Category Travel Tips

Photo Friday: Grand Canyon Vista from Shoshone Point

grand canyon genuine journeys

It is certainly a WOW experience the first time you see the Grand Canyon. Sadly, at most viewpoints you have to jostle for views with hundreds of tourists. But there is another way. I took this spectacular vista for Photo Friday from a ‘secret’ lookout at Shoshone Point, which actually is not too far by car from Grand Canyon Village. If you are lucky you will have the lookout completely to yourself.

We were there at dusk in late May and a wedding was about to take place accompanied by haunting tunes from a Native American flute player, whose notes echoed across the canyon.

It feels like you can see every nook and cranny from here…a never-ending series of brightly striated buttes, cliffs and plateaus. You can see parts of the Colorado River in the distance as well as Horseshoe Mesa and the Grandview Trail in the east and the South Kaibab Trail which snakes its way to Skeleton Point.

How to get to Shoshone Point

From Grand Canyon Village, take Desert View Drive (also called East...

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Photo Friday: Sega Dancers on the Beach in Mauritius

MAURITIUS-Sega-dancers-on-the-beach

I took this photo of Sega dancers on the beach at a small island off Grande Baie in the Northeast of Mauritius. It was a special event for international journalists as part of the annual Kreol Festival of music and dance in December.

Sega Dancing forms a strong part of Mauritian national identity and when you visit Mauritius you must try and see a performance, although the hotel offerings tend to be rather touristy.  Families love to relax and picnic by the beach on the weekends and you will often see people dancing Sega together. If you are lucky to see some of this dancing it will offer a much more authentic experience.

In her book on Mauritius entitled Culture Shock!: Mauritius, Roseline NgCheong-Lum describes the Mauritian Sega in the following terms:

“It is both song and dance...

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Photo Friday: Three-Michelin-star Michel Bras’ famous flower and vegetable dish

michel bras ff

The three-Michelin-starred Michel Bras restaurant in the small village of Laguoile in the heart of Central France is renowned for its contemporary interpretation of the Gargouillou, the traditional Aubrac dish of ham, potatoes and vegetables.

I photographed this dish recently during a revelatory meal there.

“We have a very simple principle of respecting raw materials and following the seasons,” said Sebastien Bras, son of the founder Michel Bras, who recently retired. “We particularly rely on vegetables and plants using all sorts of flowers, herbs and seeds in our creations.”

The restaurant sources more than 230 cultivated vegetables, herbs and flowers in addition to foraging for hundreds more…wild thyme, fennel and flowers with names like queen of the fields, melilot and liveche… in the hills and valleys around Aubrac.

“Our technique is always used to accentuate the taste of the raw material, never the reverse,” Sebastian explained...

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Ten Top Tips to Save on International Car Rental

save money on car rental

How to get the best car rental deals

TOP TEN TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL CAR RENTAL

Renting a car when you’re travelling internationally can give you the freedom of going where you want when you want but it can be a little more complicated than at home. Here are some tips to make it easier

1. BOOK AND PAY BEFORE YOU GO. It is best to book and pay for your car rentals before leaving Australia especially for Europe or, at the very least, book on line before renting in North America. Lock in your rate in Australian dollars and also avoid overseas transaction fees on your credit card. Don’t just turn up at a car rental desk and expect either to get a good rate or in fact any car at all no matter how much you are willing to pay, especially during July/August high season.

2. TYPE OF CAR: Don’t waste time choosing specific cars as you will only be guaranteed a similar model. In the US, the cars are automatic and generally larger than in Australia...

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Photo Friday: Trainee Geisha Playing Drinking Games in Kyoto

Trainee geisha or maiko playing drinking games in Kyoto

I took this photo of 17-year-old Tanefume, a trainee geisha playing drinking games with tourists at the Gion Hatanaka Ryokan in Kyoto. The delighted expression on her face contrasts strikingly with her formal attire and shows just how young and ingenuous she is!

The Gion District of Kyoto, with its wooden inns, restaurants and ocha-ya or traditional tea houses is the heart of the geisha quarter.

You might catch a glimpse of a geisha, dressed in an elaborately patterned silk kimono, her face painted in traditional white makeup and hair piled high with delicate decorations, as she slips through a doorway. It is, however, very expensive and next to impossible for foreigners to hire a geisha for an evening’s entertainment of singing, dancing and drinking games.

However the enterprising Gion Hatanaka Ryokan, or traditional inn, offers a traditional Kyoto kaiseki dinner in bento boxes and entertainment with two maiko, or trainee geisha.

It is an entrancing experience where you watch the...

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One World Alliance Frequent Flyer Points: Why all is not equal

 

American Airlines frequent flyer points give much more bang for the buck than Qantas

How to get the most value from your One World Alliance Frequent Flyer Points

One World is the name of the biggest frequent flyer airline alliance, which includes Qantas, American Airlines, and British Airways. So you’d think that it would be the best way to earn and make the most use of frequent flyer points. However, all is not equal in frequent flyer land and the value of frequent flyer miles on some member airlines is MUCH better than others. This post will give you the lowdown on why.

We all have our favorite ways to use frequent flyer points. Some of us use them for upgrades to the pointy end of the plane. Others for getting free tickets to a special destination. There are those of us who will only fly with one airline alliance to be sure to maximize the benefits of all their frequent flyer points. Others fly with so many different alliances their frequent flyer points are like petals in a pool, pretty but not very useful...

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Six Simple Tips for Taking Terrific Travel Photos

terrific travel photos

Have you ever had the experience of looking at your photos at the end of your trip and been really…I mean really…disappointed with what you see. How is it that the gorgeous beach shots, those fun portraits with famous landmarks and the fabulous action photos are so terrible even though you could swear that you’d captured all those magical moments on your travels.

Photography is painting with light

All too often we can forget that photography is really painting with light. Our eyes adjust to different light conditions automatically. In bright light our pupils contract while in low light they expand.  Too often in the process we don’t actually notice how the prevailing light affects photographs.

So we have to train our eyes to see the way light falls across our subjects whether they are landscapes or cityscapes, portraits, close-ups or action shots...

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Ten Reasons to Use a Guide Rather than a Guidebook

Peter Miller meeting the local kids at a sea gypsy village off the island of Flores in Indonesia

Peter Miller with the local kids at a sea gypsy village off the island of Flores in Indonesia

This is a guest post by Peter Miller, the founder and managing director of No Roads Expeditions.

Like most people, when I travel, I like to understand what I am seeing. I am always asking What is that? Why is that? Who is that? What’s in that? Where is that? The list is endless.

Before guidebooks became fashionable in the 80’s and the internet became ubiquitous in the mid 2000’s, those of us who wanted to understand what they were seeing employed the services of a living, breathing and intelligent human being. That’s right, there are those among us that are passionate about the world we live and work in and we want to share our s encyclopaedic knowledge of places we love. And at the same time organize things for you, introduce you to locals, immerse you in the environment you are traveling in so that at the end of the trip, you understand the place like you could never understand it by reading a book.

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Photo Friday: outrigger canoe in Papua New Guinea

PHoto Friday outrigger

I took this photo while on a multi-day, 80-kilometer kayaking trip in Papua New Guinea with Australian-owned No Roads Expeditions.

My husband and I and our three teenage daughters paddled alongside the Tigak and Tsoi islands – coral atolls with swaying coconut palms that meander from the main island of New Ireland to the brooding jungle-covered hulk of Lavongai.

One day, I paddled with local guide, Lapin who couldn’t wait to show us his home on Nusakelo. “I love my island – the wide sandy beach, the orchard and vegetable garden, the coral reef,” he says quietly. “Can you believe an American found Nusakelo on Google Maps and tried to buy it for $70,000? We said ‘No.’ because we want to keep it just the way it is.”

Lapin’s relatives arrive in outriggers, painted the same delicate turquoise as the surrounding sea. They brought the day’s catch for our lunch. This photo is of one of their outriggers left on the side of the lagoon.

New Guinea is a surprising place...

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Photo Friday: Rocky Mountaineer Train Vistas through the Canadian Rockies

This view of tranquil Lake Kamloops is just one of the many exquisite views from the Rocky Mountaineer train through Canada's Rocky Mountains

I took this picture for Photo Friday at Lake Kamloops while riding the spectacular Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver in British Columbia to Jasper in Alberta. This privately-owned, daylight-only train adventure offers sensational itineraries through the Canadian Rockies.

It comes from a proud pedigree of two great railways, the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Rail, which played a key role in the settlement of Canada.

The president of Canadian Pacific Rail believed tourism was vital to the railway’s success and he famously said back in the 1880s, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.”

And import them they did with both companies developing grand hotels to entice travellers along their routes. More than 130 years later Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf guests still stay in spiffed-up, Victorian-era edifices like the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge, now all run by the esteemed Canadian hotelier Fairmont.

The be...

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