sense of them. Any teacher will tell you <a href="http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108008/chapters/Learning-Through-Reflection.aspx">reflecting</a> is often when the deep connections are made between new experiences and existing world views.</p> <p>Some children will reflect of their own accord, but establishing a routine of doing this together will make sure it happens. The traditional travel diary is still a great tool to engage in self-reflection. Others might enjoy looking at photos taken and reflect on the day through family conversations.</p> <p>Learning is a life-long journey that extends well beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. By planning for just a little intentional teaching, you can help your children learn to critically think about and appreciate the world around them.</p> <p><em>Written by Florence Monique Boulard. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-cultures-new-experiences-4-ways-to-keep-kids-learning-while-travelling-126202">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

Cruising

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Damning evidence sheds awful new light on cruise line toddler death

<p>A man who dropped his young granddaughter on a cruise ship “unquestionably” knew the window was open, the cruise operator alleges in a court filing.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean Cruises filed a motion this month asking the federal court in the Southern District of Florida asking to dismiss a lawsuit by the family of Chloe Wiegand, who fell to her death from an 11th floor window on the Freedom of the Seas ship in Puerto Rico in July 2019.</p> <p>The toddler’s parents have accused the cruise liner of negligence in her death by allowing the window in the children’s play area to be open.</p> <p>In the new filing, Royal Caribbean alleged the blame falls on Wiegand’s 51-year-old grandfather Salvatore Anello, who was charged in Puerto Rico with negligent homicide.</p> <p>The company said surveillance video shows Anello leaning out the open window before lifting Wiegand up to it.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 291.941px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7834041/court-document-pic-5.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/95e2e7fdf05b45f390375a75efd666ee" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Source: <span>United States District Court of Southern Florida</span></em></p> <p>“Because Mr Anello had himself leaned out the window, he was well aware that the window is open,” the court motion said.</p> <p>“This is a case about an adult man, who, as surveillance footage unquestionably confirms: (1) walked up to a window he was aware was open; (2) leaned his upper body out the window for several seconds; (3) reached down and picked up Chloe; and (4) then held her by and out of the open window for 34 seconds before he lost his grip and dropped Chloe out of the window.</p> <p>“His actions, which no reasonable person could have foreseen, were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents.”</p> <p>The family’s attorney Michael Winkleman said the cruise company’s motion is “baseless and deceptive”, <em><span>The Indianapolis Star</span></em><span> reported.</span></p> <p><span>Anello told <em><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/salvatore-anello-grandfather-charged-in-cruise-ship-death-speaks-out-2019-11-25/">CBS This Morning</a> </em>in November that he is colourblind and did not realise the tinted window was open. “I thought there was glass,” he said then. “I still say it to myself, it's just, I kind of relive it all the time and I just thought there was glass there.”</span></p>

Cruising

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Cruise line targets “offensive” clothing for passengers

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carnival Cruise Lines are issuing a new ban on clothing that might be considered “offensive”. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The announcement made in late 2019 has sparked a heated debate on whether regulating clothing worn infringes on “free speech rights” or if it is even enforceable. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carnival's brand ambassador and senior cruise director, John Heald, released details about the addition to Carnival's dress code on his popular Facebook page, revealing it was added to the FAQ section of Carnival's website "in the past few days."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The section reads: "All guests are expected to ensure their clothing and accessories are respectful to fellow guests. Specifically, items worn during the cruise should not contain any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo/suggestions. In addition, clothing/accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial commentary, or hatred or violence in any form."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the change to clothing regulations came "after some incidents were reported in the media about other travel sectors where customers were wearing clothing with very threatening messages."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The reports "started a discussion about how we were prepared to handle such a situation and the need for clarification to both guests and crew."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carnival spokesman Gulliksen said that while the line’s crew members are "not onboard to be the clothing or expression police," staff members will still go out of their way to "look out for guests wearing clothes with inappropriate images or language and ask them to change as needed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We will evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis and take appropriate steps as necessary."</span></p>

Cruising

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6 ways to stay healthy at sea this summer

<p>A cruise can be the perfect summer holiday. But cruise ships, with hundreds, even thousands of people in close quarters, can also be a hotbed of germs.</p> <p>In particular, cruises are somewhat notorious for outbreaks of gastro. One study, which looked at <a href="http://microbiology.publish.csiro.au/?paper=MA17065">close to 2,000 cruises</a> docking in Sydney, found 5% of ships reported they’d had a gastro outbreak on board.</p> <p>If you’re about to head off on a cruise, there’s no need to panic. There are some precautions you can take to give yourself the best chance of a happy, gastro-free holiday.</p> <p><strong>What causes gastro?</strong></p> <p>Viruses are the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in Australia. Norovirus is the main culprit, causing an estimated <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2014.08.006">2.2 million cases</a> of gastro each year.</p> <p>Norovirus is usually transmitted from <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8305.2008.00200.x">person-to-person</a> via the faecal-oral route, where virus particles found in the stool of one person end up being swallowed by another person.</p> <p>Extremely <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid1410.080117">large numbers</a> of virus particles are shed in faeces and vomit, yet a person only needs to ingest a <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jmv.21237">very small number</a> of virus particles to catch the infection.</p> <p>Norovirus is hardy and <a href="https://doi.org/10.3181/00379727-140-36508">can resist</a> acid conditions (like those in the gut) and moderate temperatures (at which we wash clothes or reheat food, for example). Further, many chemicals used in <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2013.11.018">cleaning products</a> and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2015.02.019">hand sanitisers</a> don’t effectively remove norovirus.</p> <p>The main symptoms of gastro caused by norovirus are diarrhoea and vomiting. Symptoms normally only last for a short period (<a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.2008.10.009">two to three days</a>), and will stop on their own. The main risk is dehydration, which is of most concern for young children and the elderly.</p> <p><strong>Norovirus on cruise ships</strong></p> <p>Generally, a cruise ship will declare a “gastro outbreak” once <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm">2-3%</a> of passengers or crew are ill with gastro symptoms. So on a ship of 2,000 passengers, 40-60 people would need to be unwell before an outbreak is declared.</p> <p>An <a href="http://microbiology.publish.csiro.au/?paper=MA17065">Australian study</a> found 5% of cruise ships that arrived in Sydney between 2007 and 2016 reported gastro outbreaks (98 out of 1967). Of the outbreaks with a known cause, 93% were from norovirus.</p> <p>Reports pop up in the news from time to time when there’s a significant outbreak, like when the Sea Princess recorded <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-03/two-hundred-sick-as-gastro-hits-sea-princess/9302372">200 cases of gastro</a> caused by norovirus in 2018.</p> <p><strong>How does it spread?</strong></p> <p>You can be infectious with norovirus <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2004.07.001">before symptoms appear and even after they resolve</a>, so a person might unknowingly bring norovirus onto a cruise with them.</p> <p>On a cruise ship, norovirus is mainly spread directly from <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8305.2008.00200.x">person to person</a>. This is not surprising as many activities on a cruise involve mixing with other passengers in a reasonably closed space.</p> <p>While a handshake is a normal greeting, it’s a fairly unsanitary practice. A <a href="https://journals.viamedica.pl/international_maritime_health/article/view/IMH.2016.0034/36943">recent study</a> suggested a “fist-bump” should be promoted on cruises, while a modified version dubbed the “cruise-tap” (where only two knuckles are touched) could be even better.</p> <p>The other way norovirus typically spreads is from touching <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/15459624.2018.1531131">contaminated surfaces</a>. A person with norovirus may not wash their hands properly (or at all) after going to the toilet, leaving many invisible norovirus particles on their hands.</p> <p>When this person touches surfaces (for example hand rails, buttons in the lift, or utensils at the buffet) they leave behind norovirus particles. Other people can then touch these surfaces and transfer the particles to their own hands. Then, if they put their hands to their mouth, they can give themselves the virus.</p> <p>It’s rare to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/s0950268803008689">inhale norovirus particles</a> from the air, but it can occur, usually if someone with the virus vomits nearby.</p> <p>While norovirus can be found in food, cruise ships have strict food handling practices to prevent the spread of illnesses such as norovirus. Though this doesn’t mean it’s unheard of.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid catching norovirus</strong></p> <p>It’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of catching norovirus, but there are some things you can do to minimise your risk:</p> <ul> <li>wash your hands well and frequently, especially before eating</li> <li>don’t rely on hand sanitisers (hand washing is always better)</li> <li>don’t share food, drinks or eating utensils</li> <li>don’t touch food with your hands</li> <li>reduce unnecessary contact with communal surfaces</li> <li>leave the area if someone vomits.</li> </ul> <p>If you do get gastro symptoms on a cruise, it’s important you tell the medical personnel as soon as possible and follow their instructions.</p> <p>You may be asked to stay in your cabin for a short period so as not to infect other passengers; just as you would wish another infected passenger not to spread the virus to you and your family.</p> <p>The sooner the crew can identify a gastro case, the sooner they can start extra clean-up procedures and take further precautions to prevent an outbreak. Also, if you tell medical personnel, they may be able to provide medication and organise appropriate food to be delivered to your room.</p> <p>Above all, to minimise the risk of gastro spoiling your cruise, wash your hands thoroughly and often.</p> <p><em>Written by Leesa Bruggink. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/cruise-ships-can-be-floating-petri-dishes-of-gastro-bugs-6-ways-to-stay-healthy-at-sea-this-summer-126351">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Where exactly does beach sand come from?

<p>There’s more to beach sand than meets the eye. It has stories to tell about the land, and an epic journey to the sea. That’s because mountains end their lives as sand on beaches.</p> <p>Over time, mountains erode. The mud, sand, gravel, cobbles and boulders they shed are washed into streams, which come together to form rivers. As they flow down to the sea, all this sediment is ground up and worn down in nature’s version of a rock tumbler.</p> <p>Big rocks break down into smaller pieces, so most of what reaches the sea is mud. These silt and clay particles are too small to perceive with the naked eye. But you can see individual grains of sand, which are just bigger bits of rock.</p> <p>Next time you’re at the beach, pick up a handful of sand and look closely at it. Are all the grains the same color, or a rainbow assortment? Are they jagged and angular, or smooth and round?</p> <p>Different colors of sand come from different minerals, like khaki <a href="https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/feldspar#/media/File:Feldspar_1659.jpg">feldspar</a>, smoky white <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz#/media/File:Quartz,_Tibet.jpg">quartz</a>, green <a href="https://geology.com/minerals/olivine.shtml">olivine</a> or black <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt#/media/File:BasaltUSGOV.jpg">basalt</a>. The mix of colors in beach sand tells you what kinds of rocks produced it.</p> <p>The shape of sand grains also provides clues about where they come from. Angular grains of the same type of sand have not traveled as far as smooth round grains, which have been more worn down. And weak rocks break down to mud faster than hard rocks, so sand tends to be made of the harder types that break down slowly.</p> <p>About a tenth of the supply of sediment that reaches the sea is sand. These particles are between about half a millimeter and 2 millimeters in size – roughly as thick as a penny. These particles are large enough that they don’t flow right out to the deep sea.</p> <p>But the beach is just a temporary stop for sand. Big waves pull it offshore, and smaller waves push it along the coast. So keeping a beach nourished with sand is essential for keeping it sandy.</p> <p>Many beach towns spend millions of dollars to rebuild eroded beaches with new sand.</p> <p>Yet today many beaches are starving. Many dams trap the sand that flows down rivers, piling it up in reservoirs. All in all, human activity has cut off about <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1109454">half the sand</a> that would otherwise end up on the world’s beaches.</p> <p>But humans haven’t turned the waves off, so as beach sand washes away and isn’t replenished, the shoreline erodes. That means that many beaches around the world are shrinking, slowly but surely.</p> <p>So next time you dig your toes into beach sand think about the epic journey it took to arrive beneath your feet. Take a moment to think about where the sand came from and where it’s going.</p> <p><em>Written by David R. Montgomery. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/where-does-beach-sand-come-from-126323">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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5 places on Earth that are still unmapped

<p>The thought of unmapped regions of the globe can send tremors of excitement through the hearts of adventurers. But figuring out the topography of remote or even forgotten regions has important consequences. Namely, it can give us a clearer understanding of the world’s populations, what their needs are, and support organisations in assisting those in need – for example, those providing disaster assistance. Wondering where some of these places are? The crowdsourced Missing Maps Project has mapped over one million kilometres of roads and almost 44 million buildings. But there’s so much that’s still uncharted.</p> <p><strong>1. Vale do Javari, Brazil</strong></p> <p>One of the most isolated parts of the world, according to Mental Floss, is Vale do Javari in Brazil, possibly because as many as 14 uncontacted Amazon tribes make their home in this region. It comprises an area about the size of Austria – or 86,000 square kilometres. An expedition was mounted by Brazil’s agency for indigenous peoples in March 2019, with the goal of easing tensions between two rival indigenous groups, reports The Guardian.</p> <p><strong>2. Slums</strong></p> <p>Look at a map of a city and you’ll find streets and parks and highways and buildings all clearly indicated. But in some cities, that clarity is just an illusion, at least in part. As BBC Future points out, in cities like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Lagos in Nigeria, slums are not delineated on maps – because ‘they aren’t a top priority for those living there’. In fact, many of the world’s largest cities have large impoverished communities.</p> <p><strong>3. Sandy Island, South Pacific</strong></p> <p>Some places that do exist don’t show up on maps, while other places that don’t exist do. One recent example is Sandy Island, which BBC reports appears on marine charts and world maps as well as on Google Earth and Google Maps. But when scientists set out to study the island that’s supposed to be located between Australia and New Caledonia, they discovered it isn’t there, and possibly never was. Human error, repeated down the years, is thought to be at fault – although it’s also possible that the island came…then went.</p> <p><strong>4. Yucatán Cenotes</strong></p> <p>This underwater cave system on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, thousands of kilometres long, has remained largely unexplored since the time of the Mayans, and doesn’t exist on any maps, according to photographer Klaus Thymann. He’s both begun to explore – a pursuit not without its dangers – and photograph it in order to bring about awareness that will lead to its conservation, he told The Guardian. The rivers that run through the system “form the aquifer of Yucatán and support about 11 different ecosystems”.</p> <p><strong>5. Gangkhar Puensum</strong></p> <p>It’s probably the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, although some people have tried to scale this 3000-metre peak in Bhutan. Like many tall mountains, this one is unmapped – although unlike other mountains, it remains uncharted for spiritual reasons. To locals some areas in the mountains are the refuge of centuries-old Buddhist saints, and the mountains themselves are homes to gods and goddesses. Although climbers hoping to scale tall peaks like this one could use Google Earth to get an idea of what they’re in for, many consider that cheating.</p> <p><em>Written by Lela Nargi. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/11-places-on-earth-that-are-still-unmapped">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine</em><span><em>, </em></span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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Faces that told a million stories

<p>Discovering his trades skills were needed on the world’s largest civilian hospital ship it was a surprise to retiree Bill Williams.  With a marine engineering background including experience in refrigeration and steam, Bill proved to be an invaluable part of the crew.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.92090395480227px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7833614/mercy-5.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/490fa00507654bddbbf2877025563150" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><em>Bill brought a life time of experience to the Mercy Ships engine room crew</em></span> <em>Image: Mercy Ships.</em></p> <p>‘We hadn’t been retired long and my wife, Lynda who is a theatre nurse, had nurtured a dream to volunteer with Mercy Ships for years. I was surprised to learn that my experience was needed too.  I didn’t realise they wanted engineering skills and all the other trades and services that are required to make the ship function, as well as nurses and doctors,’ explains Bill.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.92090395480227px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7833613/mercy-6.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fec85bfd40e440c28c326f260d20f35a" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><em>Bill brought a life time of experience to the Mercy Ships engine room crew</em></span> <em>Image: Mercy Ships.</em></p> <p>The Mercy Ship is a 16,000 tonne floating surgical hospital. From the Captain and cooks, to surgeons and school teachers, the international crew are volunteers giving of their time and experience to help provide free essential surgery for West Africa’s poor.</p> <p>Since 1978 the international charity has provided ‘hope and healing’ to the world’s forgotten poor.  The faith-based NGO spends 10 months at a time providing surgical and healthcare services to developing nations. Bill and Lynda Williams joined the vessel in the port city of Conakry in Guinea, West Africa. This was the hub of the NGO’s work for a fourth field service.</p> <p>‘Everybody brings skills, and our Down Under trades and engineering people have broad experience. I am multi traded so I was able to bring a lot of knowledge, which created a really good combined reach of skills in the engineering team. I’m used to multitasking. Plumbing, refrigeration, engineering; I had worked on many of the systems before. So I was able to help on quite a few different issues during our six weeks on the Mercy Ship.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.92090395480227px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7833615/mercy-4.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ff07a064fe7e44d889f7ad94532d3caa" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><em>T</em></span><em>he engineering team maintain the technical side of the hospital ship so the patients can receive treatment.’ </em><em>Image: Mercy Ships.</em></p> <p>‘The most interesting project I was involved in was fixing the oil filters in the main generators. The cost to replace the oil filter screens was over a thousand dollars, and I thought I could show the guys how to repair them. It took about forty-five minutes and only cost a couple of dollars.</p> <p>‘Volunteering is a way of using our life skills to help others in real need. I wasn’t directly involved with the Mercy Ships patients receiving the life-transforming surgery, but all the services the engineering team maintain were required in order for the patients to receive treatment.’</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.92090395480227px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7833616/mercy-3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b8eb58d1648d4d349c06b376556065c9" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Lynda found her work in the hospital ship operating theatres stimulating both personally and professionally. Image: Mercy Ships.</em></p> <p>While Bill brought a life time of engineering skills to the Mercy Ships technical team, Lynda worked in the operating theatres, ‘Volunteering onboard gave me the opportunity to be involved in different types of surgery not done in the western world.’</p> <p>‘I saw the end results of the free surgeries provided’, explains Bill. ‘People who had been blind for years having their sight restored and huge, benign tumours were removed.</p> <p><strong>I didn’t see the patients come onboard, but I saw them leave - the look on their faces told a million stories!</strong></p> <p>‘Seeing the outcome was very rewarding, I definitely recommend volunteering. Everybody has skills and experience; it’s amazing what can be accomplished when we work together.’</p> <p><em>Find information about volunteering at <a href="https://mercyships.org.nz/how-to-volunteer/">https://mercyships.org.nz/how-to-volunteer/</a></em></p> <p><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/358531354" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="https://vimeo.com/358531354">Technical crew play a vital role on the hospital ship</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/mercyshipsnz">Mercy Ships New Zealand</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</em></p> <p><strong><u>ABOUT MERCY SHIPS</u></strong></p> <p>Mercy Ships is a faith-based charity which uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity-building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has performed more than 100,000 life-changing or life-saving surgical procedures such as cleft lip and palate repairs, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repairs. Services and materials valued at more than NZ$2.33 billion have directly benefitted more than 2.71 million people in 70 nations. Each year, around 1,000 volunteers from up to 40 nations, including New Zealand, serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals like surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers and teachers donate their time and skills to the effort.  Mercy Ships New Zealand, one of 16 international support offices, is based in Auckland. For more information click on <span><a href="http://www.mercyships.org.nz">www.mercyships.org.nz</a></span></p>

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Family condemns “deplorable” video leak of toddler falling from cruise ship

<p>The family of a toddler who fell off her grandfather’s arms to her death on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has criticised the Puerto Rican authorities after a surveillance footage of the incident was leaked.</p> <p>The video, which was broadcast by Puerto Rico TV program La Comay on Tuesday local time, shows 18-months-old Chloe Wiegand being lifted by her grandfather Salvatore “Sam” Anello to an open window of the Freedom of the Seas ship in July. The young girl fell 45 metres to a concrete dock below to the pier, resulting in her death.</p> <p>According to a lawsuit the US family filed earlier this month, Anello said he was not aware that the window glass panes could be opened.</p> <p>In a statement, the Wiegand family demanded an investigation into the release of the video.</p> <p>“The family is shocked by the deplorable and disgraceful misconduct that led to the release of this footage,” they said.</p> <p>“The family’s sole motivation for not releasing the video was to protect their older child. That motivation has not changed.</p> <p>“The family publicly asks the Puerto Rican authorities, why was this footage released? Why do you continue to inflict such heinous emotional distress on our family? Haven’t we been punished enough by the loss of Chloe?”</p> <p>The Attorney General of Puerto Rico Dennise Longo Quiñones said in a statement that they did not know how the video was released to the news agency.</p> <p>“We are unaware of how Kobbo Santarrosa obtained the video of the unfortunate incident where Chloe Wiegand lost her life,” Quiñones told <em><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cruise-ship-death-sam-anello-offered-plea-deal-in-death-of-granddaughter-chloe-wiegand-after-video-leaked/">CBS News</a></em>.</p> <p>“A careful review of said video confirms, however that Salvatore Anello is guilty of negligent homicide as charged. The evidence collected in this case corroborates his criminal responsibility. We hope and expect Chloe’s family fully cooperates with our proceedings and that justice prevails in this case with conviction.”</p> <p>Puerto Rican defence attorney Jose Perez said Anello is considering a plea deal but remains intent on clearing his name at trial.</p> <p>“It’s firm that he is innocent and he does not want to plea,” Perez said.</p> <p>Wiegand’s parents blame Royal Caribbean for the death. “We want them to fix their cruise ships so that no other kids get hurt,” Kimberly Wiegand said.</p>

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Travelling to Botany in Darwin Australia

<p>Darwin is best known for its delightful CBD waterfront, but many are surprised to see the amount of interesting plants and trees all around Darwin. Don’t be afraid to put on your favourite botanist hat and get used to the tropical green!</p> <p>The best place to view the widest variety of flora is at the Charles Brown Darwin City Botanic Gardens. Located walking-distance outside of the CBD, and just behind Mindil Beach, the Botanic Gardens are home to many including Australian-, African-, Cuban-origin plants and trees. Why not head over for ½ the day and enjoy having the ability to walk between biospheres; first through the woodlands then to the monsoon and rain forests.</p> <p>Whether you choose to self-guide or take a segway tour, there is a lot to see and lots of grassy shaded area to have a break! Not to mention, the Botanic Gardens has a cafe conveniently situated close to the car park at the Mindil Beach side entrance. Eva’s cafe is highly rated and has the air of a quaint old-fashioned tea house- so why not stop for a cuppa?</p> <p>Even after you have exhausted yourself at the Botanic Gardens, you still won’t be able to get away from the exotic plant life in Darwin! Along the Esplanade walk, in or just outside of town you will often be pleasantly surprised by the plants around you.</p> <p>And don’t worry, if you are traveling with a plant-enthusiast but aren’t so keen yourself, you can simply enjoy the shade provided by the tropical trees or relax on the benches often located at the bases of some Darwin trees- like the Tree Of Knowledge pictured below. The Tree Of Knowledge is located just out front of the Darwin City Library and Civic Centre and was named as such due to the conversations that occurred beneath it in past years.</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/botany-darwin/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Diverse, daring and rugged – highlights of exceptional New Zealand

<p>Diverse and daring, New Zealand is a destination of exceptional beauty – imagine horse rides through otherworldly gorges and glaciers, soaring around dramatic coastlines and gliding down the best ski fields of the southern hemisphere.</p> <p>Home to ethereal landscapes featured in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, natural hot springs and idyllic beaches, New Zealand is celebrated for its breathtaking phenomena – the perfect choice for those after a serene natural escape.</p> <p>An exceptional port of call for adrenaline-seekers, New Zealand is renowned as an adventure capital, with everything from sky diving and white-water rafting to spectacular hiking trails and, of course, world-renowned skiing Queenstown.</p> <p><strong>Toast the coast</strong></p> <p>For a comparatively tiny country, New Zealand’s geography boasts 14,000 km of coastline, making it the 10th longest in the world. From boisterous west coast beaches, to the more family friendly east, with such a modest population – just 4.7million at last count – you’re sure find the perfect cove, sometimes even an entire beach to yourself. Although, if you’d rather follow the herd, in the height of summer you can join the crowds on the beach at Mt Maunganui or Takapuna and settle in amongst the heavenly bodies.</p> <p><strong>On Your Bike</strong></p> <p>Cycle tourism in New Zealand is taking off, largely thanks to the birth of Nga Haerenga: The National Cycleway featuring everything from rail trails to forests. With 22 Great Rides, the less famous but equally fabulous cousins of New Zealand’s Great Walks, these trails provide mild to wild adventures on two wheels. From The Twin Coast Trail in Northland which connects the east and west coasts to Alps2Ocean in the South Island, a journey that rolls from Mt Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru, you can ride for days or an afternoon and with the advent of e-bikes, you don’t even have to be that fit.</p> <p><strong>Picture perfect</strong></p> <p>Renowned for dramatic landscapes and pristine natural beauty, New Zealand is paradise for photographers and painters or simply those who like to look. And with many beauty spots made famous by Sir Peter Jackson’s films, location tourism has really taken off. From the twinkling waters and diving dolphins in the Bay of Islands, to the majestic alps, gorges and glaciers of the South Island, this is a country where you don’t want to be in a hurry, as you’ll be needing to stop and stop often to truly appreciate the breathtaking sights.</p> <p><strong>Satisfy your cravings</strong></p> <p>Wining and dining in the land of The Long White Cloud are taken very seriously with world-class experiences available in big cities and small towns. From Pacific Fusion cuisine to small family run eateries from around the globe, New Zealanders pride themselves on fresh food, fine wine and a vibrant culinary scene. Whether you’re shopping at a farm gate to prepare a Masterchef masterpiece in your campervan or stopping in at one of the over 500 vineyards you’ll find as you roam – you’ll treasure your gastronomic adventures.</p> <p><strong>Hot Spots</strong></p> <p>Bursting with geothermal energy, beneath New Zealand’s surface there bubbles a steaming heat that regularly warms waters to temperatures that humans find perfect for relaxation. From laid-back Ngawha Springs in Northland to the plethora of spas in the central North Island and beyond, bathers can choose to bathe in high-end spas or in the bush surrounded by nature.</p> <p><em>Written by Elisabeth Easther. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/diverse-daring-and-rugged-highlights-of-exceptional-new-zealand/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Go tell it to the mountain: A Switzerland adventure

<p>There aren’t many countries where you can sit in the spot where it all began. Relaxing in a small meadow on Lake Lucerne’s shores, however, I can make that claim for Switzerland. Here on this patch of grass on 1 August 1291, representatives of three small alpine valleys got together and signed a pact from which modern Switzerland emerged. August 1 is now a national holiday, and the meadow’s name, Field of Rütli, resonates through Swiss history.</p> <p>True, I don’t find much happening in Rütli these days, but it’s a fine place for a picnic and a good location to start an exploration of the Swiss heartland around Lake Lucerne, where history and scenery are equally dramatic. It’s also the spot to start my hunt for William Tell, the local lad who fought for freedom and became the world’s most famous Swiss.</p> <p>I arrive from Lucerne by steamer on an astonishingly scenic ride down its lake, embraced in mountains. My aim is to walk parts of the 36-kilometre Swiss Path, created for the 700th anniversary of Switzerland. With Swiss precision, the pathway is divided into segments representing its 26 cantons. As I walk, signs informs me when each canton joined the confederation, and gives a background to their history. It’s a lovely walk, the path sometimes talking to footbridges across streams and tunnels through cliffs. The landscape is surprisingly wild and rugged: quite the contrast to the bourgeois prettiness of downtown Lucerne.</p> <p>The following morning, a yellow postal bus deposits me back on the Swiss Path at Altdorf, a pleasant town of cobbled squares, painted houses and elaborate shop signs. A twist of bread marking a bakery directs me to a scrumptious almond croissant. Altdorf is the birthplace of William Tell, whose statue I find at the base of a medieval tower. The hero stands with his crossbow over his shoulder, his arm around his son. The monument marks the place where Tell was forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head by Gessler, an arrogant Hapsburg overlord.</p> <p>As I walk onwards, the valley narrows and the cliffs close in. Steep ups and downs challenge my lungs and knees. There’s only enough flat land to support a few villages under towering snow-capped peaks. It’s a rewarding hike to the Tell Chapel along the lake’s shore, which is painted with scenes from Tell’s life. It was from this spot that the hero supposedly leapt from a boat taking him to captivity. Tell fled into the forest and later shot Gessler dead with his crossbow, sparking Swiss independence.</p> <p>Nearby Schwyz sits high above Lake Lucerne in a wide valley of cherry orchards surrounded by snowcapped mountains. This now-quiet backwater canton gave its name and flag to Switzerland, and became famed for its mercenaries, who returned to build the impressive townhouses. The Town Hall is exuberant: cherubs hang over every window and frescoes depict historical battles.</p> <p>In contrast, the Federal Archives are kept in an ultra-modern, concrete building on the edge of town. I drop by to see the original Oath of Alliance signed at the Field of Rütli. Other proclamations mark the adherence of new cantons to Switzerland, each becoming increasingly ornate with ribbons and wax seals. Few countries in the world have such delightful birth certificates.</p> <p>Back by Lake Lucerne, I follow the road to Gersau. Improbably, this was once the world’s smallest republic, independent from 1390 to 1817. At Vitznau I enjoy modern evidence of Switzerland’s fighting spirit at Mühleflüh Artillery Fortress, decommissioned in 1998. I enjoy a scramble through underground bunkers to inspect barracks, kitchens and artillery batteries beneath fake rocks.</p> <p>From here, legs weary, I take to the rack railway up Mt Rigi, and the views become ever more expansive around each dizzying bend. Lake Lucerne shrinks to a puddle and a 200-kilometre range of jagged snow peaks emerges on the horizon. Though less glamorous than more famous viewpoints near Lucerne, such as the James Bond movie setting, Mt Pilatus, Rigi provides a landscape to make my soul sing. Even the cows seem to pause in their chewing and bell-clanking to contemplate the scenery that plunges below their flowery pastures.</p> <p>At the western end of the lake I’m back to base at Lucerne, whose old town straddles the Reuss River and looks onto the yacht-studded lake and panorama of alpine peaks. In 1332, Lucerne became the first big town to join the alliance of alpine cantons. It’s crammed with old guild houses, baroque churches and ornamental fountains. I study a cartoon-like account of its history on the painted panels that line its famous symbol – a covered wooden bridge. One shows William Tell with his crossbow at the ready. The timeline shows me something that I’ve already gathered: Switzerland has a birthplace, a proper birth certificate, and a mythical founding father, providing a story to delight me.</p> <p><em>Written by Brian Johnston. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/switzerland-adventure-go-tell-it-to-the-mountain/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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South Africa’s call of the wild

<p>Three giraffes are outlined against a blue sky, pink tongues unfurling around the leaves of an acacia tree. Two cheetahs prowl as the sun sets, and hippos wallow. Every day on safari in South Africa brings something new: wildebeest moving through a dry riverbed, or a leopard slinking through golden grass that crackles in the sun. Back in my luxury lodge, I soak off the dust in an infinity pool and gaze over antelope-dotted plains. As dusk stains the sky red, I hear the quintessential sound of Africa: the roar of a lion satisfied with its kill.</p> <p>I’ve had many South African safari experiences, all different but equally thrilling. At Karkloof Safari Spa near Pietermartizburg, owner Fred Wörner has realised a mad dream to combine wild animals with first-class wellness treatments. (And why not: he made a motser selling wheelie bins to Australian councils, and can now do what he wants.) Now he sits like a James Bond villain – though a rather likeable one – drinking brandy in a throne-like chair decorated with kudu horns, ordering pan-seared ostrich and – on occasion, when tourists aren’t looking – shooting the odd warthog for the pot.</p> <p>In Great St Lucia Wetland on the coast east of Durban, I stayed at unpretentious Makakatana Bay Lodge where the waitress was called Promise, the chef Rejoice, and the vibe was more laidback than at upmarket game reserves. It provides a sampling of raw African nature, where wildlife isn’t yet accustomed to tourist-filled safari vehicles, and zebra and buffalo remain skittish and unpredictable. In the evenings, hippos snort in the dark as I tuck into Rejoice’s simple but delicious food. Lanterns swing in the trees and cicadas hum.</p> <p>Not so far away, Phinda Private Game Reserve has the most varied habitats of any South African safari lodge. I paddle the river to spot crocodile and hippos that yawn to reveal cavernous pink mouths. I see turtles on the beach, and then pluck up the courage to tackle a specialist white-rhino safari with a tracker and armed ranger. After picking up the trail, we descend from the vehicle and follow the rhino on foot through rustling grasses in an unnerving but utterly exhilarating wildlife experience.</p> <p>I’m also fortunate to visit Kwandwe Private Game Reserve northeast of Port Elizabeth. On my first morning’s safari we come across a lion lurking in a thicket, but some of the smaller animals are lovely too: malachite sunbirds sipping nectar in a flurry of emerald-coloured wings; blue cranes strutting through the grass. At day’s end, guests gather with whiskeys to sit around the dining-lodge fire and swap improbable stories of the day’s adventures. Nobody has spied a shy leopard, but we’ve spotted giraffe, eland, springbok and rhino. On a night safari we track down those elusive beasts that haunt the first page of our dictionaries, the aardvark and aardwolf.</p> <p>For a particularly memorably splurge, on one visit to South Africa I take to an aircraft to view the landscape and its creatures from above. It’s like living a celluloid dream. Remember the 1985 movie Out of Africa, and the scenes in which Robert Redford takes Meryl Streep on a joyride in his aircraft, high above a marvellous landscape of flamingo-haunted lakes and rustling grasslands? That’s what comes to mind as I swoop between the vast cotton balls of African clouds, muddy rivers oozing below. Animals look odd from above: humped elephant backs and shifting patterns of zebra and dainty impala.</p> <p>Flying is a different way to see things, but you can’t beat being on the ground and down among the wildlife. At Ulusaba, owned by Sir Richard Branson, I sit on my lodge deck and gazed over Sabi Sand Reserve’s undulating landscape of grass and low trees, pockmarked with waterholes and the odd rocky outcrop. Elephant and rhino occasionally wander about the lodges, and windows have to be latched against baboons.</p> <p>As dawn breaks, we clamber into open Jeeps and head through the bush. The tracker’s radio hisses with a message that there are lions nearby. Then they emerge from the grasses: a shaggy-maned male and three females, parading down the dusty track as if showing off. Over the next two days, we watch a file of stately giraffes blink their long eyelashes, and spot another leopard, one of the most elusive of African animals. Red-billed oxpeckers pluck ticks off the backs of lumbering animals. One hops right into a rhino’s enormous ear, looking for a treat.</p> <p>Later, sunset flares in a magnificent display of crimson and gold. From the lodge deck, the display of stars is so extravagant I wonder whether I’m hallucinating. Vivid blue lizards scamper over the still-hot rocks as guests exchange stories of the day’s adventures. Out of the night an elephant trumpets: the end of another excellent day on safari in South Africa.</p> <p><em>Written by Brian Johntson. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/south-africa-s-call-of-the-wild/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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The wild wonders of Rio

<p>It’s languid, sexy and steamy, and everything seems to move with a casual Samba swing until it comes to football (soccer). Then all eyes are on the ball. I’m talking of Rio, where, according to Barry Manilow, “music and passion were always the fashion.” Rio remains the very essence of Brazil, with the warmth of its people and the simple joys of endless sunshine, music, samba and lots of ice-cold beer and caipirinhas at its core.</p> <p>Rio is the first and obligatory stop in Brazil. The capital until 1960, it’s otherwise known as ‘The Marvellous City’ (Cicada Maravilhosa) for many good reasons, but mostly because of its location between lush green mountains and blue ocean.</p> <p>I want to check out Rio’s famous beaches; in particular that long white stretch of sand made famous by another song: ‘I go to Rio’. Copacabana, Rio’s most popular beach, is a gently curving four-kilometre-long arc, lined with white high-rise buildings and a shopping and partying strip that goes off day and night: like Bondi Beach only bigger, brasher and more frenetic.</p> <p>The beach is lined with tourists sun-tanning on beach chairs, exercise stations and rows of volleyball nets. Here the locals – known as Cariocans – play foot volley and volleyball on the sand. Oiled muscle men in tight briefs mix with girls in tiny, tiny bikini thongs. Brazilians like to let it all hang out.</p> <p>We cool down with a drink. Yes, you can even drink on the beach in Brazil, at any time of day. Beach bars and kiosks sell a range of local beers such as icy cold Skol on tap and, of course, caipirinhas, the national cocktail of Brazil made from sugar and lime mixed with the local sugar cane rum. There’s also coconuts to drink from, acai and guarana.</p> <p>One of the best places to drink caipirinhas is at the famous Hotel Copacabana Hotel from the song ‘At the Copa, Copacabana’. Or at the pool bar atop the Porto Bay Rio Hotel, overlooking the large white stretch of Copacabana beach.</p> <p>But Copa is not Rio’s only beach. Ipanema, made famous by yet another song: ‘The Girl from Ipanema’, is a slightly more stylish affair, lined with trendy boutiques. Barre, further out still, is quieter and more like Miami. It was also the location of most of the arenas and the athlete’s village at the Rio 2016 Olympics.</p> <p>Soccer fans will want to check out the giant Maracana Football Stadium, and another must see is the Sambadromo, where Rio’s annual Carnevale parade takes place each February. Carnevale is a battle between 12 different samba schools, each with six different floats competing in an Olympics of Samba for the best dancers costumes and floats in the parade. Each competing team parades with floats and dancers for an hour. Cariocans are as passionate about samba as they are about football.</p> <p>A 15-minute stroll north along Avenida Rio Branco, the newly redeveloped port area is the modern face of Rio, and you’ll find a cultural revolution is in full swing. Seedy bars and clubs have been replaced by the city’s museum and arts centre. The gleaming Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) now stands over Praça Mauá, the flagship of the Porto Maravilha urban project, along with the new City Museum and the Museum of Tomorrow, film and television studios and artists’ workshops. The port area also hosts the annual super-events Fashion Rio and Arte Rio. It’s Rio’s version of Melbourne or London’s South Bank.</p> <p>For lunch we head to Fogo de Chao, a traditional Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse), in Rio’s fastest growing suburb Barra de Tijuca, and our next stop is Corcovado (meaning hunchback) Mountain, upon which stands the giant white statue of Christ The Redeemer, the world famous towering symbol of Rio. We reach it via the quaint tram from Rua Cosme Velho, a red cable car that takes 20 minutes to pass through a jungle-covered hill to reach the top of Corcovado. We are rewarded with spectacular views over Rio. We’re lucky, as the heavy fog that covers the mountaintop and the statue – usually visible from downtown – lifts long enough for us to take some selfies beneath the statue.</p> <p>Lunch is back in the city centre at Confeitaria Colombo, a century-old café with huge built-in mirrors and a patisserie downstairs. With its Art Nouveau charm, it’s a perfectly preserved example of the Belle Epoque era in Rio. The café is on Rue Goncalves, so we spend the afternoon wandering through its art and craft galleries and interesting quirky designer shops.</p> <p>On our first night in Rio we head to one of the city’s most photogenic nightspots, the Lapa nightlife district. Lapa is full of cafes and bars that spill out onto the street, and is a great place to indulge in drinks and tapas while rubbing shoulders with the locals. We eat dinner at The Rio Scenarium, a music restaurant with three floors of drinking, dining, antiques and live music, then dance the night away to samba, choro and pagode.</p> <p>The next day we explore one of Rio’s 450 favelas (slums). These makeshift shantytowns of half-finished houses built by poor people from regional areas who moved to the city to find work, cover most of Rio’s hillsides like patchwork quilts. The residents live piled on top of each other in the slum-like dwellings, but Brazilian law states that if you build something and remain in it for five years, you then own it, so they are staying put.</p> <p>Once brimming with crime and dangerous gangs, the Brazilian government made a concerted effort to clean the favelas up before the Olympics, resulting in Rio’s crime rate plummeting in recent years. Thanks to ongoing efforts by the local police to ‘pacify’ favelas, they are a now a relatively safe tourist destination in their own right.</p> <p>To escape the summer heat we head to Tijuca, the world largest urban forest on the city’s outskirts, before diving back in to the heady pace of Rio. Then it’s a gondola ride up to Sugar Loaf Mountain, another must for panoramic views over Rio.</p> <p>Our hotel, the beautiful Hotel Santa Teresa, is in the upmarket district of the same name, which sits beneath one of the city’s biggest favelas. It’s a Spanish colonial residence set in a charming village of steep, winding cobbled streets, where colonial mansions with wrought iron gates, bohemian cafes and art galleries line the streets. It has sweeping views of Rio’s frenetic downtown and Lapa districts, so we while away our last night in its pool and bar area, marvelling at the many wild wonders of Rio.</p> <p><em>Written by Karen Halabi. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/the-wild-wonders-of-rio/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Here is what you need to know about Airbnb

<p>What is Airbnb? Airbnb is a vacation rental website that launched back in 2008. On Airbnb you will be able to book unique accommodations (like the giraffe manor, or this treehouse **need links**), entire homes, apartments, single rooms in a larger unit, and shared-room accommodation. Recently, Airbnb has begun to offer travellers “experiences” when they stay in major cities like San Francisco. These experiences are intended to give the traveler the local experience.</p> <p>Many travelers use Airbnb because it makes them feel like they are getting the local’s experience, as opposed to staying in a hotel. Also, travelers who prefer hotels might looks to Airbnb when traveling to a city where they have been unable to book a hotel room due to lack of availabilty.</p> <p>Like with <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/what-is-uber">Uber, </a>before you get started, check if any of your friends or family members have an account on <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/">Airbnb.com</a>. Existing users can give their unique promotion code to people new to Airbnb, and both parties will receive some credit toward their next booking on Airbnb.</p> <p>Once you have set-up an account, fill in your profile. Next, search the city or town you wish to stay in, select a date range for your stay, and narrow down the options by selecting the necessities you are looking for (e.g. wifi, laundry in-unit, pets ok).</p> <p>Scroll through each of the options that match your search qualifications and click on specific places that look like they would be a good fit for your trip. Also, look at the “host” rating to make sure that the owner of the place is trustworthy and that their place is as-advertised + hasn’t received any negative feedback.</p> <p>Message the owner of the place you wish to book with any questions, and your booking request.</p> <p>When the host accepts your booking request, you will be on your way to staying in a new city like a local!</p> <p>The host will provide you with a set of instructions and house rules before you show-up at the door. These will include instructions about how to find the hidden key or what time they will meet you at the place to hand over a key in person. The house rules sheet will include information about things like how to use the BBQ and instructions to unplug all lights and lock-up before leaving. Ensure that you follow these instructions, since when you move out, the host will leave a review for you that will be visible on your account.</p> <p>You will also have the opportunity to leave a review about the place and the host. This is a good time to address any things your particularly enjoyed about the place or the host. If there was a problem you were unable to mitigate with the host or accommodation while you were staying there, leaving a review to let other guests know about the issue can help others ahead of time.</p> <p><em>Written by Luray Joy. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/airbnb-explained/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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Why Seattle in the Unites States is worth a stay

<p>Seattle is a city of contrasts. Made famous by the grunge bands of the 1990s and the film Sleepless in Seattle starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, Seattle is built on maritime foundations. In a strange way it seems to exude both old-school charm and modern city know-how. Gourmands rub shoulders with tech heads, museums meet marketplaces and the old fuses with the new. </p> <p>Whether you’re here for a week, or en route to the Canadian ski-fields, you will find plenty to see and do in Seattle. </p> <p>The foodie trail is worth a trawl to get your taste buds tingling. Fresh produce abounds in the Pike Place Markets on the waterfront in downtown Seattle. Wander along the stalls at lunchtime and you will be serenaded by busking musicians. </p> <p>When in Seattle, you have to try deliciously fresh salmon. Pick up a fillet or some smoked salmon at one of the many Pike Place fish-mongers or dine in style at a quaint cafe. If you time it right, you may also witness the famous local tradition of fish-throwing. </p> <p>Across the road you’ll stumble on a hefty queue for the original Starbucks café, which is worth a visit, if only for the historical value. For something sweet, try a homemade treat from one of the First Avenue bakeries. Pop into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to witness the dairy production process from pail to platter and they will let you do some taste-testing. </p> <p>Start with an Argosy Harbour Cruise tour for information about the history of trade and shipping. The cruise also offers great views from the shipyards. </p> <p>Nearby the Seattle Aquarium has a fabulous exhibition on the life cycle of salmon and introducing puffins, seals and otters. </p> <p>No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the Space Needle. Seattle’s proudest monument, is worth a visit for bird’s eye views over the rooftops and city streets, although the ascent is not very accessible. </p> <p>In the shadow of the Space Needle you’ll find Chihuly Garden and gallery which, showcases the spectacular works of renowned glassblower and sculptor Dave Chihuly. The artist’s works are on display in many famous hotels, including Atlantis in the Bahamas. Inside the gallery,  large-scale long-stemmed flowers are illuminated in the dark exhibition space. Outisde colourful orbs and swirls bring a touch of fun to the garden. The show-stopper is the hanging glass vine on the ceiling of a huge glasshouse. It reflects the natural light beneath the silhouette of the Space Needle.</p> <p>If you’re feeling adventurous, other attractions covered by your City Pass include Pacific Science Centre, the funky Museum of Pop Culture, and the Woodland Park Zoo which is on Seattle’s outskirts. </p> <p>Perry Como and Bobby Sherman famously waxed lyrical about Seattle in their 1950s and 1960s hit singles, crooning that “the hills are the greenest green in Seattle.” A day trip to one of the parks outside the city will offer up excellent hiking trails and in winter great ski spots for the powder hounds. Canada’s Vancouver is also only a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle. If you hire a car in Seattle – it could save you up to a third of the cost of the Canadian equivalent. </p> <p>The beauty of Seattle’s tourist centre is that most sites are accessible on foot. Short walks, a cab or an Uber drive have the city covered – you can use the Monorail system although this is better suited to commuters than sightseers. </p> <p>The weather is characteristically wet and drizzly. It generally remains above zero year-round and reaches its hottest at 18C in July. The rain doesn’t stop people from being out and about so be sure to pack a light rain jacket or poncho. Chat to locals to find out more about the city’s best kept secrets, especially when it comes to up-and-coming cafes or quirky galleries and museums. Seattle’s population of roughly 700,000 are relaxed, approachable and welcoming.</p> <p>After a busy day out and about you won’t be sleepless in Seattle. We recommend a stay at the Mayflower Park Hotel. The cosy, intimate hotel with its grand, old-style interior is located within walking distance to the town centre, and right on the subway line making airport transfers easy. The staff will be calling you by name in no time, testament to the impressive hospitality and enchanting, traditional ambiance. A luxurious Executive Suite with two bathrooms, a sitting room and dining table can be enjoyed for less than $200 US.</p> <p><em>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/settle-in-to-seattle-why-seattle-is-worth-a-stay/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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See the magic of Iguazu Falls

<p>You can hear the thunderous roar of Iguazu Falls long before you see the swirling white foamed waters tumbling over rocks to the depths below. The curtain of waterfalls that straddle the Brazil and Argentinian border is a spectacular sight and no matter how many times you watch documentaries or read about it, nothing compares to the first glimpse you catch of nature’s watery masterpiece.</p> <p>Discovered by Spanish conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541, there are 275 cascades fed by the Iguazu River across a 2.7km wide canyon. Legend has it that U.S. first lady, the late Eleanor Roosevelt, was so overwhelmed when she first visited the falls she uttered two words – “Poor Niagara.”</p> <p>Iguazu Falls is taller than Niagara and twice as wide and can be visited on both the Brazil and Argentinian sides both providing different experiences. Iguazu, which means ‘big water’ in the native Tupi-Guarani language. Formed about 150 million years ago, it’s considered to be the world’s largest cluster of waterfalls and is so impressive it was voted on to the new natural Seven Wonders of the World hotlist.</p> <p>There are several ways to see these incredible falls. Our day starts with a walk on the Brazilian side of the falls with our guide Louis, who directs us to the best vantage points for photos. As we stand in front of the falls, Louis says: “This is paradise and is always a sight to behold – you just never tire of it.”</p> <p>Lightweight rainjackets are recommended the closer we get to the falls but on a hot day, the light spray is a welcome relief. It’s mesmerising watching the 1.3 million litres of water spill over the rocks, every second.</p> <p>Home for the night is the historic Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas, the only accommodation in Brazil’s Iguacu National Park. Staying there, the falls are yours from dusk to dawn, long after thousands of tourists have left.</p> <p>We sit on the verandah of the 193-room Portuguese colonial style hotel, caipirinha in hand, and wait for the knockout sunset that exceeds expectations. Red and magenta colours streak the sky as Iguazu’s continuous roar serenades us.</p> <p>Dinner is Piranha broth, ceviche and pan-seared Amazonian Piraruca fish at the hotel’s Itaipu Restaurant, and before bed we head across to the falls to watch the full moon cast her shadow over the dark waters. It’s a toss-up what’s a more spectacular sight – the falls in daylight or by moonlight.</p> <p>Taking Louis’ insider advice, we’re up early next morning and spot a colourful resident toucan near the falls viewing platform, just below the hotel. He perches in a tree’s lower branches, allowing us a close-up view of his stunning plumage before he flies off, just as the first tourist buses arrive in the park.</p> <p>For the best bird’s eye view of the falls, take a 10-minute helicopter ride that hovers over the falls and the giant Iguacu National Park that stretches for 185,000 hectares. It is absolutely breathtaking and is a great position from which to take photos.</p> <p>The second day we head to the Argentinian side of the falls after obtaining a visa from the border security, which is quick and efficient. This side offers a different perspective of the beauty of the falls, as well as a chance to get closer to the highest waterfall, the Devil’s Throat, that is considered the most scenic curved cataract, with 14 falls.</p> <p>But the most fun is the jetboat ride that nudges right under the falls – this time we really get a proper dousing and there’s much laughter as we ride the rapids and do several spins. It’s an exhilarating experience that again leaves you in awe of these magnificent falls.</p> <p>The surrounding rainforest delta is home to 2000 species of plants and animals including the opossum, the only marsupial found outside Australia. There are also jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, harpy eagles and yacare caiman. Louis tells us more than 30 jaguars roam the park and he’s been lucky to see one from a distance five years ago. “They don’t like people and are rarely seen, it’s considered very fortunate if you see one,” he says.</p> <p>Back on Brazil’s side of the falls, there’s a bird park that’s covers 17 hectares of native woodland and is home to 150 bird species from around the world including large toucans, macaws and parakeets.</p> <p>Tourists can also visit the Itaipu Dam, the world’s largest hydro-electric power plant in terms of electricity generation and the city of Foz do Iguaçu with a population of 311,000.</p> <p>Unfortunately, we don’t spot a jaguar, but instead a magnificent double rainbow takes centre stage above the falls as we prepare to leave – a fitting farewell to one of the most remarkable sights on Earth.</p> <p><strong>Best time to go: </strong>The rainy season sees even more water rushing over the falls while the dry season features more rainbows</p> <p><em>Written by Sue Wallace. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/iguazu-falls/">MyDisoveries.</a></em></p>

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Insiders tips to travelling Kauai

<p>Michael Farley takes us on his favourite travel destination; Kauai.</p> <p>This beautiful island is part of the Hawaiian archipelago, the fourth largest island of the America's 50th state. Kauai is nicknamed the 'Garden Isle', and it's not hard to see why, as lush rainforests cover the island. </p> <p><strong>1. Why did you go there?</strong></p> <p>Robyn and I used to own a condo on Kauai and it blew away in a cyclone some 20 years ago. We decided to return for a three week holiday last August.</p> <p><strong>2. What is your favourite travel memory in Kauai?</strong></p> <p>Taking time out every evening to enjoy the sunsets, watch the amazing different sunsets every evening pre dinner over Bali Hi with a glass of wine.</p> <p><strong>3. Which 'don't miss' experience do you recommend?</strong></p> <p>Play the Makai golf course at Princeville, take the chopper ride over the Na Pali Coast, visit the local markets. Visit the great beaches and try a little paddle boarding! Take the boat ride along the Na Pali Coast.</p> <p><strong>4. What was your favourite purchase from Kauai?</strong></p> <p>Go to the markets and find jewellery made from tiny shells, amazing bracelets not sold on the mainland.</p> <p><strong>5. What food did you most enjoy there? </strong></p> <p>Start the day with an Acai bowl at the fruit van in Hanalei Bay. You will find some excellent French wines in liquor store in Princeville shopping center.</p> <p><strong>6. Did you go on any good walks?</strong></p> <p>We liked visiting the gardens and walking for miles. The Allerton gardens on the south of the island are really worth a visit.</p> <p><strong>7. What is your best money-saving tip for travellers?</strong></p> <p>If you are going to play more than six games of golf on Makai course pre pay you will save 40 per cent. Also, visit the different markets every day and buy your fruit and veggies fresh as it is much cheaper than stores. Stay in a self-contained condo. I recommend Pali Ke Kua.</p> <p><strong>8. What is your best travel advice?</strong></p> <p>Allow plenty of time for flight check ins and don’t get stressed on the start of your holiday. Travel business class if you can afford it. I have long legs so a must for me.</p> <p><strong>A guide to Kauai travel</strong><br /><a href="http://t.dgm-au.com/c/185116/69171/1880?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.booktopia.com.au%2Fthe-ultimate-kauai-guidebook-andrew-doughty%2Fprod9780983888765.html">The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed</a> by Andrew Doughty is an excellent resource. Amazon’s website describes the book as “the finest guidebook ever written for Kauai”. I agree. It is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.</p> <p><strong>Beaches</strong></p> <p><strong>Hideaways Beach </strong>Public access to Hideaways can be found just past Pu’u Poa. The steps are in disrepair so the trail can be quite tricky to navigate.</p> <p><strong>Hanalei Beach</strong> is a spectacularly beautiful setting with three distinct areas. Black Pot Beach, located by the pier, is a hangout for locals. Pine Trees, on the opposite end, has picnic and barbaque facilities. The middle section is where we set up for a day at the beach. Parking is convenient and there are showers close by.</p> <p><strong>Lumahai Beach </strong>is located a couple miles past Hanalei, is where Mitzi Gaynor “washed that man right out of her hair” in the film <em>South Pacific</em>. There are two entrances to the beach, one higher up where you take a short trail down and one at the road level. It is a beautiful setting and never crowded. The Lumahai River flows into the ocean at the west end, and you may see folks swimming in the river. The ocean is rough and lava rock plentiful, so swimming is not advised.</p> <p>Continuing down the road you will find <strong>Haena State Park</strong> and <strong>Tunnels Beach</strong>. There is a great snorkeling reef a ways east (right) down the beach. It is a fairly long trek, especially if you are carrying chairs, an umbrella, a cooler, etc. Haena often has a food truck with fish tacos.</p> <p>You will find <strong>Ke’e Beach</strong> at the end of the road. The beach is protected by a reef, so the water is generally calm, though often not particularly clear. There are trees which may provide a little shade - a little relief from the sun.</p> <p><strong>The Queen’s Bath</strong> is a lava rock tide pool, not a beach. It is located just off Punahele Road, where a small parking area is designated. When you get down to the rock field at the base of the trail, go left for 130 metres or so. Weather/surf conditions can make the hike difficult and swimming impossible, so use caution.</p> <p>We head to <strong>Anini Beach</strong> at least once a week. The beach is protected by a reef, so children can enjoy playing at the water’s edge. There is often a vendor with paddle boards and surf sails for rent.</p> <p><strong>Hiking</strong></p> <p>The <strong>Kalalau Trail</strong> begins at the end of the road, at Ke’e Beach. While the whole trail is 18 kms and requires camping permits, you may want to go the first 3 kms, as far as Hanakapiai Beach. In the summer months there is a sandy plateau for resting; in the winter the beach has been washed away. If you have the stamina, take a spur up into the valley to Hanakapiai Falls… making the route a total of 13 kms. Bring bottles of water and snacks.</p> <p>The <strong>Wai Koa Loop</strong> is a beautiful 8 km path, only recently opened to the public. It passes beneath the towering Norfolk Pines and through an old mahogany plantation. Don’t miss the spur down to the ancient Hawaiian ponds. Parking for this trail is located next to the Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden, which we love.</p> <p><strong>Activities</strong></p> <p>The history of the <strong>Kilauea Lighthouse</strong> is interesting, and the bird sanctuary is amazing. You will likely see many different tropical birds flying and nesting in the area. Guided tours with a naturalist are available by reservation.</p> <p>If you are interested in authentic <strong>slack key guitar music</strong>, there is a concert every Friday at 4pm and Sunday at 3pm at the Hanalei Community Center given by Sandy and Doug McMaster. It is a casual, laid-back venue for music and story-telling.</p> <p>The <strong>Limahuli Gardens</strong> are located almost to Ke’e at the end of the road. These gardens feature Hawaiian history and species native to the island.</p> <p><strong>Na Aina Kai</strong> grounds feature themed gardens enhanced with bronze sculptures. The two and a half hour walk to the beach is a must.</p> <p><strong>Restaurants</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.restaurantbaracuda.com/"><strong>Bar Acuda</strong></a>, a tapas bar/restaurant in the quaint village of Hanalei, is excellent! I would recommend making a dinner reservation, especially during the busy tourist season.</p> <p>Lunch and/or dinner at the <a href="http://www.kauaimedgourmet.com/"><strong>Mediterranean Gourmet</strong></a>, down the highway toward Tunnels, is at the top of our list. It is located right at the ocean’s edge. In high surf you can feel and taste the ocean spray in the air. Make a reservation and ask for a table by the windows. Plan to arrive before the sun goes down so that you can appreciate the location.</p> <p>For an evening with a local feel, check out <a href="http://thenui.com/">Tahiti Nui</a> in Hanalei. It looks like a dive… a dive that was featured in the movie, <em>The Descendants</em>, with George Clooney. The food is OK… but the local music and atmosphere is worth it.</p> <p><em>Written by Michael Farley. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/wyza-insider-travel-tips-kauai.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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An insider's guide to Bangkok at its best

<p>Thailand’s capital seems to polarise people - you either love it or hate it.</p> <p>Admittedly it can be frustrating coping with massive traffic jams, heat and humidity, and crowded shopping malls. Not everyone’s cup of chai.</p> <p>But then there are people like me. I welcome the occasional escape into chaos, humanity, odiferous durian-laced markets, tuk tuks buzzing like flies and most of all, cheap and cheerful Thai street food.</p> <p>And I love the activity on the Chao Phraya River as it snakes its way through the city. It’s the Bangkok I know best.</p> <p><strong>Early memories</strong></p> <p>I first arrived here in the 1960s. I was young, inexperienced and it was my first time in Asia. What a culture shock.</p> <p>Staying at the YMCA, I met some British seamen enjoying R&amp;R and inevitably, got into all sorts of trouble. Thus, my first recollections of Bangkok are pretty hazy but I do remember being invited to “tea” by a couple of Ansett hosties (as they were known then) at the Oriental Hotel. They must have been paying “airline staff rate” as it was way too expensive for me!</p> <p>Anyhow, the place left an indelible impression and later in my career I was part of the team that launched the modern new River Wing of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the 1970s.</p> <p><strong>The river of kings</strong></p> <p>The Chao Phraya is the heart and soul of this teeming metropolis, and has played a major role in Thailand’s history. Up till 1767, Thailand’s capital was further up river at Ayudhya but for strategic and trade reasons, King Taksin moved it downstream to Thonburi. Then in 1782, King Rama 1 moved the seat of government across the river and established today’s Bangkok.</p> <p>Since then the city has flourished as a trading port and business centre, as well as becoming the main tourist drawcard. Until the 1990s, that is, when development moved further away from the riverside to areas like Sukhumvit Road with glitzy new office buildings and of course, brand new hotels.</p> <p><strong>More recent times</strong></p> <p>I’m more than familiar with the Bangkok of the 1980s and 1990s. During that time I probably visited the city and other parts of Thailand at least 30 times on business mixed with a little pleasure, simply because it’s that kind of place.</p> <p>It was always nice to escape the sanity of Hong Kong and Singapore for the madness of the “City of Angels” and the many friends I made there.</p> <p>Classy hotels like the Shangri-La and the Royal Orchid Sheraton sprang up along the river banks, and gave tourists a reason to move back to this historic part of the city.</p> <p><strong>Today’s bangkok</strong></p> <p>The Chao Phraya is just as much an integral part of the capital’s identity as it was in the 18th century. In fact, much more so. For the river offers the traveller a true glimpse of Bangkok life, with long tail ferries, hotel shuttle boats, and huge barges being pulled along by tiny tugs.</p> <p>Schoolchildren, monks, businessmen and housewives commute to and from Thonburi and at night, there’s a steady progression of dinner cruises with live entertainment blaring forth. It’s a colourful, fun scene which the business-like centre of Bangkok can’t match.</p> <p><strong>Where to stay along the river</strong></p> <p>There are now more than a dozen riverside hotels including the Peninsula and the Mandarin Oriental, but my favourites remain the Shangri-La and the Royal Orchid Sheraton for their resort facilities [tennis, gym and pools], excellent buffet breakfasts, impeccable service and fabulous 270 degree views of river life.</p> <p>Another interesting choice would be <a href="http://www.secret-retreats.com/chakrabongse">Chakrabongse Villas</a>, previously a 19th century Royal Residence with just 12 rooms and the finest Thai cuisine.</p> <p><strong>Riverside attractions</strong></p> <p>A visit to Asiatique is a must. This recent development is a flourishing night market with dozens of restaurants, bars and boutiques selling local designer threads, different to the usual cheap T-shirt stalls (although there are those as well). There’s something here to enjoy for everyone whether you’re a shopper or not. Access is by taxi, or the free shuttle boat service from Taksin Bridge.</p> <p>The Jam Factory across on Thonburi side is a converted industrial building with two excellent restaurants, bookshop, art gallery and more.</p> <p>Learn the secrets of Thai cuisine at several cooking schools. Shop for arts and crafts at River City, next to the Sheraton. Explore the riverside precincts with bike tours and gallery visits, and try the street food (Pad Thai is my favourite).</p> <p>And if you’re in luck with timing, the annual “River on a Plate” dine-around in November is a great excuse for overeating. There are many other events along the river, year-round.</p> <p><em>Written by Phil Hawkes. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/an-insiders-guide-to-bangkok-at-its-best.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p> <p> </p> <p>Understanding the financial pages</p> <p>Understanding the financial pages: Here are a few tips that may help to get you started to understand the financial pages of the daily newspaper. Read more:</p> <p>Read more here.</p> <p>Looking at the financial pages of the daily newspaper may seem like a bewildering onslaught of information with reams of market statistics and measurements. This can make the investment world seem quite complex and intimidating, but when you break it down and try to grasp each of the component parts, it is well within the capacity of most lay people to understand.</p> <p>Here are a few tips that may help to get you started:</p> <p><strong>Firstly, a word of warning</strong><br />Beware of the temptation to start reading the financial pages in the same way you would read the form guide for horse racing!</p> <p>It is easy to get caught up in habit of tracking daily movements of particular share values, but this can distract you from the taking the broad, long term view that is so essential to successful investing. In short, don’t be tempted to try and ‘pick winners’.</p> <p><strong>Understanding the ASX table</strong><br />The financial section of the newspaper will normally show the full list of companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Next to each company will be a range of figures, usually beginning with the price of the share for that company at the end of the previous day’s trading. Some publications will also show a three letter ‘ASX code’ used to identify the company.</p> <p>Other measurements shown on this table include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Weekly volume</strong> – The total number of shares of a company that were bought and sold within the last week.</li> <li><strong>Price movements</strong> – This may be shown as the price change since the previous day’s closing price, or it may be shown as a change over the previous week and some financial tables will even show the change over the last 12 months.</li> <li><strong>Dividend yield percentage</strong> – This figure is sometimes also shown and is the amount a company pays out in dividends each year as a percentage of the current share price. For example, if a particular share has a value of $100 and has paid a dividend of $5 then its dividend yield is 5% ($5 divided by $100).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Market indices</strong> <br />While the ASX table breaks down the performance of each company separately, you can also look at the collective performance of the market as a whole via the ‘All Ordinaries Index’. This tracks the movement of the total value of all shares on the exchange and the change over the last week and month may also be shown.</p> <p>Apart from the All Ordinaries Index, there are also a range of other sub-indices which indicate the performance of different segments of the market. The ASX 200, for example, is an index that tracks the change in collective value of the largest 200 public companies.</p> <p>Some indices focus on specific industrial segments. The S&amp;P ASX200 Energy Index, for example, measures the largest 200 energy companies. There are indices for and range of other sectors, such as health care, industry, finance, and metals and mining.</p> <p><strong>International markets</strong><br />Financial pages will also usually show various indices for major stock markets in other countries, such as the Dow Jones index in the USA, the FTSE in the UK and the Hang Seng in China.</p> <p><strong>Commodity prices</strong><br />The prices and price changes of key commodities are also a feature of many financial pages. Oil and gold are two such commodities that will usually be shown because of their importance as indicators of the general direction of the world economy and of market sentiment.</p> <p><strong>Exchange rates</strong><br />These are another important indicator of economic conditions and the state of the economies of different countries relative to each other. The financial pages will usually show the daily movement of the Australian Dollar against major world currencies, such as the US Dollar, the Euro and the Yen.</p> <p>There can be many factors within each country’s domestic economy which influence the movements in exchange rates. These can include interest rates, inflation, political stability, government debt and terms of trade.</p> <p><strong>Making sense of it all</strong><br />It would obviously take quite some time if you were to review and analyse all the items being reported and measured on the daily financial pages. Even if you do have the time to do that, it takes a considerable amount of skill and experience to interpret what different movements mean.</p> <p>Often the day to day movements in things like share prices and exchange rates are the result of transient factors and it is only a consistent analysis over a long period of time that can start to make a coherent interpretation.</p> <p>While it can be interesting to follow the fluctuating fortunes of particular shares, or the daily machinations of indices, commodities and exchange rates, it helps to have a financial adviser on your side to look at the bigger, long term picture.</p> <p>They will have access to expert research resources that constantly analyse markets at home and abroad and can position you to grow wealth without the need to personally keep track of day to day changes.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/money/financial-planning/understanding-the-financial-pages.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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