Beautiful and elegant, Wellington is the artistic, cultural and political centre of New Zealand. It boasts of museums, shops and cafes. Catch the cable car to Kelburn and make the journey back through the Botanic Gardens; admire the best city views from the Mount Victoria Lookout; stroll along the boardwalks and the foreshore; and try authentic Maori cuisine. This is a city with true British origins.
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According to the terms and conditions, an eligible flight is a “domestic flight marketed and operated by Virgin Australia, except where a domestic flight is flown as part of an international journey”.
It also must be booked and ticketed in a fare class that normally accrues Velocity points.
To take advantage of the offer, Velocity members will need to activate it on the Velocity website or app, and simply book an eligible flight by April 25.
The offer is one of the ways airlines are looking to get passengers back in the air after the COVID-19 slowdown.
“Velocity Frequent Flyer is continuously looking at ways to reward our more than 10 million loyal members and our triple points offer is a really great example of that,” the airline said in a statement.
“Loyalty works both ways and just recently we had our largest number of domestic flight bookings in the one day in our 20-year history and so we’re saying thank you by offering this fantastic offer to encourage Velocity members to explore Australia.”
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A good meal always tastes better when accompanied by a side serve of salt air and the sparkle of sunlight dancing on the water. Make lunch at one of these waterfront restaurants – all an easy drive from Sydney or Melbourne – the main course in a memorable day trip.
BEROWRA WATERS INN, BEROWRA WATERS
It’s the bush view across the sun-dappled water. The sandstone, glass and tin-topped building by Glenn Murcutt. The arrival by boat – or, if you want to make a real splash, by seaplane. All these things have helped make Berowra Waters Inn, set on the tranquil shores of the Hawkesbury an hour out of Sydney, one of our most memorable lunch spots. What really sets this place apart, however, is the kitchen’s creative approach and rigorous technique, evident not just in showstopper dishes such as the crab custard with miso, but also in the complimentary bread and butter, upscaled here into a brioche bun served with whipped treacle butter.
The third generation of the Cregan-Clayton clan has now stepped up to run this Central Coast landmark, and it shows. While locals still cruise past to pick up some fresh fish or a serve of fish and chips, the famously laid back restaurant is looking more stylish than ever and the wine list now has some serious chops thanks to the resident sommelier. The short-but-sweet menu has some unexpected offerings, including barramundi spring rolls and spicy tuna tostadas, but regulars will tell you that you can’t beat a bowl of unpeeled prawns followed by the classic fish and chips.
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THE BOATHOUSE HOTEL, PATONGA
A long and lazy meal at one of the many waterside Boathouse properties, with their trademark blue-and-white, driftwood-dotted interiors, has become something of a Sydney institution. This newest outpost – the first on the Central Coast – has a truly special location in the sleepy hamlet of Patonga, reached by a 90-minute drive from Sydney or a 30-minute ferry ride from Palm Beach. The menu offers something for every palate, from burgers and pizzas to kingfish ceviche nachos and the famed Boathouse trout board, laden with pate, smoked trout and sourdough. Wash it down with a frozen watermelon margarita.
So much has changed in Newcastle over the last 10 years or so: the pavement cafes, the street art, the artists’ studios, the microbreweries and specialist roasters are all hallmarks of the new Newcastle. What hasn’t changed are those magnificent beaches. No place is better positioned to drink in that ocean view than the Merewether Surfhouse. For a memorable meal, skip the pizza and café offerings on the lower levels and head straight to the top, where Merewether Surfhouse Italian rules the waves. Start with a cannelloni of avocado slices wrapped around spanner crab and topped with salmon pearls, before moving on to a chargrilled swordfish accented with fennel, capsicum, tomato, olive and capers.
Thank you, Rick Stein. It’s not that we didn’t love your charming Mollymook getaway – it’s just that the drive was a smidgen too far for a day trip. Now we have the Port Stephens property, we can treat ourselves to one of your memorable meals and still have time for a touch of post-prandial dolphin-spotting. Book a seat on the terrace and take your pick from the inviting menu, which features everything from Singapore-style chilli crab to fish pie. If you haven’t yet tried Stein’s oysters Charentaise – oysters with spicy sausages – now is the time to indulge yourself.
Let’s talk strategy. Do you like to reconnoitre your meals, perusing the menu online and pondering your choices before you arrive? Or do you take it on the fly, guided by the mood of the moment? Planners have a distinct advantage when it comes to dining at Crusoe’s on the Lake. It’s wise to book ahead if you want to get your hands on one of Crusoe’s seafood platters, laden with blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns, Sydney rock oysters, lemon pepper squid, panko-crumbed prawns and battered sweetlip snapper. If you wait to order on the day, you may miss out.
At the Beach House Geelong, it’s all about getting the timing right. Don’t book your lunch too early; you might want to leave room for a quick dip in the pools at Eastern Beach beforehand. Then again, you don’t want to leave it too late, either, and miss out on a post-prandial waterfront stroll? And of course, you don’t want to rush your meal, either. As you’d expect from any Mulberry Group (Liminal, Common Ground) outlet, this grand dame of a seaside pavilion has plenty of enticing options on the menu, from local mussels cooked in white wine sauce and served with charred toast to a chicken burger with house-made kimchi on a brioche bun.
Nostalgia is best measured out in small doses, and The Rocks gets it exactly right. The setting may be wonderfully yesteryear – who can go past a classic clapboard house, particularly when it is perfectly positioned to watch the boats sail past? But the food, critically, is utterly contemporary. Raw bar choices include sashimi and fresh-shucked oysters or a Vietnamese salmon salad and a trio of tartares – tuna, salmon and kingfish – served on betel leaf. If you fancy something heartier, try the red duck curry or the sticky BBQ pork ribs in a sesame hoisin sauce.
You don’t have to be in the mood for wine tasting to pull in at boutique vineyard The House of Jack Rabbit – although if you are, give the pinot noir a go. These days smart wineries are multi-tasking, and The House of Jack Rabbit has made sure its restaurant and café are as much an attraction as the cellar door. The views across the bay to Geelong, the You Yangs and Melbourne are panoramic, and what’s on the plate is just as enticing. Good options include the wallaby shank salad and the fried local squid, or tuck into a buddha bowl of black bean and brown rice with avocado and capsicum.
No-one plans a seaside lunch and hopes for bad weather. However, if your booking is at The Cape Kitchen at Newhaven, looming clouds may be the best thing that could happen. While this restaurant is glorious on a sunny day, its front-and-centre views of Bass Strait can be even more magnificent when the weather is tumultuous and the ocean turns up the drama. As for the food, choose between grazing on share plates on the deck – think grilled Skull Island prawns or spiced lamb kofta – or opt for the two- or three-course set menu inside.
Same same but different. Surrounded by glorious Apollo Bay views instead of street art, Movida’s Lorne outpost delivers that inimitable Movida vibe, while playing up the seaside feel with a menu showcasing local seafood. Start small – perhaps with a serve of concha, a pastry shell stuffed with tuna sashimi and charred citrus – so that you can indulge yourself with the whole flounder served with saffron butter sauce. If you need to walk it off, add an after-lunch stroll to Teddy’s Lookout or Erskine Falls to the agenda.
With a bucolic setting overlooking a willow-fringed lake – there are even ducks, for goodness sake! – Stillwater at Crittenden Estate Winery has the long lunch feel sorted. The kitchen teams seasonal produce from the kitchen garden with the latest harvest from local organic growers, and dishes draw on a range of flavours from around the globe. Start with spiced quail tempura teamed with roast sweetcorn and puffed rice or zucchini flowers with heirloom tomatoes, basil oil and olive crumbs, before moving on to a tender sous vide lamb rump or a perfectly roasted turmeric cauliflower.
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Australians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 could be able to travel overseas without going into hotel quarantine or even being asked to quarantine at home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the health advisory committee had been tasked by the national cabinet to come up with a blueprint on options.
“What we are asking the medical expert panel to tell us is what are the thresholds that we need to be able to meet to do things such as the following – Australians who are vaccinated being able to travel overseas and return to Australia and not go into hotel quarantine, potentially not even into home quarantine at all,’’ the Prime Minister said.
“That will be a major change and to extent to which Australians returning from overseas who have had recognised vaccines also approved here in Australia with appropriate accreditation can return to Australia on that same basis and to enable potentially down the track travel from low-risk countries with similar vaccine arrangements.
“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today but what we are working and planning for and have tasked the medical professionals who advise us on is what are the marks we have to meet to enable us to start opening up Australia more than we are now?”
Australia has already established a ‘travel bubble’ with New Zealand that was finalised in the last week and the PM hinted Singapore could be next.
“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries,’’ the PM said.
“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage it is still some time away. The message from the National Cabinet is we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country.”
There has been some speculation that in the early days of the international border reopening that priority will be given to business travellers and international students ahead of holidaymakers.
“You’re right, the risk may be such you may limit it to exempt categories,’’ the PM said.
“And that would be the sort of thing we would currently allow people to travel for, which is occurring right now, but that could be done with greater confidence because of the vaccination and when they return they may not then have to take up valuable places in hotel quarantine.
“Or it could be more broad as you say. But I can tell you one thing..the more Australians who are vaccinated, the more likelihood there is of being able to have the types of arrangements that I mentioned. If the vaccination population is lower, then that of course limits to options of borders, and of the other things that we’ve spoken about. So all of those options are on the table.”
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When the Currowan bushfire ravaged the NSW south coast last year, Silos owner Rajarshi Ray and his wife, Sophie, opened their winery doors at Berry to provide free food and board to evacuees and their pets. Then floods damaged the bulk of their grapes, so as well as a smaller vintage, they bottled hand sanitiser when COVID-19 hit. Roadwork from the Berry to Bomaderry Princes Highway upgrade right at its front gates has meant one of the best views and cellar doors in the Shoalhaven has been easy to miss. No more. Sip wine (the tri colore of dessert wines makes a great souvenir) or visit the alpacas and purchase their woolly products. See silosestate.com
FEAST AT PILGRIMS
Pilgrims is a 40-year-old Milton icon, now with several outposts including one recently opened in Bronte. The mothership on the main drag in Milton remains a mecca for vegetarians and vegans. Will it be a Bliss burger (mixed grain pattie) or a millennial (curried lentil pattie) for lunch? Buy a big bag of home-made granola so you can take home some South Coast crunch. All this food can fuel your shopping spree to help revitalise the local economy – still hurting since the bushfires. Think of each purchase as a community service. Pop into fancy frock shop Sarah Gabrielle, for Saturday afternoon bubbles while you peruse the sale rack. See pilgrims.cafe
TOUR AND TIPPLE AT CUPITTS ESTATE
Photo: Destination NSW
Former landscape gardener Rosie Cupitt used to run her own garden tours of France until she and her husband, Griff, who ran the Bowral pub, bought this Ulladulla farm in 2003. They converted it to a winery, restaurant, brewery and fromagerie with one of the region’s best views over the Budawang Ranges’ Pigeon House Mountain. Now chief cheesemaker, Rosie and her family are the main cheerleaders of the Slow Food South Coast movement. Sons Wally and Tom make the wine and beer. Daughter-in-law Libby, Tom’s wife, runs the restaurant. Take a tour of the cool stone underground cellar forged from local Milton monzonite rock, to taste any of its 24 varieties or enjoy their brews with views. See cupitt.com.au
MOSEY INTO MILTON’ HOTEL’S MICROBREWERY
Former chef and professional bodyboarder Damian Martin started brewing beer for a family wedding. Now he runs microbrewery Dangerous Ales, out of the 1870 Milton pub. The beautifully restored building re-opened after three years of work in December 2019, just before bushfires devastated the region. A variety of beers (stout, pale ales and even gluten free) are on tap, and are a great accompaniment to the pub’s home-made bread, house marinated olives and tasty counter meals. A new children’s playground will keep the kids happy, while you take in the view to Narrawallee from the new timber deck. Raise a glass in memory of Laurie Andrews who died fighting bushfires at nearby Yatte Yattah during the fires. This was his last timberwork. See themiltonhotel.com.au
RICK STEIN AT BANNISTERS
If there is a more beautiful view than Bannister’s pool bar where you can see frolicking dolphins at sea, it’s yet to be discovered. Come for cocktails or pre-dinner drinks before dining at Rick Stein’s onsite restaurant at Mollymook Beach. The menu changes with the seasons and attentive staff will find you the perfect accompaniment to whatever you order. It’s hard to beat the platter of fresh oysters and prawns. The blue tiled feature wall looks more like Morocco than Mollymook, but taste the fresh seafood and you will understand why foodies flock here for its freshness. See bannisters.com.au
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The penthouse pool is the go here at the Rooftop Bar and grill. Lounge poolside and just gaze at the canopy of gumtrees from this elevated position among the treetops. Or sip ‘n swim, order a coffee or cocktail post-plunging into the pool. You can order fresh baked goods for breakfast, a la carte, or binge at the buffet. Mediterranean- Australian fusion food for lunch or dinner (burrata with grapes and charred sourdough are recommended.) Even though it is just 80 metres from Mollymook Beach, it is hard to leave the comfortable reclining sun loungers. See bannisters.com.au
Helen Pitt stayed as a guest of Bannisters Pavilion.
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A plane carrying Pakistan’s parliament speaker and a number of politicians was forced to turn around on Thursday, after explosives were found in the airport in Afghanistan where the aircraft was set to land.
According to local media, the plane was about to descend when the pilot turned around from landing at Kabul after explosives, apparently years old, were found near an airport building.
While it was not immediately clear who the explosives belonged to, General Reyaz Arian, the commander of Kabul’s international airport, said the explosives were placed at the airport some years ago during construction work.
As a result of the shock discovery, the airport was shut down for several hours on Thursday and all flights in and out of the Afghan capital were either delayed or turned around.
The flight carrying Pakistan’s parliament speaker will be rescheduled rather than cancelled.
Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan, tweeted about what he said was a “security threat” to the Pakistani delegation.
“The plane was about to descend when the control tower informed the pilot about the airport’s closure,” he said. “New dates for the visit will be decided after mutual consultations.”
It is understood the Pakistani delegation was to stay in the Afghan capital for three days under the leadership of Asad Qaiser, speaker of the lower house of parliament.
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America may be best known for historical buildings such as the Empire State and White House, but you’d do well to admire some of its amazing contemporary architecture too.
RAY AND MARIA STATA CENTRE, BOSTON
With its wandering walls, random curves, colliding facades and tilting columns, this Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) building is as disorienting as a funfair house, and looks as if it’s about to collapse. The deconstructivist design by Frank Gehry mixes brick, glass, metal and paintwork, so the eye never really settles in one place. One critic called the building’s whimsical outline a “crinkled sculpture”. See web.mit.edu
CENTRAL LIBRARY, SEATTLE
Famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is responsible for this soaring box of steel and glass, with its oddly-angled facades and apparently floating platforms. Its lattice-like exterior throws bands of light across the interior, and floors flow upwards in a spiral that follows the Dewey Decimal System. Like much contemporary architecture it has been controversial, alternatively described as exhilarating and innovative by some, oppressive and depressing by others. See spl.org
FAENA FORUM, MIAMI
There’s lots of striking art deco and modern architecture in Miami, but there’s no overlooking this stunner, also by Rem Koolhaas, just a block from Miami Beach. The building for public events references both opera houses and ancient Roman forums. Half is wedge-shaped, half is curved, and the whole appears to be wrapped up in bands of white, thanks to the irregular arrangement and shapes of its windows. See faena.com
US AIR FORCE CADET CHAPEL, EL PASO
Colorado might be famous for its landscapes, but the state’s most visited man-made attraction is this structure of glass, steel and aluminium. Built in 1962 and now considered a classic of modernist architecture, it features a row of 17 spires linked by tetrahedrons of glass. The interior of stained glass, which becomes progressively lighter towards the altar, is even more striking. See usafa.edu
AQUA TOWER, CHICAGO
This looks like the ghost of a building, or a tower built from ice that’s about to melt and collapse, and at some angles it seems chunks of the façade have already fallen off. Its architect Jeanne Gang was inspired by Great Lakes limestone architecture. The rippling, sinuous residential skyscraper is made from a series of irregular concrete floors, with balconies also contributing to the building’s wave-like, sculptural appearance. See allianz-arena.com
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DALI MUSEUM, ST PETERSBURG
If you’re building a museum devoted to surrealist Spanish artist Salvador Dali then it had better be quirky. This Florida building rises to the occasion, with globular glass protrusions known as Enigma and Igloo erupting from its concrete façade, as if the building is slowly being swallowed by an alien blob. The soaring glass entrance hall features a spiral staircase that could be from a Dali painting. See thedali.org
JEPPESEN TERMINAL, DENVER
Denver airport’s Jeppesen Terminal features pitched roofs that recall the peaks of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, or perhaps early settler wagons or native tepees – and they certainly prove airports don’t have to be boring. The tent-like roofs are made from wafer-thin fibreglass coated with Teflon, thin enough to let in light. The terminal is often cited as having one of the best architectural designs of any American building. See flydenver.com
PEROT MUSEUM, DALLAS
This science museum is itself an exhibition of cutting-edge sustainable technology and futuristic architecture. It features a large, split cube that appears to float above a multi-storey plinth covered in greenery, which captures most of the building’s solar and water needs. A glass oblong containing escalators is attached, seemingly precariously, to the exterior. Like many great contemporary buildings, it looks ugly from some angles, sublime from others. See perotmuseum.org
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, LOS ANGELES
Fans of architect Frank Gehry will recognise his style in this building’s sweeping metallic surfaces, some angled, some undulating, and all resulting in a constantly changing profile as the sun casts shadows throughout the day. The form is meant to represent musical movement. Attend a concert here by the Los Angeles Philharmonic if you can; the acoustics are as wonderful as the building itself. See laphil.com
ONE WORLD TRADE CENTRE, NEW YORK
This skyscraper on the site of the Twin Towers destroyed during the 9/11 attacks is a symbolic 1776 feet (541 metres), the date of American independence, and has a striking façade of angled, mirrored glass tapering towards the summit in an echo of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. The world’s fastest lifts bring you to the 102-storey observation deck in 47 seconds. See oneworldobservatory.com
The writer travelled both as a guest of numerous tourism offices and at his own expense.
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The island, just 8km off the WA coast, is not only a popular place to stay overnight – day-trippers love it as well.
Typically, a visit to the island takes just 25 minutes on a ferry from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, or 90 minutes via a ferry from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.
With over 63 beaches across the island, the attraction of calm and clear waters is an easy sell.
Rottnest’s most popular activities include swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing, as well as whale watching cruises and even skydiving sessions.
While the island always experiences high demand during the peak season of Christmas, this coming festive period saw more bookings than normal.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the week of December 27 to 31 were all booked and paid for by travellers, with the official booking authority listing May 3, 2021 as the next available date to book accommodation for New Year’s Eve.
Since Western Australia’s borders opened to other states and territories, various regions including the Margaret River and Broome have experienced a surge in enquiries and subsequent bookings.
Speaking to PerthNow, Seashells hotel general manager Deb Williams said that their hotel in Broome was fully booked until the end of the year.
“The last couple of months have been way busier than usual and we’re very full from now all the way to the end of school holidays in October,” she said.
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Housing a plastics company and trading centre, this wheel-like building looks as if it’s about to roll into the muddy Pearl River. It’s the world’s tallest circular building and, unlike many others, its central hole is open to the air. Some compare it to ancient jade discs and Chinese coins, others note river reflections produce the lucky number eight. It must be working: $38 billion of plastics are traded here annually. See gz.gov.cn
OLYMPIC GREEN, BEIJING
Relive the spirit of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a visit to Olympic Green, where you get a double whammy of whacky architecture. The National Stadium (aka Bird’s Nest) looks as if it was built by crazed storks, while the eye-popping National Aquatics Centre (aka Water Cube) appears to be covered in bubble wrap. It now houses a water theme park where you can swim beneath giant suspended jellyfish. See n-s.cn and water-cube.com
TEAPOT BUILDING, WUXI
Wuxi is a major tourist town and ancient trading port on the lower Yangtze near Shanghai, but particularly known to the Chinese as a source of red clay teapots. What better shape, therefore, than a 15th-century teapot for the 10-storey edifice housing the tourist information office? The building, which was funded by a local billionaire, is made from steel covered in aluminium sheets and stained glass, and can rotate 360 degrees. See wuxi.gov.cn
CCTV HEADQUARTERS, BEIJING
This 44-storey building – is it one building bent over, or two joined together? – resembles a strange gateway or Mobius strip or, according to detractors, a giant pair of boxer shorts. Its radical shape and huge cantilever were a huge structural challenge considering its location in an earthquake zone. It looks best at night when illuminated in appealing, somewhat muted colours, over which its structural black tubing zigzags. See cctv.com
STARSHIP ENTERPRISE, CHANGLE
You probably have to see this building from the air to appreciate it looks just like the USS Enterprise, even if it’s officially known as the Sunny Heaven Building. Built by a Star Trek fan with far too much money in order to house his gaming company, the homage stops in the interior, which is a regular office building. It’s the only officially licensed Star Trek building in the world. See netdragon.com
HOT SPRING RESORT, HUZHOU
Designed by the appropriately named MAD Architects, this Sheraton hotel rises beside Taihu Lake, a two-hour drive from Shanghai, like a giant doughnut, though it’s actually supposed to reference classical humpback bridges. At night, LED lights on its exterior provide ever-changing, multi-coloured patterns that make the hotel glow and provide marvellous reflections in the lake water. The resort comprises suites, villas and a spa village served by hot springs. See starwoodhotels.com
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ALIEN EGG, BEIJING
It’s not hard to see why the National Centre for Performing Arts is nicknamed “the Giant Egg”, or as Beijingers call it, “Alien Egg”, though it’s a flattened egg, perhaps more resembling a water droplet. The giant ovoid is covered in titanium on one half and glass on the other, and rises out of an artificial lake that creates near-perfect reflections, best appreciated at night under spotlights. It’s reached via an underwater corridor with glass ceilings that provide rippling light. See chncpa.org
ORDOS MUSEUM, KANGBASHI
This brand-new museum in Inner Mongolia is said to be inspired by the Gobi Desert, though the Gobi Desert doesn’t appear to have any other huge polished metal blobs lying about. The facade is covered in metal louvres, dispensing with the need for windows and reflecting the surroundings so that the blob sometimes seems to merge into the landscape. The light-filled interior has sinuous shapes and feels like walking through an Arizona canyon. See zxm.nmgtour.gov.cn
LOTUS BUILDING, WUJIN
We have Aussie architects Studio 505 to thank for one of China’s most beautiful weird buildings, a series of three lotus blossoms of graded pinks and purples and an interior as flooded with light and colour as a contemporary cathedral. The complex houses municipal buildings and a conference centre, some of it partly hidden beneath the lake. Changing facade colours make this a popular local spot for an evening stroll. See cnto.org
PIANO-AND-VIOLIN BUILDING, HUAINAN
Now that you think about it, what better place for a rehearsal and performance space for music students than a couple of giant musical instruments? The glass violin forms the atrium and houses stairs and escalators, while the piano body hides the useful parts of the building. There’s a roof terrace under the open lid. The music students have gone, sadly, and this is now a showroom for city development plans. Whatever next? See ah.gov.cn
Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of tourism offices and at his own expense.
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