International Travel

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A vaccine will be a game-changer for international travel. But it’s not everything

<p>The United Kingdom yesterday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use. Following a review by the country’s drug regulator, the UK government announced it will begin rolling out the vaccine next week.</p> <p>Other countries are likely to follow soon, authorising the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and possibly other leading candidates too. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration says it’s continuing to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech data.</p> <p>The world has been eagerly awaiting a COVID vaccine, touted since early in the pandemic as our best hope of returning to “normal”. A big part of this is the resumption of international travel.</p> <p>Certainly, an effective vaccine brings this prospect much closer. But a vaccine alone won’t ensure a safe return to international travel. There are several other things Australia and other countries will need to consider.</p> <p>Give $30 a month and help improve Australian media.<br />International travel in the age of a COVID vaccine<br />When people are vaccinated before boarding a flight, we can have confidence there will be significantly less COVID risk associated with international travel. However, the data we have at the moment doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.</p> <p>Let’s take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as an example. They have reported the efficacy of their mRNA vaccine to be 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, having tested it on around half of the 43,000 participants in their phase 3 trial (the other half received a placebo).</p> <p>The vaccine appears to be safe with only mild side-effects in some participants. And notably, the study included people aged 65 and over and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk of more severe disease.</p> <p>However, the study hasn’t officially reported the efficacy of the vaccine against becoming infected, as opposed to displaying symptoms. While it’s encouraging to know a vaccine stops people getting sick, this point is important because if people can still become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), they may still be able to spread it.</p> <p>Ugur Şahin, BioNTech’s cofounder and chief executive, believes the vaccine could reduce transmission by 50%. This puts something of a dampener on vaccination being the key to the safe resumption of international travel.</p> <p>At this stage, we also don’t know how long immunity will last for those vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. But as the trial will continue for several more months, some of this data should become available in 2021.</p> <p>A doctor or scientists fills a syringe from a vaccine vial.<br />Over time, vaccine trials will reveal more data. </p> <p>It’s going to take months — or, more realistically, years — to vaccinate everybody who wants to be vaccinated. It won’t be feasible to expect every single person travelling internationally to be vaccinated.</p> <p>There are several countries that appear never to have had community transmission. As of November, these included many Pacific island nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa and Tuvalu.</p> <p>Then there are countries that have COVID-19 under control with little, if any, community transmission. Examples include Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Singapore.</p> <p>People arriving in Australia from these countries pose very little risk and should not need to quarantine, whether vaccinated or not. For other countries, it would very much depend on their epidemic situation at the time.</p> <p>Some organisations have already developed COVID risk ratings for different countries or jurisdictions. For example, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) rates the COVID situation in each European country as “stable”, “of concern” or “of serious concern”.</p> <p>These risk assessments are based on factors including each country’s 14-day COVID case notification rate, the proportion of tests coming back positive, and the rate of deaths.</p> <p>Clearly, people from high-risk areas or countries will still need to quarantine on arrival, unless they have been vaccinated. It’s likely Australia will develop a similar rating system to the ECDC to streamline these decisions.</p> <p><strong>Testing</strong><br />Many countries now require a negative COVID test certificate before entry. For example, Spain requires a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before travelling.</p> <p>Similarly, some airlines, such as Emirates and Etihad, are mandating COVID testing before travel.</p> <p>It would also make sense to have rapid antigen testing available at airport arrivals or border crossings. Although not as accurate as PCR tests, these tests would provide a second check that a traveller hasn’t incubated COVID-19 on the way to their destination.</p> <p>Even with vaccination, testing will still be important, as vaccination doesn’t guarantee a passenger is not infected, or infectious.</p> <p><strong>Certificates and passports</strong><br />Once COVID-19 vaccines become accessible, countries and airlines may well require visitors to produce a certificate of vaccination.</p> <p>Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has suggested all Qantas international passengers from next year would be required to have a COVID vaccination certificate.</p> <p>There are also many groups around the world working on immunity passports and technologies to track travellers’ virus status.</p> <p>For example, the International Air Transport Association is developing a digital health pass which will carry testing and vaccination status.</p> <p>It’s likely international travel will be allowed globally in the second half of next year, once vaccination is well underway.</p> <p>It will be wonderful to be able to travel internationally again, but wherever we go — even with a vaccine — it will be some time before travel looks like it did before the pandemic.</p>

International Travel

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Side-tracked with Justine Tyerman

<p>The handful of Kiwis on the road from Glenorchy to Queenstown got a bonus the day we left Paradise – there were two of everything: mountains upright in their usual position and upside down in the Lake Wakatipu looking-glass. Reality and reflection were hard to tell apart.</p> <p>The historic TSS Earnslaw was steaming towards Queenstown against a stunning backdrop of the Remarkables after a fresh fall of snow.</p> <p>Arrowtown, my childhood holiday home, was our next destination for... but we got side-tracked along the way as often happens when you have the freedom and flexibility of travelling by motorhome.</p> <p>About 5km from Arrowtown, I shrieked ‘Pull over here!’ which my obliging husband was able to do safely at short notice, only because this usually busy tourist road was deserted.</p> <p>We simply could not by-pass Lake Hayes, the world-famous mirror lake where we used to swim and picnic as kids in the summer. We drove down to the water’s edge and debated whether we had time to cycle around the lake on the superb new trail before the weather was forecast to crack up late in the afternoon.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839073/wyus57w0.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/58cc0af220ca436e903204b86c8412cd" /><br /><em>Lake Hayes in autumn regalia. Photo by Destination Queenstown</em></p> <p>With our powerful Wisper Wayfarer ebikes aboard, we were confident that if the weather misbehaved or we miscalculated the distance, we’d be able to get back home fast.         </p> <p>We set off in full winter ski gear with a hint of snow in the air. The 8km grade 2 uppy-downy loop track was a bit like a roller coaster ride climbing high above the lake on the far side and then descending steeply so I made great use of the power-assist and throttle on my Wayfarer. The hills were no trouble at all, such a novelty for a cyclist like me for whom the word ‘pushbike’ has, in the past, had a literal meaning - whenever I encountered anything other than flat terrain, I became a pusher.</p> <p>The trail around the lake was breathtakingly scenic even though the mirror effect was more like crumpled taffeta rather than satin. Coronet Peak, resplendent in pure white, stood regally on one side of the lake and the iconic Double Cone of the Remarkables Range on the other.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839044/justine2-edit.png" alt="Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman" data-udi="umb://media/8ea30167c7194d98a16555fe32547a27" /><br /><em>Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>There were many information boards along the way explaining the preciousness of the wetlands, the many native water birds who nest there such as the endangered crested grebe, Project Gold that aims to re-establish kowhai trees which once flourished in Central Otago, and the sculpting of the landscape by massive glaciers in the last Ice Age. </p> <p>We stopped for lunch at the highest point of the trail and looked across the lake at the multi-million-dollar houses that have sprung up along shore in recent years. Discovering a lovely freedom camping spot on the edge of the lake, we decided to park there for the night instead of continuing on to the Arrowtown Holiday Park.</p> <p>Ah, the joys of travelling in a fully self-contained Maui motorhome with the convenience of having a kitchen, fridge, freezer, bathroom, bedroom, lounge and dining room at our disposal. The ability to stop wherever and whenever the spirit willed gave us a delicious sense of freedom.</p> <p>By early evening, snowflakes began to drift down from a slate grey sky and the temperatures plummeted. We pulled the thermal blinds, turned on the heating and enjoyed hot showers followed by tummy-warming gluhwein as we prepared dinner.</p> <p>Showering in a confined space is quite an art and requires a high degree of organisation, ensuring one has everything needed before enclosing oneself in a cubicle about a quarter the size of a regular shower. The gas-heated hot water cylinder allows for two 3-minute hot showers, or longer when you are plugged into mains power at a camping ground.</p> <p>Overnight, we were so snug we had to open a skylight... even in the snow.</p> <p>To be continued...</p> <p>Read <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/heading-for-paradise">part 1</a>, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/turning-greener-with-the-years">part 2</a> and <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/international-travel/in-the-company-of-giants">part 3</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</p> <p><em>*Māori originally named the lake Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura after an ancestress called Haki-te-kura whose image is said to be reflected in the lake.</em></p> <p><em>*Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=7BtkdCC0m6zkzxkMbzBp_u-wDIiN0dqP5C4--uPeeORQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fJhhmC1WLLJHWzgHLuGio%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">thl</a> in a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=Qkj6NLpKp2tlANmS7flVVwRI3QQ1--ikfep03D2Q2yJQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fxoYeC2xMMKiylrC1Psne%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=EREOstBETVaXmFP1mVnBaKL_EfzEYOF92sK3gvj8QSNQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2f7HYRC3QNNLSNA3T2mkmn%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=el2BMJzFCzOsVE0F-1QDqIDJkkAkbT1z4nc0mxuNGHZQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fGgjoC4QOOMSk0PCWQMn4%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></p>

International Travel

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The rise of the brown nomads and tips on how to do it

<p>Grey Nomads are a stalwart of the outback campsite, but COVID has seen a surge in younger families hitting the road: the Brown Nomads. These are people whose interstate or overseas jaunts have been thwarted by closed borders, or who have been freed from the 9-to-5 grind and want to take the “work from anywhere” concept literally. However, while adventuring sounds fun, it doesn't always generate a secure income. Consider some good financial planning so you can enjoy the nomadic life <em>and</em> still maintain financial security.</p> <p><strong>Before the trip</strong></p> <p>The options for how to stretch finances depends on your specific circumstances. It's important to see a financial planner early on in this process, but there are a few general tips I can offer.</p> <p><u>Reduce debt.</u> Pay it down as much as you can and see if consolidation makes sense. Do not carry credit card debt into this adventure.</p> <p><u>Plan your income and expenses.</u> Income sources include savings, investment dividends, long service leave, redundancies, ongoing business, or profits from asset sales. Plan expenses, including buying your start-up gear. Many nomads budget for $1000 per week, but it varies. Once you know how much you'll need you can start planning where to take the funds from.</p> <p><u>Interrogate your tax and maximising options</u>. If you’ve received a lump sum and want to use it to kick start your nomadic life, there may be some tax-efficient ways to stretch this amount. Consider various strategies, including a variety of superannuation strategies, consider paying down debt and investing in the name of the partner who didn’t earn an income, or earned less.</p> <p><u>Time your trip to suit your finances</u>. Are there are any benefits to going this or next financial year based on your circumstances?</p> <p><u>Get your financial foundations in place</u>. There are a few things you’ll need to get right as a basis for any secure financial future. These include having an emergency fund, creating a spending plan, getting the right insurances, optimising all aspects of superannuation including fees and investments inside, and having an up to date estate plan.</p> <p><strong>On the trip</strong></p> <p>Now you’ve hit the road and money is flying out the door and not so much is flying back in.</p> <p><u>Review your tax</u>. With the income changes there may be tax incentives you are now eligible for. You could make a spousal superannuation contribution, which will reduce your tax bill. You may also be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit.</p> <p><u>Manage your income streams.</u> Are you relying on income from dividends, term deposits that pay interest or rental income? Should you be? Any income linked to investments can change. Make sure you have enough money parked somewhere to see you through.</p> <p><u>Spend less money. </u>It sounds obvious, but in my experience, people spend what they have. I’ve had clients go from spending $200,000 per year to $40,000 after switching to a nomadic life for a year. When you aren’t in the ‘rat race’ you’ll be surprised how much joy life gives you for free and all the expenses you no longer have.</p> <p><u>Use the nomad community</u>. Experienced nomads will tell you their biggest expense is usually fuel. Find the cheapest with apps like Fuel Map Australia. Second to fuel is accommodation. WikiCamps Australia is one of many apps that has information about sites, including where the free ones are.</p> <p>Packing up and hitting the road does not have to cripple you financially. If you set yourself up right and plan well, you could have the adventure of a lifetime while you’re young, fit and healthy and return to a solid financial foundation.</p> <p>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of two books:  <em style="font-weight: bold;">On Your Own Two Feet – Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence</em> and On<em style="font-weight: bold;"> Your Own Two Feet Divorce – Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide</em>.  <em style="font-weight: bold;">Proceeds from the books’ sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women.  </em>Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who holds a master’s degree in the field. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au"><strong>www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</strong></a></p> <p><strong><em>Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.</em></strong></p>

International Travel

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Turning greener with the years

<div>A few years ago, when we stayed at Mrs Woolly’s Camping Ground at Glenorchy, we were fascinated by the construction of the multi-million-dollar Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat under way next door. Turning greener with the years, I’ve been keen to check it out ever since. We finally got to stay there on our recent South Island ebiking and motorhome road-trip.</div> <div></div> <div>Opened in March 2018, the story behind the camp is visionary and inspirational. It’s the brainchild of US philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd who fell in love with the Glenorchy region 20 years earlier after tramping the Routeburn and Hollyford Tracks. Designed according to the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the most rigorous sustainability standards in the world, the camp is committed to “offering a unique opportunity to experience living in harmony with nature”. The seven categories of the LBC are represented as the petals of a flower – Place, Health and Happiness, Energy, Water, Materials, Beauty and Equity – and involve such factors as supplying their own water and energy, having a healthy interrelationship with nature, supporting a just and equitable world, celebrating design that uplifts the human spirit, using materials that are safe for all species, creating spaces that optimise health and wellbeing . . . all concepts close to my heart, especially the energy and water efficiency aspects.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838654/2-early-morning-surrounded-by-snow-capped-mountains-at-camp-glenorchy-eco-retreat.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/525df7e39e2f49f78556dedbc7becc20" /></div> <div><em>Early morning, surrounded by snow-capped mountains at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Justine Tyerman</em></div> <div></div> <div>New Zealand's only net positive energy accommodation, clever technology allows the camp to generate more energy than it uses – in fact it generates 105 percent of the energy it uses each year.</div> <div><br />Facilities include smart bunkhouses and eco cabins, powered RV/motorhome sites, and shared spaces for guests in the Homestead with a fabulously well-equipped open kitchen, dining room, sunroom, lounge, conference rooms and an outside campfire.</div> <div><br />Eye-catching artworks are a feature of the camp. An entire wall in the Humboldt Room, named after the magnificent mountain range it looks onto, is made of driftwood by international landscape artist Jeffrey Bale.</div> <div><br />I loved the use of recycled materials from the demolition of local woolsheds, stockyards, a grain warehouse and buildings damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.</div> <div><br />There are state-of-the-art bathroom facilities with fabulous fully-tiled showers and 100 percent odourless composting toilets that save a whopping 300,000 litres of water per year. Purified rainwater supplies the showers and solar power is the energy source.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838657/3.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c65f986fae3c4c4395da1e7a560c2e01" /></div> <div><em>The Homestead building at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></div> <div><br />Photos in the Homestead tell the story of the camp’s construction. There’s also historical information about the Head of the Lake for guests to read. Maori began arriving in Aotearoa about 750 years ago and named the South Island Te Wai Pounamu, the ‘Waters of Greenstone’. The region is rich in pounamu, a stone highly treasured by Maori who carved it into adzes, chisels, knives, hooks, clubs and ornaments.<br /><br />European settlement in the area began in 1861 when William Rees established a sheep station there. Then came the gold rush of 1862, sawmilling of beech and totara, scheelite mining and tourism. Travellers in the 1880s came up the lake by steamship had a choice of three hotels. A road link from Queenstown was opened in 1962 and finally sealed in 1997.<br /><br />All profits from Camp Glenorchy go to the Glenorchy Community Trust, directed by leaders of the local community “to support initiatives that enhance the liveability and vibrancy of Glenorchy”.<br /><br />The retreat has recently been named in TIME magazine's list of the World's 100 Greatest Places. It’s seriously impressive, especially for those, like me, into sustainability.<br /><br />In the evening, we had our first night ride on our Wisper Wayfarer ebikes – just a couple of minutes to the Glenorchy Hotel where we enjoyed a hearty dinner by a roaring open fire. The place was packed with locals and visitors watching a rugby match. Such a warm, friendly environment.</div> <div></div> <div><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838658/4-the-communal-kitchen-at-camp-glenorchy-eco-retreat.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8085163b3f9d4c23aa5d289ca10d1f36" /></div> <div><em>The communal kitchen at Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat. Picture by Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></div> <div><br />As we cycled back to the camp, the dark night sky was studded with stars. Glenorchy’s isolation makes it one of New Zealand’s best star-gazing locations, especially on clear winter nights.</div> <div><br />Our motorhome was surrounded by Maui look-a-likes when we arrived home. New Zealanders had certainly heeded the call to explore their own backyard and were out in force. It was a frosty evening but we were cosy in no time, thanks to the efficient heating system.<br /><br />We lit the gas, boiled water for hot water bottles, left the heating on low and piled on an extra duvet, thinking we would freeze . . . but after five minutes the hotties and the extra duvet got the biff, we turned the heating off, opened a skylight and slept soundly.<br /><br />Talking of sleep, the bedding arrangement in the 4-berth Cascade was ingenious. At the push of a button, a queen-size bed appeared from the ceiling while another below was able to be made up from the squabs in the rear lounge. The upper bed recessed into the ceiling when not in use. Such clever use of space.<br /><br />We awoke to a perfect day. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the view from our bedroom window was breath-taking. We couldn’t wait to jump on our ebikes and explore more of this place called Paradise . . .<br /><br /><em>To be continued.</em><br /><span> </span></div> <div><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=tWPA3DSjp88h92_m_yOej0Tyw3e6LI4rEYpaeNNn58pcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.maui-rentals.com%2fnz%2fen%3futm_medium%3dreferral%26utm_source%3djustine-tyerman" target="_blank">thl</a> in a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=T67CO7HaB4Hy8m49Jc0LTYu_fAqurQYwHDvzQwTYtjhcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.maui-rentals.com%2fnz%2fen%2fmotorhome-hire%2f4-berth-campervan-cascade%3futm_medium%3dreferral%26utm_source%3djustine-tyerman" target="_blank">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=D4fFGghFbcshDq0SojkHUYYtEIErEO2QmPI-NhfBaw9cBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwisperbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=SoAD83WgCmviEe9KsPsHJwa1cyBdBdVIeFrgwi6WIeBcBoKUAILYCA..&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.electricbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></div>

International Travel

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Heading for Paradise

<p>Justine and Chris Tyerman set off on a road trip to Central Otago... with no idea where they will end up each day. </p> <p>‘Fancy a South Island motorhome road trip this winter... since we can’t travel overseas?’ I asked my husband while he was enjoying a beer by the fire one chilly evening in May.</p> <p>Knowing his hyperactive tendencies, I quickly added biking, hiking and skiing to the mix.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838559/3-on-a-calm-day-the-mountains-are-perfectly-reflected-in-the-mirror-waters-of-the-lagoon-at-glenorchy.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/250001b025aa47f7909fef91f3310fef" /><br /><em>On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon at Glenorchy. ©Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat</em></p> <p>There was a flicker of interest, especially when I flashed a photo of a luxurious late- model Maui Cascade motorhome in front of him, hinted at the possibility of trialling a couple of brand new Wisper Wayfarer ebikes and reminded him that now we were both ‘seniors’, skiing had just got a lot cheaper.</p> <p>‘What about the weather?’ Chris asked. ‘We’ll freeze to death in a motorhome down south in the winter.’</p> <p>‘Nope. The Cascade has a super-efficient heating system... but we’ll take hot water bottles... just in case.’</p> <p>Fast forward to late August — we duly arrived at Queenstown Airport, collected our smart four-berth motorhome from the nearby Maui depot and set about finding storage for our all bulky ski gear, ebikes, suitcases and enough provisions to last a month. My husband has a fear of running out of food.</p> <p>‘If only you could learn to travel lightly,’ came the predictable comment from Chris, to which I replied, predictably, ‘If only you could learn to buy just what we need.’</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838560/3-on-a-calm-day-the-mountains-are-perfectly-reflected-in-the-mirror-waters-of-the-lagoon-at-glenorchy-copy-2.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/defe5a53d85f43f583d7a86e0e3d013b" /><br /><em>Our four-berth Maui Cascade motorhome at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Picture by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>Investigating the motorhome, we discovered to our surprise and delight that the skis, boots and poles fitted perfectly in the spacious under-floor compartment, the clothes in the wardrobe and drawers, the empty cases in the over-cab storage, the food in the fridge and kitchen cupboards, one ebike on the rear rack, (sans battery because of weight restrictions), and one inside, wrapped in an old duvet with gloves on the peddles and handlebars.</p> <p>Mission accomplished, we were away laughing... literally. We had no idea where would end up that day. We had been advised to plug into a mains-powered site on our first night in order to fully charge the batteries but thereafter, being fully self-contained, we could freedom camp for up to three days using battery and gas power.</p> <p>After stopping briefly to cushion the cutlery, crockery and pots and pans with tea towels to stop the clattering, the big rig trundled along smoothly and quietly. Chris found the driving effortless with great vision from such an elevated position.</p> <p>The heady sense of freedom took a while to sink in. We had to reprogramme ourselves to the fact we had no fixed itinerary, no bookings or check-in/check-out times and no commitments. The sole focus of every day was to meander along at a leisurely pace driving no more than a few hours, and find stunning spots to stop for lunch, dinner, hiking, ebiking and overnighting.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 301.5625px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838557/gettyimages-1076492536-640x640.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/311c3553b6054a5cb22831244d4ff8dd" /><em>Justine on her Wisper Wayfarer ebike. Picture by Chris Tyerman</em></p> <p>At the Frankton intersection, we had the choice of left to Glenorchy or right to Arrowtown. Chris pointed left, I nodded, and we set off for the idyllic little settlement at the head of Lake Wakatipu, just 50 minutes from Queenstown on one the world’s most scenic lakeside drives. In the pre-Covid era, finding parking space to pull over at the popular observation point at Bennett’s Bluff to photograph the breath-taking view of the lake and mountains would have been well-nigh impossible but we had the road to ourselves that day. We’ve driven that route dozens of times but we’re always spellbound by the vast expanse of the teal-blue lake enclosed on all sides by jagged peaks and gleaming glaciers.</p> <p>We reached Glenorchy by mid-afternoon, leapt on our Wisper Wayfarers and explored the Heritage Trail, an excellent track and boardwalk that begins at the famous Glenorchy boatshed on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and weaves its way through wetlands and lagoons inhabited by native birds, across paddocks and the local golf course. On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon. The views of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and the surrounding ranges are spectacular.</p> <p>No wonder they call this place Paradise... but ironically, it’s not named for the heavenly scenery. To be continued...</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of </em><a href="https://www.maui-rentals.com/nz/en?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=justine-tyerman"><em>thl</em></a><em> in a </em><a href="https://www.maui-rentals.com/nz/en/motorhome-hire/4-berth-campervan-cascade?utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_source=justine-tyerman"><em>Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</em></a><em> and rode a </em><a href="https://wisperbikes.co.nz/"><em>Wisper Wayfarer ebike</em></a><em> courtesy of </em><a href="http://www.electricbikes.co.nz/"><em>Electric Bikes NZ.</em></a></p>

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Day of the Dead festival explained

<p>A celebration of life and death<br />If you’ve heard of Day of the Dead – known in Spanish as Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos­ – but never celebrated it, you may wonder: How can death possibly be a cause for celebration? You have to go back 3,000 years for the answer. That’s when indigenous groups in Mexico and Central America – including Aztec, Maya, and Toltec – began celebrating their deceased relatives. They believed mourning them would be an insult to their memory. After the Spanish arrived, the ritual was intertwined with two Spanish holidays: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and Nov. 2).</p> <p>Day of the Dead is not Halloween<br />Although Halloween is celebrated right before Day of the Dead, it’s nowhere near the same. For one thing, Halloween focuses on the scary aspects of death – namely, our fear of mortality. Day of the Dead, on the other hand, is a happy, joyous occasion.</p> <p>Originally called All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. During Samhain, people created bonfires and dressed up in costumes to ward off ghosts.</p> <p>“All Hallows’ Eve was believed to be a time when the veil between the earth and other worlds was thin,” says grief and death expert Dr Kriss Kevorkian. “Ghosts returned to earth and there were celebrations mostly among the Celts. Halloween, today, doesn’t include much honouring of the dead.”</p> <p>Honouring the dead with food, drinks, and dancing<br />During Day of the Dead, families invite the souls of deceased relatives to come back for a reunion. Traditionally, that includes temporary altars with offerings commemorating their loved ones (altares de muertos or ofrendas). It also includes lots of food and drink, dressing up, and dancing.</p> <p>The Day of the Dead is not a single day but actually a celebration from October 31st to November 2. The first day (November 1st), is to honour infants and children who have died, and the second day (November 2nd), is to honour adults who have passed on.</p> <p>Day of the Dead is celebrated mostly in Mexico and parts of Central and South America. But it’s become increasingly popular in Latino communities around the world. “There are benefits to mourning and celebrating the life of a loved one who has died,” says Kevorkian. “We want to mourn the loss, but also celebrate the fact that we had such a relationship.”</p> <p>“That helps us remain connected, grateful, and appreciative of the love that was shared,” she adds. “Celebrating also helps us to understand that we shouldn’t take our loved ones for granted.”</p> <p>Grieving has no time frame<br />According to a review of studies published in 2019 in Psychosomatic Medicine, the death of a loved one is the greatest life stressor we can face. Forcing a sense of closure only adds to the stress.</p> <p>“Sadly, we are limited in our grieving due to work schedules, bereavement leave, family obligations, and our own desire not to hurt,” says Kevorkian. “But grief manifests in its own time. Give yourself time to listen to your grief rather than trying to make it fit into a particular construct. It can be painful. But it can be reframed a bit. Acknowledge how fortunate you were to have had a love so great that to lose it caused so much pain.”</p> <p>A funeral can be fun (yes, really)<br />Most people tend to think of funerals as sad, somber occasions. But it’s possible to honour the memory of your loved one by celebrating their life.</p> <p>Day of the Dead traditions involve dressing up, dancing, singing, and preparing foods that the celebrated person loved.</p> <p>“Celebrations remind us of all that your loved one accomplished in life,” says Kevorkian. “That tends to help you move forward in your grief.”</p> <p>But don’t force it, she adds. “Create your own traditions. If celebrating your loved one helps you grieve, by all means, celebrate. But do so when and how it feels right for you.”</p> <p>Death is a normal part of life<br />“Cultural practices like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, the Qingming holiday in China, or the Obon festival in Japan all emphasise, normalise, and ritualise the continuing bonds that link the living with the dead across generations,” says Robert Neimeyer, a grief specialist. That helps “people retain – rather than relinquish – life-defining attachments even across the boundaries of life and death.”</p> <p>One way cultures that celebrate Day of the Dead normalise death: They create temporary altars (ofrendas) and adorn them with things meant to provide the deceased what they need on their journey.</p> <p>Traditionally, according to the Smithsonian Latino Center, that includes paper banners, food like Mexican bread, a pitcher filled with water so the spirits can quench their thirst, and candles to help light their way.</p> <p>You can create your own ofrenda of sorts—any time of the year. Display a collection of snapshots, mementos, and other objects that were meaningful to your loved one.</p> <p>“You can accept that your loved one is no longer here,” says Kevorkian. “But that doesn’t mean you have to forget them.”</p> <p>Your relationship continues<br />Day of the Dead traditions support the idea that your relationship with the deceased isn’t over; it’s simply changing. Grief experts say that having a continued relationship can be healing. Look for ways to continue the relationship with your loved ones that are comfortable for you. Storytelling, for example, is a good strategy for coping with loss; so is journaling.</p> <p>“My grandparents died when I was younger,” says Kevorkian. “But I still celebrate their birthdays out of gratitude for having such loving people in my life. Some might want to celebrate once or twice a year. Others might not want to celebrate at all. Grief is unique to each of us.”</p> <p>You can learn from the loss<br />Loss is never easy. But grief can teach you how to value life and those you love. “We can all seek a broader sense of self, whether trans-situational, trans-generational, or transcendental,” says Neimeyer.</p> <p>“By living well, we prepare ourselves for dying well one day. Be friendly to the whole range of human experiences – joy and grief, security and fear, knowing and not knowing – without clinging to or resisting any of them. That can allow you to embrace life in all its pain, pleasure, and paradox, and accept what is both durable and impermanent in your life.”</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kimberly Goad. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/day-of-the-dead-festival-explained"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Air New Zealand resumes its famous "mystery breaks" to wild acclaim

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Air New Zealand has recognised that New Zealanders are eager to explore the country again and has announced the return of its "Mystery Break" offer.</p> <p>This allows guests to book their entire holiday through the airline, including flights, accommodations and transport without learning where they're going until two days before departure.</p> <p>There are also three packages on offer from the carrier, including a "Luxury" option to the "Great" and "Deluxe" options already on offer.</p> <p>All three packages include flights to and from Air New Zealand's 20 domestic destinations.</p> <p>“We’re really excited to have refreshed Mystery Breaks. It’s part of doing our bit to boost local tourism,” Jeremy O’Brien, Air New Zealand’s general manager of brand and marketing, said.</p> <p>“Previously these had been mostly purchased by corporate customers, but we’ve developed the packages further to appeal to leisure travellers.”</p> <p>Customers are allowed to “nominate one place they would prefer not to go”, but apart from that, the destination is completely anonymous until two days before departure.</p> <p>The Great Mystery Break starts at $563 and offers three or four-star hotel accommodation, with breakfast and airport transfers included.</p> <p>The Deluxe package starts at $656 allows you to stay at four or four and a half star hotels with breakfast and the use of a rental car for your stay.</p> <p>Finally, the Luxury package starts at $1,530 and includes five-star accommodation, breakfast and dinner included as well as the use of a luxury Avis rental car included in your price.</p> <p>“(The Mystery Breaks) are also a great gift option because you don’t need a name or a date to buy a voucher – the recipient can decide at a later date,” Mr O’Brien said.</p> <p>New Zealand residents are currently not allowed to travel internationally, with the exception of NSW, the Northern Territory, South Australia and as of today, Tasmania.</p> <p>This is part of the first stage of quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p>The travel bubble, which went into effect on October 16th, is a step towards reopening job opportunities and tourism between the two countries.</p> </div> </div> </div>

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Coronavirus reinfection cases: what we know so far – and the vital missing clues

<p>To date, there have been six published cases of COVID-19 reinfection, with various other unverified accounts from around the world. Although this is a comparably small fraction of the millions of people known to have been infected, should we be concerned? To unpick this puzzle, we must first consider what we mean by immunity.</p> <p><strong>How immunity works</strong><br />When we are infected with any pathogen, our immune system quickly responds to try to contain the threat and minimise any damage. Our first line of defence is from immune cells, known as innate cells. These cells are not usually enough to eliminate a threat, which is where having a more flexible “adaptive” immune response comes into play – our lymphocytes.</p> <p>Lymphocytes come in two main varieties: B lymphocytes, which make antibodies, and T lymphocytes, which include cells that directly kill the germy invaders.</p> <p>As antibodies are readily measured in blood, they are often used to indicate a good adaptive immune response. However, over time, antibodies levels in our blood wane, but this doesn’t necessarily mean protection is lost. We retain some lymphocytes that know how to deal with the threat – our memory cells. Memory cells are remarkably long-lived, patrolling our body, ready to spring into action when needed.</p> <p>Vaccines work by creating memory cells without the risk of a potentially fatal infection. In an ideal world, it would be relatively easy to create immunity, but it’s not always that straightforward.</p> <p>Although our immune system has evolved to deal with a huge variety of pathogens, these germs have also evolved to hide from the immune system. This arms race means that some pathogens such as malaria or HIV are very tricky to deal with.</p> <p>Infections that have spilled over from animals - zoonotic diseases - are also challenging for our immune system because they can be completely novel. The virus that causes COVID-19 is such a zoonotic disease, originating in bats.</p> <p>COVID-19 is caused by a betacoronavirus. Several betacoronaviruses are already common in the human population – most familiar as a cause of the common cold. Immunity to these cold-causing viruses isn’t that robust but immunity to the more serious conditions, Mers and Sars, is more durable.</p> <p>Data to date on COVID-19 shows that antibodies can be detected three months after infection, although, as with Sars and Mers, antibodies gradually decrease over time.</p> <p>Of course, antibody levels are not the only indication of immunity and don’t tell us about T lymphocytes or our memory cells. The virus causing COVID-19 is structurally similar to Sars, so perhaps we can be more optimistic about a more durable protective response – time will tell. So how worried then should we be about reports of reinfection with COVID-19?</p> <p><strong>How worried should we be?</strong><br />The handful of case reports on reinfection with COVID-19 don’t necessarily mean that immunity is not occurring. Issues with testing could account for some reports because “virus” can be detected after infection and recovery. The tests look for viral RNA (the virus’s genetic material), and viral RNA that cannot cause infection can be shed from the body even after the person has recovered.</p> <p>Conversely, false-negative results happen when the sample used in testing contains insufficient viral material to be detected – for example, because the virus is at a very low level in the body. Such apparent negative results may account for cases in which the interval between the first and second infection is short. It is hugely important, therefore, to use additional measures, such as viral sequencing and immune indicators.</p> <p>Reinfection, even in immunity, can happen, but usually this would be mild or asymptomatic because the immune response protects against the worst effects. Consistent with this is that most verified cases of reinfection reported either no or mild symptoms. However, one of the latest verified cases of reinfection – which happened just 48 days after the initial infection – actually had a more severe response to reinfection.</p> <p>What might account for the worse symptoms the second time round? One possibility is the patient did not mount a robust adaptive immune response first time round and that their initial infection was largely contained by the innate immune response (the first line of defence). One way to monitor this would be to assess the antibody response as the type of antibody detected can tell us something about the timing of infection. But unfortunately, antibody results were not analysed in the recent patient’s first infection.</p> <p>Another explanation is that different viral strains caused the infections with a subsequent impact on immunity. Genetic sequencing did show differences in viral strains, but it isn’t known if this equated to altered immune recognition. Many viruses share structural features, enabling immune responses to one virus to protect against a similar virus. This has been suggested to account for the lack of symptoms in young children who frequently get colds caused by betacoronaviruses.</p> <p>However, a recent study, yet to be peer-reviewed, found that protection against cold-causing coronaviruses did not protect against COVID-19. In fact, antibodies recognising similar viruses can be dangerous – accounting for the rare phenomenon of antibody-dependent enhancement of disease (ADE). ADE occurs when antibodies enhance viral infection of cells with potentially life-threatening consequences.</p> <p>It should be emphasised, though, that antibodies are only one indicator of immunity and we have no data on either T lymphocytes or memory cells in these cases. What these cases emphasise is a need to standardised approaches in order to capture the critical information for robust evaluation of the threat of reinfection.</p> <p>We are still learning about the immune response to COVID-19, and every piece of new data is helping us unpick the puzzle of this challenging virus. Our immune system is a powerful ally in the fight against infection, and only by unlocking it can we ultimately hope to defeat COVID-19.</p> <p><em>Written by Sheena Cruickshank. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-reinfection-cases-what-we-know-so-far-and-the-vital-missing-clues-147960">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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17 things you didn’t know about Prince George

<p><strong>He missed out on a royal birthday tradition this year</strong><br />Like many youngsters in 2020, Prince George had a low-key birthday during the coronavirus pandemic. And there’s one royal honour he didn’t receiving this year: the tradition of the ringing of the bells at London’s Westminster Abbey was a no-go, as the Abbey was closed until August. But the young prince might not even have noticed, as he’s currently spending time with his family away from London at their country estate, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. His mum, Duchess Catherine, revealed in a podcast that the family enjoys the “simple things” like being “outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty.” A recent pic taken by the Duchess is proof, showing Prince George and his siblings, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, roughhousing in the grass with their dad, Prince William.</p> <p><strong>He has sibling rivalry with Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte</strong><br />As with any family, there are squabbles between Prince George and his younger siblings. Duchess Kate recently revealed at a gardening event that the siblings are having a sunflower-growing competition – and Prince George hasn’t exactly been happy with the results. “The children are really enjoying growing their sunflowers – Louis’s is winning so George is a little grumpy about that!” she said. And in typical older-brother fashion, he has also wanted to take over his sister’s school assignments. “George gets very upset because he just wants to do all of Charlotte’s projects,” Duchess Kate told ITV. “Spider sandwiches are far cooler than literacy work!” We’re not sure what spider sandwiches entail, although they do sound enticing for a little boy.</p> <p><strong>He volunteers</strong><br />Duchess Catherine and Prince William strive to teach the future king of England about the importance of giving back to those in need. Not even a spring rainstorm could stop Prince George and his family from delivering homemade pasta to the elderly and vulnerable near their Norfolk home, in a photo released for Britain’s Volunteers Week in early June. The young prince had even helped prepare the packages himself, along with his siblings. “They got drenched as it was pouring with the rain but I think they just wanted to do their bit,” one onlooker told The Daily Mail.</p> <p><strong>He’s a normal schoolboy</strong><br />At the school Prince George attends, Thomas’s Battersea in London, the young prince is just like any other student, which is exactly how his parents want it – Prince William and Duchess Catherine haven’t even told Prince George yet he’ll be king one day. “George is really happy at school, [and] his nickname is P.G.,” a classmate’s parent told Vanity Fair. “He’s very popular and has lots of friends, and there’s very little fuss made about who he is,” the parent said. “Either William or Kate do drop-off, and they are always very friendly.” Prince George’s little sister, Princess Charlotte, joined him at the school last year.</p> <p><strong>He loves the British cartoon Fireman Sam</strong><br />Although Prince George is not allowed to have an iPad, he still gets in screen time while he watches his favourite show, Fireman Sam, as his parents revealed in a BBC radio interview. “Fireman Sam is taking an awful lot of interest,” Prince William said, noting that he has to watch along with his son. “You have to pretend you’re really into [his shows] because George gets very upset if you’re not showing due diligence to the characters.” The creators of Fireman Sam even gave a nod to the young prince in their 30th-anniversary episode, “The Prince of Pontypandy,” in which an unnamed royal family makes an appearance.</p> <p><strong>He’s started wearing long pants</strong><br />Royal watchers know that following tradition, Prince George had always appeared in public in shorts, even in winter. But the youngster is growing up and has begun breaking this protocol. His first public appearance in long pants was at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Last December’s Christmas card also featured the young prince in laid-back jeans, described by one British newspaper as a ‘royal shock’. Then again, Prince William and Kate’s Christmas cards are always fantastic, regardless of what the young prince is wearing.</p> <p><strong>His sister wears his hand-me-downs</strong><br />Like any good big brother, Prince George has passed on his clothes to his little sister, Princess Charlotte. In that same Christmas card, Princess Charlotte is wearing a sweater Prince George wore in a 2016 photo with his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Charlotte also wore the same hand-me-down sweater in a photo with their newest sibling, Prince Louis, following his birth in 2018. And this spring, Princess Charlotte was spotted wearing the exact same sneakers Prince George wore the year before, both without socks, no less – although whether she inherited his stinky shoes or is simply wearing a new pair of the same style has not been revealed.</p> <p><strong>He can be ‘naughty’</strong><br />As a toddler, Prince George was something of a handful – so much so that his parents decided to leave him at home when they went on a 2016 trip to India. When asked why the young prince was not with them, Duchess Catherine reportedly replied, “Because George is too naughty. He would be running all over the place.” Maybe now that he’s older, he can accompany them on their next trip there. “The next time we come we will definitely bring them,” the Duchess said.</p> <p><strong>He has seven godparents</strong><br />There are some ways Prince George is just like any other ‘normal’ boy – and some ways his Royal life is very, very different. For example, at his christening, he received not one, not two, but seven godparents to assist, counsel, and support him in his very important royal role. According to the Prince’s official royal biography, they are: Mr Oliver Baker, Mrs David Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, The Hon. Mrs Michael Samuel, Mrs Michael Tindall, and Mr William van Cutsem. Just who are these people? They range from childhood and college friends of Prince William and Duchess Catherine to family and other members of the aristocracy. No Royals, though, made the cut, possibly so that the young prince will have others to turn to outside ‘the firm’ as he grows up.</p> <p><strong>He loves dancing, like his late grandmother</strong><br />Prince George’s grandmother, the late Princess Diana, was known for her dancing, such as when she took to the floor with John Travolta at the White House. And the grandson she never got to meet has apparently inherited her skills. “George is doing dancing as well, he loves it,” Prince William shared. “My mother always used to dance, she loved dancing.” Prince George’s school, Thomas’s Battersea, includes ballet class for young students, so he can enhance his natural talent.</p> <p><strong>He tailgates</strong><br />At a polo match last year, with his siblings and new cousin, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince George looked like any boy having a fun outing. (Even though Harry and Meghan’s baby is being raised differently form the Cambridge children). While his dad and uncle, Prince Harry, played, Prince George decided he’d rather kick around a soccer ball than watch the game. At one point, his mother, Duchess Catherine, had to take away a polo mallet he was dangerously wielding near Princess Charlotte. Then, he and his sister had an impromptu tailgate, complete with snacks out of the cooler. They hopped up into the back of their SUV as their mum and brother, Prince Louis, lounged on the grass below.</p> <p><strong>He’s a picture-posing pro</strong><br />From a young age, Prince George was a natural in front of the camera. According to a photographer who took his picture for a special postage stamp when the Prince was only two years old, “he was absolutely charming, as you can see from the picture. You only have a short window of opportunity with small children, but Prince George was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy seeing him enjoy the day.” Duchess Catherine, an avid photographer herself, also recently revealed her son loves having his picture taken. “Get outside with your camera as well – George and Charlotte love it when we do that,” she advised budding photographers at an event.</p> <p><strong>He goes on spider hunts</strong><br />Speaking of getting outside, Prince George loves being in nature, as his mother recently opened up about during a visit to a ‘forest school’. According to the head of the school, the Duchess “said she often takes her children on spider hunts in their garden, which they love. They can spend hours out there.” At another garden visit, Duchess Catherine talked about how much her children love to learn by exploring the outdoors. “That’s where George and Charlotte would love to be is learning outside of the classroom, not inside,” she said. And Prince George’s grandfather, Prince Charles, has said the youngster is “one of those characters who naturally, instinctively likes to be outside.”<br /><br /><strong>He helped design his mum’s garden</strong><br />With his love of nature, it’s not surprising Prince George actually helped Duchess Catherine design her woodland-themed, play-and-learn garden for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) this year. “We made the stepping stones because Prince George wanted them,” the landscaper the Duchess worked with told Hello!. “The kids loved jumping across [the stream].” Plus, the official Kensington Palace Instagram revealed, “over the past months, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis have helped the Duchess gather moss, leaves, and twigs to help decorate the RHS Back to Nature Garden. Hazel sticks collected by the family were also used to make the garden’s den.” The Duchess said her kids “played [in the garden] last night in a way I hadn’t imagined. They were throwing stones. I hadn’t actually thought that that was what they would be doing. They kicked their shoes off, and wanted to paddle in the stream…using it in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.”</p> <p><strong>He makes pizza dough</strong><br />What kid doesn’t like pizza? Prince George is no exception and even likes making his own personal pies. At a community centre lunch, Duchess Catherine said, “I’ve done that with George and Charlotte, making pizza dough. They love it because they can get their hands messy.” At a recent event where she actually made pizzas with children, Kate said of her own kids, “they would love to come and do this with you. They’ll be very sad that I’ve been out here making pizzas with all you and they haven’t been!” The budding chef also likes to make cookies, although the Duchess has said, “when I try to do this with George at home, chocolate and the golden syrup goes everywhere. He makes so much mess. It’s chaos.” So relatable!</p> <p><strong>He plays tennis – with Roger Federer</strong><br />Another of the sporty Prince’s interests is playing tennis – but not too many seven-year-olds get to take lessons from one of its top stars. At Wimbledon, Duchess Catherine said that Prince George has actually played with his favourite player, Roger Federer, according to the tournament’s Wimbledon Morning Coffee. And as reported in The Daily Star, Federer is also a fan of Prince George, “He’s a cute boy. I love to see they’re into tennis or into sport,” noting that George has “a good swing.” The tennis champ also said about being the Prince’s favourite, “I think I have a little advantage that I actually spent some time with him, so maybe I’m the only player he’s ever met. Then you have a little head start into who is your favourite player!”</p> <p><strong>He gets totally bored at formal events</strong><br />The future king may lead an extraordinary life, but he sure exhibits some pretty ordinary – if adorable – kid behaviour. At last year’s Trooping the Colour, which celebrates the Queen’s birthday, his priceless expressions, including a scrunched-up nose and facepalm, were just like any other bored little boy at a grownup event. Never mind the Royal Air Force fly-by: George is totally over it. This (almost) tops when his cousin, Savannah Phillips, shushed the giggling Prince and even covered his mouth. Whether smiling or scowling, Prince George steals the show!</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Tina Donvito. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/17-things-you-didnt-know-about-prince-george?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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20 of the most surreal natural phenomena – explained

<p><strong>Behold</strong><br />I don’t know about you, but being cooped up in the house has made me yearn for the majesty of nature like I’ve never quite yearned in the past. Sure, prior to quarantine I might’ve gone weeks without seeing moss and not thought twice about it, but now that I cannot venture out of my home to see salt flats or rainbow eucalyptus trees, I am simply beside myself. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use this time to educate myself about them – I dare you to try to stop me from marvelling at Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland and other natural phenomena. Take a look at some of nature’s most dream-like creations, and maybe they’ll earn a spot at the top of your bucket list.</p> <p><strong>Moonbows</strong><br />Much like rainbows, these colourful nocturnal arches occur when light (from the moon, in this case) reflects and refracts off water droplets in the sky. But moonbows are much more rare than rainbows – the natural phenomenon happens only when the moon is very low, the sky is dark, and rain is falling opposite the moon.</p> <p><strong>Sun halos</strong><br />Similar to moonbows, sun halos, or a circle rainbow, form much higher in the sky when light reflects through ice crystals forming a perfect circle. They appear as a large circle of white or coloured light around the sun.</p> <p><strong>Brinicles</strong><br />What Alec Baldwin describes on Frozen Planet as “icy fingers of death,” brinicles are underwater stalactites, or hollow icicles, that form when cold salt water freezes. In the right conditions, brinicles can reach and pool on the ocean floor, eventually freezing slow-moving bottom-dwelling creatures like starfish.</p> <p><strong>Shooting stars</strong><br />Shooting stars are actually meteors, or small rocks that have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The light you see is the particles heating up and burning. Stargazers can expect to see a shooting star every ten to 15 minutes.</p> <p><strong>Sinkholes</strong><br />A perfect example of how a natural phenomenon can be dangerous is the Florida man who was swallowed by a sinkhole under his bedroom. Sinkholes most commonly occur when water, made acidic by contact with plants or carbon dioxide in the air, erodes soft rock such as limestone, gypsum or dolomite underground, forming a deep cavern.</p> <p><strong>Whirlpools</strong><br />Formed at the meeting of opposing currents, whirlpools are often much more ominous in fiction than in real life. The most powerful whirlpools, called maelstroms, are formed in narrow, shallow straits with fast flowing water, or at the base of waterfalls, but the speed of the swirl rarely exceeds 30km/ph.</p> <p><strong>Glowing beaches</strong><br />Some beaches around the world glow at night. This natural phenomenon is caused by phytoplankton in the water that gives off light when agitated by the movement of waves and currents. These microorganisms can be seen at beaches in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and many more around the world. The image above is a long exposure shot of a blue fluorescent wave of bioluminescent plankton in Thailand.</p> <p><strong>Light pillars</strong><br />Light pillars are colourful beams of light that shine down from the sky, typically during sunrise. They are sometimes also referred to as solar pillars or sun pillars. Light pillars occur in colder climates when light reflects off ice crystals in the air.</p> <p><strong>Waterspouts</strong><br />Some might mistake a waterspout for a tornado moving over a body of water, but in reality, a waterspout is a type of cloud. Waterspouts are rotating columns of air over water and are much weaker than tornados. They mainly occur in tropical and subtropical climates.</p> <p><strong>Volcanic lightning</strong><br />Thunderstorm lightning has nothing on volcanic lightning which appears during a volcano explosion. This lightning forms in the volcanic plume – the cylinder-shaped column of volcanic ash – after it erupts, according to National Geographic. The particles that make up the plume compress underground. Once these particles eject above ground the density changes. Plus, the friction between particles charges them. They separate as they go up, creating space for electricity or lightning to flow between particles, per National Geographic.</p> <p><strong>Blood falls</strong><br />In Antarctica, the famous Blood Falls – a blood-red waterfall pouring out of the Taylor Glacier, are found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Scientists and geologists first thought that the water was the colour red because of algae, according to Atlas Obscura. Research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, however, found the red colour is thanks to oxidised iron in the brine saltwater. We see the falls thanks to a fissure allowing the water to flow from the small, trapped body.</p> <p><strong>Frozen lake bubbles</strong><br />Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada, features some beautiful frozen, trapped, bubbles of methane. Methane bubbles form in water when bacteria feasts on leaves and animals in the water. The bacteria eat the matter and ‘poops’ out methane, which turn into floating bubbles in frozen water, according to Smithsonian Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Salt flats</strong><br />There are some well-known and beautiful salt flats, also known as salt lakes in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria. No matter their location, salt flats are all thanks to the evaporation of water and the concentration and precipitation of salts and other minerals dissolved in it, according to the New York Times. They can differ in their water source which could be a lake, groundwater, or one of many other water sources.</p> <p><strong>Glow-worm caves</strong><br />Even worms, although small and slimy, are a natural phenomenon – especially glow-worms and their caves. Most of these caves are in New Zealand and Australia. The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are the most well-known, having formed more than 30 million years ago. The science behind the glow-worm caves is interesting. In fact, they technically aren’t ‘glowing worms’ at all. According to the New York Times, fungus gnat eggs hatch, their larva constructing mucus. That mucus coughs up silk strings collecting droplets of more mucus. This is the net that illuminates and attracts flies or other victims for the worms.</p> <p><strong>Rainbow eucalyptus trees</strong><br />Rainbow eucalyptus or rainbow gum trees hails from the Philippines and Indonesia. The colourful tree stripes are actually strips of old and new bark. As the thin bark layers peel away, they reveal younger ones with brighter colours. The youngest bark is green then purple, red and brown as the tree ages and loses chlorophyll. Eventually, the bark becomes totally brown again before repeating the shedding cycle, according to nature.com.</p> <p><strong>Travertine terraces</strong><br />Travertine forms as a result of calcium carbonate precipitation from geothermal waters, according to New Zealand’s University of Waikato. The travertine builds up forming terraces over time. When hot water full of carbon dioxide flows through limestone, it dissolves. It carries calcium carbonate to the surface of the travertine, per Atlas Obscura. Still, more research shows there might be other reasons for their formation. Bacteria in the water could catalyse the minerals, forming the terraces, according to Science Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Sandstone waves</strong><br />These sandstone waves were originally dunes in Arizona, USA. Dating back more than 190 million years, the ‘waves’ are made up of intersecting troughs of sandstone turned to rock. According to Atlas Obscura, the dunes form vertically and horizontally, and slow erosion, thanks to wind and rain over time, reveals their wave-like look. Sandstone waves are a must for avid hikers in the American Southwest.</p> <p><strong>Desert roses</strong><br />Desert roses are a special crystal group formed by rain or flooding in desert regions where there are trapped sand particles. Switching between wet and dry conditions forms the crystals while trapping grains of sand. Although most form from gypsum, baryte and celestite roses exist, too.</p> <p><strong>Nacreous clouds</strong><br />Nacreous clouds look like light waves of various colours. They are rare since they’re only visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn. However, they’re more common during winter time in places with high altitudes, like in Antarctica, Scandinavia, Iceland and Canada.</p> <p><strong>Permafrost explosions</strong><br />This natural phenomenon is thanks to frozen, trapped methane, similar to the bubbles seen here in Lake Abraham, Canada. Heating these larger-scale bubbles results in huge bursts, according to Business Insider. The warming temperatures in Arctic zones thaw the ice, releasing the gas and creating permafrost explosions.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Beth Dreher. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/20-of-the-most-surreal-natural-phenomena-explained?pages=1"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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The stories behind 12 abandoned mansions

<p>While we all love a good scary story, few of us are brave enough to live in a scary story. Sometimes home is where the heart is, but for some of the people on this list, home was exactly where the troubled started.</p> <p>The unbelievable stories of these mansions are chock full of strange histories, mysteries and even scandal. The owners of the once-lavish and magnificent mansions below knew that the price of the house was just one small part of the story. Of course, mansions are usually thought of as large, extravagant homes that convey wealth and status to all who behold them. Usually, mansions are sold or passed down in families for years, each loving and updating the sprawling property in a new way. So what happens to make someone run away from their dream home? These abandoned mansions have some incredible and almost unbelievable stories to tell.</p> <p><strong>Mínxíong Ghost House — Mínxíong, Taiwan<br /></strong>Ranked as the spookiest haunted house in 2019, the Minxiong Ghost House naturally lives up to its reputation. The stories surrounding this mansion run the gauntlet from affairs to suicide to simple relocation, but whatever you believe, this mansion definitely fits the creepy bill. Built in 1929 by Liu Rongyu, this baroque rival style mansion (sometimes called the Old Liu House) is hidden between overgrown greenery. One of the most popular tales states that a housemaid had an affair with the homeowner, leading to the wrath of the wife and eventual death of the maid by jumping down a nearby well. If the maid story was not enough, another story claims a soldier committed suicide in the home after hearing strange voices. Regardless of the truth long lost to time, the large mansion has some wild history within its beautiful, yet decaying walls.</p> <p>Halcyon Hall at the Bennett School for Girls — New York, USA<br />This creepy, gothic mansion was once the site of higher education for New York women. Founded in 1890 in Irvington, the school later changed its name to Bennett College. Originally, before becoming solely a junior college, the school was a six-year, woman-only institution. The school closed and declared bankruptcy in the wave of co-ed education, a few weeks after welcoming an entire class of freshman to campus. Halcyon Hall, a 200-room structure that functioned as a hotel before becoming an academic building in 1907, remains standing to this day. The abandoned property fell to decay and changed hands many times, somehow surviving multiple threats of tear-down. Imposing and overrun with greenery, the halls seem content to continue into disrepair without crumbling completely.</p> <p><strong>Villa de Vecchi — Cortenova, Italy<br /></strong>This beautiful mansion sits among the trees in the mountains of Cortenova, beside Lake Como. Known by many nicknames, including the “Red House, Ghost Mansion, and Casa Delle Streghe (The House of Witches),” this mansion touts a tragic history. In the late 19th century, Count Felix De Vecchi commissioned architect Alessandro Sidoli to build this Baroque-style behemoth. Unfortunately for the Count, Sidoli died a year before the top-of-the-line villa was completed.</p> <p>The Vecchi family spent very little time in the villa before tragedy struck—the Count’s wife was murdered and daughter kidnapped. After a number of search attempts, the Count himself succumbed to suicide. After passing hands around the Vecchi family for a few decades, the house fell to disrepair, nature intrusion, and vandalism. Still, the mansion lives on in lore to this day. Alongside the rumors of occult activities and sacrifices, locals still say the long-ago smashed piano still floats music outside of the house and down the countryside.</p> <p><strong>Lennox Castle — East Dunbartonshire, Scotland<br /></strong>Just north of Glasgow, this mansion and castle were built somewhere around the early 1840s. Initially, the castle was built for John Lennox Kincaid of the familial line of the Earl of Lennox. In 1927, the castle was purchased by the Glasgow Corporation and converted into a “hospital for the mentally ill.” Buildings cropped up around the main castle structure to eventually hold over 1,200 patients. Toward the middle of the century, however, fights, unrest, and riots began to break out among the patients. One such fight in 1956 resulted in some of the male patients attacking the nursing staff and being locked inside a small hut. In 2002, the Lennox Castle Hospital was officially retired and all other buildings on the property knocked down. In their stead, the Celtic Football Club attempted to make training facilities. Today, the castle has fallen to fire and nature and remains a beautiful, eerie ruin.</p> <p><strong>Chaonei No. 81 — Beijing, China<br /></strong>Built in the early 20th century, this mansion has a much darker past. Constructed in the baroque style by the Qing imperial family, this three-story mansion has been abandoned since 1949. The story goes that after the Nationalists’ defeat by the Communists, the Kuomintang official who owned the property abandoned his wife in the mansion. According to legend, she was so wrought with anguish and heartache that she hanged herself in the home. Some say that her spirit still haunts the house, as explorers and local children alike dare to take a peek inside the once elegant and now-decaying home.</p> <p><strong>Los Feliz Mansion — Los Angeles, California, USA</strong><br />The story goes that this hilltop mansion was the home of Dr Harold Perelson, his wife and his three children. As a respected doctor in the late 1950s, Perelson shocked the city and, to an extent, the world when he suddenly brutally murdered his wife with a ball-peen hammer in her sleep. After attempting the same cruel act with his young daughter, he ended his own life by drinking acid and taking tranquiliser pills. Many have speculated about his causes and the “hauntings” of the mansion thereafter, though it was purchased and sold multiple times over the next 60 years. What’s more spooky? Up until 2016, the owners let the house remain largely the same as it was in 1959 – same dust-coated decor and same eerie emptiness.</p> <p><strong>Lynnewood Hall — Pennsylvania, USA</strong><br />Built in the late 19th century, Lynnewood Hall is a Neo-classical, Gilded Age mansion with a regretful past. The unfathomably rich art collector and tycoon Peter A.B. Widener commissioned the 110 room mansion with 55 bedrooms from famous architect Horace Trumbauer. This lavish, limestone mansion was build shortly after the death of Widener’s wife and filled with famous pieces and paintings (some by El Greco, Rembrandt, and Donatello). Tragically, the eldest son meant to inherit the property was on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. George Widener and his son lost their lives while his wife, Eleanor, survived on a lifeboat. Ironically, the Wideners were a large investor in the RMS Titanic. The younger son, Joseph, managed the property until his death in 1943 left the house unclaimed, abandoned, and stripped of its valuable decor.</p> <p><strong>Odd Fellows Home — Liberty, Missouri</strong><br />This mansion was built for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, founded in 1819, as a central hub for the organization in Missouri. The fraternal organization resembled the Masons with the goals of promoting brotherhood, loyalty, and community outreach. The IOOF was also known for “secret rituals,” many of which were performed in the Odd Fellow Home throughout the 19th century. That is, of course, when they weren’t taking care of the at-risk members of their community at their 200+ acre complex with a school, nursing home, hospital, and orphanage, according to Atlas Obscura. While the complex fell to disrepair (aside from one building that now holds a functioning winery), the Odd Fellows left a skeleton of one of their members behind, “George,” which was said to be used in the strange initiation rituals.</p> <p><strong>Bannerman Castle — New York, USA</strong><br />This castle doesn’t have a morbid history so much as a historically interesting one. According to Jane Bannerman, granddaughter-in-law of the builder Frank Bannerman VI, the mansion was built on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River as a place to store arms for sale. A bit of folklore from the Native American tribes of the island survives, including the legend of naming the island after the story of a girl named Pell who was rescued and swept to safety on the island by her heroic sweetheart. The American Revolution saw the island and its surrounding waters outfitted with booby traps called “chevaux de frise” to block British ships.</p> <p>In 1900, once the Bannermans owned the island, they built the Scottish-style mansion (or armory!) and even allowed various charity groups to visit the beautiful island in the summer. Frank Bannerman’s wife maintained beautiful grounds on the island, some of which still exist even after the famous 1969 fire. Today, The Bannerman Castle Trust works to restore the building, promote tourism, and preserve the history of the island and structure.</p> <p><strong>Dundas Castle — New York, USA</strong><br />Sometimes called the Craig-E-Claire Castle, this eventual mansion was first a small lodge structure built by Bradford Lee Gilbert around 1880. In 1915, new owner Ralph Wurts-Dundas decided to construct a more castle-like structure, though he passed away only a year shy of its competition. His wife, Josephine Wurst-Dundas, was shortly thereafter committed to a mental institution against her will, also never living in the completed castle. Their daughter Muriel became the owner, but her due inheritance was said to be stripped and stolen from her by greedy castle care-takers. Sometime after, the daughter was married and left the property to be sold a few times before landing in the hands of a local Masonic chapter. Now, while still under Masonic-ownership, the castle is abandoned and falling apart. The lore implies that the ghost of Josephine still haunts the structure.</p> <p><strong>Wyckoff Villa (Carleton Villa) — New York, USA</strong><br />Predictably, of course, the Wyckoff Villa (located on Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York) is yet another example of a tragic story. In what many call one of the first Gilded Age mansions along the Thousand Islands, the villa was commissioned of architect William H. Miller for William Wyckoff. Wyckoff, a Remington typewriter magnate, lived in the home for only one day after its 1895 completion. Why? Well, unfortunately, Mr Wyckoff suffered a heart attack that night on July 11th, only a month after his wife, Ives Wyckoff, passed away. After 30 years within the family, the villa was sold to General Electric. Though originally planning to tear down the villa to construct a golf course and retreat in its place, GE eventually stripped the house of all useful (and necessary) parts and left it in disrepair.</p> <p><strong>The Craig House Hospital — New York, USA</strong><br />This odd, gothic “mansion” was originally built as a part of the Tioronda Estate by Frederick Clarke Withers in 1859 for Joseph Howland. After Howland’s death, Dr. Clarence Slocum converted the mansion into one of the first licensed private psychiatric hospitals in 1915. The hospital treated big names in private, extreme luxury for a pretty penny, including Rosemary Kennedy, Zelda Fitzgerald and Jackie Gleason. However, toward the turn of the century, the reputation of the once highly-regarded Craig House Hospital became clouded by untimely deaths and suicides, a series of fires, and general disrepair to close completely in 1999. Once abandoned, the Craig House Estate (and the surrounding property) is now planning to be made into a luxury hotel and spa.</p> <p><em>Written by Johanna Neeson</em><em>. This article first appeared on </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/culture/the-stories-behind-12-abandoned-mansions"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.co.nz/subscribe"><em>here’s our best subscription offer</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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French Open rocked by match-fixing allegations

<p>French prosecutors have come forward to confirm that an investigation into suspected match-fixing at the French Open has begun. </p> <p>On Wednesday, reports claimed the allegations involve a women’s doubles match.</p> <p>“It’s a first-round match featuring players that are not well-known,” a source within France’s National Gaming Authority (ANJ) explained to AFP. </p> <p>French sports daily L’Equipe and German newspaper Die Welt have said that the match that is suspected is the first-round encounter on September 30 between Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig and opponents Yana Sizikova of Russia playing with US player Madison Brengle.</p> <p>Suspicion surrounds the fifth game of the second set. </p> <p>The Romanian duo won by love after Sizikova served two double faults.</p> <p>L’Equipe reported that large sums of money were bet on the Romanians winning that game and that the wagers were placed in several countries. </p> <p>The Romanians went on to win the match 7-6, 6-4.</p> <p>Prosecutors said they were probing possible “fraud in an organised group” and “active and passive corruption in sport”.</p> <p>A source within the investigation said that the bets that had been placed on the match were “abnormally large” and amounted to “tens of thousands of euros”. </p> <p>“They must have been afraid to bet in France. They tried to spread the bets around other markets but the betting industry bodies know how to do their sums,” the source said.</p>

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Top national parks in the US

<p>Feeling a bit caught up in the bright city lights and chaos? Nothing sounds more grounding than turning off the devices and heading on a family trip to a US national park.</p> <p>But with 58 beautiful parks to choose from, this magical outdoor vacation needs some planning.<br /><br /><strong>Grand Canyon National Park</strong></p> <p>Majority of the Grand Canyon’s six million yearly visitors flood to the central lookout. But the national park hosts a further 4926 km² of sublime beauty to explore.</p> <p>From gentle day walks to the arduous RIM2RIM, the park has a large variety of trails. Even better, under 16s stay free at all Grand Canyon lodgings.</p> <p>Kids can become Junior Rangers by completing the activity book and taking a pledge at the visitor centre – it’s free. Interactive drawing and writing activities encourage the little ones to learn about nature, history and preservation.</p> <p>While the North Rim does have an abundance of trails, the South Rim is recommended for travelling with kids. There’s more to do on this side, and day tours run from Phoenix and Las Vegas.</p> <p>The Rim Trail offers spectacular views of the inner canyon, and shuttle buses can help manage the length of your hike. For an easier trek, Cape Royal is a gentle yet rewarding hike on the South Rim, perfect for sunset picnics.</p> <p>The park has plenty more to do than hiking. Try horseback riding, white water rafting or hire bikes and ride the greenway trail.</p> <p>For those driving, 4×4’s can descent the bottom of the Canyon and stay at the Bright Angel Campground. It takes about five hours to drive around the national park.</p> <p>Size: 4,926 km²<br />Average accomodation: $350<br />Recommended Time: Three days<br />High Season: May – Sep<br />Best time to go: April, September – October<br />Great for: 6 and up</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Olympic National Park</strong></p> <p>How did mum ever expect you to conquer a national park without a Discovery Backpack? At Olympic, little adventurers are equipped with binoculars, a whistle and a torch to explore the one million acres of diverse wilderness.</p> <p>Nestled in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, two hours from Seattle, the national park is great for overnight trips or a full week of adventure.</p> <p>Most of the parks campsites don’t take reservations so there’s no need to commit to a certain route. It is one of the cheaper and easier parks to get a permit, making it perfect for the more spontaneous of planners.</p> <p>A coastal cycle is a great way to tour the beautiful beaches, or explore the rainforest and mountains trails on foot.</p> <p>Hurricane Ridge is one of the most scenic climbs in the US. There are varied routes for different hiking abilities, so you’ll have no trouble getting there.</p> <p>Rialto Beach and Hall of the Mosses are both great day walks for confident hikers. For something more gentle, the Ruby Beach trail rewards a well deserved dip in the water.</p> <p>Size: 3,734 km²<br />Average accomodation: $191<br />Recommended time: A week<br />High season: May – Oct<br />Best time to go: April – May, July – Sept<br />Great for: All ages</p> <p><br /><strong>Yosemite National Park</strong></p> <p>With some of America’s most beautiful alpine tree views and rainbow skies, Yosemite is perfect for families who don’t want to travel too far off the beaten track. Nestled in the Western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, the National park covers 3027 km² and is accessible from San Francisco and Los Angeles.</p> <p>There are plenty of short hikes for families with younger kids, meaning less blisters and less grumbling.</p> <p>The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail is a magical (but wet) 1.6km round trip that rewards sensational views. It can be tackled easily in a day, with plenty of time to stop at the many exhibits and learn more about the natural and cultural history of the area.</p> <p>Head to the Swinging bridge after a long day of walking for a much deserved cool off in the swimming hole.</p> <p>For a more difficult hike, the Mist Trail continues to the Nevada falls and on a clear day boasts double rainbows. The hike is mostly stairs though, so bring plenty of water and a good pair of boots.</p> <p>If you’re driving, it’s worth getting up before sunrise for the 62 kilometres of scenic alpine views on Tioga Road.</p> <p>Size: 3027 km²<br />Average accomodation: $357<br />Recommended time: Three days is enough to do everything, but a week is great for those who want to take it slow.<br />High season: May – Sept<br />Best time to go: March – May, Sept – Oct<br />Great for: ages 7 and up</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Arches National Park</strong></p> <p>Arches, true to its name, is a mystical oasis of red rock formations. While you can take several days to see the park, it is perfect for those who have 2 or 3 hours to detour.</p> <p>The national park is located in Eastern Utah and stretches 310 square kilometres. The 29km drive through Arches is one of the most scenic in the US and can be done in about three hours. This allows for multiple stops throughout the journey with short walks to popular attractions along the way.</p> <p>Arches is great for beginners, or those who aren’t up for long and strenuous hikes.</p> <p>Stops such as Balanced Rock provide great half kilometre round trips that let you gauge how far the little ones can go. For a more difficult hike, Delicate Arch is a 4.6km back trail that features beautiful wild flowers and scenic views.</p> <p>If you are staying for longer, you can also try mountain biking, rafting or horseback riding.</p> <p>On the way home be sure to stop at Cisco for some creepy photos of the ghost town featured in Thelma &amp; Louise and Vanishing Point.</p> <p>Abandoned house in the ghost town of Cisco. Picture: Elizabethmaher / Shutterstock.<br />Size: 310.3 km²<br />Average accomodation: $121<br />Recommended time: A day<br />High season: May – Sept<br />Best time to go: April, Sept – November<br />Great for: Toddlers and young kids. Aches beginner trails are perfect for parents that may need to carry the little ones.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Zion National Park</strong></p> <p>Utah’s first national park is adored by little adventurers for it’s supernatural rock formations and vibrant mazes of water. Hike through 150 million years of history – Zion’s hanging valleys and canyons full of wildlife mean I spy with my little eye isn’t limited to the same three things.</p> <p>Zion is not a drive through park, but the Canyon Scenic Route provides spectacular sunset views on the way in and out.</p> <p>The parks free shuttle system loops Zion Canyon and drops you to the most popular areas, including Checkerboard Mesa and Weeping Rock.</p> <p>Family ranger programs are also free and specially designed to teach kids about wildlife and human history.</p> <p>The Emerald Pools trail guides you through three kilometres of fairytale forests, and as the name suggests, leads to caves full of glittering mermaid pools. For a more adventurous trail, The Narrows is a rewarding maze of rocky gorges and pink sandstone walls.</p> <p>Size: 593.3 km²<br />Average accomodation: $229<br />Recommended time: 5 – 7 days. Avid hikers may wish to stay longer and try the more strenuous hikes.<br />High season: April – October<br />Best time to go: April, Oct<br />Great for: ages 7 and up</p> <p><br /><strong>Yellowstone National Park</strong></p> <p>Yellowstone has always be known as the home of Yogi Bear. But America’s oldest national park is also brimming with hiking trails, heavenly waterfalls and forests full of natural wonders.</p> <p>The park is a diverse 8,991 km² spread of volcanic and alpine wilderness that stretches across three states. It’s scale means there is plenty to do with kids of all ages.</p> <p>Natural hot springs and thermal features fill the park, a great way to relax after a long day of walking or cycling. The Boiling River is a popular spot for bathing, or for something a little colder; you can try brave the Firehole River further upstream.</p> <p>The Grand Prismatic Springs are a must-do in Yellowstone. It’s well worth the wait for a parking spot at midday when the colours shine the brightest. The Upper Geyser Basin Trail is flat trail accessible for strollers, and you’re guaranteed to see geyser eruptions. See how many Byson you can spot in large range of wildlife at Lamar Valley, just outside of Yellowstone.</p>

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Top things to do in Dubai with your grandkids

<p>We asked a few Dubai locals what they think kids will love in their city. It turns out, Dubai has loads for them to do. You may need a whole week here to see it all.</p> <p><strong>The Big Bus Tour</strong></p> <p>If you’re after a fun but super easy way to get around the city, a Big Bus Tour is top of the list. Families can pick one of three routes through Dubai’s most famous landmarks and attractions. The red tour takes you through the city, the blue tour through the Marina and the green tour goes past the beaches. The red has English-speaking guides. On the blue and green tours, you will get a pre-recorded commentary in 12 languages.</p> <p>Choose red to see the Dubai Mall, the City Walk, the old Souk and the Dubai museum. Choose blue to see the Mall of the Emirates, the Marina Walk, Atlantis the Palm and Al Ittihad Park. Choose green to see Jumeirah Public Beach, Burj Al Arab, the Souk and the Mall of the Emirates, home to Ski Dubai.</p> <p>With a big bus ticket you can hop on and hop off at any attraction you like. The tickets also include various museum admissions, night tours and a dhow cruise.</p> <p><strong>Aquaventure</strong></p> <p>Just when we thought the Atlantis Dubai couldn’t get any better – we remembered there’s a waterpark. And it’s just about as insane as they get.</p> <p>The vertical drop slide Leap of Faith sees daredevils slide nine stories to floor. And because that just wasn’t scary enough, the slide plummets through an enclosure of sharks and rays. You can also try your luck on the ultimate Zoomerango, or on the Slitherine.</p> <p>And there’s no need to worry if waterslides aren’t your cup of tea. Aquaventure has over 700 metres of pristine private beach. Splashers Play Area is the perfect place for little madcaps, filled with mini slides, climbing frames and plenty of other water games and activities. There’s also a gentle wave pool and lazy river for those who would rather chill out.</p> <p><strong>Wild Wadi Waterpark</strong></p> <p>For those who can’t get enough of the waterpark madness, Wild Wadi is a similar but smaller – and slightly more relaxed – waterpark in Jumeirah. It’s the perfect place to escape the Dubai heat, this water extravaganza home to 17 water slides and three pools.</p> <p>The waterpark has over 100 kids rides, including inflatable raft slides and water rollercoasters. Splash in the man made beach and enjoy spectacular views of the Burj Al Arab. At Wild Wadi, you can try stand up or lie down surfing at the Wipeout Flowrider, currently one of few indoor surf experiences in the world.</p> <p>You can also chill out at Juha’s Dhow, a whopping 360 metres of lazy river for those after something more relaxed. Face the rapids at Flood River, or head to Dubai’s highest ride. Jumeirah Sceirah is a 33-metre vertical drop beginning in a launch chamber with a trap door fall.</p> <p><strong>Ski Dubai</strong></p> <p>At Ski Dubai, there’s always snow much to do.</p> <p>Transport from city chaos to winter wonderland in this replica world of European chalet style grounds and snowy pine tries. This indoor ski resort is a 22,500 metre snow paradise of jumps, slopes and chairlifts.</p> <p>Situated in Dubai’s Mall of Emirates, the ski area has fully functioning chairlifts and is set to a permanent -1 degree. Ski and snowboard instructors and slopes cater for all ages and abilities, so anyone can have a go. For little ski devils there are plenty of jumps, and beginners can enjoy multiple snow plow areas.</p> <p>There’s an ice train maze, a donut spin ride, snow bumpers and wall climbing. Join in the fun with bobsledding, tubing, tobogganing and even zorbing. There's also a penguin march at Ski Dubai every single day.</p> <p><strong>IFly Dubai</strong></p> <p>It’s 2019 and apparently, human flight is a reality. Dubai’s ultimate indoor skydiving experience IFly Dubai hovers you four metres in the air of a vertical glass tunnel.</p> <p>Indoor skydiving is said to be similar to bungee jumping, skydiving and base jumping. Instructors are there to guide you during the process, but it shouldn’t take you long to get the gist. The trick is to be gentle with your manoeuvres, as any movement is amplified in the tunnel.</p> <p>The unique design of IFly Dubai stands 10 metres tall and is surrounded by acrylic glass walls. IFly Dubai takes all flyers: beginners and pros.</p> <p><strong>Kidzania</strong></p> <p>Fast track your way into the exciting adult world in this child-sized city. With realistic uniform dress ups and guided tasks, the little ones can participate in fun activities and earn their wage.</p> <p>Kids aged 4 to 16 can learn all about jobs, money and the real world in this 7,000m2 scaled replica of a city. The mini world has over 40 role play activities to choose from.</p> <p>At Kidzania Dubai there’s a kid-sized hospital, bank and radio station, as well as a mini dental clinic and hospital. Star FM Radio Station produce radio shows and report news bulletins that play on the airwaves throughout the city for everyone to hear. Little ones can join in the fun and become a radio host. There’s also options to build a house on a construction site, do the weekly shopping or become a cashier at the supermarket. You can even ride safely home on the public bus. Become a dentists or healthcare practitioner, learn to bake at the Tiffany Cookie Station, or even get your driver’s license at the Emirates Driving Institute.</p> <p><strong>The Burj Khalifa</strong></p> <p>The Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure and building in the world. Also known as The Vertical City, the magnificent building stands at 828 metres tall. And you can visit the top.</p> <p>Conquer the 160 storeys to the Sky Lounge by elevator. Feel as if you’re flying across global landmarks with the specially designed projections inside. And when you reach the top, the projections become a reality.</p> <p>Spectacular 360 degree views of the magical city of Dubai can be seen from the top. You can enjoy a meal, or just sit back and take in the view.</p> <p>Packages begin at $38/child and $51/adult for a sunrise breakfast.</p> <p><strong>Arabian Adventures: Sandboarding</strong></p> <p>It’s time to attempt the ultimate Arabian survival challenge: sandboarding. Just like snowboarding – but on sand – this desert adventure activity is a 30 minute drive from the city. Feel the wind in your hair as you fly down the slopes; starting as a beginner and finishing as an absolute pro.</p> <p>Fly over sand dunes and hurtle down steep hills: strap in your feet and you’re set to go. For the less daring, sitting and lying on your board are still great fun.</p> <p>Sandboarding takes place in the morning, so there’s always a spectacular view as the sun rises across the rolling dunes. Packages also include camel strolls and 4-wheel-drive bashes through the Arabian desert.</p> <p><strong>Visit Old Dubai</strong></p> <p>Dubai is known for its modern architecture, skyscrapers and activity. But the prosperous city that we see today didn’t come from nowhere. The historic district known as Old Dubai is located on the Western side of the Dubai Creek and is covered in winding walkways, classical buildings and traditional eateries.</p> <p>It’s worth wandering the streets of the Al Bastakiya Quarter and admiring the traditional buildings of Dubai. You can also visit the XVA Gallery for some contemporary Middle Eastern art, or stop for lunch in a traditional Arabic Tea house.</p> <p>Old Dubai is also home to the Gold Souk; a traditional Arabian marketplace spread through covered walkways. Whether you’re trying to barter the price of gold jewellery or you’re just there to join the hustle and bustle – it’s well worth a visit. It’s also famous for the resident Guinness World Record holder, the largest gold ring in the world.</p> <p>Old’s Dubai’s spice marketplace the Spice Souk is still popular with the locals. Wander the lanes to find colourful spices and other souvenirs.</p> <p><strong>Visit a souk</strong></p> <p>Even if you don’t make it to Old Dubai, it is worth visiting a souk at some point on your trip. The traditional marketplaces are a great place to search for gold, spices, perfumes, textiles and more.</p> <p>The Dubai government legally assures the quality of all jewellery pieces, so shopping in comfort is a no brainer.</p> <p><strong>Take a water taxi</strong></p> <p>Dubai’s popularity comes at a cost – it’s hard to get around. Why not escape the traffic and catch a Water Taxi? With 43 stations spread across the city, it’s one of the easiest and most popular ways to travel.</p> <p>And it’s more than just a mode of transport. Speeding through the heart of the city by water offers sweeping skyline views and the opportunity to see landmarks up-close.</p> <p>The taxis also have reclining seats and LCD monitors, so there’s really no reason to say no.</p> <p><strong>Shopping at Dubai Mall</strong></p> <p>The world’s largest and most visited mall is located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa and is home to 1,200 retail stores, two anchor department stores and hundreds of food and beverage outlets. If shopping isn’t your thing, there is also an abundance of leisure and entertainment venues such as the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. In fact, there’s not much you can’t do.</p> <p>The 5.9 million square foot mall hosts fashion names such as Valentino, Gucci, Chanel and Ralph Lauren.</p> <p>The world’s largest aquarium and aquatic zoo live here, complete with a 270-degree fish tank tunnel to walk through.</p> <p>The mall is also home to the indoor Dubai fountain – the most photographed spot in the mall. Stop by The Village, which features an open roof in the winter months to offer an outdoor shopping experience.</p> <p>Don’t miss the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink, the mini world ‘edutainment’ concept Kidzania, and the giant indoor cinema complex.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://familytravel.com.au/kids-dubai-tips/"><span class="s1">Family Travel</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Which Australian destinations lose, and which may win, without international tourism

<p>But it seems increasingly likely international borders will remain largely closed until at least mid-2021. The mothballing plans of airlines such as Qantas further suggest international travel will take years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.</p> <p>For any tourist attraction primarily geared to international visitors, and for the hotels, restaurants and shops that cater to that tourist traffic, this spells trouble.</p> <p>In 2019 more than 9 million international tourists injected an estimated A$47 billion into the Australian economy.</p> <p>On the other hand, local destinations that primarily attract local tourists could be in for boom times, attracting those who might otherwise have gone overseas. (In 2018-19, more than 10 million did so, spending A$65 billion in the process.)</p> <p>Tourism, though, is not a zero-sum game. Not all of the money that might have been spent overseas will necessarily be spent on a local holiday. Even if it was, and the boom in domestic tourism more than made up for the loss of international tourists, the impact would be different across cities and locations.</p> <p>That’s because local and foreign tourists tend to opt for different holiday experiences. International visitors are more attracted to the sights of Sydney and Melbourne, and the tourist hot spots of Queensland. Locals disproportionately want to get away from the city and avoid the tourist traps, relaxing in the country or on the coast.</p> <p><strong>Measuring international attraction</strong></p> <p>To get a better sense of how closed international borders will affect local economies, we calculated locations’ reliance on international tourists using data distilled from TripAdvisor, a popular travel booking and review website.</p> <p>As a proxy for how many foreigners visit (and then review) a location relative to the number of domestic visitors, we looked at the number of reviews written in English relative to other languages.</p> <p>Obviously this is an imperfect measure. A lot of foreign visitors come from New Zealand, Britain and Ireland, for example. Non-English speakers might use a different platform entirely. Nonetheless the results give us a basis to see where the absence of international tourists will likely be felt the hardest.</p> <p>Using the data from TripAdvisor, the following chart shows the relative importance of tourism to local economies as well as the relative importance of international tourists.</p> <p>At a glance, Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, stands out as the having the most to lose, due the relative importance of tourism, and international tourists, to its economy.</p> <p>Sydney attracts the greatest proportion of foreign visitors, but is less dependent on tourism.</p> <p>Regional towns like Tamworth in NSW and Bendigo in Victoria (bottom left) should be least affected.</p> <p><strong>The biggest losers</strong></p> <p>About two-thirds of all international passengers touch down in Sydney and Melbourne. Our data from Tripadvisor also suggests this is where foreign visitors spend most of their time and money.</p> <p>In Sydney the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach are magnets for foreign tourists. Melbourne has the Eureka Skydeck and its Royal Botantic Gardens. Any business attached to the traffic for these attractions will face a tough year ahead.</p> <p>The only upside is the big cities have more diverse labour markets. So those losing tourism jobs in these areas have a slightly better chance of finding work elsewhere.</p> <p>The bigger risk comes to Cairns and other smaller tourist hubs with star attractions that attract a large flow of international tourists. For many businesses in these local economies a closed border could be an existential challenge.</p> <p><strong>The potential winners</strong></p> <p>While our results are more robust for predicting where lost international tourism will hurt most, we can also see some possibilities of boom times for destinations that provide the experience local tourists are seeking.</p> <p>Two examples are Echuca in Victoria and Busselton in Western Australia. These are very different towns. Echuca is an historic inland town on the Murray River often associated with paddle steamers. Busselton is a fishing town south of Perth long associated with lazy beach holidays.</p> <p>Locations offering the more relaxed “getaway” experience might find their bookings overflowing this holiday season as Australians unable to visit Barcelona or Bali look to holiday closer to home.</p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/which-australian-destinations-lose-and-which-may-win-without-international-tourism-146395">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Meghan Markle hits out: "It's not controversial"

<p>Meghan Markle has gracefully responded to criticism over her political views, and said she is no stranger to online misinformation.</p> <p>The royal, 39, spoke at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit via video link, where she explained that her focus lately had been her family and trying to block out “the noise”.</p> <p>“For me, it’s been amazing to spend time with my husband and watch our little one (son Archie) grow, and that’s where our attention has been,” she said.</p> <p>“In addition to, of course, how we can be a part of the change of energy that so many people are craving right now and whatever we can do to help in that capacity.”</p> <p>The Duchess of Sussex responded to the cutting criticism on her public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and her calls for people to vote in the US election.</p> <p>The royal family have a strict rule of not involving themselves in politics and government elections, although royal members do not always follow that guideline.</p> <p>“If you look back at anything that I’ve said, it’s really interesting because what ends up being inflammatory it seems is people’s interpretations of it,” Meghan said.</p> <p>“But if you listen to what I actually say, it’s not controversial.</p> <p>“And actually some of it is just reactive to things that haven’t happened, which – in some ways – I think you have to have a sense of humour about it, even though there is quite a lot of gravity and there can be a lot of danger in a misinterpretation of something that was never there to begin with.”</p> <p>The duchess advised those watching the summit to “focus on living a purpose-driven life”.</p> <p><span>She said: “Don’t listen to the noise.”</span></p> <p>The ex-<em>Suits</em> star spoke at the summit in a 15-minute slot with journalist Ellen McGirt.</p> <p>The exclusive online-only conference costs $A18,000 to attend.</p> <p>Meghan also spoke about the Sussexes’ non-profit organisation Archewell, which she says aims to “ensure that we are helping foster healthy positive communities – online and off”.</p> <p>“To see how you are propagating hate, whether passively or actively; to see how you are clicking on things that are contributing to an industry that is really toxic for so many of us, especially as parents,” the royal explained.</p> <p>“We have got to all put our stock in something that is true. And we all need to have reliable media and news sources that are telling us the truth. Without that, I don’t know where it leaves us.”</p> <p>Meghan said people should not contribute to or “click on” misinformation online.</p> <p>“And when you know something is wrong, reporting it, talking about it, ensuring that the facts are getting out there … I think that is one clear tangible thing that everyone could be doing,” she said.</p>

International Travel

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Trump's vicious take on Meghan Markle

<p>US President Donald Trump has slammed the Duchess of Sussex for rallying behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.</p> <p>“I’m not a fan of hers,” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing.</p> <p>“And I would say this — and she probably has heard that — but I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he’s gonna need it.”</p> <p>Meghan, who was born in Los Angeles, married Harry in 2018 before receiving extreme amounts of backlash for the January #MegExit, in which the couple decided to step back from their royal duties to move to Canada, and then to the US.</p> <p>The power duo effectively endorsed Joe Biden in a recent video clip filmed for Time magazine.</p> <p>Harry said, “it’s time to not only reflect, but act.”</p> <p>“This election I’m not going to be able to vote here in the US, but many of you may not know that I haven’t been able to vote in the UK my entire life. As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity,” Harry said.</p> <p>Meghan was far more blunt, saying: “We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is voter registration day. Every four years, we’re told the same thing, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.”</p> <p>“Your voice is a reminder that you matter,” she said. “Because you do and you deserve to be heard.”</p> <p>British royals traditionally do not vote in their own county’s elections to demonstrate neutrality.</p> <p>Trump has met with Queen Elizabeth II three times during his presidency, and often praises the monarch.</p> <p>But this year, he took to Twitter to declare Prince Harry would not be getting taxpayer-funded security in the US.</p> <p>“I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen &amp; the United Kingdom,” Trump tweeted in March. “It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada. Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the US will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”</p>

International Travel

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Six free (or super cheap) things to do in Paris with your grandkids

<p><strong>Jardin Du Luxembourg – Luxembourg Gardens</strong></p> <p>At face value Jardin du Luxembourg seems like another one of mum’s boring ideas of fun. But hidden deep in its many gardens is a kids wonderland. The perfect place to let off some steam. And it’s free.</p> <p>The park is in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, a ten-minute walk from the <strong>Pantheon</strong>. It's adored all year round by Parisian kids for its endless activities and bustle. Puppet shows, toy boats and its very own lolly shop – this park has it all.</p> <p>Keep exploring to find the forgotten apple orchard and <strong>Orangerie</strong>. Hours of fun can be had at one of the six chess tables, or on the carousel. If you’re there in summer you might even score a real pony ride.</p> <p><strong>Parc De Jeux</strong> is Jardin du Luxembourg’s ultimate kids play park, and it has perimeter fences so there’s no fear of runaway toddlers. The multi-level forts, giant tunnel slides and climbing nets are all colour coded for different age groups. But no adult slides – sorry Dad.</p> <p>Older kids flock to the park after school hours to play basketball, martial arts and tennis. You can try your luck at <strong>Jeu de paume</strong>, a 250-year-old version of tennis played without racquets. The former Olympic sport is still played competitively, and the French championships are held right here.</p> <p>The parents might even be able to escape long enough for a coffee and romantic walk around the forgotten apple orchard. But strictly no kissing. Gross.</p> <p>They can even catch a puppet show at the mini-theatre next door. Oh, wait – that’s for kids too.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 3 to 15<br /><strong>Price:</strong> Free. The play park is $3. Pony rides are $8.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Métropolitain de Paris – The Metro</strong></p> <p>The Paris Metro is one of the oldest, largest and most efficient subways in the world. It still maintains its original Art Nouveau entrances and architecture and is a great example of Paris’ original aesthetics. It’s also a great chance to people watch, and get around the city.</p> <p>Every corner of Paris is full of quaint French bistros and winding cobbled streets, and all of the 303 stations will get you there. The trains have clear signage, giving the kids an opportunity to navigate.</p> <p>Many of the larger stations are covered in art and elaborate tiling, so it helps to plan your route beforehand. Louvre-Rivoli, Concorde, Varenne, and Cluny-La Sorbonne are a couple of the stations worth checking out.</p> <p>Be careful not to get caught up in rush hour. The Paris Metro is also one of the busiest.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 4 and up. Limited access for strollers.<br /><strong>Price:</strong> $3/ticket. A carnet (ten tickets) is $23.<br />You can also purchase unlimited metro travel passes that also include buses and trains to airports, Disneyland and Château de Versailles at all stations. More information on the RATP website.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Champs De Mars – Field of Mars</strong></p> <p>The Eiffel Tour is beautiful from the top – but when you’re on it, you can’t see it. The Champs de Mars gardens below are the perfect place for a picnic with a view. It’s free, and you don’t have to stand in a queue.</p> <p>These sunny gardens are delightful on summer days, and at night you can rug up and sit under the stars. Each night, for 5 minutes on the hour, the <strong>Eiffel Tower</strong> is lit up with sparkles that beam over Paris.</p> <p>Why not head to one of Paris’ many fresh food markets and make your own French meal? Fresh baguettes and cheese cost next to nothing for an easy lunch. The kids can have a go at reading all the French labels to find their favourite foods in the supermarché.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> All ages<br /><strong>Price:</strong> Free</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Le Marais – The Marsh</strong></p> <p>Le Marais is constantly reinventing itself. Originally the aristocratic district, this area is now home to the vibrant youth culture in Paris. It’s cobblestone streets are covered in ivy and lined with funky boutiques, galleries and bistros.</p> <p>You can get lost in groovy second-hand stores <strong>Free P Star</strong> and <strong>Kilo Shop</strong>, where leather jackets can be found for as little as $2. Stop for some coffee and cake at <strong>Lily of the Valley</strong>, or even give baking a go with their pastry lessons.</p> <p>One of Le Marais’ hidden gems is <strong>59 Rivoli</strong>. The creative art space stands out as a unique bubble of creativity in the area’s traditional streets. The staircase connecting the galleries multiple levels is painted from floor to ceiling: each floor a maze of sketches and canvas. You can usually catch the 20 permanent artists at work in the studio space, surrounded by their own creations.</p> <p><strong>Great for: Teens<br />Price: Free</strong></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Musee D’Art Moderne – The Paris Museum of Modern Art</strong></p> <p>While Paris is full of classic art galleries and museums, traditional portraits and landscapes may not be number one for kids. The Musee d’Art Moderne offers a welcome change.</p> <p>The gallery is constantly changing its exhibitions, so there is something for everyone. Especially under 18s, who get in free. The museum also offers visual creation workshops for families, and yoga and wutao classes for something more calming. There’s even a variation for parents with bubs under 8 months.</p> <p>It might be worth checking which artworks the kids are looking at in school because chances are; they’re in Paris. The city has plenty of galleries and museums, and on the first Sunday of every month, they are all free.</p> <p><strong>Great for:</strong> Ages 7 and up<br /><strong>Price:</strong> All museums are are free on the first Sunday of every month. Musee d’Art Moderne’s permanent exhibitions are free. Temporary exhibitions are free for kids and $8 – 20 for adults.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Shakespeare &amp; Company – Bookstore</strong></p> <p>If you hop off the Metro at <strong>Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame</strong>, this stretch of the <strong>Steine</strong> in the 4th arrondissement has plenty of hustle and bustle. Shakespeare &amp; Company is an enchanting, independent bookstore on the banks of the river, and all the books are written in English.</p> <p>When it opened in the 17th Century, writers and artists were welcomed to sleep among the bookshelves in exchange for a couple of hours work in the shop. It’s estimated that over 30,000 of the named ‘tumbleweeds’ have stayed a night.</p> <p>The bookstore offers a great variety, including picture books and kids novels. See if you can find <strong>Aggie</strong>, the friendly bookshop cat who is usually in her chair on the second floor.</p> <p>The store hosts one free literary event a week. Baked treats, fresh juices and coffee can all be found at the <strong>Shakespeare and Company Cafe</strong>, located next door.</p> <p>Remember to head over the <strong>Seine</strong> and tick off the <strong>Notre-Dame</strong> when you have a moment – it’s free. When you’re finished, wander through the gardens of <strong>City Park</strong> and head towards the <strong>Maubert Mutualité</strong> market for some fresh food.</p>

International Travel

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How the decline in Chinese tourists around the world has hit the luxury sector

<p>Large groups of Chinese visitors have become a pillar of the global tourism industry. Coronavirus has not only put paid to this enormous source of income for major cities and sights around the world, it is having a massive knock-on effect for the luxury goods business.</p> <p>For any tourist, buying souvenirs is a key part of the holiday experience. They might be trinkets such as key rings or fridge magnets, a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I ❤ NY” or a Russian matryoshka doll. But a significant number of Chinese tourists prefer to spend large sums on luxury items, such as designer clothes and accessories, when they travel overseas.</p> <p>Roughly one-third of global spending on luxury goods was credited <a href="https://www.voguebusiness.com/consumers/chinese-consumers-luxury-purchases-growth-bain">to Chinese consumers in 2018</a>. Consultants at Bain predict this <a href="https://jingdaily.com/bain-company-chinese-consumers-will-make-up-half-of-global-luxury-purchases-by-2025/">to rise to 50% by 2025</a>. Before the coronavirus pandemic, nearly all of this £85 billion worth of spending (92%) was done <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/china/how%20young%20chinese%20consumers%20are%20reshaping%20global%20luxury/mckinsey-china-luxury-report-2019-how-young-chinese-consumers-are-reshaping-global-luxury.ashx">outside the Chinese mainland</a> .</p> <p>What’s more, most of this overseas shopping is done by women between the ages of 19 and 29, according to a 2018 survey of <a href="http://223.27.21.115/~allegiantmediaco/wp-content/uploads/Documents/CN-Travel-Shopper-White-Paper-Final.pdf">over 750 million Chinese people</a>. From our interviews <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/TR-08-2019-0335/full/html">with many of these women</a>, it seems clear that as the Chinese economy recovers from coronavirus they will return to spending. Where they are able to travel and spend will have a big impact on economic recoveries from the pandemic.</p> <p><strong>The awakened generation</strong></p> <p>In China, demographic cohorts are defined by decades. Rather than millennials or generation Z, in China it is the post-90s generation (those born in the 1990s) that have become the core driver of growth for many industries, including luxury, leisure and travel retail.</p> <p>China’s post-90s generation are the direct beneficiaries of the country’s economic reform that began in the 1980s, which opened up the Chinese market to the rest of the world and spurred enormous economic growth through the 1990s to today. Girls, in particular, benefited from growing up at a time when China was more connected with the rest of the world and experienced significant cultural changes, including a decline in the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10834-011-9277-9">historic preference for sons</a>. The one-child policy played a part in this, too.</p> <p>Compared with previous generations, which are more family-centred and self-effacing, post-90s Chinese women are self-confident, independent and well-educated. They are also keen to express themselves through consumerism. This was evident in the conversations we had with high-spending young women. For them, buying luxury goods was a key part of their identity and self-expression. When travelling, it was one of the most important parts of their holiday, if not the actual purpose for their trip.</p> <p>Around the world, people buy and display luxury goods – from fancy cars to expensive watches and handbags – as status symbols. This is especially the case for the post-90s Chinese woman who seeks to distinguish herself from others in various ways. Vivian*, who’s 30, has a master’s degree and works in finance, told us:</p> <p><em>Buying luxury branded products is very personal. It’s my handbag. I do not want to look like everyone else.</em></p> <p>Travelling further afield to Europe is a way to buy luxury goods that distinguish themselves from their peers, as different designs are available to those in China. As well as the premium shopping experience, the people we spoke to repeatedly talked about the importance of having unique items. Ava, a 23-year-old student, said:</p> <p><em>Those special designs somehow are much more beautiful than those basic items that are available everywhere [in China]. They also reflect my lifestyle as a well-travelled person. When I carry it around, people know I am special.</em></p> <p>We also found that for the post-90s Chinese woman who travels abroad, buying designer items in the country where they originated from was seen as part of the authentic experience. As Emma, who is 23 and works in fashion, put it:</p> <p><em>Buying handbags in Paris makes me feel like a French lady. It’s a fun and authentic experience. It is a very different experience to purchasing them in Shenzhen.</em></p> <p><strong>‘Revenge spending’</strong></p> <p>The coronavirus pandemic has not reduced this appetite among China’s wealthy post-90s generation to travel and spend. A survey from <a href="https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-week/coronavirus-reshaping-the-luxury-market/">April this year found</a> that almost 60% of this group who had delayed their purchase plans would return to spending once the outbreak was over in China. And a number of luxury businesses reported a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/11/business/global-luxury-sales-china-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html">big rise in spending</a> following the easing of lockdown restrictions in China, including jewellery brand Tiffany and fashion house Burberry.</p> <p>While overseas travel restrictions will significantly reduce the outbound tourist market for the time being, many brands will be hoping for a similar bout of so-called <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/13/revenge-spending-by-the-rich-could-drive-luxury-recovery.html">“revenge spending”</a>, as people make up for the time spent cooped up in lockdown.</p> <p>Having been the first to be hit by coronavirus, China is the first major economy to show a recovery. And as the world’s largest (and still growing) source of travellers and luxury shoppers, China will be the engine of the post-pandemic recovery for both these sectors. Both should be aware of what motivates this younger generation to spend in order to tap into it. Growing tension between the west and China, along with struggles to contain the pandemic in the west, may see other Asian countries as the first to benefit from outbound Chinese tourists.</p> <p>*<em>Names have been changed.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-decline-in-chinese-tourists-around-the-world-has-hit-the-luxury-sector-145267">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Five ways to make your holidays more sustainable

<p>COVID-19 has resulted in the most severe disruption to the global tourism industry in modern times. And although many countries have now reopened to visitors from overseas, the economic impact is likely to be felt for many years.</p> <p>Prior to the pandemic, awareness had been growing regarding the environmental sustainability of tourism. From over-consumption of precious resources to the destructive impact on natural habitats, tourism can put enormous strains on destination communities.</p> <p>Over-tourism has also been highlighted as an issue in many places. The Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Mount Everest, Majorca, Barcelona and Venice have all felt the affects.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg’s climate-change activism has added the term “flight shame” to our vocabulary. Her work has encouraged airlines to engage in tree planting or invest in wind farms to offset their carbon emissions, and travellers to think before they fly.</p> <p>As global restrictions begin to ease, now is a good time to think radically about the purpose of tourism and the way we all travel. This is a chance to reset everything we know – and not simply return to business as usual.</p> <p>Obviously, one of the difficulties is that many of us are used to going wherever we want, whenever we want – which is not sustainable. But a few changes to our travel plans can play a key role in shaping the future of the travel industry.</p> <p>Below are five suggestions to help you travel in a more purposeful way.</p> <p> </p> <ol> <li><strong> Choose carefully</strong></li> </ol> <p>Carefully consider your desired destination and avoid places impacted by over-tourism. Visiting during off-peak seasons will likely save you money and enhance your overall experience - and let you skip the queues.</p> <p>It’s also worth thinking about a different type of “holiday” or travel experience. You could volunteer for a local NGO or consider travel opportunities that support marginalised groups, for example.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong> Travel slowly</strong></li> </ol> <p>Travel like Greta to minimise your environmental impact. Travel less for longer, swapping the quantity of experiences for quality. Instead of taking three separate long weekends, why not take just one two-week holiday.</p> <p>Slow travel is a mindset. Rather than pursuing Instagram-worthy photos and trying to squeeze as many attractions into your trip as possible, leave your phone at home and explore each destination at your own pace.</p> <p>Keeping sustainability in mind, it’s also worth considering opportunities that allow you to slowly experience a certain city, country or region while supporting local projects. Try a walking tour that supports previously marginalised locals or rent a bike with purpose and help to fund educational programmes for local students.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong> Plan how you spend</strong></li> </ol> <p>Wherever you go, make sure you seek out local initiatives including local guides and local accommodation providers. This will make sure your money goes directly to people who will benefit from your support.</p> <p>Sites such as Good Travel list businesses that prioritise environmental action and support local communities. You can also find out about locally made products sold at local businesses employing local people. This helps to ensure positive impacts remain in the community.</p> <p>And if you’re thinking of heading to Africa, Fair trade tourism is also a great resource to find out about businesses recognised for promoting responsible practices. Certified businesses range from eco-lodges, resorts, safaris, educational centres, township tours, golf clubs and cruises – so there are a lot of different options to choose from.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong> Eat like a local</strong></li> </ol> <p>Food accounts for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, so it lies at the heart of tackling climate change, reducing water stress, pollution and restoring land.</p> <p>There are many ways to minimise your food miles when you travel. For a start, avoid eating at restaurant chains and instead, try to eat like a local. Visit markets, local neighbourhoods or local vendors for your foodie needs.</p> <p>You could even check out a food tour or meal-sharing host. Traveling Spoon has a whole host of online and in-person cooking classes with locals from around the world. Eating locally supports local jobs and can also teach you about new cuisines.</p> <p> </p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong> Immerse yourself</strong></li> </ol> <p>An immersive type of travel prioritises people over places and avoids overcrowded spaces. This allows you to make real connections and can also help you gain insights about local traditions, cultures and history. For example, you could go trekking with a local guide, enrol in a language course or attend a local festival or event.</p> <p>Ultimately, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to rethink and act radically and really consider the actual purpose of tourism. This is not only important from an environmental perspective, but travelling in a more purposeful way is more likely to help support local people in destination communities. And it also helps to contribute to a future where tourism is less harmful to people, places and the planet.</p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-ways-to-make-your-holidays-more-sustainable-143379">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel