Argentina, from beautiful Buenos Aires to the glaciers of Patagonia

Perito Moreno Glacier from my room at Los NotrosThis is another piece I published in Escape, and is worth republishing because the appeal of Argentina is timeless:

A LOUD “crack” grabs everybody’s attention. Fortunately, my digital camera is turned on so I whip it up as I scan the horizon. Gasps of surprise come from those around me as fingers start pointing to a huge chunk of ice slowly plunging into the opaque water, accompanied by a steady “boom”.

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Chapter 11: The Battle of Yum Kipper

He ambles down Glum St, taking his two little terrier dogs on a typical Saturday morning walk down to the Favourite Cafe-Bar, when he notices a a middle aged woman lying on the footpath just around the corner, with another woman anxiously looking at her, and a shopping trolley loaded with God-knows-what next to them. It’s not an entirely uncommon sight in Fractal City. But he recognises the unconscious woman’s face: she’s not a druggie, is usually cheerful to everyone, and is just another of Fractal’s “special” folk, probably residing at the Heathrow Private Hotel. So he walks over: “Is your friend ok?”

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Chapter 10: Doomsday

He doesn’t look like one of the Homeless, but he is certainly not “mainstream” as he ambles up the main street of Fractal city, screaming out to anyone unfortunate enough to be present or passing, about how the local government has been criminally destroyed the fragile fabric of Fractal’s society by closing the public toilets. He ambles into the Favorite Bar/Cafe and orders a take-away coffee, all the while continuing his unhingingly loud tirade against the dunny closures. The staff give a concerned frown and nod in agreement, as the barista machine steams and spurts out another superb coffee. “I will have to crap in the park now,” he disturbingly loudly tells Pretty Assistant Manageress. “You will have to put up with all the public coming in to use your toilet now,” he roars at Smiling Irish Assistant Manager. “This is the end for this country,” he bellows to the World as he walks out the door with his takeaway coffee.
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Chapter 9: Feeding the Masses

The ageing Vietnamese grandmother ambles along the Fractal foreshore, muttering to herself as she sees yet another huge queue outside yet another Vietnamese restaurant. She thinks it’s ridiculous, how these people are paying $10-plus for a bowl of soup made by an Irish backpacker, when she pays only $4 for authentic pho in the Vietnamese community’s eateries. When she came to this country with her young children, as a refugee, in an old boat that almost sank, she was a welcome asylum seeker fleeing Uncle Ho. My, how times have changed. From Ho to pho … Continue reading

Bliss among the Birches

This is from a piece I wrote for the Weekend Australian’s “Travel & Indulgence” section. Victoria’s Mt Beauty district in Autumn is just that…  Beautiful

Entrance to Birches ResortSTEPPING through an archway formed by the foliage of a Papuan highland box plant, I have a sense that an extraordinary experience awaits just around the corner.

The Birches Luxury Spa Chalets Retreat has provided silver service dining and accommodation for more than a decade at Victoria’s Mt Beauty but does not trumpet its reputation. There isn’t even a turn-off sign on the Kiewa Valley Highway. That, says owner Kent Scott, is because The Birches caters for couples and intimate groups seeking privacy and seclusion. And exclusivity, it should be added, as I marvel at the collection of rare artefacts and artworks.

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Sit back, relax and tour Spain

This is from a story I published in Escape. I recommend a guided coach tour, such as this one, as a relaxing, comprehensive and safe way to tour a foreign country … and good value for money 

Spanish architectureTHE Spanish are a hardy lot, moulded by a history of conflict and a harsh environment.

Spain’s capital, Madrid, is 600 metres above sea level, making it Europe’s second highest capital after Bern in Switzerland. It is hot and dry in summer, and cold and windy in winter.

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