In this week's column, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield looks at WanderPods, jellyfish, Croatia's new bridge and more
Colleague Mogens Johansen was recently in Athens, having flown to Venice and sailed there on a Viking cruise ship, and Geoffrey Thomas was in England and Wales driving around, after reporting from the Farnborough International Airshow. Speaking on The Pod Well Travelled, both reported smooth flying to Europe, with no disruptions.
Another friend has been in London and is now walking in the Lake District of England and the only disruption she seems to have had is a ghastly blister.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Mogens came down the Croatian coast, and Croatia was celebrating. No, not Mogens’ presence, but the opening of the 2.4km Peljesac bridge. It’s a massive moment for the country, as the cable-stayed bridge spans the sea and links southern coastal areas to the rest of the country. Everyone can now drive straight along Croatia’s Adriatic coast by using the new bridge. Previously, anyone heading north from Dubrovnik, on the southern-most Adriatic coast, or who wanted to cross from the Peljesac peninsula to the mainland, had to go through two border checks, crossing land that belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bridge has been built by China but principally funded by the European Union.
BITE AND BIGHT
Flying with Qantas to Brisbane, I got to Perth Airport nice and early, but needn’t have. In less than 10 minutes, I’d printed out my bag tag (having my boarding pass already in my phone), said a temporary farewell to Casey, my faithful suitcase, passed through security and was on my way to Gate 16 — more than an hour too early. (Which is better than being an hour too late.)
It always catches me out when we cross over above the Great Australian Bight and South Australian coast when flying direct from Perth to Brisbane. I feel I should be flying across the centre of Australia. But to get to the Red Centre now, we have to fly via Melbourne or Sydney. How un-Australian is not to be able to get from Perth, this “international gateway capital city”, with direct flights in from both London and Rome and not being able to take inbound international tourists to the heart of Australia?
TURNED TO JELLY
Huge swarms of jellyfish are causing havoc during Israel’s peak summer tourism season. They’re enjoying the very warm Mediterranean waters, and reckoned to be costing the country about $14.5 million in lost tourism. They’re also clogging desalination plants and commercial fishing nets and have prompted a conversation about ecological imbalance caused by climate change.
I’m looking forward to passing through Argentina on my way to Antarctica soon. And the Argentinians are, apparently, looking forward to my dollars — albeit Australian (“Pacific Pesos”) rather than US. The country’s Ministry of Economy has just announced that it will allow foreign tourists to exchange dollars at a higher rate than previously available. Finance officials are banking on the move helping to top up depleted foreign currency reserves. “Argentina needs the dollars brought in by tourists,” Minister of Tourism Matias Lammens says.
SWALLOWING THE LOSS
Reader Madhumati Sarkar of Atwell has an issue with Malindo Air — the Malaysian-based regional airline which has rebranded as Batik Air. Madhumati writes that he bought tickets from them in 2020 to travel to India: “They cancelled the flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur and rescheduled it two days afterwards.” Madhumati was unable to take that flight, and had to fly with Thai Airways. He adds: “While coming back, we came by Malindo flight. After fighting for a long time they gave us refund vouchers for a smaller amount for the cancelled flight. Due to COVID we could not redeem the vouchers, so got them extended by another year. Now when we enter the voucher number in the booking, it comes with error message that this voucher has been used.” There has been no reply to his emails and he says that when he rings its call centre, it goes to an automated message. “Can you please publish this in your magazine so that other travellers will be alerted. It seems we have lost the $730.” I approached Batik with the issue on July 21, and haven’t heard back, either.
Four new eco-aware WanderPods are available on Kangaroo Island, off Adelaide, from December 1. The WanderPods are on a northern bluff overlooking Snelling Beach and the Great Australian Bight. WanderPods are robust and can be repaired, and built for Australia’s climate. The first pods by the company Wander were installed in secluded bushland, overlooking a lake on a private property in Queensland’s Scenic Rim near Brisbane. wander.com.au
Small is, in this case, most definitely beautiful. Tiny Away has introduced a new tiny house in the NSW Snowy Mountains. Wallaby Cabin joins the company’s collection of over 150 tiny houses across Australia. The off-grid house overlooks Porcupine Rocks in Crackenback. tinyaway.com
TREASURE THE TIMBERS
Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty was wiped out by last year’s tropical cyclone Seroja, and anyone with fond memories or a hankering of history might like a piece of it. Following its $4.2 million partial deconstruction, individuals can apply for some of the 900 tonnes of salvaged timber. transport.wa.gov.au
Leonie and Steve Moore travelled with me to Antarctica in March 2016. (I like the end of the Antarctic season, when whales are feeding up ready for the migration north.) Being with like-minded people can really add to a trip, and the travellers on the ship Akademik Vavilov keep in touch and hold annual reunions. “I will organise another Vavilovian reunion later this year,” says Leonie.
But Leonie and Steve have been on dry land, in Kununurra, and spotted “my boab tree” in Celebrity Tree Park. They kindly sent this picture. “Thought you would appreciate knowing it is thriving!” writes Leonie. Indeed. And aren’t we all.