Monday, 17 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for Week beginning 17 December 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


IT sounds suicidal but we're assured its quite safe: a culinary tour
of Japan to learn many of the tricks of Japanese cuisine, includes
tasting the poisonous fugu puffer-fish. The 13-night tour begins in
Tokyo and visits Takayama for a Sake tasting and discovering the
secrets of miso, hida beef and soba noodles, there's a stay in a
monastery in Koya-san to cook traditional vegetarian cuisine with the
monks, Okonomiyaki cuisine in Hiroshima, and a visit to Kyoto. The
fugu fish will be tried in Osaka where its prepared by licenced chefs
who've survived a long apprenticeship; price starts from $3265pp
including twin-share, transport, tour guide, breakfasts daily,
2-lunches, 7-dinners and cooking classes. Air is extra; available 20
March to 25 October. Phone Escape Travel on 1300 799 783.

STAY 5-nights or more at the Mantra Sand Dunes Resort at secluded
Marcoola on the Sunshine Coast from $180 per night for a 2-bedroom
apartment between now and March 31 (some blockout dates apply.)
Marcoola is within easy reach of Noosa, Mooloolaba, Montville, and
Maleny and has a patrolled beach, play-grounds, picnic areas and good
fishing and surfing. The Resort has a 75m lagoon style pool, heated
spa, gym, BBQ area and tropical gardens; phone 13 15 17 or visit

A MINI-stay in Rome from $472pp includes visits to the Etruscan
tombs, Imperial temples, early Christian churches, Renaissance
palaces, baroque basilicas and the Vatican Museums and Sistine
Chapel. It includes 3-nights in a 3-star hotel with breakfasts daily,
arrival transfer, and the historical building visits. It's on sale to
December 31 from Flight Centre on 131 600.

A RANGE of accommodation in Sydney for those visiting for the 2008 Sydney Festival that runs for three weeks in January, is priced from $160 per night in a Deluxe Queen Room at the Citigate Sebel Sydney, including breakfast. Phone 1800 005 125 or visit

THREE day packages to next year's Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August are priced from $615pp through Tempo Holidays. It includes 2-nights twin-share with full Scottish breakfasts, tickets for the Saturday Evening Tattoo with its fireworks finale, return coach transfers from hotel to Edinburgh Castle, service and VAT. Accommodation is in former manor houses and a country club 20-minutes out of Edinburgh.
Details on 1300 558 987 or

HERVEY Bay, 3-hours north of Brisbane, has something for everyone
from fishing, sailing, kayaking and swimming, to taking to the wine
trails in the South Burnett, Fraser Island, Lady Elliott Island,
historic Maryborough and the Great Barrier Reef. Minimum 7-night
stays at the five, 2-storey Sereno Luxury Beach Villas start from $241
per night. Villas have gourmet kitchens, 2-person spa baths, and
private courtyards 50m from the beach. Details

TRUE: A guest phoned House Keeping at a New York City hotel and asked if he could have an extra twelve pillows sent to his room.

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Monday, 10 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for week beginning December 10 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


FOR something really different in cruising, join adventure operator
North Star Cruises' True North and go swimming in January with
man-eating White Pointer sharks. Guests are lowered into the water in
a metal cage in the waters off Port Lincoln, South Australia…. where
scenes for the movie 'Jaws' were filmed… and within minutes the White
Pointers begin circling. Price for 8-nights aboard the 36-passenger
True North start from $6,995pp and includes all meals and excursions;
she sails from Ceduna for Cape Jervis to visit the McLaren Vale wine
region, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay, the Pearson
Islands, and Saint Francis Island. The shark swimming is a free
option; for details phone (08) 9192 1829 or visit

LET Santa get the Christmas rush out of the way and visit him in his
"official home" at Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland in February. Student
Flights' 7-night package from Helsinki includes breakfasts daily, a
Sauna Party, an icy river swim, a visit to the Kemi Snow Castle, and a
meeting with the Jolly Old Man at his Santa Claus Village. The tour
departs Helsinki on February 10 and is priced from $1159pp; air to
Helsinki is extra. Phone 1800 069 063 or visit

THOSE visiting Alice Springs by rail will find a pleasant new entrance
to the town from the end of this year: a 400m interactive Discovery
Walkway from the railway station to the CDB will be lined by exhibit
boards featuring the art, history and topography of Alice Springs.
There'll also be seating amid native plants along the Discovery
Walkway, that's costing the Territory Government $330,000 and Great
Southern Railway $100,000.

TRAFALGAR Tours have released 41 Europe and Britain holidays under
their CostSaver 2008 banner. As an example an 11-day The Elizabethan
takes-in London, Plymouth, Cardiff, Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands,
Edinburgh, Leeds, Cambridge and other popular destinations and costs
from $2099pp twin-share. There are departures between April 22 and
October 14 2008; air to the UK is additional. See travel agents or

GET around the Greek Islands on fast-ferry Island Hopping packages
from Tempo Holidays between April and October next year. They start
from 10-nights priced from $1286 (plus air) including 2-nights in
centrally-located hotels in Athens, three in Mykonos, and four in
Santorini, breakfasts, transfers and fast-ferry tickets. Phone 1300
558 987 or see

FOUR nights in a 2-bedroom BreakFree Reef Club apartment at Port
Douglas costs from just $376 per adult, with children 3-12 years free,
on select dates between January 4 and March 31 2008. This package is
available through travel agents, or Qantas Holidays on 13 14 15 who
can also arrange best-possible seasonal airfares.

TRUE: Several hundred Brits have just paid up to $16,000 each for a
two-week cruise on which they didn't know where they were going. They
were told only that the boutique Saga Rose would sail from Southampton
for eight ports not on the UK mainland, and which would remain a
mystery until they got there. The inquisitive cruisers snapped-up all
cabins in several days.

Monday, 3 December 2007


YOUR WEEKLY TRAVEL TIPS for week beginning 3 December 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


NOT one, but two 77,000 tonne superliners are to be based in Australia
to cater to a booming cruise market that's grown 18 per cent in the
past year – twice the growth rate of the North American cruise market.
Princess Cruises brought Sun Princess to Sydney early in November, and
Dawn Princess that will arrive late in 2008 for what was originally
intended as a 5-months Australian season, will now be based here
permanently from next November. Between them the two superliners, that
each carry nearly 2000 passengers, will cruise to the South Pacific,
New Zealand, around Australia – and Dawn Princess will do a first-ever
round-world originating from Australia in 2009. For these superliners'
itineraries and prices see travel agents.

FLIGHT Centre has a package to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens from March 28 to 30 next that from $1848pp includes return air from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, 4-nights twin-share hotel, Welcome Drinks with former Wallaby, Gary Pearse, and daily entry to the Rugby. There's also an official polo shirt and cap; local taxes are included but air
taxes are additional. Phone 131 600.

WATCH former world number one, Lleyton Hewitt play international greats including Frenchman, Richard Gasquet at the final staging of the Next Generation Adelaide International from December 31 to January 6. has a stay 4-nights, pay-3 at the Miller
Apartments in the heart of Adelaide's CBD and shopping district, with
prices from $483; details on 1300 72 70 72 or
; tennis entry is extra.

BOOK by January 31 and a 3-night package at Fiji's Lomani Island Resort is available any time up to June 15 2008 from just $505pp
twin-share including full American breakfast in your suite, or at the
resort's signature The Flame Tree restaurant. The offer also includes
return airport transfers; air to Fiji is additional. The resort, whose
name means 'love' in the local language, has just twelve luxury
beachside suites. Details on

AVOID the pitfalls of renting cars when you arrive at your destination
by pre-booking through an Australian operator like globalCARS which
currently has Hertz rental cars available in the United States from
as little as A$48 a day or A$259 a week. The rates are available
until December 14 for bookings up to March 31, 2009. globalCARS is
also offering Earlybird deals such as free upgrades to bigger
vehicles for bookings from 1 April 08 onwards. Hertz also has "GREEN"
vehicles including Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse and
Hyundai Sonata which have fuel economy of 28mpg or better.
globalCARS are available at 50 locations across America at fully
inclusive rates offering unlimited miles, loss damage waiver with zero
excess and all local taxes and airport surcharges. More details from
1300-789-992 or visit

A UNIQUE 15-day coach tour from Munich to Venice includes Salzburg
(Mozart's baroque city of cobblestoned streets,) The Holy Mountain in
the Bavarian Alps with its 14th century abbey, Hitler's WWII retreat
at Berchtesgarten (The Eagle's Nest,) the Austrian Tyrol, and a stay
on the shores of Lake Bled in Slovenia. There's also Opatija in
Croatia, once referred to as the Nice of the East, and a stay in an
Italian castle, Castelbrando in the Dolomites; cost is from $4789pp
including 14-nights twin-share, all breakfasts, 12-dinners, entries,
coach travel, guides, tips and porterage. Air is additional. Phone
1300 135 015 or see travel agents.

TRUE: A UK-based airline has blamed a "rostering problem" for one of its planes flying from London's Heathrow Airport to New York recentlywith no flight attendants – and no passengers. London newspapers
dubbed it the "Ghost Flight," while environmentalists raised eyebrows
at it occurring at a time the airline had just announced increases in
fuel surcharges.