Sydney: gets its glamp on!

Sydney: gets its glamp on!

Mmmm, damn traffic first thing in the morning. It’s only 7am. I open my eyes, crawl out of bed and check what is outside my accommodation. It’s a hydrofoil gliding past me on Sydney Harbour.
Waking up on an island in the harbour is a world away from one of the great cities of the planet. I’m on Cockatoo Island a mere ferry ride from the ‘mainland’ and the gateway city to Australia, Sydney, and sitting in a tent on an island that is chock full of history, a multi-layered past, a modern invitation and the odd ghost or two.
It is the largest island in the harbour (UNESCO World-Heritage- listed) that is up for a visit, a stay and the past and present to explore.
I’m in a cool little two-person tent on stretch bed, covered in a fluffy Donna, windows / flaps up to let the sunshine and the moonlight in. I’m ‘glamping’.

Cockatoo Island glamping sunset
With winter almost upon Sydney, it’s the perfect time to come glamping on Cockatoo Island. Cool nights and sunny, blue sky days lend themselves to walks around the island to see each site where the history is on display. Nights are spent around the fire pit meeting new friends before zipping up for the night.

There are lovely apartments to stay in too up on the top of the island and a home for families to fill.
Cockatoo Island was called Wareamah by the original people, of the Eora Nation.
The Eora people would paddle canoes from the mainland to the island to perform sacred ceremony. After colonisation the indigenous people were relegated to remote parts of the mainland.

Cockatoo Island campground
During the years of early colonisation the island was a convict precinct with an horrendous prison history and you can see the amazing work done on the huge sandstone cuts done by hand by prisoners living on water and one meal a day between 1839-1869. Explore the sad, solitary cells and be grateful you weren’t around then – especially as a villain.

The precinct also housed some unfortunate girls in the reform school. The Biloela site is where you might meet your first ghosts.
The island was a productive and important as a major shipbuilding centre. There are fascinating tales to be read here of the dockyard workers.
The industrial, colonial and maritime history are part and parcel of the wonderful Cockatoo Island experience.

Enjoy Lunch at Societe Overboard
It’s also a fab venue for special events and festivals ( check out the website).
Visit the Dog Leg Tunnel Cinema and see historical videos of Cockatoo Island; activities for hire include tennis, basketball, quoits and croquet; you can watch volunteers bring the island’s machinery back to life at the Restoration Workshop; get your camera or your phone out to capture the gritty and grunty industrial buildings and the beautiful vistas of the surrounding harbour – share the images #cockatooisland; enjoy cafe life in one of the cafes and there are free electric barbecues near the Visitors Centre.

It’s free to enter the island and the ferry is caught at Circular Quay.
So what do you fancy? Cosy glamping or perhaps luxury accommodation in a heritage house or apartment. Maybe a night in each . . . . for a million dollar view.

Writer Bev Malzard was a guest of the Harbour Trust’s Cockatoo Island. She walked the island during the day but was a scaredy cat and didn’t do the ghost walk.
FACT There are no cockatoos on Cockatoo Island.

Visit: Cockatoo Island

NSW transport

Inside the glamping tent, Cockatoo Island Credit - Geoff Magee


Bali: then and now

Bali: then and now

Our car swept into the hotel’s large arrival pavilion, and we walked into a vast, endless gallery of light and space, a breezeway of extraordinary proportions dotted with chairs of differing design and wonderful hanging objects of light shade designs.

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This was the recently opened Hotel Indigo, Seminyak Bali. A five-star beauty. In the heat of the day we were offered a cooling drink, wet towels and sincere smiles of welcome.

Our room’s hero was the enormous bed, the bathroom had a shower with a nod to old Bali with a large, gold pitcher mimicking the ‘mandi’ style of the simple Bali way to bathe.


It was then it hit me, how things have changed, Well, of course I have changed in 30 years and so has Bali! I arrived here with a presentable piece of luggage and not a world-weary backpack. I was wearing linen pants and not a long cheesecloth skirt. And I was immediately unashamedly in love with this hotel.

Bali for a beginner

An earlier visit for me was a spontaneous decision to go to Bali when I found I had a secret stash of $500 in an old bank account. I had been back in Sydney for 10 months after living in Europe for three years. I was restless and needed to get away again. Bali it was. That $500 was a bloody fortune then.

I stayed at el cheapo places along the way when on the island; motels. guesthouses and losmens (a bit like homestay but in a family compound). The places cost no more than $2 a night. Came with a room, simple furnishings if any, a bed, overhead fan and a mandi. A mandi is a divine way to clean yourself. Usually round about a square metre concrete tub filled with clean water. You stand outside the tub, soap up then dip a pale or pitcher in the tub, scoop up the water and pour it over your head and body.

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Cheeky monkey, and a minute later he grabbed hold of the top of my dress and dragged it down about my waist.

Travelling solo I met up with other girls and we ate together, went to the beach and one of them (from Canada) and I ended up in a tiny truck, sharing the back with large bundles of bamboo, a pig and an old lady with large holes in her pierced ears that held her rolled up money (notes). She kept on plucking at the blonde hair on my thighs and chuckling for the long journey

We arrived in Singaraja, an old Dutch port in the north of Bali to see a river crowded with rubbish and filth. This was my first encounter with a polluted river. Not much has changed in Indonesia.

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River pollution in the 1980s . . .and it gets worse, right into the 21st century.

The beaches along the coast up north have black sand and the sea is warm. There were few tourists in town back in the day and most restaurants were tiny shopfronts selling basic but good nasi goreng and sates. But there was always a good breakfast even at the cheapies, fresh fruit, strong Bali coffee and flakey pastries.

Back down south to what was to become known as Bali’s cultural heart, Ubud. It was a sleepy village then, where bullock drawn carts crackled though the dirt roads, someone would be churning ice in a roadside cart making ‘icejuices’ (ice, condensed mild and fresh fruit) and where women still comfortably walked around with bare breasts as they went about their daily chores and placed pretty Hindu votives on the side of the road and at entrances to homes and shops.

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Hardly another tourist in sight.

After two weeks in Bali I had $150 left over and ended up giving it to a guy with a motor bike whom I had hired to drive me to all the sites in and around Ubud. His response surprised me, he said that the money would keep his two daughters in school for a year. Sometimes you don’t know when you do a good deed.

Years on and $500 wouldn’t go so far. But Bali is still quite inexpensive.

And no longer do I sleep under rickety fans, eat for 50c at the beaches or get a baby oil massage on the sand and fry like a hot chip!

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Ready to roast. What were we thinking?

At Hotel Indigo I swam in beautiful pools, sat in the shade under tropical foliage around one of the pools and the sun didn’t stand a chance with my 30 plus sunscreen.


Instead of drinking ‘java’ on the roadsides I sipped on Earl Grey tea in the beautiful Pottery Cafe at Hotel Indigo. Here all types of coffee is roasted and served. Choose from the wide variety of beans grown throughout Indonesia. But for me, it has to be tea in the afternoon because you have to eat scones, jam and cream with your soothing cuppa. The main restaurant is large and inviting with a visible kitchen and after experiencing dinner and breakfast (lunch was lazy hot chips by the pool), I could see how the hotel has lifted Bali’s culinary offerings. Beware the breakfast menu! After fruit, toast, eggs, and a few other delights, you think you’ve finished, then a sneaky fella turns up at your table with fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolat au pain – what can you do? And with the coffee roasting next door, a large cup is mandatory!

The hotel is opposite the beach at Seminyak, separated only by the road. So, with local design ambience and colour, the hotel has a typically local feel, but  . . . everything is better on this side of the road.

Time flies, and my early hippie days were fun and frivolous, but older and not wiser now, the comfort of a beautiful hotel, the kindness of Balinese staff and the indulgence of a five-star experience beats the past. And if I feel nostalgic for the old days, I’ll just fill my elegant pitcher in my shower and pour water over my head.


Writer, Bev Malzard was a guest at Hotel Indigo Seminyak

And despite age and moving on from the past, she can still rock a cheesecloth skirt, but refuses to have an afro perm – one of her appearance fails in the early 1980s.

The Other Side of Everest

I don’t usually share my blog with anyone else, but this one is powerful and I want to share this clear and honest piece of reporting – and this is about travel too. Shocking? Yes. A regular occurrence? Yes.

The Global Goddess

“Human trafficking is the second-most prolific organised crime on the planet after the weapons and the drug trade. But unlike drugs, a woman can be sold more than once and often many times in one day,” Sisterhood of Survivors, Kathmandu, Nepal
IN a pastel pink court building, the colour that little girls all over the world like to wear and a deep shade of irony, less than two per cent of Nepal’s human trafficking cases make up the Supreme Court caseload.
In the country’s District Court rooms, it’s less than 0.3 per cent. But there’s a blinding bullseye, one case that stands out from the rest. In March this year, in Nuwakot’s District Court in the country’s centre, one of Nepal’s sex trafficking ring leaders was sentenced to the nation’s harshest jail penalty in history.
Back in Kathmandu, in a basic brick structure adorned with hope, the women who helped…

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Anzac Day – Lest We Forget

Anzac Day – Lest We Forget

In Australia (for my overseas readers) we honour the soldiers who fought for their country in past wars that they were involved in. On the 25th of April it’s Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day.

I’ve serendipitously arrived in countries that have similar traditions, Veterans Day in the USA, Ochi (No) Day in Greece plus Greece’s Independence Day and Armed Forces Day in Britain. And there must be many marches/processions around the globe – as there would be a rare country that wasn’t involved in a minor political skirmish or a major. all out war in the past or in the present..

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Australian 1st Division troops march through the London streets on the anniversary of the first Anzac Day in 1916. Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament can be seen. 


In Sydney in 1916, one year after WWI ended, wounded soldiers from Gallipoli attended the march in convoys of cars, attended by nurses.

I have a complicated emotional history with Anzac Day. When I was a child it was a tradition that we went to the march (always called ‘the march’) in Sydney – my mother, myself and my little sister. We would watch the veterans from the WWI on through to Korea march by or be transported in the back of an open car. We, and the thick crowd would clap and wave our flags. Waving at our father – for we knew not what. He had never spoken about the raid on Darwin which I found out he had been under serving as a young lad who lied about his age to join the army.

Darwin being bombed – 9 February 1942.

At the end of the long march, we would head to Hyde Park to eat sandwiches and drink cordial that my mother had made. Our father would join us before he headed off to the pub to meet up with his army buddies. To me this was a heady thing. Who were these men, what did they talk about. As a kid I had no concept of war and participated in Anzac Day like it was Christmas Day or the Queens Birthday – some sort of celebration.


Two young men went off to war, one went to the army (my father Bill Wroe) and one went to the navy (uncle Bert Wroe).

While my father was in the pub involved with secret men’s business we went up to Kings Cross – notorious for Bohemians and gangsters in the late 50s. My colourful aunty Jean had a flat there and somehow my mother and the aunties disappeared and us cousins just roamed the Kings X streets. We hung around the pubs as every space was taken up with blokes playing two-up. There was a lot of change dropped by careless punters and we cleaned up. The Greek fish’n’chip shop in Darlinghurst Road got most of the booty as we feasted on chips, scallops, and battered savs.

These were idyllic days. And never an inquiring mind when at my grandmother’s as I gazed at the oval picture frames holding images of my great uncles. My nan said that she “lost four of her brothers in the war” – and all I thought that how could you lose four men. Where did they get lost?

Marching in the 1950s.

But as I grew older and the Vietnam War was front of mind and claiming space in the nightly TV news, I became enraged at the idea of a lottery, a barrel full of names where a young man of 19 years of age would be stamped on a ticket and they would be conscripted into the army to go fight a war in Indochina where nobody of their tender age even knew where it was. So I turned my back on Anzac Day and protested in the streets against the war. This wasn’t about the soldiers, who when they returned to Australia were unfairly spurned and were given a hard time, it was about our engagement in this terrible war. When Gough Whitlam was elected to Prime Minister he declared that the war was over for Australian soldiers in Vietnam and they were to be brought home.

Sadly it was a few decades until the returned Vietnam vets were recognised and honoured for their service. And through those decades, many were fighting for compensation and assistance with the cancers they came back with from Agent Orange – a deadly poison dropped across the south Vietnamese paddy fields to starve the enemy. And many of those young men who came home died from cancer and now men into their late 60s are still suffering from PTSD.) What a dirty little war it was.

I softened towards Anzac day about 20 years ago when I was in Winton, a little town in the middle of Queensland – out the back of beyond. I had a few days there and one of those days was Anzac Day. I wanted to see how it played out in the country town.

I woke before dawn and walked to where the town’s War Memorial stood. There were probably about 30 people there. Two kids from the local Scout troop stood sentinel at the memorial, and a couple of soldiers who had driven down from Townsville (600km) were here. A couple of old guys in wheelchairs were attending wearing their best suits and rows of medals pinned to the left side. A ratty old tape recorder played a creaky version of the Last Post and as the final sound faded out a huge flock of budgerigars took to the sky as dawn was breaking. I felt my heart stop and a great sadness come over me. What were those old guys remembering?


Winton War Memorial.

Along the way I asked my father about the bombing of Darwin and he always kept it light but said “the bastards kept on coming”. Dad was on the Ack Ack guns, he found Darwin very hot and his mates a good bunch . . . that’s all I got.

It’s funny that in the mid 60s when my parents separated that my dad went back to Darwin to meet up with his foster-brother (our Uncle Alf) and except for rare visits to Sydney he lived in Darwin until he died in 1995.

With the constant barrage of news we suffer every day from television and social media it seems like the world is on fire with war hotspots. People going crazy with grief, going crazy with rage, going crazy with a lust for blood. Will it ever end? I think not.

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Dad to Beverley and Dianne – Bill Wroe.

So for this coming Anzac Day let’s make it a day of remembrance for the fallen and for those who served and suffered. And importantly, remember the current/contemporary victims of war and how they flee their ragged and war-corrupted lands for a better and safer life – remember the grand deeds of our past – but there are less than grand and kind deeds occurring now.  Lest We Forget.

Writer Bev Malzard does not attend ANZAC marches in Sydney now and cannot watch it on TV as she tends to tear up. Does this happen because of age, sentimentality, empathy or a greater understanding of the world? Who knows, but as she slips back into hippiedom, she’s back on the streets crying out “make love, not war”.


How to get lost

How to get lost

OR – the road less travelled or driving miss crazy . . .or ‘are we there yet?’ 

At a pinch I could probably perform emergency surgery, whip up and decorate a four-tiered wedding cake, put out a bush fire, sail single-handed from Sydney to Auckland and hand tool a pair of leather boots. BUT I can’t drive. I don’t want to drive. And I have travelled all around the world without having to drive and am a well-travelled public transport passenger. (Never ride a bus or train without having a book at hand.)

And I don’t think I’m a bludger – don’t expect to be chauffeured like a princess but I do appreciate driving with my partner and friends.

I did try driving years ago and almost went into a wall in Maroubra and I actually drove into a river up the north coast of NSW. But you don’t need to hear the circumstances, it was a long time ago.


This past weekend I went on a road trip with an old friend. Now, we are both pretty smart women, my friend an excellent driver and travelling companion. We were driving from Sydney to Cooma, with a short coffee stop and another lunch stop. It is 397km from Sydney to Cooma and should take 4 hours driving. We ended up doing 605km and the trip took 8 hours.

I don’t know how this happens. From Sydney – Cooma is south. You just drive DOWN the road.

We ducked off the Motorway for a little lunch in Jugiong and then when we came back on the highway it felt wrong so we did an emergency u-turn and ended up on the outskirts of Yass – TWICE. Hysteria was building and uncontrolled laughing was the noise of the hour. We had a map, both of us had GPS’ in our phones which we used and with my immaculate sense of direction and navigation skills we should have sailed down the freeways with the utmost confidence of a perfect ‘getting there and arriving’ result.

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We mulled the disastrous timing over and remembered several times we had been together and got lost. We had another weekend away just out of Sydney and were driving up and down a road looking for a haunted property (that’s another story) before we saw the sign hidden by lack of light – or maybe it wasn’t there and decided to appear to taunt us. Same trip we lost a major town – Camden! How did that happen?

You could plonk me down in the middle of a foreign city and I would find the way to where I had to go, but co-piloting with my old mate – can’t trust we’ll get there on time.

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Is it a Sliding Doors phenomenon? A car-cursed thing? Because we talk too much and get distracted? Or my explanation is that the Twilight Zone has the door open for us at all times.

Anyway, we reached Cooma as I predicted we would. Next day we knew exactly how to drive to Nimmitabel on the Monaro Highway. Had brekkie in town and popped into the tourist bureau to pick up a little local info. Re-checked our route out-of-town (only to be polite, I knew where to go) and the woman behind the counter gave us totally different directions .. . and she was totally right. Geez.

The rest of the weekend went swimmingly perfect.


An overnight at a B&B in Nimmitabel with old friends, an encounter with a large wombat (whom my old friend rescued and is giving a five-star life before it goes back into the wild), great food and hospitality. We gave permission to our friends to tell the tale of our trip down at dinner parties – and they thought ‘ya couldn’t make that up’.

Journey Jottings:

  • Jugiong (despite its treacherous navigation interruptions is a top place for lunch); the countryside from there and further south is soooooo dry you can imagine it crackling – but when you see the colour of the Monaro Plains – it’s white-hot under the sun and not a green blade of grass to be seen.
  • Friday night in Cooma and the joint ain’t jumpin’. Found a fab Lebanese restaurant ‘Roses’ for dinner – but didn’t even see a lone dog taking itself for a walk through town.
  • Stayed at the only accommodation in Nimmitabel, the Royal Arms B&B (originally an old coaching in I believe). Comfy, warm and welcoming. Not too flash but clean and quirky and did the trick for a good night’s sleep.


  • AND because we were making such brilliant time driving back to Sydney we stopped in at Goulburn (Australia’s first inland city) to have a power lunch at The Paragon cafe.

    Vanilla Slice; Greek salad courtesy Garry Malzard; Paragon Restaurant.

Writer, Bev Malzard often dreams that she is in the middle of an emergency situation and has to drive someone to safety – no problems at all. Wonder what that means. And she was exaggerating in the first paragraph.

P.S/ Does anyone else have random Geographical Hiccups when they are driving?

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Royal Arms B&B

Cooma Visitors Centre Cooma

Roses Restaurant

Paragon Cooma

Who put the PORT into PORTUGAL?

Who put the PORT into PORTUGAL?

Portugal’s robust and vibrant small city of the north, Porto, is more than the sum of its many and varied bridges.

 I was coming to the end of a cruise along the silky Douro River in Portugal through an old part of the world that is thus far unspoilt, mellow and innocent of mass tourism at its most voracious.

We had visited vineyards that have been producing wine for hundreds of years, walked through sleepy, ancient villages and skipped across the border to take on Spain for a sunny afternoon.

But the cruise was at an end and a new landing and a new city was revving up the anticipation endorphins.


The vessel was sliding to where the river meets the sea, through the city of Porto.

This is an aged city and under a brilliant blue sky the view of the built-up apartments on the edge of the shore and the emergence of bridge after bridge, from wrought iron to modern concrete construction gives the river an energetic, gleeful aura.

Porto is high spirited, a charming place, jam-packed with solid buildings, Roman ramparts, higgledy piggledy alleyways, wide open Parisian style town squares, elegant boutiques, crumbling shop facades, blue and white ceramic tiled walls and wandering scruffy, off-hand dogs. Baroque churches display excessive gold decoration and overwhelming artwork, and cliff tops use the city as drapery along them. Upcountry attitude prevails here and the tripeiros (Porto locals) are hard working and have been quoted as saying: “we earn the money and Lisbon spends it”. Intercity rivalry?


Along the serene Douro River steep sided, terraced vineyards produce the ‘gold’ of the region – port wine. It makes its way down to Porto, named for the potent elixir and it was Porto that put the ‘Port’ into Portugal.

The main part of Porto sits on the craggy bluffs east of the mouth of the Douro River. Avenida dos Aliados is a broad avenue running through the central part of the city lined with handsome, intricately detailed, Art Nouveau buildings.


How could one resist taking this picture of a Portuguese cat on a hot tiled roof.

South of this avenue is the Ribeira district, the historic heartbeat and an eclectic and attractive neighbourhood.

Alongside the riverside promenade I view the traditional boats (barco rabelos) that used to ferry the port wine down the river. From here you can see wine lodges across the river in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia, a busy precinct but accessible, friendly and easy to navigate. It’s not too tricked up and its shabbiness conveys warmth and hospitality.

One of the bridges of the city is pretty special – the double decker Ponte Dom Luis I was completed in 1886 by a student of Gustave Eiffel (yes, that one). The top deck is for pedestrians and one of the city’s metro lines and the bottom deck carries cars and trucks.

Nearby to Avenida dos Aliados is the gorgeous San Bento railway station. It’s so glamorous: there’s huge Portuguese tiled artwork (azulejos) depicting battle scenes and the history of local public transport – no battles were fought over a tram line!

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One of my fave pictures ever. It was a scorcher and in the middle of town (Porto), the kids were cooling off the way kids do.

Not far from the avenue is the pedestrian ‘mall’, Rua  Santa Catarina.

This is the main shopping district of the area, with a host of shops for clothes, shoes, souvenirs and homewares and there are many cafes.


Black-suited, bow-tied waiters swiftly navigate crowded coffee houses balancing little silver trays bearing pastries, or cups of coffee.

The atmosphere in any eating or drinking establishment is vibrant and I was swept up in the joy of eating out really means – serious business.

On a corner in the shopping district is a building that startles with its glorious façade. The Capela das Almas is covered in lustrous blue azulejos. An integral part of Portuguese culture, azulejos typically, are painted, tin-glazed ceramic tiles that decorate the inside and outside of rooms, homes, and public buildings throughout Portugal. Not only decorative, they help control the temperature inside the buildings. The Moors introduced them to Spain and Portugal after learning about the azulejos from the Persians.



Porto people have the nickname ‘tripeiros’, meaning ‘tripe eaters. And therein hangs a tale.

When Henry the Navigator was preparing to sail to Morocco in 1415, Porto’s loyal citizens donated their best meat to the expedition, keeping the offal for themselves which earned them the nickname – tripeiros.

Fish, fish and more fish also suited me here but as well as an obsession with the local sardines I couldn’t get enough of the pastries. Ah, those buttery, fragrant Portuguese tarts, enough to melt a heart of stone.


And what is a visit to Porto without a tipple of the ‘gold’. You can buy direct from the warehouses in Vila Nova de Gaia but it’s nice to ask for a glass in a restaurant or café and join in the pleasant imbibing of Portugal’s best drop with the locals.

Writer Bev Malzard is lucky enough to live in the inner west suburb of Petersham in Sydney – locally know as ‘Portugal’. She was not sponsored to say this but heartily recommends ‘Sweet Belem’ pastry shop for the best Portuguese tarts (and many other sweet treasures) to be had in Sydney. She can be seen lurking around the shop at regular intervals . . .






Oh Vienna!

Oh Vienna!

Forever young, Vienna knows how to enjoy herself and share the love.

 (Mercer’s 20th annual Quality of Living survey recently announced that Vienna topped the world’s most liveable city list for the ninth consecutive year. See link at bottom of article.)

Landlocked and lovely, that’s Austria. A country of modest proportions that is neatly wrapped into a package that contains almost everything a visitor could desire. There’s the sounds of music, Mozart, mountains, strudel, lakes, cakes, castles and mighty fine museums, sparkling Christmas markets and brilliant ski fields – in fact the perfect place for a European holiday.


And top of the delicious Austrian cake is the capital and Grand Dame of the country – big, bold, hip and a work of exquisite art – Vienna.

Let Vienna be the one for you! A city that has not only rested on its elegant, pedigree laurels – it trims and reinvents them at regular intervals.

Discover Vienna by walking! The city reveals treasures around every corner. Start your day with a purposeful amble along and around the Ringstrasse – the road that leads to all things cultural and historic. Pedestrian precincts take in the grand architecture from Baroque to Art Deco and 70s glass houses.


Switch between the sights of the magnificent Vienna State Opera House to a clutch of old-school and hip and happening cafes – yes, coffee and café culture reigns supreme here . . . along with music, cakes and the best collection of museums in the world.

The city encourages and nurtures all cultural pursuits and galleries and museums have constantly changing exhibitions for young artists. Museums include left-of-field subjects such as Schnapps; Textiles; Undertakers; Graphic Artists, Torture and many more.

But the classic stalwarts are the Kunsthistoriches Museum; Leopold; Kunst Haus Wien; Liechtenstein Palace and for equine magnificence – the Lipizzaner Museum.

There are certain attractions to see in Vienna and experiences not to be missed. My considered and totally biased opinion is for you to follow my lead:

  • As Vienna’s cultural ascendancy continues to rise each year – head to any exhibition that’s on. From Gothic to Biedemeier to classic art to modern – it’s here.
  • Book for an evening at the Vienna State Opera House – even if you’ve never seen an opera before – time to change your mind set.
  • Must tastes are: Tafelspitz (slow boiled beef) served with horseradish and chive sauce; Vienna Schnitzel (the king of the table), tender flat veal, crumbed and served cooked to a golden colour – and usually very large servings.
  • Obtain a list of restaurants from the tourism bureau and that way you can eat your way through the entire menu of the Hapsburg Empire plus the delights of the new world.
  • Mixing old and new is de rigueur in Vienna so sample the city’s finest traditional food and signature tiny sandwiches at Zum Schwarzen Kameel – The Black Camel – a great place to start your food adventure in the city.
  • Now, let’s get serious about cakes and pastries! Patisseries are the sweet temples of our time and they include the famous Demel and Schokov, bakery and coffee house that display cream pastries and cakes that will bring a little tear of happiness to your eye and a life-changing experience to your mouth. Sacher Torte reigns supreme in all its glossy, chocolaty gorgeousness. You can purchase the Sacher Torte around town, but it’s all about the occasion when you have cake and coffee at the Hotel Sacher (best to go to the source).
  • Take an evening stroll through the Naschmarkt, the city’s fresh food open market selling olives, cheeses, oil, meats and sauerkraut from huge vats.


  • Coffee, coffee, coffee. No trip to Vienna is complete without a visit to a coffee house, an institution ingrained in the DNA of the Viennese. Enter the world of aroma and elegance and very good taste. Try a Kleiner Schwarzer – well before ‘espresso’ was invented, this little ‘shot’ of black coffee invigorated Vienna’s populace. And for the milk fanciers, go for a Melange – the ‘mixture’ that is quintessentially Viennese – a perfect marriage between coffee, milk and textured milk foam – with a pastry or apfelstrudel of course.
  • Favourite coffee houses include: vintage Cafe Central, Kleines Cafe, Cafe Korb, Cafe Diglas and Demel.
  • Go see the famous white horses performing at the Lipizzaner Show – the Spanish Riding School, for precision and tradition on show with magnificent horses.
  • Love a palace? There are tours through the divine 18th century Schonbrunn Palace. The lavish rococo rooms leave a lasting impression – think gold, gold, gold.
  • Vienna is a green place with serene parks. Walk through the Volksgarten, Stadtpark and Burggarten for fragrant roses and old trees that have many tales to tell.
  • Shopping . . . and there’s lots. The main hub for shopping is the city centre where fashion – is the fashion. Also there are many small boutiques specialising in young designers’ work. Watches, leather, homewares are being created by designers of diverse origins. And if you can bypass a snow globe there are beautiful souvenirs to purchase that are not kitsch or cliché. Souvenirs as gifts – if you can bear to part with them.


It’s difficult to sum Vienna up on a couple of pages, Hard to explain its vibrant personality, it’s fierce loyalty to tradition and its bold acceptance of the new and adventurous. The art of enjoyment is what Vienna is about.

World’s most liveable cities for 2018

TIP: Buy a Vienna Card on arrival for visits to lots of attractions and transport – great value.

AND take a ride in a Fiaka.

Writer, Bev Malzard has had many culinary excursions in Vienna and has eaten every dish mentioned above. And she has a little guilty secret that should now be told. She was given a gift of a Sacher Torte, wrapped safely in cellophane and packed into a stylish balsa wood presentation box. It wasn’t a giant cake but one that would nicely feed six well-mannered mouths. She had a morning to kill and sensibly missed breakfast as the long flight back to Sydney from Vienna would be adding a few calories to her over-indulged body. After packing, settling back for a meditative hour or so she thought a cup of tea would be nice. And that damn box of cake began to rattle and hum! She unpacked the cake and ate the entire thing – washed it down with several cups of tea – and felt no shame.

But she was awake for almost the entire flight to Dubai, and on to Sydney. The amount of sugar she had digested had come out to play for 12 hours. The lesson learned? Only eat half the cake in one sitting.