Traveldesk: Miami, virtual Canada and Melbourne

 
CYCLING OVER THE THAMES

London might one day have a £600m floating cycleway over the Thames, if a proposal by a group of architects and engineers gets the nod from city officials. The Thames Deckway is a 12-km path that would stretch along the Thames southern bank from Battersea to Canary Wharf. Cyclists would pay £1.50 to travel along the cycleway, which would take about 30 minutes to cover – much less than it currently takes on regular London streets. Bikes currently make up 24 per cent of all rush-hour traffic in central London, which has prompted mayor Boris Johnson to propose his own “crossrail for bikes” scheme that involves building two continuous, segregated bike lanes cutting east to west across the city from Barking to Acton (a total of 18 miles) and north to south from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross (three miles); if the scheme is approved it could be operational from March 2016.

VIRTUAL CANADA
 
Thanks to Google Maps, you can now “visit” Canada’s best-known parks and landmarks…without leaving home. In partnership with Parks Canada, Google has launched new street views that allow you to take virtual tours of Jasper National Park, Glacier National Park, Pacific Rim National Reserve and the Head-Smashed- In Buffalo Jump in southwestern Alberta, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Google has also mapped other remote locations in Canada. See googlemaps.com
 
EYE ON CHINA FEVER
 
As the world’s attention is drawn to the spread of the Ebola virus, Chinese authorities have had to deal with a fever outbreak of their own, as 21,000 cases of mosquito-borne dengue fever have been reported in southern China’s Guangdong province since the beginning of the year. This is the largest outbreak in two decades, but authorities are especially concerned by a sudden spike in the number of reported cases, which has more than doubled in the last three weeks from just over 10,000 on September 27. 
The virus has also begun to spread nationally, as millions of people travelling for China’s National Day celebrations on October 1 has seen the viral disease spread into the provinces abutting Guangdong, including Fujian, Hunan and Guangxi.  Dengue, which according to the WHO affects between 50 to 100 million people in tropical and subtropical regions, causes nausea, rashes and muscle and joint pain, but can be fatal if it leads to internal bleeding. 
So far, there have been few reported fatalities in Guangdong and state authorities have put quarantine measures in place to combat the outbreak, which has been blamed on a mosquito population that has swelled to five times its normal level due to excessive rain and warm weather. 
 
FULL-ON FLORENTINE CUISINE
 
Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa hotel in the Florentine foothills, is offering visitors the ultimate gastronomic experience. The three-night B&B package includes a truffle-hunting excursion, a three-hour walking tour of Florence with an emphasis on Florentine street food and a three-course Tuscan dinner at the reputable Il Cibreo restaurant. Accommodation is in superior double rooms, which are kitted out with original artwork, antique bathtubs and designed to recreate a little bit of Renaissance luxury. Packages are priced at €1,746 for two and available until December 28th; see salviatino.com
 
FIVE MELBOURNE HOTELS
 
All of Australia will come to a halt on November 4 for the Melbourne Cup, the main event on the country’s sporting calendar. You’ll need to book far in advance to have any chance of a room on the day, but here’s five places to help you plan for the 2015 event:
 
Art Series – The Cullen (164 Commercial Rd, Prahran; artserieshotels.com.au/Cullen; rooms from A$200)
A chain of six hotels inspired by the work of contemporary artists, this one features the bold work of Aussie artist Adam Cullen, present throughout the very comfortable rooms. 
 
Grand Hyatt Melbourne (123 Collins St; melbourne.grand.hyatt.com; room from A$250)
Melbourne’s best-known five-star is all about the fancy bedrooms and the stunning views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
 
Hatton (65 Park St, South Yarra; hatton.com.au; B&B from A$210)
A beautiful boutique hotel in a converted Victorian terrace with rooms that strike a fine balance between early 20th century elegance and contemporary industrial style – think original wooden floorboards and stainless steel. Great location and terrific views. 
 
Ovolo (19 Little Bourke St; ovologroup.com; room from A$200)
Right in the heart of the CBD, this relatively new boutique hotel is the perfect spot for the hipster business type, all cool decor and useful mod cons – with the added delight of a free minibar in each room and happy hour that’s on the house.
 
Majorca Apartment 401 (258 Flinders Lane; apartment401.com.au; from A$275)
There’s a minimum two-night stay at this beautiful apartment in this historic art deco building in the middle of the action. It’s like a New York loft – the perfect self-catering option. 
 
THE WORLD IN BUDAPEST
 
Budapest’s Neprajzi Museum of Ethnography is hosting the 2014 World Press Photo Exhibition until October 26. This is a collection of some 200 photographs by 57 photographers from 24 countries, chosen to reflect the very best in international photography. The photos cover a range of subjects, from arts and everyday life to politics and sport. Entrance: €7; see neprajz.hu
 
GET AWAY AT HOME

One of Ireland’s top-rated hotels, the Cliff House (thecliffhousehotel.com) in Ardmore, Co Waterford, is offering The Great Escape, a midweek two-night B&B getaway that includes a three- course dinner in the Bar Restaurant for ¤450, based on two people sharing and is valid from Sunday to Thursday. Meanwhile. the four-star Bridge House Hotel (bridgehousehoteltullamore.ie) in Tullamore has a two-night family package for ¤279 for two adults and two children that includes B&B, a four-course meal for both adults and entry on both days to the Busy Bees Kids Camp, a sports, cooking and arts and crafts camp that runs midweek from October 27-31.

FULL-ON FLORENTINE CUISINE

Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa hotel in the Florentine foothills, is offering visitors the ultimate gastronomic experience. The three-night B&B package includes a truffle-hunting excursion, a three-hour walking tour of Florence with an emphasis on Florentine street food and a three-course Tuscan dinner at the reputable Il Cibreo restaurant. Accommodation is in superior double rooms, which are kitted out with original artwork, antique bathtubs and designed to recreate a little bit of Renaissance luxury. Packages are priced at ¤1,746 for two and available until December 28th; see salviatino.com

MICRO-GUIDE: MIAMI
 
STAY Raleigh Hotel (1775 Collins Ave; raleighhotel.com; room from $290) Esther Williams used to swim in the pool at this pre-war hotel that has worked hard to retain its looks.
EAT Blue Collar (6730 Biscayne Blvd; bluecollarmiami.com; mains $16-23) All-American cuisine done just right, from locally fished red snapper to a mouth-watering cheeseburger. 
DO Stiltsville Boat Tour (islandqueencruises.com/stiltsville.htm; $49) Tour the historic shacks of Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay under the expert tutelage.
 
COPENHAGEN for €329: 3 nights in four-star First Hotel. Includes flights from Dublin. For travel October 30th; see budgettravel.ie
ST LUCIA for €1,399: 7 nights all-inclusive four-star Smugglers Cove Resort & Spa, including double room upgrade, flights from Dublin and transfers. Book before October 31; see tropicalsky.ie
UBA for €1,590: 3 nights in four-star Telegrafo Hotel, Havana and 7 nights in four-star Hotel Blau, Varadero. Includes flights, taxes and transfers. Book now for travel in June 2015; see travel247.ie
 

 

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