THE BASQUE COAST
The Côte Basque is a colourful mix of history, people and cultures where old-fashioned elegance tangles with surfer culture, all with such joie de vivre, as JOY DODDS discovered. On France’s Basque Coast, north of Spain, the Pyrénées plunge into the Bay of Biscay, such ruggedness giving the area its exotic character – a mix of resort and sanctuary, sophistication and charm. Whales were the first sea bathers at Biarritz, not the elegant femmes of the 19th century and today’s surfers.
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ORVIETO – SLOW CITY ON THE ROCKS: Orvieto’s tufo and labyrinth of caves have shaped its independent identity, its Etruscan altars and relics – and the character of a renowned white wine, writes JOY DODDS.
TAKE A NIGHT RIDE: With a Eurail Pass, rail travel is convenient and economical. What’s more, travelling on night trains makes a great alternative to costly hotels. JOY DODDS reports. Train travel throughout Europe is a breeze with comprehensive rail networks, covering legendary scenic routes and high-speed/express trains that are efficient and affordable.
CAPTURED WW1 GERMAN TANK ON EXHIBITION: MEPHISTO is a German A7V tank captured by the 26th Battalion of the Australian Infantry Forces in 1918. One of only 20 originally manufactured, this rare tank is the only surviving one of its kind. Come to Canberra and visit Mephisto at the Australian War Memorial from 27 July, 2015.
SPARTA'S PAST NOT TO BE MYTH-ED: JOY DODDS discovers a seamless blend of the ancient and modern in Historic Greece. SPARTA – the very name epitomises Homeric daring, valour and resilience. But what of today’s Sparta? Its setting is just as dramatic as its past, broodingly located among the high mountains and deep gorges of the Greek Peloponnesus.
THE CALM BEFORE THE VOYAGE: It's 11pm on the Chinese Lunar New Year and the competent, friendly staff of the Mercure Sydney International Airport Hotel are checking in some late arrivals.
BLACK SEA CRUISING: LOOKING or a cruise with a difference? The Black Sea is one of cruising's best-kept secrets, a perfect antidote to the increasingly overcrowded Caribbean and Mediterranean, writes JOY DODDS. The Black Sea laps up against Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, land is inked to the Aegean/Mediterranean by the Bosphorus.
CULTURE
PRINCELY POSTAGE STAMP - MONACO: The tiny principality of Monaco celebrates its patron day on January 27, symbolically with a blessing of the sea and a fishing boat - and loads of colour and music.
LIGHT-FILLED COASTAL ART ENCLAVE - ANTIBES-JUAN-LES-PINS: ANTIBES JUAN-LES-PINS is a more reticent jewel that sparkles on France's rather glitzy Cote d'Azur, writes JOY DODDS.
CARIBBEAN MAGIC - CUBA: THERE is nowhere quite like Cuba. The island pulsates with energy – in its Old World Spanish traditions, its music, its dance and its outdoor adventure. JOY DODDS reports.
BORDEAUX - GLOBAL WINE CAPITAL: Aquitaine’s elegant capital offers UNESCO World Heritage, a ravishing facelift – and grapes, as JOY DODDS discovered.
JAKARTA'S OLD BATAVIA: Indonesia is increasingly the flavour of the month with Australian tourists, more than one million of us having visited , a 266% increase, in 2013-14.
NEW DANUBE FRONTIERS: Cruising the Danube has taken on a new dimension, extending beyond Hungary’s Budapest into Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. JOY DODDS reports.
WORLD HERITAGE ISLAND ESCAPE: FRASER Island is the world's largest sand island - with adventures that come in bucketloads.
ANGKOR AWAY: The Mekong is real life – its banks stacked with visual delights from floating villages and longboats to serene temples and orange-clad monks. JOY DODDS reports.
VENICE OF THE NORTH: THE former capital of Russia, St Petersburg is unlike any other Russian city and a historic and cultural gem. JOY DODDS reports.
UPPER LACHLAN TRIANGLE: LESS than an hour’s drive from Canberra, this triangle of fertile rural land, bounded by Yass, Gunning and Crookwell, is steeped in history and physical beauty.
THE RESIDENCES IN CENTENNIAL PARK: WIN a night's accommodation in Sydney's favourite playground, Centennial Park - with the grounds to yourself.
BERLIN - WORLD WITHOUT WALLS: CELEBRATE with locals the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall amid fascinating memorials to the struggle. JOY DODDS reports.
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