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. Europe’s fourth largest city, royal city St Petersburg, known as ‘Piter’ to locals, is a fascinating mixture of influences. Perched along the Neva River with its myriad canals are impressive C18th and 19th buildings, including the world-famous Hermitage and other former palaces.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
BORDEAUX - GLOBAL WINE CAPITAL: Aquitaine’s elegant capital offers UNESCO World Heritage, a ravishing facelift – and grapes, as JOY DODDS discovered.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WORLD HERITAGE ISLAND ESCAPE: FRASER Island is the world's largest sand island - with adventures that come in bucketloads.
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