GREAT EURO­PEAN ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Europe - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

The name’s Bond: In the heart of Lon­don’s West­min­ster, the 331-room St Er­min’s, a mem­ber of Ac­cor’s MGallery col­lec­tion, has a pack­age that prom­ises guests can dis­cover their in­ner Agent 007. Billed as the ‘‘only pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble es­tab­lish­ment in Lon­don closely as­so­ci­ated with the his­tory of es­pi­onage’’, St Er­min’s and the ad­ja­cent build­ing were used by of­fi­cers of the Se­cret In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (MI6). The likes of Ian Flem­ing, KimPhilby and GuyBurgess were known to have worked from the build­ing; Burgess fre­quently met his Rus­sian contact in the bar to hand over top-se­cret gov­ern­ment files. The new Bud­ding Bonds Pack­age in­cludes two nights in a fam­ily room for two adults and two chil­dren, an iSpy for St Er­min’s pack for each child and a lo­cal Lon­don Spy Walk chal­lenge. £550 ($843), in­clud­ing VAT, for a two-night stay, sub­ject to avail­abil­ity. More: + 44 800 6350 438; ster­min­shotel.co.uk. Trails in Spain: Out­door Travel’s Taste of Catalunya walk­ing hol­i­day de­parts March 16 and is priced from $2790 a per­son twin-share (more than $200 off the 2012 rate); ac­com­mo­da­tion is in qual­ity ho­tels, inns and pri­vate homes, and meals and wine, sup­port staff and ve­hi­cle, lo­cal trans­port, guided walk­ing and lug­gage trans­fers are in­cluded. More: 1800 331 582 ; out­door­travel.com.au. Stroll through the sea­sons: Hid­den Italy has re­vamped its web­site and is of­fer­ing a range of sea­sonal guided tours and self-guided walks next year, in­clud­ing to Verona and the Dolomites, the Cinque Terre, ru­ral Tus­cany and around Si­cily. More: hid­den­i­taly.com.au. On­track: Rail Europe has a ‘‘cool win­ter’’ pro­mo­tion of up to 20 per cent off Eurostar tick­ets, BritRail passes and five-day Ger­man Rail passes; or take ad­van­tage of the buy one and get one free deal for the Swiss Pass. Valid to De­cem­ber 18. More: hol­i­daystoeu­rope.com.au/spe­cials. Sin­gu­lar sen­sa­tion: Book a 10 to 15-day 2013 Tauck river voy­age in Europe with Cruiseabout by Novem­ber 28 and re­ceive two nights free. As part of the deal, solo trav­ellers will not be charged sin­gle sup­ple­ments on Euro­pean cruise de­par­tures in 2013 if booked in cat­e­gory one cab­ins. More: 1300 450 133; cruiseabout.com.au. Grab the gog­gles: Bou­tique Mel­bourne agency Cousins Tours & Travel has swim­ming tours of Europe next year — des­ti­na­tions in­clude Italy, Spain and Tur­key. (Itin­er­ar­ies in Gu­atemala, Belize and Peru are also pos­si­ble.) The agency bills it­self as a pi­o­neer in sport­ing travel, such as cy­cling and triathlon trips, and is the main spon­sor and or­gan­iser of the Great Vic­to­rian Swim Se­ries. More: cousinss­wim­ming­tours.com. De­signer de­tails: Fin­nair and de­sign house Marimekko are team­ing up — from the north­ern spring next year, the car­rier’s air­craft will fea­ture a be­spoke Marimekko col­lec­tion of tex­tiles and table­ware. Twoof Fin­nair’s long­haul air­craft will fea­ture liv­ery based on dis­tinc­tively colourful Marimekko pat­terns. Fin­nair con­nects daily from Aus­tralia with its OneWorld part­ners in Sin­ga­pore, Bangkok and HongKongto more than 50 Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions. More: fin­nair.com/au. Tales of the city: Lis­bon Story Guest­house in the his­toric cen­tre of the Por­tuguese cap­i­tal is a prop­erty with a con­science. Man­age­ment has part­nered with the char­ity Co­mu­nidade Vida e Paz to dis­trib­ute meals to the home­less each month. Ho­tel guests can con­trib­ute, if they wish, by leav­ing money, food, toi­letries or cloth­ing to be de­liv­ered to those in need. Lis­bon Story Guest­house has 11 quirky gue­strooms, each with a nar­ra­tive theme; the most spa­cious rooms are about j110 ($135) a night, with break­fast. More: lis­bon­sto­ryguest­house.com. The roads ahead: Dubrovnik, the is­lands of the Dal­ma­tian coast and Mon­tene­gro all fea­ture on a new seven-day small-group trip to Croa­tia from Back-Roads Tour­ing. From $2650 a per­son twin-share, with an early­bird sav­ing of $135 a per­son if booked and paid by De­cem­ber 15. The es­corted tour de­parts from Tro­gir and in­cludes wine and oys­ter tast­ings, a folk­loric per­for­mance in Lazareti, six nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion with break­fasts, mini-coach trans­port, Split-Kor­cula-Ston ferry trans­port and three dinners. More: 1300 100 410; back­road­s­tour­ing.com.au. Swish Swiss: In­sight Va­ca­tions has a seven-day Mag­i­cal Switzer­land tour from $2299 a per­son twin-share (sin­gle sup­ple­ment from an ex­tra $315) that cov­ers pre­mium ac­com­mo­da­tion, lux­ury trans­port and an ex­pe­ri­enced tour di­rec­tor. De­par­tures from Novem­ber 25 to March 24. More: 1300 237 886; in­sight­va­ca­tions.com. Lis­ten up, ladies: Two­fun ‘‘shop­ping, eat­ing and drink­ing’’ tours of the Loire Val­ley, Provence and the Cote d’Azur for wom­enare avail­able from Aus­tralian op­er­a­tor Lily & Lulu from Septem­ber 12-26 and Septem­ber 28-Oc­to­ber 12. More: lilyand­lulu.com.au.

Daniel Craig as Agent 007 in the new Bond film,

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