CHRISTCHURCH IS REBOUNDING from 2010 and 2011 earthquakes that devastated the city, destroying 80 percent of the downtown Central Business District and killing 185 citizens. When I visited in 2012, the ruins of the central city were cordoned off — I recall peering through barriers to see the fallen tower of the stately cathedral and then driving by the temporary Cardboard Cathedral built of cardboard tubes, timber and steel. As that temporary church continues to hold services, the church spire is displayed at the Quake City Museum, and plans to rebuild — not replace — the cathedral are in discussion.
In the rest of the CBD Red Zone, recovery is well underway. Guided tours pass the new Convention Centre rising on Cathedral Square; the rebuilt Town Hall of Performing Arts; and the Memorial Wall, with a spray fountain where visitors wet their hands in the Māori tradition of cleansing after visiting a grave. Street art walking tours focus on many colorful outdoor murals. The bustling new Riverside Market attracts visitors to galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs of The Terrace.
Christchurch serves as a base camp for active exploring. Chill Bike Tours rents vintage bicycles for pedaling past heritage sites. Flat-bottomed punts offer rides on the river, and a gondola rises up to the Port Hills. A hop-on, hop-off Tram Tour passes 17 stops with commentary showcasing the Botanic Gardens, the Gothic Revival-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and visits to affluent coastal suburbs. Even adults acclaim Margaret Mahy Playground, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
In “the city of pioneering women,” the mayor and CEO are female, and you can find lists of workshops, performances and other activities for women online. Efficient guides listed on the ToursBy Locals website help make arrangements for specialty activities. One guide features visits to privately owned gardens, including one with a forest of sacred, native, giant kauri trees. Another takes visitors to the merino sheep farm his family has owned since 1884 to interact with neighbors, feed the chickens and watch dogs herding the sheep. Guests dine on local produce — mutton, yogurt, cabbage, pears, peaches — and taste Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and other wines from nearby vineyards such as Greystone, Pyramid Valley and Waipara Springs.
When American travelers make plans to visit Portugal, Lisbon is usually their first stop.
This past May, the location of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, was granted status as a city of its own during Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Not too shabby for a town that’s actually been around for a while, boasting structures dating to the 11th century.
Marriott Bonvoy and American Express recently debuted changes to the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. The card, aimed at helping small business owners turn business expenses into travel rewards, now provides new and existing card members with a 7 percent Room Rate Discount on eligible bookings at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; four times Marriott Bonvoy points at restaurants worldwide; and complimentary Gold Elite status. These changes are in addition to the card’s other existing benefits.
Start planning that long-awaited trip to the island of Ireland. With all travel restrictions now lifted, there has never been a better time to visit.
PHOTO: © BOGDAN LAZAR | DREAMSTIME.COM,
National Rum Day is right around the corner on Aug.16, meaning it’s time to start planning your celebration. Sandals Resorts, the all-inclusive Caribbean resort company, shares recipes from mixologists, allowing rum fans to celebrate as if they are staying on property.
Until Aug. 21, catch the museum premier of Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood at Boca Raton Museum of Art. After learning one of the large-scale red paintings created by artist Lucio Fontana was the result of his viewing of the 1964 film Red Desert (directed by Michelangelo Antonioni), Lautenberg set out to discover other instances where filmmakers and artists knowingly — or perhaps unknowingly — had an effect on one another’s work.