Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard

Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard
Great Eastern Wine Week, 9-18 September 2022

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Take public transport anywhere in the country for €9 a month



Be quick.

Until the end of this month visitors to Germany can pay a one-off €9 ($13) fee and travel anywhere in the country by public transport.

One fee. Unlimited trips.

And Germany’s €9 a month rail passes have proved so successful the government is under pressure to extend the scheme it introduced in June but finishes at the end of August.

The heavily subsidised pass grants all German residents and visitors unlimited travel on regional transport.

The pass entitles the user to travel on buses, U-Bahns, S-Bahns, trams and local and regional trains for one calendar month but does not include high--speed long-distance trains like the IC or ICE.

The current pass has led to a drop in congestion on roads in 23 out of 26 cities examined as part of a preliminary analysis by traffic data specialist Tomtom for the German Press Agency last month.

Around 21 million of the €9 tickets were sold in June alone, Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) figures showed. That’s on top of the roughly 10 million subscribers who automatically received the discounted ticket.



Film festival gets a little added Italian fizz

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore, the Italian wine brand will be the official Gold Partner of the 2022 St Ali Italian Film Festival taking place nationally from September 13-October 16.

One of the largest celebrations of Italian cinema outside of Italy, the film festival will present Italian blockbusters and classics on the big screen. 

Throughout the festival partnership, Santa Margherita will pay homage to the first Prosecco Superiore made in 1952 by Santa Margherita in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (where I happened to visit last month). 

Cinemagoers attending opening nights across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will experience a pop-up bar experience from Santa Margherita. 

"The 70th anniversary of the Prosecco Superiore is a momentous occasion for Santa Margherita," said brand ambassador Erika Gallon. "We can’t wait to transport cinema goers to the world of Italy and experience the la dolce vita way of life.”

Which may just be gilding the lily a little bit. 

2022 dates and locations

Sydney September 13 - October 12: Palace Norton | Palace Verona | Chauvel Cinemas | Palace Central

Canberra September 14 - October 12: Palace Electric

Melbourne September 15 - October 12: Palace Balwyn | Palace Brighton Bay | Palace Cinema Como | Palace Westgarth | The Kino | The Astor | Pentridge Cinemas | Cinema Nova

Adelaide September 21 - October 16: Palace Nova Eastend | Palace Nova Prospect

Perth September 22 - October 16: Luna Leederville | Luna on SX | Windsor Cinema | Palace Raine Square

Brisbane: September 21 - October 16: Palace James St | Palace Barracks

Byron Bay: September 23 - October 9: Palace Byron Bay

See www.italianfilmfestival.com.au

Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore is available at Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores nationally with an RRP of $20.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

The key area in which Tasmania is sadly second rate

It is time, as comedian Shaun Micallef would say, for some "plain speakin". 

Tasmania is gobsmackingly gorgeous, a destination that draws in visitors from around the world for its natural beauty, great food and wine and delightful accommodation. 

Unfortunately, however, while Tasmania has a "world class" tourism industry, it has a main airport that is embarrassingly second rate. 

Hobart Airport has spent much of the past decade as a building site as work has been done on its terminal, its car parks and its access roads. 

But it remains a bit of a joke because it has never had the foresight to install air bridges (also known as jet bridges). 

In one of the coldest cities in Australia, passengers have to walk to and from their planes across the tarmac. Often in biting winds and sleet. When it rains in Hobart passengers get soaking wet boarding or disembarking. 

First impressions etc. 

This week, Hobart Airport unveiled a 20-year draft (I said draft, not daft) "masterplan" to expand the airport's capacity - with construction due to start over the next two to four years. 

Only one problem. While $60 million has been budgeted to expand the airport's runway, there is no cash to build to a few air bridges, which apparently cost around $1 million each. 

This in a state where they want to spend upwards of $750 million for a new stadium that would host around a dozen AFL games each year. 

The rationale, according to airport chief executive Norris Carter, is that air bridges would be "too expensive" and would add to the cost of air tickets in the long run. 

I call bulldust. Four air bridges would cost $4 million. Throw in a couple more million for a small second-storey extension, if needed, and some escalators. 

I would have thought $6 million was a fair price to pay for a proper facility for the gateway for most tourists coming in and out of the state. 

Yes, those very people who waited up to 90 minutes in the freezing cold when the airport couldn't get its procedures right during Covid testing.

If $6 million extra is beyond the state's "majority Liberal-National Government" then maybe some initiative could be shown. 

How about a one-off lottery with a million-dollar first prize with the aim of raising the funds needed? It worked for the Sydney Opera House. 

Or how about finding a sponsor willing to tip in a major sum in exchange for having their brand name plastered all over the air bridges? Not even considered, apparently. 

This for an airport that will handle an estimated 5.5 million passengers a year in 25 years time. 

Currently, Hobart handles around 2.8 million passengers a year. A $1 per passenger levy over three years would pay for the air bridges and building extension. Too hard, apparently. 

Norris Carter and Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania CEO Luke Martin are in lockstep that "an air bridge would lead to steeper fares, as well as flight delays". 

Yep. Those pesky air bridges at Heathrow, Atlanta, Sydney and other major airports around the world are such a failure. Even Pyongyang Airport in North Korea has air bridges. 

Carter says the the plans to upgrade the airport will cost in "the hundreds of millions of dollars". But no one has the nous to include a few "expensive" air bridges. 

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad and lacking in foresight.                 

 

Friday, 12 August 2022

How to celebrate World Rum Day in your lounge room


From Bundaberg to Phuket, rum is very much in vogue. 

If you are ready for a virtual rum journey, premium Venezuelan rum distiller Diplomático has partnered with Australia’s first dedicated digital bar to launch the limited-edition Exclusiva Exclusive. 

This is a custom cocktail kit that champions the signature Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva, with all the mixers, garnishes, and dark spirit knowledge you might need to celebrate this National Rum Day (August 16). 

Box Bar is the first dedicated digital bar to come from the founders of Sydney-based venue The Fox Hole. 

The limited-edition cocktail kit features Reserva Exclusiva and all the trimmings you need to coktail in your own home.   

“The Diplomático range, though Reserva Exclusiva specifically, has the unique ability to bring more life and a touch of sweetness to classic rum cocktails." says says Sai Hamsala, the Diplomático brand ambassador.

"Partnering with Box Bar means we’re able to share this experience with Australian consumers on a larger scale."

Alongside the Diplomático samples and a cocktail recipe guide, anyone to place an order via Box Bar and have the Exclusiva Exclusive delivered to their door, will be granted access to a rum masterclass hosted by Hamsala, and James Harvey-Fiander, Chief Experience Officer (such a wanky title) at Box Bar. 

“The way we connect with other people and enjoy a drink has changed forever - hence the birth of Box Bar," says Harvey-Fiander . 

"We think you ought to be able to try new and interesting drinks no matter your location or situation."

The limited-edition Exclusiva Exclusive from Diplomático is available for purchase now. Head to https://www.boxbar.com.au/exclusiva-exclusive/ $65. 


New Zealand targeting wealthy tourists



New Zealand is more into rugby union than soccer but its tourism minister scored a spectacular own goal this week when he said the Kiwi tourism industry is more interested in wealthy tourists than those on a budget.

Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash said ‘discerning tourists’ are the goal and not ‘shoestring’ travellers.

Oops.

In a message obviously designed for a domestic industry audience but now being spread across the world, he added: “In terms of targeting our marketing spin, it is unashamedly going to be at these high-quality tourists.”

No open arms welcome for "low-quality" tourists then?

Nash was speaking at the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand annual conference.

New Zealand media reported that Nash said his vision was for New Zealand to be one of the top three aspirational destinations for the “world’s most discerning travellers".

So nothing snobby there. But...

”We are going to welcome backpackers ... [but] we are not going to target the people who put on Facebook how they can travel around our country on $10 a day eating two-minute noodles.”

While New Zealand is well known for luxury lodges like Kauri Cliffs (above), surely there is also a welcome mat for noodle eaters? 


Thursday, 11 August 2022

When in Canada, take the train



My disenchantment with the incompetent buffoons at Air Canada is well recorded - but there is another transport company in Canada that offers a very good service.

VIA Rail offers fastish, clean and on-time rail services between most of the major cities - and is a boon when your destination is somewhere midway between Montreal and Toronto.

I took trips from Montreal to Kingston and Kingston and Toronto recently and both delivered an excellent experience - albeit not cheap. And I avoided spending more time in the chaos of Montreal's Trudeau Airport and Toronto's almost equally frenetic Pearson Airport.  

Given Australia's dismal inter-city train offerings, going by rail might not be upmost in mind at home, but it is certainly well worth considering for trips in Canada.

If you are planning a visit it is worth getting on the VIA Rail mailing list in advance for offers like 20% discounts for bookings made on a Tuesday.

Via Rail operates over 500 trains per week across eight Canadian provinces and 12,500 kilometres of track, and is largely owned by other railway companies, including Canadian National Rail (CN).

There are a range of fares on offer including discounted escape fares, economy, business and touring, sleeper plus and prestige on long-distance trains.

Food service is available on most trains with snacks, light meals and beverages for purchase. Most of the services also offer complimentary wifi, although it is spotty in my experience. Staff - with a lot of seniors employed - are uniformly chatty and helpful. 

The majority of trains operate in the Ontario and Quebec service corridor between Quebec City and south-western Ontario.

On my list of things to do: the Maple Leaf operates between New York City and Toronto via Albany, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It is jointly managed by VIA Rail and Amtrak.

Starting in this year, VIA Rail has begun deployment of a new generation of trains on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.

For details visit https://www.viarail.ca/en but be aware the website doesn't like processing Australian credit cards.