THE CALM BEFORE THE VOYAGE
It's 11pm on the Chinese Lunar New Year and the competent, friendly staff of the Mercure Sydney International Airport Hotel are checking in some late arrivals. On the recently-updated white marble check-in counter is the largest glass bowl of fortune cookies in town, a testimony to the hotel’s determination to add value and to make the most of the occasions that bring their visitors. Across the sparkling marble lobby with its on-trend touches of black, burnt orange and brown, the hotel’s cosily-renovated bar is in full swing.
LATEST NEWS
TAKE A NIGHT RIDE: With a Eurail Pass, rail travel is convenient and economical. What’s more, travelling on night trains makes a great alternative to costly hotels. JOY DODDS reports. Train travel throughout Europe is a breeze with comprehensive rail networks, covering legendary scenic routes and high-speed/express trains that are efficient and affordable.
PORT-SIDE ON RIO DUORO: THE world’s oldest demarcated wine region, the terraced Duoro Valley, leads upstream to historic Salamanca in Spain, both UNESCO-designated treasures. JOY DODDS reports.
SPARTA'S PAST NOT TO BE MYTH-ED: JOY DODDS discovers a seamless blend of the ancient and modern in Historic Greece. SPARTA – the very name epitomises Homeric daring, valour and resilience. But what of today’s Sparta? Its setting is just as dramatic as its past, broodingly located among the high mountains and deep gorges of the Greek Peloponnesus.
ORVIETO – SLOW CITY ON THE ROCKS: Orvieto’s tufo and labyrinth of caves have shaped its independent identity, its Etruscan altars and relics – and the character of a renowned white wine, writes JOY DODDS.
BLACK SEA CRUISING: LOOKING or a cruise with a difference? The Black Sea is one of cruising's best-kept secrets, a perfect antidote to the increasingly overcrowded Caribbean and Mediterranean, writes JOY DODDS. The Black Sea laps up against Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, land is inked to the Aegean/Mediterranean by the Bosphorus.
CRUISING
PACIFIC PEARLS: The islands of the Pacific are like the pearls for which they are famous - small yet precious archipelago strings, their natural lustre embellished by small bespoke cruising and the absence of mass tourism.
MONTENEGRO - ADRIATIC GEM: The most iconic images of newly-independent Montenegro are of the tiny unspoiled islet of Sveti Stefan – yet the whole country exudes charm. JOY DODDS reports.
THE CROSSROADS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN: The Maltese Islands cover only 300sqkm yet across 7000 years they have packed a pre-historic, medieval and 20th century punch. JOY DODDS reports.
DANUBE SUPERSTAR: Arriving by river, visitors are mesmerised by the sheer grandeur of Budapest and its civic and cultural resilience. JOY DODDS reports.
ANGKOR AWAY: The Mekong is real life – its banks stacked with visual delights from floating villages and longboats to serene temples and orange-clad monks. JOY DODDS reports.
LIGHT-FILLED COASTAL ART ENCLAVE - ANTIBES-JUAN-LES-PINS: ANTIBES JUAN-LES-PINS is a more reticent jewel that sparkles on France's rather glitzy Cote d'Azur, writes JOY DODDS.
MELLOW HIGH -COUNTRY WINE REGION: Victoria’s King Valley, which produces some of Australia’s highest altitude wines, offers many similarities with Italy’s northern Trentino-Alto Adige wine region, reflecting its immigrant past
CLASSIC SINGAPORE: Pockets of exotic colonial buildings make a refreshing contrast to the islands high-rise development. JOY DODDS reports.
JAKARTA'S OLD BATAVIA: Indonesia is increasingly the flavour of the month with Australian tourists, more than one million of us having visited , a 266% increase, in 2013-14.
NEW DANUBE FRONTIERS: Cruising the Danube has taken on a new dimension, extending beyond Hungary’s Budapest into Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. JOY DODDS reports.
VENICE OF THE NORTH: THE former capital of Russia, St Petersburg is unlike any other Russian city and a historic and cultural gem. JOY DODDS reports.
THE RESIDENCES IN CENTENNIAL PARK: WIN a night's accommodation in Sydney's favourite playground, Centennial Park - with the grounds to yourself.
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