Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield surveys another week in travel
Having just wandered the walkways of the enormous Dubai international airport, my attention was caught by this “iubest Scooter Luggage”. It is an aluminium trolley case which turns into a ride-on scooter. It is foldable with an extendable handle. Buy online for $459.95.
There are good reasons that aircraft cabin crew collect the airline’s wired headsets before landing. Safety-wise, landing is one of an aircraft’s most vulnerable moments, and if there was an emergency, I wouldn’t want to be tied up in a tangle of wires when I’m heading for those inflatable slides. It also makes sense that passengers can hear crew instructions.
So I wasn’t surprised when, flying back to Perth a few days ago, the Emirates cabin crew collected my headset 45 minutes before landing. It is frustrating missing the end of a movie, but what annoyed me more was the inconsistency of their work. As the wheels touched the tarmac, several passengers around me (including the row in front) were still wearing their headsets.
When I asked the Emirates cabin crew for a snack during the long flight, they broke off from their own fruit and cheese platters to present me with this tiny bag of pretzels. There was quite a party going on up the back of the A380.
HIGH LEVEL SIPS
I was returning from Africa with travellers on our Travel Club Tour of Botswana and Zambia, with a quick dip into Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. We will publish the full story soon, which has tips on seeing wildlife, and experiencing the falls. At Victoria Falls, we stayed at the The Royal Livingstone hotel, right on the banks of the Zambezi River, where zebra graze the lawns around the pool and this giraffe loped in to drink water from the gutters.
We had partnered with Imagine Holidays to put this one-off trip together, and it included chartering planes between bush camps and lodges. In all there were 11 flights, including flying with Air Botswana between Johannesburg, in South Africa, and Maun in Botswana. In contrast to Emirates’ pretzels, Air Botswana serves biltong as a snack: “Just like our biltong, our flights are pure and world class.” True.
SNAP UP A SPOT
There was a lot of photography going on in Africa, of course — and lots of our travellers had very good results with their phone cameras. There are tricks and tips that help to get the best from them, and we have two more PhotoWalks with Phones coming up. Our PhotoWalks with Phones series fully explores the creativity and quality that’s opened up. Mogens Johansen and I help with both phone camera techniques and developing your “eye”.
+ We have one from 9am to 10.30am on Sunday, May 14.
+ And we are launching PhotoWalk Thursdays, for those who can make some time in the week. The first is on Thursday, May 18, from 2pm to 3.30pm.
Both set off from the Supreme Court Gardens in Perth and are $49. That includes the comprehensive PhotoWalk with Phones booklet that Mogens and I have written.
Snap up one of the few remaining spots at westtravelclub.com.au/events.
Getting to Exmouth to watch the 62-second solar eclipse last Thursday involved a lot of travel for a lot of people. The folk in tourism in Exmouth are celebrating, but so too are locals who rented out their homes for many thousands of dollars. Lots of them bunked in together, and shared the windfall of renting vacant houses. An Explore Exmouth app has just been released and Sandra Flint, at the Shire of Exmouth, says the council and tourism industry hopes that with with the help and feedback from the community and those visiting the region, they can make the app an all-encompassing and immersive experience when it comes to experiencing Exmouth.
Some of the world’s top scientists and climate change experts will be on a 20-day Hurtigruten Expeditions voyage in Greenland called “Summer Explorer Under the Midnight Sun” journey this July. Greenland has glaciers, fjords, colourful coastal villages, verdant valleys and plenty of wildlife. A Hurtigruten spokesperson explains that the expedition cruise company has long put sustainability and scientific endeavour at its heart — “and this voyage is no exception”. Its expedition team will be joined by climate change specialist Olav Orheim, who is a former senior adviser to The Research Council of Norway and managing director of the Norwegian Polar Institute; and Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm, founders of Hearts in the Ice founders. Also on board is Hurtigruten Expeditions’ chief scientist, Verena Meraldi. They will all share their expertise and knowledge fascinating lectures, storytelling and workshops. Guests will also be able to take part in citizen science programs. The voyage leaves Reykjavik on July 20, 2023, on board the MS Maud, and the trip is from $12,585 per person, twin share, cruise only. hurtigruten.com.au and 1300 322 062.
Japan remains right at the top of the “booking trends” out of WA, and my tour pick is “Japan: Past and Present: A Cultural Journey from Tokyo to Osaka”. This tour with the very experienced tour company Collette has texture and variety, from neon-lit streets filled with people to quiet shines filled with silence. Travellers spend time in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, travelling between them on the shinkansen bullet train. And there is true connection. A Collette spokesperson says travellers will meet ama pearl divers and dine with them whilst hearing tales of their lives and traditions. There is also time with the Women’s Association of Kyoto and travellers stay among Buddhist monks at a monastery on Mount Koya. The 13 day, 12 night tour is from $6999 per person, which includes accommodation, touring, experiences and 20 meals. gocollette.com or call 1300 792 196.
CASE FOR RESTRAINT
Casey, my faithful suitcase, had to stay at home while I was in Africa. So too did Justin Case, my carry-on. Because we had chartered small planes to get around much of Botswana and Zambia, we had to use “rolling duffels” of very specific dimensions and weighing no more than 15kg, which would push into their tight luggage compartments. My suggestion is that when an airline gives specific criteria, stick to it. Indeed, I saw one group that didn’t, which basically means “flying twice” — coming back for their luggage, and doubling the flying costs. For anyone using rolling duffels, a good trick is to put sensitive items in a strong, but light, clip-top plastic container — and everything else in packing cells. (Otherwise, it will just end up looking like a tumble dryer in there.)
PS. No, Rolly Du’ffel is not going to be a regular character in these pages. I think Casey and Justin are quite enough.