Sydney’s gobsmackingly gorgeous harbour needs no introduction. While the harbour hums with activity, its eight idyllic isles are surprisingly quiet. Mid-week, you may even have their million-dollar views all to yourself.
That’s not the case come New Year’s Eve, though. Five islands – Fort Denison, Shark and Clark to the east of the Harbour Bridge, and Cockatoo and Goat to the west – are open to the public. They provide front-row seats (at a hefty price) for one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks displays. Here’s how you can enjoy Sydney’s historic harbour islands all year-round.
Published in lonelyplanet.com. Copyright Lonely Planet. Photo: Glen Pearson/ Lonely Planet.
A French design company has taken street art to the extreme with a huge canvas that is vying to be the biggest in the world.
Artists from Lyon-based CitéCréation have painted the Wohngenossenschaft Soldaritaet Coop apartments in the Friedrichsfelde district of Berlin with a remarkably life-like canvas.
The trompe-l'oeil, or urban design, features trees, animals and people and was inspired by a nearby zoo.
Covering 22,000 square metres of wall, the company is hoping to nab the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest mural.
The five-kilometre Pueblo Levee Project in Pueblo, Colorado currently holds the title.
Unlike the carefully-planned Berlin wall, the levee's concrete walls were first painted by students in the 1970s. Since then, more than 1,000 painters have left their mark.
CitéCréation began back in the '70s too, and has created over 580 giant frescos in cities including Barcelona, Mexico City, Jerusalem, Moscow and Shanghai.
Certainly adds some colour to the neighbourhood!
As one of Europe's most important banking centres, Frankfurt has a reputation of being well... boring.
The city in central Germany is home to over 300 banks, including the European Central Bank that is tasked with rescuing the troubled Eurozone.
A city swarming with bankers and bureaucrats is not really compatible with romance, right? Wrong!
Today, as I walked around this really rather pleasant city, I came across a very sweet symbol of romance.
The Eiserner Steg, an iron footbridge that connects the city centre with Sachsenhausen on the southern banks of the Main River, is covered with thousands of padlocks.
Most are engraved with the names of lovers, often with a significant date, and attached to the bridge.
As I loitered on the bridge reading some of them, I saw a couple attach a padlock and then throw the key into the river below. "It symbolises our everlasting love," the newlyweds told me between smooches. All together now, awww...
Over 10,000 people cross this neo-Gothic bridge everyday. And I bet all but the most boring banker does so with a spring in his step.
In search of the sparkle in the cellars and vineyards of Champagne.
As we walk into the tiny neighbourhood bar in Epernay, the self-proclaimed capital of Champagne, two burly blokes stand chatting at the bar.
Their thick fingers clasp not a schooner of beer, but the delicate stem of a tulip-shaped champagne flute.
It may be the world's most revered drink, but in this corner of northeastern France, champagne is the local tipple.
France's Champagne region is made up of roughly 34,000 hectares of vineyards spread across 319 villages, or "crus".
Published in Yahoo!7 Travel. Copyright AAP. Photo: Glen Pearson.
Last year, everyone went to London and Gangnam got discovered. Where will the world be going this year?
1. Scotland, United Kingdom
Scotland has seen fit to dub 2013 the "Year of Natural Scotland,"and what better time to do it?
Anyone who saw the 2012 James Bond thriller "Skyfall" walked away wishing they too could race through Scotland's dramatic countryside and hide out in its misty highlands (granted, while not being pursued by a homicidal Javier Bardem).
Of many outdoor events and special deals planned around the Year of Natural Scotland, highlights include: the Dumfries & Galloway Wildlife Festival 2013 (March 29-April 14); Heb Celt 2013 music festival (July 17-20); Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight (September 7-22); and, of course, The Open Championship golf tournament (July 14-21).
Published in CNNTravel.com. Copyright CNN. Photo: VisitScotland.
Never mind the souks -- Lebanon's capital offers traditional shopping with upscale, contemporary twists.
If you’re expecting to haggle for a bargain in Beirut’s souks, think again.
“Beirut is the only city in the Middle East that doesn’t have a souk,” says tour guide Ronnie Chatah from BeBeirut. “In its place we built a shopping mall with a Ferrari dealership and valet parking.”
While there are certainly plenty of big labels on show, Beirut has a thriving art and design scene that values individuality and craftsmanship.
Coffee in copper
Beiruti’s love their coffee and there are plenty of cool cafes serving skinny soya lattes.
Published in CNNTravel.com. Copyright CNN. Photo: Glen Pearson.
Lebanon's cosmopolitan capital is going all out to woo adventurous luxury lovers.
Strolling along the crescent-shaped esplanade of Zaitunay Bay in Beirut’s
Downtown area, it’s hard to imagine that this was once a rubbish dump – and the heartland of the country’s 15-year civil war.
The aquamarine water of the Mediterranean laps languidly at the hulls of multi-million dollar yachts, while Beirut’s beautiful people eat al fresco at the high-end restaurants that line the teak promenade.
Zaitunay Bay’s shiny new marina is the city’s latest effort to shake off its war-tainted reputation. And with a yacht club due to open next year, the city is going all out to recapture the glamour of its 1950s and 60s heyday when it was a playground for the international jet set. That was until 1975, when the city was divided into predominantly Christian and Muslim halves by the infamous Green Line.
Published in Luxury Travel magazine. Copyright Luxury Travel. Photo: Glen Pearson.
A prestigious academy in Britain lets you experience the sport of kings. Lara Brunt takes the reins.
Horsemen thunder past in a blur of brilliant white breeches and polished riding boots. With an arching swing, the front runner brings his mallet down hard, and with a crack of wood sends the ball soaring through the goalposts.
For those seeking a quintessential English experience, the spectacle of a polo match played out on the verdant fields of Guards Polo Club near Ascot – a favourite with the Royal family – is difficult to beat.
Steeped in history, the aristocratic sport is not for the faint hearted. “It’s like rugby on horseback,” says professional polo player James White. “But when played well, polo is incredibly elegant and fluid.”
Published in South China Morning Post Style magazine. Copyright South China Morning Post. Photo: Glen Pearson.
Exploring France’s famous and luxurious champagne houses will seduce your senses. Lara Brunt raises a glass in style.
As one slowly descends the stone steps into the ghostly lit tunnel, the temperature noticeably drops. Your eyes adjust and fall upon rows of wooden A-frames holding thousands of dusty bottles of the world’s most celebrated drink.
The underground crayères (chalk pit cellars) of Champagne Taittinger in Reims, in the heart of northeastern France’s Champagne region, were originally carved out by the Gallo-Romans in the 4th century, and later used by the Benedictine monks of Saint Nicaise Abbey in the 13th century. They have lost none of their mystique over the centuries.
Synonymous with luxury and glamour, and coveted by royalty and rap stars alike, champagne seduces long before the cork is popped. Perhaps it’s the unyielding Gallic embrace of traditional techniques – machines are forbidden, with all grapes harvested by hand at a time dictated by the region’s Champagne Bureau – or the slick and sexy marketing campaigns of the world-famous brands such as Taittinger and Moët & Chandon.
Published in South China Morning Post Style magazine. Copyright South China Morning Post.
Don’t despair if you’ve got a few hours to spare in these five top airports.
1. Swim in Singapore
Singapore’s Changi Airport was voted the best in the world in this year's Wanderlust Travel Awards and it’s easy to see why: with a Balinese-themed rooftop swimming pool, free foot massages, specially designed snooze chairs and nature trails, checking in has never looked so relaxing.
2. Hi-tech in Hong Kong
Another contender for the world's top airport, Hong Kong International, has some of the best hi-tech entertainment facilities around. While away a couple of hours in the 360-seater 4D Extreme Cinema, play free Playstation games and have a go on the fantastic flight simulators at the Aviation Discovery Centre.
Published in Wanderlust.co.uk. Copyright Wanderlust. Photo: Changi Airport Group.
I'm an Aussie journalist and content editor with experience writing for newspapers, magazines and online.