International Travel

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Sister’s 30-year prank war gets a helping hand from Virgin Australia

<p>Many siblings find odd ways to pass the time and for grown-up Kiwi sisters Angela and Mari, they’ve passed the time for 30 years with a prank war.</p> <p>However, as the prank war has been going on for a long time, it’s easy for ideas to quickly run out. Angela realised that her sister was going on a flight to Tonga and decided to enlist the help of Virgin Australia for the ultimate sisterly prank.</p> <p>She reached out to the airline via Facebook and they were more than happy to get involved.</p> <p>"We find the stupidest things funny, which is why this game started," Angela told the airline.</p> <p>The prank involves their dad’s 40th birthday present, which is an odd-looking miniature “The Bearded Man” toy.</p> <p>The pranks initially started off small and quickly escalated.</p> <p>"We would hide it, and the other one would find it ... [we] couriered them, posted them, [hid it] under the pillow, planted him in the [car] sun visor."</p> <p>After messaging Virgin Australia, Angela left it up to the crew to decide what happened.</p> <p>The video has a very sweet ending, with both sisters ending up surprised. Watch the video below!</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fvirginaustralia%2Fvideos%2F2589086831178008%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=380" width="380" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p>

International Travel

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They’re just like us! Cambridge family’s humble decision amid private jet furore

<p>Prince William and Duchess Kate have arrived in Scotland to visit the Queen at her Balmoral holiday home. </p> <p>However, it is not their decision to visit Her Majesty that has made headlines around the world - but instead their choice of transportation. </p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with their three children, Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 16 months, travelled home with the flew budget airline<span> </span>FlyBe. </p> <p>The royal family was spotted landing at Aberdeen Airport from Norwich Airport, near their home of Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate - on a flight that would have cost them AU$139 (NZ: $147) per person on the flight. </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/B1ehwQBHefl/" 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/B1ehwQBHefl/" target="_blank">A post shared by Eugenia Garavani (@eugeniagaravani)</a> on Aug 22, 2019 at 11:52am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The news comes amidst a scandal embroiling their family, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have copped a heap of criticism for reportedly flying by private jet to Nice, France to visit singer, Elton John. The flight alone is said to have costed approximately AU$36,000 (NZD$38,000). </p> <p>Media outlets and critical members of the public took turns lambasting the new royal parents for their four flights on private jets in two weeks, in the wake of Prince Harry’s recent climate change comments. </p> <p>The retaliation involved a number of high profile figures coming to the defense of the royal’s including Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres and Pink. </p> <p>John and a close friend both said Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan both flew private for security purposes - a claim which may not hold up to some considering the second and third-in-line-to-the-throne were photographed doing the opposite. </p> <p>However,<span> </span>ITV’s<span> </span>royal editor, Chris Ship suggests the photos of the Cambridge family just confirms all the more that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a wise decision. </p> <p>"The Royals are always at risk of having their privacy invaded by camera phones in the hands of other passengers," Ship wrote about the pictures taken by those on-board.</p> <p>"A smarter interpretation might be this: these images - which first found their way onto the Mail Online - support Harry and Meghan's decision to accept offers of private jets to protect the privacy they so crave when they're not on duty."</p>

International Travel

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15 of the world’s spookiest travel destinations

<div id="page1" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>From the haunted and the legendary to the downright creepy, these mysterious spots will chill you to the bone. Can you survive the night?</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page2" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>1. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>You know the legend: The Headless Horseman rides over the bridge near the Old Dutch Church, searching for his lost head. Washington Irving’s classic tale was based on a section of Tarrytown, New York, now actually renamed after the fictional Sleepy Hollow – and the town goes all out for the spooky Halloween season. Located in the Hudson Valley, it’s just over an hour by car from New York City. Visit the church’s burial ground to see the final resting places of the real-life people who inspired the story, and listen to the tale read aloud inside the church itself. Take a lantern tour after dark of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is buried. A visit to haunted “Horseman’s Hollow” will scare you out of your wits (Caution: It’s not for children). You might even run into the horseman himself!</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>2. Transylvania, Romania</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page3" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>This region of Romania takes visitors to that place between myth and reality where spooky beings like Dracula exist. Transylvania and its castles have dubious connections with Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire and the real-life prince who supposedly inspired him, Vlad the Impaler, but it sure looks the part. Bran Castle is popularly known as “Dracula’s Castle” because its appearance fits Stoker’s description; plus, it may have briefly housed Vlad as a prisoner. A stunning sight in itself, the castle hosts an annual Halloween party for those not afraid the legend will come to life. Other impressive castles linked with Vlad include Poenari Fortress and Corvin Castle.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>3. London, United Kingdom</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page4" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>With its eerie English mist and famous fog, this is one city where ghosts feel right at home. Take an evening Jack the Ripper tour through Whitechapel, visiting notable spots on the trail of the 19th century serial killer’s unsolved murders; then stop at The Ten Bells pub where his victims spent time before meeting their grisly fate. Nearby on the banks of the Thames, the imposing Tower of London witnessed many royal beheadings including Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn, and spirits of the executed still walk the grounds. At Highgate Cemetery in northern London, phantoms of the departed – and even a vampire – have been seen wandering among the tombstones; steady your ghosthunting nerves at The Flask pub (also haunted) around the corner.<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/entertainment/these-5-chilling-real-ghost-stories-will-make-you-believe" target="_blank"></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div data-fuse="21833175500"><strong>4. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA</strong></div> <div id="page5" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Called the most haunted city in America, New Orleans’ history is steeped in Voodoo, vampires and ghosts around every corner. It’s no wonder it’s been the setting for supernatural tales such as “Interview with the Vampire”,<span> </span><em>True Blood</em>, and<span> </span><em>American Horror Story</em>. Take a ghost tour to hear about the atrocities committed at the LaLaurie mansion. Visit the bars and pubs of the French Quarter, which all seem to be haunted. Check out a voodoo shop, and take a stroll through the “city of the dead” at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, burial place of “voodoo queen” Marie Laveau.<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/activities/fancy-night-haunted-house-heres-7-choose" target="_blank"></a></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>5. La Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page6" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>You’re probably not going to book a vacation to this tropical isle, but if you happen to be visiting Mexico City and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Xochimilco, check out this creepy off-the-beaten-path destination. Legend has it that the Island of the Dolls is home to the spirit of a young girl who drowned offshore. A recluse who lived there believed collecting and displaying dolls, now filthy and missing body parts, would appease her spirit. Tragically, he also drowned – coincidence? Visitors have said the dolls move, blink their eyes, and even whisper. See for yourself if you dare.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>6. Salem, Massachusetts, USA</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page7" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Home to one of the most notorious events in American history, the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, this city just north of Boston now embraces its witchy past with the annual Haunted Happenings festival. Visit the Salem Witch Museum or the Jonathan Corwin “Witch House,” the only remaining structure with direct ties to the trials (Corwin was a judge). You can also tour the real “House of the Seven Gables”, the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Gothic tale. Hawthorne’s ancestor, John Hathorne, was also a witch trial judge; visit his grave in the Old Burial Point (Charter Street Cemetery). Remarkably, it was only in 2016 that historians verified the execution site of the alleged witches, where a memorial now stands. However, because it’s in a residential neighbourhood, it might be better to pay your respects at the memorial downtown. For the lighter side of the town’s past, check out the locations where<span> </span><em>Hocus Pocus</em><span> </span>was filmed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page8" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>7. Dartmoor, Devon, England</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>This area in county Devon features eerie moors where mists have been known to come on suddenly and disorient those who dare wander the barren landscape. Dartmoor is also home to more than its fair share of ghost stories, witches and pixies. One of these inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, which featured a deadly canine spectre. Explore the spooky setting for yourself with a visit to Dartmoor National Park – you can even take a guided Hound of the Baskervilles tour to learn more about the supernatural history of the area.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>8. Mercado de Brujas, Lima, Peru</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page9" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Off the beaten path, the Mercado de Brujas, or Witch Market, within Lima’s non-witchy Gamarra Market, is definitely not a tourist attraction: It’s the real deal. The place sells everything a shaman would need for traditional Peruvian folk medicine: snake skins, dried llama fetuses, monkey skulls and a mixture of natural elements called hatun hampi. You can also sample a curative drink made from live frogs. (We don’t recommend drinking it!)<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/10-forbidden-places-no-one-will-ever-be-allowed-visit" target="_blank"></a></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>9. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, USA</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page10" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>If “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” consider a vacation to this mysterious hotel. Horror master Stephen King himself was so freaked out by the place when he stayed in haunted room 217 that it inspired his classic, “The Shining”. “Wandering through its corridors, I thought that it seemed the perfect – maybe the archetypical – setting for a ghost story,” the author says on his website. “That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming.” Jerking out of bed, within a few minutes he had the idea for his novel. But it’s not just fiction: This Rocky Mountain hotel, which opened in 1909, has its own haunted past (listen for the sound of children playing or a tinkling piano), which visitors can explore during the Night Spirits Tour.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>10. Paris, France</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page11" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>The City of Light has some dark history. Visit the elaborately decorated Garnier Opera House, the real-life setting for “The Phantom of the Opera”. Although the Opera’s museum and library curator, Pierre Vidal, told<span> </span><em>The Telegraph</em>, “nobody has seen a ghost in the opera house,” you can play a Phantom-themed “immersive adventure” escape game there. If you’re looking for actual ghosts, keep an eye out for the Red Man in the Tuileries gardens. But for the spookiest Parisian experience, check out the Paris catacombs, hundreds of kilometres of underground passageways lined with the bones of six million souls.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>11. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page12" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>The recent Helen Mirren thriller,<span> </span><em>Winchester</em>, told the story behind this real-life house – whether the supernatural part is true or not is up to you to decide. Tragedy befell rifle heiress Sarah Winchester when her infant daughter and husband died, which she believed to be retribution by all those who had perished by Winchester guns. Sarah began building the maze-like house in the 19th century – and never stopped until her death, creating staircases and doors that don’t lead anywhere, windows that look onto other rooms, and massive amounts of bedrooms so she could change up where she slept. Why do all this? Supposedly, she wanted to confuse the spirits that haunted her. Visit the house today for spooky candlelight tours.<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/14-enchanting-places-look-straight-out-fairy-tale" target="_blank"></a></p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>12. Edinburgh, Scotland</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page13" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Edinburgh’s Old Town looks like something out of the Middle Ages – and spirits from that time still linger among the cobblestone lanes. Take a ghost tour along the Royal Mile, which heads up to the imposing Edinburgh Castle, home to phantoms including the headless drummer. One of the most haunted spots in the city is Mary King’s Close, a narrow street that was hit hard by the deadly Black Plague. It was walled off and is now underground, but you can visit it with the Real Mary King’s Close experience. Oh, and try not to disturb the poltergeist that haunts Greyfriars Kirkyard.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>13. Valley of the Kings, Egypt</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page14" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>See where the royalty of Egypt’s New Kingdom is buried – if you dare risk incurring the mummies’ curse of misfortune following those who enter. The legend seemed to come to life when King Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922 and several members of the expedition, including its financier Lord Carnarvon, died soon after. You can visit Tut’s tomb, along with others, but beware: Some are crowded, dark, and claustrophobic, so not for the faint of heart.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page15" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>14. Savannah, Georgia, USA</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>With a history of Civil War battles, yellow fever epidemics and even murder, ghosts abound every place you go in this Spanish moss-covered city. Spend an overnight in one of Savannah’s many haunted hotels, including The Hamilton-Turner Inn, which figured in the true crime book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”; The Marshall House, which served as a hospital during the Civil War and yellow fever outbreaks; and Kehoe House, where two of the original owners’ children allegedly died. You can also spot spirits when out for dinner or drinks at 17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant, The Pirates’ House, and Moon River Brewing Company.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/"><strong>15. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page16" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>A short day trip from Prague, one of the most haunted cities in the world, visitors will find this church decorated with…human bones. Yup, an ossuary is actually a depository for skeletal remains, and this place, also known as the “Bone Church,” doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. The current arrangement of bones was created in 1870, and includes bells, chalices, candelabras, crosses, a coat of arms and a massive chandelier, all made up of 60,000 human skeletons.</p> <p><em>Written by Tina Donvito. This article first appeared in </em><span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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World’s best vineyards for 2019 revealed

<p><span>The world’s best vineyards have been revealed, and an Adelaide winery make the top 20 list.</span></p> <p><span>In the inaugural World’s Best Vineyard Awards, nearly 500 sommeliers, wine experts and luxury travel correspondents cast their votes among 1,500 nominated wineries around the world. </span></p> <p><span>“Wine is a reflection of its individual surroundings, its terroir,” said the awards founder Andrew Reed. “It’s not just about the wine; it’s a total package.”</span></p> <p><span>Argentinian winery Zuccardi Valle de Uco was crowned as the 2019 winner in July. Located at the footsteps of the Andes Mountains, the World’s Best Vineyards Academy described the winery as “one of the most impressive on the planet”. The family-run business has been making wine since 1960s.</span></p> <p><span>South America dominated the list, with eight Chilean vineyards placing in the top 50 list. Europe also featured prominently with appearances from France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Italy, England and Austria.</span></p> <p><span>From the land of the long white cloud, Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka emerged as the best in Australasia at number eight. Following closely was Craggy Range at number 11.</span></p> <p><span>Three South Australian wineries also made the cut. Adelaide Hills’ Penfold’s Magill Estate came in at number 13, while d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale and Seppeltsfield Barossa placed at number 29 and 47 respectively. </span></p> <p><span>Find the full Top 50 list <a href="https://www.worldsbestvineyards.com/top-50/">here</a>.</span></p>

International Travel

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Traveller shames fellow plane passenger for disgusting in-flight habit

<p>A passenger was grossed out after a man placed his bare feet on the in-flight entertainment screen, leaving dirty toe print marks on the wall.</p> <p>Taking to social media, American comedian Andy Richter posted images of the incident.</p> <p>He also provided an explanation as to how he managed to get him to stop.</p> <p>He wrote: “So I snitched this f***** out to the flight attendant, who told him to put them down.</p> <p>“Puts them back a few minutes later &amp; I asked him to put them down. ‘They’re your bare feet, man’.</p> <p>“He was shocked and put them down. When he just put them back up I decided f*** it, I’m tweeting.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">So I snitched this fucker out to the flight attendant, who told him to put them down. Puts them back a few minutes later &amp; I asked him to put them down. “They’re your bare feet, man.” He was shocked &amp; put them down. When he just put them back up I decided fuck it, I’m tweeting <a href="https://t.co/EeeHCPUFwe">pic.twitter.com/EeeHCPUFwe</a></p> — Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) <a href="https://twitter.com/AndyRichter/status/1163254074650824704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 August 2019</a></blockquote> <p>“We had to get off the plane because of lightning and there were dirty toe smudges where his feet were.</p> <p>“I’m not exaggerating. You could see the outline of his big toe, etc.”</p> <p>Andy then said: “The flight attendant came back right before we got off and asked him to take them down again.</p> <p>“Guy did and asked, ‘Is that like a just-when-taxiing thing?’</p> <p>“Attendant: ‘No, it’s a basic aeroplane courtesy thing’. Guy seemed surprised to hear that.”</p> <p>He also said: “And everyone around him was grossed out and appreciative that I said something but didn’t want to join in. ‘People are crazy. You never know’, one lady said.”</p> <p>Everyone seemed to take Andy’s side, as the responses were quite one sided, with one Twitter user saying: “What is wrong with people?? News flash: no one should put their bare feet up in the shared space of an aeroplane, or God forbid, on someone else’s armrest.”</p> <p>Another person said: “So glad we rarely fly. People are so disgusting.”</p>

International Travel

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“Imagine being attacked for everything you do”: Ellen DeGeneres hits back at Harry and Meghan’s critics

<p>Ellen DeGeneres has joined Elton John and a number of other celebrities in voicing support for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex amid growing criticism of the royal couple’s use of private jets.</p> <p>Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have come under fire after the British press reported on their trips and<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/19/citing-princess-dianas-death-elton-john-blasts-britains-media-coverage-meghan-harry/?noredirect=on" target="_blank">use of private planes</a>. The couple was accused of being hypocritical for going on luxury flights while proclaiming to support environmental causes.</p> <p>DeGeneres defended the royal pair in a statement on her social media accounts.</p> <p>The 61-year-old TV host wrote that she “met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation”.</p> <p>She wrote, “They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you're trying to do is make the world better.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better. <a href="https://t.co/226pRO1fj1">pic.twitter.com/226pRO1fj1</a></p> — Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow/status/1163551594526343168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 19, 2019</a></blockquote> <p>DeGeneres’s comment came after<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/deeply-distressed-elton-john-defends-harry-and-meghan-against-malicious-tabloids/" target="_blank">singer Sir Elton John slammed the “distorted and malicious account” of the Duke and Duchess’ trips</a>.</p> <p>John said he provided a 12-seater Cessna plane to allow the couple to travel to his home in Nice, France.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home. To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.</p> — Elton John (@eltonofficial) <a href="https://twitter.com/eltonofficial/status/1163479335585701889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 19, 2019</a></blockquote> <p>“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, [husband] David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home,” he wrote in a series of Twitter posts.</p> <p>“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.</p> <p>“To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™.”</p> <p>John said he felt obliged to provide a private travel option for the royal couple due to the scrutiny that the royal family faces. “Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.”</p> <p>Singer Pink and polo player Nacho Figueras have also come to the Sussexes’ defense.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">I’m happy to see people coming to the defense of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh? Let’s show our children that it’s cool to be kind.</p> — P!nk (@Pink) <a href="https://twitter.com/Pink/status/1163658843554893826?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 20, 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">The couple’s close friend and <a href="https://twitter.com/Sentebale?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sentebale</a> ambassador <a href="https://twitter.com/nachofigueras?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nachofigueras</a> has also spoken out: “The press focuses on attacking them and trying to find problems where there are not. I will defend them and what they do and who they are for as long as I live.” <a href="https://t.co/qxfQuP4xEa">pic.twitter.com/qxfQuP4xEa</a></p> — Omid Scobie (@scobie) <a href="https://twitter.com/scobie/status/1163530192024932352?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 19, 2019</a></blockquote> <p>“The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh?” Pink wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday.</p> <p>Figueras, a friend of the couple and an ambassador for Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, wrote on his social media accounts: “The press focuses on attacking them and trying to find problems where there are not. I will defend them and what they do and who they are for as long as I live.”</p>

International Travel

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Why Venice has banned cruise ships

<p><span>The Italian government has announced that large cruise ships will be banned from entering the Grand Canal in Venice’s historic centre.</span></p> <p><span>“The aim is to reroute about one-third of the cruise ships already booked on Venice toward new berths by 2020,” said Italy’s infrastructure and transport minister Danilo Toninelli at a hearing on Wednesday, as reported by <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/venice-cruise-ships-lagoon-scli-intl/index.html"><em>CNN</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>“We’ve been talking about big ships for 15 years, and nothing has been done. These floating palaces will start to go elsewhere.”</span></p> <p><span>Starting September, select liners will be redirected away from Guidecca Canal to Fusina and Lombardia terminals outside the historic centre, Toninelli said. </span></p> <p><span>The decision came after <a href="https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/new-venice-cruise-ship-bans">the MSC Opera ship crashed into a dock in the city centre’s canal in June</a>, injuring five people.</span></p> <p><span>Residents have been protesting the presence of large cruise liners in the city since 2006, with concerns raised over environmental damage, water levels’ displacement and overtourism. </span></p> <p><span>According to the Port Authority, an estimated 32,000 cruise ship passengers disembark in Venice every day from April to October. This number increases to nearly 500,000 in August, as per recent National Tourism Agency figures.</span></p> <p><span>The cruise industry has supported the government’s call. </span></p> <p><span>“The cruise industry has worked diligently with the Mayor of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Port Authority and many others to find viable solutions to allow larger cruise ships to access the Marittima berths without transiting the Giudecca Canal,” Adam Goldstein, chairman of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said. </span></p> <p><span>“We are in agreement with the solution developed by Comitatone in 2017 to utilise the Vittorio Emanuele Canal as the best and most prudent means to move larger cruise ships away from the Giudecca. </span></p> <p><span>“CLIA cruise line members welcome and will support the urgent implementation of this solution.”</span></p> <p><span>A “tourism tax” will also come into effect next month as the Italian city begins implementing a daytime entrance fee of up to €10. Tourists staying overnight will be exempt as the fee is included in the hotel rate.</span></p>

International Travel

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“Deeply distressed” Elton John defends Harry and Meghan against ‘malicious’ tabloids

<p>Sir Elton John has slammed media coverage of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, comparing it to the “intrusion” that led to Princess Diana’s “untimely death”.</p> <p>In a number of Twitter posts overnight, Sir Elton revealed he paid for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to travel by private jet to visit his $26 million home in Nice.</p> <p>The 72-year-old admitted to providing the lavish 12-seater Cessna plane, that would have set him back $36,000 to hire due to the “high level of much-needed protection”.</p> <p>The Rocket Man singer defended the couple online as he requested for “fair coverage” after photographs were released of the family boarding the luxury jet with their son Archie.</p> <p>He said: “After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.</p> — Elton John (@eltonofficial) <a href="https://twitter.com/eltonofficial/status/1163479333689860099?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 August 2019</a></blockquote> <p>“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.</p> <p>“To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint.”</p> <p>After making their way to Nice Airport on Wednesday, the family-of-three were transported in a Mercedes limo complete with police protection, and taken to Sir Elton’s stunning French Riviera villa, Castel Mont-Alban.</p>

International Travel

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The secret to Robert De Niro’s hospitality empire

<p><span>In recent years, celebrity business brands sprout up as fast as they dissolved. But this has not been the case for Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro, who just celebrated the 25<sup>th</sup> anniversary of his restaurant and hotel brand Nobu.</span></p> <p><span>The beginning of the business could be traced back to 1988, when De Niro visited Matsuhisa, a Los Angeles restaurant headed by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa. </span></p> <p><span>“The food was amazing,” De Niro recalled to <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/robert-de-niro-nobu-matsuhisa-hospitality/index.html"><em>CNN Travel</em></a>. “Japanese food traditionally in New York and in my experience even in London was very by the book, but it wasn’t what Nobu was doing.”</span></p> <p><span>As he fell further for the food, he reached out to the chef and proposed to help Matsuhisa open a second outpost of the restaurant in Manhattan, New York. Although Matsuhisa rejected his offers, De Niro continued to patronise his business.</span></p> <p><span>Four years later, De Niro called Matsuhisa and put the idea back on the table. “He had been waiting four whole years! My experiences … had made me extremely wary of entering into partnerships with anyone, but his willingness to wait showed me that I could trust him,” Matsuhisa recalled in his book <a href="https://www.eater.com/2017/11/13/16599812/nobu-matsuhisa-robert-de-niro-memoir-excerpt"><em>Nobu: A Memoir</em></a><em>.</em></span></p> <p><span>Matsuhisa finally agreed to establish Nobu, an upmarket Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in New York in 1994 with De Niro and two other partners.</span></p> <p><span>Other cities soon followed, including London, Las Vegas, Cape Town, Mexico City and Beijing.</span></p> <p><span>In 2013, they expanded the Nobu brand into the hotel business.</span></p> <p><span>Today, De Niro, Matsuhisa and investor Meir Teper have 39 restaurants and nine hotels across five continents under their name. According to the group, Nobu Hospitality is looking to earn US$1 billion in revenue in the next five years.</span></p> <p><span>Teper said their approach is focused on ensuring customers’ needs are fulfilled. </span></p> <p><span>“Many times, Nobu says that if you had to divide [it up], what is more important, service or food? He would say 60 per cent service, 40 per cent food. Because people remember service,” he said. “We adapted the same philosophy for the hotel.”</span></p> <p><span>“It’s not so easy to be partners for 25 years, but we are close to each other,” said Teper. “We only want to do what is right, in the right location, with the right people.”</span></p>

International Travel

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15 breathtaking places to visit before they disappear

<div id="page1" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>With many of the world’s amazing destinations under threat due to climate change and neglect, it’s not surprising that last-chance tourism is on the rise. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and head to one of these gorgeous destinations before it’s too late.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>1. The Maldives</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page2" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>In 2017, yet another study published in<span> </span><em>Nature</em><span> </span>determined that climate change has accelerated the rate at which the sea levels are rising. So it stands to reason that the destination most at risk is the lowest-lying country in the world, an island nation comprised of a series of atolls formed from coral in the Indian Ocean. Go now, while the Maldives are still a tropical paradise with year-round temperatures in the low 80s, crystalline waters, and beaches that glow in the dark.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div data-fuse="21833175956"><strong>2. Everglades National Park, USA</strong></div> <div id="page3" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>The beautiful and unique wetland wilderness at the southern tip of Florida contains the Western Hemisphere’s largest mangrove ecosystem and largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie. It is home to an exceptional variety of wading birds, reptiles and numerous threatened species, such as the Florida panther and manatee. Urban development, industry and agriculture pressures have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades and what remains has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger since 2010.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>3. Venice, Italy</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page4" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>If your bucket list features a romantic gondola ride on picturesque canals, there’s no time like the present to book a trip to Venice. Due to rising sea levels and natural tectonic processes, the stunning “Floating City” is sinking at a rate of one to two millimetres per year, according to a study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That translates to around 8cm over the next two decades.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div data-fuse="21833175500"><strong>4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia</strong></div> <div id="page5" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>The world’s largest and most breathtaking coral reef is dying at the hands of humans. Climate change and pollution have led to acidification, extreme weather and starfish outbreaks. Spikes in water temperature have caused large-scale coral bleaching episodes, in which vast swathes of colourful corals turn a sickly white. More than half of the reef’s coral cover has disappeared since the 1980s, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and experts say the rest could be lost within two decades.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>5. Antarctica</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page6" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Ready for your next big adventure? During summer in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice shrinks, allowing cruise ships access to a vast white wilderness larger than Europe and home to a wonderful assortment of species, including penguins, leopard seals and orcas. In 2017, a study published in<span> </span><em>Nature</em>predicted that the world’s permanent ice caps are on track to shrink by nearly 25 percent by the end of the century and most of this will occur in the Antarctic Peninsula. This will irreversibly change the continent’s fragile ecosystem.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page7" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>6. Great Wall of China</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>China’s most famous monument stretches more than 20,000 kilometres in its entirety, but according to<span> </span><em>Smithsonian Magazine</em>, less than nine percent of the Great Wall remains in good condition. Much of the Ming Dynasty portion of the wall had disappeared at the hands of erosion and human damage from tourists who walk on it, locals who pilfer bricks for their own use, and graffiti artists who use it as a canvas. While some restoration of the Great Wall is happening, a lack of substantial government funding to protect the landmark means its future will continue to be threatened.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>7. Vienna, Austria</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page8" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>From rococo palaces and Baroque castles to famed coffeehouses, world-class museums, and labyrinthine-like alleyways, Vienna’s appeal has endured for millennia. But last year, UNESCO added the beautiful historic centre of the Austrian capital to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to a boom of high-rise projects that will change the city’s skyline forever.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>8. Madagascar</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page9" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>When a hunk of land split off from the African continent 160 million years ago, the result was Madagascar – an island with distinct ecosystems and an extraordinarily diverse collection of plant life and wildlife. An astounding number of Madagascar’s reptiles and mammals exist nowhere else on Earth. Sadly, most of Madagascar’s forests have been destroyed by deforestation, which remains the biggest single threat to the island’s wildlife. A 2017 study found that Madagascar’s remaining forests are being destroyed at the rate of about one percent each year.<a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-of-the-worlds-spookiest-travel-destinations/" target="_blank"></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page10" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>9. Patagonia, Chile</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Just like in Antarctica, the Patagonian ice fields in the Southern Andes range that straddles Argentina and Chile are shrinking at a shockingly fast rate due to global warming – so adventure seekers should visit before they disappear. In a 2015 study, scientists from UC Irvine found that Patagonia glaciers are receding at rates of up to 10 kilometres per year.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>10. The Caribbean</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page11" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>A 2011 report by the United Nations predicted devastating effects of rising sea levels on the Caribbean islands by the end of this century, detailing a grim vision with more than 300 tourist resorts wiped out along with the airports, power plants, roads and agricultural lands at many popular destinations. What’s the timeline? The Third National Climate Assessment, released in 2014, projected a sea level rise of 30-120cm by 2100.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page12" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>11. Dubrovnik, Croatia</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Can<span> </span><em>Game of Thrones</em><span> </span>be too much of a good thing? The HBO mega hit has made the ancient Croatian city so popular that it is literally turning tourists away. Dubrovnik is blessed with idyllic weather and a stunning coastline on the Adriatic Sea. But its starring role as the mythical King’s Landing has led to a sustained influx of tourists that threatens the World Heritage Site’s character, particular in the pedestrians-only Old Town. Last year the city’s mayor, Mato Franković, capped the number of visitors at 4,000 per day – half the limit allowed by UNESCO – and told<span> </span><em>The Telegraph</em><span> </span>he also planned to curtail the number of cruise ships stopping in port.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>12. Bordeaux Wine Country, France</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page13" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Dreaming of touring one of France’s most beloved wine-growing regions? It might be smart to do it sooner rather than later. Bordeaux is facing a two-thirds fall in production over the next 40 years due to climate shifts that affect rainfall, temperature and hours of sunshine. According to<span> </span><em>Wine Spectator</em>, at the Vinexpo conference in Bordeaux in 2017, Harvard professor John Holdren predicted that the land suitable for grape-growing will potentially shrink by 23 percent by 2050.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page14" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-title"><strong>13. Glacier National Park, USA</strong></div> <div class="slide-description"> <p>More than three million people visited Montana’s Glacier National Park in 2017, making it the busiest year in park history. The record-setting attendance was all the more notable given that this pristine park is rapidly losing its eponymous glaciers. A report released by the U.S. Geological Survey found that over the past 50 years global warming has caused the shrinking of the 26 remaining glaciers in the park – a number down from 150 in 1850. At this rate, scientists predict there will be no ice left by the end of the century.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>14. Komodo Island, Indonesia</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page15" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>One of over 17,000 islands that compose the Republic of Indonesia, Komodo Island is a national park devoted to the world’s largest lizard, a protected species (with a venomous bite) that can grow to 2.6 metres and run at speeds of up to 19 kph. So many tourists flock to the island to get up close and personal with a Komodo dragon that tourism officials have sounded alarm bells. In April 2019, they announced that they were closing Komodo Island for a year, starting in January 2020. The decision came in response to an alleged smuggling ring that removed 41 Komodo dragons from the island and sold them abroad for about $US35,000. During the closure, the Indonesian government also plans to launch a conservation program for the dragons. The rest of the national park, which has beautiful scenery and snorkelling, will stay open, however.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/"><strong>15. The Dead Sea</strong></div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="page16" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>A tourist draw for over two millennia, this landlocked salt lake between Israel and Jordan is located at the lowest point on Earth, nearly 425 metres below sea level. The Dead Sea’s other unique feature is the remarkably high salinity of its water, which is said to have healthful benefits and makes swimming more like floating. Unfortunately, the future is less than idyllic. Since 1960, the Dead Sea has lost a third of its surface area and continues to shrink about one metre per year, according to the environmentalist group EcoPeace Middle East.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Suzanne Rowan Kelleher</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/15-breathtaking-places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/" target="_blank"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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Fergie leaves Balmoral Castle early amid dispute with Prince Philip

<p>The Duchess of York has reportedly cut her trip to Balmoral Castle short, where she was staying as a guest of Queen Elizabeth.</p> <p>Sarah Ferguson arrived at the estate late last week but has already begun her journey back home from the Scottish Highlands.</p> <p>According to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/auhome/index.html" target="_blank"><em>Daily Mail</em></a>, Fergie made a quick getaway after Prince Philip arrived at the castle, a few days earlier than originally expected.</p> <p>The pair have had a rocky relationship ever since she and Prince Andrew divorced in 1996, with insiders claiming that the Duke of Edinburgh refuses to be under the same roof as the Duchess.</p> <p>Ferguson was spotted arriving at Balmoral on Thursday after travelling from London to Scotland via a commercial flight.</p> <p>Prince Andrew on the other hand came via private jet. It is assumed the reasoning behind the separate travel arrangements is due to rumours circulating around Andrew’s relationship with Fergie, as many hope the pair are back together.</p> <p>The Duke of York was spotted for the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/queen-elizabeth-supports-prince-andrew-amid-jeffrey-epstein-sex-scandal" target="_blank">first time in public on Sunday </a>after news broke of Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide over the weekend.</p>

International Travel

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Singapore's historic Raffles Hotel reopens its doors

<p><span>Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel has finally reopened its doors to the public after two years of extensive revamp and restoration.</span></p> <p><span>The historic 132-year-old grand dame, which was designated a national monument in 1987, returned to business earlier this month with new updates and additions such as revitalised guest suites, fresh coating and marble flooring, and a new lineup of restaurants.</span></p> <p><span>General manager Christian Westbeld said while the scale of the overhaul was unprecedented, the hotel retained its neo-Renaissance architectural style. </span></p> <p><span>“The hotel is a lot fresher. Areas look a lot brighter, they look a lot lighter, they look a lot more inviting and approachable, which is something that we wanted to achieve,” Westbeld told <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/singapore-raffles-hotel-reopening/index.html"><em>CNN Travel</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>“[But] we didn’t lose the architectural charm, the colonial heritage … That’s the biggest plus and I think the thing people will notice first. Yet at the same time we’ve modernized in a way that is deserved for the current Singapore time and era we’re in.”</span></p> <p><span>He told <a href="http://www.traveller.com.au/raffles-the-toast-of-singapore-and-its-sling-h1gnws"><em>Traveller</em></a>, “Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world.</span></p> <p><span>“[Its] restoration has been carefully designed to preserve its unique historic charm, while creating extraordinary experiences for our esteemed guests.”</span></p> <p><span>The multi-million-dollar renovation project was led by design firm Champalimaud. Edmond Bakos, managing director at the firm told <a href="https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/new-old-raffles-hotel-reopens-after-2-year-renovation-heres-how-it-looks-inside"><em>The Straits Times</em></a>, “The goal was to bring the hotel to the next chapter, not to completely change it.”</span></p> <p><span>The hotel now has 115 suites, up from 103 before the renovation. Westbeld said apart from “more comfortable” rooms, guests will also now be assigned a butler as their main point of contact for services ranging from spa appointments to restaurant reservations.</span></p> <p><span>Raffles’ food and beverage lineup has also been shaken up. The famous Royal Blue China and The Halia were replaced with new concepts such as contemporary Chinese outlet Yi from chef Jereme Leung and Mediterranean sharing and grill restaurant BBR by Alain Ducasse. </span></p> <p><span>The dining space previously hosting Raffles Grill has also been transformed into La Dame de Pic, opened in partnership with decorated French chef Anne-Sophie Pic.</span></p> <p><span>Old favourites making a comeback include The Long Bar, Tiffin Room, The Lobby, Writers Bar, Raffles Courtyard, and Ah Teng’s Cafe.</span></p>

International Travel

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San Francisco International Airport to ban plastic water bottles

<p><span>Travellers flying out of San Francisco International airport will no longer be able to buy plastic-bottled water before their flight.</span></p> <p><span>Starting August 20, the airport (SFO) will only allow water to be sold in glass, recycled aluminium or certified compostable materials. The new rule will apply to the airport’s convenience stores, restaurants and vending machines.</span></p> <p><span>While travellers are still prohibited from bringing filled water bottles from outside, they can bring empty disposable plastic water bottles to refill at one of over 100 water hydration stations installed at the airport. </span></p> <p><span>The move, which follows the ban on single-use food utensils in March, is part of SFO’s goal of becoming the world’s first <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/02/business/plastic-water-bottle-ban-sfo-trnd/index.html">zero-waste airport</a> by 2021. </span></p> <p><span>“We waited until now because a few years back there was really no market in place to provide an alternative to water in a plastic bottle,” said Doug Yakel, SFO’s public information officer.</span></p> <p><span>“This is a big move for the airport … it just further supports our green initiative.”</span></p> <p><span>Yakel said he hopes the rule can encourage more manufacturers to use <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/02/san-francisco-international-airport-plastic-water-bottle-ban">plastic-free packaging</a>. </span></p> <p><span>“We’re hoping that as the demand from retailers increases, there’s an increasing supply of water that’s bottled in something recyclable,” Yakel said. “We’re hoping to drive that industry as well.”</span></p>

International Travel

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Royal fun in the sun: Princess Mary poses makeup-free during relaxing holiday

<p>Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary never steps a foot out of line when it comes to looking impeccably polished.</p> <p>So, it’s only fitting that when the royal is on holiday, she opts for a more casual appearance, choosing to go makeup-free as she spends time with her family.</p> <p>The 47-year-old was glowing in a recent photograph posted to the Danish royal family’s Instagram page, as she stood by her husband Prince Frederik’s side aboard the family yacht.</p> <p>Sporting a fresh face and a paisley-print dress, Mary soaked in the afternoon sun.</p> <p>The Crown Prince shared a series of snaps on the Danish royal family’s official social media page, documenting their summer break in Denmark. </p> <p>Frederik and Mary, alongside their children Prince Christian, 13, Princess Isabella, 12, and twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, eight, have been exploring the country that they call home by visiting several locations on board the yacht.</p> <p>They recently visited Kongsore, in Denmark’s north, where the entire family took part in an obstacle course. Having trained at that same location during his time in the Danish navy, Prince Frederik wrote on Instagram that he “had the pleasure of showing the whole family my former workplace”.</p> <p>Another photo shows Prince Christian bravely diving from the deck of the yacht, showing off his penchant for adrenaline-filled activities.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see Princess Mary and her family having fun on their summer break.</p>

International Travel

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Why you should stay hydrated on the plane

<p><span>The airplane cabin does strange things to your body – it can hurt your sinuses, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150112-why-in-flight-food-tastes-weird">dull your taste buds</a>, <a href="https://www.allure.com/story/skin-on-a-plane">make your skin flaky</a> and even induce nosebleeds at times.</span></p> <p><span>These problems all have the same root: Dryness. </span></p> <p><span>A <a href="https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/53284046.pdf">2013 study by the University of Palermo</a> found that the humidity levels on a variety of aircrafts – including Boeing 767, Airbus A320 and A340 – range between 1.8 and 18.5 per cent. As the plane reaches higher altitudes, the atmosphere in the cabin grows increasingly dry, even drier than most deserts.</span></p> <p><span>For comparison, the relative humidity in the Gobi Desert in May averages 23 per cent, while Maria Elena South – which is widely considered as the driest area of the hyper-arid Atacama Desert in Chile – holds a relative humidity of 17.3 per cent.</span></p> <p><span>The dry cabin environment is indeed not ideal – according to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/news/2016/indoor-humidity" target="_blank">National Asthma Council of Australia</a>, the ideal humidity to deter airborne viruses is between 30 and 50 per cent.</span></p> <p><span>Staying hydrated is a great way to minimise the negative effects of low humidity such as <a href="https://rockymountainurgentcare.com/why-higher-altitudes-are-hard-on-the-skin/">skin sensitivities</a>, <a href="https://www.smartertravel.com/low-airplane-humidity/">exacerbated jet lag</a> or <a href="https://www.askthepilot.com/questionanswers/cabin-air-quality/">increased susceptibility to illnesses</a>.</span></p> <p><span>So next time you get onboard, do not hesitate to ask the flight attendant for an extra bottle or two – your body needs it.</span></p>

International Travel

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Europe's best river cruises

<p>Europe is a cultural tapestry waiting to be explored.</p> <p>Forget worrying about accommodation and transport – just jump aboard a European cruise and go rolling down the river past castles and cathedrals galore.</p> <p>Our three picks of Europe’s best rivers for cruising can be swallowed whole or in bite-sized chunks – choose the destinations and duration that best suits your family.</p> <p><strong>The Rhine</strong></p> <p>The Rhine River meanders through Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.</p> <p>Art-lovers will want to head to Basel, Switzerland which is packed with design museums, including a Paper Museum beside a canal in an old paper mill.</p> <p>The grandiose architecture of Strasbourg will sweep you off your feet. Fans of chocolate and sport will find much to love under the Gothic spires of Cologne.</p> <p>In Amsterdam, you can cruise the famous canals and explore cottages, cafes and markets. We recommend whizzing through the city by bike and exploring popular gems such as Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.</p> <p>The Rhine joins up with a network of other waterways and tributaries, so your exploration of Europe’s rivers does not have to end there.</p> <p><strong>Danube</strong></p> <p>Though it might not be as blue as the song suggests, a cruise down the Danube certainly is colourful. Expect to see a vibrant, varied view of Europe.</p> <p>On a Danube River cruise port stop, you can Duel with Dracula in a Gothic castle, create music like Mozart in an Austrian church, and explore the wares at the Christmas Markets.</p> <p>Labelled by Napoleon as the “Queen of Europe’s Rivers” the Danube is the second longest river on the continent. It flows through ten countries, including Austria, Germany and Croatia.</p> <p>Highlights include the Turkish Baths and Parliament buildings of Budapest, the baroque palace and Spanish Riding School of Vienna and the Bavarian cathedrals and sausage kitchens of Regensburg.</p> <p><strong>Rhône-Saône</strong></p> <p>Tumbling over the Swiss Alps, through vineyards and lavender fields, and into Mediterranean seas near Marseilles – this is one wicked waterway.</p> <p>Most cruises will start from the ocean and head inland, beginning at Arles, where you can hear the echoes of long-gone gladiators amidst the Roman ruins. Make sure you try a traditional Provence feast on a shore excursion.</p> <p>This is a river cruise for history lovers. The journey will take you through medieval Avignon, Vienne, and onto Cluny, where you can delve into the centuries-old Benedictine Abbey, built just after Charlemagne’s reign.</p> <p>Grown-ups will love wine-tasting in Burgundy, and foodies will flip out in the famous city of Lyon.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/europes-best-river-cruises/"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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13 wild New Zealand walks from beginner to advanced

<p>New Zealand has many spectacular walkways and tracks providing access to unique wilderness areas and virgin forests.</p> <p>Energetic hikers (or trampers) can discover glacier-carved valleys and traverse mountain passes, while more sedate day-walkers can explore golden beaches, bush walks and other sites of scenic, historic and cultural interest.</p> <p><strong>National parks</strong></p> <p>About one-third of New Zealand’s sparsely populated land has been set aside in national parks or reserves for the enjoyment of the public and increasing numbers of eco-tourists.</p> <p>While opportunities for exploration exist all over the country, nine destinations are recognised as significant and have been designated ‘Great Walks’ by the Department of Conservation (DOC).</p> <p>Apart from the coastal Abel Tasman track in the north of the South Island, the tracks are in high country or mountain areas. Ranging in duration from two to six days, the tracks cover a variety of landscapes on safe, well-maintained pathways.</p> <p>All tracks offer guided tours for which bookings are essential. Accommodation is generally in basic huts or lodges, but some guided talks offer luxury options. The high season starts in October (late-Spring) and lasts until April (early-Autumn).</p> <p><strong>South Island Great Walks</strong></p> <p>Five of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ are in the South Island; a sixth is further south on Stewart Island.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Milford Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Milford Track in Fiordland – New Zealand’s largest national park – is the most famous. Visitors spend four days / three nights following historic Maori routes through a dramatic landscape of forest-covered valleys, mountains and steep fiords from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. For this much-demanded route, bookings are necessary well in advance, for both independent and guided walks.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Routeburn Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Routeburn Track, another famous South Island track, has some of the most diverse scenery: forests, alpine flora, lakes, several waterfalls and panoramic views. The three-day trek covers 39km (24 miles).</p> <ul> <li><strong>Kepler Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Kepler Track follows a loop that begins and ends at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau. It takes four days and traverses lakeside forest and open tussock grasslands, with one day spent walking along the mountain tops above the bush line.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Rakiura Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>Wilderness explorers wanting to experience the ‘end of the earth’ head for Stewart Island, New Zealand’s southernmost and least populated island. The Rakiura Track has the most birdlife, least predictable weather and conditions but planked walkways keep feet dry and ensure the three-day walk is possible year-round. It has gentle gradients – never more than 300m above sea level – and two huts provide accommodation.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Heaphy Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Heaphy Track, in the northwestern corner of the South Island, has undemanding gradients over 80km (around 50 miles). The walk takes about five days. The track is accessible year round, but winter snows can make the higher sections chilly. Attractions on the Heaphy Track include the nikau palm-lined beach at its western end, red tussock downs, lush beech forests and fields of alpine herbs.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Abel Tasman Coastal Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Abel Tasman Coastal Track, at the top of the South Island, only requires light walking shoes for the 50km (31 miles) route lined with miles of golden beaches. Along the way, five huts and 21 campsites offer accommodation, but transport has to be arranged from one end or the other.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Pike29 Memorial Walk</strong></li> </ul> <p>New Zealand’s nine great walks became 10 in 2018 with the announcement of the Pike29 Memorial Track. The 45-kilometre walk is to be constructed through the Paparoa National Park on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The national park will be extended by 3971 hectares to include the Pike River area as a memorial to the 29 men who perished in the 2010 mining disaster. The track will travel from Blackball to Punakaiki and include part of the existing Croesus and Pororai River tracks.</p> <p><strong>North Island Great NZ Walks</strong></p> <p>Three ‘Great Walks’ are in the North Island: Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaremoana Track and Whanganui Journey. Each offers a distinctive landscape and challenges for energetic walkers.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Tongariro Northern Circuit</strong></li> </ul> <p>The Tongariro Northern Circuit is a loop track of three to four days, starting and finishing at the foot of Mount Ruapehu. Few places equal the drama of this active volcanic region with its lava formations, tussock grassland, fumaroles and geysers, and emerald green mineral lakes – the setting for the scenes in New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Ringstrilogy. Altitude and climatic conditions mean the Tongariro circuit is best walked from late November to March. The Tongariro Crossing – one section of the circuit – is one of New Zealand’s most renowned day walks.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Lake Waikaremoana Track</strong></li> </ul> <p>Lake Waikaremoana is situated east of the central volcanic plateau, in one of the North Island’s most remote regions. The 46km (28 miles) track encircles the lake, providing a four to five-day walk. Apart from one day climbing a steep bluff, the track follows a leisurely path through rainforest.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Whanganui Journey </strong></li> </ul> <p>Included as one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, the Whanganui Journey is more correctly a 145km kayak or canoe journey down the Whanganui River. Beginning in Taumarunui, this journey takes about five days to complete and provides an early New Zealand history experience. For hundreds of years, the Whanganui River was an important Maori route; later, in early European settlement days, it became a steamboat highway. The winding river and surrounding lowland forest is now a national park.</p> <p><strong>Day walks</strong></p> <p>Not up for a long hike? New Zealand has plenty of day walks through areas of unique flora and fauna.</p> <p><strong>The Coromandel Peninsula</strong><span> – l</span>ocated two hours’ drive south of Auckland – offers forest and coastal walks. The virgin rain forest that once covered much of the peninsula was heavily logged in the late 19th century, and visitors can see the remains of enormous dams and tramways used to transport logs of the giant and much-prized kauri trees. The regenerated forest is spectacular and the coast has isolated bays of exceptional beauty.</p> <p>Day-walkers not wanting to leave the city far behind can set out from Auckland with a map of the<span> </span><strong>Waitakere Ranges</strong><span> </span>which fringe the western city. These tracks skirt high cliffs and cross wild beaches of black sand.</p> <p>In<span> </span><strong>Kahurangi National Park</strong><span> </span>– in the northwestern corner of the South Island – the Oparara Track offers 31km of pathways through virgin rainforest and access to a series of spectacular limestone caves, home to some of New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora.</p> <p>Further south,<span> </span><strong>Central Otago’s Rail Trail</strong><span> </span>is a unique recreational facility preserving an important part of New Zealand history. The 150km section of old railway route has been redeveloped for walkers, cyclists and horse riders who can enjoy the unique Central Otago scenery and experience the South Island’s remoteness and history.</p> <p><strong>Walker information</strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s sparse population and huge wilderness areas mean that most walking tracks are remote from many of the comforts of civilisation. Facilities at the 900 huts maintained by DOC are basic, and walkers need to equip themselves with adequate food and clothing.</p> <p>Weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the mountains, and it is essential, even in summer, to carry warm, waterproof clothing. No hike should be undertaken without consulting a detailed guide book and a map.</p> <p>For any of the ‘Great Walks’, bookings are required for accommodation in huts, but permits or admission fees are not required for day walking. Bookings are made through the Department of Conservation.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-walks/" target="_blank"><em>MyDiscoveries</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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How your holiday photos could help save endangered species

<p>Animal populations have declined on average by <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/11/animal-decline-living-planet-report-conservation-news/">60 per cent since 1970</a>, and it’s predicted that around <a href="https://theconversation.com/revolutionary-change-needed-to-stop-unprecedented-global-extinction-crisis-116166">a million species are at risk of extinction</a>. As more of the Earth’s biodiversity disappears and the human population grows, protected landscapes that are set aside to conserve biodiversity are increasingly important. Sadly, many are underfunded – some of Africa’s most treasured wildlife reserves operate in <a href="https://www.leonardodicaprio.org/more-than-usd1-billion-per-year-needed-to-secure-africas-protected-areas-with-lions/">funding deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars</a>.</p> <p>In unfenced wilderness, scientists rarely have an inventory on the exact numbers of species in an area at a particular time. Instead they make inferences using one of many different survey approaches, including camera traps, track surveys, and drones. These methods can estimate how much and what kind of wildlife is present, but often require large amounts of effort, time and money.</p> <p>Camera traps are placed in remote locations and activated by movement. They can collect vast quantities of data by taking photographs and videos of passing animals. But this can cost tens of thousands of dollars to run and once in the wild, cameras are at the mercy of curious wildlife.</p> <p>Track surveys rely on specialist trackers, who aren’t always available and drones, while promising, have restricted access to many tourism areas in Africa. All of this makes wildlife monitoring difficult to carry out and repeat over large areas. Without knowing what’s out there, making conservation decisions based on evidence becomes almost impossible.</p> <p><strong>Citizen science on Safari</strong></p> <p>Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world – <a href="https://www.atta.travel/news/2019/04/an-analysis-of-africas-tourism-market-for-april-2019/">42m people visited</a> sub-Saharan Africa in 2018 alone. Many come for the unique wildlife and unknowingly collect valuable conservation data with their phones and cameras. Photographs on social media are already being used to help <a href="https://www.thenational.ae/uae/chimp-facial-recognition-technology-to-target-wildlife-traffickers-1.832456">track the illegal wildlife trade</a> and how often <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-social-media-can-help-sustainable-nature-tourism-100112">areas of wilderness are visited by tourists</a>.</p> <p>Despite this, tourists and their guides are still an overlooked source of information. Could your holidays snaps help monitor endangered wildlife? <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30626-8">In a recent study</a>, we tested exactly this.</p> <p>Partnering with a tour operator in Botswana, we approached all guests passing through a safari lodge over three months in the Okavango Delta and asked them if they were interested in contributing their photographs to help with conservation. We provided those interested with a small GPS logger – the type commonly used for tracking pet cats – so that we could see where the images were being taken.</p> <p>We then collected, processed, and passed the images through computer models to estimate the densities of five large African carnivore species – lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, African wild dogs and cheetahs. We compared these densities to those from three of the most popular carnivore survey approaches in Africa – camera trapping, track surveys, and call-in stations, which play sounds through a loudspeaker to attract wildlife so they can be counted.</p> <p>The tourist photographs provided similar estimates to the other approaches and were, in total, cheaper to collect and process. Relying on tourists to help survey wildlife saved up to US$840 per survey season. Even better, it was the only method to detect cheetahs in the area – though so few were sighted that their total density couldn’t be confirmed.</p> <p>Thousands of wildlife photographs are taken every day, and the study showed that we can use statistical models to cut through the noise and get valuable data for conservation. Still, relying on researchers to visit tourist groups and coordinate their photograph collection would be difficult to replicate across many areas. Luckily, that’s where wildlife tour operators could come in.</p> <p>Tour operators could help collect tourist images to share with researchers. If the efforts of tourists were paired with AI that could process millions of images quickly, conservationists could have a simple and low-cost method for monitoring wildlife.</p> <p>Tourist photographs are best suited for monitoring large species that live in areas often visited by tourists – species that tend to have high economic and ecological value. While this method perhaps isn’t as well suited to smaller species, it can still indirectly support their conservation by helping protect the landscapes they live in.</p> <p>The line between true wilderness and landscapes modified by humans is becoming increasingly blurred, and more people are visiting wildlife in their natural habitats. This isn’t always a good thing, but maybe conservationists can use these travels to their advantage and help conserve some of the most iconic species on our planet.<!-- 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/118085/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><em>Written by <span>Kasim Rafiq, Postdoctoral Researcher in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Liverpool John Moores University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-how-your-holiday-photos-could-help-save-endangered-species-118085"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel