A friend and I are in our 60s and travelling to Brisbane. We'd like some reasonably priced central accommodation so that we can walk and commute easily. We're happy to be in a backpackers if its clean and reasonably quiet. We enjoy nature, gardens, scenery at its best. What are our must-do activities?
I've asked my contact at Booking.com and she had a few suggestions for good quality hotels that are also good value. I'll list them below.
Meriton Service Apartments, Herschel Street: The hotel is located in the rich history northern quarter of Brisbane. Prices start from $148 per night.
Oaks Aurora: Central, with rooms starting from $151 per night and balconies overlooking the river. Queen St pedestrian mall is only five minutes' walk away.
Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane Anzac Square: Situated in the heart of Brisbane, opposite Central Station. Prices start from $209 per night.
As far as activities, the Botanic Gardens are a must and free guided tours are available twice a day. Be sure to take a stroll along the South Bank district of Brisbane River and visit the Parklands, which feature rainforest plants, restaurants, shops and the riverfront promenade. You could also take a cruise down the Brisbane River for a unique experience and great views.
We are planning a trip to Europe via Istanbul in late July. No leaving date yet. On our way over we want to do a tour of Gallipoli. We have no time limit on days at this stage but do need to be in Frankfurt on July 31. Can you suggest the most suitable tours for New Zealanders?
As you may be aware by now, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have issued a travel warning for Kiwis travelling to Gallipoli for Anzac Day - it's advising travellers to spend minimal time in the biggest Turkish cities, Ankara and Istanbul.
All of that considered, Steve Parsons of House of Travel in Palmerston North, who has a passion for battlefield tours and family history dating back to World War I, has some helpful suggestions.
"Plan and understand the history and the peninsula will pay you back many fold," he says.
While most customers go for a short one to two day itinerary, he recommends three to four days to understand the total Gallipoli story, including the British and French main attack from the southern point on the Peninsula, Cape Helles, the landings at what is now known as Anzac Cove and what confronted them.
He notes that Anzac Cove is a five hour drive from Istanbul, so it's definitely not a day trip.
Arriving via Frankfurt gives you easy access to various places in Europe, including Istanbul. Steve suggests flying to Athens on an airline for best choice and value and then doing a bit of island hopping, including Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and Santorini. After that, fly back to Athens and enter Kusadasi by a short ferry ride.
However, House of Travel is advising against travel to key areas in Turkey, unless Mfat revisit its high risk rating for Turkey.
I had a couple of responses to the question about flight times answered by my own anonymous pilot. In fact, another anonymous pilot, a Boeing 777 flier, got in touch to tell me my guy "doesn't know what he's talking about".
So here is his opinion on the matter:
"These days, flights are planned taking into account headwinds and tail winds. Going to Perth the route with the lowest headwinds is used going over and the strongest tail winds are used coming back. This route varies significantly from one day to the next. Westerlies are the predominant winds hence its longer to fly over than back-generally
"Going to LAX for instance there is no set route. Once again the computerised flight planning system chooses the best route for fuel/time using the latest winds.
"During flight a new flight plan can be uploaded via satellite comms if the most up to date winds show that savings can be made. This is initiated by the airlines flight planners.
"Sometimes we fly in a straight line but generally the route varies either side of a straight line."
Janet Cross also got in touch to recommend in Mark Vanhoenacker's 2015 book Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot. "Flying from pre-takeoff to post-landing will never be the same routine time again after reading this. Reassuring, instructive and fascinating at every level. There are copies in Auckland Public Libraries."