Monday, 30 March 2009

Not just an AFL football stadium

Your FREE travel briefs for w/c March 30 2009-03-27 


By John Crook 

Gallipoli and the Danube

A tour package from Istanbul to Budapest offers the opportunity to be part of the moving Anzac Day dawn service, along with an eight-night river-cruise, aboard m.s. Amalyra from Rousse in Bulgaria to Budapest.  This tour also includes a return flight from East coast Australian capitals and Adelaide. The 14-day package is priced from $4,695 per person, twin share. It would be a wise move to check out the package, by visiting or telephone 1300 88 99 53. 

Not just an AFL football stadium

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates is doing much more than putting its name and logo on what was once Telstra Dome.  The  airline has some jolly good deals at the moment.  Take Switzerland for example. Geneva, Zurich and the other magical towns and cities of that country, can now be visited by flying Etihad with return fares to Geneva from $1,863 from Sydney, $1,825 from Melbourne and $1,861 from Brisbane. Get the full story by calling 1800 998 995 or visit  

Good Lourdes

There's a terrific two-day package via return TGV Atlantique train from Paris to the Christian pilgrimage market town of Lourdes in southern France, with departures from Paris each Wednesday from April 8 to October 21, 2009.  The package includes pre-arranged second class rail, accommodation in Lourdes, one breakfast and one dinner.  There are two transfers also included. Get the facts by visiting or telephone 1300 558 987. 

A private tour of France

Mount your own private Tour de France with some wonderful self-guided cycling tours.   Set your own pace, stay at pre-arranged accommodation and forget the luggage as the organisers look after that.  The tours range from four to eight days.  The Burgundy leg  is a four-day experience, priced from $1658 per person, twin share. And based in a four-star chateau.  

The tour package includes cycle hire, accommodation, daily breakfasts, maps and instructions.  Make contact with French Connection at 1300 858 304, or pay a visit to  

Remember to do it before April 15

South America is calling and to help you along the way LAN Airlines has some  last minute return airfares  to Santiago, starting from $799 plus taxes ,- that is if bookings are made prior to  April 15.  Travel must be taken before August 31 2009. For information and bookings contact or 1330 363 055. 

Anyone for a laugh.

If you have a keen sense of humour, you should get a laugh and a giggle at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  Log onto and take a looksee at some of the accommodation packages.  The Intercontinental Melbourne, in the heart of the city, offers accommodation, breakfast and valet parking from $269 per room, per night.  Or, try Citigate Melbourne with standard rooms available from $149 per room per night.  Bookings via the hotel hotline 1800 005 125.

One of my favourites

Love that Daydream Island. To sample what's on offer on this magical island, get there over Easter with the special package or that period.  It offers 4.5 star luxury, a buffet breakfast daily, return Fantasea cruise transfers, one $20 spa voucher per room per stay and one $30 food and beverage voucher per room per stay.  The package costs $278 per room per night and a four-night stay applies.  Rooms sleep up to four people with children using existing bedding Telephone 1800 075 040 or visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Blockout periods may apply.   

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Monday, 23 March 2009



By John Crook 


Catch the English chasing after a wheel of cheese at their special festival in the Cotswolds on May 25. Thousands of wacky English folk race down Cooper's Hill Gloucester. There's a one-day package priced from $149 per person ex London by coach.  The package is on sale until April 13, 2009.  International airfares to London are additional.  Telephone 1300 554 175 for more details. 

Tauck World Discoveries offers savings for partners and singles, of up to  US$520 per couple on all Yellow Roads of Europe land journeys and up to US$580 per couple on selected Canadian Rockies tours. Single travellers can look forward to dollar savings  per cabin, or waived single supplements on selected European river cruises.  It could pay you to check on the whole range of savings currently on offer.  Take a look at or telephone 1300 766 566. 


The Melbourne Theatre Company is one of the nation's most prolific producers of live theatre. 'Realism' is the play to jot in your little  black book.  It is a backyard farce set in the 1930's, just after the Stalin terror purges.   It stars Miriam Margolyse  (veteran of stage and screen) and is a must for travellers who may be in the southern city over the next few weeks.  Check or contact Ticketmaster 1300 723 038. 


Make a booking at Mantra Kooindah Waters Golf and Spa Resort, Wyong  (prior to  April 30 2009), and travel from April 1 to September 30 and you'll pay from $208 per room per night for a three-night stay package, but in actual fact only pay for two nights.  Similar savings may be made at Mantra Aqua, Nelson Bay.  By calling 13 15  17 or visiting you may also come across some other big savers at Mantra properties. Check on the conditions.


Forget all the doom and gloom.  Here's a recession buster.  Book the rate-of-the-day at Ibis and you'll get a full buffet breakfast for just $1 per person.  Ibis is also offering an advance-purchase budget saver for Autumn months at a special $99 rate at all Ibis hotels when you book 30 days in advance.  The offer is for May and June 2009 and is a per room/per night rate for up to two people.  Do check it out by calling 1300 65 65 65, or take a look at  


The new Queen Elizabeth enters service in October 2010.  As from April 2 this year, her first six voyages are open for sale.  The October 12 2010 maiden voyage is a 13-night  journey taking in the Atlantic Isles  at Vigo, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gran Canaria,  Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira, with fares from A$3609 per person twin share.   For inclusions please check with your local travel agent or contact Cunard on 13 24 41 or visit    


Check into the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth for six-nights and the package includes two tickets to the Royal Easter Show (valued at $32 per adult) and transfers.    Room prices start from AU$224 per night, twin share and a minimum of four night stay. For the package details, availabilities and to book, contact (02) 9230 0700  or visit   

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  The information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agent. 

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Monday, 16 March 2009

Walk this way


By John Crook 

Walk this way

Alexander the Great walked 3200 km across Turkey.  You can do likewise, although in greater ease and comfort, across land and sea with up to 15 other adventurers.  Instead of Alexander, let's call him Peter Sommer, the British archaeologist  and documentary maker who has launched an introductory offer for Australians.  The special from Peter Sommer Travels is an offer of $250 pp on all one-week tours and a $450 pp saving on all two-week tours,- when booked by July 1 2009. For the full story visit the website  

Good Queen Mary

She's back!  You can sail on Queen Mary 2 when she departs Sydney for Capetown. March 8, 2010 is the date to remember. The cruise includes the ports of Adelaide, Fremantle, Port Louise-Mauritius and Durban.  Inside staterooms are available from $5,669 per person, twin share.  The deal is valid for sale until April 30 2009.  To check on what's included and what's not, telephone 1300 769 228. 

Walking the footsteps of St Paul

David and Robyn Claydon, with heaps of experience in the Middle East head off on a 22-day tour into the very birthplace of Christianity.  Travel through the Middle East, Turkey and Greece.  Prices including early-bird  discounts (bookings and part payment before March 30 2009) start from $10,199 pp twin share with return airfare ex Brisbane, Adelaide or Melbourne, hotel accommodation, meals and entrance fees as per the printed itinerary.  For a copy and more information telephone Wye and James Travel Associates on 1800 111 238. 

Pampering ?  Yes please …..

Australian clients are well catered for when it comes to sailing the seas aboard SeaDream II which carries just 56 couples. The packages commences in Venice on September 14 this year with two nights at the 5-star San Clemente Palace Hotel, ten nights aboard SeaDream II sailing to Croatia, through the Greek Islands and then Turkey to Athens and two nights at the 5-star Grande Bretagne .  Heck, this is sheer luxury and with bookings before March 31 for travel in September this year, save around 50% of the original price. Worth a phone call for sure.  Try 1800 428 105 or visit for the inclusions/exclusions and conditions.  I personally reckon this is the best deal around. 

Guys and Dolls

Melbourne loved it and now it's Sydney's turn with Guys and Dolls hitting the Capitol Theatre stage in Haymarket.  The deal from Sofitel is a real five-star job.  Priced from $242 per person twin share, that includes a night at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney, a premium A-reserve ticket and laughs galore.  It's a fantastic show, but it runs for a strictly limited season until May 1 2009.   Call Showbiz on 1300 306 342 

Victoria is open for business

Open again for business post-bushfires are the holiday highspots of Victoria.  Thousands of telephone queries have been flooding into Victorian holiday locations.  A recap sees the town of Bright,. Mount Beauty, Harrietville, Myrtelford, Porepunkah and Dinner Plain.  They're open !  So too is Mount Buffalo and the Alpine National Parks.  The Great Ocean Road is open and safe to drive on   Email  or ring 1800 331 582 for the latest information.  Those Victorians will love you for visiting.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Early birds be aware

Your FREE travel briefs – w/c March 9th 2009 


By John Crook 


Rather than taking the road route, instead join the happy folk aboard the luxury Costa Classica and its 17-night fly, cruise and stay package. has packages from just $3299 per person, twin share.   The sailing is from October 10 this year. The package includes hotel accommodation in Nagasaki and Tokyo, Shanghai and also Hong Kong, plus of course the thrill of experiencing life aboard the 53,000 tonne ship.  All onboard dining and entertainment are included.  There's a two-deck theatre, casino and a daytime observatory which becomes a disco by night.   Telephone 1300 369 848 or check  

How about spending a week with a family in Antigua and in that time do one salsa dance class along with  some cultural activities.  This is a perfect add-on for those who are travelling South America.  The price is from $540 per person twin share, staying with a Guatemalan family.  International airfares are not included.  The courses start each Monday.   Check out the conditions and the inclusions by ringing 1300 554 175 or visit   


Balmy breezes, gourmet food, a touch of 'culshure', then it must be Vanuatu.  This is the overseas holiday option without the over-the-top price tag.  Here's news of a seven nights for the price of six at Poppy's on the Lagoon.  Check conditions and the full package prices ex your capital city by visiting  


Possibly one of the best value day-out discovery passes is that which is offered by Sydney Wild Life World and Sydney Aquarium.  For kids, the March only price is  $19.95 and for adults $29.95. Located next to each other,the combined promotion makes for a value packed family event.   
To purchase, the best value day discovery pass, download the voucher at  and present the voucher at the ticket office.  Remember this is a March 2009 only offer. 

Early birds be aware

One of the best value offers for self-driving in Europe comes from Renault Eurodrive.  Savings and bonus offers could save hundreds of dollars.  Book and pay before March 31 2009, collect your vehicle any time up to December 31 this year and you could be eligible to receive seven free days additional leasing with 21-day bookings.  Also included is  free delivery and return in 20 French centres.  Check the super value offer and upgrades which could be yours.  It will be worth the telephone call, - 1300 55 11 60 or visit  

Solo traveller deals Aussie holidays

There are some half-price single supplements for solo travellers on some APT Cape York, Western Australian and Great Barrier Reef holidays.   I suggest you make the call to 1300 656 085 to check on the savings,- which I believe to be quite substantial.    The Cape York holiday starts and ends in Cairns, the WA package starts in Perth and ends in Darwin and the  Barrier Reef package starts in Sydney and ends in Cairns.  Air fares are not included in the prices.  Take a look at  or call 1300 656 985. 

Sail a square-rigged ship

Join the crew of an authentic sailing ship, departing Sydney for Auckland November 9th, 2009.  A journey of romance, action and adventure offered at the inclusive cost of $3630 per person, with all meals on-board, excursions and activities.    You become a crew member setting sail through Sydney Harbour, crossing the Tasman to New Zealand.  Airfares not included.  Check the full details, inclusions and conditions by visiting  or telephone 1800 331 582.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.   

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Monday, 2 March 2009

Monaco here we come

Travel Briefs for week commencing March 2nd 2009. 


By John Crook 

Italy boutique style

Family-owned operators in Italy understand the problems associated with the Aussie dollar as against the Euro, so these suppliers have thrown out the welcome mat Italian-style for those who book a three-week tour of Umbria and Tuscany.  Costs are kept competitive with such decisions as spending a week at a time in each of three major centres, rather than moving on each night.  These tours are worthy of consideration, so get the facts and the prices  by ringing (07) 3396 8652 or visiting  

Recession fighter

Thanks to SeaSA which has slashed ferry fares to half price on all cars, motorbikes, caravans, trailers and motor homes crossing Spencer Gulf.  You just need to be travelling  on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The  mid-week 'recession buster'  is available until May 1 2009.  The offer is available for full-fare paying customers.   Advance bookings need to be made  at least one day before travel.  Telephone (08) 8823 0777.     Conditions apply. 

Shongololo discounts

Lovers of rail travel should be pleased to learn that there a 10% discount on selected journeys of South Africa's Shongololo  railway's 16-day journeys between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls and Johannesburg and Cape Town.  So whether it be the Southern Cross adventure tour to Victoria Falls, or the Good Hope adventure to Cape Town, prices have been reduced.  The deals are for ten journeys departing up to December 21 2009.  Get the facts by telephoning 1300 363 055. or visit  

Monaco here we come

The film stars head to Cannes in May and with Windstar's 8-day Nice round trip on msy Wind Surf, you too can share in all the glamour of the film festival.   The package includes two days and a night in Cannes and three days and a night in Monaco for the Grand Prix.  Departing Nice on May 17 you get to experience two of the world's most celebrated events.  Call into San Tropez, the Italian Riviera, in addition to Cannes and Monte Carlo.   

It's class all the way,- mixing it with the 'beautiful people'.   Prices and conditions are available by checking or calling 1300 766 566. 

The King and I

The musical which once was banned in Thailand again makes it to the stage.  This time in London, at the Royal Albert Hall. It is playing in June. The Red Carnation's super luxurious Milestone Hotel, within walking distance of the Royal Albert, offers its King and I package from £509 per room per night.  That includes a regal pre-show three-course dinner for two in Chenestons Restaurant, two tickets to the King and I, a dessert and liqueur served on your return, a full English breakfast, in bed!  There's more too, so get the facts  

If it's Easter it must be Werribee Park

A rather special accommodation package awaits at the Werribee Park Mansion Hotel and Spa, 30 minutes drive from Melbourne.  From just $99 per person, twin share, the package includes overnight accommodation at the luxurious hotel, a full buffet breakfast in Joseph's Restaurant,  Sofitel 'strawbettes', a complimentary wine tasting at Shadowfax Winery, and a self guided tours of the lavishly restored historic mansion and the Werribee Park sculpture walk. The deal is valid from 1 – 30 April 2009.   Email   or ring (03) 9731 4000. 

Overlooking Koombana Bay

On West Australia's south west coast is Mantra Bunbury,- so close to Ferguson wine country.  Situated right in the heart of the heritage listed precinct, handy to restaurants, cafes and bars, it has opening specials  from $157 per room per night.    Stylish studio apartments feature lounge and dining areas, kitchenettes  and of course broadband, cable TV and in-house movies.  Valid to 31 August, 2009.  Check it out by visiting or 'phone (08) 9721 0100.  

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on