International Travel

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Italian town hopes to attract new residents by offering free rent

<p>A town in southern Italy has joined the ranks of communities attempting to boost their dwindling populations with novel approaches.</p> <p>After <span><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/the-charming-italian-town-that-offers-free-houses">Cammarata</a></span>, <span><a href="https://www.insider.com/2-towns-in-italy-are-selling-homes-for-just-1-2019-4">Zungoli and Mussomeli</a></span> gave away homes for one euro or less, the small town of Teora in the Campania region is aiming to lure families to move in by offering to pay their rent.</p> <p>The town said it will pay newcomers €150 per month towards the cost of renting a house for two years, or a €5,000 lump sum to buy one. It is also offering to waive local taxes and school meal fees.</p> <p>However, buyers have to commit to live in the town for at least three years. They also need to have at least one child during the time of application.</p> <p>“I don’t believe in selling empty houses for €1, that doesn’t incentivise people to stay in town,” Teora’s mayor Stefano Farina told <span><a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/italy-teora-rent/index.html"><em>CNN</em></a></span>.</p> <p>“They just come a few months a year as holidaymakers. That’s not the solution. But taking up residency and enrolling kids at the local school, that does breathe new life.”</p> <p>Farina said Teora’s population declined significantly after an earthquake in 1980 led many young people to flee the commune.</p> <p>The 1980 Irpinia earthquake destroyed Teora along with other towns, including Lioni and Conza di Campania.</p> <p>“Two babies are born [in Teora] each year versus 20 elders who die,” he said. “We’re down to barely 1,500 residents.</p> <p>“I want to invert this negative trend … New families will be the building blocks of our shrinking community, so we encourage those with more kids to apply.”</p> <p>According to <em>CNN</em>, there are nearly 100 empty buildings available.</p> <p><span>Those interested in the offer can visit the town’s <a href="http://www.comune.teora.av.it/hh/index.php">website</a> and <a href="mailto:staff@comune.teora.av.it">email the local government</a> for more information.</span></p>

International Travel

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Roger Federer announces time off after surprising injury

<p>Roger Federer has dropped a bombshell announcement that he will be taking time off after undergoing a knee surgery.</p> <p>The 20-time grand-slam champion revealed via his social media channels that he had gone under the knife on Wednesday evening and as a result, would not be returning to his beloved game until after the French Open in June 2020.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8T-IPPl53J/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8T-IPPl53J/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer)</a> on Feb 8, 2020 at 8:08am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The 38-year-old star will come back at what we hope will be his best, just in time for the grass court season before the 2020 Wimbledon Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.</p> <p>Federer’s admission on social media confirmed he is to miss at least five events, including the highly anticipated French Open and Indian Wells.</p> <p>He was also set to compete in the Dubai Open, which will begin on Monday, February 24.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8yPtaxFMOr/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8yPtaxFMOr/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer)</a> on Feb 20, 2020 at 2:19am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“My right knee has been bothering me for a little while,” he said.</p> <p>“I hoped it would go away, but after an examination, and discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery in Switzerland yesterday.</p> <p>“After the procedure the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery.</p> <p>“As a result I will unfortunately have to miss Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota, Miami and the French Open. I am grateful for everyone’s support. I can’t wait to be back playing again soon, see you on the grass!”</p> <p>Federer showed no signs of any knee problems while he played against Rafael Nadal in Cape Town earlier this month for a charity exhibition match that over 51,954 fans tuned in to watch.</p> <p>The star champion carries a near unprecedented record of never retiring from a match.</p>

International Travel

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April fools? Harry and Meghan’s last day in office announced

<p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lives as working members of Britain’s royal family will end on March 31, a spokesperson for the couple confirmed Wednesday.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan’s office at Buckingham Palace will be closed starting April 1, with the pair set to be represented through their UK charity team going forward.</p> <p><span>The two will continue on as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and retain their titles: The Earl and Countess of Dumbarton and the Baron and Baroness Kilkeel. They will no longer represent Her Majesty or receive public funds for royal engagements.</span></p> <p>The terms of Harry and Meghan’s separation from the royal family is due for review in one year, <a href="https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/culture/story/prince-harry-meghan-confirm-day-working-members-britains-69072813">the spokesperson said</a>.</p> <p>“As there is no precedent for this new model of working and eventual financial independence, the Royal Family and the Sussexes have agreed to an initial 12-month review to ensure the arrangement works for all parties.”</p> <p>Harry and Meghan’s use of the word royal, as featured in their Sussex Royal branding, is <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/queen-steps-in-and-orders-prince-harry-and-meghan-to-drop-royal-sussex-brand">under review</a>. Any changes will be announced alongside the launch of the couple’s foundation, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>The nonprofit is said to retain the couple’s charitable goals to focus on causes including “the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively”.</p> <p>The couple is set to reside in Canada but “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/19/harry-and-meghan-to-split-from-royal-family-on-31-march">will be in the United Kingdom regularly</a>”, sources said.</p> <p>They are expected to have their last official appearance as working royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9 with the Queen and other senior members of the monarchy.</p>

International Travel

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Novak Djokovic’s dad slams “jealous” Roger Federer

<p>Novak Djokovic’s father has accused Roger Federer of being “jealous” of his son as the rivalry between the two tennis legends continue.</p> <p>Speaking to Serbian newspaper <em>Novosti</em>, Srdan Djokovic said the Swiss ace was jealous of the Serbian for being the “<a href="https://www.en24.news/A/2020/02/he-is-jealous-of-novak.html">better</a>” player.</p> <p>“Federer has been jealous of Novak since the moment he made his breakthrough because he knew that my son was better than him and that he would tower over him,” Srdan said.</p> <p>“Federer is an outstanding tennis player, but I couldn’t say that about his humanity.”</p> <p>Srdan also lamented the media portrayal of the current world number one player. “It is unbelievable what everything is written about Novak,” he said.</p> <p>“Nobody in the history of sports, not just tennis, accepts defeats like Novak. If he loses, he will go … even towards his opponents, congratulates them, kisses them and tells them, ‘Bravo, master, you were better than me today.’</p> <p>“And yet he has never received a fair play award like the one that Federer is constantly given.”</p> <p>In a press conference on Wednesday, Novak jokingly said that he, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer <a href="https://www.essentiallysports.com/we-mostly-avoid-each-other-novak-djokovic-on-sharing-locker-room-with-rafael-nadal-and-roger-federer-atp-tennis-news-2020/">avoid each other in the locker room</a>.</p> <p>“We mostly avoid each other,” he laughed.</p> <p>“Locker rooms aren’t that big everywhere, so we sometimes hide behind our lockers or something like that.”</p> <p>He added, “Sometimes we take shower cabins next to each other, but we don’t look. It’s a bit uncomfortable, we are in awkward situations there with our team, huge emotions are on the line.”</p>

International Travel

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Victorian MPs spotted partying in Bali nightclub amid bushfire crisis

<p><span>A video has emerged of Victorian Labor MPs partying at a Bali nightclub while bushfires in the state escalated.</span></p> <p><span>Health minister Jenny Mikakos was filmed dancing with backbenchers Steve Dimopolous, Nick Staikos and Jackson Taylor in Seminyak’s Motel Mexicola on December 28, one day before the evacuation of East Gippsland was ordered.</span></p> <p><span>Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the health minister should have been at work when bushfires ravaged the region.</span></p> <p><span>“We had massive pressure on our country hospitals, we had people being injured... The health minister should have been on deck,” he said.</span></p> <p><span>Mikakos defended her actions, saying she returned to Melbourne as soon as she could and tried unsuccessfully to get an earlier flight from December 29. </span></p> <p><span>“I was being briefed by my department and my office the whole time I was overseas, and was very prepared to cut my leave short and be back on duty,” she said.</span></p> <p><span>“Effectively what the Liberal Party is saying today is that Scott Morrison should not have been in Hawaii.”</span></p> <p><span>The MPs returned from their privately funded holiday on January 2. A state of disaster was declared in the state on the same day.</span></p> <p><span>Premier Daniel Andrews backed his MPs, saying it is “appropriate that Ministers have some leave”.</span></p> <p><span>“I’m happy to stand beside an outstanding health minister. This is not a story,” Andrews told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/6635927/vic-minister-hoses-down-holiday-concerns/?cs=9397" target="_blank">reporters</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Fellow holidaymaker and Bentleigh MP Staikos said of the video, “The biggest revelation is that I’m a bad dancer and I’m just glad they didn’t get footage of <em>Footloose</em>.”</span></p>

International Travel

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The impact of coronavirus on the Australian tourism

<p>Australia has joined <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/03/coronavirus-outbreak-new-zealand-bans-foreign-travellers-from-china">New Zealand</a>, the United States, Indonesia, India, Israel and other countries in deciding to refuse entry to all foreigners flying from or who have recently been in mainland China.</p> <p>These bans dramatically escalate the potential economic impact of the novel coronavirus.</p> <p>Over the past two decades China has grown from a minnow to a whale in international travel. Not counting mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong and Macau (about 76 million in 2018), data from the <a href="https://www.unwto.org/statistics">United Nations World Tourism Organisation</a> show the number of Chinese going abroad climbed from 2.8 million in 1997 to about 73 million in 2018.</p> <p>This places China <a href="https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/ST.INT.DPRT">fourth in terms of international visits</a>, behind Germany (about 92 million), the United States (88 million) and Britain (74 million).</p> <p><strong>Rise of the Chinese traveller</strong></p> <p>Besides Hong Kong and Macau, Chinese travellers most visit neighbouring nations – Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore. Next is Italy, then the United States and Malaysia.</p> <p>Australia is somewhat down the list – just the 17th-most-popular destination for Chinese visitors in 2018 (1.4 million visits). New Zealand was the 26th (about 448,000).</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="fQpgk" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/fQpgk/4/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>But China is now Australia’s largest source of international visitors. Short-term arrivals from China overtook those from New Zealand (the top source for many decades) in 2017.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="FJKPD" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/FJKPD/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>In the 12 months to November 2019, there were 1.44 million Chinese visitors to Australia, according to <a href="http://www.tourism.australia.com/en/markets-and-stats/tourism-statistics/international-market-performance.html">Tourism Australia</a>. This was about 15% of the total 9.44 million short-term arrivals.</p> <p>But Chinese visitors contributed relatively more to the Australian economy. The average spend per Chinese trip was $A9,235. This compared with $A5,943 for Germans, $A5,219 for Americans, $4,614 for Japanese and $A2,032 for New Zealanders.</p> <p>This meant Chinese travellers contributed about <a href="http://www.tourism.australia.com/en/markets-and-stats/tourism-statistics/international-market-performance.html">A$12 billion to the Australian economy</a> – or 27% of the total amount spent by all international visitors. International tourism accounts for about a quarter of Australia’s total tourism market. That means, in the greater scheme of things, Chinese travellers help create 0.6% of Australia’s annual GDP.</p> <p><strong>The student effect</strong></p> <p>The reason the Chinese spend (on average) so much more than other visitors is due to the large number of Chinese who come to Australia to study.</p> <p>The Tourism Australia data show almost 275,000 of the 1.44 million Chinese visits – about 20% – were for educational purposes. By comparison, study was the reason for fewer than 14,000 – or less than 1% – of the 1.42 million visits by New Zealanders.</p> <p>Chinese students stayed an average of 124 nights before going home and spent an average of $27,000. This is more than any other nationality. The average spent by all international students was A$22,000.</p> <p>Chinese tourists, on average, stayed an average of 14 days and spent A$4,655. The average for all international holidaymakers was A$4,286. The biggest-spending were the Italians (A$7,174), Germans (A$6,028) and British ($A6,011).</p> <p>So Chinese students accounted for just shy of 58% – or A$7.1 billion – of all the money spent by Chinese visitors.</p> <p><strong>Ban impacts</strong></p> <p>Australia’s travel ban has come just in time to disrupt the plans of thousands of Chinese students coming or returning to Australia. February is normally the peak month for Chinese arrivals in Australia. In 2019, the month recorded 206,300 arrivals – roughly double the average month.</p> <p>This is because this month is when many Chinese students arrive or return to Australia to start the university year. (It’s also due in part to the proximity of the Chinese lunar new year – January 25 this year, February 25 last year – when hundreds of thousands of Chinese travel for a holiday or to visit family.)</p> <p>Chinese students <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1819/Quick_Guides/OverseasStudents">enrolled in Australian universities</a> comprise 38% of all full-fee paying international students. With international students now contributing about 23% of university revenues, this suggests the Chinese market alone contributes about 9%.</p> <p>More Chinese students come to Australia for vocational education and training or school. All up, Chinese students account for about <a href="https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Pages/InternationalStudentData2018.aspx">30% of total overseas student enrolments</a>.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="yvssd" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/yvssd/1/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Long-term impacts</strong></p> <p>Our main point of reference for the economic impact of the coronavirus is the impact of SARS in late 2002. The Chinese government imposed similar travel restrictions to now. But Australia did not ban travellers from China outright. It instead relied on <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/180/5/border-screening-sars-australia-what-has-been-learnt">screening at airports</a>.</p> <p>In May 2003 just 3,100 Chinese visited Australia, a 75% decline on the 12,600 visitors in May 2002. Visitor numbers from other Asian countries also suffered, with the total number of international short-term arrivals falling 8.5% in April , then a further 2.6% in May.</p> <p>But SARS was contained relatively quickly. By July the Chinese government had lifted its restrictions. The following month Chinese arrivals were back up to more than 12,000.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314687/original/file-20200211-146720-fx088d.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314687/original/file-20200211-146720-fx088d.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Chinese visitor arrivals during and after the SARS crisis.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Australian Bureau of Statistics</span></span></p> <hr /> <p>The economic impact of SARS was therefore “short-lived and limited”, according to <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/economic-roundup-winter-2003/the-economic-impact-of-severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome-sars">the Australian Treasury</a>.</p> <p>The economic impact of the novel coronavirus is shaping to be more signficant, based on the scale of crisis, the severity of travel restrictions, the likelihood travel bans will stay in place for longer and the much greater numbers of Chinese tourists and students on which Australia’s tourism and education industries have come to rely.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130798/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mingming-cheng-950507"><em>Mingming Cheng</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, School of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-depend-so-much-more-on-chinese-travellers-now-that-makes-the-impact-of-this-coronavirus-novel-130798">original article</a>.</em></p>

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A side-trip on the Bear Trek

<p><em>Justine Tyerman ventures deep into 007 territory, embarks on a short but hair-raising hike and learns about the history of the ‘</em><em>Village on the Wall’</em><em>...  </em></p> <p>Our Swiss guides casually sauntered down the steep, narrow track as if it was a sidewalk in downtown Zurich. I, on the other hand, exercised extreme caution, placing each foot carefully on the slippery mountainside strewn with loose rocks, making sure I came to a complete halt in a safe place before gazing around at the jaw-dropping views.</p> <p>It was Day 3 of our Swiss ‘Bear Trek’ expedition, and radically different from the previous two which involved strenuous, all-day hikes up and over mountain passes. Instead we deviated from the usual itinerary, taking a side-trip to the top of the Schilthorn. This involved catching a series of impressive cable-cars which whisked us from the Lauterbrunnen Valley far above the clouds to a mountain peak almost 3000 metres above sea level. Grey and drizzly in the valley, it was another world up there, bathed in bright sunshine, hobnobbing with mountain peaks.</p> <p>The 360-degree panorama from the Schilthorn summit gave us an entirely different perspective on the Bernese trio – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – and more than 200 members of mountain royalty including Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, 4,808m, in neighbouring France. Communing eye-to-peak with such alpine giants was breath-taking. Below us, the clouds were neatly tucked into the folds of the valley like a fluffy white duvet.</p> <p>But there’s more to the Schilthorn than spectacular alpine scenery. The mountain featured in the sixth Bond movie, <em>On Her Majesty’s Secret Service </em>(1969), and the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, served as the headquarters of the <span>evil genius and super-villain Ernst Stavro</span> Blofeld. At the top of the mountain, there’s a highly-entertaining, interactive Bond World, replays of 007 movies, a Walk of Fame featuring the actors, stuntmen, cameramen and directors, and even Bond-themed toilets that won an international tourism award for ‘best bathrooms’. The restaurant serves 007 burgers. I just had to have one for lunch while I watched the parade of peaks drift by the revolving restaurant.</p> <p>The Schilthorn is also renowned for its vertiginous Skyline Walk, a 200m-long glass and steel bridge that clings to the rock face below the cablecar station at Birg. Only in Switzerland would I agree to do such a thing. I trust the engineering here – 100 percent. I felt so confident, I even crawled through an eight-metre steel-mesh tunnel above a sheer drop and walked along a wire suspended high above the rocks... enclosed inside a sturdy safety net. Thrilling but safe. My colleagues decided the tunnel was a fine spot for some relaxed sight-seeing but I wasted no time in there.</p> <p>The Schilthorn has another claim to fame. It’s the starting gate of the 15km ‘Inferno’ ski race to Lauterbrunnen, the largest amateur ski race in the world. The race dates back to 1928 on one of the longest pistes in Switzerland. There’s a summer version of the event too, the Inferno Triathlon from Thun to the Schilthorn, which began in 1992. One of the toughest endurance races in the world with an ascent of 5500 metres, it must also be one of the most scenic.</p> <p>Having explored the Schilthorn’s many attractions and magnificent views, our local guides Jana and Nick led us down the top section of the triathlon route, the only hiking we ended up doing that day. It was a short stint compared to previous days but one that required intense concentration and focus. A carelessly-placed foot could have led to a rather rapid descent. I was astounded to think triathletes could run up such a track... and even more astonished to see a sign at the top which read: ‘High-heeled shoes prohibited!’</p> <p>Jana said: “Believe me, it does happen!”</p> <p>Late afternoon, we took a cablecar down to Mürren where we checked into the lovely Hotel Alpenruh.</p> <p>Nick conducted a walking tour of his delightful, car-free village which sits on a ledge high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. You wouldn’t want to be a somnambulant in Mürren – at the edge of the ledge, there’s a sheer drop of 800m to the valley floor.</p> <p>Mürren, the highest, continually-inhabited village settlement in the canton of Bern, has a fascinating history with records dating back to 1257 when the ‘Village on the Wall’ was first mentioned. Millions of years before that, 200 million to be precise, Mürren was submerged under the ocean, and 25,000 years ago, it was 1.2km under glacial ice which only began to recede 8000 years ago.</p> <p>Prior to the 1850s, the inhabitants of the high terrace survived by subsistence farming but as the region warmed and the snow and ice melted, Mürren became more accessible, and along came international tourism.</p> <p>It’s a place of many firsts, Nick explained as we walked around the pretty little village.</p> <p>With the opening of Mürren’s first hotel, the ‘Silberhorn’ in 1857, and the ‘Grand Hotel Des Alpes’ and the ‘Kurhaus’ in 1870, the village became the summer retreat of aristocrats, politicians, painters and scholars from all over Europe, especially Britain. In 1891, the Lauterbrunnen to Mürren railway was inaugurated and in 1910, Mürren enjoyed its first winter tourism season. We came across the original passenger car of a horse-drawn tramway opened in 1894 to transport guests and goods from the train stations to the Grand Hotel Kurhaus.</p> <p>Nick pointed out the Allmendhubel Funicular opened in 1912, and a memorial to British skier and mountaineer Sir Arnold Lunn who set the world’s first slalom course in Mürren in 1922, and organised the first world championship in downhill and slalom racing in 1931.</p> <p>In 1923, the British Ladies Ski Club was founded in Mürren and in1924, Lunn started the Kandahar Ski Club, the oldest, most distinguished British ski club whose 1400 members include royals and celebrities.</p> <p>The first Inferno Race (from Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen) took place in 1928 organised by a bunch of British ski enthusiasts; in 1930, Switzerland’s first ski school was founded; and in 1937, Mürren celebrated the opening of the first ski lift in the Bernese Oberland.</p> <p>The mid-1960s saw the construction of cableways from Stechelberg to the Schilthorn and in 1969, the revolving restaurant ‘Piz Gloria’ opened, thanks to the makers of the Bond movie ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ who helped fund the completion of the project.</p> <p>I loved the tranquillity of the vehicle-free village, the deer grazing in the nearby meadows and sun-blackened walls of the traditional old chalets and barns with their window boxes and steep-pitched rooves. The oldest house in the village dates back to 1547.</p> <p>Nick joined us for dinner at the Hotel Alpenruh where we consumed a large cauldron of rich, creamy fondue made from local cheese. It was a fun evening, our last night together as a group - three Aussies, one Kiwi and our Swiss tour leader. I would miss the camaraderie of the Aussies and the immensely-capable Birgit, but I was excited to be heading to Montreux and then on to Zermatt.</p> <p>My travel itinerary for the next day looked terrifying with four tight changes in four hours involving cable cars, buses and trains.</p> <p>But I knew it would go smoothly, just like clockwork, with the various stations, timetables and modes of transport all perfectly synchronised and aligned. That’s Switzerland. Stress-free travel...</p> <p>See also the first two of Justine’s stories about the Bear Trek: <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/the-slow-coach" target="_blank">Part 1</a> | <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/in-the-company-of-mountain-gods" target="_blank">Part 2</a></p> <p><em>The Bear Trek is part of the Via Alpina, a classic among long-distance hikes in Switzerland. The Via Alpina is a challenging mountain hike through the picture-perfect landscapes of Switzerland’s Northern Alps. A series of 20 daily stages takes hikers over 14 alpine passes and through a great variety of alpine terrain, villages, flora and fauna - a hiking enthusiast’s dream. Mountain restaurants and hotels provide meals and accommodation along the way. Eurotrek organised our accommodation and luggage transfers so we just carried a light day pack. They also provided excellent detailed maps of the route.</em></p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of </em><span><a href="https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-nz/"><em>Switzerland Tourism</em></a></span><em>, travelled courtesy of </em><span><a href="https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-nz/planning/transport-accommodation/tickets-public-transportation/"><em>Swiss Travel Pass</em></a></span><em> and hiked in the </em><span><a href="http://www.schilthorn.ch"><em>Schilthorn Region</em></a></span><em> with </em><span><a href="https://www.eurotrek.ch/en"><em>Eurotrek.</em></a></span></p>

International Travel

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Meghan Markle’s homeless brother says she helps charities more than her family

<p>Meghan Markle’s estranged half brother has spoken out about how he has been left homeless and is sick of his sister and Prince Harry not helping out family.</p> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Thomas Markle Jr, 53, fell on hard times after losing jobs and splitting up with his fiancee. He has since been forced to move in with his elderly mother in New Mexico after his life “fell apart”.</p> <p>Thomas told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.the-sun.com/news/408950/meghan-markles-homeless-brother-says-hes-sick-of-her-helping-charities-but-not-her-family/" target="_blank">The Sun</a></em><span> </span>how he lost out on jobs due to having the same last name as the famous royal.</p> <p> “Being associated with Meghan has nearly destroyed me.</p> <p>“I am homeless and could have been under a bridge with a cardboard sign begging for money.</p> <p>“But thankfully my Mom has taken me in.</p> <p>“Mentally, this has been a f***ing nightmare ever since Meghan got together with Harry.”</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8MjqZQpfba/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8MjqZQpfba/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal)</a> on Feb 5, 2020 at 11:02am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>He says that he has thought about changing his name to “escape the curse” and that the Palace or Meghan herself could have helped him out.</p> <p>“For her to sit there on her royal pedestal and watch this happening to her family — she should have done her humanitarian work for us.</p> <p>“I’m sick of hearing about her and Harry helping this charity, that charity — whatever cause is in this week.”</p> <p><em>Photo credits: The Sun</em></p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Virgin Australia axes Hong Kong flights

<p>Virgin Australia is cutting all its flights between Australia and Hong Kong, citing challenging market conditions and uncertainties from the coronavirus outbreak.</p> <p>Starting March 2, 2020, the airline will cease all Sydney-Hong Kong services. It had previously announced the suspension of Melbourne-Hong Kong route, with the last flight taking place on February 11.</p> <p>“The Hong Kong market has remained challenging for the airline and demand has continued to decline following ongoing civil unrest,” a statement from Virgin said.</p> <p>“These factors, combined with growing uncertainty around the recent coronavirus outbreak, have led to the decision to cease operating services.”</p> <p>The airline’s chief commercial officer John MacLeod said the decision to withdraw from the Hong Kong market was a “difficult” one.</p> <p>“Current circumstances demonstrate that Hong Kong is no longer a commercially viable route for Virgin Australia to continue operating, however international tourism remains an important part of our strategy through our other international routes and partner airlines,” MacLeod said.</p> <p>Virgin said it is contacting customers who had already booked flights to assist them with alternative arrangements, including rebooking on other carriers or refunding tickets, <span><a href="https://www.finder.com.au/findings-virgin-hong-kong-route-ceases"><em>Finder.com.au</em></a></span> reported.</p>

International Travel

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“£1billion handshakes”: Prince Harry in talks with Goldman Sachs

<p>Prince Harry is in talks to appear as a guest speaker for Goldman Sachs – a move that a PR guru said signals the Duke’s path towards financial independence.</p> <p>The Duke of Sussex first held talks with the Goldman Sachs in November to discuss his possible appearance as a speaker for the investment firm’s interview series <em>Talks at GS</em>, according to the <em><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-au/money/personalfinance/prince-harry-in-talks-with-banking-giant-as-he-sets-sights-on-earning-millions/ar-BBZVEO5?li=AAgfOd8">Mirror</a></em>. Previous speakers have included stars such as David Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow as well as business leaders such as Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger.</p> <p>Harry will likely speak on two subjects: mental health and the needs of military veterans, a source told <em><a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/12/goldman-sachs-is-lining-up-prince-harry-for-online-interview-series.html">CNBC</a></em>.</p> <p>The prince will not be paid for his appearance, but a public relations expert said it could pave the way for the Sussexes to forge new sources of income.</p> <p>“They’re going to earn fortunes, whether through speeches or ambassador work – these are £1 billion handshakes,” PR consultant expert Mark Borkowski told the <em>Mirror</em>.</p> <p>The banking giant declined to comment on the report.</p> <p>Goldman Sachs has previously been criticised for its role in the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis among others. In 2016, the firm paid a US$5.06 billion settlement after it acknowledged it defrauded investors <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/goldman-sachs-pays-7b-for-role-in-global-financial-crisis-20160412-go4igz">during the lead-up to the US financial crisis</a>.</p> <p>Earlier this month, Harry and wife Duchess Meghan <a href="https://pagesix.com/2020/02/07/prince-harry-and-meghan-markle-make-first-public-appearance-since-megxit/">reportedly appeared as keynote speakers</a> at a JPMorgan Chase event in Miami.</p>

International Travel

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“I had to come back”: Olivia Newton-John’s emotional return to Australia

<p>Everyone loves Olivia Newton-John.</p> <p>Since she began her music career in the ‘60s, the Aussie legend has garnered fame all over the world because of her personality, achievements and support for those in need.</p> <p>Six decades later, she’s not planning to stop anytime soon.</p> <p>Instead, the 71-year-old wants to use her platform to help others “any way I can”.</p> <p>The singer-songwriter has backed several charities and is the founding patron of the Oliva Newton-John Cancer Institute. And soon, she will step up once again to perform at Fire Fight Australia, a national concert appeal to help those suffering as a result of the recent national bushfire crisis.</p> <p>“I’m pretty much retired, but when I heard they were doing this, I had to be part of it,” Oliva told<span> </span><em>TV WEEK</em>.</p> <p>“It’s so important, and I feel privileged that I’m able to help in some way. Australians are tough. We have a wonderful sense of spirit and humour, and those things will get us through.”</p> <p>Olivia will be joining her friend John Farnham at the concert, which has given her an excuse to return home. Currently, she and her husband John Easterling divide their time between California, Florida and Australia.</p> <p>“It [the bushfires’ devastation] has had an impact on a global scale and it breaks my heart,” she says. “I had to come back and be part of it [the concert].”</p> <p><span>She will also be cheering from the sidelines as her daughter Chloe Lattanzi is currently competing on </span><em>Dancing With The Stars</em><span>.</span></p> <p><span>“I encouraged her to just be herself,” said Olivia.</span></p> <p><span>“She’s in her own dancing shoes and they’re beautiful – she’ll do great.”</span></p>

International Travel

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The longest day

<p><em>The tramping boots prove their worth as Justine Tyerman’s best hiking buddies on the Walk Japan’s Izu Geo Trail.</em></p> <p>Konnichiwa! I heard the tramping boots (TBs) chortle as they sauntered off to the drying room with the sweet young kimono-clad girl who welcomed us to our ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.</p> <p>The TBs were in fine fettle after our six-hour hike along spectacular forest and coastal tracks on the Izu Geo Trail.</p> <p>We had just finished the longest hike of our seven-day, six-night Walk Japan hiking tour of the Izu Peninsula – just two hours by train from Tokyo but worlds away from hustle-bustle of the megalopolis.</p> <p>I was heading straight for the revitalising waters of the onsen baths with my lady friends while the TBs were looking forward to hobnobbing with their counterparts from around the world.</p> <p>They had once again proven their worth as my best tramping buddies, delivering me safely to my destination at the end of an exhilarating day of hiking in the great outdoors.</p> <p>I could hear them bragging about having been chosen ahead of my lightweight walking shoes, “all very flash and trendy but where’s the tread and ankle support when you need it, eh?”</p> <p>They were right in their element.</p> <p>Day five was the longest hike of the Izu Geo Trail, around 12km with a steep climb or two, “nothing compared with some of the tramps I’ve done in my time”, the TBs crowed.</p> <p>We were accompanied by guide John Sweeney, an Australian chap who lives nearby in a mountain village of only 30 people with his Japanese wife Kiyomi. The couple also run an English language school.</p> <p>John leads an interesting life guiding many Walk Japan tours and also working with search and rescue services.</p> <p>He delivered a thorough safety briefing about watching where we placed our feet and only looking at the scenery when we stopped, an important message given that the track was steep and strewn with tree roots. Always on the lookout for hazards, the TBs agreed.</p> <p>John also mentioned the ‘s’ word which set my heart pounding. The presence of snakes in Japan had not even occurred to me until now but the thought of encountering a venomous mamushi or pit viper was not appealing. I decided to stick close to John and stamp my feet to ward off any vipers lurking in the undergrowth.</p> <p>Aussies the world over just love to terrify Kiwis with snaky stories.</p> <p>Starting from the fishing port of Arari, we set off towards Tago on the coast-hugging Imayama section of the Nishiizu Trail. It was a warm, sunny day and we were hiking uphill so we were grateful for the shade of the forest.</p> <p>After about 45 minutes, we all came to a complete standstill, gazing in wonder at a faint but distinctive cone shape in the distance. It was Mt Fuji rising majestically if somewhat hazily above the cloud on the horizon. Everyone went ballistic with their cameras and iPhones. A photo board showed us the mountain in mid-winter blanketed in snow under clear skies towering above Suraga Bay... but we were all thrilled just to get a glimpse of the famous volcano.</p> <p><strong>Always someone to chat with</strong></p> <p>When we could tear our eyes away from Fuji, from our elevated position high above the ocean, spectacular deeply-eroded cliffs, jagged headlands and rocky offshore islands were clearly visible in both directions. The breath-taking beauty of the landscape far exceeded my expectations and my heart soared as we hiked this wonderful trail in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.</p> <p>With 12 of us in the group (13 counting John), there was always someone to fall into step with and chat with as we walked. I enjoyed such interesting conversations with wonderful people from diverse backgrounds and countries.</p> <p>After a couple of blissful hours hiking, we emerged on a narrow road at the top of a hillside covered in terraced aloe vera fields, some cultivated for harvest, some left to grow wild. A small motorised wagon stood on tracks that led steeply downhill. John said the owner of the aloe vera fields used the wagon to get up and down the steep slope when tending and harvesting the crop. Brave man, I thought as I peered over the edge to where the track plummeted downhill.</p> <p>The pretty little fishing port of Tago was our picnic lunch spot. Many neat and tidy boats were tied up at the quay alongside a seriously-high tsunami protection wall with hefty gates, a reminder of Japan’s exposure to such natural disasters.</p> <p>We stopped at a gated cave in the side of a hill where a kamikaze boat was stored during World War 2. Packed with explosives, the powerful boats were located in strategic positions around the coast in preparation for a US attack.</p> <p>As we headed out of Tago towards Futo Beach on the Tomyagasaki section of the Nishiizu Trail, John drew my attention to a long, narrow white-ish thing on the side of the road. It looked like a strip of flimsy material but on closer inspection, it turned out to be a snake skin. Caught up in the sheer exhilaration of the hike, I had forgotten all about my snake phobia.</p> <p>“Where was this snake now in his brand new and even larger skin?” I wondered.</p> <p>Even the unflappable TBs were slightly rattled.</p> <p>John also took the opportunity to tell me that two hikers we had met coming in the opposite direction that morning had mentioned they saw a snake with a large frog in its mouth.</p> <p>“Don’t worry, it was so busy digesting the frog, it was not interested in us,” he said cheerfully.</p> <p><strong>Hiking seemed effortless</strong></p> <p>The afternoon trail was even more stunning than our morning hike – sparkling calm, blue ocean, the coast stretching for miles, a cloudless sky, sheer cliffs undercut by deep caves, strings of jewel-like bush-topped islands rising abruptly from the sea, joined by necklaces of sand... and all around, the joyful sound of birds singing in the trees. Leaving our backpacks on the side of the trail, we took a side track out to a high promontory overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. There was rare silence as we absorbed the enormity of the panorama.</p> <p>The trail returned to sea-level at Futo Beach where a string of volcanic necks stood like mismatched sentinels along the seashore. The necks are former magma pathways in the vents of what were once a series of ancient submarine volcanos. The softer rock has eroded away exposing the solidified magma within. A bizarre and fantastical sight.</p> <p>The hiking was quite strenuous that day but it seemed effortless – the landscapes were utterly breath-taking. The TBs were in heaven and didn’t want the trail to ever end.</p> <p>Weary but happy, we arrived on foot at Accueil Sanshiro, a modern inn overlooking the Dogashima coast and Sanshiro Islands.</p> <p>The TBs were intrigued by the Japanese practice of removing outside footwear at the door and slipping into slippers. So much more sociable for them to spend the evening with other TBs than hanging out in a bedroom overnight with the ‘lightweights’.</p> <p>Witnessing a west coast sunset on such a clear evening was top of the agenda for everyone so our customary leisurely soak in the onsen baths was cut short to make sure we were all in position, cameras poised, at around 6.30pm.<br />The sunset was spectacular – the fiery ball slid towards a mauve horizon casting a shimmering golden pathway across the sea. A magical sight framed by islands and headlands.</p> <p>A sumptuous feast of fresh local seafood including abalone cooked in their shell at the table awaited us in the banquet room. There was barely any room on the table for wine glasses. The hungry hikers relished every mouthful.</p> <p>Failing to do justice the hotel’s onsen due to ‘sunset frenzy’, I arose early next day and soaked in the lovely outdoor pool overlooking the sea.</p> <p>A buffet breakfast offered a choice of Japanese and Western dishes – I chose fresh salads and vegetables over my usual cereal and yoghurt. I was turning distinctly Japanese... just like the song!</p> <p>The TBs reappeared at the door of the ryokan looking spick and span after a ‘boot spa treatment’. They were so eager to be the footwear of choice on the last day of the hike, I didn’t have the heart to side-line them... it was just as well. Their sturdy support was much in need as we descended from Kodarumayama.</p> <p>– <em>To be continued</em></p> <p><strong>Factbox:</strong></p> <ul> <li>The Izu Geo Trail is a 7-day, 6-night guided tour starting in Tokyo and finishing in Mishima. The trail explores the Izu Peninsula in the Shizuoka Prefecture, one of the most unique geological areas on Earth. The mountainous peninsula with deeply indented coasts, white sand beaches and a climate akin to a sub-tropical island, is located 150km south west of Tokyo on the Pacific Coast of the island of Honshu, Japan.</li> <li>An easy-to-moderate-paced hiking tour with an average walking distance of 6-12km each day, mostly on uneven forest and mountain tracks including some steep climbs and descents.</li> <li>Walk Japan pioneered off-the-beaten-track walking tours in Japan in 1992 with the Nakasendo Way tour. Since then, the company has created 29 guided, self-guided and speciality tours introducing the geography, people, cuisine, customs, culture and history of the real Japan that often remain inaccessible for visitors to the country.</li> <li>Walk Japan has been widely recognised, including selection by National Geographic as one of the 200 Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.</li> </ul> <p><em>Justine Tyerman was a guest of <a href="https://walkjapan.com/">Walk Japan</a>.</em> </p>

International Travel

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Queen summons Meghan and Harry back to the UK

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Her Majesty has called back Meghan Markle and Prince Harry from their relaxed new life in Canada to attend a Commonwealth Service.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved to Canada after announcing they were quitting royal life and becoming “financially independent”.</p> <p>The 93-year-old monarch has reportedly asked them to return to the UK next month for the service at Westminster Abbey.</p> <p>The couple attended the Commonwealth Service last year with Meghan heavily pregnant with Archie.</p> <p>If the couple attend the March 9 event, it will be the first royal engagement for Meghan since the couple quit.</p> <p><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=34784X1028065&amp;isjs=1&amp;jv=13.26.2-stackpath&amp;sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesun.co.uk%2Fnews%2F10925713%2Fqueen-calls-meghan-markle-prince-harry-back%2F&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thetimes.co.uk%2Farticle%2Fharry-and-meghan-earn-1m-for-speech-in-florida-hrvf07xln&amp;xguid=17e9c84a97d49625f2521cd872b72ac6&amp;xs=1&amp;xtz=-660&amp;xuuid=b4ad45a1df2960b47ffacfe9162e3ff2&amp;xcust=01702c414a0700030f308df2f70a03073005306b0086e" target="_blank"><em>The Sunday Times</em></a><span> </span>reported the couple will make a round of final engagements in March before returning to North America. </p> <p>However, the Queen is “remarkably unfazed” by the couple’s decision to start a new life in Canada.</p> <p>“If that’s what they want, if they want to go, we must let them go,” she told friends.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNPb_9B0fn/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNPb_9B0fn/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal)</a> on May 8, 2019 at 8:39am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Prince Harry made his first public appearance at JPMorgan’s Miami billionaire’s summit, where he gave a speech and was reportedly paid $1 million plus expenses for the opportunity.</p> <p>The couple were reportedly flown on the JPMorgan private jet from Vancouver to Palm Beach and the summit was attended by the likes of Patriots owner Bob Kraft and billionaire philanthropist Robert Frederick Smith. </p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Travel ban prevents mum from seeing her son before life support turned off

<p>A Chinese mother has been blocked from seeing her son before his life support is turned off due to the coronavirus travel ban.</p> <p>Xiao Li, 22, has been in the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition since January 27th after his car collided with a truck. He was declared brain dead on Monday.</p> <p>After hearing about her son’s accident, Xing Lan Ren rushed to apply for an Australian visa by January 29th and fast tracked her application at a cost of $1,145.</p> <p>She expected to hear back within two business days, but less than 72 hours later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the minimum two weeks ban on foreign arrivals from mainland China due to coronavirus fears.</p> <p>Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned that the ban would almost certainly be extended beyond February 15 and Jeff, a close friend of Li or “Link” as he is known by friends in Australia, said that “we have no solutions to help her now”.</p> <p>"Link's mother is a labourer in China, she had no money to apply for a visa or get flight tickets. All the money was borrowed from her cousin," Jeff, 30, told <em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/travel-ban-prevents-chinese-mum-from-seeing-son-before-its-too-late-20200206-p53ye5.html" target="_blank">The Age</a></em>.</p> <p>"His mother would apply for a visa, then come here. That was our plan. But coronavirus stopped everything."</p> <p>Before the travel ban, a Royal Melbourne Hospital doctor wrote a signed letter of support for the visa application of Link’s mother and her brother Shi Luming.</p> <p>"[Mr Li] is in a critical condition on life support in the intensive care unit. It is therefore important that his family are present at his bedside during this difficult time," it read.</p> <p>"I hope therefore you can offer his mother and uncle all due consideration for their urgent visa application so they can fly to Melbourne as soon as possible."</p> <p>As there was no window of arrival in sight for Ms Ren and her brother, Jeff said that the doctors called her on Wednesday to discuss Link’s terminal condition.</p> <p>"They asked her, 'would you like to donate Link's organs to 10 people?'. His mother said 'yes, if it can help more people, I can accept it'. It was a nice gesture," Jeff explained.</p> <p>"We know his mother is very, very sad and cried for a very long time. She only has one son, and her husband died years ago. Without Link, she has nobody."</p> <p>The Australian government has since given hope to Link's mother Xing Lan Ren, with acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge saying that the Australian Border Force is urgently considering granting Ms Ren entry into Australia.</p> <p>"Obviously it is not a straightforward situation when we have this ban in place," he told ABC radio this morning.</p> <p>"The ban is in place for a reason, having said that we want to exercise whatever compassionate consideration that we can, in order to enable her to get here as quickly as possible without putting the Australian public at any risk from the coronavirus."</p> <p>Tudge said that the case had come to his attention in the last 24 hours.</p> <p>"I’ve been advised the Australian Border Force Commissioner is actually examining the case this morning," he said.</p> <p>"Our cabinet has given him the discretion to be able to make decisions such as these when there is overwhelming compassion and consideration that needs to be brought to bear, while at the same time not putting the Australian public at risk.</p> <p>"She’s not in the infected province, so that’s the first step, but nevertheless they will still have to be assured that nobody else will be put at risk," he said.</p> <p><em>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/travel-ban-prevents-chinese-mum-from-seeing-son-before-its-too-late-20200206-p53ye5.html" target="_blank">The Age</a></em></p>

International Travel

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Jeremy Clarkson slams Meghan Markle: “Get a grip”

<p><span>Jeremy Clarkson has said Meghan, Duchess of Sussex needs to “get a grip” and stop crying in a turbulent interview. </span><br /><br /><span>The <em>Top Gear</em> star told <em>British GQ</em> that the royal must toughen up after she reportedly rejected the classic “stiff upper lip” philosophy. </span></p> <p><span>“Everybody cries. Everybody cried when Diana was buried. But I mean, as a general rule, you’ve got to get a grip,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>“I think the expression ‘get a grip’ needs to come back into the lexicon as soon as possible. Everybody needs to get a grip. Meghan Markle … just get a grip.”</span><br /><br /><span>Clarkson’s abrasive comments may come as a surprise to many who watched and listened as he came to the defence of the couple when he said the public shouldn’t blame them for wanting to step away from their royal duties. </span><br /><br /><span>He had previously said people were “allowed to resign from jobs they didn’t like”, and that royal life may have come to a shock to Meghan.</span><br /><br /><span>Meghan shocked royal fans across the globe when she admitted being unhappy with her life in a documentary called <em>Harry &amp; Meghan: An African Journey.</em></span><br /><br /><span>“It is not enough to just survive something, right?” She said in the emotional doco.</span><br /><br /><span>“That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive.</span><br /><br /><span>“You’ve got to feel happy and I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried.”</span><br /><br /><span>In January, she walked away from her royal duties alongside her husband Prince Harry and the couple have moved with baby son, Archie, to Canada.</span><br /><br /><span>Meghan has already reportedly signed a voiceover deal with Disney in return for a donation to a wildlife charity.</span></p>

International Travel

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Coronavirus in Wuhan: Residents shout ‘stay strong’ from windows

<p>In Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, <a href="https://youtu.be/bqXfnN76S-I">residents have been shouting</a> “Wuhan <em>jiāyóu</em>” meaning, “Wuhan, stay strong” out of their windows, from apartment building to apartment building, to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51276496">send words of encouragement</a> to fellow citizens, doctors and medical staff at the front lines of the battle.</p> <p>When facing a crisis, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03057240.2011.541774">humans historically seek solidarity</a>. Community solidarity is often seen as a great way for the community to feel alive and charged with energy after facing hard times.</p> <p>This solidarity was seen after <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/hurricane-katrinas-lesson-in-civics/402961/">Hurricane Katrina</a> in New Orleans in 2005, after <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/typhoon-haiyan-filipinos-use-social-media-ensure-no-victim-goes-flna2D11581515">Typhoon Haiyan</a> in the Philippines in 2013 and after the <a href="https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/random-acts-of-kindness-during-the-fort-mcmurray-fire/">Fort McMurray wildfires</a> in Alberta in 2016.</p> <p>More recently, there are tales of <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/andie-bulman-pov-bartering-storm-1.5435804">neighbours shovelling each other out of their homes </a> after the historic snowstorm in St. John’s, N.L. Near Manila, <a href="https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1213189/bayanihan-eruption-unaffected-cities-towns-welcome-evacuees?fbclid=IwAR1w0IUcuPh_Z8sCk2MBJgR23bGOVMVfoLWCz6U4Hyyn-kO6Vh5hAzBdKt0">strangers offered up their homes</a> to evacuees of the Taal volcano eruption.</p> <p>But how do you show community solidarity in the face of a crisis when speaking with your neighbours — and coming together — could literally kill you?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bqXfnN76S-I?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">‘Wuhan jiāyóu’: chants of solidarity spread across city at epicentre of coronavirus" video from ‘The Guardian.’</span></p> <p><strong>Boost morale</strong></p> <p>As the 11 million citizens in Wuhan entered the nth day under lockdown because of the coronavirus, people have been forced to stay indoors to limit their contact with others. As fears grew, some felt the need to boost morale and create a sense of community solidarity.</p> <p>Soon, social media posts circulated asking residents in Wuhan to go to their windows and shout out “<em>jiāyóu</em>” starting at 8 p.m. local time. The posts were widely shared, leading to the phenomenon that took place.</p> <p><em>Jiāyóu</em> (加油) directly translates to “<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-45897668/add-oil-the-new-expression-coming-your-way">add oil</a>” in a way that might mean “add gasoline to your car” so you can continue to push hard and do what you need to do. In a general sense, the sentiment is “stay strong” or “keep going.” <em>Jiāyóu</em> is a common phrase used to encourage someone if they are facing a challenge.</p> <p>As the city of Wuhan faces the life and death challenge of the coronavirus, <em>jiāyóu</em> works as a phrase that resonates with residents of a city struggling to survive.</p> <p>“Wuhan <em>jiāyóu</em>” (武汉! 加油!) is now the motto of Wuhan to keep spirits high in the face of this spreading pandemic.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/312746/original/file-20200130-41485-17ocjao.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">A comment left on ‘The Guardian’s’ Youtube video of the ‘jiāyóu’ chants.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">YouTube/The Guardian</span></span></p> <p>In addition to raising morale and giving a strong sign of life to a city that has been rendered a ghost town, the <em>jiāyóu</em> chants have also served another purpose: for the global media audience, it has helped to humanize the citizens of Wuhan.</p> <p><strong>Apocalyptic fear</strong></p> <p>Even with the exceptional stories like the reporting of “Wuhan <em>jiayou</em>” by <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51276496">the BBC </a> and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/28/indoor-fishing-and-chanting-battles-how-chinas-quarantined-millions-are-keeping-busy"><em>Guardian</em></a>, western media <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1i4fvH-EFDU_xzP-gt3OxZR0RGAvLqU5J/view">has been shown to</a> inevitably contribute to reducing the people at the core of these stories into numbers and statistics.</p> <p>So far, it seems, with a few exceptions, western mainstream media has focused on medical and scientific stories. The images and videos shared of Wuhan <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/27/china-coronavirus-who-to-hold-special-meeting-in-beijing-as-death-toll-jumps">are of a ravaged</a> and scary ghost town. Some include <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000006936419/coronavirus-china-wuhan.html">videos of overflowing hospitals</a> and medical staff in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/jan/30/coronavirus-live-updates-china-death-toll-wuhan-evacuation-foreign-nationals-citizens-latest-news">heavy protective gear</a>. Others have spread stories of <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-rumours-panic-coronavirus-outbreak-1.5443998">apocalyptic fear</a>. Many social media posters have engaged in <a href="https://twitter.com/SimuLiu/status/1222459446799921153?s=20">fear mongering</a>. With all this, it can seem that few have treated the citizens of Wuhan as anything but <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/6466587/coronavirus-risk-reaction/">potential carriers of the virus</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/312903/original/file-20200130-41516-38tn9c.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Simi Liu, recently cast as Marvel’s first Asian superhero has been speaking out against the racist fear mongering circulating on Twitter.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://twitter.com/SimuLiu/status/1222459446799921153?s=20" class="source">(Twitter/@similiu)</a></span></p> <p>While these videos and images depict the reality of a city dealing with a pandemic, the face masks and crowded hospitals allow viewers to overlook the silent majority — the tens of millions of people in self-isolation at home.</p> <p>The <em>jiāyóu</em> chant and the videos that captured it have since gone viral. It is a way for citizens to reclaim their narrative. It helps to draw attention to the millions of diligent and law-abiding citizens who are doing their job in fighting this pandemic and encouraging others to keeping going in this fight against an invisible virus.</p> <p>I believe the humanization of the Wuhan citizens helped to send a wake up call to the world about the plight of those not infected but isolated in their homes. Many westerners have largely focused on whether the virus will spread in their countries. Few may have stopped to think of those in lock down in Wuhan and other cities in China.</p> <p>Some took to social media to ask why the world is not praying for Wuhan or China. Why are there no Facebook profile filters to show solidarity with those struggling against the virus?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/312741/original/file-20200130-41554-1q6puo7.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Screenshot of Orlando Uy’s Facebook comment about the lack of Pray for China activities on social media.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(Facebook/Orlando Uy)</span></span></p> <p>Most recently, in Wuhan, <a href="https://uk.news.yahoo.com/chinese-premier-inspects-wuhan-supermarket-120000938.html">Premier Li Keqiang’s visited</a> a Wuhan supermarket where the coronavirus allegedly originated. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPfZmZZ9M0o">In an act of solidarity, he chanted “<em>jiāyóu</em> Wuhan”</a> with a crowd of shoppers to encourage them to continue fighting the coronavirus.</p> <p>While the premier was likely genuine, there is also a small warning in this government official’s act. There is a risk that acts of solidarity like “Wuhan <em>jiāyóu</em>” could be co-opted by government bodies to shift attention or responsibility away from authorities.</p> <p>This type of co-option was observed in <a href="https://odihpn.org/blog/bayanihan-after-typhoon-haiyan-are-we-romanticising-an-indigenous-coping-strategy/">the exaggerated use of “resilience” and “survival” narratives</a> after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to paint a picture of a rapidly recovering community doing well by being resourceful and helping each other.</p> <p>These narratives of community resilience pushed forth by official government messages can act to shift responsibility away from the state and international humanitarian organizations that have formal responsibilities in disaster risk reduction and recovery.</p> <p>Thus, Premier Li Keqiang was able to use the peoples’ chant, “Wuhan <em>jiāyóu</em>” to rally support in the grocery store. But he did not create a space for questions about accountability and government action. This is often the double-edged sword of community solidarity: it is powerful, but it can also be misused by the powerful. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130851/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qPfZmZZ9M0o?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Premier Li Kequiang shouting ‘Wuhan jiayou.’</span></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-su-742700">Yvonne Su</a>, PhD, International Development and Political Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-guelph-1071">University of Guelph</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-in-wuhan-residents-shout-stay-strong-from-windows-130851">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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In the company of mountain gods

<p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Justine Tyerman practises her “one foot after the other” mantra on day two of the Bear Trek in the Swiss Alps. </span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kleine Scheidegg Pass looked formidable in the early morning light, shaded by the massive granite North Face of the Eiger. I was tempted to bury my head under my cosy down duvet, feign a pulled ligament or something and allow Guide Birgit and Team Super-Fit to hike on without me.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">I had made the mistake of studying the profile of Day Two of the Bear Trek the night before and discovered that before we even started the climb, the track plunged all the way to the valley floor, appropriately called Grund, adding hours and vertical metres to an already challenging ascent.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The warning bells I had earlier ignored before I left New Zealand were clanging away again inside my head, but so too were my Kiwi tramping friend’s words that had kept me going the previous day: “One foot after the other and you’ll get there... eventually.” </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides, I was the only Kiwi in the group and I couldn’t let the Aussies get the better of me. I floundered my way out of duvets and pillows so deep, they must have placed the entire Swiss goose population in serious jeopardy, showered, pulled on my hiking gear and presented myself in the dining room with a brave smile on my face.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Over a hearty breakfast at our lovely Hotel Kirchbühl high above the village of Grindelwald, Birgit studied the itinerary for Day Two.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The detailed route map proposed by Eurotrek, the company that organised our hike, went from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen via Kleine Scheidegg Pass, covering 19.5km, ascending 1230m and descending 1465m, a hiking time of seven hours, 25 minutes.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Birgit frowned... and then beamed.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think we’ll take the train to Alpiglen,” she said. “No point in walking all the way down just to climb back up again. And we’re staying in Wengen for the night which is much closer than Lauterbrunnen.”</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tall, lean Ms Super-Duper Fit was crestfallen but I was so relieved I hugged Birgit.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">What a wonderful, wise woman</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, I thought.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> How I love the Swiss Transport System. There’s always a train, bus, cablecar, gondola or funicular right where you need it. Catching the train to Alpiglen and staying at Wengen would lop off about three hours and hundreds of vertical metres. This would enable us to have a more relaxed, enjoyable experience with ample time to revel in the landscape, take photos and stop for a leisurely lunch on this most pristine of sunny autumn days.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first rays of sun kissed the tip of the snow-capped peaks as we set off, well-fuelled, after a substantial hikers’ breakfast. The train deposited us at Alpiglen where we began the climb to Kleine Scheidegg Pass, 2061m. The ascent was steep and steady but the unfolding of the landscape as the mighty Bernese triumvirate - the Eiger, Mönsch and Jungfrau - came into view, made every step rewarding. Bright sunshine, clear skies and mild temperatures added to the magic of the day.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">We crossed gurgling, gin-clear, ice-cold streams trickling down lush, green mountain pastures, and stopped to pat friendly cows with tinkling bells. They were so tame, they licked us with their long purple-black, sandpaper tongues.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Encounters with other hikers and bikers of different nationalities were more frequent than on the previous day but we had the well-formed trail largely to ourselves.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was last to “summit” the pass but the heady exhilaration of having made it to the top obliterated the pain in my calf muscles and thumping of my heart. The Aussies were good sports. They didn’t seem to mind waiting for me. With breath-taking alpine panoramas, there was no down-time for them – cameras and iPhones were working overtime.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Above Kleine Scheidegg, in the shadow of the 3970m Eiger, there’s a tiny museum that documents the triumphs and tragedies of past climbing expeditions on the treacherous Nordwand (North Face). The stories are chilling especially the horrific tale of the climber in 1936 who, despite valiant rescue attempts, froze to death on the end of his rope after his three companions perished. He was just metres from safety.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Sphinx Terrace and observatory at the “Top of Europe” was visible high above us - building such a structure on a narrow ridge 3571m above sea level is a marvel of engineering. So too the cogwheel Jungfrau Railway train from Kleine Scheidegg to Europe’s highest railway station (3454m). Opened in 1912, the top 7km of the 9.4km of railway climbs through a tunnel hewn in the rock of the Eiger and Mönch, an audacious project that took 16 years to complete.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">As we sat in the sun gazing at the mountain gods, I felt a deep sense of reverence to be in their company.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was a quintessentially Swiss day – a sprinkling of fresh snow dusted the peaks, the edelweiss was in flower, and the alpine chalets were competing for the brightest window boxes and neatest firewood pile.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Swiss stack their firewood under the eaves against the chalet walls or in purpose-built sheds. The pieces are always perfectly cut to exactly the same size and arranged with the utmost symmetry – like an artwork.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It’s a Swiss thing,” Birgit said, “a point of national pride. A messy wood pile would be shameful in Switzerland.”</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Descending from Kleine Scheidegg Pass, the rumble of an avalanche echoed around the mountains as a slab of ice broke free from a blue-white glacier and thundered down the valley, an awesome sight and sound from a safe distance.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Late in the season, a few of the mountain restaurants were already closed but the Bergrestaurant Allmend was open and served an excellent lunch platter. With only a short downward hike to Wengen ahead of us, a little schnapps was in order, “a Swiss tradition,” Birgit said.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">An easy downhill hike from the Allmend took us straight to the Silberhorn, our hotel in the centre of the delightful, car-free resort of Wengen.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">The exquisite picture-postcard village, with its traditional wooden chalets and belle époque hotels, is perched on a sunny terrace 400 metres above the Lauterbrunnen Valley with stunning vistas of the Jungfrau and Schilthorn.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Famous for its World Cup Lauberhorn ski piste, Wengen also has excellent year-round, family-friendly activities for everyone including skiing, toboggan runs and winter and summer hiking trails. Mountain trains and cableways provide access to spectacular vantage points throughout the Jungfrau region.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">After a relaxing soak in the Silberhorn’s outside Jacuzzi, I managed to do justice to a delectable five-course feast at the hotel’s excellent restaurant - melon and prosciutto, lentil soup, salads, beef ragout and apricot tart... among many other choices.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">High altitude can sometimes disrupt sleep patterns but the exertion of the day and the larger- than-usual-dinner... and a glass or two of wine...  acted as a powerful sedative for me.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">I fell asleep looking at the map of the next day’s hike with the words “22km, 2000m ascent, 1400m descent, 9 hours” swirling around in my mind  – but by now, I was confident I would manage whatever trimmed-down version Birgit had in store up for us.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">I knew I’d reach my destination, eventually, simply by placing “one foot after the other...”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Read more about </span><a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/the-slow-coach"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Day One of the trek</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>Factbox</strong>:</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">* The Bear Trek is part of the Via Alpina, a classic among long-distance hikes in Switzerland. The Via Alpina is a challenging mountain hike through the picture-perfect landscapes of Switzerland’s northern alps. A series of 20 daily stages takes hikers over 14 alpine passes and through a great variety of alpine terrain, villages, flora and fauna - a hiking enthusiast’s dream. Mountain restaurants and hotels provide meals and accommodation along the way. Eurotrek organised our accommodation and luggage transfers so we just carried a light day pack. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Justine Tyerman was a guest of </span><a href="http://www.myswitzerland.com/hiking"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Switzerland Tourism</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, travelled courtesy of </span><a href="https://www.swiss.com/au/en"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Swiss Travel Pass</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and hiked in the </span><a href="https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/winter/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jungfrau Region</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> with </span><a href="https://www.eurotrek.ch/en"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eurotrek.</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></em></p>

International Travel