Fresh hopes for US and Australia reopening by Christmas


A curfew imposed on more than two million people in the 12 Sydney suburbs hardest hit by the spread of the delta variant will end on Wednesday night, authorities said, stopping short of easing more lockdown restrictions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned it would be against the law for unvaccinated people to attend any public venues once the state hits 70 per cent, when the fully vaccinated are promised more freedom.

“It’s black and white. If you’re not vaccinated, you can’t go to a restaurant, you can’t go to a cafe,” she said, urging the unvaccinated to get their shots soon.

New South Wales, the epicentre of Australia’s delta outbreak, reported a slight rise in new infections to 1,259, the majority in Sydney, from 1,127 on Tuesday, and 12 deaths.





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Live Travel news latest: Australia extends travel ban to put Christmas reopening in doubt – The Telegraph



Live Travel news latest: Australia extends travel ban to put Christmas reopening in doubt  The Telegraph



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Qantas posts $1.7 billion loss and tips travel by Christmas


AP National Business

By ROD McGUIRK
Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Qantas Group has posted a $1.7 billion pandemic-related annual loss and forecast Australia will reopen to international travel in December. The airline company said it expects flights to countries with high vaccination rates including the United States, Britain, Japan and Singapore would resume in mid-December. It predicted flights to countries with lower vaccination rates including Indonesia and the Philippines would restart from April next year at the earliest. Its estimates are based on vaccination rates in Australia. But the airline said travel into Australia was uncertain. It noted demand would be very low if Australia continued to require new arrivals to stay in hotel quarantine for 14 days.



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Nets-Bucks tip off 75th NBA season Oct. 19; Nets-Lakers headline Christmas slate


The reigning NBA champion Bucks will host the Nets, while Stephen Curry and the Warriors will take on LeBron James and the Lakers as the 2021-22 NBA season begins on Oct. 19.

The two opening day matchups, which will air on TNT, mark the start of the NBA’s 75th season. The Nets and Bucks will play first at 7:30 p.m. ET and Warriors-Lakers follow at 10 p.m. ET.

Brooklyn and Milwaukee’s rematch comes after the Bucks edged the Nets in overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 40 points and Khris Middleton hit a go-ahead jump shot with 40.7 seconds left to help the Bucks advance to play the Hawks in the conference final.

Curry’s Warriors failed to secure a spot in the playoffs after they were knocked out of the Play-In Tournament by the Grizzlies. James suffered his first defeat in a first-round series in 15 tries when Devin Booker and the Suns eliminated the then-defending champion Lakers in six games.

The first four days of the season will feature eight games that will showcase 12 different teams, the last eight players to win the NBA MVP Award and three rematches from the 2021 playoffs.

On Christmas Day, the Atlanta Hawks return to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks at noon ET on ESPN, while the Brooklyn Nets travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at 8 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN.

In this year’s playoffs, Trae Young had 36 points as the Hawks beat the Knicks at MSG in Game 5 to advance to play the 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In the Knicks’ 101-92 win in Game 2 — the team’s first playoff win in eight years — a fan spit at Young and was subsequently banned indefinitely from MSG.

Two “big three’s” will face off in a battle of the conference titans on Dec. 25, as Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving take on James, Anthony Davis and new Laker Russell Westbrook at Staples Center.

Celtics-Bucks at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC, Warriors-Suns at 5 p.m. ET and Mavericks-Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN make up the rest of the Christmas Day slate.

The following is the full schedule for opening week (all times ET):

  • Tuesday, Oct. 19: Nets-Bucks at 7:30 p.m. on TNT
  • Tuesday, Oct. 19: Warriors-Lakers at 10:00 p.m. on TNT
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20: Celtics-Knicks at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20: Nuggets-Suns at 10:00 p.m. on ESPN
  • Thursday, Oct. 21: Mavericks-Hawks at 7:30 p.m. on TNT
  • Thursday, Oct. 21: Clippers-Warriors at 10:00 p.m. on TNT
  • Friday, Oct. 22: Nets-76ers at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • Friday, Oct. 22: Suns- Lakers at 10:00 p.m. on ESPN

This story will be updated.

(Photo: Elsa / Getty Images)





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Celebrate Christmas In July In Bethlehem, PA


Since 1937, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has been known as Christmas City USA. With two Christmas fairs, displays in all of the store windows, and walking tours of the historical areas, Bethlehem lives up to its moniker. It is the place to be for Christmas.

This past year presented a quandary. Christmas was canceled due to COVID restrictions. What do you do if you are Christmas City USA?

Well, you move Christmas to July, of course. We were invited by the Downtown Bethlehem Association to come by for a preview of the festivities and to stay at the Hotel Bethlehem. Here is what we learned about Bethlehem’s Christmas in July.

1. The First Reason To Celebrate Christmas In July

Well, because you can. For Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s always cold and you have to bundle up. Coats, gloves, hats. and boots. Dodging the wind and snowflakes. Christmas in the summer: shorts, sunglasses, sandals. It is very cool — in a much different way.

Regina Ang Selfie with an Elfie
Regina Ang / Travel For Life Now

2. Take A Selfie With (Many) Elfie(s)

There are dozens of elves hidden in plain sight in the windows on Main Street. They are fun to find. Some are on trees. Others are upside down. Some red. Some green. They brought smiles to our faces. As you stroll, take a #SelfieWithAnElfie. You’ll have a chance to win a gift certificate if you post it on social media with the hashtag.

3. Enjoy The Window Decorations

As we strolled down Main Street, we enjoyed the creative window decorations. Our favorite was the display of pink flamingos with Santa hats. Another display had a model train passing through a winter scene with reindeer. There were 11 stores with decorations. You can also vote for the window that you like best.

Fest of the Seven Fishes. Lobster & Rice Specialty at Casa Del Mofongo
Regina Ang / Travel For Life Now

4. Fest Of The Seven Fishes

The Fest of the Seven Fishes runs from July 22 to 24. This is a July version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Seven restaurants are participating and will be preparing signature dishes. Some have already revealed their offerings, others haven’t.

We were able to sample the lobster rice specialty at Casa del Mofongo (very tasty and tons of lobster) and the fish tacos (we love fish tacos) at Urbano Mexican Kitchen and Bar. We also had a meal at Tapas on Main but not the Seven Fest dish. If you are of age, we highly recommend the sangria flight at Tapas on Main. On July 24, the Bethlehem restaurants will also have food that you can eat while strolling.

5. Participate In The Snowball Scramble

As you wander around town, you’ll see letters in windows. No, it’s not a health grade. The signs are all part of the Snowball Scramble. The letters spell out a phrase that you’ll be able to figure out once you’ve “collected” them all. You have to download a Scramble Card from the website before you go. This is a great activity for children and families. It will have you walking all over the downtown area.

You can also use Christmas in July to prepare for Christmas in December. There are cute shops all over Main Street. You’ll find handmade chocolate, gourmet popcorn, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, jewelry, clothing, art galleries, home goods, and more. There’s even a Celtic gift shop named Donegal Square.

Dev Chatterjee / Shutterstock.com

7. Visit The Oldest Bookstore In The U.S.

In 1745, the Moravian Church in Bethlehem established the Moravian Bookstore. It has been in continuous operation since 1745, making it the oldest bookstore in the U.S. and the second oldest in the world. In the 1700s, it catered to the Moravian community. Now it has something for everyone.

Inside of Gemeinhaus built in 1741. Now it is the Moravian Museum. Original benches from the late 1700s
Moravian Museum (Photo Credit: Regina Ang / Travel For Life Now)

8. Learn About The Moravians, One of the Oldest Communities in The U.S.

Since we are on the topic of the Moravian Church, it’s worth mentioning that its historical buildings are a must-see when you are in Bethlehem. As you wander around during Christmas in July, take a moment to learn about the history of Bethlehem, including the influence of the Slavic people who settled in the area. 

Gemeinhaus, built in 1741, is a national historic landmark and houses the Moravian Museum. The 1762 Waterworks Building, also a national historic landmark, was an engineering marvel for its time. The Moravian settlement is on the U.S. UNESCO World Heritage site shortlist and may soon receive that designation.

Historic Hotel Bethlehem in downtown Bethlehem PA
Stephen P. Crane / Shutterstock.com

9. Visit The Historic Hotel Bethlehem

If you are staying overnight for the Christmas in July Festivities, the Hotel Bethlehem is the most convenient place to stay. It was named the #2 Best Historic Hotel in the U.S. by USA Today. The hotel is beautifully appointed, with excellent service. Many famous guests have stayed there: Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and William Clinton, Amelia Earhart, Winston Churchill, The 14thth Dalai Lama, and Muhammed Ali, among others. There are even reported to be some friendly ghosts staying at the hotel.

10. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

If you are a fan of ice cream, then stop by the Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor. They serve Penn State Creamery Ice Cream. We had Death By Chocolate and it was “to die for.” While you are there, try a piece of the Moravian Sugar Cake. It is sweet and worth trying. Next door, you’ll find every candy imaginable at Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. If these two places don’t strike your fancy, how about a scone with clotted cream at McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar?

Sue Davies / Travel For Life Now

11. Spend Some Time At SteelStacks

If you are of a certain age, you may remember the Bethlehem Steel plant. Established in the mid-1800s, Bethlehem Steel closed 20+ years ago. If you’ve been to the George Washington Bridge, the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, or the Waldorf Astoria, then you’ve walked on or felt Bethlehem Steel. The hulking stacks and the history of the steelworkers loom large in Bethlehem. If you have time, make a visit to SteelStacks. There are tours available if you book in advance. Today, SteelStacks is used as an entertainment and arts hub. Check the evening calendar for concerts and other events.

South Side Urban Arts Trail. Iron Worker Mural
Regina Ang / Travel For Life Now

12. Do The South Side Art Walk

On the South Side of Bethlehem, you’ll find the Urban Arts Trail. It’s a tour of street and public art by local artists. There are sculptures, murals, and very inventive bike racks on the walk. There’s even a sculpture/bus stop. It is an almost 3-mile walk, so don’t try it in 90-degree weather like we did. The walk goes near SteelStacks and you can take a break there. The website has a map and information on all of the pieces.

Pro Tips

Bethlehem is an hour’s drive from Philadelphia and about 90 minutes from New York City. It’s a good day or weekend trip from anywhere in the Northeast. It’s easiest to get to Bethlehem by car. Pre-COVID, there were buses from New York and Philadelphia. Hopefully, there will be buses again in the future. Once there, you don’t need a car as the Christmas in July events are all within walking distance.

Christmas in July is very family-friendly. Finding the elves, snowball scramble, and, of course, ice cream and sweets, are all great activities for children of all ages. Downtown Bethlehem is fairly compact.

Most of the Christmas in July activities are reasonably accessible. There are curb cuts in the sidewalks and they are all paved. The Moravian areas have some steps. Hotel Bethlehem is accessible.

You can certainly do Bethlehem as a day trip, but we recommend spending the night for a more leisurely experience. There are many good restaurants to try and shops to visit. There are also a number of museums and other sites that we did not have time to see: the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Industrial History, the Banana Factory, and the Burnside Plantation.

If you want to make it a three-day weekend, Bethlehem can be the hub for visits to Allentown, Easton, and Nazareth.

You may need to book tickets and tours in advance for SteelStacks, the Moravian Museum, and some of the other museums.

Celebrate Christmas in July. Or, Christmas in December. You have two opportunities to do Christmas in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this year.



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Prince Harry: Why he stepped down from Royal duties and what the Queen bought Archie for Christmas | UK News


Prince Harry has revealed he stepped back from his royal duties because the British press was “toxic” and was “destroying” his mental health.

The royal gave a candid interview to British talk show host James Corden’s The Late Late Show – with the pair touring Los Angeles on an open air bus with afternoon tea.

Harry opened up about why he withdrew from Royal duties, insisting “I did not walk away”, but had to leave due to the British press affecting his mental health.

He said it was a “really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw”.

“We all know what the British press can be like. And it was destroying my mental health. I was like… ‘this is toxic’.”

He added: “So I did what any husband and father would do – I need to get my family out of here.

“But we never walked away – and as far as I’m concerned, what decisions are made on that side – I will never walk away.

“I will always be contributing – my life is public service – so wherever I am in the world it is going to be the same thing.

He said that he and Meghan are “trying to bring some compassion and try to make people happy and change the world in any small way we can”.

In a wide-ranging interview he also revealed:

  • The Queen bought Archie a waffle-maker for Christmas
  • He knew wife Meghan was “the one” on second date
  • He has seen little of LA because of lockdown
  • He prefers The Crown’s portrayal of his family’s history because it “does not pretend to be news”
  • He would like to be played in the series by Damian Lewis

On how he feels about the Netflix hit series The Crown, which is based on his family, he said: “They don’t pretend to be news – it’s fictional. But it’s loosely based on the truth.

“Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle – the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else – what can come from that.”

Prince Harry said he has a 'real issue' with false news stories about his family
Image:
Prince Harry said he has a ‘real issue’ with false news stories about his family

He continued: “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife or myself.

“Because it’s the difference between fiction – take it how you will – but this [news reports] is being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”

When Corden asked Harry who he would like to see play him on the show, he revealed without hesitation: “Damian Lewis”.

The red-headed actor, 50, is best known for his roles in Band of Brothers and Homeland.

James Corden and Prince Harry toured LA on an open air bus with afternoon tea
Image:
James Corden and Prince Harry toured LA on an open air bus and had afternoon tea

Harry also opened up about wife Meghan and how he knew she was the one on their second date.

“It wasn’t so much where we went but the fact we hit it off with each other, and we were just so comfortable in each other’s company,” he said.

“Dating me or any member of the Royal Family is kind of flipped upside down. All the dates become dinners or watching the TV or chatting at home.”

He said the pair got to spend “an enormous time” getting to know each other without other distractions, saying it was “an amazing thing”.

“We went from zero to 60 in the first two months.”

James Cordon Facetimed Meghan during the interview
Image:
James Corden FaceTimed Meghan during the interview

Former Suits actress Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, made a cameo in the interview via FaceTime when Harry and Corden paid a trip to the house from 90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

When Corden suggested the couple should buy the house, Meghan said: “I think we’ve done enough moving”.

During the visit to the house, Corden and Harry spoke to the owner and jokingly made an offer to buy it, before Harry asked if he could use the toilet.

“I’m actually dying for a pee. Can I use your bathroom?,” he said, before heading for a toilet break.

'I'm dying for a pee!'
Image:
‘I’m dying for a pee!’

Later on, Harry made the surprise remark that his grandmother the Queen bought his son Archie a waffle-maker for Christmas.

“My grandmother asked us what Archie wanted for Christmas, and Meg said a waffle-maker. So she sent a waffle-maker for Archie!”

He revealed Meghan now makes waffles with a “beautiful organic mix” and they eat them for breakfast with toppings including berries and syrup.

He also said both his grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip, know how to use Zoom, joking that his grandfather shuts the laptop physically when he finishes one of their calls instead of clicking off it.

Prince Harry and James Corden competed against each other in an obstacle course at the end of the interview
Image:
Prince Harry and James Corden competed against each other in an obstacle course at the end of the interview

Harry appeared to be enjoying fatherhood, saying his son Archie, aged one and a half year, is “hysterical”.

“He has the most amazing personality and is already putting three or four words together, he’s already singing songs,” he said.

The royal also revealed Archie’s first word was “crocodile”.



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Christmas travel: Flights breaking records despite CDC warning


Pre-Christmas air travel surpassed 1 million daily passengers nationwide for three consecutive days this weekend — breaking the record for most weekend travelers of the pandemic and outpacing Thanksgiving numbers that assumed that title and worried health experts last month. The 3.2 million passengers screened Friday, Saturday and Sunday mark the only time during the pandemic that over 1 million air travelers were seen three days in a row.

The influx in air travel undercuts health officials’ guidance for Americans to stay home this holiday season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance earlier this month that discouraged travel and urged those who need to travel to acquire coronavirus tests before and after their journey.

The next two contenders for busiest travel weekends were those before and after Thanksgiving, Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Daniel Velez said in an email. Pre-Thanksgiving weekend saw 3,052,139 travelers, with the following weekend logging 2,961,120.

On Saturday, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein noted the upswing in passenger volume on Twitter and shared images of TSA agents sanitizing security checkpoints, which have new touchless procedures and glass barriers between travelers and staff.

Farbstein also reminded passengers that they are permitted to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer through security — more than the standard three-ounce limit that applies to other liquids — during the pandemic.

“Until further notice, passengers may bring one container of hand sanitizer up to 12oz in carry-on bags,” the TSA said in a tweet. “Expect containers to be screened separately, which may add time to the checkpoint screening experience.”

While the amount of people flying every day is still consistently less than half of the same numbers seen last year before the pandemic began, the influx marks a steady increase in the frequency of days in which travel volumes surpass 1 million daily passengers. Since March, there have been a total of eight days that saw more than 1 million screenings: One occurred in October, four in November, and three have been recorded so far this month.

“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC said in updated guidance on Dec. 2. For those who do plan to travel, the agency recommends getting tested one to three days before the trip and three to five days afterward. It also says to “reduce non-essential activities for a full 7 days after travel, even if your test is negative.”

Those unable to acquire a test, the guidance says, should “reduce non-essential activities for 10 days after travel.”

Christmas travel numbers are likely to plummet in some other countries, like England, where officials have imposed lockdowns and banned holiday gatherings because of a fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus. Canada and some nations in Europe have moved to ban travel from England through Christmas.

While the strain has not yet been reported in the United States, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Monday called for the country to follow suit and ban travel from the United Kingdom.

“Right now, this variant in the U.K. is getting on a plane and flying to JFK,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “We have about six flights a day coming in [to JFK airport] from the U.K., and we have done absolutely nothing.”

Read more:

No, you still shouldn’t travel if you had covid-19

A man died after a medical emergency on a United flight. Now the CDC wants to reach fellow passengers.

Hallmark Christmas movies are like Mad Libs, so we made one for you





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New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world: readers’ travel tips | Christmas and New Year holidays


Winning tip: When Jesus fixed my Jeep, Chile

Our all-girls group’s plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve while camping and stargazing in Chile’s eerie Atacama Desert almost went wrong. Thanks to Jesus, it all worked out. Our tight budget led us to rent a Jeep from a backstreet car-hire firm in San Pedro. Result – a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, a friendly group of locals led by the aptly named Jesus, who had some mechanical knowledge, were also heading out to the desert and stopped to help us. Result: a shared trip, wine, food, campfires and songs in English and Spanish under the mystical Atacama skies to see out and welcome in the year in a stunning setting and with great company.
Yasmin Cox

Cold night with hot music, New Orleans

The Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans.
‘Overrun with revellers’: the Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

One New Year’s Eve in the early 2000s, my partner and I were housesitting a friend’s shack in New Orleans. The temperature had plunged to -5C, remarkable for Nola. Totally unprepared for this unusual cold, we put on our onesie long johns and walked to Mid-City Lanes Rock‘n’Bowl. We rented a lane, ordered po’ boys (a Louisiana sandwich) and beers, bowled, and wandered downstairs to hear legendary local singer and guitarist Snooks Eaglin (sadly no longer with us). Around 10pm, the Iguanas came onstage and the bowling lanes were overrun with revellers juggling food, drinks and kids while dancing to the Latin-tinged R&B groove music. New Year’s Eve, but just a normal night a Noo Or-lins.
Donna J Hall

Out with the old, Bologna

New Year’s Eve in Bologna.
New Year’s Eve in Bologna, when the burning of a large puppet is part of the festivities. Photograph: Getty Images

To see in 2019 we went to beautiful Bologna where there is a traditional burning of a huge effigy of a man – known as the vecchione (the old one) – in the square at midnight. This symbolises the discarding of all the bad things that happened in the old year and the welcoming in of the new. The night starts with dancing and music where people of all ages drink and enjoy life. As the clock struck 12 we hugged and the flames engulfed the wooden figure as confetti fell from the sky and balloons bounced over the crowd.
Louisa Guise

A Méri old evening, France

Wooden chalet in the mountains, Méribel, France.
Wooden chalet in the mountains, Méribel. Photograph: Nick Daly/Getty Images

In Méribel for New Year’s Eve, a couple from our chalet invites us to the local bar. We are a mixed bunch; some of us in snow boots, some dressed very fashionably. The champagne flows, glasses are raised, then raised again as the mellow sounds of a saxophonist flood the room. The fire crackles, while outside the crescent moon hangs amid twinkling stars; this is paradise. Later, we head to the village square where vin chaud is served by chalet staff as we watch expert skiers descend carrying lanterns while fireworks burst above them. The hour is upon us as we gather around a tree and welcome in the new year. Perfect.
Jean Broad

Wine and jive, Cape Town

Fireworks over Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.
Fireworks over Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Photograph: Alamy

A sunset picnic on Table Mountain, washed down with silky-smooth Stellenbosch wines, was a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Cape Town at the dawn of the new millennium. As the clock ticked towards midnight, I took the cable car down to the V&A Waterfront, looking down as the mountain tops of the 12 Apostles cast their dramatic shadows over the brooding Atlantic Ocean. An all-night open-air disco carried on the fun, welcoming in the new year for a crowd of all ages and races, with the then 81-year-old Nelson Mandela appearing on the big screen from his nearby home, jiving away, to join in the celebrations.
Gonca Cox

Salsa, sea lions and sculptures in San Diego

San Diego: Darth Vader and a host of stormtroopers join the annual Balloon Parade.
San Diego: Darth Vader and a host of stormtroopers join the annual Balloon Parade. Photograph: Alamy

The welcome sunshine was not just a bonus for me, but also for the sea lions who were basking on the jetty. The Balloon Parade was a party open to everyone, and it was a friendly family atmosphere along with plenty of salsa moves. At sunset, stunning stone sculptures were silhouetted against the skyline. Standing on the boardwalk in Seaport Village was the perfect viewpoint for the midnight fireworks and their sparkling reflections in the sea. A great way to see in the new year – and all for free.
Vanessa Wright

I found Paradise, Ethiopia

The View Of Lake Abaya from Paradise Lodge
Looking out on Lake Abaya from Paradise Lodge. Photograph: Grant Rooney/Alamy

One year I spent 31 December at Paradise Lodge, overlooking Ethiopia’s Lake Chamo in the south-west of the country, where the individual tukuls (round huts) could be described as primitive or charmingly rustic, depending on your take. At the gala dinner we ate berbere-spiced wats (stews) and injera, a flatbread that reminded me of foam rubber in looks and taste. The music ranged from Amy Winehouse to traditional Ethiopian tunes, and a group of Indian visitors proved funky dancers whatever the beat. Midnight arrived, along with a huge cake, poppers, streamers and more dance music. The international partying continued until the early hours when I returned to what seemed like a palatial room.
Helen Jackson



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