Category Archives:Latest goss

Don’t Miss…The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia

Entwined in wild, thick, climbing, winding jungle in Northern Cambodia are the ancient and wondrous Temples of Angkor. Once home to a great civilisation, the temples are scattered throughout the forest with the magnificent Angkor Wat as the centrepiece. It doesn’t take much to imagine past explorers pushing through dense, all-encompassing foliage to stumble in awe upon temple after temple. Today, with human intervention, the temples are much more accessible, only a short tuk tuk ride from the commercial centre of Siem Reap. Despite this, there is still an overwhelming sense of the jungle ceaselessly striving to swallow the temples up again in a suffocating sea of green.

angkor wat

To visit the temples, a tour guide is essential and won’t break your budget – a Tuk Tuk driver and guide will set you back about $30 AUD.

Angkor Wat is usually the first stop and is in fact often mistaken as the entire temple complex rather than a single temple.

Nine tall spires jut from Angkor Wat and to access it, you must cross a moat. Made from large sandstone blocks, delicate carvings feature throughout, depicting Gods of Hindu (Vishnu) and Buddhism (Budhha) amongst many other things. Apart from gods, demons are also depicted and are discernible by their slicked back hair. After a thorough tour of Angkor Wat, a common next stop via tuk tuk is Ta Prom. A fuel stop may be necessary en route, which entails a road side vendor with a water drum filled with fuel and a tap.

angkor wot

Ta Prom is also known as the Lara Croft Temple or the Jungle Temple – Lara Croft Temple because it was made famous in the Tomb Raider movie and Jungle Temple because it’s been reclaimed by surrounding tree’s. Nature is claiming back what’s hers.

angkor wot

Ta Prom is small and intimate compared to the vast Angkor Wat but can be thick with tourists. Onwards, you’ll head to Angkor Thom and might finish with Bayon, distinguished by many big spires, each with 4 faces on top. The faces have been covered by trees throughout history but have been cleared for the inquisitive tourist.

cambodia travel guide

After an extensive examination of the temples, you will be dropped at your accommodation, thoroughly worn out but much enlightened. You haven’t visited Cambodia if you haven’t been to the spectacle that is the temples of Angkor!

 

9 Places every Aussie Must Visit Before they Die

Us Aussies love our home, but how many of us have really seen the true Australia? 

I have been living in Australia for 10 years now and I have been lucky enough to visit almost everywhere on this list. What surprises me, though, is how few Australians get out into their own backyard and explore. So if you have been snubbing some of the ‘touristy’ sites as being well, too touristy, you may be missing out on some of the best that our country has on offer.

Check out my top ten places to visit before you die.

Surf Wave Rock

wave rock wa

Yes, it may be just a rock – but it’s a really cool one! This natural rock formation resembling a large wave is located in the small town of Hyden in the far-south of Western Australia.

While you may or may not be interested in its fascinating geological history – it still makes for a great photo. Say cheese!

Go Down Under in Coober Pedy

coober pedy australia

Situated in the heart of South Australia, about 846 km north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy is one of the most unusual towns in Australia – and perhaps the world.

To avoid the harsh Australian sun, residents of Coober Pedy built their entire town underground – mostly in refurbished mine shafts. Enjoy a cold beverage in an underground bar or go shopping for opals – Coober Pedy is the ‘Opal Capital of the World’ after all.

(I recently spent a week in Coober Pedy — so keep an eye out for my guide! It was truly amazing.)

Bring out your Inner-Tarzan in Daintree Rainforest

Daintree rainforest

Daintree Rainforest – just north of Cairns – is the world’s oldest and most diverse rainforest. As well as being home to over 30% of Australia’s native animal species, Daintree offers spectacular scenery, relaxing walks and breathtaking waterfalls.

The rainforest also seamlessly joins onto the spectacular Great Barrier Reef as it reaches the coast.

Cruise the Kimberley

kimberley cruise

The Kimberley Region is one of the most magnificent sights to be seen in Australia. With dramatic scenery, sky-high waterfalls, secluded beaches and dazzling sunsets – the Kimberley is the perfect place to relax and explore.

Cruises are the best way to see the Kimberley – taking you deep within the soaring gorges and up-close-and-personal with the powerful waterfalls.

Enjoy a Glass in the Barossa

Jacob's Creek Winery, Barossa Valley
Jacob’s Creek Winery, Barossa Valley

If you like to sit back and relax with a glass of rose, merlot or sav blanc, then there’s no better place to do it than in the Barossa Valley. Look for Australian flights into Adelaide – then the Barossa is just a short drive away.

A must-see destination for all wine connoisseurs, the Barossa Valley offers an eclectic mix of South Australian charm, world-class wines and fine foods. Cheers!

Relax on Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach, QLD

Possibly the most photographed and recognisable beach in the world – Whitehaven Beach really is as good as it looks on the postcard! 

Just a short boat-ride away from the coastal town of Airlie Beach (or I took a boat tour from nearby Daydream Island), make your friends jealous with photos of you soaking up the Australian sun on pristine white beaches with the crystal clear Coral Sea lapping at your feet. It truly is paradise!

Drive the Great Ocean Road

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

What were once the famous ‘Twelve Apostles’ jutting out of the water in South Australia has sadly become just eight due to erosion. With erosion constantly threatening the remaining rocks it is certainly a destination that needs to be visited before it’s too late.

These remarkable rock formations can be seen while driving along the Great Ocean Road, along which you will see all sorts of other spectacular scenery. Great excuse for a road trip!

The Biggest…

The Big Merino
The Big Merino

Australia is home to some of the biggest (albeit strangest) things – so make a point to visit them all! Did you know that Goulburn is home to the Big Merino (it’s a surprisingly fun place to visit!)? What about the Big Cow just north of Nambour, Queensland? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Big Prawn in Ballina – right? And we can’t forget the world’s biggest rock – Uluru – right in the heart of Australia.

Ride a Camel in Broome

camels on cable beach
Camel rides along Cable Beach, Broome

It’s not every day you get to ride a camel across the beach – not in Australia anyway. Take a camel ride along Cable Beach in the late afternoon for a unique way to see the spectacular red sunsets of the northern Western Australian coast. It is certainly one of the more unique Australian holidays!

Learning Spanish Online: My Journey to Fluency

¡Hola amigos! I have always loved the Spanish language, but since studying it at school I haven’t really put it into practice. It doesn’t help that I’m now living in Australia, which is about as far from a Spanish-speaking country as you can get.

As I’m approaching the big 3-0 (only six months of my beloved twenties left…), I have been trying to tick off a few life goals; one of which is to be fluent in Spanish. To help me stay motivated, I am planning on travelling to Spain for 3-6 months next year (maybe longer, who knows!), which is very exciting. I will be attending immersive Spanish lessons when I’m there (any school recommendations in Sevilla would be much appreciated!), but I want to arrive being able to at least hold a decent conversation.

So, I have researched a whole range of online Spanish learning resources and settled on a few, which I will be reviewing over the course of the next six months: SpanishPod101, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo.

I have been using each of these tools for about two months now, so below are my first impressions.

Duolingo for Spanish

Duolingo is such a fantastic idea and is a great way to introduce people to new languages. It’s actually more like a game (and a very addictive one at that!). I am about halfway through the Spanish course and am finding that my vocabulary recognition is good, but I have no knowledge of grammar from it.

Since getting Rosetta Stone and SpanishPod101, I have just been using Duolingo on and off while I’m waiting for the bus.

Rosetta Stone Language Learning Suite Version 3

This is the latest addition to my language learning arsenal and by far the most expensive. However, I am really enjoying it so far, and it is certainly a step up from Duolingo. The way Rosetta Stone teaches language is through the full immersion method. In other words, there are absolutely no English translations. The sceptic in me believes this is simply a smart business move to cut down costs of translating into multiple languages, thus appealing to a global audience. Anyway…

A definite negative for me is that without the translations you have to work out what a sentence means; this is relatively easy in the first few lessons, but it gets increasingly difficult when more complex grammar comes into play. I have been learning languages for a while so I’m largely familiar with the way the grammar works, but for someone completely new to learning a foreign language, it would probably be very difficult.

However, I would like to get to the end of the course to be able to give a full review on how this method works.

One unique feature of Rosetta Stone, and most likely what justifies its high price point, is its advanced voice recognition system. While it can’t replace speaking to a native, it is a good chance to perfect your speaking skills.

Spanish Pod 101

I don’t know if it’s the chirpy voices of the presenters or the cheesy intro music to each of the podcasts, but I simply LOVE SpanishPod101. I purchased a basic 3-month subscription for less than $25, which is a bargain. What’s great about SpanishPod101 is that you can link it up to your iTunes and listen to one of their thousands of podcasts on the go. It really breaks down topics into easy-to-digest chunks, giving you a much deeper insight into particular phrases, grammar and cultural aspects that you simply don’t get anywhere else that I have found. There’s no listen and repeat going on here.

I have mostly used the podcasts so far, but they do also have lots of video tutorials, as well as PDF downloads and cheat sheets. It would take years to get through all the content they have on the site — so it really is a great resource.

That’s it from me for now, but I’ll be posting updates on how these tools (and my Spanish) is going over the next few months. If you have any recommendations or experiences, please share in the comments below 🙂 ¡Hasta luego!

Insider Tips to Save Money on Flights

We all know that flights take up a significant part of the cost of our holiday – which means we’ve spent most of our holiday fund before we’ve even arrived. Fortunately, by following some simple tips you can spend less on your flights and more on the fun stuff!

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead isn’t practical for everyone, however if you have the time you can save yourself huge amounts of money on your flights. Airlines like to have seats booked as early as possible, and as an incentive, they offer their seats at a lower price than they normally would be.

Keep an eye out for cheap flights both online and in the window of your travel agents. They try to lure customers in with cheap flight offers before revealing they can only be redeemed in a year’s time. Make the most of these offers and plan ahead!

Book Last Minute

We may be contradicting our last suggestion – however leaving it until the last minute can often pay off! If you aren’t flexible with your departure date or destination then planning ahead is the best way to save money on your flights.

If you are flexible then you can usually grab yourself a last minute bargain if you get in quick. Up to a month in advance, airlines start trying to sell off all of their empty seats – often at a fraction of the original cost. Don’t expect to have much say over dates, though!

Be Flexible

Flexibility is by far the best way to save money on flights. As with planning ahead, not all of us can be flexible – but if you have that luxury then make the most of it.

You may enjoy flying Fancy Airlines to your favourite holiday destination, but chances are you can get to the same location on No-Frills Airlines for a fraction of the cost.

The dates you travel as well as the time of day will almost always influence the cost of your flights. Before booking your flight, check the price of flights several days before and after the day you want to leave to see if there are any differences. Mid-week flights are often much cheaper than weekend flights for example.

Search Online

The internet has revolutionised the cheap flights market. You no longer have to rely on what your travel agent tells you – you can do all the research yourself.

Even just a quick Google search for ‘cheap flights to Bali’ for example, will bring you back a range of results to look through.

There are numerous online travel agent websites that list flights to a chosen destination for all airlines on one page – making it easy for you to compare your best options.

Look out for Hidden Extras

You may overlook the extra options when it comes to booking your flight – but this can end up costing you more in the long-run.

For example, most Australian domestic airlines now charge you to take check-in baggage onto the plane. These charges are relatively low if you pay for them at the same time as booking your flight – but you can pay up to twice as much if you pay for them at the airport during check-in.

Do you have any tips for saving money on flights?

10 Smart Ways to Save Money on Holiday

The thought of holidaying is what keeps us motivated through our working week – but we all know they can be very expensive. While we’re usually quite happy to splurge a little on our holidays, saving money where possible means we can come back feeling a little less guilty!

Be Flexible

The more flexible you are with your holiday the more money you can save. If you are able to leave a couple of days earlier or later you may find the flight prices are significantly lower – particularly if they are mid-week. Head into the travel agents with an open mind regarding location and dates and get the best value for money.

Book Early/Book Late

By booking early you have access to all the cheaper seats on flights as they are released, and by booking late you get the cut-price seats that the airlines need to get rid of. Leaving it until the last minute is a risk – but if you are flexible you can usually grab a good deal.

House Swap

You may not think your home is a tourists haven, but there’s something nice about staying in a home rather than a clerical, stock-standard hotel. Not only will it save you on accommodation but you don’t need to leave all the luxuries of home… at home.

Go back to basics

Camping may not be your idea of a relaxing holiday – but you’ll be amazed at how far camping has come in recent years. You can hire tents with all sorts of mod-cons and camping also gives you the option to stay in the best locations at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

Shop Online

Thanks to the internet we can now be our own travel agents and search for bargains online. Many of the best holiday deals are online including cheap flights, accommodation, tours and activities.

Watch Exchange Rates

Fluctuations in exchange rates can make a huge difference to the cost of your holiday. Try heading to a destination that has a good rate against the Australian Dollar to maximise your spending money.

Switch off the Mobile

It can be hard saying goodbye to modern man’s best friend; however the costs of having it on can be extortionate depending on your network and plan. Many networks even charge you to receive SMS while you’re away.

Choose Cheaper Locations

Many countries are notoriously expensive to visit. Even after paying for flights and accommodation you will find yourself forking out large amounts for basics such as food and transport. There are plenty of cheap locations such as Thailand, Italy and Fiji that won’t break the bank.

Avoid Tourist Traps

Once you’ve arrived at your location you need to be a little bit holiday-savvy. For example, don’t eat at a restaurant right next to the Eiffel Tower – you’ll pay at least double what you’ll pay at one a couple of streets away. The same goes for souvenir stores, bars and hotels.

Go Public

Public transport that is. Hire cars can be very expensive and aren’t always necessary – particularly if you plan on staying within a small area. You can always get a cab to travel short distances if required.

American Hamburgers: The What, When and Why

I love burgers. In fact, I once considered changing my surname to Cheeseburger (I’m glad I didn’t…). I’m not the only one with an addiction to burgers, though…all around the world hamburgers are one of the most popular foods, and there are thousands of restaurants dedicated to serving up this simple yet addictive dish. America is undoubtedly the home of the burger, so I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the American Burger.

Where did American hamburgers come from?

Hamburgers generally consist of a round beef patty in between two pieces of bread of the same shape (a hamburger bun), and usually have condiments and fillings such as tomato sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and mustard.

american hamburger

The hamburger originated in America, and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. Several restaurants claim to be the birthplace of the hamburger, but Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut is generally considered to be the place where it all began back in 1900. The original hamburger was served between two pieces of toast instead of the traditional bun that is used at most restaurants these days. They continue to serve it between toast even to this day.

Since Louis’ Lunch served up their first hamburger, restaurants across America and the world have followed suit. Hamburgers are generally served in fast-food restaurants. Some of the largest and most popular fast-food chains in America that serve hamburgers are McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s, Harveys, In-N-Out Burger, Jack in the Box, Whataburger and Sonic. All of these restaurants primarily sell hamburgers, although do offer a range of other foods on the menu as well.

The Rise of McDonald’s and other Popular Chains

McDonald’s was founded in 1940 by Dic and Mack McDonald, and the first restaurant was opened in San Bernardino, California. It is now the largest fast-food chain in the world, serving over 48 million customers every single day. It serves up the world’s best-selling hamburger – the Big Mac. The Big Mac hamburger has two beef patties, a “special sauce”, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions between a three-part hamburger bun. The Big Mac was first created by an early McDonald’s franchisee -Jim Delligatti – in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was served nationally by 1968. In America, a Big Mac has 540 kcal and contains 29 grams of fat.

The second largest hamburger restaurant in America is Burger King. The first restaurant was opened in Miami, Florida in 1954. There are over 11,500 Burger King restaurants in the world, and 66% of these are in America. Burger King’s answer to the Big Mac is the ‘Whopper’, one of their most popular hamburgers. The Whopper consists of a quarter-pound beef patty, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and onion between a sesame seed bun. There is also a Whopper Jr., a smaller version of the original hamburger. The Whopper has 670 calories and 39 grams of fat; whereas the Whopper Jr. has 370 calories and 21 grams of fat. Burger King also has regional variations on it’s burgers, such as guacamole and salsa in predominantly Latin-American areas of America.

Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurants are also one of the most popular hamburger-selling restaurants in America. It was founded in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio by Dave Thomas and John Schuessler. It has over 6,700 restaurants worldwide, most of which are in America. Wendy’s doesn’t have a signature hamburger like Burger King or McDonalds, however they are best known for their square beef patties. The burgers are also fresh and not frozen like the other restaurants. Wendy’s offers two different types of hamburgers – the Single and the Junior. The Single beef patty weighs 4 ounces and the Junior beef patty weighs 1.78 ounces. One of their most popular hamburgers is the Big Classic, which is very similar to Burger King’s Whopper burger.

Types of Burgers

High-quality hamburgers are made entirely of ground beef and seasonings. Fast-food restaurants and cheaper hamburgers are made of a mixture of ground beef, flour, vegetable protein, and other fillers to minimize the costs of the hamburger.

One of the most popular variants on the hamburger is the cheeseburger (but you already knew that, right?!).  

There are lots of toppings and dressings that are popular with hamburgers, particularly homemade hamburgers or ones purchased at more upscale restaurants. Lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, mustard, jalapenos, bacon and mushrooms are just some of the many toppings that can be put on hamburgers. The opportunities are endless!

One of the most popular ways to serve a hamburger is with a side of fries. Most fast-food restaurants offer value meals, which include a hamburger, fries and a drink.

As well as all the fast-food restaurants that serve hamburgers, there are many places that sell ‘gourmet’ burgers. The hamburgers are made using upscale ingredients such as sirloin steak or are handmade from ground beef. The hamburger patties at fast-food restaurants are usually mass-produced and frozen before delivery to the restaurants.

Alright, now I’m hungry. See ya!

Flying when Pregnant

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy one relaxing last holiday before the baby arrives. Although many expectant mums may be nervous about flying, if you take the right precautions you will be perfectly comfortable and safe. Follow our top five tips for flying when pregnant.

Speak to Your Doctor

Whatever stage you are at in your pregnancy, it is essential that you speak to your doctor before you leave. Ask them for a medical certificate that states you are safe to fly; although most airlines won’t ask you for one of these it is good to have one just in case of any difficulties at the airport.

Your doctor will also be able to give you advice on how to stay safe onboard and give you any medication that may help make your flights more enjoyable.

Staying Comfortable Onboard

Airplane seats are not renowned for being the most comfortable – particularly on long flights; therefore, you need to find your own ways to stay comfortable onboard. When you’re checking in, request that you can have seats with extra space. The aisle seats are the most comfortable and it is much easier for you to get out and walk around if you need to. You’ll also find that you’ll have a much smoother ride if you are seated in the middle of the plane. Airlines will not allow you to sit in the emergency exit seats if you are pregnant.

Sitting down for long periods of time can be incredibly uncomfortable, even if you’re not pregnant. It is important that you regularly stand up and walk around to keep your circulation going. You should also do a few simple stretches every half hour or so as circulation problems are very common in pregnant women.

flying when pregnant

Dress Appropriately

What you wear can make a big difference to how you feel on your flight. Make sure that you wear loose clothing made from breathable fabrics – remember comfort comes before fashion when flying!

When you’re pregnant, your risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is greatly heightened, so invest in a pair of DVT preventative in-flight socks. These are very inexpensive and you can buy them from most major airports and online.

Choose your Destination Carefully

If you are heavily pregnant or don’t feel comfortable sitting down for long periods of time, then you should be careful what destination you choose for your holiday.

There are plenty of places you can visit without having to endure long flights. Try to pick destinations that are close to home, to make the whole experience much easier.

Another thing to take into consideration when choosing where you are going to go is what medical facilities there are available. Complications can happen at any stage of pregnancy so you want to feel safe knowing that you have access to adequate medical help should you require it.  Make a note of local hospitals around where you’ll be staying before you leave.

Check Airline Restrictions

All airlines have restrictions on pregnant women flying with them. While some of them will let you fly very close to your due date, others are a lot stricter.

Before booking your flights make sure that you understand their restrictions and that you won’t find yourself being unable to fly. As we mentioned before, always ask your doctor for a medical certificate saying you are safe to fly no more than three days prior to your departure just in case they ask for it.

10 Reasons Why New Zealand is Super Cool

It is home to sky-high mountains, historic towns, flightless birds with the same name as a fruit and was the setting for one of the most successful movie trilogies of all time. Basically, New Zealand is a cool place. Still not convinced? Check out these 10 cool facts.

1. New Zealand has girl power

As well as becoming the first country to allow women to vote – over 100 years ago – it was also the first to have its three top positions of power held simultaneously by women. Now that’s girl power!

2. Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city

Not only is Wellington’s official tourism slogan ‘The Capital of Cool’ – at 41.2o south, New Zealand’s capital is the most southerly capital city on Earth.

wellington new zealand
Wellington Cable Car

3. One of the world’s largest volcanic eruptions occurred there

One of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations – Lake Taupo – was the source of the largest eruption in the last 70, 000 years and released over 500 cubic kilometers of magma. It is now New Zealand’s largest lake – only slightly smaller than the island country of Singapore in size.

4. Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest – was a New Zealander

But is it any surprise when New Zealand is home to some of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world? He certainly had plenty of places to practice.

5. New Zealand is home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump

Since A.J. Hackett built his 43 metre bungy jump in 1988 on Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown – New Zealand has attracted adrenalin-seeking travellers from around the world. Skydiving, paragliding and zorbing (Google it – it’s seriously cool!) are just some of the action-packed activities you can try.

The_Kawarau_bridge,_New_Zealand
Bungy jumping from the Kawarau Bridge

6. New Zealand is the world’s leading golf-playing nation

Despite rugby being by far the most popular spectator sport in New Zealand, golf is the most participated in sport. Not only that, there are more golf courses per capita than in any other country in the world. Tee-riffic!

7. There are no snakes

A relief for many travellers down under, you won’t find this much-feared species anywhere in New Zealand – except maybe at Auckland Zoo.

8. You’re never more than 3 hours drive from the coast

That’s right – you can quite easily be trekking in the mountains or scaling glaciers in the morning and lying on the beach in the afternoon.

9. It’s home to the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest free-standing structure

At 328 metres, Auckland’s Sky Tower is impressively tall and has magnificent views over the harbour city. Feeling brave? Try the Sky Tower Jump or just enjoy the views from the top-level restaurant.

auckland sky tower
Auckland’s Sky Tower

10. You can be one of the first in the world to see the sunrise

Gisborne is situated 496 kilometres from the International Date Line and is the world’s first major city to see the sunrise each morning.

Your Guide to Summer Theatre in Melbourne

It’s no secret that Melbourne is Australia’s entertainment capital. The energy of an exciting new show is contagious with all the big billboards, advertisements and word quickly spreads around the city. With summer on the way, here are our top three picks for different types of theatre that will have something for everyone.

The play: A Murder is Announced

miss-marple1

In an English village, the locals peer over an advertisement in the gazette that states ‘a murder is announced and will take place on Friday 13th October, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm.’ Unable to resist scoping out the situation, a crowd forms at this time. The lights go out, ‘a gun is fired and a body falls…’

Can you guess ‘whodunnit?’

Agatha Christie’s classic crime novel has thrilled readers with all the twists, turns and witty one liners since 1950.  Following the enormous success of ‘The Mousetrap’ last year, the same producers are bringing ‘A Murder is Announced’ to the Comedy Theatre for the first time in Australia. Based on the lovable detective Miss Marple, the amazing cast will have viewers on the edge of their seats as they follow her journey. In this all Australian production, audiences will be guaranteed to be guessing and in suspense until the final big revelation.  No one does a good murder mystery quite like Agatha Christie.

The comedy: Wogboys Live on Stage

wogboys-600x400Fans of the hit movie will be delighted at Nick Giannopoulos and Vince Colosimo reuniting for the first time on stage in fifteen years.  Both of the talented actors have moved on to star in other ventures, but they still get quoted lines from the movie to this day. This record breaking and critically acclaimed show will have the audience in hysterical as they poke fun of stereotypes through wicked humour. To add to the show’s star power, they will be joined by veteran Australian actors Alex Dimitriades and Frank Lotito.  Written, created and produced by the man with the longest surname in show business (Giannopoulos), Wogboys brings a unique, hilarious and heartfelt take on their everyday lives in the 90’s. This goes for a strictly limited season in January 2014 at the Princess Theatre. The original Wogboys are back with a vengeance.

The musical: Grease

Everyone knows all the words to the songs by heart. They are truly unforgettable.  Sandy and Danny are one of the most iconic couples in movie history as we all grew up with this hit movie. The best thing about this extravaganza is that the story means something to so many people and will remain a classic for the rest of time. Grease will be back with a bang in Australia with this dazzling multi-million dollar production. It is lead by an all-star cast including Bert Newton, Rob Mills, Todd McKenney and Anthony Callea. This energetic all-singing, all-dancing cast will have the audience on their feet at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Sydney Opera House recreates historic opening concert

There’s no doubting the importance of the Sydney Opera House for Australia’s tourism industry. In fact, it’s hard to imagine an Australia without it!

This year, the iconic landmark is celebrating its 40 year history by recreating the original concert that cemented Australia’s place on the global tourism map.

Sydney Opera House CEO, Louise Herron AM, said: ‘The Opera House is a masterpiece of creative genius that belongs to all Australians. Its heart has always been the art performed on its stages. I am thrilled that the 40th Anniversary Concert will celebrate our resident companies and bring the Opera House’s rich artistic heritage, of which they have been such an important part, to life for the people of Sydney and Australia for one night.’

The 40th Anniversary concert on Sunday 27 October 2013 will feature a variety of performances that will showcase the Opera House’s exciting history, culminating in Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – the piece that was played during the venue’s opening ceremony in 1973. The concert will be the big finale after a month of celebrations.

Details:
Tickets on sale to the general public Thursday 8 August
www.sydneyoperahouse.com/40
02 9250 7777
Who: The Opera House 40th Anniversary Concert

When: Sunday, 27 October 2013

Where: Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Tickets: from $39

Wine Regions to Visit in New Zealand

New Zealand's Wine Regions
New Zealand’s Wine Regions. Image: Mick Stephenson

New Zealand is starting to gain a significant following within the wine industry for a few good reasons, not the least of which is that their style of crisp, acidic and affordable offerings are becoming more and more popular with younger generations of wine buyers. While our selection of New Zealand wines can still be limited at times since it often takes the international distribution model years to catch up to consumer sentiments, this small country of around four million offers some of the most interesting and unique wine tasting experiences anywhere in the world.  The following three wine regions are great places to take a trip and experience New Zealand wine, culture and the islands people.

Hawke’s Bay:

Located on the North Island, on the East coast Hawke’s Bay has become something of a home for Bordeaux varietals in New Zealand.  While most of the wine production is centered around relatively new start up style wineries, the Mission winery is the oldest in New Zealand having been founded over 150 years ago by French priests looking to gain followers to the Catholic Church in the region.  Hawke’s Bay is also well known for its local food movement as the birthplace of the modern Kiwi Farmer’s Market.  A world heritage center site for its large collection of 1930’s Art Deco style architecture Hawke’s Bay offers a little something for everyone and it doubles as one of the most beautiful places on Earth, making it a nice relaxing few days on any vacation to New Zealand.

Hawke's Bay wine region, New Zealand
Hawke’s Bay wine region, New Zealand

 

Central Otago:

The world’s southernmost vineyard sites belong to Central Otago, a mountainous area, inland on the southern island of New Zealand.  Originally known for little more than sheep farms and orchards, the advent of the modern wine industry in New Zealand has been a boom for the sleepy towns sprinkled throughout the mountains in Central Otago.  Of course, if one considers Hawke’s Bay to be among the most beautiful coastal settings in the world, they couldn’t argue that these rugged fog capped mountains are among the most beautiful inland settings one could ever find.  It’s a lot like stepping back in time when you visit Central Otago, take the time to bicycle through Central Otago on any trip to New Zealand.  Yes, biking on a dirt road is a challenge for most of us, but the opportunity to see nature literally untouched by human hands is becoming more and more rare every day.

Central Otago Wine Region, New Zealand
Central Otago Wine Region, New Zealand

 

Marlborough:

No conversation about wine growing regions in New Zealand would be complete without at least a passing mention of Marlborough.  Located on the northern most point of the Southern island, Marlborough offers an opportunity for a little bit of everything from food- and wine-centric vacations, to some of the best kayaking spots on the planet to the ability to visit the sets from the famed Lord of the Rings movies.  Home to the best known New Zealand wineries like Kim Crawford, there are over 120 wineries within a short distance of each other on Marlborough’s wine trail.  It’s an outstanding place to visit, offerings some of the most dramatic vistas that you’ll find anywhere, especially looking out across the Pacific Ocean toward the north island of New Zealand.

Queen Charlotte Sound-001 02-04-2012 10-21-52
Queen Charlotte Sound in the Marlborough Wine Region, New Zealand

Mark Aselstine is an owner of Uncorked Ventures, a high-end wine business. Mark loves to travel to wine regions around the world.  If anyone knows wine, it’s Mark.

World’s Most Amazing Hotel Swimming Pools

In the past few months I have been to Thailand and Hawaii and at both I discovered that the hotels I was staying at had the largest swimming pool in their country (or state in Hawaii’s case). It’s just a coincidence, I swear!

Now, these pools were pretty amazing. So it got me wondering about just how much bigger and better they can possibly come?!

Boy was I surprised. From gold-plated pools to postcard-perfect scenery, I’ve already packed my swimmers and started planning my next getaway.

1. San Alfonso del Mar, Algarrabo, Chile

Selling point: World’s biggest and deepest swimming pool. Where else can you sail a boat on a pool?! Crazy!

San Alfonso del Mar, Chile
San Alfonso del Mar, Chile

2. Ubud Hanging Gardens, Bali

Selling point: The multi-level pool, with various private villas attached, is a popular choice for honeymooners.

Ubud Hanging Gardens
Ubud Hanging Gardens

3. The Library, Koh Samui

Selling point: The water is red – don’t worry, no one was murdered, the pool is covered in tiny red tiles to get this effect. Blue water is sooo 2012.

The Library, Koh Samui
The Library, Koh Samui

4. Pelican Hill, California

Selling point: The world’s largest circular pool

Pelican Resort pool, California
Pelican Resort pool, California

5. Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

Selling point: One of the largest swimming pools in the Maldives, it has colourful fibre-optic lights built into it. You can even enjoy a romantic dinner for two while surrounded by water.

Huvafen Fushi Resort, Maldives
Huvafen Fushi Resort, Maldives

6. Sanctuary Swala, Tanzania

Selling point: You’ll be surrounded by gazelles and giraffes as you swim

Sanctuary Swala resort, Tanzania
Sanctuary Swala resort, Tanzania

7. The St. Regis, Lhasa, Tibet

Selling point: one of few gold-plated swimming pools in the world. The ultimate in holiday indulgence

The St. Regis, Lhasa, Tibet gold-plated swimming pool
The St. Regis, Lhasa, Tibet gold-plated swimming pool

8. The Cambrian, Switzerland

Selling point: Stay warm (the pool is heated, of course) while surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped mountains

The Cambrian hotel, overlooking the Swiss Alps
The Cambrian hotel, overlooking the Swiss Alps

9. Holiday Inn Pudong Kangqiao, Shanghai

Selling point: Suspended high above the city, with a clear bottom – not for the faint-hearted!

Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Pangqiao swimming pool
Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Pangqiao swimming pool

10. Katikies Hotel, Oia, Santorini

Selling point: Carved out of a cliff and overlooking the Aegean Sea – stunning!

 

Katikies Hotel, Oia, Santorini
Katikies Hotel, Oia, Santorini

Win a Holiday – Travel Competitions of the Week 10/07

Travel is addictive, but it’s also expensive – it’s a predicament we’ve all found ourselves in! We want to see the world but real-life gets in the way. Rent, mortgages, uni fees and more seem to be stealing our travel money from us. It’s just not fair is it 😛

So, how to combat this? Well, for me, I enter as many travel competitions as I can. If there’s an opportunity to win a holiday – even if it’s just a 1-night stay on Philip Island, I’ll take it! So here is a round-up of some of this week’s best travel competitions.

Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

Win a 9-night luxury holiday to Peru (25 words or less)

Win 5 luxurious nights in Bali

Win $20,000 holiday and vouchers (must buy Cup-a-soup)

Win VIP trip to Los Angeles

Win a ski trip to South Korea

 Win a holiday to Kenya

Meet Stanley: The Latest Resident of Outback NSW

While the Japanese are always making things smaller, here in Australia it’s the bigger the better! Whether it’s the Big Banana, the 9 meter long Big Prawn or the Great Barrier Reef, Australia is the home of larger-than-life attractions.

stanley2Now, the inland New South Wales town of Lightning Ridge has joined in on fun with the launch of its 18-metre tall emu named Stanley.

The environmentally-friendly sculpture, designed by local artist John Murray, was created using scrap metal sourced from three Volkswagen bodies, a pair of satellite dishes and even materials from the old Dubbo police station.

The construction was a community effort, with all of the work, labour and materials donated from locals.

Alongside the unveiling of Stanley, Walgett Shire Council has launched the ‘Sculptures by the Highway’ competition, inviting submissions from budding artists for the opportunity to build up to five large sculptures on the side of Castlereagh Highway.

The winner, to be announced in October, will receive a cash prize of $10,000.

What’s the biggest manmade thing you’ve ever seen?

Travel Competitions – Win your Way Around the World

As promised, starting this week we will bring you all the latest travel competitions! So even if you can’t afford all the travelling you want to do, you have the chance to do it for free 🙂

We’ll keep this page regularly updated – so keep checking back for more!

Win a trip to the Cook Islandshttps://www.reservesecure.com/PicsHotel/TourismCookIslands/CustomPages/AusPromo2013New.aspx?TESI=okrkl35kbu21woxeyux2wvuh&IDHost=1054&ID=1715&IDL=64&IDType=294&q=1 (Closes 05/05)

Win a trip to Mexicohttp://parmalat.com.au/images/stories/OAK-On-Pack-2013.pdf (Closes 05/05)

Win a $2,000 holiday voucherhttp://www.mouthsofmums.com.au/competition/win-a-2000-holiday-voucher-or-1-of-3-500-holiday-vouchers/ (Closes 05/05)

Win a 10 day trip to Dunedin – https://www.facebook.com/ApolloCamper/app_164788507008986 (Closes 05/05)

Win 2 nights accommodation at Sofitel Brisbane – http://www.holidaysforcouples.com.au/newsletter (Closes Unknown)

Win a trip to Greecehttps://www.facebook.com/crawfordpropertygroup?v=app_599788450050788&app_data=gaReferrerOverride%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252Fl.php%253Fu%253Dhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fa.pgtb.me%25252Fkjt8p7%2526h%253DeAQG3XcrAAQG2Ur0X_Rks6P6Q4udwJo_j-Dr7ax3xlyVtFg%2526s%253D1 (Closes 17/05)

Win a trip to Hawaiihttp://winhawaii.com.au/ (Closes 31/05)

Win 3 nights luxury accommodation in Indonesia – http://www.holidaysforcouples.com.au/win/-win-a-3-night-romantic-getaway-at-plataran-borobudur-resort-spa (Closes 01/06)

Win a trip for 2 to Tokyo – www.ironman3.com.au (Closes 28/05)

Win 1 of 5 Queensland family escapes (Accom only)- http://www.paradiseresort.com.au/play/competitions/?id=5 (Closes 05/05)

Win a foodie trip to Malaysia (Victoria only) – http://pages.e.newsdigitalmedia.com.au/competitions/?p=921_Malaysia%20Kitchen%20Competition (Closes 08/05)

Win a family holiday to Hollywood – http://ten.com.au/competitions-jeep.htm (Closes 05/05)

Win 1 of 3 adventure holidays (purchase of Centrum vitamins required)- http://www.tvwinners.com.au/Competitions/Competition.aspx?pageId=1402 (Closes 04/05)

Fill in survey for chance to win $250 Wotif accommodation voucher – http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1219095/Wotif-com-travel-survey-April-2013 (Closes 08/05)

Win a trip to NZ (and other prizes) – www.novafm.com.au/competition/win-awesome-prizes-playing-jack-reach-around (Closes 03/05)

Win one of 2 trips to New York – https://www.facebook.com/AmericanTouristerAustraliaNZ/app_518867764797235 (Closes 12/05)

Win a trip to South Africa – http://livingroomtv.com.au/competitions-southafrica.htm (Closes 27/05)

Win a trip to Singapore – http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/travel_awards_home.htm (Closes 03/05)

Win a family holiday to Hawaii – https://www.suncorp.com.au/holiday (Closes 10/05)

Win 4 nights Queensland accommodation – https://apps.facebook.com/easypromos/promotions/83608&uid=619484780 (Closes 02/05)

World’s Best First Class Airline Lounges

When you’re flying first class the treatment doesn’t start or end on the tarmac – it’s a rock-star experience from the moment you  step into your chauffeur-driven service to the airport right until you’re whisked through customs at your final destination.

In fact, first class travellers are probably the only ones that don’t mind hearing the ‘we apologise but your flight has been delayed’ message over the intercom.

How does a pre-flight spa and massage sound? Or what about a bar that only serves French Champagne? These perks and more will await you if you hold a golden (and worth more than it’s weight in gold) ticket.

So grab your best incognito sunglasses, pack your Louis Vuitton luggage and check out our pick of the world’s most amazing airline lounges.

British Airways, The Concorde Room, London Heathrow

In amongst the busy realms of Heathrow Terminal 5 you’ll find an oasis that is The Concorde Room. With a complimentary spa treatment menu, private cabanas (with en suite bathrooms of course) and free-flowing champagne, British Airways’ first class lounge is a holiday in itself.

British Airways Concorde Lounge: Fancy a drink?
British Airways Concorde Lounge: Fancy a drink?

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

As you’d expect from the trendy airline, Virgin Atlantic’s first class ‘clubhouse’ is a funky blend of space-age chic, retro glamour and modern luxury.

Challenge yourself or a fellow traveller to an old-school games console game or watch the latest news or live television in the multi-screen cinema. Or, lie back and relax on your own chaise longue with a Bellini cocktail in hand.

And of course there are state-of-the-art business facilities – but that would be a waste, wouldn’t it?

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, San Francisco

 

Lufthansa, Frankfurt

German airline, Lufthansa, boasts five luxurious lounges  – the largest being in Frankfurt. Backlit walls with forest motifs (see image) are realistic enough to make you feel like you’re world’s away from an enclosed airport.

Contemporary designs with clean lines and a stylish European feel make Lufthansa’s first class lounges some of the coolest around.

With a cigar room, bath facilities, relaxation rooms and a fully-stocked bar, you’ll have to be dragged onto your flight.

Lufthansa First Class Lounge, Frankfurt.
Lufthansa First Class Lounge, Frankfurt.

Thai Airways, Bangkok International Airport

With one of the most extensive and luxurious ranges of spa treatments on offer, Thai Airways Royal First Lounge at Bangkok airport is the perfect place to unwind. As if the a-la-carte dining room, VIP areas and ‘slumber rooms’ weren’t enough, how does a 60 minute Touch of Silk massage sound? Pretty damn good if you ask me.

Image courtesy of Thai Airways.
Image courtesy of Thai Airways.

Qatar Airways, Doha International Airport

With a blend of Middle Eastern grandeur and European elegance, Qatar Airways’ first class lounge at Doha airport is an extravagant way to relax before your flight.

Bring out your inner James Bond with a choice of expertly-mixed martinis and keep your tootsies nice and warm (not that that’s a problem in Qatar) with heated floors in your own private shower.

How does access to a delicatessen sound? Just pick your favourite fresh ingredients and the chefs will create your own choice of meal in front of your eyes. Neat!

 

Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, Doha