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I turned up in Brisbane thirsty. The kind of thirst that only a stiff drink or well-poured brew could possibly quench. While it’s no secret that Aussies are a generally hop-happy breed, this laid-back Queensland capital takes its swill rather seriously, turning the act of casual beer drinking into a veritable art form. A bevy of new boutique beer bars and microbreweries have recently cropped up about town, with top taps turning out specialty suds and respectable bar bites in stylish, yet unpretentious, settings. Read more
Sydneysiders are spoiled when it comes to leisure options. When they tire of the beach, culture, and nightlife that brims within their city limits, a world-class mountain escape is nearby. The breathtaking Blue Mountains – harboring a series of national parks and conservation areas that have earned a UNESCO World Heritage designation – are set within easy striking distance of Sydney. They’re close enough to taste in a scratch-the-surface day trip, but are best enjoyed over a couple of active days. Just back from my own budget-friendly Blue Mountains escape, here are some tips for this sensational Sydney trip. Read more
Think of Melbourne as Sydney’s shy but sexy little sister, who doesn’t scream out for the spotlight, but once you get to know her, va va voom. I tacked on a couple of days in Melbourne at the tail end of my recent Australian travels, and regretted not having more time to idly explore the subtle charms of this captivating cosmopolitan capital, pulsing with creativity and cultural flair.
While lacking the major blockbuster attractions that typically reel in the international tourists, Melbourne’s real allure is uncovered while exploring its city-within-the-city, on its tucked-away “laneways” that sneak away from the wide, well-ordered, and trafficked streets of Melbourne’s polished facade. Here, a rich-in-character back-door world of bustling back alleyways brimming with quirky bars, trendsetting boutiques, cozy cafes, edgy art galleries, and multicultural restaurants is unveiled, all overseen by a vibrant and unrivaled street art scene. Read more
If you don’t know what Bulgaria, London, Milwaukee, Montana, and New Zealand have in common, it’s my pleasure to remind you that they’re all places some of my well-traveled colleagues identified as worthy family vacation destinations for 2012.
Given that a new year is upon us and my friends are still well traveled, I called on them again to identify destinations that family travelers might want to add to their short lists in 2013.
Kangaroo Island: Yes, Things Are Hopping There
If Hobbit tourism catches on the way John E. DiScala (aka the very frequent flier better known as Johnny Jet) predicted last year, the New Zealand town of Matamata will still be a destination to watch for 2013. If Tolkien travel is not your family’s thing, but you’re still intrigued by the Southern Hemisphere, DiScala has another nomination for you: Kangaroo Island. “It’s in south Australia, just a 15 minute flight from Adelaide,” he points out, “and it’s known as Australia’s ‘zoo without fences.’” As you might expect, you’ll get an eyeful of kangaroos and wallabies there, as well as koalas, seals, and the whimsical-looking echidnas (spiny anteaters). DiScala also says the island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the world’s best places to stay.
Perhaps the best news is that Kangaroo Island is not yet on the radar of U.S. family travelers. “I was there in October, so no U.S. families were traveling,” DiScala says, “but they will be there, as it’s just now getting known. It’s the new Tasmania.” Read more
Train travel, whether for commuting or vacation, can be delightful. It’s slower than air travel, but it offers breathtaking scenery and a trip back in time to a more romantic era of adventure. Of course, traveling by train has its dangers. This video from Metro Trains Melbourne offers a not-so-subtle but incredibly cute reminder that you need to be aware of your surroundings and make good decisions when you’re away from home. They’ve built an equally adorable website to reinforce their message.
Be safe when riding the rails…and good luck getting this song out of your head. Sorry!
The Philadelphia Zoo’s resident orangutans were recently awarded some newfound freedom to roam. Using a set of enclosed trails, called the Great Ape Trail, the orangutans can travel around the zoo property at will, suspended above visitor walkways. Lemurs and small monkeys at the zoo have been doing this for a year on their Treetop Trail. The Philadelphia Zoo is not alone in letting some of their tenants roam the grounds. Other zoos around the world have made similar concessions to their primate inhabitants. In fact, some let their animals roam freely among their human guests.
You might have been waiting all summer for that perfect sunny day, but in the U.S., those rays have turned into a scorcher. With America currently experiencing the hottest summer on record, some of us are wishing for a cooler front. What better time, then, to dream about the Southern Hemisphere, which is going through its winter months? While it may not be easy to book a last minute getaway to these destinations, just lusting over them will hopefully cool you down.
Angel Falls – Venezuela
Venezuela is mostly tropical due to its location just north of the equator, but thanks to its varied geography, pockets of microclimates exist. One such area is the Guiana Highlands, a southern region of the country characterized by imposing plateaus and vast upland plains. From June to early September, the average temperature hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 35 degree at night, making this the best time to visit the Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. Renowned as the world’s highest waterfall at 3,212 feet, winter’s torrential rains causes the rapids to swell to their full glory. However, if storm clouds shroud your view, Canaima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a destination in itself, with impressive geological formations and lush greenery.
While we’d all love to travel more than we do, silly things like money, jobs, children, and crippling anxiety keep us trapped in one place (often our homes that are filled with old newspapers). Thankfully, modern technology allows us to experience the world more easily than ever before. We can Skype with our friends on other continents, tour museums on our phones, and experience just about anything online. But what if you want to explore other cultures and places more tangibly and can’t hop around the globe like Indiana Jones? Well, if you have space in your yard (and don’t mind your home resembling the SkyMall Tuesday headquarters), then SkyMall has everything you need to bring the world to you. Rather than break the bank and exhaust all of your vacation days on constant travel, why not surround create a menagerie of handsome lawn sculptures that allows you to live internationally without ever leaving your house? Read more
As you might have noticed, we’ve been a bit obsessed with the beach lately thanks to the East Coast heat wave. We’ve looked at the worst people at the beach, the crazy things that beachgoers do, and The Definitive Guide to Going to the Beach. This all started a few weeks ago when we asked you to share your favorite underrated beaches with us. We put the call out on Twitter and Facebook, as well. It’s clear that you all have firm opinions on the best beaches in the world that don’t get enough attention. With summer in full swing and everyone looking for ways to beat the heat without dealing with obnoxious crowds, traffic snarls, and boring routines, it’s time to take a look at some of your favorite underrated and lesser-known beaches. Read more
My globetrotting ambitions should have been clear to my parents when at age 13 I chose as my bat mitzvah theme “Around the World with Liz.” The place cards looked like miniature passports, and each table represented a different country. Now that I’m twice as old as I was when I was called to read from the Torah for the first time, I decided to look back on that fateful day and count off how many of those “tables” I’ve actually visited:
When it comes to summertime fun, not every town is satisfied with state fairs and carnivals. These intrepid communities celebrate quirky bits of history and time-honored traditions that make simple petting zoos seem boring. While some of these festivals might look bizarre at first glance, they serve the same purpose as the more run-of-the-mill gatherings: Get a bunch of people together to have fun. Read more
Not one of the 20,000 international travelers that are flying in for Oz’s greatest, gayest event of the year, Sydney Mardi Gras (née Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)? Well, dry those eyes with your yet-to-be-used boa: You can still shake your booty with the best of ‘em and join in the fun of Australia’s most iconic public parade as Optus streams it to a worldwide audience for the first-time ever at MardisGrasTV.org.au — in high-def so you can be sure to catch every shimmering sequin.
Always a hoot, the festivities are shaping up for a banner year, expecting to top the $30 million it pumped into the local New South Wales economy last year. One reason: pop star Kylie Minogue, who returns after 25 years to be queen of the parade, in addition to a sure-to-be-show-stopping performance at the signature main event Mardigrasland. (See below for a video from the diminuative diva.)
Google already has your land travel covered, from Google Earth to street views to building plans (see our post on Indoor Maps), but now they want to take you underwater to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with the help of the University of Queensland, Catlin Group Limited, and some pretty fancy cameras. For the project, the Catlin Seaview Survey will photograph 360 degree underwater panorama views of shallow reefs, which over the next few years will be made available to the public through Google Maps, Google Earth, and even live YouTube streams on a dedicated YouTube channel. You can see a demo of the Street-View-inspired Seaview maps here.
These gorgeous images and maps are made possible by a specially designed camera called the SVII, which acts as an underwater scooter and takes photographs as it moves. The photographs will be analyzed by image recognition software that will quickly catalog the wildlife at the 20 sites chosen for study along the Great Barrier Reef. But there are other components to the project, as well: a deep reef survey, and a mega fauna survey.
Elegant, old-world-style Cunard Line will offer their first-ever circumnavigation of Australia, primed for some unrivaled Down Under discovery, come February. Setting sail on February 14 (an over-the-top Valentine for your sweetie, perhaps?) from Sydney (also its point of return), the 22-night cruise aboard the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 will provide cruisers a rare opportunity to completely navigate the massive country, as part of the vessel’s 2012 World Voyage. Read more
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend more quality time with the person you love, then I suggest you enjoy that togetherness someplace amazing! And what’s better or more romantic than a stunning, sun-kissed island? There’s something innately sexy and bond-inspiring about the sea – floating together in gentle turquoise surf, walking hand-in-hand at sunset, enjoying the day’s fresh catch paired with a rum cocktail or a fine wine. So as the new year begins, here are my top 10 picks for the most amazing islands to escape to together in 2012. Read more
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