Mar
31
2016
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Port Macquarie for BBQs, bands and billycarts!

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

BBQs, bands and billycarts all feature in a bumper line-up of eclectic events in Port Macquarie this year. Plan your visit around one of the many foodie, cultural and sporting fixtures that will spice up any weekend in this gorgeous coastal town. Here are 7 to ponder:
1. Slice of Haven (29 May) – spend your day by the Camden Haven River and meet over 80 local producers of nuts, cheese, wine, beer, vegetables and bush-foods. This year’s ‘Magic beyond the plate’ theme will feature cooking demonstrations, workshops, dancing, quirky stilt walkers and games. 10am-4pm. Entry via gold coin donation. www.sliceofhaven.com.au
2. Hastings Landcare Farm Gate Tour (11-13 June, long weekend, pictured) – learn where your food comes from at this unique event run by Landcare that visits around 12 farms that aren’t normally open to the public. From the oyster farms of the Hastings River to the lush grazing valleys of the Wauchope hinterland, see cows being milked, chickens free ranging and baby animals being fed. www.hastingslandcare.org.au
3. Jazz in the Vineyards at Bago Vineyards (monthly, every second Sunday) – a fixture now for 15 years, Jazz in the Vineyards is the best way to experience the magic of this hinterland winery. Live jazz, cuisine from XS Foods and great wine combine for a relaxing afternoon outdoors, while the kids can get lost in Bago Maze. www.bago.com.au
4. Port Macquarie Beer and Cider Festival (24 September) – enjoy tastings from around 50 beer and cider makers, live music, a beer garden and fun games including the Beer Keg Toss competition, inspired by the long tradition of the Highland Games. Westport Park. www.portmacbeerandciderfestival.com
5. Ekam Yoga Festival Port Macquarie (18 September) – a day of music, play and connection, this event features talks by some of the most senior yoga teachers in Australia, plus classes, workshops and a sustainable living and natural health expo. Ekam, meaning one, is about coming together as one for the day. It is held at the Glasshouse. www.ekamyogafestival.org.au
6. Beechwood Billycart Classic (5 November) – the gorgeous town of Beechwood, just 7km from Wauchope, is home to this hilarious and fun day out. Watch the thrills and spills as kids and adults race down Mt Pappinbarra with speeds of up to 100km/hr, finishing at the Beechwood Hotel, a great landing place for post-race festivities. www.billycartclassic.com.au
7. Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail (daily) – now a permanent event, this free, tourist trail features 50 one-metre high hand-painted koala sculptures set up at various locations including attractions, wineries, beaches, parks and hotels. www.hellokoalas.com
8. Ironman Australia (1 May) – one of IRONMAN’s original events steeped in triathlon history and a must-do for sport-lovers. This year the inspirational Turia Pitt will make her debut return to the field at one of the most scenic Ironman circuits in the world. www.ironman.com

Port Macquarie is a 4-hour drive North of Sydney or a 1-hour flight from Sydney and Brisbane with connections to the rest of Australia. 

Mar
30
2016

5 great B&Bs in Manchester and surrounds

By Manchester / UK /

When most people visit England, London is on the top of their must-see list. While there are many great things to see and do in London, it’s also worth heading three hours north to explore what cities like Manchester have to offer.

Your trip is even more enjoyable with a rental vehicle. Hire a car from Manchester Airport and begin your journey north, and stay at one of these B&Bs when you arrive.

Abbey Lodge
Set in the suburbs, this Edwardian style guesthouse is only a couple of miles from the Old Trafford Stadium and just a little bit further you’ll find the National Football Museum (a must-see for devout football fans!).  Being close to such attractions is convenient, but equally important are things such as free on-site parking, wifi and a buffet breakfast. You’ll get all these things plus more when staying at Abbey Lodge.
 
Luther King House
Set in a leafy, green suburb within an easy drive to Manchester City, Luther King House has everything you need including internet access and tea and coffeemaking facilities. You’ll also receive a free Continental breakfast each morning and free parking, while enjoying the peaceful and relaxing surrounds at Luther King House.

The Villas Residence
Step back in time at this Victorian villa in Rochdale in Greater Manchester. It’s only a short drive from major motorways and railway routes. The Villas Residence features five rooms which are individually decorated in themes such as Tudo and Edwardian. These incredible rooms are also filled with antiques, a free-standing bath, fire place and four-poster bed. Yet you’ll also receive modern necessities such as free wifi and a TV.

Ash Farm Country House
Cosy is the word to describe your stay at this redbrick 18th century farmhouse. Ash Farm is located only three miles from Dunham Town and it features five traditional and stylish rooms along with all the comforts you need, such as a TV, wifi and coffeemaking facilities. Enjoy a full English breakfast each morning you wake up to the beautiful countryside views surrounding you.

Brooklands Lodge
Walk only four minutes from Brooklands Metro Station and you’ll find this beautiful, classic redbrick guesthouse, fitted out with bright, modern rooms. Set in a residential street, you’re also only a short drive from central Manchester and attractions such as the Imperial War Museum. A full English breakfast is also available each morning.

BRIANNA PIAZZA and SCOTT PODMORE

Mar
30
2016

Let’s go shopping in New York’s best shopping strips

By New York / United States /

GIRLS from all over the world go to New York for the labels and, because of the seemingly never-ending shopping districts, it’s the perfect place where you can shop til you drop! NYC boasts some of the world’s finest districts, which will keep you busy for days.
Check out these five amazing shopping districts, and do you fancy a hire car so you don’t have to lug around all your heavy shopping bargains? Hire a car from JFK airport with DriveNow to make your shopping holiday more enjoyable.

Fifth Avenue Shopping District
Find yourself in the heart of Manhattan’s shopping heaven, where shopping is bliss! Think Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Abercrombie. That’s enough to keep your legs – and your wallet – busy for hours. Then there are also the mega-stores, such as the Disney Store, Apple and Niketown.

Madison Avenue Shopping District
Welcome to what’s known as the most expensive retail real estate in the world. The list of high-end, luxurious retailers go on and on – from Gucci to Changel, Vera Wang, Armani, Jimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren and Prada. That’s just the beginning of the list! The glitz and glamour of Madison Avenue Shopping District attracts celebrities from all over the world, so you might just run into your idol!
 
Time Warner Centre
Set in the heart of Manhattan at Columbus Circle, the Time Warner Centre is at the top of every traveller’s list. It’s one of New York City’s most iconic destinations, known for being the place for dining, entertainment and shopping. It’s home to a 60,000ft market selling Whole Foods, and more than 40 specialty shops. You’ll find Hugo Boss, Swarovski and more.

Soho Shopping District
High-end boutiques are waiting to be explored inside Soho’s historic buildings, along with huge brands you’ll find just about anywhere. Bloomingdales is always popular with the locals and visitors and so is Victoria’s Secret, H&M and Prada’s flagship store. There’s also Pearl River Mart, the first Chinese American department store. Along Broadway you’ll find many more fabulous foreign additions.

Nolita
North of Little Itally is one of the hottest shopping strips in all of New York. Along Elizabeth, Mott and Mulberry streets you’ll find stylish shops at every turn. They specialise mostly in high-quality, expensive fashion, but you’re also find niche clothing designs and accessories from all around the world, but they won’t necessarily be at the high prices you’d expect.

BRIANNA PIAZZA and SCOTT PODMORE

Mar
28
2016

London calling – 5 top restaurants you must experience

By Europe / UK /

London’s food scene is calling you…

You’ll find an endless selection of trendy cafes, bars, fine restaurants and casual eateries on every street. With so many choices, we’ve compiled a quick guide on which of the best restaurants you must experience in London.

Pick up a hire car from Heathrow Airport and check out these five hot restaurants during your stay in London.

Galvin at Windows (pictured)
Since opening in 2006, the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane has become one of the most talked about food destinations. Galvin at Windows has a stylish interior which takes you back to the glamour of the 1930s. Dine on a modern French haute cuisine menu, with all main dishes seasonally inspired. Enjoy the experience while being treated to incredible views of London’s iconic skyline, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.

Masala Zone
The ever-popular Masala Zone has been branded as London’s best Indian informal dining restaurants. The chefs are also said to be “pioneers of Indian street food” in England. Delicious Indian dishes, full of flavour and aroma, are made from ingredients which come from the homes and street stalls across India. There are seven of these restaurants across London with each Masala Zone offering different artistic interiors.

Duck and Waffle
This restaurant, located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, literally never stops winning the hearts and stomachs of diners. Open 24 hours a day, chef Dan Doherty’s scrumptious menu serves a combination of British and European dishes. It’s also proudly the “highest restaurant in the UK”, offering marvellous views of London city.

Rivea

This magnificent basement restaurant, located in the Bulgari hotel in the heart of Knightsbridge, offers delicious Mediterranean dishes. French chef Alain Ducasse has been inspired by many years of visits to markets in Italy and Provence. The vibrant dishes are served to guests as they’re surrounded by a beautiful, chic interior. It makes for a wonderful, relaxing night out.

Norfolk Arms
This corner pub earns is spot on the list of one of the best in London, despite not receiving widespread acclaim. It’s specialty is deliciously authentic tapas. Generous portions are served up at reasonable prices. There’s also plenty of variety to choose from on the menu. Dishes are influenced by the cuisines of the Mediterranean. But there’s also a full a la carte menu is offered, complemented by an extensive wine list.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Mar
25
2016

Snuggle up at these five cosy B&Bs in the Yarra Valley this Autumn

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

The Yarra Valley region makes for a relaxing weekend away at any time of year. Pick up a rental car from Melbourne Airport (https://www.drivenow.com.au/car-hire/melbourne-airport.jspc) and drive only 60 minutes to explore everything the Yarra Valley has to offer.

When you arrive, pick from one of these five cosy B&Bs to stay. It’s the best in Yarra Valley accommodation.
 
Bonza View
The owners proudly say Bonza View bed and breakfast apartment offer the best views in the Dandenongs. During the day you have a sweeping scene of the Port Phillip Bay to Mount Macedon and the Warburton Ranges, even the Lilydale Lake. At night you have a spectacular 180 degree view of the city lights. Your private, undercover deck also has a bubbling hot tub – perfect on those chilly nights.

Valley Guest House
Experience country living at its best. At Valley Guest House, you’ll wake up to a beautiful sunrise and the sound of native birds. You’re also surrounded by lush gardens with neat gardens full of roses, camellias and wisterias. Natural light fills your studio, which has tall, wide windows and a private balcony. Or you can opt for the Honeymoon suite, which has its own private courtyard, heated spa and fireplace.

Yering Gorge Cottages
Not only does this property offer incredible views of the Yarra Valley from your bedroom window, but it also treats you to plenty of luxuries, such as free Wi-Fi, your own private spa bath and a beauty centre. Yering Gorge Cottages are also located close to popular fishing spots and cycling trails. Perfect for a romantic weekend away!

Dalblair Bed and Breakfast
Ever dreamed of your own luxurious suite with a large veranda, spacious living area and pool? Then Dalblair Bed and Breakfast is the right kind of place for you. It’s set of 30 acres of colourful gardens with picturesque views of the surrounding Warburton Ranges and vineyards. Dalblair makes for the idea location for a peaceful getaway.

Sanctuary Park Cottages
Hire out one of these rustic cottages for a romantic weekend away. They’re perfect for any time of year – in the warmer months you can relax by the lake, while in the cooler months you can admire the changing colour of the landscape or relax in the hot spa. Majestic mountains surround the property, which you’ll never want to leave.

SCOTT PODMORE

 

Mar
24
2016

What’s hot about California this summer? Try these for size

By California / United States /

California here we come…
Pick up your hire campervan from Los Angeles airport, and head out and explore these five exciting things in California.

Disneyland
A visit to Disneyland in Anaheim is every kid’s wish come true and every adult’s childhood dream. Touted as California’s premier family destination, this amusement park is home to theme rides, games, shopping precincts, entertainment and popular restaurants. Here, there’s something for each member of the family.

Big Sur
A stunning and iconic stretch of coastline that’s hard to forget once you’ve seen it in real life. There are splendid views all the way along Highway 1 with hiking, camping and sun bathing among the perfect passtimes around here. Explore the hiking trails, lookouts and waterfalls hidden within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park along the way.

Lake Tahoe
This beautiful lake is an exciting destination at any time of year. It’s located along the border of California and Nevada. In summer it’s paradise for beach goers and boaters, while in the winter months, it becomes a playground for snow lovers, with the surrounding mountains offering excellent trails for skiiers and snowboarders.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite’s dramatic peaks overlooking national parkland have graced the covers of some of the world’s finest travel magazines, and fill the photo albums of every traveller to the region. It boasts valleys, rivers, waterfalls and granite domes along with many other famous sites scattered throughout the park.

Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hang with the stars on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard! Completing the Hollywood Walk of Fame should be number one on every traveller’s to do list. There are more than 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars with the names of iconic actors, musicians, directors and producers embedded in the sidewalks along 18 blocks.

Mar
22
2016
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Winter’s on the way, so hit the road and head north

By Australia / Brisbane / Queensland /

With winter fast approaching, the best plan of attack to beat the chill is to head north. While Aussies down south shiver through the coldest months of the year, up north in Queensland the sun is still shining and the ocean waters constantly warm.

Pick up a camper from Brisbane airport and park it at one of these five caravan parks in Queensland for your next holiday.

Noosa Caravan Park
Just under two hours north of Brisbane is the lovely Noosa. Sandy, surf beaches and clear waters await. Park your camper at the Noosa Caravan Park, which is a two minute walk from Noosa River and a 15 minute drive from Noosa Beach. Then Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo is less than an hour away. It also has an outdoor swimming pool with BBQ facilities and a children’s playground.

Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park
Ideally positioned on five acres with beachfront views, Mackay Blacks Beach Holiday Park overlooks the beautiful southern islands of the Whitsundays. There are nearly 90 caravan sites available, many with ocean views, a swimming pool and entertainment areas so you can enjoy your holiday nearly 1000km north of Brisbane.

Rainbow Beach Holiday Village
Three hours north of Queensland’s capital, Rainbow Beach Holiday Village sits on the Fraser Coast, just 100m from the beach. The surf club is also located across the road, with many restaurants and cafes nearby. The village has all the conveniences you need – including two BBQ sites, washing up facilities, a convenience store and an onsite service station – but it still has a relaxing atmosphere, which draws holidaymakers back year after year.

Lake Eacham Tourist Park
Set in the heart of the famously beautiful Crater Lakes District, this quiet tourist park is just one kilometre from Lake Eacham’s pristine waters. Just over an hour’s drive from Cairns and 18 hours from Brisbane, Lake Eacham Tourist Park is well worth the distance. Jump in the water whenever you feel like a swim, while the lake’s surrounding beauty, including colourful wildlife and pristine waterfalls, are found at almost every turn.

Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach
Drive an hour south of Brisbane and Surfer’s Paradise awaits! Stay at the Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach, which is just across the road from one of the area’s most beautiful surfing beaches. It hosts a resort-style pool and Tedder Avenue is nearby, with its trendy cafes and restaurants. It’s everything you need for a perfect, sunny holiday away!