Category: destinations

Melbourne, A Green City

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Flinders St Station Tram, Melbourne. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria.

Melbourne, Australia is becoming one of the greenest, most sustainable cities.

In the last 15 years, the metropolis has completely reinvented itself. The city of Melbourne is on track to become carbon neutral by the year 2020, and it has done so through bold city planning and an adoption of sustainable living by many citizens, buildings and neighborhoods.

If you want to visit a place where your carbon footprint may be lighter, look for flights to Melbourne on Expedia or Wego. The city is perfect for the green traveler on holiday. From green public transportation options to impressive water management tactics, rest, relax and rejuvenate in a city on the cusp of giving to the Earth more than it is taking. Here is a look at how Melbourne has become one of the most sustainable cities in the world in just over a decade.

The Melbourne Principles

Back in 2002, a planning event was held in Melbourne and sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Attended by experts from many countries, 10 principles for sustainable cities were developed, and Melbourne has worked hard to envision ways to put them into practice. They are:

  • Provide a long-term vision based on: sustainability, equality and individuality;
  • Achieve economic and social security;
  • See, protect and restore the intrinsic value of natural ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Help communities lessen their ecological footprint;
  • Build on the specific characteristics within an area’s ecosystem when developing and nurturing a sustainable city;
  • See and build upon each city’s unique characteristics, including human, cultural, historical and natural values and systems;
  • Empower people, and foster participation by those empowered people;
  • Increase and support cooperative networks so that all may work toward a common and sustainable future;
  • Promote production and consumption that is sustainable and
  • Assist in ongoing improvement with accountability, openness and good governing.

Green Transport

Public transportation is easily and readily available throughout Melbourne, but the city’s efforts to “green” how people get from point A to point B is centred on an extensive and dedicated network of bike lanes, as well as a walking culture. Swanston Street, which is the city’s main street, is closed completely to car traffic so walking and biking is encouraged in the heart of the city.

Urban Forest Strategy

Part of Melbourne’s efforts toward sustainability involves expanding its urban forest and green spaces. The city is working hard to make sure the trees already living in Melbourne are safe and healthy for at least the next two decades. With over 70,000 city council–owned trees valued at over $650 million, protecting the city’s forest is as much a smart financial move as it is a smart environmental one. Because of drought, climate change, urban growth and other threats, the city’s trees need greater protection. Melbourne is seeking to accomplish this through community involvement, forest expansion, soil moisture improvement and greater biodiversity.

Water Management

Melbourne has been in a considerable drought for over a decade. For that reason, water management has been a primary concern throughout all its sustainability work. Water tanks and storm water harvesting systems have been built throughout the city. In East Melbourne, the city installed the world’s first-ever, in-road storm water harvesting system. The city is encouraging its main buildings to incorporate water-recycling technologies.

Savoring New Orleans

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The famous Rue Bourbon (Bourbon Street) in New Orleans. Photo credit: Justin Watt.

With its vibrant cultural scene, fascinating history, unique cuisine and eclectic mix of influences, New Orleans is unlike any other city in the whole of North America.

The largest city in the state of Louisiana boasts countless highlights. Here are just a few and, if you like the sound of them, visit to book your trip.

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French Quarter, New Orleans. Photo credit: Sami99tr.

Get in the swing of things

If New Orleans is famous for one thing it’s jazz, and no trip to the city is complete without at least one visit to a music club. Establishments on and around Jackson Square, in the middle of the world-famous French Quarter, host live music performances most nights of the week.

Curious tourists join locals and touring musicians in hearing the hottest contemporary sounds well into the early hours of the morning. Go online, pick up a local listings newspaper or simply keep an eye out for posters and flyers to find out who’s playing where and when.

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Lobster Creole.  Photo credit: Nicole Tarazona.

Enjoy the local hospitality

New Orleans is also famed the world over for its food and drink, and with good reason. Traditional Creole staples such as gumbo and jambalaya can be found throughout the city, though for a dining experience to remember, check out the many restaurants clustered throughout the 19th century Uptown district.

After dinner, jump on a streetcar to the French Quarter where Bourbon Street’s bars have been keeping locals and tourists alike well-lubricated for decades. Most places open until very late, with live music performances almost every evening.

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Oak trees in City Park, New Orleans. Photo credit: Druszaj.

Take a walk in the park

Even outside the Jazz Festival or Halloween, downtown New Orleans is busy, loud and filled with people. Fortunately, it’s easy to escape the hustle and bustle, with City Park the perfect place to enjoy a spot of relaxation while also getting a different taste of local life.

As well as a contemporary botanical garden, this sprawling park is home to a sculpture garden, Storyland – where children are able to enjoy different playgrounds based on popular tales – and romantic tree-lined paths and boulevards. Over the Christmas season, lights are strung from the old oak trees and musicians play in the park.

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Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo credit: Royalpt78.

Learn about local history

New Orleans is without a doubt one of the most historic cities in the whole of the United States, with enough landmarks and other places of interest to keep even the most demanding history buff happy.

Highlights include the St Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, the oldest Catholic cathedral in the whole of the United States and long a symbol of the city itself. Also well worth checking out are the Old US Mint, now a museum telling the tale of not only money-making but also of the origins of the city’s jazz scene.

Take a stroll through a cemetery

Far from being a depressing experience, a trip to one of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries can be eye-opening, inspiring and memorable. Given the city lies on a high water table, most tombs are above ground and many are elaborately decorated, particularly those belonging to notable residents of years gone by.

Check out the Saint Louis Cemetery Number Three, dating back to the 19th century, for some of the best examples of the city’s life-affirming attitude to death.

A Great Green Weekend In London

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Great Northern Hotel, London. Photo credit: Great Northern Hotel.

London is a fantastic city with galleries galore, excellent shopping, countless interesting green spaces to explore and more restaurants than you could eat at in a year.

So what to do if you have just one weekend in the big smoke? Here’s what we recommend:

Take The Train

Of course, the greener way to travel is by train, so check into the fabulous Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross St Pancras Station which first opened its doors in 1854.  It couldn’t be more convenient, has 91 unique and classy rooms and evokes the glamorous age of rail travel once again. We’re hooked on this place and are rather fond of their restaurant Plum + Spilt Milk too, where food is seasonally sourced and delicious.

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London’s Hyde Park. Photo credit: mcxurxo.

Walk in Hyde Park

All cities need parks and Hyde Park, located right at the very centre of London, is enough to make Londoners proud. Many music concerts and events take place there throughout the summer, it’s home to the fabulous Serpentine Gallery and has a great café sitting at its centre. It is lovely to just go for a walk and get lost in Hyde Park on a summer day, though it’s great for exploring at all other times of year too.

Eat your Greens

We all know that meat production is a huge contributor to greenhouse emissions, so do your bit by tucking into a tasty vegetarian lunch. Food for Thought in London’s Covent Garden is an independent café with simple pine tables, white washed walls, quirky artwork and some of the capital’s tastiest vegetarian food. It’s a favorite with the locals and very popular with visitors who manage to find it. It’s on Neal Street – see here for more information.

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Inside the temperate house at Kew Gardens. Photo credit: Prl42.

Visit Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens were originally built over 250 years ago yet are still enjoyed by countless visitors every year. The Palm House is a must see and a walk on the recently installed Xstrata Treetop Walkway is sure to please young and old – watch out if you suffer from vertigo though!

Take a Dip in the Ponds

Hampstead Heath, another of London’s glorious green spaces, is home to three unique swimming ponds. They have been open since 1860 and have been providing Londoners with somewhere to cool off ever since. Surrounded by woodland, they feel utterly wild and best of all it doesn’t cost a fortune to take a swim (suggested donation £2). If you love nature you’ll enjoy the swimming ponds – ducks, moor hens, fish and dragon flies all make their homes there – though don’t worry there is plenty of room for everyone!

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Boris Bikes docked at Hyde Park, London. Photo credit: ZanMan.

Ride Boris Bikes

With 47,105 hires made in one day during the Olympics last summer, it is clear to see that this wonderful cycle hire scheme is having an effect on how people get around London. And it’s great news. You simply hire a bike, ride it wherever you choose and then return it to a docking station when you’re done. It’s such fun! Prices start from as little as £1 per hour. See here for more information.

Have we helped you to plan your next weekend away in London? We hope so – please let us know if you have any top ideas yourself and if you’ve enjoyed any of ours.