Ethiopia: Destination of the Month

Ethiopia: Destination of the Month

Quite simply, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most unique and spectacular countries.

Considered the cradle of humanity, as the location of the earliest found human remains, Ethiopia’s culture and history is as rich as it is extensive. It is a land of fascinating history and thriving culture, best epitomised through its distinctive and delicious cuisine and versatile and unique music.

These cultural and historical riches are complimented by astounding natural beauty. Ethiopia is a far cry from the arid desert state many believe it to be. The land-locked country is home to jaw-dropping mountain ranges, vast lakes and lush greenery, populated by a vast number of flora and fauna endemic only to Ethiopia.

Destination Guide: Ethiopia

Tough Trucks: Ethiopia

Join Zay Harding as he travels by truck across the equally tough and most spectacular cities and lanscapes of Ethiopia.

Read more on our episode page

The Ethiopian Diaspora

The Ethiopian diaspora, despite the long and extensive history of the country, is relatively small and confined to certain countries. With a total population of 107 million, less than 1 million live overseas. The largest diaspora community is in the United States (460,000), followed by Israel (130,000), Lebanon (110,000), Saudi Arabia (90,000), Italy (30,000) and the United Kingdom (20,000).

Learn more with our Study Guide

The Discovery of Coffee

Join coffee roaster and social entrepreneur, Dean Cycon and Judith Jones, as they unravel the secrets behind Coffee: The Drink that Changed America.

Dean and Judith chart the discovery of the bean in Ethiopia more than a thousand years ago, its journey into Arabia where it became a drink favoured among Moslems, and then to the growing number of coffee houses in the Ottoman Empire.

Brought to Europe by the Venetians, coffee houses sprung up in major continental cities throughout the 17th century, around the same time coffee made its way across the Atlantic to America.

After the Boston Tea Party, coffee replaced tea as America’s favorite hot beverage and became an essential ration for soldiers in the civil, first and second world wars. It went on to be established as the national staple drink served at the iconic American eatery, the Diner.

While the Italians invented the culture of drinking espresso, it was an American who invented instant coffee, and when American entrepreneurs brought espresso back from Europe, it was the catalyst for an artisanal coffee revolution exported around the globe.

Read more on our episode page

Wild Goats and Dancing Dervishes: The Evolution of Coffee from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is Africa’s major coffee exporter, exporting only Arabica coffee, the species that accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee. The country produces 200,000 tons, of which a little less than half is for domestic consumption. The Ethiopian Coffee Export Enterprise is responsible for the livelihood of 12 million people, which controls 50% of Ethiopia’s coffee market. Its processing plants are found in Addis Ababa (where five plants process up to 500 tons a day) and in Dire Dawa. This figurehead company sells to Germany, Japan, the USA, France, and the Middle East – specializing in unblended and organic coffee.

Learn more with our article

Where next? Travel beyond the COVID-Zone

Where next? Travel beyond the COVID-Zone

Leaving aside the all-consuming question of when, we’ve been thinking about all of the places that we just can’t wait to travel to.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One of Europe’s most unique cities, Amsterdam is known for its relaxed, liberal atmosphere, beautiful historic canals and its love of cycling. With a wealth of diverse, rich museums, lush green parks and thriving nightlife, Amsterdam is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the world, accommodating to a variety of different tastes. There really is something for everybody here.

Made it onto the world’s most welcoming cities list, and the top cities for millennials to live list

Top 10 Things To See & Do In Amsterdam

Beijing, China

China’s capital is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich, extensive history stretching back over three millennia. This history is exemplified by the plethora of physical relics, which convey a rich portrait of the city’s long, illustrious history. However, Beijing is not just a blast from China’s past but a thriving, massive modern city. The ancient and the ultra-modern sit side by side in one of the most world’s most culturally and historically rich cities.

The Top 10 Things to See & Do In Beijing

Watch: Pocket Guides – Beijing

Athens, Greece

One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens is also one of the most culturally and historically rich. The birthplace of democracy and by extension Western Civilization, Athen’s evolution has been critical to the culture of the world around it, and it remains a more vital destination than ever. In addition to the unparalleled wealth of ancient treasures it still houses, the city has emerged as one of Europe’s premier modern cultural destinations.

Study Guide: Ancient Greece

Read: Athenian Civilisation and Ancient Greece

Read: A Pocket Guide To Athens

Read: Top 10 Things To See & Do In Athens

Read: The Food of Greece

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is the biggest and most densely populated city in the whole of the Americas, its vast size matched by its rich cultural and historical identity. A bustling cosmopolitan city, Mexico City is a thriving centre for contemporary culture and the site of several breathtaking historical sites.

Read: Top 10 Things To See & Do In Mexico City

Watch: Pocket Guides – Mexico City

Watch: Empire Builders – The Maya

Watch: Bazaar – Mexico City

Sumatra, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands, Sumatra is known for its jaw-dropping natural landscapes and diverse range of wildlife. With many of the endemic species under threat due to deforestation and natural disasters, the island is definitely worth a visit to glimpse some of the world’s rarest creatures while you still can.

Being the coffee obsessives that we are, we’re very keen to drink some of the highly sought after Sumatra speciality crop. In fact, the highest rated coffees in the whole of Indonesia come from northern Sumatra where the Gayo Mountain, Lintong, and Mandheling coffees take top prizes as among the best in the world.

Read: Top 5 Things To See & Do In Sumatra

Read: Southeast Asian Coffee

Study Guide: A Global Guide To Coffee Tasting

Watch: The Story of… Coffee

Cuzco, Peru

The historical capital of Peru and the Incan Empire, Cuzco is the country’s most historically and culturally rich city, which has cemented its status as one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. With both Incan and Spanish Colonial relics adorning the city, Cuzco is a must-see destination for those travelling to Peru.

Read: The Top 10 Things To See & Do In Cuzco

Study Guide: Inca Empire

DVD: Around The World – Conquistadors, Aztecs & Incas

Watch: Bazaar – Peru

Algeria

Algeria has blossomed, since its independence in 1962, into a must-see travel destination that is ripe with ancient culture, classical history and genial hospitality.

Series (coming soon): Hidden Algeria

Read: Visiting the Middle East: Customs & Culture

Read: North Africa’s Natives: The Berbers

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 13, 2020

Cruise Ships dismantled for scrap metal

A number of disused cruise ships are being dismantled and sold for their scrap metal value following the disastrous impact of the coronavirus on the cruise ship industry.

The ships are being stripped down at a ship-breakers yards, the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility, in Turkey.

Machu Picchu opened up for one lone tourist

Peru has opened the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for a single Japanese tourist who had been waiting for almost seven months to visit the world heritage site.

Jesse Katayama was due to visit Machu Picchu in March before it was closed due to coronavirus. He went into lockdown with the rest of the nation, finding himself stranded.

Mr Katayama submitted a request to the ministry of culture and was granted special access to see the World Heritage Site before his return journey to Japan.

The ancient Inca citadel – Peru’s top tourist attraction – is expected to re-open next month, although no exact date has been given.

Jesse Katamaya’s Instagram

Lunch at Singapore Airlines, anyone?

Another quirky initiative by an airline has grabbed headlines this week, with Singapore’s national carrier offering lunch on a plane without a flight.

Diners, travel lovers and aviation enthusiasts have purchased tickets priced between $40 and $500, with every available seat selling out.

The airline is also offering home delivery of its meals, which also includes the airline’s tableware and amenity kits.

Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • World Health Organization director-general has warned against allowing coronavirus to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying the idea is “scientifically and ethically problematic”.
  • Texas has overtaken California as the state with the second highest Coronavirus death toll, after New York.
  • Trump returns to campaign trail less than 2 weeks after positive Coronavirus test. On Sunday, 11 days post positive test, Trump’s doctor said he was no longer a COVID transmission risk to others and said later on Monday that his most recent tests had all come back negative.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Machu Picchu, Pilot Productions ©

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 6, 2020

President Trump and First Lady contract coronavirus

U.S President Donald Trump tested positive for the COVID-19 on Thursday sparking widespread alarm and concern for his health. The President, who has previously expressed skepticism of the coronavirus, spent three nights in hospital receiving treatment before quickly reappearing to put on a strong face for the American public.

The president himself has expressed in a number of statements that he is feeling better. With the presidential election looming, he has made it clear that the show must go on.

Aside from the condition of his health, a number of people have criticised the President for maintaining a busy schedule whilst remaining potentially contagious to others.

Other world leaders who previously contracted the virus include Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro and the UK’s Boris Johnson.

Air pollution in New Delhi expected to worsen COVID-19

India’s capital is bracing itself for its annual ‘air pollution season’ where officials expect the poor air quality and other pollution related health issues to exacerbate the already serious coronavirus health crisis.

The air quality in New Delhi drastically deteriorates between October and December — to levels which are often considered ‘hazardous’ — due to various factors including stubble burning after the harvest, vehicle pollution, cold weather and post-monsoon low atmospheric pressure.

Cycling is still wheelie popular in Europe

A combination of a summer of fantastic weather, the desire to avoid public transport, and err… the pandemic… have proved the perfect series of events for the cycling industry.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Paris has once again closed bars and restaurants as officials raise their coronavirus alert level to maximum.
  • Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Donald Trump, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

We are very pleased to announce that following the very positive reception of our show Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete, the 3-part series has now been nominated for the prestigious award of Best Documentary/Factual Program by the Australian Academy for Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA).

The show, which was released in May of this year, was written, produced, directed and narrated by our very own Ian Cross!

The nomination comes following high praise from both Foxtel and the Weekend Australian Magazine, too!

Check out the series page for the show, the DVD, and our episodes On Demand below!

Episode 1: Invasion
Episode 2: Evacuation
Episode 3: Occupation

By Sofi Summers

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 30, 2020

Global deaths surpass 1 million

The report of the millionth death arrived on Tuesday, just short of 10 months since the first confirmed death in January. The current confirmed number of cases currently stands at over 33 million. Here are the top 5 nations with the highest number of deaths

PositionCountryTotal CasesTotal Deaths
1USA7,406,729210,797
2Brazil4,780,317143,010
3India6,229,47497,541
4Mexico738,16377,163
5UK446,15642,072
Source: Worldometers, midday (BST) 30 September

Disney to cut 28,000 jobs at theme parks

Walt Disney has announced that it will be cutting 28,000 jobs from its theme parks, mostly in the United States.

The decision comes in reaction to the new limited visitor capacity at the parks, and ongoing uncertainty about how long the coronavirus pandemic will last.

Disney lost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in the three months to 27 June.

Disney’s parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris are not affected by the announcement. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of the parks unit, said the company’s problems in the US were “exacerbated in California by the state’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

60 million Indians may have had the coronavirus, pandemic agency suggests

According to official data, India is the world’s second most infected nation, with more than 6.2 million cases. Officially, nearly 100,000 Indians have died due to COVID-19, though the country’s leading pandemic agency suggest that the real number is likely significantly higher.

Citing an antibody study which was run to determine the proportion of the population have had the virus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested that the figure is more likely closer to 1 in 15 Indians (aged over 10), placing the number at around 60 million, which is 10 times the official number.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • German Chancellor has urged Germans to “continue acting patiently” in the fight against the Coronavirus. She has this week begun to reimpose restrictions on the number of people who can meet following a number of outbreaks at larger gatherings.
  • Despite concerns for the future of office space across London, Morgan Stanley has decided to move to a new, bigger space in England’s capital. It is thought that currently only 1/3 of London’s workers are travelling to the office each day.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Disney, qin linlin, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 24, 2020

New restrictions for British public

The UK government has this week announced a new curfew on hospitality venues whereby they must close at 10pm. This new rule follows restrictions placed last week on the size of gathering, reducing the maximum number allowed in a group to six.

According to reports, police call handlers have been experiencing a very high volume of six-people violation reports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also stated that he is considering using the armed forces to support the police in enforcing new restrictions.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, pubs serving alcohol without food have been allowed to reopen for the first time since March.

Quantas sightseeing flight sells out in record time

It’s nice to share some positive aviation news this week after such a tough year.

Phobic Traveller: Getting Aviation Off The Ground

For a bit of novelty and fun for some, Australian flag carrier airline Quantas cunningly put on a flight which departs and arrives at Sydney and completes a 7 hour round trip of some of Australia’s most naturally stunning sights – from the sky!

The so-called Great Southern Land flight sold out in just 10 minutes, with ticket prices ranging from $787 for economy seats to $3,787 for business class seats (AUD).

Travel within Australia is largely prohibited at the moment, meaning that many have not been able to see the multiple incredible sights that the nation has to offer. The due to its sky-high nature, the flight circumvents the border restrictions and will allow those who choose the opportunity to appreciate the views!

Due to the popularity of the flight, Quantas have suggested that they might run more similar events.

A very quiet Taj Mahal

The world witnessed scenes of a very quiet Taj Mahal this week after it reopened for the first time since March. The absence of foreign visitors made for a very eerie atmosphere in a venue which welcomed more than 6.5 million visitors in 2018!


More Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • More than 600 students of Glasgow University have been told to self-isolate after 124 have tested positive
  • A handful of Dutch celebrities have been heavily criticised in the Netherlands after publicly announcing they were abandoning efforts to combat COVID-19.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: The De Beauvoir Arms, De Beauvoir Town, London. Ewan Munro, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

At present, more than 14,000 firefighters are fighting around 24 major fires across the state of California which continue to grow.

It is estimated that this year, an area totalling around five times the size of London has been burned by these wildfires.

The fires do not stop at the state border – Oregon and Washington state are facing similar destruction.

The smoke from the fires has turned the skies orange, prompting calls for various neighbourhoods most at risk to be evacuated. Similar fires in 2018 damaged or destroyed 24,226 structures, and caused 100 confirmed fatalities.

Dry and hot weather, paired with gusty winds, is helping the fires to spread.

Los Angeles county saw temperatures of 121F (49.5C), a record high over the weekend, and San Francisco hit 100F (38C) on Sunday, breaking a previous same-day record of 92F (33C) set more than 100 years ago in 1904.

These temperatures have two large risks attached to them. First, when combined with dry, gusty winds, can facilitate the spread of a fire. Second, they result in an increased electricity usage, primarily from the use of air conditioning systems, somewhat overloading the electricity lines. The power grids in California are notoriously sensitive to high temperatures.

California power companies have warned of power outages to attempt to control the situation and prevent any further fires from starting. Dried woodland material falling onto electrified lines was the direct cause of one blaze in the 2017 wildfires.

These record breaking temperatures are also causing electrical storms, with lightning striking dried areas of woodland. Dead, dry trees are the perfect fuel for a large blaze.

This week, one particular blaze was reported to have been ignited by a ‘pyrotechnic’ device used for a gender reveal stunt. Devices such as these often combust, releasing a coloured smoke, indicating the gender of the baby.

More information

Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe (Jan 2020)


Main image: The Woolsey Fire, California, 2018. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel, Explore, Defer?

For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!

As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.

However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.

Why not check out our free Study Guides?

In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!

Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.

Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World

Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.

COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.

Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.

“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons