Cy­cle paths and hol­i­day schnapps

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

When Lonely Planet high­lights trends the tourism in­dus­try pays at­ten­tion. Its top five for next year in­cludes a cou­ple of made-up words that send shiv­ers down my spine but, nonethe­less, “bikepack­ing” will be a thing in 2017 as we cel­e­brate the bi­cen­te­nary of “the birth of the bike” or the “lauf­mas­chine” as in­ven­tor Karl Drais called it in 1817.

Back­pack­ers on bikes? To avoid them, es­chew the likes of the new 310km Alps 2 Ocean Trail in New Zealand; cy­cle cir­cuits in Ice­land; Bri­tain’s Dart­moor and Ex­eter; the Kokopelli Trail link­ing the deserts and moun­tain passes of Colorado and Utah; back-coun­try Mon­go­lia; and the ser­pen­tine 100km Munda Biddi Trail in Western Aus­tralia, from Mun­dar­ing to Al­bany.

Then there’s the call to be an “In­stavid­ual”, them­ing your In­sta­gram feed be­yond sun­sets and selfie snaps to “ex­plore the ex­tra­or­di­nary”.

This could be a cheery thing if you were to con­cen­trate on mi­cro-dis­til­leries, an­other Lonely Planet top trend. “The lat­est craze is to sam­ple spir­its pro­duced with lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents at a re­gional mi­cro-dis­tillery,” writes Chris Zei­her, con­trib­u­tor to Best in Travel 2017 (Lonely Planet, $22.49). From small-batch bour­bon dis­tillers in Ken­tucky to pro­duc­ers in Reyk­javik, Ice­land, the in­vi­ta­tion is to meet the maker and, pre­sum­ably, sip, smile and totter off in a cheer­ful haze.

Gin, in par­tic­u­lar, is back as a groovy bev­er­age and tourists are lin­ing up to sam­ple in­trigu­ing va­ri­eties from the likes of Sip­smith in Lon­don to Dis­tillery Botan­ica on the NSW cen­tral coast, which has teamed with Lu­mira to fash­ion a gin and tonic can­dle. An adults-only op­tion, I pre­sume. Last year, to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the Sin­ga­pore sling, the leg­endary gin-based tip­ple for­ever to be as­so­ci­ated with Raf­fles Sin­ga­pore, Sip­smith launch a lim­ited-edi­tion Raf­fles 1915 Gin, in­fused with Malaysian botan­i­cals and spices such as jas­mine, pomelo peel, lemon­grass, Kaf­fir lime leaf, nut­meg and car­damom. The col­lab­o­ra­tion seems a nat­u­ral when you con­sider Sip­smith co-founder Sam Galswor­thy is a de­scen­dant of Sir Stam­ford Raf­fles, founder of colo­nial Sin­ga­pore.

But let’s be mind­ful of the In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Travel in 2017 and the quest to look for ac­tiv­i­ties and des­ti­na­tions to min­imise our car­bon foot­prints and help com­mu­nity-based op­er­a­tors and ini­tia­tives. Costa Rica is aim­ing to be the first car­bon-neu­tral na­tion by 2020 and Swe­den cer­ti­fies ho­tels and tours that meet best eco-tourism prac­tices. Help re­build an earthquake-dam­aged vil­lage in Nepal? Carry re­fill­able drink con­tain­ers in­stead of buy­ing plas­tic bot­tles? There are lots of ways, big and small, to make a dif­fer­ence.

Travel needs be fun and oc­ca­sion­ally friv­o­lous, too, as oth­er­wise we would surely just stay home. One of my most en­joy­able days this year was in the Ge­or­gian city of Bath. I walked for hours along cres­cents and cir­cuses, pitch­ing up at Ca­nary Gin and Wine Bar on Queen Street, home to the Bath Gin Botan­i­cals Lab­o­ra­tory, where Gin Austen is the sig­na­ture tip­ple. She’s quite a lass, this Jane of a dif­fer­ent “per­sua­sion”, pic­tured on the la­bel wink­ing rather sug­ges­tively. A real In­stadi­vid­ual.

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