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.
Once you’ve boarded Regent’s Seven Seas Grandeur, it is immediately apparent this recently launched cruise ship delivers what the name promises. Jewel box opulence dominates in most of the public areas, while quiet luxury teamed with clever function defines the cabins (save for the individually decorated top-tier suites). The ship, designed by internationally acclaimed Studio DADO and constructed by Ancona, Italy, ship builder Fincantieri, holds up to 746 guests and is serviced by a staff of 548 for optimal passenger-to-staff service.
Embracing a life well lived often means embracing a life well-traveled. Every journey becomes a canvas for experiences that shape our lives and at the heart of every adventure lies the indispensable companion: quality luggage.
The St. Regis San Francisco recently debuted a Lunar New Year-themed The Art of Tea to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. Available for only a few more days, through Feb. 25, the afternoon menu boasts Asian-inspired sweet and savory items, a selection of tea and a complimentary welcome toast with Champgane Lallier R.018.
The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.
After a stressful pre-holiday season and a busy work schedule, there was no better time for a relaxing spa experience than during my recent trip to Pasadena with the FXExpress Publications, Inc. team. We headed to The Langham Huntington, Pasadena for the 20th anniversary of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards, which meant a jam-packed trip, but I managed to carve a little time out of our busy schedule to visit Chuan Spa at the hotel.
Five Tips to Help Minimize Potential Travel Problems
Keep New Year’s resolutions going with a stay at The Westin Tempe. The hotel recently launched a wellness stay offer in partnership with Lululemon. The limited-time Lululemon In-Room Fitness Experience includes accommodations in a guestroom equipped with a Lululemon-branded yoga mat and yoga block.