Who Is a Traveller?

Travel is an amazing thing – it opens your eyes to the wonders of the world in all its glorious complexity. Travel teaches you to view the world in a more pragmatic way and to know your small, if not entirely insiginifigant, place in the grand scheme of the human race.

Travellers are not vacationers. They are not people who take two weeks off work a year to lay on a beach, or travel Contiki-style across 17 countries in 3 days.

No. Travellers are those stung by wanderlust.

Travellers are the people who never truly go home, even though at times in their life they find themselves in the place they are meant to call ‘home’. They are the people with the sparkle in their eye when they think about all the places they are yet to discover. They are the ones taking interest in the political, cultural and social events shaping countries never mentioned on the local news.

Travellers have a deep need to broaden their knowledge. To learn another language; to understand the history of another culture and to delve deep into the stories that have come together to shape what the world is today.

Travellers desire equality for all people. They know deep in their hearts that all humans should be treated equally regardless of birthplace. Travellers desire to strip the world of borders and restrictions and to give every person the same opportunity to discover the world as they have done.

Travellers are stripped of the biases placed on them during their childhood. They accept all people as they are. They wash away the fear of difference and see every person – regardless of race, religion, colour or language – as a potential friend.

Travellers are lonely souls, but have a network of friendships that can spread across the globe. Travellers understand this trait in others and reach out to strangers to form bonds of shared experience. Because travellers need those people around them. They need friendships with people who understand and support their passion for discovery. They require the acceptance of their chosen lifestyle; which many find impossible to gain from relationships with those left behind at home.

But most of all travellers are nomads. They are wanderers who deeply understand the value of things. They do not fear the future. They do not think of retirement plans and mortgages. They feel burdened by possessions and place the highest value on the things that cannot be measured in monetary terms – relationships and experiences.

Because travellers have figured it out. The meaning of life. They know in their hearts that everything will always work out in the end. That humans only need a few simple things to live. That memories are priceless, and that wanderlust is achievable.

Why Is There Such a Price Difference Between Champagnes and Sparkling Wines?

One of the most common questions I am asked with regard to Champagnes and sparkling wines is: “why is there such a price discrepancy between them and what are the differences?”

There are a number of factors that contribute to differences and the price differential. The method in which the wines are made, the variety and quality of grapes used in the wine, the time held before release and the distance the wine travels to reach the point of sale.

The Main Methods of Production

The most time consuming, intensive and consequently the most expensive method of producing sparkling wine is the traditional method used in the Champagne area of France. After a primary fermentation the wine is bottled where as the second fermentation happens in the bottle. Sugar and yeast are used to induce this second fermentation. In Champagne the wine has to sit for a minimum of 1.5 years. Then the wine has to go through the process of remuage (the gradual turning and inversion of the bottle) to get the lees (yeasty sediment bits) to settle in the neck of the bottle to allow them to be removed after which time the dosage (typically a mixture of sugar and wine) is added to top the bottle back up. Most Champagnes will be aged on lees for longer than the 1.5 years. Moreover, the Champagne has to reach our shores: not an insignificant distance!

The cost of producing sparkling wine in this traditional method (Champagne) is the most expensive way as it takes a good deal more time to produce, then a good deal more time before the finished product hits the retail market. Some Australian sparkling wines made using this method are kept for many years before release. The Arras Range of vintage sparkling wines are held en tirage for up to 10 years before release. Consequently the prices for these wines reflect the time and quality of the wines.

The Transfer method is another method used when after the first fermentation the wine is put in bottles for the second fermentation. After time in the bottle the wine is taken out and put into large tanks. The wine is then filtered, dosage added and then the wine is returned to the bottle.

The Charmat method, a process invented in Italy, is another way of producing sparkling wine. In this method the wine undergoes the second fermentation in stainless steel tanks, not in the bottle. The wine is then bottled under pressure.

The Transfer method cuts a fair slab of the time out of the production of a sparkling wine and consequently makes it slightly cheaper to produce. This method does allow more complexity in the wine then the Charmat method as the second ferment is in the bottle and the wine is left on lees for a period plus the winemaker has more scope to fine tune the wine at the end. The Charmat method makes a more simple style as the second fermentation is in the tank and not the bottle and there is no extended lees contact.

The last method and the cheapest form of sparkling wine production is Carbonation. The wine is simply injected with C02 in a tank and bottled under pressure as with sparkling soft drinks.

The Grapes

In the Champagne region of France there are strict controls on what grapes varieties can be used and the areas from where these grapes can be taken to make Champagne. The three main varieties allowed are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. There are a couple of others but they are rare and seldom used. These three varieties are what the better Australian sparkling wines are made from, although Pinot Meunier is used to a much lesser extent due to the relatively small amount grown here. The producers of premium sparkling wines source the best grapes available to produce the best base wine they can. Cheaper sparkling wines use less costly grapes and in the cheaper carbonated sparklings different varieties are often used for production.

One other factor that can be a price determinant, especially at the premium end, is the market forces that are in play. Due to the very small quantities some of the top Champagnes and sparkling wines are produced in small quantities so they can command large prices as there are always consumers willing to pay a premium to secure them.

The cost of sparkling wines is therefore a reflection of the manner of production, the grapes used, the time involved in the process, the holding time before release and how far it travels to hit the retail market. With sparkling wine, as with most very fine things in life, you get what you pay for: time, care, quality and limited supply. When next you enjoy a cold glass of bubbly you may like to ponder on the factors involved in its creation. But don’t think too hard: life is too short!

Top Ten Travel Destinations for the Savvy and Cultured

There are so many places on earth, so choosing the top destinations is really up to personal preference. Depending on whether you like tropical places, or rainy locations, or camping, or hiking, there are so many options to choose from. Below are ten places throughout the world that may be exciting and interesting to visit.

1. Costa Rica

If bird watching is something that you would like to experience, Costa Rica is a must for your top ten travel destinations list. In 2009, Costa Rica obtained a new birding route and it has over 500 bird species. With all these birds, it is important that you remember either your favorite birding binocular or, at a minimum, your compact travel binocular or monocular. The landscape is a must-see for naturalists. With its rainforest canopies, tropical biological research facilities, and family – fun reserves, this place is incredible.

2. Seoul

The capital of South Korea is known for its glamorous cafes, glorious galleries, and great fashion. As of 2010, it was referred to as the World Design Capital. If you are interested in art and fashion, and glamorous scenery is your motivation for travel, this would be a great place to visit. It’s also renowned for cultural and shopping opportunities and you can take advantage of low prices for SLR cameras and lenses, for example, during the day while attending cultural performances during the evening. Korean cuisine is excellent and, if you’re not handy with the flat, metal, Korean-style chopsticks your host or hostess will likely graciously provide a spoon and fork for you.

3. Sri Lanka

If you desire a setting that is filled with animals, and natural beauty, then sightseeing in Sri Lanka must be on your to do list. For more than two decades Sri Lanka experienced low tourism, as the country was plagued by a civil war. But, with civil peace, the natural beauty has once again become evident. Whether you want to see gorgeous beaches near seaside villages, or monkeys swinging from trees; this is the place to be.

4. Copenhagen

If you are trying to go green, Copenhagen may be a good place to include in your top ten travel destinations list. Copenhagen residents have bicycles paths around the city and tourists can ride free bikes, revealing the attitude behind why this city is known as a very “green” place. Scandinavia has historically been a conscientious steward of its ecology without being strident about it and you’ll enjoy the easy-going atmosphere.

5. Antarctica

This continent should definitely be one of your top ten travel destinations. The tourist boom is posing a threat to the environment, so it is important to visit before the continent is closed to more casual visitors. If you want to view some amazing landscape, and have first class access to views of some of the world’s last remaining glaciers, then Antarctica is a must. If you’re interested in sharing awe-inspiring vacation pictures when you return, you can’t go wrong with the rare beauty of Antarctica.

6. Shanghai

China is an interesting place to visit. If you want to travel through Shanghai, then you can always use the Maglev, which is a train that can reach speeds of 430 km/hr. Getting to see this city, and what it is has to offer definitely earns this place a spot on the top ten travel destinations. Whether you want to see museums that showcase 5,000 years of history, enjoy the delicious soup dumpling that they have to offer, or experience massage with yoga, or Chinese acupressure, then Shanghai is a travel destination worth exploring.

7. Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, is a city that many people have heard a variety of things about. For those who desire to explore museums, or go shopping in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles is the place for it. For those of us who have long aspired to meet someone famous, spending a day in Los Angeles is the one of the better things you can do to change your luck. You can also check out Venice beach if you want a more tropical setting, or Disneyland or Universal Studios if you are with the kids. Whatever the case, Los Angeles is a magnificent place to include as one of the top ten travel destinations.

8. Leipzig

If you want to visit a cultural destination, then Leipzig should be a destination to consider as part of your top ten travel destinations. With the numerous museums, you will be able to learn about German cultures and ways of life. The glorious churches, the magnificent buildings, and the parks and gardens make this city even more glamorous to explore. If you are a true history buff, then the Battle of Leipzig Monument may be a nice review. If visiting with a family, then the Leipzig Zoo will be a delightful destination. Whatever your interest, this is a nice German city that may be interesting and stimulating culturally.

9. Koh Kood

These luxurious islands in Thailand are for outdoorsy people who enjoy nature. Since more than half of Koh Kood is covered by tropical rainforests, and the seas offer crystal clear water accompanied by beautiful beaches, this is a tropical paradise. Whether you want to snorkel or scuba dive in the sparkling seas, or view the beautiful imagery of the sunset, or waterfalls, this island can be a breathtaking experience for beach lovers everywhere. You’ll regret it if you forget to bring your camera and travel binocular or monocular! Koh Kood certainly deserves a spot in your top ten travel destinations!

10. Mumbai

Have you ever wondered about the legendary Bollywood? You’ll want to include Mumbai in your list of the top ten travel destinations and here’s why. Mumbai is the capital of the film industry in India, and if you choose to visit this destination, you will get to indulge in some of the culture that goes along with this domain. In this dynamic city, you can even see the Taj Mahal resort, which is a must for history enthusiasts. If that’s not your area of interest, then there are always museums and art galleries to free your creative side. If you want to go shopping for the day, then there are a plethora of markets where you can shop for just about anything. How about visiting the famous tourist spot known as Powai Lake? This is a famous spot that attracts people from all over the world. But beware; the rumor is that the lake is infested with Crocodiles.