Walk this way Macau's supposed Mediterranean-style charms - once the enclave's main selling point - seem now to occupy a niche market amid the rush to gaming tables, fireworks displays and international hotel complexes. So it's encouraging to see that the Macau Government Tourist Office has compiled an interesting selection of self-guided walks to help visitors explore some lesser-visited areas, such as the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (pictured above). Under the heading "Step Out, Experience Macau's Communities" are four walks: A Tour of Historical Trails; A Tour of Nature and Creativity; A Tour of Arts and Culture; and A Tour of East Meets West. The office's website en.macautourism.gov.mo offers downloadable maps of each walk and fairly extensive notes about what you'll see along the way. A video filmed along each route shows a fast-forward presentation of what will be encountered. Surprisingly, neither the Historical Trails nor the East Meets West walks pass by the ruins of St Paul's, which is a good indicator that even those familiar with Macau might see something new. The walks are each estimated to take between 1½ and 2½ hours. Smartphone apps are said to be in the works.
Wander woman Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands is one of the more interesting books to have come out of the 19th-century travel genre. Published in 1857, it is the autobiography of Mary Seacole (1805-1881), a Scottish-Jamaican Creole who made her own way to the front during the Crimean war to open a hospital, the British Hotel, in Balaclava, Russia. There, British soldiers found a home away from home in an environment frowned upon by her contemporary, Florence Nightingale. Seacole (right) had opened a British Hotel in Panama some years earlier and her entrepreneurial drive and insatiable wanderlust took her far and wide at a time when female travellers had a hard enough time even if they were white. As a member of an ethnic minority, to have travelled as she did throughout and beyond the British empire demonstrated an extraordinary spirit of adventure. Her autobiography - written in an attempt to escape bankruptcy after her return to London - will be released again at the end of this month, Cambridge University Press reproducing its 1858 edition. Other editions of the book are also available on Kindle.
More from the Maldives Eyes tend to glaze over when confronted by images of yet another resort opening in the Maldives, but the new Maalifushi by Como (pictured top), which will open its doors (or, rather, brush the sand from its reception area) next month, does look very impressive. The property is described on its attractive website as "the first luxury resort in the Maldives to open in the pristine Thaa Atoll in the archipelago's southwest" (presumably to sighs of "there goes the neighbourhood" by the local marine life). Accommodation is evenly split between over-water and on land, with the former being the more desirable. Bookings are being taken now and you can find opening rates as well as some free-night offers for next year at www.comohotels.com/maalifushi.
Deal of the week The annoying thing about package tours to Hakone (pictured top), just outside Tokyo, is that travellers are expected to get to the hot springs resort area under their own steam (no pun intended), with the extra expense and inconvenience this entails. Swire Travel's three-night Hakone + Tokyo package, however, includes round-trip tickets on the Romance Car, a train linking Shinjuku in Tokyo with Hakone, Enoshima and Kamakura. It includes two nights' accommodation at the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku, and for the night in Hakone, there is a wide choice of properties that come with a "private in-room open-air bath", according to Swire Travel. Prices start from HK$5,690 per person (twin share) although there are surcharges of several hundred dollars for stays that include a Saturday night. Breakfast and dinner in Hakone are included in the rates. The packages will be available until the middle of next month. Flights are with Japan Airlines. For further details and reservations, go to www.swiretravel.com and click through Leisure Holiday/Vacation Package/Japan.