Weekend in Kosovo, off to the Olympics, secrets of the Big Apple: Takeoff travel news


Palenque ruins, Mexico
ADVENTURE
Into the obscure
Fancy a weekend in Kosovo?  There are few corners of the globe that are not comprehensively explored, but Intrepid Travel has revealed four new destinations it says will sate the appetite of the most adventurous explorer. The tours are the first wave of unusual locations in its new Expedition range, which could see you uncover your inner Indiana Jones in a southern Mexican jungle, hike in the Svaneti region of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, get in the thick of the Rabaul Mask Festival in Papua New Guinea or sail the ancient Lake Ohrid on a journey through Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The 15-day journey through the Balkan states costs from $1795 a person and departs September 5. See intrepidtravel.com/theme/expeditions.


GEAR
Crumpler off to the Olympics
Melbourne luggage brand Crumpler is packing its bags for Rio and joining our athletes as the official supplier of luggage to the 2016 Australian Olympic Team. It will be kitting the team out with the Vis-à-Vis trunk 78 centimetre trunk, a hard-shell case bound by sturdy fabric belts and handle for easy, secure hauling. Currently, the Vis-à-Vis range comes in a black shell, with red, lime, black or clear handles. The Olympic colour range is yet to be revealed, and will tie in with the team’s formal uniforms, designed for the seventh time by Sportscraft. The competition and training uniforms, footwear and casual clothing will again be designed by Adidas. Expect the big reveal around mid-2016. Crumpler’s Vis-à-Vis range comes with a lifetime warranty, and the range also includes a 68-centimetre trunk, a 55-centimetre cabin bag and an attaché case. The 78-centimetre trunk costs $545. See crumpler.com.au.


KIDS
Best seat in the house
Intrepid families will love this simple bag, which is designed to pack up your kid’s car seat and protect it when you’re on the move. The bag is padded on all sides so you can include the car seat as checked-in luggage, and is made from water-resistant fabric. It can also be worn as backpack for a hassle-free, hands-free trek through the airport when you’ve run out of arms pushing trolleys and reining in children. Great for those who prefer to BYO car seat on driving holidays, the bag measures 45cm W x34cm H x45cm D. The JL Childress Black Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag costs $69.95. See thestorknest.com.au.

FOOD/TRAIN
Silver service, gold-rush route
The scenery is fabulous in the Canadian Rockies, but the food can be great, too. The Rocky Mountaineer train network is adding 840 SilverLeaf Service seats to its Rainforest to Gold Rush route, which journeys deep into the Canadian Rockies. This train route deviates from the best-known Rockies route from Vancouver to Toronto, and instead veers north to visit the ski mecca of Whistler and Jasper via the gold-panning city of Quesnel. The SilverLeaf class lets you dine in style, with local beers and wines from the British Colombia’s Okanagan Valley. A two-day rail journey from Whistler to Jasper (or in reverse) costs from $1865 a person. See rockymountaineer.com.

HOTEL
Northern newcomer
Brisbane’s CBD is currently enjoying a wave of new hotel openings and the latest, Capri by Fraser, threw open its doors on April 1. The Albert St property blends hotel and residence with 239 studios and one-bed apartments, pool and gym as well as a restaurant bar and cafe by celebrity chef and paleo poster boy, Pete Evans.  Expect design touches including vertical garden walls and art installations as well as ergonomic workspaces in the rooms. E-travellers can check-in by iPad and the e-Concierge, while the rest of us will appreciate the 24-hour gym, in-room kitchenettes, room service and laundry with Xbox Kinect. This is Fraser Hospitality’s fourth Australian property, with Fraser Suites in Sydney and Perth and Fraser Place in Melbourne. Capri by Fraser’s opening special costs from $179 a night, which includes wi-fi and parking (Friday – Sunday nights) on stays until June 30. Located at 80 Albert St, Brisbane. Phone 1800 110 800, see capribyfraser.com.

BOOK
Big Apple secrets
If you, like half the world, have a passionate affair with Manhattan, tuck this modest book under your arm before you decamp to New York. Its title is self-explanatory; Seeking New York: the stories behind the historic architecture of Manhattan – One Building at a Time. The book is based on the blog Daytonian in Manhattan, written by Tom Miller, a NY police inspector originally from Daytonia, Ohio. His curious mind digs into the histories of 55 of the borough’s buildings (there are many, many more on his blog), describing property speculation in 1820s Canal Street, the impoverished Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century, great real estate coups and architectural intricacies. There are grand triumphs and small stories: it’s also a history of the people that made the city. “Never stop being a tourist, never stop looking up,” says Miller. Costs $29.99. See allenandunwin.com.

The Takeoff travel news column by Belinda Jackson is published each Sunday in Sydney's Sun-Herald Traveller section. 

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