When will I see you again?

As I’ve noted here before, I am moving on. Even though I don’t know exactly when I will leave Abu Dhabi, which has been home base and starting point for my many travels for the past five years, every day that passes means I will be here one day less. Almost certainly, I will be gone within four weeks.

A toast to friendship!

Even so, it was a surprise today when one of my colleagues, who will be on holidays in the week I will probably leave, said to me: “Do you think we will ever see each other again?”

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Clearing the clutter

My name in Brett and I am a hoarder. I hate to let things go. And at the moment I’m having a minor crisis as I force myself to throw out things I know I’ll never need again but I can’t bear to part with.

To keep or not to keep?

And this is just the start. Once I reduce my possessions in Abu Dhabi to two suitcases and a carry-on bag, I will be back in Australia trying to pare down the accumulations of my entire existence into a manageable amount.

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Suite dreams at sea

My motto for all travel is to do what you can comfortably afford to do. As I’ve written, if you want to fly business- or first-class, and you have the money to do it, don’t let anybody persuade you otherwise.

First-class cabin on the Titanic (origin unknown)

The difference between business and economy class on a plane — especially on long-haul flights — is painfully obvious. That is, the ever-more-cramped economy-class seats will induce pain; the lie-flat options up front will not. Continue reading Suite dreams at sea

The art of moving on

With just over a month to go before I vacate my flat in Abu Dhabi, I’ve begun the job of sorting through the stuff I’ve accumulated over the past five years of my life.

The sun is setting on my Abu Dhabi adventure

I’m a sentimental person and I do find it hard to part company with possessions, especially those with memories attached. The problem is that everything I have evokes some kind of emotion. So I’ve decided to be ruthless. More or less.

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A dummy’s guide to travel

I recently read an online guide to budget travel that really got my goat*, as my granny used to say.

Spending more is sometimes worth it

It also got me thinking about all the bad travel advice I’ve read online, and how some of it ought to be challenged. Which is what I’m about to do.

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BA flight caught short

The longest flight delay I have ever experienced* is 11 hours — waiting for a charter jet to take me from Glasgow to Malaga for a package holiday on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

A British Airways Boeing 777-200 (ba.com)

The reason given was urgent repairs to the plane — which, to be honest, is fairly compelling and mitigates the boredom of being stuck at Glasgow airport for half a day. I’m not so sure how I would’ve reacted if the reason was that they forgot to load the toilet paper.

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Qantas unveils Brisbane lounge

Some travel news from my home town: Qantas has released details, and images, of its new business lounge at Brisbane international airport.

The lounge, which will open in October, will be the first of several new facilities the national carrier will open at Brisbane Airport as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade this year, according to Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans.

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Magical, mysterious Macau

Macau has become a magnet for mainland Chinese and other gamblers in recent years, but to think of it as the Las Vegas of South East Asia would be doing it a great disservice.

Sao Paulo cathedral ruins

The former Portuguese colony about an hour by boat from Hong Kong has its own unique cultural flavour — a potent blend of East and West that can be alluring even for those who are not interested in playing the tables or the machines. Continue reading Magical, mysterious Macau

Petra: the jewel of Jordan

The ancient “rose city” of Petra, in Jordan, is on many a bucket list, and for good reason.

The remnants of a 2,300-year-old civilisation include the ornate Treasury (Al Khazneh), which is carved into solid sandstone. Take a moment, or more, to contemplate the artistry and sheer effort involved in achieving that without the machinery or technology we have today.

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We want affordable wi-fi!

There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.

It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).

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Is the ‘Trump slump’ real?

Like much of the news coming out of America these days, it’s a matter of claim and counter claim.

But respected travel writer Arthur Frommer has joined those who say the “Trump slump” — a large decline in the number of foreign tourists coming to America — is real, and it’s putting the jobs of those in the tourist industry at risk.

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Gratuitous advice about tipping

Tipping is a way of life in some parts of the world, and something to be avoided in other places. Travellers soon learn whether they need to tip or not.

Do you need to tip on ships?

But it’s on the high seas where things get confusing. Cruise holidays bring together passengers from all parts of the world, and there is often no consensus about how much, or even whether, they should tip.

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It’s not all smooth sailing

I love to cruise. I’ve averaged three cruises a year for the past four years, and I’ve been to some fabulous places on some wonderful ships.

But, as with all experiences in life, things don’t always go smoothly. So, here I’m listing some of the things I wish were different about cruise ships in general and about experiences that I’ve had in particular.

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Secrets of the sea

One of my favourite activities onboard a cruise ship is the question-and-answer session with the captain and senior officers. Not every cruise line does it, but Royal Caribbean does on at least some of its ships, and it’s called Captain’s Corner.

On my cruise aboard Vision of the Seas, I learned — or was reminded of — quite a few “fun facts” about that particular ship and cruising in general in a session hosted by Captain Marek Slaby.

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World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

Zurich, Switzerland, is the most expensive place on Earth for tourists, according to research by airport transfer company Hoppa.

Sofia (bulgariatravel.org)

And the cheapest of 84 cities rated is Sofia in Bulgaria. The survey threw up quite a few surprises.

Continue reading World’s cheapest, and dearest, cities

This is not a drill

Regular cruise-ship passengers, like frequent flyers, often dread the safety demonstration. Maybe they hope that something interesting will happen to spice up a dull first-day routine.

Majesty of the Seas (royalcaribbean.com)

If the 2,515 passengers onboard the Majesty of the Seas on Monday thought this way, then they got more than they bargained for.

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The Sea World debate

SeaWorld in the United States has come under a lot of pressure from animal activists recently over its treatment of ocean mammals.

(seaworld.com.au)

The criticism has led to drop in attendance, some changes in practices at its parks in Orlando and San Diego, and a commitment that the company’s new park in the UAE would focus on education, rescue and rehabilitation.

But in Australia, the public mood seems quite different.

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