Monday, 10 December 2018

From A to Zagreb

Zagreb has just about everything!

It may not have an Eiffel Tower, Colosseum or Trafalgar Square, but what the dynamic Croatian capital lacks in monumental icons, it does have a treasure or two of its own - even if they are somewhat quirky, writes John Newton.


Topping the bill is the Museum of Broken Relationships in the city's Upper Town. Dedicated to failed love relationships, the museum's exhibits include personal objects left over from former lovers, along with brief descriptions.

The award-winning museum, founded by two Zagreb-based artists – a film producer and a sculptor - was set up as a travelling collection of donated items, but is now in a permanent city location.

After their four-year love relationship came to an end, the two men joked about setting up a museum to house the left-over personal items. But it was not until three years later when they started asking their friends to donate objects left behind from their break-ups, that the collection came to fruition.

At its core, the museum is described as an ever-growing collection of items, each a memento of a relations past, accompanied by a personal, yet anonymous story of its contributor.

But also in Zagreb, is the unique Mirogoj cemetery, which as well as its historical significance, is considered one of the more noteworthy landmarks to visit, covering 72 hectares (177 acres) just outside the city.

There are more than 350,000 people from all walks of life buried in Mirogoj (meaning peaceful hill) – which is regarded as one of Europe's most beautiful cemeteries.

One minute you'll be looking at a huge statue in memory of a Croatian historical figure and next door is a gravesite of a Jewish family. You will find the graves of Croatia's most noble families, famous writers, poets, composers and architects.

The magnificent cathedral, too, is not without a touch of the unconventional with its casino's chandeliers mixed with so much history, and different artistic styles.

The chandeliers came from the former Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas, which was redecorating while, at the same time, Zagreb Cathedral was struggling with its old lighting system. A Croatian immigrant working at the casino urged his bosses to donate them to the cathedral, which gratefully accepted them.   

Murals or street art is widespread in Zagreb, but it's certainly not frowned upon with commissioned work all over the city, including several adjacent walls of paintings of famous Croatian inventors, such as Slavoljub Eduard Penkala, who invented the first fountain pen and patented the 'hot water bottle'; Nikola Tesla, inventor of the world's first hydro-powered plant at Niagara Falls in 1895; David Schwartz, who invented the first Zeppelin aircraft; and a fingerprint of Ivan Vucetic, who invented the system of identifying people by fingerprints.

Zagreb's first public transport is a 66-metre high ride on a funicular called Uspinjaca. From the main street – Ilica – in lower town, the shortest funicular in the world it takes people to the Baroque upper town to admire the city.

Built in 1890, over an old city vineyard (vines are still growing), it takes just 64 seconds to reach the top, where you can climb the 13th century Lotrscak Tower to watch a canon fired at noon.

From museums and upmarket shops to micro-breweries, ice cream shops and chestnut and corn vendors, it just about has everything. Vincek – the most popular ice cream shop – sells 40 different flavours – the most unusual being pumpkin. Another delicacy found on Ilica is called bajadera – a Croatian delicacy made of praline nougat enriched with almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts.

Zagreb's main form of transport – its steely blue electric trams – run up and down Ilica and to all corners of the city, which boasts 4500 restaurants, cafes and coffee houses with one on almost every street corner, according to my well-informed guide.

At the top end of Ilica, you'll find the 'Zagreb 360 degrees' observation deck from where you get a bird's eye view of the city's commercial hub – Ban Jelacic Square – its busy market and the soaring twin spires of the cathedral – Croatia's tallest building.

Not to be missed is the big, colourful farmers' market – called Dolac – located on a roof terrace above Ban Jelacic Square. It's a beehive of activity from early morning to mid-afternoon flaunting top quality food from all around Croatia, as well as souvenirs – the most popular being shirts of Luca Modric, the Croatian footballer who plays for Real Madrid and just recently won the Ballon d'Or '(Golden Ball') awarded to the male player deemed to have performed the best over the previous year.

For a break from the city, Samobor, a half-hour drive away, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in inland Croatia. It's famous for 'kremsnita' (custard cake) and 'cesnjovka' garlic sausage) – either/or both washed down with bermet – an aperitif made of red wine, spices and fruits – which, according to some documents, was served on the Titanic.


Find out more on Zagreb at:


Words and images: John Newton

Feature supplied by:



1 Ban Jelacic Square (or Zagreb main square)

2 Shortest funicular

3 Fountain pen inventor

4 St Mark Church

5 Chestnut street vendor

6 Modric – best seller

7 Zagreb Cathedral

8 Broken Relationships 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Out Now: New ‘Steam Australia’ book by Tim Fischer

New ‘Steam Australia’ book by Tim Fischer explores the history of locomotives with exclusive images never seen before

What do Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain have in common? They all rode Australia’s steam train network in its heyday—and a new book explores its rich history. In Steam Australia: Locomotives that Galvanised the Nation (NLA Publishing, 1 November, $39.99, ISBN: 9780642279293), author and former deputy prime minister, Tim Fischer, provides a captivating insight into Australia’s locomotive history, illustrated with over 300 images from the National Library of Australia, many of which have never been seen in print before.

Much more than just a listed history, Fischer offers a compelling account of the great tapestry of transport weaved by the steam locomotive in this country. It details how the nation was galvanised by the economic growth steam trains delivered, and shares the stories behind famous named express trains such as Puffing Billy, Robert Gordon Menzies and The Ghan. It also includes a number of fascinating stories such as Albury’s ‘break of gauge’ platform, the Amiens branch line, the ‘garnishee’ order made against the Spirit of Progress, as well as those of important characters such as C.Y. O’Connor and John Whitton.

Deeply visual and well researched, Steam Australia provides a fascinating insight into locomotives and their important part in shaping Australian history.

Tim Fischer entered state parliament in 1971, switched to federal parliament in 1984, and became Nationals leader in 1990 and deputy prime minister in 1996. He was appointed ambassador to the Holy See in 2008, and is now a successful book author. Since travelling to boarding school by steam and diesel trains five decades ago, Tim has maintained a deep interest in transport issues, serving as the transport officer of 1RAR and on many parliamentary committees relating to rail and general transport issues. More recently, he was on the board of FreightLink and also leads rail tours in Australia, Europe, Russia and South Africa.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Banyan Tree: 'Best of Bintan 2019' fine dining teamwork

Tree Tops Restaurant at Banyan Tree Bintan have pleasure in hosting the inaugural "Best of Bintan 2019" Culinary Event on Saturday 19 January 2019.

"Best of Bintan 2019" is a collaboration of the six best chefs from several hotels on Bintan Island, who will present a one-time special degustation dinner comprising a six-course tasting menu, showcasing the best signature dishes from around this unspoilt island in the South China Sea, just an hour by ferry from Singapore. The dinner's main aim is to promote Bintan as a truly world-class culinary destination, incorporating authentic flavours of Indonesia, with innovative flair.

The six passionate Chefs, who will be working side by side to serve a selection of gourmet offerings are: Mr. Yudhistira Angga Tirta, Executive Sous Chef Angsana Bintan; Ms. Ni Luh Ratnawati, Pastry Chef Banyan Tree Bintan; Mr. Adli Nizam, Executive Sous Chef Bintan Lagoon; Mr. Wali Amrullah Abbas, Executive Sous Chef Nirwana, Mr. Singgih Kisworo, Executive Sous Chef The Canopy Bintan and Mr. Lambok, Executive Chef The Residence Bintan.

Look forward to a sensational 6-course dinner featuring local favourites from the Riau Island!

For information and bookings, contact us at


IDR 650.000++ per person – 6-course degustation menu
IDR 1.000.000++per person – 6 course degustation menu with wine pairing

Celebrate the New Year in Ultimate Luxury at Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary

Discover Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary's bespoke wellness retreat and start the New Year in ultimate bliss.

On the tranquil shores of Phuket's Bang Tao Bay, the boutique, adults-only resort sits secluded and enshrined by exotic gardens. With only 12 unique villas available, guests will find themselves surrounded by peaceful lily ponds, with spacious master bedroom villas adorned in pure Thai silks, setting the scene for the ultimate relaxation.

Designed to provide a sanctuary for the senses, enlivening the soul and relaxing the body and the mind, guests can tailor their very own wellness plan to suit their personal goals and improve their overall wellbeing.

Included as part of the Spa Sanctuary experience, guests can indulge in unlimited in-villa massages and can choose from any of the signature spa treatments including:

·      Authentic Thai acupressure
·      Pampering relaxation massage
·      Revitalizing deep tissue massage
·      Detoxifying complete body cleanse
·      Hydrating facial treatments

There are also unlimited wellbeing activities available every day for guests including yoga and pilates classes held by Banyan Tree's in-house experts, seaside treks and sound meditation classes.

Included in each guest's bespoke package is Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary's wellness menu. Serving up a delicious selection of organic dishes with a focus on clean recipes, each meal is carefully designed to nourish the body and the mind.

Travellers will also have the luxury of choosing from the resort's six restaurants and two bars serving the finest food and beverages, or for a more private experience, in-villa dining is also available.

Waste no more time and kick off 2019 in ultimate bliss with a personalised experience at leading boutique wellness retreat Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary.

For more information please call: +66 76 372 400,
email or visit Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

'Indulge Your Senses' at InterContinental Koh Samui

InterContinental Samui Launches The Ultimate Holiday Package: 'Indulge Your Senses'

Four-night+ getaway promotions at Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort

InterContinental Samui is Indulging your Senses this festive season with the ultimate holiday package. Celebrate with your loved ones at the luxury InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort, recently awarded Luxury Wedding Destination: Continent Asia at the World Luxury Hotel Awards.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Enjoy a ‘Cruisey’ Christmas Day on Sydney Harbour

Spend Christmas Day relaxing on Sydney's magnificent Harbour on a Captain Cook Cruises Christmas Day lunch cruise. With no meals to prepare and no washing up to be done,  the whole family can enjoy a stress-free Christmas.

Held on-board the prestigious, MV Sydney 2000, with three separate dining decks and an open top deck offering 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour, choose from three Christmas Day lunch cruises.

The Sky Deck Christmas lunch is the ultimate Christmas Day experience. Soak up the million-dollar views from the uppermost dining deck while enjoying a five-course premium menu and an open bar of superior spirits, premium wines, beers and soft drinks.

The Club Deck lunch offers a fabulous festive Christmas buffet feast including Virginia baked leg ham, roast turkey, Marinated Beef Sirloin, Sydney rock oysters, king prawns, N.Z Mussels, Barramundi, smoked salmon, a wide selection of salads and vegetables, assorted petit cakes, plum pudding and mince pies. The Club Deck lunch also includes a superior selection of wines, beers and soft drinks.

The Show Deck Christmas buffet lunch offers the same expansive feast as the Club Deck with a standard selection of wines, beers and soft drinks.

The MV Sydney 2000 departs 12 noon on Christmas Day, Tuesday 25th December 2018 from No.1 King Street Wharf, returning at 3.00pm.

The Sky Deck Christmas lunch is priced at $259 per adult and $199 per child (4 to 14 years). Guaranteed window seating is an additional $39 per person.

The Club Deck Christmas buffet is priced at $249 per adult and $199 per child. The Show Deck Christmas Buffet is priced at $199 per adult and $155 per child. Guaranteed window seating for Club and Show deck lunches is an additional $25 per person.

For further information and bookings visit: , Digital Link:

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Free wellness program with every Inspiring Villas booking

Thai luxury villa rental company Inspiring Villas is offering all guests a free 4 day wellness program valued at $1000 pp with any Phuket villa stay of 7 nights or more before Easter 2019.

Whether you're travelling with your partner, family or a group, Inspiring Villas will arrange in-villa delivery of private yoga and meditation classes, as well as your chef to prepare cold pressed juices of your choice.

Inspiring Villas spokesperson Richard Saul says, "We found that a lot of our guests were staying at a villa and then heading off to a wellness retreat. We thought, 'Why not combine the two?'

"Large wellness retreats are not for everyone - some people find them too intensive - so this is a way of factoring in some wellness while still spending family time together," says Saul.

With villas located in Koh Samui and Phuket, ranging in size all the way up to 50 guests, Inspiring Villas offer Beachfront villas, Seaview villas, Wedding villas and Large Group villas.

The free wellness programs are delivered by experienced yoga teachers at a time that is suitable to you. Offering Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and mindfulness meditation, you can take your class indoors or head outside to the pool deck or beachfront.

The cold pressed juices are formulated for special health outcomes like rejuvenating your skin, hair and nails, liver cleansing, inflammation reduction and metabolic boosting. All ingredients are locally sourced and freshly prepared.

To book your villa stay with a free wellness program visit

Monday, 12 November 2018

WIN: Discover seven world wonders with Exodus Travels #travelcompetitions

See the World's Wonders Your Way: Win the Ultimate #My7WorldWonders Experience

1 world. 7 adventures. Infinite wonders. Select your personal 7 World Wonders to create the ultimate global adventure video and enter to win 7 trips with Exodus Travels!

Whether it's the Great Pyramid at Giza or the Grand Canyon, for centuries people around the world have argued about which of the most remarkable places on the planet count as the seven world wonders. Exodus Travels is thrilled to kick-off a once-in-a-lifetime contest offering aspiring travellers the chance to see the world's wonders their way.

Exodus Travels is giving travellers the opportunity to choose their own unique list of wonders; travellers can select their personal seven World Wonders to create the ultimate global adventure and enter to win a life-changing, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, instagram-worthy travel experience to see them all.

From being captivated by the Northern Lights dancing over Iceland's snow-capped mountains, spotting India's elusive Bengal Tiger in the wilderness, marveling at the mysterious moai of Easter Island to taking in the history of Cambodia while exploring Angkor Wat's lesser-visited temples – one lucky winner will have the chance to win the ultimate adventure to see all seven of their personal World Wonders on seven awe-inspiring trips with Exodus Travels.

The #My7WorldWonders contest runs from 12 November, 2018 until 15 January, 2019 and is open to residents of Australia and New Zealand.

To enter, simply visit, complete the online entry form by selecting your seven World Wonders from the video content and hit submit. After entering the contest, each entrant will receive a short, personalized video based on the trips that they have selected. Entrants can share their contest video with others for the chance to receive an additional entry if a new user enters using their unique referral link, with up to 50 bonus entries.

The winners will be randomly selected on 17, January 2019.

Terms & Conditions: The contest is open to all legal residents of Australia and New Zealand who have reached the age of majority in their province/territory of residence at the time of entry.* There will be one winner from Australia and New Zealand.

*For more Terms & Conditions, visit:

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Discover magazine out now - just in time for summer

The fabulous new issue of Travellers Choice DISCOVER is out now in both print and e-magazine.

click to open e-mag online

Whether you are cruising, flying or looking for great vacation inspiration, you'll find it at your Travellers Choice agent.

Read it here online or visit your local Travellers Choice agent for a take-home hardcopy in good old-fashioned glossy paper.

PLUS you could win $2000 of Qantas credit just for booking your domestic flight with Travellers' Choice

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Ecruising's Golden Indian Journey & The Far East

From the jungles of India's Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to cosmopolitan Singapore, Ecruising's 28-night Golden Indian Journey & the Far East is a chance to experience some of the Sub-Continent and Southeast Asia's most intriguing destinations.

Kicking off in India's capital, Delhi on 19 November 2019, your first eight days will be spent exploring all the colour, history, culture, cuisine and wildlife of one of the world's most fascinating countries. All the iconic attractions in northern India are included – Old and New Delhi; the impressive Agra Fort and Taj Mahal; the legendary Pink City of Jaipur with its famed Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds; the 500 year old hilltop fortress of Amber; the 16th century historical town of Fatehpur Sikri built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar; and an exciting safari in search of the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Prepare to be amazed by vibrant bazaars, awe-inspiring monuments, famous landmarks and prime tiger viewing territory, all while receiving Ecruising's customary service and style and some of the country's finest hotels and resorts including Le Meridien in Delhi, Ranthambore's Juna Mahal and The Trident hotels in Jaipur and Agra. Land transport is in comfort via air-conditioned train and vehicles, and there are expert private guides on hand to bring your journey to life every step of the way.

On 26 November, the next exciting phase of your itinerary begins with a flight to Dubai from Delhi where you'll spend two nights in the celebrated Raffles Dubai, a stunning landmark on Dubai's skyline inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt. Here, shopaholics will have an opportunity to indulge in the City's legendary shops and bazaars, while culture buffs can enjoy a half day heritage tour of Old Dubai, before embarking on a 17-night cruise to Singapore on board the spectacular Norwegian Jade.

From the modern marvels of Dubai to the bustling metropolis of Singapore, cruise highlights include stops at the Goan port of Mormugao in India's south and chance to dip into the region's natural beauty with a day of sun, sand and spices, snorkelling off one of the expansive beaches or touring a local spice farm; the Maldives' capital MalĂ©, famous for its mosques and colourful buildings; and the Sri Lankan city of Colombo, with its eclectic cross-section of Buddhist temples, bustling street markets and scenic ocean views. An overnight stay in Phuket in Thailand is a chance to discover the resort city's many facets, from hiking in the breathtaking Ao Phang Nga National Park, lounging beachside or touring its impressive temples, while a day in Georgetown in Malaysia's Penang is an opportunity to savour some of Asia's best street food – the famed Nonya and Peranakan cuisine, and immerse yourself in the city's impressive colonial heritage.

Arriving in Singapore on 15 December, your last two nights will be spent at the charming Fullerton Hotel Singapore, where you can undertake a little last-minute Christmas shopping and indulge in the delicious Hawker food for which the city is rightly famous, before departing on your homeward flight on 17 December 2019.

Departing on 19 November 2019, prices for Ecruising's Golden Indian Journey & The Far East itinerary start from $8,459 per person twin share, including all accommodation, return international economy class airfares from Australia, train fares from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur, all meals on board Norwegian Jade, inland transfers and baggage handling, as well as airport transfers with staff assistance.

Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information about the cruise and Ecruising please visit: or phone 1300 369 848.

Book Your Travel with Wego