Travel Tips

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5 secrets hotels won’t tell you

<p>Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets – from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill!</p> <p><strong>Insider tips to get the best from your next hotel visit</strong></p> <p>Hotel receptionists spill their best secrets – from how to score a discounted room to how to get that Wi-Fi charge waived from your bill!</p> <p><strong>Don’t try to bargain with the reservations number we give you</strong></p> <p>The 1-800 reservations number will probably send you to a central office with set rates. If you call the hotel directly instead, you can negotiate.</p> <p><strong>We don’t get everything from online booking sites</strong></p> <p>Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online hotel booking sites. So offer me 20 percent less than the online price, and we both come out ahead.</p> <p><strong>Don’t expect a discount if we are not independently owned</strong></p> <p>Independently owned hotels are far more likely to give you a discount. Some chains baulk at dropping the rate.</p> <p><strong>Give the housekeepers time</strong></p> <p>If you show up at 11 a.m. and check-in time is 2 p.m., please don’t be upset if your room isn’t ready. I can’t make the housekeepers go any faster. And you don’t want them to rush.</p> <p><em>Written by Michelle Crouch. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/21-secrets-hotels-wont-tell-you?slide=all"><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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a><span><em> </em></span></p> <p><span class="CmCaReT" style="display: none;">�</span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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10 things aeroplanes aren’t cleaning as they should

<p>Just how well are aircrafts being cleaned between flights?</p> <p><strong>Illness breeding ground</strong></p> <p>Sitting amongst strangers in a confined space for any amount of time just feels like a breeding ground for illness. But how well are these aircrafts being cleaned? The answer may make you pack your own sanitising wipes ahead of your next flight.</p> <p><strong>Seatbelt buckles</strong></p> <p>Unless you ask the person sitting next to you to buckle your seatbelt (which we don’t recommend), you’re going to touch that piece of metal at least twice during a flight, once before takeoff, and once when you land. Unfortunately, these oft-used items aren’t getting the spick and span treatment you’d like. According to Travelmath, the average aeroplane seatbelt buckle tested for 230 colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch. </p> <p><strong>Seatback pockets</strong></p> <p>That slim seatback pocket looks innocent enough at first glance. After all, it holds your passenger safety information and inflight magazine. But the cloth that covers it isn’t getting much attention from cabin cleaners. According to a study conducted at Auburn University, the pocket is pretty darn disgusting. Seeing as passengers often stuff trash in that pocket (think used tissues and dirty diapers), it sees its fair share of bacteria. In fact, their study showed that the germs found in this location survived the longest out of any surface on an aeroplane at around seven days. </p> <p><strong>Tray tables</strong></p> <p>Cabin cleaners only do a speedy wipe down of aeroplanes in between flights because they simply aren’t given enough time to do more during these quick turnovers. Believe it or not, tray tables aren’t typically among the surfaces that get cleaned between domestic flights, according to the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. They typically are only addressed during overnight cleanings. Don’t want to get sick on your next flight? </p> <p><strong>Headrest</strong></p> <p>A different study of airline hygiene conducted by Marketplace and analysed in a laboratory at the University of Guelph cited a different surface as being the most bacteria-laden – the headrest. According to their study, the “highest total aerobic count, hemolytic bacteria, and E.coli” were found here. The headrest is nearly impossible to avoid unless you bring something to slip over it, which makes sense that it would come into contact with the most germs.</p> <p><strong>Blankets</strong></p> <p>Complimentary blankets are pretty much a thing of the past among airlines these days, particularly in economy class, and that might just be a good thing. Back in 2008, the Wall Street Journal revealed that these once common aeroplane items were only washed every five to 30 days. When flying, BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket). </p> <p><strong>The floor</strong></p> <p>A quick vacuum job in between flights does not a clean carpet make, especially when you have hundreds of pairs of shoes traipsing up and down the aisles of an aeroplane day-in and day-out. According to an article in <em>USA Today</em>, cleanliness isn’t regulated by the FAA. It’s standard that a plane goes through a deep clean about once a month and perhaps then that carpeting will get extra attention. Even so, it’s best to steer clear of placing your belongings on the floor if you can help it. Once you’ve reached your destination, here’s how to have a healthy and clean hotel stay. </p> <p><strong>Bathroom surfaces</strong></p> <p>Yes, cabin cleaners do a wipe down of lavatories after an aircraft’s passengers have deplaned, but think about how many people use the facilities during the flight and how many hours go by before that cleaning happens. In an interview with <em>TIME</em>, University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba said, “It’s hard to beat the restroom because the water shuts off so people can’t complete hand washing. The sinks are so small that people with large hands can’t even fit them fully underneath the faucets.” </p> <p><strong>Menus/safety information pamphlets</strong></p> <p>We’ve already addressed the icky stuff that often contaminates seatback pockets, but consider the material that’s actually supposed to be in this area. With barely ten to 15 minutes to tidy a cabin, according to the New York Times, cleaners don’t have time to wipe down every menu and safety pamphlet in those pockets. When you consider how often they are touched by human hands (and the garbage that gets tossed into the pockets), this literature is a breeding ground for gross. </p> <p><strong>Overhead air vent</strong></p> <p>Adjusting that overhead air vent is something most passengers do to personalise their limited space for comfort, but who is cleaning that surface? Likely no one. It’s one of the dirtiest spots on an aeroplane according to Travelmath. </p> <p><strong>Aisle seats</strong></p> <p>All airline seats need regular cleanings, but aisle seats could really use some extra attention that they simply aren’t getting. Why? As passengers walk to and from the bathroom they typically put their hands on the tops of the aisle seats to steady themselves. The bacteria and germs from those hands, particularly after using the lavatory, is left behind. In a study published in the journal <em>Clinical Infectious Diseases</em>, a team of researchers found that passengers sitting in aisle seats were more likely to catch the stomach flu (or norovirus) than those sitting in middle or window seats.</p> <p><em>Written by Kelly Bryant. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/flights/10-things-aeroplanes-arent-cleaning-they-should?slide=all"><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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Unique restaurants from around the world

<p>Seeking out a travel experience with a real difference you can talk about endlessly? At these quirky restaurants, people come for the atmosphere and stay for the food.</p> <p><strong>Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Rangali Island, Maldives</strong></p> <p>No need to waterproof your phone to take photos in one of the most unique restaurants in the world. Located at the Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island Resort is a gorgeous and intimate underwater restaurant (seating capacity is 14 people) that is more than five metres below sea level. Opened in 2005, the <a href="http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/maldives/conrad-maldives-rangali-island-MLEHICI/amenities/restaurants-ithaa.html">all-glass restaurant</a> has a menu consisting of fresh seafood, beef rib eye, veal and other gourmet dishes. Encased in a transparent acrylic roof, the restaurant offers its diners a 270-degree panoramic view of sea creatures swimming in the Maldives’ crystal clear waters. While a zinc paint coating protects Ithaa’s steel structure from corrosion, the saltwater and marine growth adhering to the paint will eventually break it down. Make a reservation while you still can.</p> <p><strong>Ninja Akasaka, Toyko</strong></p> <p>To get to this hidden ninja village, guests must embark on a long and dark underground adventure. The ninja road involves a number of surprises, but only those with the heart to enter can find out what they are. <a href="https://ninjaakasaka.com/en/">Ninja Akasaka</a>, a ninja-themed entertainment restaurant in Tokyo, offers private and communal room arranged in a labyrinth-like dining area, which replicates a ninja village from the Edo era. Waterfalls, ponds and the cries of bell crickets create a thrilling ambiance. And dining ranges from Japanese sushi, to French, Italian and Chinese cuisine.</p> <p><strong>Dinner in the Sky</strong></p> <p>Got an appetite for high altitude? Originating in Belgium, the concept for this novelty-based mobile restaurant involves a crane hoisting guests, who are securely strapped into ‘dining chairs’ 50 metres in the air, along with a table, wait staff and everything that’s required to enjoy a meal floating above the ground. <a href="http://dinnerinthesky.com/">Dinner in the Sky</a> has gained popularity worldwide and is offered for limited run periods in cities around the globe, including Holland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, United Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, South-Africa, India, Japan, China, Brazil, Colombia, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the USA. These unique restaurants offer fine dining, incredible views, and a story like no other.</p> <p><strong>Redwoods Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.redwoodstreehouse.co.nz/">Redwoods Treehouse</a>, built in 2008, is a pod-shaped structure situated 10 metres above the ground in a Redwood tree in the town of Warkworth, north of Auckland. Diners access the venue via an elevated treetop walkway built of redwood milled on site. The striking venue is used exclusively for private functions and events, with a capacity of 30 guests.</p> <p>Cat Café Nekorobi, Tokyo, Japan</p> <p>If watching cat videos gets you in a good mood, this unusual coffee shop will make you swoon with joy and cuteness. <a href="http://www.nekorobi.jp/english/">Nekorobi</a> is a hip cat café located in the entertainment district of Ikebukuro, where you can spend time with friends of the feline kind. Patrons enter through modern glass doors into a dimly lit joint where cats prowl and sprawl out, and where a drinks dispenser vending machine offers a variety of hot and cold beverages including coffee, royal milk tea, green tea and instant miso soup. Visit in the evening and you’ll have a chance to witness the dinnertime ritual where the kitties feast on cat food in glass bowls arranged in a circle around a floor lamp. For feline lovers, this place is no doubt the ‘cat’s meow’.</p> <p><strong>Modern Toilet, Taipei City, Taiwan</strong></p> <p>This is the only place where dining etiquette and bathroom etiquette are one and the same. The idea for this odd restaurant was conceived by one of the owners as he was reading while sitting – where else? – on a toilet. Initially, it only sold chocolate ice cream in containers shaped like a squat toilet, but once the humorous spin became a great success, a fully fledged, bathroom-themed eatery emerged. Today, <a href="http://www.moderntoilet.com.tw/en/about.asp">Modern Toilet</a> is a chain with locations across Asia and it has plans for further expansion. If the idea piques your curiosity, drop into one of these unique restaurants and have a seat at one of the (non-working) toilets where meals are served in toilet bowl-shaped dinnerware.</p> <p><strong>Dans le Noir, Melbourne</strong></p> <p>Dining at <a href="https://www.melbourne.danslenoir.com/">Dans le Noir</a> is more than just a place to eat. The concept behind this restaurant is dining in the dark so you capture a true sensory, social and human experience. The original concept was developed in France in cooperation with a major vision impairment foundation, and when the doors opened in Paris, the idea took off in Europe and around the world, including in Melbourne and Auckland. Dining in absolute darkness awakens your senses and allows you to completely re-evaluate your perception of taste and smell. Guests are taken to their tables in completed darkness by vision-impaired waiters who become the diners’ personal guides during the experience. The restaurant is vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian friendly, with the Feed Me Chef menu the most popular to challenge your senses.</p> <p><strong>Kayabukiya Tavern, Utsunomiya, Japan</strong></p> <p>We’re headed back to Japan for this unique restaurant! This <a href="https://fave.co/2Zblb9X">traditional sake house</a> has one interesting addition that makes it anything but “traditional”: monkeys! Two monkeys are currently employed by the Japanese restaurant. The younger macaque monkey, Fuku-chan, will bring you a hot towel before your meal to clean your hands, while the older macaque, Yat-chan, will actually take your drink order and bring you your beverage. More monkeys are currently being trained as servers at this restaurant. You can leave your furry waiter a tip in the form of boiled edamame. You’ll have to be careful about when you go, thought – the monkeys work very short shifts – but while they’re in the restaurant, they enjoy playing with all the customers as shown in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcPDEtSRYXA">videos like this one</a>.</p> <p><strong>Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya</strong></p> <p>Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel set in 5 hectares of private land within 56 hectares of indigenous forest. The building, with its stately façade, elegant interior, sunny terraces and delightful courtyards, harks back to the 1930s. However, the most extraordinary thing about <a href="https://www.thesafaricollection.com/properties/giraffe-manor/">Giraffe Manor</a> is its herd of giraffes, which visit morning and evening, sometimes poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat.</p> <p><em>Written by Martha Li. This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/unique-restaurants-from-around-the-world?slide=all">Reader’s Digest.</a> 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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" />  </p>

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The world’s best train journeys

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There’s something nostalgic yet refreshing about train travel. Leave the devices and their respective chargers at home and wind down with some old-fashioned hospitality and cross-country journeying as you see the world from a unique perspective. Here, we look at the iconic, the luxurious and the simply spectacular.</span></p> <p><strong>The Ghan, Australia</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Ghan is Australia’s premier rail journey, with scores of travellers making the iconic 2980km trip from Adelaide to Darwin via Central Australia every year. Its history can be traced as far back as 1878, when initial building begun in Port Augusta.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Named after the Afghan cameleers whose help was vital in completing the section of railway to Alice Springs, the Ghan takes 48 hours to reach its final destination and leaves twice a week from Adelaide and once a week from Darwin.</span></p> <p><strong>Rocky Mountaineer, Canada</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruise through Canada in comfort and class when you hop aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Bespoke glass-domed coaches, fine dining options and GoldLeaf Service come standard, plus an outdoor deck succeeds at really assaulting the senses (in the best possible way).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Grab a glass of local wine and soak up the stunning surroundings while on one of four routes: Vancouver to Banff and Calgary, Vancouver to Jasper via Kamloops, Vancouver to Jasper via Quesnel and Seattle to Vancouver.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once exclusive to Canadian shores, the Rocky Mountaineer now crosses into the USA, taking passengers through Seattle and Washington. If you are interested in this part of the journey, be sure to embark from Seattle.</span></p> <p><strong>Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Europe</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First departing from Moscow in 2007, the Golden Eagle has luxury in spades and an ensuite in every room. Discover the Trans-Siberian experience as you travel from Moscow to Vladivostok with the option to sojourn on the Silk Road, take a tour of Russia’s Arctic and bask in unforgettable panoramic views of the Caspian Sea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With two dining cars and a plush lounge furnished with sofas you’d swear were tailored specifically to your body, two Imperial Suites (120-square-feet) are available for the up-market traveller, or anyone who fancies a king-size bed, dressing table and living-room section. Click here to book your holiday today.</span></p> <p><strong>Indian Pacific, Australia</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the Ghan traversing the vertical length of our vast country, its Great Southern Rail sibling, the Indian Pacific, takes the country’s larger horizontal stretch in its stride.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spend three nights and four days in exquisite carriages as you journey 4352km through Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie. Holding the title of longest (straight) railway track on the globe, it’s mind-blowing to realise one can travel from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Large and mighty, the Indian Pacific offers unique glimpses of the imposing Nullarbor Plain landscape, the Blue Mountains and a number of other picturesque locations. It leaves twice a week from Perth and Sydney. Step aboard the iconic Indian Pacific and book your adventure today.</span></p> <p><strong>Belmond Royal Scotsman</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dig out your kilt and dust off the bagpipes (or just pack a tweed jacket) and join the captain and crew of the Belmond Royal Scotsman.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Leaving from Edinburgh and transporting just 36 passengers, this exclusive and intimate train will do more than take you through the Scottish Highlands; it will also take you back in time. From the 1928-era dining car to Edwardian polished brass and intricate fabric upholstery and trim, the whole affair is ornate without being ostentatious.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our favourite section, however, is the Observation Car with open-air veranda, where you can keep an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster and admire the historic castles and gorgeous glens that float by. With a variety of itineraries available from two to seven nights, a journey on Belmond Royal Scotsman is an experience to be treasured. Book your Highland journey here.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Louise Smithers. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/10-best-rail-journeys-in-the-world.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Dual citizenship: your ticket to a grown-up gap year?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most people who live in Australia would agree – it’s a pretty fantastic place. We’ve got a lifestyle which is envied across the world. So for many of us, becoming a citizen of another country isn’t something we’ve even remotely considered.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And with politicians currently dropping like flies for being dual citizens, you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be for the best if you stick with the green and gold right now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But it turns out, applying for dual nationality with another country is actually a very good idea, even if you think you’re never going to live anywhere else.</span></p> <p><strong>Many Australians are eligible for dual citizenship</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 2016 census showed that 49 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas. This means that a large proportion of our population has a good chance of being eligible for citizenship via descent, in another nation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alison Johnson is the founder of </span><a href="https://www.wherecani.live/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">wherecani.live</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, an online service which shows where you are likely to be eligible for citizenship. She says the benefits of obtaining another citizenship are immense:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Apart from reducing the cost and hassle of having to get visas to other countries, [becoming a dual citizen] opens up opportunities to live and work in those countries – you also receive the benefits and privileges… such as social services, and for the younger generations; schools and universities.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As well she explains, because of the way immigration systems work in many countries, when you obtain your second citizenship, you’re not only benefiting yourself but also your children and grandchildren.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The key thing… is that you can pass that citizenship on to your children or your grandchildren, and it opens up opportunities for them a generation down the line… so that they are able to work and live and move around the world freely,” Johnson adds.</span></p> <p><strong>How to check your eligibility</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Different countries have different immigration laws regarding how and when citizenship by descent will be granted – and these laws can often be quite complex.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ireland, for example, may grant you citizenship if one of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents was born in Ireland, regardless of your birthplace.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The situation is similar in Italy, where you’re eligible for citizenship if you can prove you have an Italian ancestor anywhere down the line, as long as their citizenship was not renounced.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If one of your grandparents was born in the United Kingdom and you live in a Commonwealth country, you may be eligible to work in the UK provided you can prove you won’t be dependent on public funds.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Additionally, if you or your spouse is a British citizen and you’re seeking to citizenship for your child, you need to do this before they turn 18 or they could miss out on full citizenship.</span></p> <p><strong>Citizenship by investment</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many countries around the world also offer citizenship-by-investment programs, which grant full citizenship, as well as residency programs allowing you to freely live and work in the country. You can invest by buying real estate, starting a business, investing in local companies, buying government bonds or having your pension paid into the country.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, if you buy a property in Malta for €220,000 ($329,000 AUD) or in Portugal for €350,000 ($530,000 AUD), you can apply for a residency permit and be on a pathway to eventual citizenship, if you commit to live there for an extended period (usually five years or more).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Closer to home, if you can prove you and your spouse receive $3,500 AUD a month (for example from superannuation payments or income from investments), you’re eligible for residency in Vanuatu.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Johnson says the countries benefit because they have more sources of income flowing in and she adds: “At the same time, people get to have a beautiful lifestyle on a beautiful island, so it works well for both parties.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Certainly sounds like it could be a great way to retire!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Jamie Feggans. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/dual-citizenship-your-passport-to-a-grown-up-gap-year.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></p>

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Discover Norfolk, a special island in the sun

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just a couple of hours’ flight northeast of Sydney, Norfolk is a pristine, small island of 3455 hectares, perched in the Pacific Ocean. Although Norfolk Island is compact, it sprawls, whichever way you look at it.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It has a magnificent coastline, with sandy beaches, steep rugged cliffs and glorious bays. There’s a certain eccentricity on this island that is appealing and the locals (humans and others) are the friendliest bunch you can imagine.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The island’s farmers have grazing rights to the roadside pastures so cows do in fact have right of way on Norfolk – and they know it! It’s not surprising to also see cars give way to chickens, ducks and geese crossing the road.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Norfolk Island was where the ‘worst of the worst’ convicts were sent, for this was an infamous prison for the British Empire in the 1800s. Convicts were outdoors tending gardens for what was deemed the bread basket of New South Wales.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Queen Victoria granted the island to the Pitcairners - descendants of the original mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ill-fated voyage on the Bounty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As I meander through the ruins of a special island in the sun, Norfolk is full of surprises.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the convict buildings, the history is all too apparent and you can sense the ghosts of the past still have a presence. While some buildings have been restored and are in use as museums, homes and government facilities, the ‘roofless’ are exposed to the elements.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today the island has largely calmed the ghosts and there’s much fun to be had – and Norfolk has a host of annual festivals, from gardening to line-dancing, country music to jazz – and yoga.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are some must-dos on the island beginning with taking in the very scenic views from the top of Mt Pitt and Captain Cook’s Lookout to visiting the ‘grand Gothic-style’ St Barnabas Chapel with its Frances Greenway stained-glass windows. Take a walk and marvel at Cyclorama, the gigantic 360-degree panoramic painting that follows the story of the Bounty and its crew.</span></p> <p>Don’t miss:</p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Two Chimneys Wines Tin Sheds accommodation</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The historic night show</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fishing</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Golf</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The markets</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘Wellbeing’ treatments</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bushwalking</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Coffee snobs – you won’t be disappointed at the quality of coffee served here, and for foodies, there’s a selection of excellent restaurants and cafes serving top nosh</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Research local names: Christian, Buffet, Evans and Quintal.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For more info go to </span><a href="http://www.norfolkisland.com.au"><span style="font-weight: 400;">www.norfolkisland.com.au</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story first appeared in</span><a href="http://www.getupandgo.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Get Up &amp; Go</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and has been edited. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/discover-norfolk,-a-special-island-in-the-sun.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></p>

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How Fergie is set to make royal history at Princess Beatrice’s wedding

<p>Sarah Ferguson has made quite the comeback into the Royal Family as of late.</p> <p>And now, the Duchess of York is set to make history when Princess Beatrice gets married next year.</p> <p>Fergie could become the first mother-of-the-bride at a Royal Wedding to be recorded on the marriage-certificate.</p> <p>It is predicted that Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi will tie the knot at St George’s chapel – the same place where younger sister Princess Eugenie and cousin Prince Harry also wed.</p> <p>Therefore the ceremony would be a Church of England one.</p> <p>Currently, the Church of England's marriage certificates only list the father-of-the-bride’s name and occupation, but now, a major overhaul is set to take place for church marriage records.</p> <p>A private members’ bill brought about by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, received Royal Assent in parliament in March this year, however the changes are yet to filter through.</p> <p>The Bishop said the current rules are “archaic and unchanged since Victorian times, where children were seen as fathers’ property, and little consideration was given to mothers’ roles in raising children”.</p> <p>The changes will make sure mothers’ names are also included on the marriage registration, not just for those weddings in the Church of England faith.</p> <p>It is assumed the update will occur by early 2020 – around the same time as Beatrice’s wedding.</p>

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Explore the great outdoors this Aussie summer

<p>As the weather warms up, now's the perfect time to get outdoors and explore some of Australia's best beaches, tracks, national parks and summer holiday destinations. </p> <p><strong>Explore the white sandy beaches of Whitsunday Islands</strong></p> <p>The Whitsunday Islands are an archipelago chain of 74 islands off the coast of Queensland just inland from the Great Barrier Reef. The stunning pure white, silica sands on Whitehaven Beach are regarded as one of the whitest sand beaches in the world. One of the must see attractions of the Whitsundays is on Daydream Island.</p> <p>The island resort has a spectacular Living Reef. It is one of the largest man-made living coral reef lagoons in the world. It captures a microcosm of the Great Barrier Reef and includes over 140 species of marine fish and 83 species of coral.</p> <p>Resort guests can explore the lagoon and wade in the waters touching and learning about the stingrays and other creatures.</p> <p>You can decide to be adventurous and snorkel, SCUBA, paddle board, go fishing, and explore the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea. Or just sit back and relax, enjoy a cruise, boat charter, or one of the many luxury island resorts of the Whitsundays. Each island in the Whitsundays is a unique experience.</p> <p>If you want to tour around Queensland before or after your island getaway, then you can hire a car in nearby Proserpine or rent a vehicle at the Mackay Airport. There's plenty to do and see along the Whitsunday Coast including Arlie Beach, Conway National Park, and beautiful Mackay.</p> <p><strong>Camping in Kwiambal National Park</strong></p> <p>For some peace and quiet, head to Kwiambal National Park, which is located inland in New South Wales close to the Queensland border.</p> <p>The secluded park is perfect for hiking, swimming and fishing, all while enjoying the picturesque views and postcard perfect landscapes including MacIntyre Falls.</p> <p>There are plenty of rivers, plunge pools, and beaches that are great summer attractions. If you plan on hiring a car to travel to Kwiambal National Park, there are plenty of options depending on where you are coming from.</p> <p>If you are in NSW you can hire a car at Coffs Harbour on the coast, or at the Moree Airport near Kwiambal. If you are coming from Queensland, you can hire a car in Brisbane or choose from one of the many car rental locations on the Gold Coast.</p> <p><strong>Cruise down the Murray river</strong></p> <p>The Murray River is the longest river in Australia and is considered one of the most important water systems in the country since it provides fresh water to more than 1.5 million homes. It is over 2,500 km and runs along the border between New South Wales and Victoria; then through South Australia.</p> <p>It starts at the Snowy Mountains continues through the plains and empties into the Southern Ocean at Lake Alexandria and The Coorong, which is near Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.</p> <p>If you want to extend your holiday and see more waterways, check out the Darling River Run, which feeds into the Murray River. Boating on the Murray River has been popular for years. You can rent a houseboat and have a relaxing vacation right there on the river.</p> <p>Other things to do on the Murray River and in this region include fishing, hiking, exploring scenic lookout on bush trails, and fishing, picnicking and golfing.</p> <p>For an extended holiday, visit some of the national parks located along the Murray River including:</p> <ul> <li>Mungo National Park</li> <li>Mount Lawson State Park</li> <li>Murray-Sunset National Park</li> <li>Barmah National Park</li> <li>Leaghur State Park</li> <li>Murray-Kulkyne Regional Park</li> <li>Perry Sandhills</li> <li>Mount Granya State Park</li> <li>Hattah-Kulkyne National Park</li> </ul> <p><strong>Escape to Kangaroo Island</strong></p> <p>Kangaroo Island is just off the coast of South Australia. Despite being an island, you will be surprised at the variety of holiday adventures and things there are to do on the island. Farm fresh, local eats are at their best on Kangaroo Island.</p> <p>There are plenty of different animals on the island in addition to kangaroos; you can encounter koalas, wallabies, possums, pelicans, penguins, many birds, seals, sea lions, platypus, and a host of other marine life along the coast.</p> <p>Relax on the beaches or swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the waters surrounding the island. You will probably be surprised at the different landscapes and terrains on the island including the Kelly Hill Caves, Flinders Chase National Park, The Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Seal Bay Conservation Park.</p> <p>Just a quick ferry ride away from the South Australia mainland is Kangaroo Island. Adelaide is the closest main city to Kangaroo Island. There is a Kangaroo Island Ferry that operates daily and takes passengers from Cape Jervis on the mainland across the 13.5 km trip to the east end of the island where it docks in a town called Penneshaw. You can also get to KI, as it is known by the locals, via plane.</p> <p>Once you arrive on Kangaroo Island, you can hire a car to get around, there are car rental locations in Penneshaw, Kingscote, and at the Kangaroo Island Airport. Although tours are available, if you hire your own car, you are free to explore the island at your leisure. A self-drive touring CD is available to help guide you on your way.</p>

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Explore six of the India’s most delightful hidden treasures

<p>With India’s monsoon season recently ending, it is the ideal time to travel to one of the most colourful, cultural, and spiritual countries of the world. Ready to go?</p> <p><a href="http://www.insiderjourneys.com.au/">Eric Finley</a>, Insider Journey’s Indian expert, shares six of his favourite hidden gems to explore in India. After clocking up countless trips to India, since his first visit 25 years ago, Finley says although he has visited most parts of India, there is still so much to explore.</p> <p>“People have no idea how much is hidden away in every part of the subcontinent. India’s history is remarkable, as is the diversity, with most regions featuring their own languages and dialects, histories, and cuisines. Despite the incredible changes in modern cities like Mumbai and Delhi, you are never far from traditions that are hundreds of years old. Then there is the fantastic food, the vibrant street life, and the remarkable wildlife,” he adds.</p> <p>Always wanted to go to India? Here are his favourite hidden treasures:</p> <p><strong>1. Kaziranga National Park</strong></p> <p>Due to its relative isolation in the far north-eastern state of Assam, Kaziranga is not on many India travel itineraries. However, this region provides some of the best wildlife experiences in Asia.</p> <p>It is home to a large population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses, herds of Asian elephant and swamp deer, gaur (Indian bison), and some of the last remaining wild water buffalo in Asia. Both common and clouded leopards live in the park forests, as does a healthy tiger population. Over a hundred species of birds can easily be seen in a day, including the great hornbill and bar-headed geese visiting from their Himalayan breeding grounds.]</p> <p><strong>2. Calcutta (Kolkata)</strong></p> <p>Few first-time visitors to India include Calcutta on their itineraries. Those that do are rewarded with a city which retains a style and culture unlike any other in India. Calcutta’s streets heave with vehicular and pedestrian traffic but are alive with colour and history.</p> <p>A heritage walking tour reveals some of India’s most impressive British colonial architecture, hidden temples, synagogues, churches, and other places of worship, as well as the incredible Marble Palace. Don’t miss the Victoria Memorial and its  excellent museum documenting aspects of British colonial rule in India and the city’s rich Bengali culture.</p> <p><strong>3. Rural Rajasthan</strong><br />Rajasthan is so rich in iconic Indian sights and experiences, that many are missed by visitors who stick to the main cities. Experience the brilliant colours of sarees and turbans in the fields and villages, sunset lighting on an ancient hilltop fort, a goat-herder tending his flock or a holy flame lighting the faces of worshippers as bells ring out over a village temple.</p> <p>Stay in one of the heritage-inspired hotels or camps – many are refurbished country homes of local royalty, finely-restored and decorated to feature rich local  fabrics and furnishings. Enjoy delicious country cooking, meet and learn about local people’s lives, and gain access to regional culture through the close relationships between most country lodges and nearby villages.</p> <p><strong>4. Cochin (Kochi)</strong><br />Kerala’s historic trading port is now a bustling modern city but the little peninsula of Fort Cochin retains its special, historic atmosphere like no other in India. There is so much that’s unique here; the pretty tropical streets, shaded by giant rain trees and lined with mansions, and villas bearing features of local and European architecture.</p> <p>The harbour is lined with high hung fishing nets where dolphins frolic, the remnants of British, Jewish, Arab, and other trading communities, and little galleries and cafes sit alongside old street stalls.</p> <p>Walk the messy atmospheric trading streets of Mattancherry where aromas of pepper, cardamom, ginger, and chilli almost bowl you over, and into Jewtown with its beautiful 17th century synagogue and many curio shops.</p> <p><strong>5. Varanasi at dawn</strong></p> <p>There is nothing quite like the timeless experience of a Varanasi dawn. Along the riverside steps known as ghats, Hindus gather quietly to reflect, pray, bathe or just take in the  other-worldly atmosphere which evokes so much spiritual history. As the sun rises, gulls scatter over the still waters, bells sound from surrounding temples, imposing rest houses, and temples above.</p> <p>When the day’s activities gradually break the solitude, explore the narrow lanes winding into the chaotic old town; too narrow for cars but frequently  blocked by cows, carts or a passing scooter. Stop for chai or lassi, explore a local market and see the city come to life, as it must have for centuries.</p> <p><strong>6. Ladakh</strong><br />Physically and culturally, Ladakh is spectacular. Isolated in the high Himalayas, Ladakh is a high altitude desert, with snow-covered peaks dropping into cold desert valleys, where a patchwork of colour erupts along the riverbanks for the short summer when locals cultivate stone fruits, nuts, and barley, and the region opens briefly to the outside world.</p> <p>Apart from its pristine mountain environment, it is the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture which makes this place so different. This ancient form of Himalayan Buddhism  survives at possibly its purest here, since Tibet came under the control of China.</p> <p>The dramatic ancient monasteries like Hemis and Thikse sit high on rocky peaks, commanding incredible vistas, and to hear the monastery horns being blown across silent valleys, is to truly travel into another time and world. Minimum altitudes are around 3000 meters, so take a day to acclimatise.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/explore-six-of-the-india%E2%80%99s-most-delightful-hidden-treasures-(1).aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></em></p>

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Baby alert: Game-changing pre-flight feature set to make long-haul flights more bearable

<p>Being around kids can be an enjoyable experience. </p> <p>However, long-haul flights near a screaming toddler never makes for an easy flight. </p> <p>But one airline has taken matters into their hands and come up with a handy idea to potentially lessen the situation from ever happening to anti-baby flyers ever again. </p> <p>Japan Airlines (JAL) has implemented a new feature on its booking system which shows what seats on the aircraft will be occupied by infants up to the age of two. </p> <p>During the seat selection process of booking with the airline, any seats taken by a toddler are highlighted with a baby icon. </p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.9148936170213px;" src="/media/7831285/japan-airlines-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3a7accfe9d524f13ac994cf870a74864" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Japan Airlines (JAL) has introduced a new feature on its booking system that indicates which seats on the plane will be occupied by infants.</em></p> <p>The site states: “Passengers travelling with children between 8 days and 2 years old who select their seats on the JAL website will have a child icon displayed on their seats on the seat selection screen.</p> <p>This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there.”</p> <p>People have responded to the new feature, with one saying : “Flying exclusively Japan Airlines from now on so I can sit next to babies.”</p> <p>Another Twitter user sung the carrier’s praises, writing: “Thank you, @JAL_Official_jp for warning me about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13-hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board.”</p> <p>However, one social media user said the new feature is unfair. </p> <p>“This is a form of prejudice against children and their families even though i totally agree sitting close to little children is not comfortable,” they wrote. </p> <p>The airline says the seat plan showing where babies are sitting will only work if passengers make their booking through its website. </p> <p>The baby icons will also not display if there is a change in aircraft.</p>

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Your 12-step holiday checklist

<p>Here are the top 12 things you need to do before you go on holidays. We have you covered!</p> <p>The holiday season has arrived and there’s every chance you will be catching up with family or taking some time out on vacation over the next month or so. We all have a lot of fun but you should be aware it’s also the high season for home burglaries and other criminal activity – so you need to make sure your house or apartment is not a target for these crimes. <br /><br />How do you do that? Well there are a few basic preventative measures you can take which will ensure your home remains safe – in fact, if you take these actions, it will look like you never went away at all!<br /><br />So here’s our list of the Top 12 things to do to keep your home safe and sound while you’re our enjoying yourself. It’s going to be well worth it because let’s face it – no-one wants to come home from a relaxing cruise or an island getaway to find something has gone seriously wrong – it would bring all your great holiday vibes undone.<br /><br /><strong>1. Ask a friend or neighbour for help</strong><br />A simple way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your house or apartment while you're away. It’s best if they live quite close by so it’s easy for them to keep an eye on your home and look out for anything untoward.</p> <p>You can give this person a key and the code to your security alarm if you have one. They can bring your mail and community newspapers in, feed your cat, water your plants etc. Make sure you give this person your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of an emergency.</p> <p>It’s ideal if you can also talk to at least one of your neighbours so they can literally be looking across at your house or unit, checking everything is OK while you’re away.<br /><br /><strong>2. Put your mail on hold</strong><br />If you have a friend or neighbour you can trust who is going to collect your mail each day, that’s great. But if you don’t know anyone who can help you out then it’s easy to put your mail on hold with Australia Post. <br /><br />Just go to their website here and click the ‘Hold mail’ tab and all you have to do is create an account with Australia Post and set up a ‘Hold mail’ for a certain period of time. They will hold your mail for as long as you like.</p> <p>Australia Post does charge a fee of $42.95 a month but if you have a valid concession card, such as a pensioner’s card, you’ll get a healthy discount.<br /><br /><strong>3. Stop papers being delivered</strong><br />If you have your papers delivered, it’s best to put a stop to this while you’re away. A pile up of papers on your front lawn is a dead giveaway – you may as well put up a sign saying ‘No-one at Home.’ So make sure you take care of this.<br /><br /><strong>4. Don't tell everyone on Facebook</strong><br />These days, we all like to chat on social media and tell everyone what we are doing. But if you tell everyone you’re about to go on holiday on Facebook and Twitter, you should think again. By posting your holiday plans you make yourself extremely vulnerable because you can never be completely sure who is reading this information.</p> <p>It’s best to leave it until you come back from your holiday – then you can post as many photos and information as you like.</p> <p>As well, be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail. Callers don't need to know you're not home - they only need to know you can't come to the phone right now.<br /><br /><strong>5. Do tell your local neighbourhood watch</strong><br />If there’s an active Neighbourhood Watch program in your area, its worthwhile joining up. It’s a free service and you can let them know you’re going away on holiday and they will note this among their members and this could help make sure your home is safer. <br /><br />To join up, go to the Neighbourhood Watch Australasia site and find out if there is an active program in your area.<br /><br /><strong>6. The lights are on but no one is home<br /></strong>You don't want to leave your lights on the whole time you are away so the best thing to do is to buy a light switch timer which will turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule.</p> <p>These don’t cost too much and you can buy them from your local hardware or electronics store. It’s good to include a few outside lights in the schedule as when these come on, they will deter anyone who is watching the house.</p> <p>As the lights flick on and off in your house, everyone around observing it will assume someone is home. <br /><br /><strong>7. Pull the plug</strong><br />Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. If there is a powerful electrical storm and lightning strikes or the power surges, there’s a chance this can do damage to appliances like TVs. This will also save on power usage while you are away.<br /><br /><strong>8. Remove your spare key</strong><br />That plastic rock isn't really fooling anyone. If someone wants to get into your home, it’s likely they will check all the usual places for your spare key. <br />So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your holiday.<br /><br /><strong>9. Check your window locks</strong><br />Check your window security measures because about 30 per cent of all burglaries start with a window which is not secure window as the entry point. If need be, fit window locks on all your windows before you go away.</p> <p>If you end up having to report a burglary and it’s found the burglar accessed your home via a window without a lock, you could have trouble with your claim. <br /><br /><strong>10. Lock away valuables</strong><br />If you have some valuable documents or items which you are leaving in your house while you’re away, it’s best to put them in a home safe or take them to your bank who will usually deposit them in their own safe for you.<br /><br />As well, check your home contents insurance policy and make sure any important valuables you are leaving are listed on it as you may have set up the policy some time ago.</p> <p>Conceal valuables such as laptops and jewellery so they are not visible from the outside. Consider closing some of the curtains and blinds so people can’t see too much from the outside.<br /><br /><strong>11. Make your home fireproof</strong><br />Safeguarding your home against fire is crucial all year round so check your home insurance policy is current. Fires can, and do, occur in unoccupied houses and units while people are away taking a break.</p> <p>If you live in a bushfire-prone area, prepare your home properly before you leave – a full preparation checklist can be found at the NSW Rural Fire Service’s website here.</p> <p>Before you leave, close all the internal doors to help contain any fire if it did occur. Test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they will function properly.<br /><br /><strong>12. Lock your garden shed</strong><br />Lock away your gardening and handyman tools as many of these can easily be used to force open doors or windows. You’re not leaving your keys out so don’t leave your axe or shovel lying around for anyone to use.<br /><br /><strong>Last minute check</strong><br />Just before you leave for your holiday, do a last minute check to ensure all the windows and doors are locked - including garage doors, side gates and sheds. Turn on the security alarm if you have one. <br /><br />Now that you have taken the time to render your home far less vulnerable to criminals, you can have a great holiday, relaxing in the knowledge your home is now safe and secure!</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/your-essential-holiday-check-list.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Thomas Cook bosses’ took home more than $36 million despite the company being in debt

<p>As hundreds of thousands of tourists are stranded across the country, there have been furious calls for the top earners of travel firm Thomas Cook to hand back their multimillion dollar bonuses.</p> <p>In the past five years alone, 12 of the company’s top earners took home a shocking $36 million despite the company facing debts of $2.9 billion when it collapsed. This is according to the UK’s<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/22/thomas-cook-bosses-received-20m-bonuses-last-5-years-company/" target="_blank">The Telegraph.</a></em>     </p> <p>Chief executive officer Peter Fankhauser took home $15.23 million since he took on the job in 2014, whereas chief financial officers Michael Healy and Bill Scott earned a combined $12.84 million since 2014.</p> <p>The UK’s opposition Labour Party finance spokesman John McDonnell has said that the executives should repay their bonuses.</p> <p>“I think they need to really examine their own consciences about how they’ve brought this about and how they themselves have exploited the situation,” he said on BBC radio.</p> <p>The company was one of the world’s oldest and largest travel operators and fell into compulsory liquidation after it was unable to secure the $368 million demanded by lenders.</p> <p>Mr McDonnell also attacked the British Government for not doing more to help out the company.</p> <p>“I’m worried for the holiday-makers. I really feel for them. But also 13,000 people will lose their jobs over this and I just think the government should have been willing to do more intervene, stabilise the situation, then allow a longer term plan to develop,” he said.</p> <p>“This company once was in public ownership and as a result of privatisation it’s had real problems over the years I think because of issues around management and the lack of long-term planning.”</p> <p>However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be a “moral hazard” to save the company.</p> <p>The liquidation has left more than 21,000 people out of work and stranded more than 600,000 holiday goers overseas.</p> <p>In Tunisia, things took a turn for the worse as tourists were locked inside a hotel by security guards.</p> <p>“Do not come to Les Orangers hotel (in) Hamamet, Tunisia, as we’re all being held hostage because Thomas Cook haven’t paid for our stays!” she said.</p> <p>“Everyone’s being charged nearly 3000 pounds to leave. The security gates are locked and no-one can leave nor can any coaches get in to take people out.”</p> <p>A spokesman for Thomas Cook later said the issue had been resolved and guests allowed to leave.</p> <p>"We are aware that a small number of customers were asked to pay for their hotel room before leaving Les Orangers in Tunisia … this has now been resolved and customers flew home as planned. We continue to support our customers in all our resorts," they said.</p>

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Holiday in Western Australia’s wildflower wonderland

<p>​​<span style="font-weight: 400;">The thought of touring Western Australia normally conjures up images of vast ancient landscapes and boundless ocean playgrounds, but there is just as much fascination to be found on a much smaller scale with the state’s profusion of wildflowers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each region of the state offers an opportunity sure to satisfy the ardent flora lover, but if you want convenience and ease of travel, then a Perth-based wildflower trail is the ideal option.</span></p> <p><strong>A stunning variety within easy reach</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital and it makes a great base to sample the wildflower delights via several trails that fan out from the city in all directions. A great place to start is within the city itself. Kings Park and Botanic Garden offer a surprisingly large and diverse expanse that will overwhelm the senses with 1,700 native wildflower species from across the state, all set on the picturesque backdrop of the Swan River.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Lotterywest Federation Walkway is a real feature of the gardens, as it wends through the tree tops with spectacular river and city views. Ambient cafes and galleries complete the experience.</span></p> <p><strong>Whiteman Park and Ellis Brook Valley</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just a short drive out of Perth is a selection of national parks where the plant life can be observed in a more natural setting. To the North West, Whiteman Park has 4,200 hectares ready to be explored on foot or on bicycle with a network of trails.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To the South West, Ellis Brook Valley offers 550 species of flowering plants, as well as being a haven for a host of native animals. August to October provides the most rewarding vistas for the flower lover and the spectacular falls and stunning city views are a real bonus.</span></p> <p><strong>Add some variety offshore</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For a change of scene, a pleasant ferry ride can take you to nearby Rottnest island; home of the famous quokka and some unique flora. It’s all surrounded by glorious beaches and bays and easily accessible by bike, boot or shuttle bus.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Add a sprinkle of taste sensations from the wineries and restaurants of the Swan Valley, and you have a stimulating yet compact getaway with minimal travel required.</span></p> <p><strong>Did you know</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The island earned its curious name in 1696 when Dutch explorer, William de Vlamingh, mistook the island's unusual marsupial population for common rats and named it Rottnest - literally translating to 'rats nest'. Today, having a photo taken alongside the 'rats' - known as Quokkas - is one of the main highlights for visitors to the island.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: Instagram </span><a href="https://www.instagram.com/flowersbyjanie.wa/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">@flowersbyjanie.wa</span></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></p>

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How many of these famous landmarks have you ticked off?

<p>Incredible feats of architecture can be found on every continent. One of the joys of travelling is finally standing at the foot of that famous tower or wandering through the ruins of an ancient site you’d seen on the history channel. These incredible locations will make you want to pack your bags and book a flight ASAP. Feast your eyes on the world’s most famous landmarks.</p> <p><strong>Statue of Liberty</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>New York CIty, NY, USA <strong>When was it built?</strong> 1875 <strong>Crunch the numbers: </strong>93 metres tall, weighing a total of 225 tonnes. <strong>Fun fact: </strong>On a windy day, the Statue of Liberty can sway as much as 6 inches.</p> <p><strong>Eiffel Tower</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>Paris, France <strong>When was it built?</strong> 1875 <strong>Crunch the numbers: </strong>324 metres tall, weighing a total of 7.3 million kilograms. <strong>Fun fact: </strong>The Eiffel Tower was never intended to be permanent. It was due to be demolished in 1909 but was repurposed as a radio antenna.</p> <p><strong>Big Ben</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>London, England <strong>When was it built?</strong> 1884 <strong>Crunch the numbers: </strong>The clock tower stands at 96 metres tall. The Great Bell inside weighs more than 13 tonnes. <strong>Fun fact:</strong> Many people refer to Big Ben as the tower that houses London’s most recognisable clock, however, Big Ben was actually the name given to the Great Bell inside.</p> <p><strong>Leaning Tower of Pisa</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>Pisa, Italy (85km west of Florence) <strong>When was it built?</strong> 1173 <strong>Crunch the numbers: </strong>57 metres tall, weighing around 12,500 tonnes with a current lean of 3.99 degrees. This means the top of the tower is displaced 3.9 metres from where it would be if it were perfectly vertical. <strong>Fun fact: </strong>The Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually starting to straighten. It has moved 3 inches in the last decade. Experts predict the tower will stand for at least another 200 years.</p> <p><strong>Colosseum</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>Rome, Italy <strong>When was it built?</strong> Construction began in AD 72 and was finished in AD 80 <strong>Crunch the numbers: </strong>189 metres long, 156 metres wide and 48 metres high. It can purportedly hold up to 80,000 spectators. <strong>Fun fact: </strong>Even though Ridley Scott was granted access to film his hit movie, Gladiator, at the Colosseum, it apparently wasn’t big enough. Instead, he built a replica in Malta at a cost of US$1 million.</p> <p><strong>London Eye</strong></p> <p><strong>Where is it? </strong>London, England <strong>When was it built?</strong> 1998 <strong>Crunch the numbers:</strong> Standing at 135 metres tall, the London Eye rotates 26cm per second. A full revolution takes around 30 minutes. <strong>Fun fact: </strong>The London Eye has 32 capsules, one to represent each of the city’s 32 boroughs. However, they are numbered one to 33, skipping number 13 because it’s considered an unlucky number.</p> <p><em>Written by Bethany Plint. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/famous-landmarks/?slide=all">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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Europe’s 10 tourist rules you never realised you had to follow

<p>When travelling to Europe it's easy to let your hair and guard down and accidentally upset the locals. Our guide will help you avoid any embarrassing mistakes.</p> <p>When your entire country can be considered a work of art or priceless history, officials sometimes have to go to extremes to protect their national treasures, leading to some pretty surprising rules that you need to follow when you travel.</p> <p><strong>1.Don’t sit on the steps in Rome</strong></p> <p>New tourist laws in Rome make it illegal to sit on the city’s famed Spanish Steps. The explanation: The newly renovated stairs are a centuries-old historic monument, not actually seating. The same goes for other historic stairways in the city; you can walk up and down, but don’t get comfortable by grabbing a seat or you can be issued a fine. It’s also against the law to bump your wheeled luggage and baby strollers down ancient stairs since it can destroy the stone. Even though these rules can sound pernickety, it’s become a necessity to protect the ancient highlights of the city since Italy is the country everyone wants to travel to this year.</p> <p><strong>2.Don’t wear heels in Athens</strong></p> <p>Rome isn’t the only iconic city worried about preserving vintage stone; in Greece, it’s illegal to wear high heels when you’re touring storied monuments like the Parthenon and the Acropolis in Athens, or any other ancient marble and stone historic site. (They’re notoriously slippery, so we wouldn’t recommend it anyway.)</p> <p><strong>3.Don’t jump in the Canal in Venice</strong></p> <p>It’s never OK to swim, or even dunk your toes, in the famous canals and lagoons in Venice; it’s against the law. Honestly, you shouldn’t even want to, it’s not all that clean. Instead, head to lovely Lido Island for beautiful sandy beaches and clean swimming waters.</p> <p><strong>4.Fountains are not for swimming</strong></p> <p>Forget what you’ve seen in movies, you’ll be in hot water if you try to splash around in Rome’s Trevi Fountain to cool off, or in any other fountain in Italy. Instead, head to the beautiful beaches of Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast to cool off during the summer.</p> <p><strong>5.Don’t swim in the Blue Grotto</strong></p> <p>Speaking of water in Italy, if you see a sign that prohibits swimming, take it seriously. Heidi Klum and her newly betrothed Tom Kaulitz were recently fined more than $6,000 for leaping into the fabled waters of the Blue Grotto in Capri after they tied the knot on a nearby yacht.</p> <p><strong>6.Don’t snack on the go</strong></p> <p>Here’s an Italian law that may catch you by surprise: It’s illegal to eat messy food in historic locations in Rome, Florence, and Venice. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your gelato in a park or while you stroll down a quiet street, but you could be fined (or even removed from the city center) if you try to eat a pizza in a historic piazza or drip your ice cream onto the stones of the Coliseum. And in Greece, you can’t bring drinks, food, or gum into any historic sites, either. And please don’t cook your food in a historic site: two German tourists were actually kicked out of Venice for brewing coffee on the famed Rialto Bridge.</p> <p><strong>7.Keep your shirt on</strong></p> <p>Taking a dip in the sea in Barcelona? Don’t plan on walking around in your bathing suit once you leave the beach; wearing just a bikini or swim trunks on the street is a fineable offence here and also on the popular Spanish island of Mallorca. And men, keep your shirt on when you’re in Rome, too; it’s against the law to walk around bare-chested. Taking your phone?</p> <p><strong>8.Don’t feed the pigeons</strong></p> <p>Want to toss a few breadcrumbs to the infamous flying residents of San Marco Square in Venice? Not so fast! It’s actually against the law to feed the pesky pigeons. Same goes for the birds in Vienna, Austria, where feeding the pigeons has been a fineable offence since 2014.</p> <p><strong>9. Keep the noise down</strong></p> <p>If you’re visiting Germany, it’s illegal to make too much noise on a Sunday or holidays. And keep things down when you’re visiting Venice, too; a new law says that making too much noise at night or during siesta time (1 pm to 3 pm), is also forbidden.</p> <p><strong>10. Don’t put your mouth on the tap in Rome</strong></p> <p>According to Lonely Planet, tourists will need to be especially considerate about how they drink water from Rome’s historic public drinking fountains, known as <em>nasoni</em>. It’s unacceptable to let your mouth touch the metal spout; instead, cup your hands under the spout to get a drink, or bring a reusable water bottle, and skip the issue altogether.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/europes-10-tourist-rules-you-never-realised-you-had-to-follow?slide=all"><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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a> <img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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7 unique festivals to celebrate in China

<p>Festivals are an intrinsic part of Chinese culture.</p> <p>Mostly based on the Chinese lunar calendar. These festivals are a time for connection with friends and family, appreciation for people and place. It is also a grounding for culture and understanding the traditional way of life.</p> <p>With several Chinese festivals on the calendar for the coming months, below is a guide of the 7 unique and exciting festivals to celebrate in China.</p> <p><strong>1. Celebrations and Sweets At The Lantern Festival</strong></p> <p>The wondrous Lantern Festival is an incredible light-filled experience with cultural performances for all ages.</p> <p>Celebrated on<strong> the fifteenth day of the first month of each Lunar New Year</strong> (typically in January or February). It is a time for Chinese families to bond, whilst sharing a hearty meal. </p> <p>Tuck into a warm bowl of famed Tangyuan (glutinous flour and bean paste balls in sweet broth) while gazing at the full moon during the Lantern Festival (元宵节). The act of eating tangyuan signifies the addition of one year to your age.</p> <p>Also known as the last day of the Spring Festival, youths in ancient China were said to tour the streets freely on this occasion with lanterns. Their goal? To find a suitable life partner!</p> <p><strong>2. Women’s Day</strong></p> <p><strong>8 March</strong> is Women’s Day in China. An opportunity for men to express love and appreciation for the women in their lives. Women’s Day has now evolved into a celebration of women’s purchasing power. Often clothes, shoes, and cosmetics are discounted online.</p> <p>The best thing about this occasion? Women can leave work early and enjoy a half-day holiday!</p> <p>Many companies are also taking the celebration a step further. This honouring includes a working half-day, catering breakfast in the office, or throwing women a dinner party.</p> <p><strong>3. Paying Tribute To A Patriot: The Dragon Boat Festival</strong></p> <p>During the warm summer periods, the Dragon Boat Festival (also called Duanwu Festival) memorializes loyalty and filial piety. This occurs every fifth day of the fifth Lunar month, which is in late May or early June. The date was made famous by the well-loved minister and scholar Qu Yuan, who took his life in 278 BC after his political exile.</p> <p>A senior political office holder, Qu was known for his loyalty to the state of Chu. Betrayed by his rivals to the detriment of his homeland, the distressed Qu drowned himself in the Miluo River after the fall of the state. Local villagers threw balls of rice wrapped in leaves into the river to prevent fish from eating Qu’s body as boatmen rowed out to find him.</p> <p>To commemorate the occasion, glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves (<em>zongzi </em>or 粽子) are eaten. The wrapped dumplings have become so popular that you can now buy them any time of the year at food stalls. </p> <p><strong>4. Fly Over The Milky Way On Qixi: Chinese Valentine’s Day</strong></p> <p>Known as the Qixi (七夕) Festival or Double Seventh Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day falls on the<strong> seventh day of the seventh lunar month (usually in August).</strong></p> <p>Like Valentine’s Day in the West, Qixi Festival has its touching tale. According to legend, a cowherd and a weaver girl (or Zhinü) were banished to different parts of the Milky Way. Allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, the couple would reunite by walking over a bridge of magpies in the sky.</p> <p>In ancient China, Qixi was a time for single women to pray to Zhinü and burn paper offerings. Newlywed couples also paid their respects to the heavenly couple for the last time as a farewell to their singlehood.</p> <p><strong>5. Feast on Sweet Mooncakes During The Mid-Autumn Festival</strong></p> <p>The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) is celebrated across China and the Chinese diaspora. The festival occurs when the moon is said to be at its fullest in the year.  This is on the<strong> fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, normally in September or October</strong> of the Gregorian calendar. Sweet round mooncakes representing reunion and connection are served during this occasion.</p> <p>To join the fun, head to your nearest Chinese mall or city plaza. You can participate in lantern exhibitions, lantern riddle competitions, food fairs, and carnival games for both the young and old.</p> <p>The story of the mythical figure Chang’e (嫦娥)—an immortal woman living on the moon with a pet rabbit, is often retold during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Chang’e was famed for being the wife of archer Hou Yi, a hero who shot down nine of ten suns and saved humanity from disaster. Gifted a potion of immortality, Hou Yi let Chang’e safe keep it. To prevent a robbery attempt, Chang’e swallowed the potion and flew towards the moon where she is now said to live.</p> <p><strong>6. Chongyang Festival: A Chinese Tradition of Climbing High</strong></p> <p>Getaway from the city and inhale some fresh autumn air. Also known as the Chongyang Festival (重阳节) or the Double Ninth Festival. This day marks the impending arrival of winter and falls <strong>on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, usually in October.</strong></p> <p>The Chongyang festival is celebrated by baking and steaming Chongyang Cake. This cake is made from rice flour, sugar, almonds and other nuts, this is a sweet treat not to be missed. Since the Chinese word for ‘cake’ (糕) is a homonym for ‘height’ (高), celebrants often climb tall mountains and appreciate chrysanthemum blooms on this occasion.</p> <p>After the cake, work off those extra calories by hiking. This also allows you to get in touch with nature. Gathering with your family and friends to honour deceased relatives by burning paper clothing offerings at their graves. Declared as Seniors’ Day in 1989, Chongyang Festival also allows numerous seniors’ nature walks, which are led by community associations.</p> <p><strong>7. A Shopping Extravaganza: The Double 11th Shopping Festival</strong></p> <p>China’s answer to Black Friday is the annual Double 11th Festival (双十一), when people in China can grab a discount on Chinese online shopping platforms such as <a href="http://taobao.com/">Taobao</a>, <a href="https://www.tmall.com/">Tmall</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.cn/">Amazon.cn</a>, and more. This festival happens on the 11th of November. Purely commercial, November 11, 2016, saw Alibaba post a staggering <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-alibaba-singlesday-idUSKBN13605X">120.7 billion yuan</a> worth of sales by the end of the day.</p> <p>The symbolism of the four 1s has given the day the second meaning of Singles’ Day (光棍节) in China. Celebrate your single status by tucking into a fried dough fritter (<em>youtiao</em>) for breakfast. Youtiao is eaten on this day, as it looks like the number one.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/7-unique-festivals-to-celebrate-in-china/">MyDiscoveries</a>. </em></p>

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7 ways to get the most from hotel stays

<p><strong>1. It pays to be nice</strong><br />Room assignments – including upgrades – are often still made by actual people, usually front desk managers. If they associate your name with a friendly face, you may find yourself in a spacious corner suite on your next visit.</p> <p><strong>2. “Ask and you shall receive,” </strong></p> <p>Says Hilary Lewis, a hotel housekeeping manager. Most hotels will be happy to provide extra items, such as DVD players or microwaves, at no extra charge if they have them on hand.</p> <p><strong>3. Loyalty counts, so stick with one chain </strong></p> <p>Frequent travellers can achieve a preferred status level, which comes with privileges – special amenities, freebies and access to perks such as free breakfast or happy hour drinks.</p> <p><strong>4. If you use third-party sell-off sites: </strong></p> <p>Like Expedia, you’ll snag bargain rates, but you’ll get what you paid for. You’ll likely end up with a less-than-ideal room – lower floors, bad views.</p> <p><strong>5. Ask the concierge</strong></p> <p>About local attractions and where to eat.</p> <p><strong>6. Some of the best offers are hidden.</strong></p> <p>Hotels will occasionally give out discounts and perks to guests who post TripAdvisor reviews or fill out hotel surveys. You can also ask to join their email list to keep up to date with special deals and packages.</p> <p><strong>7. Star ratings systems vary widely between countries.</strong></p> <p>For example, in Italy, a hotel can earn five stars by simply having a 24-hour reception desk, rooms that start at 16 square metres and receptionists who speak three languages. A single star is awarded for changing the sheets once a week.</p> <p><em>Written by Tim Johnson. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/7-Ways-to-Get-the-Most-from-Hotel-Stays"><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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Common travel booking mistakes

<p><strong>1. Not reading the fine print </strong></p> <p>After surfing the web for hours to find that perfect holiday deal, reading the fine print is probably the last thing you want to do. However, it could be the difference between a stress-free holiday and a complete disaster.</p> <p><strong>2. Booking the wrong dates </strong></p> <p>Make sure to always have a calendar at hand when booking your flights and hotels. “If you’re travelling between different time zones, make sure to double check your arrival date with the airline before booking your hotel stay,” says Adam Schwab.</p> <p><strong>3. Not checking validity periods, surcharges and black-out periods</strong></p> <p>In order to evade unexpected costs, it is important to pay special attention to double-check these three things. “Pay extra attention to validity periods, extra person surcharges, kids’ policies, transfers costs as well as cancellation and amendment policy,” says Schwab.</p> <p><strong>4. Entering the wrong name</strong></p> <p>You may laugh, but this is a common mistake many online travellers make. If you know you experience butter fingers while typing, it’s best to re-read every detail a few times before confirming to avoid embarrassing phone calls to rectify the mistake.</p> <p><strong>5. Working solo</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the dates and fine print so before you confirm your trip have your partner or friend read through all the travel details before booking and paying, suggests Schwab. Chances are, they’ll pick up anything you may have missed.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/common-booking-mistakes">Reader’s Digest.</a> 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=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a><em><u> </u></em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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