I don’t normally take package holidays, but I got a great deal from Abu Dhabi to Belgrade on Air Serbia, booking via Etihad, that took me to the Serbian capital for five nights in a four-star hotel for around US$1000.
Here are a few sights I saw along the way. Much of the city betrays austerity and the ravages of war, but if you’re interested in the murals and funky cafes, head for the Bohemian Quarter.
SeaWorld in the United States has come under a lot of pressure from animal activists recently over its treatment of ocean mammals.
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.
Among the first was Family Ties, then (albeit in the realm of animation) came The Simpsons, then Oprah, and Ellen, then Modern Family. Now another American television show is to have some “special” episodes set in Australia.
And if the names Brooke, Eric, Ivy, Quinn and Ridge ring a bell with you, you’ll know which one I’m talking about.
It continues to amaze me that so many people who work in the hospitality industry don’t understand the basic rules of hygiene I learned as a child.
And how, despite millennia of experience in creating public buildings, and decades of public-health research, many restrooms (bathrooms, toilets, WCs … call them what you will) are still badly designed from a hygiene point of view.
Despite the fact that more and more people remain, or become, single well into their adult years, most travel deals are still offered on a per-person, twin-share basis.
Quite often, that fact is buried deep into the fine print on the brochure or website, and many people have begun the booking process to find that that bargain journey is only going to be a bargain if they can find a friend.
Smart gates at airports — designed to allow passengers to get out into the arrivals hall as quickly as possible by self-scanning their passports rather than queuing to see an immigration official — may seem like new technology. But the fact is that Australia already has plans to phase them out.
Don’t panic. It’s all good. They will be replaced by even newer tech that promises to make life easier for frequent travellers.
Christmas markets, Christmas lunches, Christmas shopping … it’s all happening, and not just in traditionally Christian countries.
Not long after I moved to Abu Dhabi, somebody sneered on social media about “politically correct” Britain, where some councils had (allegedly) banned Christmas, and then added for good measure: “I bet you’re not allowed to celebrate it in the UAE, either.”
Marine life conservation will be a priority at the new SeaWorld on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2022.
The park, a joint venture between the American company and the UAE’s Miral Asset Management, will join a growing number of attractions on the island, which is already home to a Formula 1 race track, concert arena, water theme park and an attraction devoted to Ferrari vehicles.
Mohamed Al Zaabi, chief executive of Miral, said there would be a strong emphasis on rescue and rehabilitation of marine life.
The northern winter really is a good time to visit the United Arab Emirates. Few people may think of greenery and flowers when they think about the desert, but — thanks to the hard work of dedicated gardeners — it really does bloom at this time of year.
Here are some pictures I’ve taken in Abu Dhabi over the past few days.
P&O Cruises, Holland America and Cunard have ditched ports in Turkey from their 2017 itineraries, replacing them with destinations in Greece and Albania.
This is a great shame, both for the Turkish economy and for the travellers who will miss out on great destinations such as Istanbul — with the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and other attractions — and the ancient Greek-Roman city of Ephesus.
Do you remember your first kiss? Or the thrill you got from doing something a little naughty when the grownups weren’t watching? Or the rush you received from your first roller-coaster ride? Of course you do.
It may have happened a long time ago, and it was over in seconds, but you’ll never forget it. And every time you remember it, it makes you feel happy and good about yourself.