Five frequent travellers share their best global discoveries of 2019.
Glendyn Ivin, director of the feature film Penguin Bloom (out 2020) and The Cry on ABC TV
“Turquoise beaches and white sand don’t spring to mind when you think Scotland,” says director Glendyn Ivin. But that’s what he discovered at Iona, a tiny western isle off the Ross of Mull in the Inner Hebrides archipelago.
Ivin spent eight months in Glasgow while filming The Cry, which aired in 2019.
“Every weekend we’d explore another part of the country. The drive across Mull is insanely beautiful, all rolling bald hills and very dramatic with thin winding roads, and signs for ‘otters crossing’,” he says.
Iona is considered sacred by many, Ivin says, “Like entering another world. People believe ‘the veil is thin here’. It’s where believers think aliens will make contact.”
Non-believers can soak up the history of the ancient abbey, wander the tiny graveyard (a burial place for kings), and stand where Vikings
first plundered the shores.
Eat here: The Creel, a tiny shack/bar with seafood caught that day by the owner and local divers. It has sensational crab sandwiches and battered scallops. Fionnphort Pier, Isle of Mull
A katsu curry house, Tokyo, Japan
Damien Wilson, CEO Rode Microphones
“Japan is one of the coolest places I’ve ever travelled to,” says Damien Wilson, who visits for business several times a year.
His first stop? “I always go to this katsu curry place in Shibuya.”
Joto Curry, near Tokyo’s Shibuya train station, is a legendary haunt for the classic Japanese dish of “curry rice”: A crumbed cutlet (usually pork or chicken) on rice, slathered with a sweet, roux-based curry sauce.
“You order from a vending machine, but the best bit is the guy who runs it,” says Wilson, “He looks like a Japanese Johnny Cash. He’s got full
Brylcreem-slicked hair but he’s in chef whites. And he only plays Johnny Cash music.”
Joto Curry seats only about 15, so be prepared to wait. “Its fried food game is next level,” says Wilson.
Drink here: Another Wilson fave is Buri, a rockin’ standing bar and izakaya specialising in sake and yakitori.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
Tracy McNeil, musician
Canadian-born musician Tracy McNeil and her musician partner Dan Parsons spent three months playing and touring through Canada and the top of the US.
“We drove 13,000 kilometres, from the Pacific to the Atlantic,” says McNeil.
But the UNESCO-listed fishing village of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, won their hearts.
“It’s got all these old fisher houses, all beautiful reds, pinks and yellows so the fisherman could recognise their house from the shore,” she says. “And lobster rolls! Everywhere you turn!”
Hire this: For any touring musicians, McNeil says Long & McQuade is an incredible service with one-way equipment hire (travel coast-to-coast without doubling back).
Tel Aviv, Israel
Chris Zeiher, Lonely Planet writer
“Tel Aviv has the most vegans per capita in the world,” says travel writer Chris Zeiher, who estimates about 400-plus kitchens in the city sell vegan food.
“As a rusted-on carnivore, Tel Aviv was a massively tasty surprise.”
But Tel Aviv is also a massive party town.
“I love how it’s the antithesis of Jerusalem, which is incredibly orthodox and very traditional,” he says. “Tel Aviv is a hotbed. It’s such a liberal, hedonistic city. The beaches are a total flesh-fest and its rooftop bar scene is mint, with stunning views of the coastline.”
Party here: “Haoman 17 is a group of Israeli clubs and the Tel Aviv location is one of the city’s most popular, especially catering for the LGBTQI+ community,” says Zeiher, who visited for Eurovision.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia
Laura McKenna, youth worker
About two hours out of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, says Laura McKenna, who spent 12 months volunteering for an anti-corruption agency in the city.
“It’s got the Tuul River running through it and some really dorky but fun tourist attractions, like the 40-metre-high stainless-steel statue of Genghis Khan that you can climb up and look out at the national park.”
The only place to stay is in an intricately painted ger (Mongolian yurt), often with families that put on a huge feast with “lots of mutton and
“In springtime, there are heaps of wildflowers, and in summer they have tubing down the Tuul,” she says.
In winter, there are walks along the frozen river.
“It’s so open. It’s beautiful.”