International Travel

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Outrage over controversial new airport rule

<p>Travellers around the world have promised to boycott New Zealand after a controversial new airport rule was revealed where passengers who refuse to give their digital device passwords to authorities will be fined.</p> <p>The law, which comes under New Zealand’s Customs and Excise Act 2018, will be in motion starting from this week, and will give customs officials the right to demand private information such as passwords, PINs and encryption keys to unlock devices and conduct “digital strip searches.”</p> <p>Those who fail to issue their private passwords will be fined up to $NZ5000 and could face the threat of prosecution and the confiscation of their device.</p> <p>In the past, customs officials were able to stop travellers at the border to search their devices, but the law didn’t force those coming into the country to provide their passwords.</p> <p>“We’re not aware of any other country that has legislated for the potential of a penalty to be applied if people do not divulge their passwords,” said New Zealand customs spokesman Terry Brown.</p> <p>Though despite the invasion of privacy, customs will not have access to the cloud.</p> <p>“It is a file-by-file (search) on your phone. We’re not going into ‘the Cloud’,” Mr Brown told <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/travellers-refusing-hand-over-phone-password-airport-now-face-5000-customs-fine" target="_blank">NZTV</a>.</em></p> <p>“We’ll examine your phone while it’s on flight mode.”</p> <p>For officials to demand private information, they must have a “reasonable cause to suspect” the owner or their device. If the suspicions are deemed fair, then the data on the device may be copied and reviewed.</p> <p>New Zealand border officials undertook the task of conducting a preliminary search on 537 devices last year.</p> <p>“The shift from paper-based systems to electronic systems has meant that the majority of prohibited material and documents are now stored electronically,” a New Zealand Customs spokeswoman said.</p> <p>But travellers and civil liberties advocates have not taken well to the new law, as the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties stated it was a “grave invasion of personal privacy for both the person who owns the device and the people they have communicated with.”</p> <p>“Modern smartphones contain a large amount of highly sensitive private information including emails, letters, medical records, personal photos, and very personal photos,” said chairman Thomas Beagle in a statement.</p> <p>“The reality of this law is that it gives Customs the power to take and force the unlock of people’s smartphones without justification or appeal – and this is exactly what Customs has always wanted.”</p> <p>Social media users were also outraged as many posted about how they refuse to go to New Zealand while the law is in place.</p> <p>“Wow, taking New Zealand from my bucket list,” tweeted one person.</p> <p>“What about those who have confidential information on their devices? New Zealand is trash,” another wrote.</p> <p>One person said: “So now, you and I need to hand over all our data, while professional or suitably motivated wrongdoers can just upload all stuff to the Cloud and buy a new phone after crossing the border. Am I the only one seeing the police state in this? Not travelling to NZ soon.”</p> <p>But while there were many frustrated people, there were also those who saw the reasoning behind the tough new law.</p> <p>“[It’s] people being detained/searched on suspicious activity. It’s not the average traveller,” tweeted one user.</p> <p>“If they then refuse to give the PIN to a device which is believed to have helped in dodgy behaviour they will be fined. They still are able to say no, they just pay the fine.”</p> <p>What do you think of this controversial new airport law? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

International Travel

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Just like us! Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan spotted catching public transport

<p>The Duchess of Sussex sent social media into a frenzy after she was snapped closing her own car door during her first solo appearance this week.</p> <p>And now, it seems that her normalcy is rubbing off on husband Prince Harry, with the couple spotted catching the train from an event at Loughborough University on Monday.</p> <p>Taking to Twitter to share her excitement, one fan posted a video of the Duke and Duchess departing a train from Loughborough station.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Bizarrely sharing my train with Harry &amp; Meghan today 🤷‍♂️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LoughboroughToLeicester?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LoughboroughToLeicester</a> <a href="https://t.co/wStziRomMU">pic.twitter.com/wStziRomMU</a></p> — Jonny Norton (@JonnyNorton_) <a href="https://twitter.com/JonnyNorton_/status/1044265066886041603?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">24 September 2018</a></blockquote> <p>“Bizarrely sharing my train with Harry &amp; Meghan today,” Twitter user Jonny Norton captioned the video.</p> <p>The royal pair were seen holding hands as they walked through the station, surrounded by minders and security.</p> <p>But it’s not the first time the couple have travelled by public transport to an event. The couple also caught a train to their first official visit in Cardiff – which ended up being delayed.</p> <p>“Most of you have freezing cold hands! We’re very sorry we’re late. Blame the trains!” Harry apologised when they turned up an hour late.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also been seen getting on the train on a number of occasions, while Meghan was fortunate enough to score a ride on Queen Elizabeth’s luxurious private train.</p> <p>The Duchess of Sussex travelled overnight with the 92-year-old monarch to their first joint engagement together in Cheshire in June. </p>

International Travel

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8 wildly underrated cities in Europe

<p>Sometimes it’s the less popular locales that prove the most spectacular holiday spots of them all.</p> <p><strong>1. Split, Croatia</strong></p> <p>Known for fine dining, excellent shopping and loads of bars to choose from, Split is also home to Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and formerly a retirement palace built for the Emperor Diocletian around the year 300 CE. If that weren’t enough reason to book your trip to Split right now, then the captivating view of the Adriatic from this coastal town will surely do the trick.</p> <p><strong>2. Vézelay, France</strong></p> <p>Before you book your ticket to Paris, consider Vézelay. Built in the 11th century, this ancient city in Burgundy is known for its vineyards, and the famous Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. Built on a hilltop, the town is nothing short of picturesque, with fine wine, inspiring architecture and beautiful landscapes.</p> <p><strong>3. Gibraltar</strong></p> <p>The imposing landscape will inspire awe in even the most jaded traveller. Historically, Phoenicians were thought to be the first inhabitants of Gibraltar (around 950 BCE), but new evidence suggests that Neanderthals were here as far back as 28,000 BCE. The Rock of Gibraltar, off Spain’s south coast, is its only official landmark, but the densely populated city is so rich in its own unique culture and history that it never disappoints.</p> <p><strong>4. Porto, Portugal</strong></p> <p>If the name of this city reminds you of wine, your head is in the right place: this is indeed the place where port wine originated. Built during Roman times, this beautiful port city’s architecture, landscapes and history will certainly impress. Soak in the beauty with a glass of the finest wine and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect vacation.</p> <p><strong>5. Bruges, Belgium</strong></p> <p>This city deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Bruges still has most of its historic architecture intact, preserved better than any other mediaeval city in the world. With its living history, breathtaking landscapes, canals, Flemish art treasures and, of course, world-renowned chocolate, a trip to Bruges is one you won’t regret.</p> <p><strong>6. Prague, Czech Republic</strong></p> <p>The historical capital of Bohemia, Prague, is rich in culture, history and magnificent architecture, both modern and old. Churches, cathedrals and other monumental buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras dot the city, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.</p> <p><strong>7. Dresden, Germany</strong></p> <p>The city of Dresden was largely destroyed during World War II. Since then, the elegant baroque city has been faithfully rebuilt. Home to some of Germany’s largest universities, 50 museums and 60 galleries, with a 700-year tradition of fine music, the city is picture-perfect. In warm weather, enjoy the food and camaraderie in the biergartens – you don’t need to be a drinker as they are family friendly.</p> <p><strong>8. Ferrara, Italy</strong></p> <p>Located in Northern Italy, Ferrara has nearly nine kilometres of Renaissance walls surrounding a city filled with immense cathedrals and castles that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Home to the powerful Este family, its artists and court, much of the city’s original planning and structure is brilliantly preserved, garnering it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.</p> <p><br /><em>Written by Maria Barillaro. This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/8-Wildly-Underrated-Cities-in-Europe">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p> </p> <p><img src="/media/7820640/1.png" style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;"/></p>

International Travel

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8 magical reasons to visit Ireland

<p><strong>1. Blarney Castle</strong></p> <p>In County Cork, it is famous for the Blarney Stone – kiss it for the gift of eternal eloquence, legend says. Visitors literally bend over backwards to smooch this fabled rock set into the castle’s wall. The 15th-century castle also offers gardens, caves and battlement views.</p> <p><strong>2. The Guinness Storehouse</strong></p> <p>At the St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin welcomes over a million visitors each year to the on-site stout-producing plant. The Guinness Storehouse gives a behind the scenes look into the brewing process – over three million pints are brewed here daily. At the end of the brewery tour, visitors can relax with a pint while taking in the stunning 360-degree views of Dublin from the Gravity Bar.</p> <p><strong>3. Brú na Bóinne in County Meath</strong></p> <p>Is a Neolithic site of henges, standing stones and burial chambers, built about 3200 BC. Immensely popular year-round, Brú na Bóinne gets extra attention during winter solstice when, for a few dawns in late December, a beam of sunlight pierces a mysterious opening in one passage tomb, Newgrange, illuminating its chamber for a few minutes. So great is the demand to see the winter solstice sunrise at Newgrange that an annual lottery is held for chamber access.</p> <p><strong>4. The Rock of Cashel</strong></p> <p>(Or St Patrick’s Rock) in County Tipperary dates to the 12th and 13th centuries. The formidable fortress boasts a round tower, cathedral and chapel with priceless Celtic art and medieval architecture. In the fifth century, legend has it that St Patrick converted Aengus, the King of Munster, to Christianity at this very spot.</p> <p><strong>5. Experience the Festivals</strong></p> <p>From St Patrick’s Day to Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland has hundreds of cultural celebrations every year. The most anticipated is St Patrick’s Festival (around St Patrick’s Day, March 17), when parades and a carnival atmosphere will leave you spellbound.</p> <p><strong>6. Visit Dublin</strong></p> <p>The capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin buzzes with lively pubs, beautiful architecture and fine museums. A Dublin Pass will gain you entry to more than 30 top Dublin attractions, plus discounts for restaurants, shops, theatre, tours and transportation (and a free guidebook).</p> <p><strong>7. Revel in Irish Folklore</strong></p> <p>The World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway on the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland was, legend says, built by a giant, Fionn Mac Cumhail (Finn McCool), to keep his feet dry while walking to Scotland. Geologists suggest volcanic activity 60 million years ago created the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that amaze visitors today.</p> <p><strong>8. Dine on Irish Cuisine</strong></p> <p>Traditional dishes such as Irish stew, soda bread, farmhouse cheese, and colcannon (cabbage/kale and potatoes) are still on the menu, but the new wave of Irish cooking focuses on fresh local ingredients and the catch of the day. Seafood options include wild Atlantic salmon, oysters, scallops and lobster, Dublin Bay prawns, chargrilled swordfish and grilled sole. The Galway International Oyster &amp; Seafood Festival celebrates this bounty every September.</p> <p><em>Written by Jackie Middleton. This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/8-Magical-Reasons-to-Visit-Ireland">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img src="/media/7820640/1.png" style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;"/></p>

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Cathay Pacific's embarrassing blunder

<p>Whoever is in charge of branding Cathay Pacific Airways should probably look into spell check after the award-winning airline let one of its new jets fly the skies with the name “Cathay Paciic” painted on its side.</p> <p>The airline was immediately contacted after travellers at Hong Kong International Airport spotted the sign-writer's blunder.</p> <p>Airline officials responded to the mishap with good humour.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Oops this special livery won’t last long! She’s going back to the shop!<br />(Source: HKADB) <a href="https://t.co/20SRQpKXET">pic.twitter.com/20SRQpKXET</a></p> — Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) <a href="https://twitter.com/cathaypacific/status/1042252802917953536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 September 2018</a></blockquote> <p>“Oops … She’s going back to the shop!” a social media staffer from the company joked on Twitter.</p> <p>The users were quick to respond, gathering mixed reactions of amazement and amusement.</p> <p>While some people found the mistake to be hilarious, others used the example to highlight declining standards across the industry.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Fixed it. <a href="https://t.co/c8NtP9asRs">pic.twitter.com/c8NtP9asRs</a></p> — Willie Montgomery (@shoxdude) <a href="https://twitter.com/shoxdude/status/1042443023769104384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 September 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">If they can get this obviously wrong makes you wonder about the more important engineering on the plane!</p> — HK Phil (@london_phil09) <a href="https://twitter.com/london_phil09/status/1042253263578382336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 September 2018</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">No one gives a F anymore, not even the painters!</p> — -.. . .- -. (@thesmartpirate) <a href="https://twitter.com/thesmartpirate/status/1042263511756361729?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 September 2018</a></blockquote> <p>While the airline defended its error by stating it was a simple and genuine oversight, many weren’t buying it.</p> <p>“The spacing is too on-point for a mishap,” an engineer for Haeco, a sister company of the airline, told the<em> <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.scmp.com/frontpage/international" target="_blank">South China Morning Post</a>.</em></p> <p>“There should be a blank gap in between letters if it was a real mistake I think.”</p>

International Travel

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The votes are in: Experience the world’s best places

<p>Time magazine recently released their inaugural list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places, highlighting new and newly relevant destinations.</p> <p>Editors and correspondents from around the world as well as industry experts came up with nominations across a wide variety of categories, such as museums, bars, restaurants and hotels.</p> <p>The nominees were then assessed for quality, originality, innovation, sustainability and influence.</p> <p>The winners on the diverse list are spread across 48 countries and three categories: where to visit, where to stay, and where to eat and drink.</p> <p>Check out a few of our absolute favourites from Asia and Australia that made the list.</p> <p><strong>1. To visit: ChangChui – Creative Park (Bangkok, Thailand)</strong></p> <p>Whether you’re looking for great food, fun shops, quirky art or just a cool spot to take pretty Instagram photos, this 27,000-square-metre wonderland has it all – even an old airplane smack in the middle of the park.</p> <p><strong>2. To visit: Museum MACAN (Jakarta, Indonesia)</strong></p> <p>The 4000-square-metre museum is the first of its kind in Indonesia, boasting a significant collection of modern and contemporary art from the country and around the world.</p> <p>The name is short for Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, which is the Javanese word for archipelago.</p> <p><strong>3. To visit: Golden Bridge (Ba Na Hills, Vietnam)</strong></p> <p>The iconic 150-metre long Cau Vang, or Golden Bridge, rises 1400 metres above sea level.</p> <p>It looks like it’s being held up by a pair of giant hands, which have been aged to look like they’ve been around for decades.</p> <p><strong>4. To stay: COO Boutique Hostel &amp; Sociatel (Singapore)</strong></p> <p>The hostel, located in a four-storey conservation shophouse, has 11 rooms and 68 beds.</p> <p>Visitors not only get an affordable place to stay at just US$20 a night, they can also meet fellow guests with similar interests through COO Connect, an online platform.</p> <p><strong>5. To stay: Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula (VIC, Australia)</strong></p> <p>The Jackalope was opened in 2017 and quickly named Australia’s Hotel of the Year at the annual Gourmet Traveller Australian Hotel Guide Awards. The Jackalope features a 143-year-old homestead and winery.</p> <p>Located in Willow Creek Vineyard in the Mornington Peninsula, an hour from Melbourne's CBD, the hotel features two restaurants, a black infinity pool and spa and a room rate starting at $650 per night. </p> <p><strong>6. To stay: The Collectionist (NSW, Australia)</strong></p> <p>Fancy strolling through a hotel and choosing the room you like best based on artwork, design and personal appeal rather than being allocated one from a cookie cutter layout?</p> <p>Sydney's boutique hotel, The Collectionist, has just that – featuring 39 'sleeping quarters' created by designers.</p> <p><strong>7. To stay: Tribe (WA, Australia)</strong></p> <p>Marketed as 'part collaborative workspace, part social club' the Tribe hotel in Perth offers communal dining and easy check-in without fanfare and has done away with the concierge and room service.</p> <p>Rooms start at $120 per night and feature free unlimited Wi-Fi, a 40-inch flat Screen Smart TV, free movies on demand and free Nespresso coffee and T2 teas.</p> <p><strong>8. To eat and drink: Atlas Bar (Singapore)</strong></p> <p>The bar is located on the ground floor of Parkview Square, which is inspired by the glamourous Art Deco skyscrapers of Europe and New York.</p> <p>It boasts one of the world’s largest collections of gin – some 1000 different varieties – some of which date back to 1910.</p> <p><em>Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/experience-worlds-best-places?items_per_page=All">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img src="/media/7820640/1.png" style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;"/></p>

International Travel

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5 reasons why you need to visit Turkey

<p>Want a holiday with history, relaxation and delicious food? You should consider Turkey. </p> <p>Here are five reasons why: </p> <p><strong>1. Turkish baths</strong></p> <p>Turkey is home to more than 1500 thermal springs. The tradition of soaking in warm water for wellness dates back thousands of years.</p> <p>The most famous thermal town is <a href="http://www.pamukkale.net/">Pamukkale</a>.  At Pamukkale, you can soak in stunning white limestone baths. The water here is high in calcium. Tree branches and stones left in the flowing water turn white in a short time. Locals believe the water has the power to cure high blood pressure, kidney stones, stroke, rheumatism, physical exhaustion and skin disease. No proof exists for these claims.</p> <p>They also believe the pools can make you beautiful. According to Turkish legend, an ugly unmarried young girl tried to take her own life at Pamukkale. She fell into a natural pool as she ran through the plateau. But she did not die. Instead, she turned into a beautiful woman. A passing Lord then happened to ride by, spotted her and fell in love.</p> <p>Even if that isn’t true - it is a stunning place to see. And who doesn’t love a good Turkish bath?</p> <p><strong>2. Istanbul</strong></p> <p>Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world. It is the bridge between the east and the west.</p> <p>Istanbul offers a mix of Europe and Asia. It has French streets with cafes, wine houses and boutiques. But it also has an Asian side. Istanbul's Grand Bazaar claims to be the most visited tourist attraction in the world. Here you will find leather goods, spices, jewellery and sweets.</p> <p>The historical peninsula is where you will find most of Istanbul’s must-see buildings. If you have one day in Istanbul - this is the place to go. Walk through the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.</p> <p>If you have more time, take a cruise along the Bosporus Strait and dine out at a fresh seafood restaurant.</p> <p><strong>3. Turkish desserts</strong></p> <p>Turkish delight, baklava, keşkül. Need we go on? Turkish sweets are delicious. And this is the place to indulge.</p> <p><strong>4. Gallipoli</strong></p> <p>Of course, no trip to Turkey would be complete without a visit to Gallipoli. Tens of thousands of Australians died on the Gallipoli peninsula in World War One. The disastrous attempt to seize control of the Turkish Dardanelles would give birth to the Anzac Legend. </p> <p>On April 25 each year, an Australian service is held to remember the fallen soldiers. But you can take a tour of Gallipoli at any time of the year. </p> <p>If you go, we recommend reading the personal stories of the men who fought here. You can find a few on the <em><a href="https://www.awm.gov.au/learn/schools/resources/understanding-gallipoli">Australian War Memorial Website</a></em><em>.</em> </p> <p><strong>5. Sail away</strong></p> <p>Turkey offers a much cheaper way to see the Mediterranean. Cruises here take you to the stunning cities of Bodrum, Kas and Marmaris. Excursions cover the ancient sites and include lazy days on the beach. Expect stunning beaches, warm sunshine and plenty of history. </p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/5-reasons-why-you-need-to-visit-turkey">mydiscoveries.com.au</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Are you as well travelled as the Queen? Here are the only 5 countries she’s yet to visit

<p>When you’ve been alive for 92 years, it’s safe to say that you would have seen a lot in your lifetime. And when that 92-year-old is the Queen of England, then we can only assume that she’s seen every corner of the world. But believe it or not, that’s not the case. While the Queen is well travelled – 128 countries to be exact, there are still a few places that she has yet to explore.</p> <p>One of the many perks of being a royal is that you frequently get to go on all-expenses-paid trips around the world. Vanuatu, Turks and Caicos, Yemen and Kiribati are just a few of the many countries she has visited. But what about the ones she has yet to explore? Here are a few of the countries the Queen is yet to visit:</p> <p><strong>Argentina</strong></p> <p>Argentina, home to good food and even better entertainment. So why hasn’t the Queen stepped foot inside the nation before? The answer is political conflicts. Argentina has been vocal in the past about their dislike for Queen Elizabeth II, especially after a part of Antarctica was named in honour of her majesty.</p> <p>But despite this fact, there is one royal who has visited the country in the past, and that was Prince Philip in 1962.</p> <p><strong>Greece</strong></p> <p>While the Queen did make a trip to Greece in 1950, this was before she was appointed the royal title. After being crowned, she has never made a state visit to the country. Many find this alarming, as her husband, Prince Philip is a former Greek Prince. But the Prince does not share fond memories of the place, as his father was nearly executed, and a young Philip was forced into exile. The Duke does visit Greece at times, but it’s always a solo trip.</p> <p><strong> Israel</strong></p> <p>There are many obvious reasons as to why the Queen hasn’t visited either Israel or Palestine. One of them is security. Every visit made by the Queen must be approved by The Foreign Office, who advise ordinary travellers to be cautious when visiting the two countries, let alone someone as high profile as the Queen. There is also the war between the two countries over the rights of Jerusalem, and the Queen always avoids getting caught between political matters. </p> <p><strong> Cuba</strong></p> <p>While HRH has seen most of the Caribbean, she hasn’t seen all of it. Named “The Caribbean’s most fascinating country,” by <a href="http://www.traveller.com.au/are-you-as-well-travelled-as-the-queen-the-countries-you-should-visit-that-she-hasnt-h14bep">Traveller</a>expert Fred Mawer, Cuba is home to great entertainment, world-class cigars and Spanish architecture. But it’s also run on a communist system, and that, paired with security risks makes the Queen’s visit to the spectacular country unlikely.</p> <p><strong>Mongolia</strong></p> <p>The least populated country in the world is one of the 16 countries in Asia to never have welcomed the Queen. But while the monarch may not be paying a visit, you still can. If you prefer quiet relaxation over loud entertainment, then Mongolia should be next on your bucket list. Terry Richardson from <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/mongolia/articles/could-mongolia-become-the-next-big-travel-destination/">Telegraph Travel</a> speaks fondly of the country, saying “this enormous landlocked country of green steppe, vast flat plains, intricately braided rivers, electric-blue highland lakes, snow-licked mountains, dense pine forests and shifting desert is presided over by a skyscape of such bold blue immensity it beggar’s description. It’s not just vast; Mongolia is empty, too. Three times bigger than France, its population is less than a 20th of the UK's – and one in three people live in the nation's sole city, the capital Ulaan Baatar."</p> <p>Have you visited any of these countries before? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

International Travel

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“It’s time for them to go": The travel ritual you'll no longer have to do

<p>Nothing is more frustrating than getting ready to check in for your flight and being hit with the passenger departure card. While you stand there and dream of some alternative universe where you’re able to breeze through security and maybe fit some duty-free shopping into your schedule, the idea of wasting your time filling in departure cards crush those in an instant.</p> <p>First, you must find a location to fill them out, and then you need to rummage around for a pen. Also, looking for your passport and boarding pass because who remembers their flight number?</p> <p>While Australia got rid of the unnecessary form last year, New Zealand was firm on their decision to keep them around – until now. On Sunday, New Zealand confirmed that they would be phasing out departure cards and they will become completely obsolete by November.</p> <p>“This will improve the experience of all travellers departing New Zealand, enabling a faster and smoother process ahead of the busy holiday period,” said Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.</p> <p>“It will also save more than 100,000 hours of time currently spent by travellers completing more than 6.5 million departure cards per year.”</p> <p>Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hinted at the notion of getting rid of departure cards when she spoke at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney in March.</p> <p>Representatives came to the agreement that the forms, which are close to 97 years old, are unnecessary and made travel through the trans-Tasman more difficult than it should be.</p> <p>Lees-Galloway said that the move will allow New Zealand to be more in line with other countries who had already gotten rid of the departure cards.</p> <p>And once they become obsolete sometime in November, outgoing travellers will be able to travel between New Zealand and Australia seamlessly, as they won’t have to fill out a card on either side.</p> <p>Lees-Galloway says that the biggest advantage for passengers is that it would save them more time.</p> <p>“It removes inconvenience which isn’t necessary anymore,” he said. “It’s time for them to go.”</p> <p>The cards, which were mainly used for statistical purposes will switch to a new system to gather data according to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/106572987/airport-departure-cards-will-be-off-the-table-come-november" target="_blank">stuff.co.nz</a></em>.</p> <p>But while departure cards are getting the boot, arrival cards will remain as they are crucial for assessing immigration and security risks.</p> <p>Do you think phasing out departure cards is a good idea? Let us know in the comments.</p>

International Travel

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Michael Schumacher’s new $52 million hideaway

<p>Champion Formula One driver Michael Schumacher is in the process of moving into a $52 million (NZD) mansion located in Majorca, Spain, nearly five years after he suffered a catastrophic brain injury due to a skiing accident.</p> <p>Purchased by his wife Corinna, the mansion was previously owned by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and is an estimated 161,000 square feet.</p> <p>Schumacher, who has not been seen publicly since 2013, was in a medically induced coma for six months after his accident and has been incredibly private about his life since. It is said that he is receiving full-time care at his current home in Switzerland.</p> <p>Schumacher’s lawyer told a court in 2013 that he “cannot walk” after a German magazine falsely claimed he could “walk again”. As a result, they were forced to pay Schumacher $86,000 dollars for invading his privacy.</p> <p>Katia Rouarch, the mayor of Andratx (a municipality in Majorca), confirmed the Schumachers' purchase of the Spanish property to Swiss magazine <em><a href="https://www.illustre.ch/magazine/majorque-se-prepare-accueillir-michael-schumacher" target="_blank">L’Illustre</a></em>.</p> <p>“I can officially confirm Michael Schumacher is going to move into our municipality and that everything is being prepared to welcome him,” she said.</p> <p>The mega mansion, which contains two swimming pools, a helipad and guest villa, is surrounded by scenic views and extravagant properties.</p> <p>While it is not confirmed when the German racing legend will arrive, or how long he will stay, the location is memorable to the couple as Schumacher and his wife Corinna spent time on the island before his tragic accident.</p> <p>German tabloid <em><a href="https://www.bild.de/" target="_blank">Bild</a></em> claims that Corinna has bought the property in order to spend time with family and friends.</p> <p>Real Madrid president Perez had bought the house for $43 million but decided to sell the property after the death of his wife Mari Angeles Sandoval.</p>

International Travel

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British Airways unveils VERY funny safety video – how many famous faces do you know?

<p>In the battle of the airline safety videos, British Airways has delivered a killer blow. </p> <p>Last year, the British airline took direct aim at New Zealand's national carrier, saying "Hey, Air New Zealand, you're not the only one with a star-studded safety video". </p> <p>Featuring Sir Ian McKellan, Thandie Newton, Gordon Ramsay and Rowan Atkinson reprising his role as Mr Bean, the video was full of classic British dry humour and clocked up almost 25 million views. </p> <p>While adopting a similar format, the sequel is arguably even more hilarious. </p> <p>Introducing the pre-flight video, its "director", comedian Asim Chaudhry (aka Chabuddy G), says British A-listers were begging for parts. </p> <p>"Chabuddy, please let us be part of the sequel," he said, mimicking them in a high wine.</p> <p>"It's pathetic really. And sure, they've got their Oscars, they've got their Baftas - but what they really want is a Sista - the Society of In-flight Safety Training Awards. They all want to get their hands on the golden wings... I quite fancy some wings actually. Can someone go chicken shop?"</p> <p>The likes of Sir Michael Caine, Olivia Colman, Naomie Harris, David Walliams and Joanna Lumley are seen "auditioning" in humorous sketches, while simultaneously delivering those essential safety messages. </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="500" height="281" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FQ9Xpzi4qkU?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The hapless director mistakes three-time Bafta winner Colman, star of <em>The Crown</em> and <em>Broadchurch</em>, for a tea lady and unwittingly offends Lumley.  </p> <p>The <em>Absolutely Fabulous</em> star is required to tell passengers to remove their high heels because they could rip the emergency slide before delivering the painfully cheesy line "Don't worry, you'll all still look absolutely fabulous without them".</p> <p>Giving Chabuddy, who "directs" each sketch, a withering look, Lumley asks whether the line is "strictly necessary". </p> <p>"Yeah," Chabuddy replies. "Otherwise people won't know who you are."</p> <p>But it's not all about giving passengers a pre-flight laugh. Besides delivering the safety messages, the video promotes Flying Start, the global charity partnership between British Airways and Comic Relief which has supported over half a million children in the UK and some of the world's poorest communities since its 2010 launch. </p> <p>Unlike Air New Zealand's sometimes OTT videos (the one launched last July featured skiing down a pavlova, dipping a marshmallow in a boiling mud pit and a giant kea), the British video, which will roll out from this July, keeps things simple. </p> <p>No heavily-edited "fantastical" landscapes a la Air New Zealand, just the all-important safety information delivered with a generous helping of good humour.  </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="500" height="281" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TEsHqdA9dV0?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Air New Zealand has become increasingly intent on cramming its own safety videos with "celebrities", moving on from local actors and All Blacks to American stars Adrian Grenier, Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr. </p> <p>While intended to be a light-hearted take on what makes New Zealand unique, they have become increasingly bizarre. In trying too hard to surpass other airlines' videos, or their own, they've lost their sense of humour - to this viewer at least. </p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Commenting on the latest video, which shows Grenier on a tour of Antarctica, in a <em>Stuff</em> article earlier this year, Darren Bevan says: "With its collection of bad dad jokes, goofy American tourist vibe and degree of Hollywood privilege, it simply seems to me like the bottom of the barrel being scraped."</p> <p>But you be the judge. Let us know what you think of the British Airways video, or Air New Zealand's, in the comments below. </p> <p><em>Written by Lorna Thornber. Republish with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

International Travel

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Inside Oprah Winfrey’s new $11 million hideaway mansion

<p>Billionaire Oprah Winfrey has splashed out on a waterfront property in the United States, on Washington's secluded Orcas Island.</p> <p>Located between Seattle and Vancouver, it's one of the four largest islands that comprise the San Juan Islands archipelago.</p> <p>It's not exactly a well-known location and for a mega-celeb like her, that's probably the point. </p> <p>The twice Oscar-nominated actress and global philanthropist already owns three stately homes – in Hawaii, California and Colorado – but what's another cool $11 million if it buys you a little privacy?</p> <p>Previously known as the Madroneagle estate, Winfrey's new property consists of two waterfront titles combined into a total area of 17.4 hectares, which includes 914 metres of private shoreline, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="https://variety.com/2018/dirt/real-estalker/oprah-winfrey-san-juan-islands-compound-1202830035/" target="_blank">reported Variety.</a></strong></span></p> <p>The main dwelling is a plush 678 square metre lodge-style home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, powder room, soaring exposed beam ceilings in the living areas, kitchen with full-size pizza oven, a games room, library nook with floor to ceiling bookcases, and a wine cellar and tasting room.</p> <p>It's basically the ultimate retreat with everything the media mogul and her entourage could need to relax.</p> <p>Finished internally with rare reclaimed woods, hand-forged iron work and wooden floorboards reclaimed from the old Sears' building in Chicago, the home has a luxurious cabin feel.</p> <p>Additional to the primary home is a contemporary 273 square metre guesthouse with four more bedrooms and three bedrooms. Dubbed "the gallery house", it's not difficult to understand the moniker when you consider its position high on the cliff overlooking the private beach. </p> <p>But wait, there's more. The property also holds an enclosed "tea house" out in the garden, set overlooking the water, plus a large barn that houses a yoga studio and gym downstairs, and a woodworking studio upstairs.</p> <p>According to marketing materials, the property also features a sauna, Asian-style garden, private hiking trails, a pond and a stream.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to get a sneak peek inside Oprah Winfrey’s new estate.</p> <p><em>Written by Anabela Rea. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

International Travel

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Meet the baby boomer backpackers seeing the world on a shoestring budget

<p>Travelling through Turkey in an old VW in the 1980s, Wendy Clark, her husband David and their two travel buddies were treated to an impromptu concert by a woman they had no idea at the time would inspire their future travels.  </p> <p>The couple were in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, the ruins of which lie near the modern village of Selcuk in western Turkey, when a solo traveller they had recently met - a widowed Australian in her seventies - took centre stage at the 25,000-seater amphitheatre which had once hosted gladiator fights and philosophical debates and began to sing.</p> <p>"She had a beautiful singing voice and she stood and gave us a concert," Wendy, who now lives in Queenstown, says. "I've never forgotten that. I just always thought what a fantastic attitude that was. She was completely at large, she was doing all these wonderful things and she wasn't letting age stop her."</p> <p>Wendy and David, in their early twenties at the time, were on an OE typical of Kiwis at the time: working "black" [illegally] for six months at a time in London to save for jaunts through Europe. Back then, Turkey was far from the tourist magnet it is today. Oscar-winning film Midnight Express - a 1978 prison epic about a young American tourist tortured in an Istanbul prison after being discovered with hash at the airport - had virtually killed the Turkish tourism industry overnight. The Australian widow aside, Wendy and David, originally from Invercargill, had seen few other tourists in their time there. But adventurous travel on the cheap was their jam.</p> <p>"I remember a Contiki bus coming into the campground one day," Wendy says. "We looked completely down our noses at that. What we were doing was very spontaneous."</p> <p>More than three decades on their travel ethos remains largely unchanged. With their children now grown, Wendy and David, aged 56 and 62 respectively, are relishing being able to travel overseas again. And, like a growing number of baby boomers and older travellers, are choosing to stay in budget accommodation such as backpackers and homestays and use cheaper forms of transport.</p> <p>A 2018 study by <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://booking.com/" target="_blank">Booking.com</a></strong></span> of 20,000 travellers around the globe, including 500 New Zealanders, found that 20 per cent of baby boomers - often defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 - are planning a trip involving backpacking. While 35 per cent of baby boomer respondents said they regretted not having travelled more when they were younger, others, such as Wendy and David, think that spending less on accommodation will enable them to spend more time overseas and see more. Just as baby boomers made backpacking through Europe a rite of passage, they are now rewriting the rules of mature travel and retirement.</p> <p>Joshua Nu'u-Steele, Booking.com's New Zealand area manager, said many baby boomer backpackers are making up for lost time, while realising there's only so much time left.</p> <p>"A lot of that age group haven't had the opportunity to travel yet and want to do it while they still can."</p> <p>Like younger travellers, Joshua says they are seeking unique experiences and, while often more affluent than younger backpackers, are open to "alternative accommodation".</p> <p>Charli Bateson, product and marketing manager with Jucy Group, which runs hostels in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as hires out vehicles, thinks the relative ease and affordability of international travel these days is prompting more baby boomers to give backpacking a go. Millennials, she says, are also "re-educating" them about what modern backpacking entails.</p> <p>"Most hostels now have en-suite rooms as well as dorms, just not all the five-star facilities. With the more adventurous older travellers especially, they would rather spend their money on travelling and activities than a room they'll probably only spend a few hours in."   </p> <p>Wendy and David returned to New Zealand in the mid 80s after three years in Europe to find Queenstown in the midst of a building boom.  </p> <p>"We got swept up in it and never left," Wendy says. "We built a house and then another house and had a family so there was no money for travelling. There's a conception that baby boomers have had it all handed to them but we did work incredibly hard - six to seven days a week. Everything we did, we did ourselves."</p> <p>They both still work - Wendy as a creative writing teacher and David as a museum director - and, when they do get time to travel, prefer to spend their money on activities and food than accommodation.</p> <p>"I always think it's a complete waste spending money on accommodation," Wendy says. "I could sleep under a tree but the husband is not so keen."</p> <p>On a five-week trip to Cambodia and Vietnam four years ago, which Wendy describes as "just astounding", they slept in some very basic accommodation.</p> <p>"In Cambodia, we stayed on an island in little huts. Most of the other people there were way younger but it didn't matter. I just love talking to people about their lives."</p> <p>In Vietnam, the couple took a train to Sapa which Wendy says was like something out of the Cold War, sharing a compartment with a young couple on their honeymoon ("poor folks"), before joining a guided trek, staying with members of local hill tribes.</p> <p>"It was muddy, dirty, wet and hot," Wendy says. "The oven was a hole in the floor - it was incredibly basic. I can't imagine a lot of people my age would want to do it but I loved every minute of it."</p> <p>The couple spent their money on visiting attractions such as Angkor Wat, museums and eating everything they had been told not to at street food stalls. Invited out to dinner one night by fellow westerners, they were disappointed to discover the menu was Europeanised.</p> <p>"We asked if they had tried street food and they said "oh no, you'll get sick". I kind of felt a bit sad for them."</p> <p>The couple are now planning a four-month trip to Europe, intending to stay at backpacker accommodation and "call on a few favours" with friends who have stayed with them in Queenstown to keep costs down. They will be travelling with backpacks small enough to take as carry-on luggage on the plane and cooking at their hostels so they can eat as the locals do.</p> <p>At this stage, they think they will begin in Belgium in France, where they will visit WWI and II battlefields, and then travel to Scotland (Wendy has become more interested in exploring her Scottish heritage as she gets older), England, Ireland and perhaps Croatia and Poland.  </p> <p>In some ways, backpacking is less risque than it was back in the 80s, Wendy says.</p> <p>"We use websites to see what's popular and, with reviews, there's a lot less chance of ending up somewhere with bed bugs. In New York [in the 80s], we stayed in a youth hostel that turned out to be the most horrifying place - the rooms were smaller than cells and it was full of prostitutes."</p> <p>As frequent caravanners, Wendy says she and David have no qualms about backpacking.</p> <p>"I just enjoy the energy of young people. If we're in a hostel or backpackers, being among younger people I find it fantastic."</p> <p>Barbara Iverson, a 79-year-old Aucklander, is another whose fond memories of staying in hostels in her younger years prompted her to reconsider it as a more mature traveller.</p> <p>A keen rower for about 50 years, Barbara had always wanted to visit Lake Bled in Slovenia which, in rowing circles is just as renowned for its international regattas as its photogenic church on an islet.</p> <p>Barbara was in town for the World Rowing Masters Regatta last December, an event she has competed in herself in the past, and decided the local hostel "was the best way to go" because of its reasonable prices and close proximity to the lake.</p> <p>Arriving to find she was staying on the top floor, Barbara says she "had to bribe a young rower" to carry up her suitcase, but other than that, had a "very comfortable" experience.</p> <p>"There was a little alcove that looked over the castle. The view was just magical."</p> <p>Barbara says there was a variety of people staying at the hostel, of a variety of ages, and that everyone was "very helpful". While a few of the rower guests liked to party, she said most were keen to get to bed early after a long day on the lake.</p> <p>"It was easy to make your meals and the bathroom was good. You just had to be respectful of other people."</p> <p>Barbara says she would recommend staying at hostels and using cheaper forms of transport to "more relaxed" older travellers, provided they're prepared to "expect the unexpected".</p> <p>"But if things are not right or you need a favour, don't hesitate to ask," she advises.</p> <p>With an aging global population and technology making international travel easier and cheaper than ever before, the baby boomer backpacking trend looks set to continue.</p> <p>To Wendy, this comes as little surprise.</p> <p>"I think they grey tsunami are very fit and active and they've worked hard and now they want to play hard," she says.</p> <p><em>Written by Lorna Thornber. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

International Travel

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Teen’s touching random act of kindness for blind and deaf man during flight

<p>A teenage girl’s random act of kindness has gone viral after she helped a blind and deaf man communicate on a flight.</p> <p>Last week, Clara Daly and her mum boarded an Alaska Airlines flight after their original flight from Boston was cancelled.</p> <p>Clara’s mum, Jane, explained that the pair rushed frantically to board the flight and just made it in time. </p> <p>Shortly after take-off, a flight attendant made an announcement to the passengers, asking if anyone knew sign language.</p> <p>"Clara has been studying American Sign Language so she rang the flight attendant button," Jane wrote on Facebook.</p> <p>"They explained that the passenger was not only deaf, but also blind. The only way you can communicate with him was by signing into his hand."</p> <p>"They thought that he might need something and they weren't sure how to communicate," Clara told <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/06/22/calabasas-teen-blind-deaf-man-flight/" target="_blank"><em>CBS Los Angeles</em></a></span></strong>.</p> <p>Clara walked over to the man, whose name she later learnt was Timothy, and signed into the palm of his hand to see if she could help him.</p> <p>"Several times he requested her assistance throughout the flight," the proud mum explained.</p> <p>The Californian teen helped him ask for water and how much time was left for the flight.</p> <p>Clara was happy to get up and help whenever he needed to say something and then, "toward the end of the flight, he asked for her again, and this time he just wanted to talk.</p> <p>She spent the remainder of the flight until landing with him," Jane wrote.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjane.daly.501%2Fposts%2F10156396022402726&amp;width=500" width="500" height="764" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>"He didn't need anything. He was just like lonely and wanted to talk," Clara told<em> CBS Los Angeles. </em></p> <p>Clara was overjoyed that she was able to communicate with Timothy but her only concern was that she would spell something wrong when signing into his hand, as she is dyslexic.</p> <p>Since Clara is dyslexic, she started learning sign language about a year ago because she wanted to know a way to communicate without having to read or write.</p> <p>Her parents, Jane and Bill, expressed how proud they were of their daughter, and her mum shared the story after the airline emailed the photos the flight attendants took of Clara and the man.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>Jane and Clara’s original flight was direct to Los Angeles but the new flight they were put on had a layover in Portland. Timothy was flying to Portland and if it weren’t for the flight change, they would’ve never met him.</p> <p>"She'll probably kill me for posting this, but - Proud of my girl," the happy mum wrote about her daughter.</p> <p>After her story went viral, Clara said her random act of kindness was “what anyone would have done”. </p>

International Travel

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4 public transport experiences you must have overseas

<p>I'm still not a convert to those flashy, chugging tour buses that clog the central boroughs of London and the boulevards of Los Angeles. Some people swear by them. A few rounds on one to get my bearings of the arrondissements of Paris made jetlagged bodies feel like we had achieved and learned something, but, tellingly, I've never hopped on such a bus again.</p> <p>Likewise, I'm not a runner (or even a jogger) who shakes off the out-of-sync sleep cycles with a sweat around the neighbourhoods of their hotel or hostel. I do however, recommend getting to know a city like one of its commuters at least once or twice.</p> <p>What's more, if you choose the right methods and routes you can get your own little tour passing some of each cities famous sites, like these options below:</p> <p><strong>London</strong></p> <p>For a tour-bus-beating £1.50 on your tourist Oyster card, board London's heritage red Routemaster bus No 15 at Tower Hill, beside the infamous Tower of London, heading towards Trafalgar Square. Snag a seat on the second level to take in the journey's views of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, St Paul's Cathedral and Fleet St, before finally alighting next to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson's Column and the area's galleries and museums</p> <p><strong>Lisbon</strong></p> <p>Famous for both its steep terrain and trundling yellow trams, avoid one and embrace the other in Portugal's capital Lisbon. The city is one of western Europe's warmest and cheapest – a winning combination. Make it even better value by catching the canary-hued No 28 tram for €2.90 on-board or €6.10 for a city-wide day pass to tackle the hills and see the view. From its start at Square Martim Moniz in central Baixa, through past the narrow alleys and tiled houses of Alfama to the castle near the stop for Portas del Sol, the screeching around corners and heavy braking  is all part of the fun. There is a red tram that follows a very similar view with more guidance and a higher fare. Both are busy with tourists, so head out early in the morning or in the evening and beware of pickpockets who target the route.</p> <p><strong>Hong Kong</strong></p> <p>A trip to Honkers isn't complete without a cross-harbour journey between Hong Kong island and Kowloon on one of the little green Star Ferries that run from 7am to 11pm between Central, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui piers. For HKD$2.70 the harbour hop is a bargain and the views are spectacular, particularly at night when the skyscrapers light up. This Asian metropolis might have efficient and modern subways and rail networks but the little green boat service launched in 1888 is what you'll remember.</p> <p><strong>New York</strong></p> <p>The Big Apple is awash with tourist hustlers and hop-on, hop-off tours, but avoid them by riding Manhattan's bus route No 1. With a pay-per-ride MetroCard and for about US$5.50 you can enjoy a massive loop stretching from Harlem, past Central Park down to Midtown and <em>Friends</em>-esque Greenwich Village. It uses famous streets Fifth Ave and Madison Ave so you'll pass plenty of chi-chi boutique and big-name stores. Keep an eye out for the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) and crane your neck skywards to see the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre. As Fifth Ave bisects Broadway, grab snaps of the Flat Iron building before hopping off at the route's most southerly point to enjoy the grub served up in Chinatown and Little Italy. Or walk a few blocks to stroll the New York High Line – a disused elevated railway-turned-urban garden walkway.</p> <p>Have you had any of these public transport experiences?</p> <p><em>Written by Josh Martin. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Stunning photos: 10 places you won’t believe are on Earth

<p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>No matter how much one travels, there’s always new vistas to be discovered on our blue planet. You know the places - the ones you see on screen in nature documentaries, or the locales that are used to simulate new planets in science fiction films. We’ve chosen 10 of the most incredible landscapes from around the world that we sometimes have trouble believing are really there.</p> <p>1. Travertines, Pamukkale, Turkey</p> <p><img width="499" height="458" src="/media/5430/otheworld1_499x458.jpg" alt="Otheworld1"/></p> <p>2. Red beach, Panjin, China</p> <p><img width="500" height="328" src="/media/5431/otheworld2_500x328.jpg" alt="Otheworld2"/></p> <p>3. Rice terraces, Bali, Indonesia</p> <p><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/5432/otheworld3_500x333.jpg" alt="Otheworld3"/></p> <p>4. Giant's Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland, U.K.</p> <p><em>Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincent0923/267377910/">Wenxiang Zheng</a>/Flickr</em></p> <p><img width="497" height="330" src="/media/5433/otheworld4_497x330.jpg" alt="Otheworld4"/></p> <p>5. Giant Buddha, Leshan, China</p> <p><em><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/5434/otherworld5_500x333.jpg" alt="Otherworld5"/></em></p> <p>6. Odle Mountains, Italy</p> <p><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/5435/otherworld6_500x333.jpg" alt="Otherworld6"/></p> <p>7. Tunnel of Love, Klevan, Ukraine</p> <p><img width="500" height="415" src="/media/5436/otherworld_500x415.jpg" alt="Otherworld"/></p> <p>8. "Door to Hell," Derweze, Turkmenistan</p> <p><em>Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tormods/6269124988/">Tormod Sandtorv</a>/Flickr</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><img width="500" height="263" src="/media/5437/otherworld8_500x263.jpg" alt="Otherworld8"/></p> <p>9. Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey</p> <p><em><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/5438/otherworld9_500x333.jpg" alt="Otherworld9"/></em></p> <p>10. Sossusvlei, Namibia</p> <p><img width="500" height="333" src="/media/5439/otheworld10_500x333.jpg" alt="Otheworld 10"/></p> <p><strong> </strong></p>

International Travel

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Exploring the land of the green fairy in Switzerland

<p>I stepped off the train in the little Swiss village of Môtiers in the Val-de-Travers region of the Jura Mountains fully expecting to see a host of fairies... little green ones.</p> <p>For this picturesque part of the Swiss Jura is known as the land of the green fairy, la fée verte, the birthplace of the infamous, oft-vilified, once-banned, powerful spirit, absinthe.</p> <p>The railway station and village in the Jura Mountains where we disembarked looked as neat and typically-picturesque as any other Swiss village, but our guide Lukas assured us that we had stepped into an enchanted land, la Pays de l'Absinthe.</p> <p>I listened for the flutter of wings and peered among the trees for a glimpse of green... to no avail.</p> <p>However, Lukas said we had to first partake of the spirit before we could see the spirit. The legend goes that those who over-indulge in absinthe hallucinate and see green fairies.</p> <p>All would be revealed at la Maison de l'Absinthe, a museum dedicated to the liquor regarded by its devotees as a "sacred libation".</p> <p>The history of absinthe, a high-alcohol anise-flavoured spirit distilled from the wormwood plant, is cloaked in mystery, intrigue, romance, secrecy, rumour and scandal - factors the Val-de-Travers plays to maximum advantage.</p> <p>Through the ages as far back as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, artemisia absinthium (wormwood) was used as a remedy for stomach, back, dental, throat and menstrual pain, as well as a panacea for hair loss, mental illness, gout, rheumatism, loss of eyesight, protection against aliens and a cure for malaria. Quite an impressive list.</p> <p align="center"><img width="600" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1435712560/208/12113208.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Absinthe artefacts and recipes from the 19th century. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>In a small town of Couvet in the Val-de-Travers, the first recipe for making absinthe into an alcoholic drink was created in 1797 and the first distillery opened in the valley in 1798.</p> <p>It became wildly popular in the 1800s and developed a cult-like following with the art nouveau set such as Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Baudelaire, Paul-Marie Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Guy de Maupassant. Some of them even became seriously addicted to it. Today, Marilyn Manson is one of its most famous devotees.</p> <p>However, over the years, absinthe garnered a wicked reputation and was eventually banned in Switzerland in 1910 for allegedly driving people insane and causing them to commit heinous crimes.</p> <p>The lobbyists against absinthe included religious groups that regarded it as dangerously addictive, psychoactive and hallucinogenic, and also beer, schnapps and wine producers, who resented its extreme popularity.</p> <p>The distillation of absinthe continued in clandestine stills in the Val-de-Travers, where authorities largely turned a blind eye and blocked nose (the scent of anise wafted on the breeze for miles) to the practice until it was eventually legalised again in the valley in 2004, albeit with strict regulations.</p> <p>Equipment used in a still that was once concealed behind a false wall in a cottage is on display at the museum along with examples of the ingenious means used to smuggle the product into other countries – hidden in pineapple tins.</p> <p align="center"><img width="600" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1435716174/010/12114010.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Equipment used in a still that was once concealed behind a false wall is on display at the museum. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>In the laboratory, we learned all about the production process and the ingredients used in absinthe recipes, some of which - wormwood, lemon balm, anise and mint - are grown in a garden there.</p> <p>The museum displays many fascinating antiques from the Belle Epoque (1870-1914) and a replica of a typical bistro, dedicated to the "heure verte" (the green hour), a time of the day between 5pm and 7pm when fashionable people met to socialise over a glass of absinthe.</p> <p>The mystique is perpetuated in an über-chic bar where 15 local varieties of absinthe are available for tasting and purchase. The cold blue-green back lighting and the rows of bottles with exotic labels add to the atmosphere of the experience.</p> <p>The age-old ritual is strictly adhered to in the pouring process. A sugar cube is placed on a slotted silver spoon on top of a crystal absinthe glass containing a measure of the spirit. Ice cold water is dripped over the sugar cube and into the glass where the water and absinthe combine to form an opaque milky blend, due to certain ingredients in the absinthe (especially fennel) reacting with the water. Striking the right balance between bitter and sweet is crucial, our guide says.</p> <p align="center"><img width="600" height="NaN" src="http://static.stuff.co.nz/1435712212/137/12113137.jpg" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"/></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Guide Montserrat Kassamakov presents a bottle of absinthe at the bar at the Maison de l'Absinthe​. Photo: Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>I enjoyed a sip or two in a seriously-diluted form and saw no fairies, green or otherwise, but I'm sure some of the more adventurous members of our group saw whole hosts of supernatural creatures flitting through the woods.</p> <p>I loved the ritual and I'm tempted to introduce the "heure verte" concept to my friends in Gisborne . . . although we will probably stick to chardonnay.</p> <p>Ironically, the Maison de l'Absinthe occupies a former district courthouse, opened in 1750, where a number of illegal absinthe distillers were once hauled before a judge, convicted and jailed.</p> <p><em>* The Maison de l'Absinthe opened its doors in July 2014 and is one of 480 museums free to visit with a Swiss Travel Pass. It's well worth a look.</em></p> <p><strong>Infobox</strong></p> <ul> <li>To learn more about Switzerland, visit <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.myswitzerland.com/" target="_blank">myswitzerland.com</a></strong></span>. Click on the transport link for information on the Swiss Travel Pass.</li> <li> Flights are available with Swiss International Air Lines. Go to <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.swiss.com/" target="_blank">swiss.com</a></strong></span> for details and prices.</li> <li>To stay at L'Hôtel Alpes et Lac in Neuchâtel, visit <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.alpesetlac.ch/" target="_blank">alpesetlac.ch</a></strong></span>.</li> <li>To find out more about Maison de l'Absinthe, go to <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="http://www.maison-absinthe.ch/" target="_blank">maison-absinthe.ch/</a></strong></span>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>TRAVEL TIP</strong></p> <p>For ease of travel, buy a Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to travel on all public transport in Switzerland - trains, boats and buses including the public transport networks of 75 towns and cities across the entire country. The Swiss Travel Pass (from three to 15 days) also allows free entry to more than 480 museums and gives holders 50 per cent off most of the magnificent mountain railways.</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p>There are many options, including the Swiss Travel Pass for Youth, which gives travellers under 26 years a 15 per cent discount and, best of all, children under 16 accompanied by a parent with a Swiss Travel Pass travel for free.</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of Switzerland Tourism.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Justine Tyerman. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

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