Marie Antoinette’s Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

Marie Antoinette's Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

After 3 years of renovation at the Chateau de Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s private chambers have been re-opened to the public for viewing.

The renovation, which began in 2016, was carried out in order to ensure the safety and longevity of all of the public collections that the Chateau houses. This included upgrading fire safety, and modernising the climate control which is designed to preserve the collections as well as possible – a technique employed by many museums around the world.

The large scale operation required full closure of the building, and so the Chateau used the opportunity to carry out a heritage restoration of the Queen’s apartments.

The Chateau was the Queen’s official residence alongside French King Louis XVI in the years prior the the French Revolution.

“Thus, the room of the Queen’s Guards has regained the magnificence of its decor, thanks to the patronage of the American Friends of Versailles and the Society of the Friends of Versailles,” the Chateau de Versailles said in a press release. “In the Queen’s room, the restorers were also able to reveal the original appearance of the spectacular rococo decoration, which thus finds all its legibility and virtuosity.”

Some of her furniture remains in their original positions, such as Marie Antoinette’s jewellery cabinet. The Queen was well known for her love of flamboyant jewellery in her younger years, and her collections have since fetched record amounts at auction.

Other pieces were replaced with similar items or remade to look like the original. The tapestries hanging on the bed and walls were re-woven in Lyon using the original patterns. Many of the original pieces had been auctioned off between October 1793 and January 1795 by the new revolutionary government after the abolition of the Monarchy.

The Queen was not known for her popularity amongst her peers or the people, and as a result spent much time away from the Chateau itself, and at her private retreat in the Hameau de la Reine. The French tabloids had long-before chosen Antoinette as their scapegoat in depicting the wrongs in French society, despite her later preference for a more humble existence away from the mischievousness of the Elite Society at the Chateau.

Her attitude was ambiguous at the outbreak of the Revolution, and she seemed uncertain whether to seek reconciliation from the people, or to run away.  Antoinette demonstrated great courage before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and before her execution on 16 October 1793.

To find out more about Court life at the Chateau de Versailles prior to the revolution, please download and enjoy Empire Builders: Kings of Europe: France, The Austro-Hungarians and the Russian Tsars – or order the DVD here!

Main image: Versailles, Kimberley Vardeman, Flickr Creative Commons

Turkey’s President Seeks To Turn Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

Turkey's President Seeks To Turn Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, has stated Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia should be re-titled as a mosque instead of a museum.

Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the foremost cathedral in Christendom for 900 years before becoming one of Islam’s greatest mosques for 500 years until 1935, when it was converted to a museum.

President Erdogan has brought up the issue of Hagia Sophia before. He does not say whether the status of the landmark site will also change.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned Erdogan’s comments.

“Hagia Sophia bears profound historical and spiritual significance to Muslims and Christians alike, and its status as a museum must be maintained,” USCIRF Chair says in a statement.

The Turkish strongman has provoked strong nationalist and Islamic sentiments during his time in power celebrating in particular the achievements of the country’s Ottoman past.

Watch our Empire Builders – Moslem Empires and Empire Builders – Christian Empires episodes to find out more about the history of Istanbul and its changing religions and cultures.

Golf, Cheating And Trump

Golf, Cheating And Trump

A new book by Rick Reilly, about Donald Trump’s golfing habits, quotes the US President thus: “They cheat, I cheat, I expect you to cheat.”

In the book, “Commander In Cheat-How Golf Explains Trump”, Reilly speaks to caddies, team mates and opponents who give multiple examples of how Trump refuses to allow golfing etiquette or rules to get in the way of becoming a winner.

According to the book, Trump always drives off first, drives his cart on the greens, and wears his hat in the clubhouse, as he lies and cheats his way through false victories on a spectacular scale. Trump claims he plays of a Three Handicap. He is not a bad golfer but according to those who know, his real handicap is about Ten.

As Trump fudges has way to glory we hear of countless instances of cheating – whether it be a Trump giving himself a “gimme “ on a pitch , taking second chances when it suits him or dropping his ball out of water hazards or bushes when no one is looking .

For the most part Trump asks his caddies to do the dirty work. And that doesn’t stop Trump doctoring his scorecard further both in a hole to hole basis, and then back in the clubhouse.

One caddie remarks that Trump’s nickname is Pele, because he is always kicking his ball back on the fairway. Another states: “Trump always has four balls in his pocket – if that tells you anything.”

Reilly remarks: “Golf’s traditions of being your own referee and calling fouls on yourself, clearly has no place in the world of Donald Trump, where it’s all about winning at any cost.”

Watch our Adventure Golf series now!

What’s Happening In New South Wales For 2019

What's Happening In New South Wales For 2019

With a host of exciting electrifying events and a calendar bursting with exciting anniversaries, it’s never been a better year to explore New South Wales.

Holiday-makers visiting in 2019 can take advantage of the array of events across these areas; including Byron Bay’s Bluesfest’s 30th anniversary and the inspiring Vivid Sydney Festival, as well as exploring some of the hottest new hotel openings and tourism experiences.

Home to Australia’s largest and liveliest city, Sydney, and the glorious Bondi Beach, New South Wales also features some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, from the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley vineyards to sun-kissed coastlines and endless outback vistas. Please see below for a roundup of some of the State’s most exciting news for 2019.

Vivid Sydney 2019

Australia’s largest festival returns from 24 May – 15 June 2019 to transform the city into a colourful canvas of light, music, ideas and a major celebration of the creative industries. Vivid aims to define the cultural identity of Sydney, with a grand platform for out-of-the-box thinkers, artists, musicians, creative professionals and educators to showcase their talents to local and international audiences. The festival comprises of three main elements; Vivid Light, Vivid Music and Vivid Ideas. Every evening, light installations and projections illuminate Sydney’s most famous sites including the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Darling Harbour and Taronga Zoo.

The Reinvention Of Darling Harbour Continues In 2019

The picturesque Harbourside location has undergone extensive renovations and a vibrant new space packed with unique restaurants, bars and stylish hotels is being revealed.

In 2019, the final touches will be put on the new Darling Square neighbourhood, on the site of the old Entertainment Centre. The Steam Mill Lane dining precinct was the first to be completed and it will be joined by Little Hay Street, a strip of al fresco cafes and shops that links Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Darling Harbour is also set to be the city’s new hotel hub. The high-rise Sofitel Darling Harbour led the way and will soon be joined by Vibe Darling Harbour and the five- star W Sydney in the striking Ribbon Building in 2019 or 2020.

Parramatta Cements Its Position As Sydney’s Second CBD

The west’s most stylish watering hole has recently opened its doors, on the 26th floor of Parramatta’s new V by Crown development. Nick & Nora’s is a 300-seat rooftop bar from The Speakeasy Group (behind Eau de Vie and Mjolner) and is styled like a New York penthouse. There are more than 50 Champagnes on the menu, 300 spirits and cocktails made with liquid nitrogen.

Sports fans will find plenty to love in Western Sydney too. The new £165 million Western Sydney Stadium (which replaced Parramatta Stadium) will be completed in 2019. Its 30,000 seats sit at a 34-degree angle, making it the steepest stadium in the world, and there are lots of high-tech amenities across the ground.

Upgrades Completed To Manly Wharf

sake-manlyPassengers getting off the ferry in 2019 will walk into a completely redeveloped Manly Wharf complex. The $9 million facelift has seen a second storey added and existing facilities upgraded. Saké and El Camino have opened new restaurants on the second floor, joining Merivale’s Queen Chow which took over from Papi Chulo in late 2018. Over on the beach side, the three-level Manly Greenhouse has an Italian restaurant on the ground floor, a grill on the middle level and an open-air rooftop cocktail bar.

Byron Bay Bluesfest Celebrates 30th Anniversary In 2019

Byron Bay Bluesfest, one of Australia’s original outdoor music festivals, is marking its 30th anniversary in 2019. Held over the Easter long weekend, the festival showcases blues and roots music from around the world with more than 200 performances over five days. The anniversary show is set to be the biggest yet, with artists like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Ray LaMontagne, Kasey Chambers and George Clinton to perform.

Upgrades To Walking Tracks Along The NSW South Coast

Hikers should plan a trip to the South Coast in 2019 with the completion of a £2.1 million upgrade to the Great Southern Nature Walk in the Royal National Park. Work is also continuing along the Royal Coast Track, which is set to be finished in 2020. An upgrade to Wollongong’s Blue Mile Patch has been completed with the new path linking Belmore Basin where walkers can stop for lunch with the local pelicans and North Wollongong Beach, ideal for families to play in the rockpools and shallow waters.

More Information

Destination New South Wales
Destination New South Wales is the lead government agency for the New South Wales (NSW) tourism.

Halal Tourism On The Rise

Halal Tourism On The Rise

According to analyst Thomson Reuters so-called Halal Tourism, catering exclusively to Moslem tourists, is taking off, particularly in the Mediterranean.

Thomson Reuters says Halal Tourism is expected to almost double in value from 180 billion dollars in 2017 to 280 billion dollars in 2023.

“Halal Only” tourist resorts offer halal prepared food, no alcohol and separate bathing areas for men and women. They also provide prayer rooms and mosques, and broadcast the call to prayer five times a day over hotel public address systems.

Halal Tourism is still largely focused on the Gulf region and traditional Moslem holiday destinations such as Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Iran and Indonesia. But now more and more hotels on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast are also offering Halal holidays and first resorts have also opened on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

According to halalbooking.com, Halal-friendly holidays are a response to a growing Moslem middle class.

Soumaya Hamid, who runs the online Halal Travel Guide, said: “The last 10 years have been about meeting the basic needs of Moslem travellers. The next stage is to take it further to new destinations and authentic experiences.”

Read our Middle East & North Africa destination guide for tips, articles and episodes galore on this one-of-a-kind destination!

The Average 40-Something Still Has 7 Countries To Visit On Their Bucket List

The Average 40-Something Still Has 7 Countries To Visit On Their Bucket List

The average 40-something still has seven countries to visit on their travel bucket list, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults aged 40 and above revealed travel is not just the domain of the young, with middle-aged Brits still working their way through a wishlist of destinations.

In fact, those polled have only travelled to a quarter of the countries they dream of visiting with popular backpacking destinations New Zealand, Canada and Australia top of the list.

It also emerged more than six in 10 have already got at least one trip abroad booked for 2019.

But three in 10 reckon they are more ‘adventurous’ with their holiday choices now than they ever used to be, with 38% preferring to go off the beaten track when they travel abroad. And rather than sitting by the pool, a fifth have tried snorkelling on a trip abroad while more than one in 10 have been on a safari.

The study also found nearly half of over 40s go on more holidays now than at any other point of their lives, with six in 10 putting this down to having more money than they did in the past.

And a quarter think it’s easier to get away because their kids are older, while 46% have more time, according to the research carried out via OnePoll.

Another 40% think their lives are simpler now, giving them more freedom to travel the globe.

It also emerged more than one in five adults aged 40 and above have also ‘gone travelling’, taking a month or more off work to visit different countries.

Top 20 countries on the wishlists of over 40s

1. New Zealand
2. Canada
3. Australia
4. Mainland USA
5. Italy
6. The Caribbean
7. Hawaii
8. Japan
9. Maldives
10. Greece
11. Spain
12. Portugal
13. France
14. Austria
15. Thailand
16. Germany
17. India
18. Singapore
19. Holland
20. China

First Mammal Species Recognised As Extinct Due To Climate Change

First Mammal Species Recognised As Extinct Due To Climate Change

The government of Australia has officially recognised the Bramble Coy melomys as extinct. The small rodent, found solely on a single island in the Eastern Torres Strait of the Great Barrier Reef, is the world’s first mammal to become a casualty of climate change.

Bramble Cay, the name of both the animal and its home, is at most only 10 feet above sea level. Since 1998, the section of the island that sits above high tide has shrunk from 3.9 hectares to 2.5 hectares – the rodents therefore losing approximatively 97% of their habitat.

The animal was last seen by a fisherman in 2009 and failed attempts to it down in 2014 led scientists to believe it was likely extinct.

“The key factor responsible for the extirpation of this population was almost certainly ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, very likely on multiple occasions, during the last decade, causing dramatic habitat loss and perhaps also direct mortality of individuals,” claimed a state government report.

The loss of an animal little known in the public mind has caused sadness and regret in Australia and abroad.

“The Bramble Cay melomys was a little brown rat,” said Tim Beshara, a spokesman for advocacy group The Wilderness Society.

“But it was our little brown rat and it was our responsibility to make sure it persisted. And we failed.”

By Natarsha Brown

Tenerife Gears Up To Host Deep-Sea Themed Carnival For 2019

Tenerife Gears Up To Host Deep-Sea Themed Carnival For 2019

The much-anticipated Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife will return in 2019 with a deep-sea theme that will see the island’s streets flooded with music, dancing and celebration for a month-long calendar of festivities. With vibrant parades, show-stopping costumes and unmissable dance performances that rival Rio, the Carnival promises even more fun and creativity this year, with its main events taking place between the 20th February and 10th March.

The internationally renowned Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the Canary Islands’ largest and most anticipated festival that attracts hundreds of thousands of people of all ages to Tenerife’s capital city every year. Considered the world’s second largest carnival after Rio, visitors fill the city’s squares and streets to dance salsa and view the spectacularly put together parades, which are all free for visitors.

Among the highlights of this year’s Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife are:

  • Carnival Queen Election Gala (20th February, 8pm): Considered by many as the highlight of the Carnival, the spectacular Carnival Queen candidates are often the focus of the stunning iconic images each year. Shimmering sequins, feathers, colours, fabrics and textures – the huge structures that the aspirant queens wear look truly amazing, and every costume seems to have been inspired by a fairy tale. The beauty and flair of the wearers make it even more difficult to choose one favourite design.
  • Opening Parade (1st March): The queen’s costume, her maids of honour and the Carnival groups take on a whole new level when seen close up parading down the streets of Santa Cruz, followed by costumed performers, dance troupes and musical groups.
  • Family-friendly Day Carnival (3rd March): The other face of Carnival: the daytime festivities. Groups of friends, children and families stream by in their finest costumes. Under the bright light of day, people of all ages and origins share the streets looking to have a good time.
  • Coso Apoteosis Parade (5th March): On Carnival Tuesday, when everyone’s muscles ache from Monday night’s dancing and their faces are still speckled with glitter, the city is once again filled with colour to celebrate the Grand Final Parade.
  • The Burial of the Sardine (6th March): The Burial of the Sardine takes place on Ash Wednesday and features a crazy, irreverent procession of weeping “widows” with a huge model fish, which is finally “cremated”.
  • Fireworks (10th March): The Carnival ends with a show-stopping fireworks display.

Together with Santa Cruz, other Tenerife towns will be also celebrating their own carnivals in February and March with lively street parades and parties, including Puerto de la Cruz, Los Cristianos and Los Gigantes.

More information

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife 

Travel to the Spanish Islands with Globe Trekker!

Alternative Winter City Breaks In 2019

Alternative Winter City Breaks In 2019

While Berlin, Budapest and Barcelona are great destinations for weekend city breaks, it can be tough to escape the crowds in these much-explored locales. This winter, why not learn about Soviet-era architecture in Moscow, try craft beers in Armenian microbreweries, explore ancient Georgian monasteries or shop at vibrant Jordanian bazaars? Here are five alternative city breaks, taking travellers away from the well-trodden path.

For a hipster city break, try Yerevan instead of Berlin

Buzzing Yerevan is an up-and-coming city break destination, with an industrial chic aesthetic, café culture, microbreweries and art galleries to rival the hip German capital. Music lovers can dive into the city’s live music scene with a night at the ultra-cool Kami Club, where jazz and rock bands accompany dinner and cocktails. Design buffs can witness fascinating Soviet-era architecture and modern art all around the city. History enthusiasts can learn about Armenia’s past and culture at the State Museum, the twelfth century monastery of Geghard and the Megerian Carpet Museum.

Yerevan © Travel Local

For rich history and thermal baths, try Tbilisi instead of Budapest

On the banks of the Kura River, close to the Silk Road and awash with rejuvenating hot spring baths, the beautiful cobblestoned Georgian capital, Tbilisi, abounds in similarities to Budapest but offers charms and intrigue all of its own. Learn about the city’s fascinating blend of Russian, Persian, Roman and Byzantine influences, while wandering its winding lanes and leafy squares and exploring its deserted monasteries, secret gardens and historic churches. The remnants of Soviet Georgia are all around, with 1930s bus stations and modernist structures as well as fascinating finds (including Lenin busts, vintage typewriters and iconic posters) on display at the Dry Bridge Flea Market. Fuel your explorations with stop-offs for comforting Georgian cuisine, from Khachapuri – bread and melted cheese – to Khinkali – tasty dumplings, all washed down with excellent, and very reasonably priced, Georgian wines.

Tbilisi © Travel Local

For grand architecture worthy of a Wes Anderson film, try Moscow instead of Vienna

Kick off this snowy getaway with an interactive walking tour around Red Square, stopping off at the imposing building that is Lenin’s Mausoleum, the magnificent neoclassical GUM Department Store, and the stunning red State Historical Museum, which houses a vast collection of Russian artefacts dating back to the Mongol invasion. A cruise along the Moskva River will reveal the old and modern faces of Russia’s capital, from the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral to the iconic Moscow City skyscrapers. Cold weather lovers will delight in an evening performance by Russian figure skaters, an ice-skating lesson in Gorky Park and a visit to a Siberian husky nursery.

Moscow © Travel Local

For delicious cuisine and winter sunshine, try Amman instead of Barcelona

Jordan’s sunlit capital boasts fine winter weather (up to 14 degrees and seven hours of sunshine in February) and excellent cuisine throughout the city’s many great cafés and restaurants, offering a relaxed alternative to over-crowded Barcelona. Learn the skills to recreate traditional Arabic dishes at home and dine on Jordanian dishes such as mansaf (the national dish, with Bedouin roots, containing rice cooked with meat and yogurt), warak enab (stuffed vine leaves) and musakhan (a Levantine-style pizza of sorts). Visit handicraft markets to shop for colourful Jordanian ceramics, straw baskets and herbal remedies; wander around the labyrinthine downtown area; explore the remains of the Islamic Governor’s Palace and Mosque, and much more.

Ammam © Travel Local

For sun-soaked souks, try Muscat instead of Marrakech

The exotic waterside city of Muscat is rich in history, grandeur and friendly Arabian hospitality. With dazzling souks, fantastic food and a stunning mountain backdrop, it rivals Marrakech as a winter sun destination. The city’s many souks boast colourful ceramics, carpets, antiques, spices and fruits – a sight to behold for foodies, photographers and magpies! Meander along characterful streets lined with clean, whitewashed buildings, explore ancient mosques and venture beyond the city for day trips to otherworldly desert oasis Wadi Shab – a rocky ravine full of palms, banana trees and turquoise pools – and Wahiba Sands – the vast sea of red and white sands, traditionally home to the Bedouin tribes.

Muscat © Travel Local

More information

TravelLocal
The ‘buy local’ expert in tailor-made holidays – makes undiscovered gems more accessible to its UK customer base via local know-how. TravelLocal currently showcases local travel companies from 49 countries around the world, across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, and North Africa. Just added: Russia.

Watch our Globe Trekker episodes below for more information and inspiration!

Globe Trekker – Georgia & Armenia

Globe Trekker – Russia

Globe Trekker – Syria, Jordan & Lebanon

Globe Trekker – Arab Gulf States

Tehran Bans Dog Walking In Public Places

Tehran Bans Dog Walking In Public Places

Iran’s capital city has banned city dwellers from walking pet dogs in public places – such as parks – as a next step in its ongoing campaign to discourage dog ownership.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi reportedly said Tehran’s Prosecutor’s Office had given its stamp of approval for the ban.

Islamic Iranian authorities regard dog-ownership as a symbol of pro-Western policy and ideology. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned the media from publishing any advertisements for pets or pet-related products and in just five years ago there was a push to fine and flog dog-walkers.

People have also been prohibited from driving a car with a dog inside.

Islamic tradition considers dogs to be “unclean” and traditionally in the past people have avoided having them in the home. However, dog ownership has become increasingly popular in recent years in the country, especially among the middle class.

By Natarsha Brown

Main image © A_Peach, Flickr Creative Commons