BRATISLAVA - DANUBE’S RISING STAR
WHILE lesser-known of the European ports of call, Bratislava’s Stary Mesto (Old Town) is becoming a ‘hot spot’. JOY DODDS reports. WITH Budapest downstream and Vienna upsteam, it is easy to see why there’s a tendency for Bratislava to play second fiddle to the two tourism giants. Yet this small city has a character of its own, and a rich history. Bratislava was an important city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a royal seat for 200 years.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WESTERN CIVILISATION'S WATERWAY: The Rhône, a jewel in European river cruising, carries a sense of history from Ancient Greek and Roman times, linking deliciously captivating landscapes along its banks. 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.
COLOURFUL COWRA BECKONS: COWRA, once infamous for a WW2 break-out, the largest in modern military history, has blossomed into a favourite destination, offering vineyards and fine food, as well as history. JOY DODDS reports.
PRINCELY POSTAGE STAMP - MONACO: The tiny principality of Monaco celebrates its patron day on January 27, symbolically with a blessing of the sea and a fishing boat - and loads of colour and music.
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.
BORDEAUX - GLOBAL WINE CAPITAL: Aquitaine’s elegant capital offers UNESCO World Heritage, a ravishing facelift – and grapes, as JOY DODDS discovered.
TURKEY – MORE THAN AN ANZAC PILGRIMAGE: While unprecedented numbers of Australians will head to Gallipoli (Gelibolu) and Anzac Cove, near Canakkale, to make a pilgrimage to the 1915 landing place and the poignant cemeteries to
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
CARIBBEAN MAGIC - CUBA: THERE is nowhere quite like Cuba. The island pulsates with energy – in its Old World Spanish traditions, its music, its dance and its outdoor adventure. JOY DODDS reports.
WORLD HERITAGE ISLAND ESCAPE: FRASER Island is the world's largest sand island - with adventures that come in bucketloads.
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