ARM­CHAIR TRAV­ELLER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

The Bei­jing sub­way sys­tem trans­ports an av­er­age of four mil­lion pas­sen­gers a day, which def­i­nitely qual­i­fies it for marvel sta­tus. Sun­day, 7.30pm, Dis­cov­ery.

Ladies who mulch and chaps who mow at­tend the world’s most fa­mous hor­ti­cul­tural show; sadly, Aus­tralia’s medal-winning Flem­ings Nurs­eries did not dis­play this year be­cause of the Vic­to­rian bush­fires. Sun­day, 8.30pm, Life­Style. de­signed for stays from a few days to a month or longer. The range cov­ers self-ca­ter­ing digs from stu­dio flats to four-bed­room houses and most con­fig­u­ra­tions be­tween, all within about 20 min­utes of the cap­i­tal’s main tourist at­trac­tions. A gor­geous-looking stu­dio in a 1750s Soho build­ing, for ex­am­ple, has orig­i­nal hard­wood floors, an­tique fur­ni­ture and fit­tings, stain­less steel-fin­ished kitch­enette and a cast-iron claw­foot bath­tub. Sleeps two; from £650 ($1220) a week. The cost com­pares well with con­ven­tional ho­tel rates and Ivy Let­tings can also ar­range com­pet­i­tively priced air­port trans­fers with Green Tomato Cars, rent mo­bile phones so guests can avoid ex­pen­sive roam­ing charges, gro­cery shop, ar­range babysit­ting and more. www.ivylet­tings.com.

A FEW seats are still avail­able on the land­mark char­tered Qan­tas Air­bus A380 flight from Syd­ney and Mel­bourne to Antarc­tica on New Year’s Eve and a sec­ond A380 flight has been sched­uled for Jan­uary 24 from Syd­ney plus a Boe­ing 747-400 flight from Mel­bourne on Fe­bru­ary 14, which just hap­pens to be Valen­tine’s Day ( pre­sumes ice queens need not ap­ply). From $999 for econ­omy-class cen­tre seats to $6299 for first class. There are eight seat­ing classes avail­able on the Air­bus A380 flights and seven on the Boe­ing 747. Mr did an Antarc­tica flight­see­ing jaunt sev­eral De­cem­bers ago and all but trot­ted out our front door in woolly hat and mit­tens, mut­ter­ing that he might be gone for some time. The po­lar-ex­plorer look is hardly nec­es­sary but he was sur­prised how many pas­sen­gers had gone the full Shack­le­ton and dressed for the oc­ca­sion, pen­guin suits in­cluded. More: 1800 633 449; www.antarc­ti­caflights.com.au.

IF you are Paris-bound next year and keen for an eye­ful of the works of lead­ing im­pres­sion­ists and postim­pres­sion­ists, you may need to de­tour via the US west coast. The Musee d’Or­say, housed in the his­toric for­mer Gare d’Or­say rail­way sta­tion and home to the city’s premier col­lec­tion of Monets, Manets, Cezannes, Renoirs and the like, will be par­tially closed for re­fur­bish­ment and re­in­stal­la­tion in an­tic­i­pa­tion of its 25th an­niver­sary in 2011. Many of its best-known works are mov­ing to the Fine Arts Mu­se­ums of San Fran­cisco for two ex­hi­bi­tions. Birth of Im­pres­sion­ism: Mas­ter­pieces from the Musee d’Or­say, runs from May 22 to Septem­ber 6, 2010; Van Gogh, Gau­guin, Cezanne and Be­yond: Post-Im­pres­sion­ist Mas­ter­pieces from the Musee d’Or­say, runs from Septem­ber 25, 2010 to Jan­uary 18, 2011. www.famsf.org.

CALL it pre­mium econ­omy or ex­ec­u­tive lite, more and more air­lines are in­tro­duc­ing a buf­fer class that’s a notch above what the Amer­i­cans de­light in call­ing coach and the rar­efied do­main of busi­ness class. Lat­est off the blocks is KLM Royal Dutch Air­lines with a name that de­liv­ers much prom­ise: Econ­omy Com­fort. Whether or not that’s mere tau­tol­ogy will soon be put to the test by the air­line’s in­ter­na­tional and in­tercon­ti­nen­tal pas­sen­gers. Seat­ing in this zone of­fers about 10cm more legroom and back sup­ports that re­cline twice as far as stan­dard econ­omy-class seat­ing. Avail­able from the end of Novem­ber; www.klm.com.

DEALS OF THE WEEK

Early­bird dis­counts for Euro­pean sum­mer sea­son travel; city and snow pack­age to Ja­pan; cruise the po­lar re­gions with World Ex­pe­di­tions; low-cost air fares to Africa with Qatar Air­ways. Th­ese and other money-sav­ing of­fers are fea­tured in

hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily: www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel/dd

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