Travel deals: Indonesia’s Gili islands

Flying to Fiji’s Mamanucas with the kids.

Those looking beyond Bali into the rest of Indonesia’s archipelago are finding themselves in the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, a two-hour fast ferry from Bali. Otherwise, we love Noos-aaah or pootling around Fiji by seaplane. 

If you’d prefer to play winter princess, check out a tour from Helsinki to St Petersburg, WWI battlefields or (dare we say it) Victoria’s Philip Island? It’s all here, in this week’s best international and domestic travel deals.
Get two nights free when you book a seven-night holiday,
worth $950, at the absolute beachfront apartments at Seahaven Noosa until July
31. The 4.5-star property includes four heated pools, spa, gym and bbq. From $2375,
seven nights. (07) 5447 3422,
Travel by coach and rail from Helsinki to St Petersburg
and Moscow on the nine-day Tsar Route tour and save $225. Includes transport,
accommodation in first-class hotels, breakfast and sightseeing. Available  August-September 2014. Costs $1891 a person,
twin share. 1300 668 844,
The glamour of the Russian empire
Take a
break on Phillip Island and get $200 of extras including dinner, wine and a
three-parks pass that includes the Penguin Parade when you stay two nights in a
studio spa room at the Ramada Resort Phillip Island. Costs $484, two nights,
until August 31. (03) 5952 8000,
The new Karma Reef hotel on Gili Meno, Lombok
Tiny Gili Meno is one of a trio of hip isles of the coast
of Lombok, two hours by boat from Bali. The new boutique resort Karma Reef’s low-season
special runs from October 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015 (excludes Christmas).
Normally $315 a night, from $170 B&B for two. +62 370 642 340,
spring by reconnecting with nature at the eco-accredited Paperbark Camp near
Jervis Bay, and save up to $440 throughout September and midweek
(Sunday-Thursday) in October. From $500, two nights, with gourmet breakfast,
bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddling. 1300 668 167,
Discover the Roman ruins, Crusader castles and ancient
Nabataen civilisation of Petra on an 11-night tour through this beautiful
desert country. Book by September 30 and receive all entrance fees to sites
free. Departs March 30, 2015. From $4989 a person, twin share. (07) 3372
Petra, Jordan
Travel is half the adventure, especially when you catch a
family fly-in, fly-out package to Fiji’s Castaway Island in the Mamanucas. The
five-night offer includes helicopter and sea plane transfers for two adults and
two kids from Nadi airport to the island. There’s also plenty of water action,
with snorkelling, a dolphin safari, sunset cruise and a ride on a banana boat
included. From $5470 for a family of four, available until March 31, 2015. +679 666 1233,
Follow a soldier’s footsteps on a guided tour of Europe’s
most poignant battlefields during the centenary years of WWI. The 12-day tour travels from London to Amsterdam
via France and Belgium to the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the
battlefields of the Somme and Ypres’ Menin Gate. Highlights include the new
First World War Galleries in the Imperial War Museum in London, and lighter
moments are found in a wine tasting in Reims and dinner in a local’s home in
Amsterdam. From $3775 a person, twin share. 1300
663 043,

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Fifty things we love about travel right now

The Sydney Morning Herald recently asked travel writers to share what we love about travel right now, from fabulous destinations to new technology (and vintage caravans, as per the photo). 

I confess that I love a good stopover, Oslo and not paying $500 for dinner. (don’t you?)

Break your long-haul flight with a visit to Hong Kong
Disneyland, coffee in Singapore’s Kampong Glam, a Chinese shopover or a
spot of Arabian dune bashing. Transit stopovers don’t have to follow the
old sluice-and-snooze formula.

The new stopover cities of Guanghzhou and Dubai are going
gung-ho with relaxed transit visas and budget hotel offers, while the
old hands of Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong are offering easy transit
visas and tours to show off their towns. Expect cheap hotels and hop-on,
hop-off buses in Singapore, free rail cards and kick-boxing shows in
Bangkok, or Emirates’ and Qantas’ Dubai hotel packages. Most offers are
limited to travellers flying on the country’s national airline. BJ

Yes, it’s cold, yes, it’s pricey, but the Norwegian capital
is a sleeper hit for its food, architecture and design. Fly in with
thrifty Norwegian Air, ogle starchitect Renzo Piano’s new Astrup
Fearnley Museum of Modern Art or squeal with your hands over your ears
alongside Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

If Michelin-starred Maaemo is out of your league, try organic
Kolonihagen Grunerlokka for new Nordic tapas: think mini elkburgers and
dainty seafood, or go budget on gritty Storgata, aka Kebab Street.
Hipsters bunker down at The Thief Hotel, then go old-school to sip
coffee and shop Nordic design at Fuglen.

Grab a window seat in the Grand Hotel’s cafe to channel Ibsen
and world peace (the Nobel Peace Prize laureate snoozes here each
year). BJ

Guangzhou, in southern China, is the heartland of the Canton
Route, a wallet-friendly rival to the traditional Kangaroo Route from
Sydney to London via Hong Kong or Singapore. China Southern Airlines
also now flies Guangzhou to Moscow, Frankfurt and New York (from August
Aussies are already snapping up free 72-hour transit visas to
scoff Cantonese nosh and explore the surrounding Guangdong Province. BJ

Even Michelin-star-restaurant hunters can’t resist a deal,
and we love the rise of little cheapies creating expert food on a
salaryman’s budget.

The cheapest is said to be Hong Kong’s celebrated Tim Ho Wan,
hot property for its pork buns (three for under $3), otherwise, check
out the one-star Arbutus, the bellwether of London’s so-called recession
restaurants, with the plat de jour and wine for 10 quid, or New York’s
first gastropub, The Spotted Pig, a one-star constant since it opened a
decade ago.

The Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand listing spots restaurants
that are dishing up non-starred all-stars serving two courses and wine
for less than $40, fertile hunting ground for eaters with dieting
wallets. BJ

Read more about what the Sydney Morning Herald‘s travel writers love about travel right now.

Get going: Cable Beach Resort

Cable Beach, WA.

Go west, to where camels roam the beaches and French champagne comes on ice. Yes, it’s Broome. Or ski Japan, swank up to the Gold Coast or take a textiles tour through England and France. You know you want to, with this week’s international and domestic travel deals.



Get away in February to Pinctada Cable Beach Resort in Broome
and save $200. Book a Honjin courtyard suite for two nights and get
French champagne, chocolates, bath oils and airport transfers. Costs
$528, two nights. Phone (08) 9193 8388, see

Catch the last of Hakuba’s snow season with mates and save up
to 40 per cent staying at The Lab’s six-share dorms. Five-day lift
pass, breakfast daily and airport transfers. From $670 for seven nights.
Phone (02) 9905 6162, see


Stay three nights at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and get one
ticket to Disneyland Hong Kong and airport transfers. Book by March 17
for travel May 4-17, May 14, Aug 31-Sep 13. $619 adults, $95 children
two to nine years. Phone 1300 301 711, see

QT Gold Coast


Glam up on the Gold Coast at QT Gold Coast with a room
upgrade to an ocean-view king room, free breakfast, discounts in the spa
and midday checkout. Book by March 15 for travel until March 31. From
$229 a person, two nights, twin share. Phone 1300 019 130, see



Book your London stay by February 28 and stay six nights for
the price of five, or 12 nights for 10 at Citadines “London Apart”
hotels in five locations including Trafalgar Square. For stays April
1-August 31. From $341 a night. See


Go bush in style at El Questro Homestead. Stay four nights,
pay for three when booked before February 28 for travel April 1-October
25. From $5907 a room, three nights, includes meals, transfers from
Kununurra, some tours. Phone 1300 863 248, see

Citadines London ‘Apart’



Join tapestry artist Cresside Collette on a journey from
London to Aubusson discovering mediaeval tapestries, artists’ studios
and a four-day workshop at the Manoir du Bost. There’s also a daytrip to
weaving heartland Aubusson. The tour, from September 1-20, is $6699 a
person, twin share. Phone 03 9557 5898, see

This column by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper. 

2013: a year in the world

Sri Lanka masks

Happy New Year!
By now, most of you in the northern hemisphere should be scrounging around for the asprin or box sets of Dr Who – or, judging from Facebook, run a marathon or some other such oxygen-sucking activity. Here in the southern hemisphere, there are thoughts of work tomorrow. Ugh. Let’s not go there.

It’s raining here, the Christmas pudding is back on the boil and it’s time for tea and reflection. The tea is Russian Earl Grey, from Harrods, which seems a good way to kick off a year in the world…

…I’m not going to win points for originality, but I fell in love with London again: the cheesy, the touristy, the lot, from Harrods to London Bridge.
The city’s on a high, with energy levels up there with the London Eye. The Tate Britain has
just opened after a £45-million renovation, the Shard glimmers over
Southbank, the grungy quarters have reinvented themselves as edgy design
destinations, cashing in on their bad old days, when the High Street
might be known as the Murder Mile… it was all fabulous (except the serious cold snap, but hey, that’s London in November).

Leopard spotted in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

For sheer sell-your-pants-off stories, Sri Lanka left all other destinations in the shade. It didn’t hurt that the Lonely Planet named it one of 2014’s must-visit countries.The food, the fabulously quirky fantastic shopping, the leopard spotting and the warmth and security of the country all stitch together for a great holiday destination, without overwhelming the sub-continental novice.

This was also the year I learned to make gnocchi, rekindling a post-Aitkin love of pasta.
The destination: the King Valley, in northern Victoria, just a shade
under our modest little Alps. The teachers: the Pizzini and the Simone
families. Forget milk and honey, this is the land of pork and prosecco.

The year 2013 also finally brought a return to Egypt, this time
to bring the Small Girl to her other spiritual (and ethnic) home. I saw
how a population can survive when all the news reports we see tell us
they are being gassed in the streets and chased by tanks. They just keep
going on: going to work, to school, to the market. And they just keep
hoping the generals and the politicians – the big men – treat them
better than pawns on a chessboard.

Fashion parade in Thimphu, Bhutan

I know Egypt will recover, hopefully
soon after the next presidential elections. But in the meantime, Tahrir
Square, the scene of the revolutions, is lush and green, well maintained
and clean. I have never seen it look better. So there is some good come
out of this whole, messy Arab Spring.

The most unexpected experience was attending Bhutan‘s first indigenous fashion parade, beneath the stars in the mountain kingdom. Visiting two tiny countries at either end of India – Sri Lanka and Bhutan – was an eye-opener as to the powerhouse of the sub-continent, and how these tiny nations fight to maintain their identities in the face of ‘a billion shouting Indians’ (their words, not mine).

This year and next mark a flurry of solar activity, resulting in the best showings of the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis.

Deck 9, Midnatsol,

About the same time as I was teetering on a rolling deck of the Hurtigruten, somewhere in northern Norway,
trying to take a photo that wasn’t just a series of squiggles, the
Southern Lights, the Aurora Australis, were reportedly putting on a
great show in Tasmania, about an hour’s flight from home. With another winter of high solar activity ahead, maybe that’s next year’s goal?

Here’s wishing you peace and happiness for 2014 (with the Year of the Horse promising prosperity, to complete the trifecta).

Six of the best: hotel openings in 2014

The Shard, London. Soon to be home to Britain’s first Shangri-La hotel.

It’s that time of year again, when the wrap-ups are wrapped, the forecasts are cast and we all enjoy a little panicking to get it all tied up neatly in time for a beach Christmas. I’m absurdly interested to see Hayman Island’s reincarnation, and, having just arrived back from London, have renewed a love affair with that city and all that’s glitzy and good in it.


The first
Shangri-La hotel in Britain will have London’s best address, at the Shard,
Western Europe’s tallest building, designed by starchitect Renzo Piano. Set in
the London Bridge quarter, each of the 202 rooms come with butlers and
floor-to-ceiling views to St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of
London. Level 52 is the domain of Hong Kong’s darling architect Andre Fu (of
Upper House fame), where you’ll find Gong, London’s highest cocktail bar, and a
sky-high infinity pool. Word on the street is it’s to open summer 2014 but
there’s no official date from the hotel yet and prices are still to be
released. See
The much-anticipated Peninsula Paris.


taken more than four years of work but The Peninsula Paris has finally declared
it will open on August 1, 2014. Expect 200 rooms, a rooftop bar and underground
spa and hey, because this is Paris, a cigar lounge as well. The wraps are now
off the 100-year-old Beaux-Arts building in the fancy 16th arrondissment, with
views to the Arc de Triomphe, as befits the group’s first foray into Europe.
For your gastronomic pleasure there’s Cantonese being dished up inside, French
fare on the roof and a Chinese tea counter. Rates have not yet been released. See
already fabulous hotel scene gets a new player when the city’s third Sofitel
opens just off the iconic shopping strip of Nanjing Road. In keeping with most
Chinese hotels, it’s big: we’re talking 503 rooms, with a cocktail bar at the
top of the 68-storey art deco-inspired building and French-meets-Chinese
cuisine being talked up. There’s already been a two-year delay in its launch
but the group is planning a grand opening of what will become the city’s new
flagship Sofitel in September 2014. See
angling for trout, stalking deer or wearing someone else’s tartan? Wimbledon
champ and local lad Andy Murray has taken over this classic country house and
opening is set for April 1, 2014 (yes, really). Built in 1874, Cromlix has just
15 rooms and suites, each named after a great Scot, and is close to Gleneagles,
which hosts next year’s Ryder Cup. You won’t starve: the kitchen is under the
deft hand of Albert Roux, responsible for Britain’s first three Michelin-star
restaurant. Cromlix is just outside Andy’s home town, Dunblane, and less than
80 kilometres from both Glasgow and Edinburgh. From £200 ($350) a night. See
Hayman Island’s iconic pool shot.


It was the
talk of the town when it was announced that the uber-luxe hoteliers of
One&Only Resorts, who play in all the best addresses including the Bahamas,
Maldives and Dubai, are taking over the iconic Great Barrier Reef resort.
Thankfully, the pool wing will be carved into new all-suite accommodation
including private pool terraces; that much-photographed lagoon pool will be hit
with cabanas and daybeds and there’s also a new adults-only pool and chill-out
lounge. And forget foreign backpackers spinning up fishy tales, your guides to
the reef will be dive experts and marine biologists. The new Hayman opens April
2014 (actually, make that July 1, 2014: BJ), from $730 a night. See
It hasn’t
even opened yet and already this Balinese beachfront resort has won world’s
best apartment at London’s International Property Awards. Located just north of
Seminyak on Canggu’s legendary surf beach, the 68-apartment resort features
“living walls” or vertical gardens by French botanist-designer
Patrick Blanc, a lagoon for your front yard and views straight out onto the
Indian Ocean. If looks are anything to go on, its two beach restaurants,
complete with sand beneath your feet, are set to rival those of Ku De Ta and
Potato Head when the resort opens come July 2014. From $175 for a garden
studio. See
By Belinda Jackson. This article first featured in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller

Living London style, Bali’s newest digs and sweet Manila: travel deals September 22, 2013

It’s time to up sticks, quick-sticks, to London, and surely one of the loveliest rooms is the reception at The Levin, my favourite photo of the week.

Otherwise, go tropical with a getaway in mad Manila – home of the shoe – check out a new resort in Bali or disappear just over the hills to the Blue Mountains and one of Australia’s most luxurious addresses, Wolgan Valley.

Go later: London
Stay in the heart of Knightsbridge, near Harrods and Harvey
Nicks, and get airport transfers and afternoon tea, worth $350, at the boutique
Levin Hotel. Its three-night Dollar Package costs from $1590 until end May
2014. +44 20 7589 6286,

Go now: Bali
The new U Paasha resort in Seminyak is offering two free
nights, breakfast, transfers and either wellness or watersports activities when
you stay eight nights in a suite, until December 20. From $590 a person. 1800
883 887,

Go sooner: NSW

Save $500 a couple on a Spring Indulgence at the five-star
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in the Blue Mountains. Includes
a regional picnic hamper and all meals and drinks, and midweek stays also get
$100 spa credit. Until December 19. From $1450 a person, two nights. (02) 9290 9733,
Kids: sweet deal in Manila
Divert the kids with a Filipino cooking school at the
Peninsula Manila while you soak up the city’s fabulous shopping. Kids can whip
up the classic dessert halo-halo or tackle a taka, a papier-mâché
masterpiece. Small guests also eat free and stay half-price in an adjoining
room until December 31, from $393 for two connecting rooms. 1800 116 888,
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

Britain boxes clever in the battle of the drives

VisitBritain’s postbox USB
I thought Melbourne’s tourism gang topped the competition for the cleverest USB drive with its little red rattler trams. 

But then I caught up with Visit Britain at Melbourne’s British restaurant, Papa Goose, on the serious eating strip of Flinders Lane.

Take a look at their little marketing number, loaded with press releases for eager journos. How cute is that red postbox?

If you thought 2013 was a bumper year for the UK, with the trifecta of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, a Brit (finally!) winning Wimbledon and a baby royal to boot, next year is shaping up well, with a swathe of anniversaries including Shakespeare (400 years), Jane Austen (200 years), poet Dylan Thomas (100 years) and Dr Who, who hit the big five-oh! this year.

Take an icon, turn it into a journalist’s cheat sheet.
What’s not to love?

Restaurants in former
public toilets are so hot right now (well, they’d be convenient, boom-tish) men’s fashion is taking on Paris and Milan and hey, Brits are
loving us Aussies as we spend up big in the shops. 

Cashed up Aussies? Who wouldn’t love us? Unfortunately, that’s sure to
be one change in 2014, no matter what government comes in
with the upcoming Australian election. Ha!

A material whirl: eight great shopping cities

Gorgeously photogenic babouches, leather slippers
from Marrakech, Morocco

Belinda Jackson lists eight favourite destinations at which to arrive
with empty bags. 

Busted your luggage allowance lugging home a treasure only to find it in
your local ‘hood? The best shopping is a rejection of globalisation: it’s about
going back to the source or finding something that only that city or country
can provide.


Basking in a design
renaissance, London’s smoking-hot fashion and design is being peddled by a
James Bond (Daniel Craig), a welter of celebrated sportsmen and the new baby
Locals love Stylist and personal shopper Rachel Meddowes says London’s
hottest strip is Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, W1. “It’s a return to a
coterie of small, chic, beautifully designed and curated shops including
fabulous Tyler Brule’s the Monocle Cafe, Cire Trudon for the best candles,
uber-cool men’s boutique Trunk, and Atlas Gallery, for its photographs. If I
had to say one shop, it would be Mouki (
for its stylish, insider brands of women’s fashion and lifestyle.”
Must-visit Selfridges is home to the world’s largest women’s and
men’s shoe departments. Its new Denim Studio includes a free denim doctor to
help women find their perfect pair of jeans from 60 brands. The Conran Shop
(including the newly refurbished Marylebone store, and Liberty ( are design stalwarts.
Local hero For a catch-all day of browsing, use the cobbled Seven
Dials, north of Covent Garden, as your compass point and branch out ( Check out Cambridge
Satchel Company (,
Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve (
or, for a village vibe, Neal’s Yard.
Wild card The flagship Burberry Bespoke ( has more than 100 screens
flashing your customised trench on the catwalk or in a movie, in-between
sporadic digital thunderstorms.
The bellwether of
ice-cool design, you can’t visit Stockholm without admiring the masters’ design
Locals love “To get to the heart of modern Stockholm, head over
to SoFo – South of Folkungagatan Street (
– with a profusion of fashion and interior designers with antique and vintage
clothing shops, trendy bars and restaurants,” says Birgitta Palmer, of the
Stockholm Visitors Board.
Must-visit Get your head into Swedish living space at Svenskt Tenn (, your stationery fix at
Ordning&Reda (
and gifts at DesignTorget (
Local hero Cruise Acne Studios’ flagship store and V Ave Shoe Repair
for the ultimate in Swedish fashion (; Every
self-respecting Swedish child wears Polarn O. Pyret, designer of unisex,
hard-wearing children’s clothes (
And who can say no to Bjorn Borg-designed knickers (
Wild card Uncover the next big thing or total trash at the weekend
market Street, in Sodermalm. A tip from Sean Naughton, concierge at Benny
Andersson’s Hotel Rival ( if
you can’t afford the heavyweight fashion names of Bibliotekstan, score
discounted fashion at Barkaby outlet centre (
Tap into the Thai
design aesthetic – it’s cheeky and cute, and if you don’t leave Bangkok with a
bag full of silk, you’re just not trying.
Locals love “Post-Nerd [Siam Square] is a favourite for cool
T-shirts with unusual designs,” says Bangkok resident Mark Thomson, of
Anantara hotels. “Also Propaganda, which is home to Mr P, who appears in
anatomically correct cartoon lamps and other … products.” (
Must-visit Siam Discovery, in the cluster of Siam Square malls, has
been recently made-over with an edgy open plan; several floors are given over
to Thailand’s fashion designers. It’s also the home of Madame Tussauds Bangkok.
The massive Chatuchak market is in every guidebook, allegedly the world’s
largest weekend market. Grab a map at the entrance before you dive in (
Local hero A perennial favourite is FotoFile, for fantastic new and
second-hand camera gear in the beloved, budget-easy MBK mall. Unlike the rest
of MBK, prices are fixed and labelled.
Wild card Take home the scent of a Thai spa with success story
Thann, whose lush products feature Asian ingredients: think jasmine blossom,
tamarind, rice-bran oil and nutmeg. Find them in all the major malls and a new
Thann cafe at level 3, Gaysorn Plaza.
The Philippines has a
special flair that makes it an interior design powerhouse and, of course, shoes
are a hot item.
Locals love Bespoke menswear and womenswear designer Joey Samson loves
three homewares stores. A11 comprises three townhouses that are a furniture and
design gallery (F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay). AC+632 stocks Gallic homewares
with a Philippines twist, including excellent tassels (Greenbelt 5, Makati),
while W17 is a celebration of Asian interiors using local materials (
Must-visit Cram your bags with South Sea pearls in all shapes and
sizes, from just a few dollars each (Greenhills market, San Juan). For upmarket
indigenous design visit revered jeweller Arnel Papa, whose materials may
include buffalo horn and ebony wood (Greenbelt 5, Makati).
Local hero Alice Blue soy candles capture the scent of sampaguita,
the Philippines’ national flower (Glorietta 3, Makati), while the omnipresent
SM (which stands for Shoemart) fits any tastepoint, from ballet flats to
nightclub dagger heels, at great prices (
Wild card Score a pre-loved, genuine-label handbag from Bagaholic.
Expect Chanel and Gucci with serial numbers if you can bear to carry last
year’s hottest tote (Almeda Arcade Building, Makati,
For breathtaking
colour and exotic motifs Indian shopping is in a league of its own, from haute
couture to Hindi kitsch.
Locals love Fiona Caulfield, author of India’s definitive shopping
guides including Love Delhi, tips three hot locales: Meharchand Market, Khan
Market and ShapurJat of Hauz Khas. “Snigdha Shekhar has created one of the
best interior and lifestyle stores in Delhi at Artisan Luxe,” she says.
(Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road.)
Must-visit Shop for
contemporary homewares at Khan Market’s Good Earth then take a break in its
excellent rooftop cafe, Latitude 28 (
Local hero Bring India’s eye-popping colour home with beautiful
textiles: hunt down your wallet-friendly Indian wardrobe of cotton kurtas (long
shirts) and salwars (trousers) in Fabindia (Khan Market) or Anokhi ( Stay ahead of the pack at
Alecca Carrano’s Drawing Room for shawls and wraps (
Wild card “Run by the Crafts Council of India, Kamala is the
new face of craft in India. This beautifully curated collection is sourced
directly from artisans,” Caulfield says. “Superb shopping!” (

Though dubbed
“the Paris of the Pampas”, the city maintains its own colourful
character, and those pampas turn out some mighty fine leather to boot. Or rug.
Or bag.
Locals love “Buenos Aires’ hottest spot to shop is jewellery
atelier Celedonio [Uraguay 1223, Recoleta],” trend hunter Lucia Radeljak
says. “Celedonio Lohidoy’s signature pieces are baroque necklaces with
precious stones and pearls. He has collaborated with international fashion
houses Kenzo and Ungaro, and his store is worth visiting for its garden
Must-visit Hunters of antiques and atmosphere head to San Telmo
antique fair to scour old vinyls and snap up such must-haves as cobblers’ lasts
and local jewellery (Sundays, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo).
Local hero The best cowhide rugs are Argentine: try Calma Chicha ( Too heavy? Beautiful
leather bags are found at tiny Humawaca (
Wild card Hit Av Suipacha, aka “sweater street”, and shop
for the lightest cashmere or pick up a pair of hand-made tango shoes on Av
Esmerelda, which runs parallel.
Breathe deeply and steel
yourself for a shopping extravaganza. Don’t rush at the first shop off the main
square, Djemma el-Fna. You’ll regret it.
Locals love Akbar Delights is pricey, but the fine embroidery and
detailed clothing are well worth it, says Marrakesh-based artist Dawn
Boys-Stone. Warda la Mouche (127 Rue Kennaria) is great for women’s and
children’s clothes in traditional Moroccan style with modern fabrics.
Must-visit Shoe lovers know that Atika crafts hand-made leather shoes
in classical Occidental styles (34 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz).
Local hero Marrakesh’s antiques scene is fantastic. Try Mustapha
Blaoui (142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala).
Wild card Love leather? Go the ornate local leather slippers,
babouches, found on most street corners, in traditional yellow or every shade
of the rainbow.
So close to us,
Jakarta remains a mystery for most. Persevere: it throws up seriously desirable
oddities, and its midnight mall sales are legendary.
Locals love “Otoko is a hidden gem of a boutique amongst all the
big malls in Jakarta,” says Susanna Perini, of Biasa.
“It stocks menswear only and presents a unique experience when you visit.
The store has great synergy … a sense of ‘quiet luxury’ with a sleek and
contemporary design.”
Must-visit Locals adore Jakarta’s malls and are serious international
label devotees, though even the biggies, such as Grand Indonesia (, have Indonesian
Fashion Avenues for local designers. Geeks on a budget make for Ambassador
Local hero The Bali-based Biasa label (
serves up soft, deconstructed men’s and women’s fashion on Jalan Kemang,
Jakarta’s boutique strip, where you’ll also find local designers.
Wild card Visit the colourful bird market (Pasar Pramuka) and the
nearby antique market (Pasar Surabaya); you totally need that old map, stuffed
animal and brass betel nut-cracker.

We will remember them: Anzac Day tourism

Momentous: 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of the Anzac
landing at Gallipolli. Photo: Reuters
Anzac Day tours remain
strong, but many people are saving for Gallipoli’s 100th anniversary,
writes Belinda Jackson.
Commemorating Australia’s war dead at Gallipoli’s Dawn
Service on Anzac Day is now an established travel experience, and tour
operators say the numbers are growing each year.
However, specialist battlefield tour operators say
bookings for 2013 and 2014 are weaker as travellers save their money for 2015,
the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.
In anticipation of the high demand expected in 2015, the
Australian and New Zealand governments have capped the number of attendees permitted
at the dawn service at Gallipoli. There will be only 8000 tickets available to Australians,
to be chosen by ballot drawn early next year, the Department of Veterans
Affairs says.
In comparison, it’s expected about 6000 Australians will
attend Dawn Service in Gallipoli next week.
Veterans’ Affairs minister Warren Snowdon is warning tour
operators not to promise seats at the 2015 commemorative services. While the
details are yet to be announced, tour operators will not be able to apply for a
ticket on a traveller’s behalf.
John Waller of Boronia Battlefield Tours (,
which runs tours for the Australian War Memorial, says interest in 2015 is still
very high, despite the uncertainty. “Some people are booking their seats
already on the hope they’re successful in the ballot, but many are holding off,”
he says.
Both specialist and mainstream tour operators agree the
popularity of Anzac Day tours continues to rise, but while Gallipoli is still
the star destination, it’s not all quiet on the Western Front. British-based
Back Roads Touring, which caters for the over-50 market, says the European
battlefields are popular with older travellers wanting to trace the whereabouts
of family members who fell on the battlefields of the Somme, and London-based
Aussies. The main site, the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux,
is 140km north of Paris.
“It’s an easy trip on the Eurostar out of London when
compared with the longer haul to Turkey,” agrees Ben Ittensohn of Top Deck bus
tours, which cater for 18 to 39 year olds. Top Deck added a Western Front tour
two years ago as it was “struggling to cope with the sheer volume” on its
Gallipoli tours, while Trafalgar this year launched a new 12-day tour through
the battlefields of the UK, France and Netherlands (
“Attendees are hovering around 4,000 at
Villers-Bretonneaux,” says Peter Norton of Western Front Tours
(, figures that are expected to rise as the Somme
commemorates its own centenary in 2016.
Battlefield historian Mat McLachlan of Mat McLachlan
Battlefield Tours ( agrees. He says those wanting to avoid
the crowds head to the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium, where there is a
smaller Anzac Day service. Villers-Bretonneux town and the nearby village of
Bullecourt will also conduct ceremonies later in the day.
“There are also services in other places where
Australians have served, including Vietnam, Korea and El Alamein in Egypt,”
adds Mat.
The Australian government also conducts a ceremony at
Hellfire Pass, Thailand, commemorating the prisoners of war who worked on the
Thailand-Burma Railway in the Second World War. Services have been held in the
past at Sandakan, Malaysia, although
political unrest in the region means there will be no government service in

London canteens and Indian tea houses

Today, I’m relying on photos to tell the story, rather than words. These are two beautiful spaces that crossed my desk this week:

Pop Up Canteen is, as the cafe branding suggests, in London, a feature of design junction, the London design festival now in its second year, from 19-23 September 2012. Here’s what they say about the space: 
“Pop Up Canteen, a special
collaboration between the Canteen group
of restaurants, Transport for London
(TfL), with furniture supplied by Modus
and lighting from Very Good &
. Canteen, which has a number of permanent sites across London, draws
heavily on TfL’s utilitarian chic for its interiors, which is what made this
collaboration such a perfect fit. The canteen will be designjunction’s largest
eatery on the top floor and the space will be art directed by Michael Sodeau.” 
And my second-favourite image this week is the Best Exotic Marigold Tea House, at Floriade, Canberra’s own celebration of Spring, running 15-23 September 2012. 
“Floriade visitors can enjoy a selection of exotic Indian teas and treats whilst being swept off their feet by the beautiful Indian inspired surrounds,” promises the press release.