BE A KIWI FOR A DAY
We fly from Perth to Vancouver with a stopover In Auckland In August. We arrive In Auckland at 5.25am and leave at 8.10pm. We'd I Ike to take the opportunity to have a look around. At such an ea rly time, I Imagine little would be available, but we could breakfast somewhere and then look at a tour orsome other option. Can you make some suggestions?
Getting out and exploring a new city is a great way to stretch the legs before another big flight. A 20-minute taxi ride from the airport will get you to Britomart in the centre of Auckland. It's a dynamic hub of shops and cafes - you should get there just as cafes open at 7am. Shaky Isles has all things Kiwi, with a funky, New York-style vibe while nearby The Store is known for its fresh juices, pastries and artisan bread. Then, when you're suitably charged, you could visit the Sky Tower for a bird's eye view-it opens at 9am. From there, head to the Auckland museum for a Maori cultural performance - on daily at Liam and included in your ticket if you upgrade to the highlights tour package for $NZSS (about $50.30) - but book ahead if you can. For just over $NZ40 you could do a 90-minute Waitemata Harbour sightseeing cruise with Fullers 360 Discovery Cruises. It leaves at1.43pm and includes aftermoon tea. You could shop along Queen St, get inspired at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o
i, and have some best fish and chips for an early dinner at Mt Eden’s The Ancient Mariner. You should then be suitably sleepy for the 13-hour flight to Vancouver.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE
My sister and I recently had an amazing holiday at a beautiful resort In Thailand, and prepaid our accommodatlon months In advance. But on check-In, the hotel wanted a credit card pre-authorisation of THB2000 (about $82)a day. They would not accept a debit card. Do credit cards have to be a part of life and travel now?
Unfortunately, credit cards are a necessary evil in modem-day life, particularly when travelling. Julie Woodall of My Travel Expert, a Helloworld partner in Nowra on Sydney's South Coast, says you should always cover your bases with three forms of money while you're away - a cash passport card (which is a multi-currency, prepaid travel money card from Mastercard that offers 11 currencies and locked-in exchange rates), as well as foreign cash, and a credit card, which is really handy to have when you need it One of Julie's regular clients never uses her credit card except in emergencies. If you're staying at a hotel or hiring a car, they'll all need a credit card imprint - and even if they did accept a debit card, you'd hate for them to put a block on money that you likely need for your travels. A credit card is safer.
My sister and I are travelling to Melaka at the end of September and would like to do a cooking class. We’ve heard a hotel does classes but can’t find a contact number to book without staying there. We’ve been told we need a Baba Nyonya cooking class.
Oh, you are lucky. Melaka is known for its cuisine, and a cooking class is the perfect wayto make the most of your experience. The cooking style is a fusion of cuisines, like Malaysia in so many ways- a melting pot of cultures, and people, living together in perfect harmony. There's the influence from Kuala Lumpur (just an hour-and-a-half away) and Singapore (two hours away). Chinese styles of stir-fry and braising, using Malay ingredients like candlenut, lemongrass and coconut, have become known as Nyonya cooking. Baba Nyonya were a group of migrants from China who settled in Melaka, and their traditions, like their cooking, have survived to this day.
For classes, the most popular is Nancy's Kitchen- she's a local chef who runs classes on weekdays (closed Tuesdays), and passes down recipes from three generations for about $60. You'll make candlenut paste, coconut gravy and bean paste stew, and feast on your creations at the end of the session (eatatnancvskit.com for more details). There is also a home cooking class at Casa Del Rio Hotel (casadelrio-melaka.com), or a 30-minute class with local chef Catherina, in her home, where you'll le am to make a traditional entree or main. It's usually prepared using sambal-chilli paste, shallots and shrimp paste. The cost is about $100- look at the Viator website for bookings.
AMIENS TO THAT
My friend and I will be travelling to Amiens, France, next July and staying two to four days. We’ll visit Crouy British Cemetery as my friend’s great uncle is buried there, and explore Amiens itself. Can you recommend any other places to see near Amiens?
Amiens, in northern France, is known for its iconic gothic-style architecture and medieval heritage and there is much to see and do.
Amiens Cathedral is World Heritage listed and has the tallest spire in France – 112.7m. On the western side of Amiens, in walking distance of the cathedral, the city’s 65km network of canals through reclaimed farmland begin. These floating gardens are the “hortillonnages” – market gardens that have been a part of the landscape since medieval times. The best way to experience them is on a flat-bottomed barque tour, which takes about 45 minutes and talks about how the gardens were formed.
Musée de Picardie shows centuriesold art, and about 20 minutes north of Amiens is the town of Naours, where for more than a millennium the people would seek refuge underground in a limestone tunnel network.
If you dare, you can be guided 33m under a hill into kilometres of galleries, learning about the salt smugglers who used the system to avoid the salt tax of the day.
Arrive early to a view of Auckland CBD across Waitemata Harbour; explore the floating vegetable plots of Amiens’ hortillonnages – market gardens; and Nyonya cooking classes spice up a visit to Melaka.