As you read this, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield is in New York. But he takes us to other destinations, as well, in his weekly roundup from the world of travel
NEED TO SLOW DOWN
I’m in New York, thinking about slowing down. Rather fittingly, as I’ve just visited singer songwriter Taylor Swift’s favourite haunts in this city, the lyrics to her song “You need to calm down” are rolling around my head. Well, some of them, namely — “you’re being too loud, you need to calm down”. Travellers’ demand to slow down is certainly one of the themes of travel in 2023 and touring and cruise companies are responding to it. Rather than invent new tours to meet this, Scenic has slowed down some of its river cruises in Europe — basically, a section of a longer cruise is done more slowly and thoroughly. There is more daytime sailing — passing landscape in the light that would have been missed in overnight passages. A spokesperson adds: “There is more time in port, and more late departures, so that guests can get off the ship after dinner and wander around.” There’s more time for cooking classes, a photography walking tour, to hike and use eBikes. scenic.com.au
An example of this response to the demand to slow down travel is Scenic’s Danube in Depth — a new 10-day itinerary for 2024 between Nuremberg and Budapest on one of its all-inclusive “five-star Scenic Space-Ships”. The spokesperson says it is a chance to be more deeply immersed in local culture and history as the river is explored at a more leisurely pace on the nine-night itinerary. The ship docks in quaint towns like Bratislava, Linz and Passau. There are lots of Scenic Freechoice excursions — with a chance to learn how to make Slovak dumplings and Austrian tart, and taste German beer or Viennese wine. It is from $6495 per person and sails from May 2, 2024. scenic.com.au (code 14615)
Another example of touring companies taking the demand for more connection seriously — and a deeper view of a place, its people and culture — is Tauck’s exclusive tour of Milan’s Poldi Pezzoli Museum with local guide Serena Spinelli. Poldi Pezzoli is one of Milan’s hidden gems — a treasure chest of paintings and decorative arts in the home of a nobleman who fought for Italy’s independence and his 19th century art collection. It is generally off the radar of tourists, but the museum is dear to the people of Milan.
CHARIOTS & A KIBBUTZ
As we are on the theme of travelling with like-minded people, and being immersed in culture and history, I’ll add Travel at 60’s Ancient Jordan and Israel Guided Tour. The last two words are important — there is someone there, helping, giving peace of mind. The 16-night tour includes time in Amman, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Galilee, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. But the point is not really just where you go, but what you experience there. The trip includes time at the Jerash chariot race in the small city of As-Salt, a float in the Dead Sea and visiting a kibbutz. Guests will stand on Mount of Beatitudes, where the Sermon on the Mount was given. It is from $12,190 per person, there’s a deposit of $99 per person, and there’s a saving of $600 per couple at the moment. travelat60.com.au and 1300 414 198
CRUISES THAT CLICK
My Cruises has just launched a fully-interactive digital brochure with its 2024 cruise holiday packages. The 40-page brochure details their trips to lots of popular cruising destinations, including the Mediterranean. There are nice tricks, like combining two cruises with a scenic rail journey. My Cruises general manager Michael Middleton says, “Our digital edition offers details of the package inclusions and the destinations along with easy clickable links to the web page for more information about optional upgrades, sail dates and the full cruise itinerary. With itineraries currently selling out quickly, we need to be nimble and get new cruise holiday packages to the broader market as soon as they’re released. The summer 2023 digital edition allows us to feature our specially curated selection of cruise holidays from our Unmissable Sale.” Anyone getting the digital brochure can enter to win a 14-night luxury Celebrity Cruise from Singapore to Sydney valued at $12,500. mycruises.com.au/magazine
Another current trend is travelling light, and Antler has hooked into that with the launch of its Brixham range. It is Antler’s lightest ever suitcase collection, and with more than 100 years in the industry, that’s a pretty significant claim (and I’ll add that Casey, my faithful suitcase, is an Antler). Brixham, in navy or black, is soft-shell luggage, with the carry-on bag weighing 1.9kg ($279), the medium case at 2.4kg ($329) and the large at 2.7kg ($379). They have 360-degree double spinner wheels, a TSA-lock, lots of pockets and contrasting piping. They also come with a 10-year warranty. antler.com.au
Rydges Melbourne is undergoing a complete transformation and will re-open this autumn 2023. It is in the heart of the city’s theatre district, near Collins Street and Bourke Street Mall. The hotel will re-emerge with 370 fully refurbished rooms in three types, including 310 king standard rooms, 35 suites and the addition of 25 apartments. Those apartments will have kitchenettes, laundry, separate lounge and dining spaces and spacious bathrooms. All rooms have signature Rydges DreamBeds. Rydges Melbourne rooms are on sale now for bookings from June 2023, starting at $270 a night. rydges.com
WILD, FREE, TRESPASSING
+ In England, wild campers have lost their right to pitch on Dartmoor. It was the only area of England and Wales there was an “assumed right” to wild camp without the landowner’s permission, but a High Court judge has ruled that was legally wrong. It has been seen as a test case for countryside access in England.
+ I flew to New York City on the longest flight in the world, with Singapore Airlines. We’ll bring you that story next week. But I’ve just restarted my subscription with audible.com — for $16.95, you get one audiobook a month. I started by “re-reading” (listening to) Roger Deakins’ Waterlog — a book about wild swimming in Britain, and the beauty and eccentricity of the countryside and its waterways. Roger, who reads the audiobook himself, took dips all over the place as a way to literally immerse himself in a location.
+ British author Nick Hayes says he was inspired by Deakin — as were many people now considered to be in the conservation and “land access movement”. Nick is the author of Book of Trespass. Nick argues that the vast majority of Britain country is entirely unknown to the British because they are banned from setting foot on it. The public is excluded from 92 per cent of the land and 97 per cent of its waterways. In The Book of Trespass, Nick takes the reader into rivers, woodland, lakes and meadows that are blocked from public access, by trespassing on the land of the media magnates, Lords, politicians and private corporations. He argues that the root of social inequality is the uneven distribution of land (It is also an Audible book, now I come to think of it).
The new campground and picnic area has been officially opened at Collie’s Lake Kepwari. The David Ugle Campground has 32 campsites at the northern edge of the lake, bringing the total number of campsites at Lake Kepwari to 53. The campground on the eastern side has been renamed Mick Murray Campground, recognising former local member Mick’s commitment to the Collie community.
PS More of my Taylor Swift walk tour in a future edition, too. You can’t shake that off.