Notes from a roadtrip: Egypt

I’ve been told to sit and be quiet while we gun it to Cairo, along the Red Sea coastline.

 

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The Driver needs to concentrate, dodgung potholes and trucks covered with pictures of Mickey Mouse – which doesn’t make them benevolent road companions in the slightest.

From the road from El Gouna, in Egypt’s south coast, we glimpse the Sinai peninsula – that much maligned buffer between Egypt and its arch-rival, Israel. We also spy container ships lurking in the bright waters, waiting their turn to pass through the Suez Canal.

At 3in el Sokhna now, having paused for a speeding ticket and salmonella at a roadside petrol station.

I can hear prayers from the mosque while we wait to pay the road toll, admiring the colours of the desert at sunset.

 

Hotel review: Swissotel Resort Phuket, Thailand

With Muay Thai in the gym, a broad sweep of beautiful white-sand beach, poolside kid manicures and Phuket’s cha long liquor at the poolside bar, what’s not to love about this family-friendly hotel?

Set on the broad sweep of Kamala Bay, on Phuket’s west coast, Swissotel Resort Phuket is two minutes’ walk to the beach, within driving distance of most of the island’s attractions, but away from the sin bins of Patong. Ideal for families, it’s the great beach holiday, Thai style.

You can read more about my review of this Phuket family hotel here on the Traveller website. The feature appeared in Sydney’s Sun-Herald and Melbourne’s Sunday Age newspapers.
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Poolside at the Swissotel Resort Phuket, Thailand. photo: supplied.

 

Australia on a plate

http://www.traveller.com.au/top-chefs-showcase-best-of-australian-dinning-at-exclusive-world-gala-102n22Australia on a plate
It might be the greatest
three-course meal in Australian history but the public won’t get a
taste. Three of Australia’s top chefs, Neil Perry, Peter Gilmore and Ben
Shewry, have been charged with creating our finest menu for a gala
dinner in November to showcase Australian dining. The ‘‘Invite the World
to Dinner’’ event, at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania,
will bring in 80 guests from around the world, including influential
food and wine writers, critics, chefs and celebrities, from Australia’s
key tourism markets. The event is part of Tourism Australia’s new global
campaign ‘‘Restaurant Australia’’ – the latest part of the ‘‘There’s
nothing like Australia’’ campaign launched in 2010. The three chefs have
outstanding credentials, with Perry’s Rockpool, in Sydney, and Quay,
where Gilmore is executive chef, receiving three hats in the 2014 Good
Food Awards. Shewry’s Attica, in the Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea, was
named restaurant of the year at the Melbourne awards. ‘‘This dinner is
saying to the world here is Australian cuisine, we have amazing produce,
diverse cultural influences and through our cooking we bring a certain
spirit of openness, adventure and freedom,’’ said Gilmore.
– Craig Platt
World at your feet
Click
your heels and find yourself wherever in the world you want to be, with
the cutest women’s shoes from Venezuelan brand Hot Chocolate. Imprinted
with an old-school map of the world, they have a rubber sole for
comfortable strolling and the soft polyester upper makes them easy to
clean. Flip the buckle and they’re an ideal inflight shoe, but if you’re
not travelling anywhere soon, just look down, map out your route and
daydream. Bon voyage shoes, $75. 0499 116 659, see pimposaustralia.com.
Taming travel with tots
A
new travel website devised by mother-of-two, Ingrid Huitema, is
dedicated to journeys with babies. The site takes the grunt out of
travelling with young children and give parents time to reconnect.
“Taking a few hours each day to eat lunch uninterrupted, walk on the
beach or try a surf lesson usually doesn’t happen on holidays with
babies,” says Huitema. “We want to change all of that.” Packages in
baby-friendly Bali comprise villas tailored for children, with pick-up
at Denpasar airport, car seats and nannies. A five-night stay in
Seminyak starts at $1895, with four days’ nanny service. 0408 112 728,
see babyandtoddlertravel.com.au.
Bespoke beauty
You’re
the bellwether, the pack leader, the one who swims against the masses,
and you’re demanding a hotel room decorated with street art. You’re the
epitome of the new traveller. “Curation is the future of online travel,”
says Mat Lewis, of new boutique accommodation booker View Retreats.
Travellers are seeking architectural statements for eye-popping travel
snaps. “Our most-viewed property is the Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse in
the Blue Mountains, followed by Campbell Point House on Victoria’s
Bellarine Peninsula and Alkira Resort House and Rainforest Retreat in
the Daintree.” Romantic cocoons are the top request. See
viewretreats.com.

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Fabric of life
Weave through India’s exotic Rajasthan,
with Christina Sumner, OAM, former principal curator at Sydney’s The
Powerhouse Museum and Indian textiles aficionado. You will watch silk
and cotton weaving in women’s charities, learn about ancient tribal
dyeing techniques and block-printing, and visit renowned ateliers during
this new 15-day textiles tour. Other highlights include the 1st-century
Buddhist caves of Ajanta, sufi concerts, village visits and the
photogenic Rajasthani cities of Jaipur and Jaisalmer. Accommodation
includes Jodhpur’s Ajit Bhawan Palace and Samode Haveli in Jaipur. The
Threads of Rajasthan tour numbers are capped at 12, departing on
February 7, 2015. Costs from $11,500 a person, twin share, including
flights ex-Sydney, meals and guides. Phone 1300 130 218, see
classicsafaricompany.com.au.
Case closed
Choose zingy
tangerine or strawberry and you can bet your bottom dollar you won’t
miss your luggage on the carousel amid a sea of boring black. Online
retailer Kogan’s new budget-friendly three-piece luggage sets are
lightweight with a hard-side shell, and sit sturdily on four
multi-directional spinner wheels. The set has two suitcases, 100-litre
(4.2 kilogram) and 65-litre (3.5 kilogram), and a 40-litre (2.6
kilogram) cabin bag, with TSA-approved locks and a one-year warranty.
Colour challenged? Available also in charcoal. Kogan Hardside Spinner
luggage set, $159, three pieces. Phone 1300 304 292, see kogan.com.au.