Five under-the-radar European cities that have to be seen to be believed

Impromptu flamenco dancing in Granada, SpainThis article was sponsored byHelloworld Travel & Cruise Centre

Europe is a rich tapestry of cultures stitched closely together, yet each somehow retains a unique combination of culinary delights, natural landscapes, ancient historical backbones and cult-icon edginess.

The one thing each culture does share is a celebration of life –and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in this than avoiding the tourist epicentres and taking the road less-travelled.

Here are five incredible under-the-radar European cities worth a look-in.

Mykonos Mykonos is bursting with vivid fresh flavours including ruby-red tomatoes and seafood straight off the boat.

When it comes to the Greek Islands, travellers often flock to luxury destination Santorini, an island withno shortage of tourism traffic. But if your idea of an island getaway is less crowdedand more calm, think Mykonos.

Mykonos’ main town is lined with beautiful white-stone cobbled laneways with hanging magenta bougainvilleas overhead dousing you in fragrance. The iconic ultramarine blue trim that lines the facades isrivalled only by the intense blue of the surrounding AegeanSea.

Magenta bougainvilleas are a common and pleasurable sight on the island.

Mykonos seems to work on a clock that ticks slower than the other islands, and there’s no shortage of beach clubs, fine dining and shopping, from beautiful handmade tassel bags to luxury brand name shop fronts like Louis Vuitton.Iconic landmarks include a row of 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above Mykonos town.

Stockholm Stockholm feels really edgy, yet also holds centuries of incredible history within the city.

There’s no delicate way to say it –Stockholm is really good-looking. The city is situated across 14 separate islands stitched together by passenger boats and bridges that have been in vogue since the stone age.

The low-slung islands between the Baltic Sea and Mälaren (Sweden’s third-largest lake) have experienced a rapid technological finesse but somehow retain their ancient magic and charm.

Dizzying – a pedestrian walk on Sergels Torg with the glass obelisk Kristallvertikalaccent. It is central public square in the city in Stockholm, Sweden.

Wander through the streets of Stockholm and you’ll see an abundance of leafy parks, winding walking trails and swimming spots lined with waterside bars and restaurants. Look skyward and you’ll notice the romantic spires of the skyline particularly around Gamla Stan, the well-preserved Old Town founded in the mid-13thCentury.

Waterways surround the many islands that make up the city of Stockholm.

But Stockholm has the personality to match the beauty. Debatably the cool-capital of Scandinavia, the city attracts the brightest thinkers and has names like Spotify and Minecraft as some of itsmost successful exports.

Even the subway is a work of art – T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden

This has created a flow-on effect of trendy cafes, skandi-fashion and funky art galleries.Fantastiskt!

Naples Naples is full of attitude and authenticity – somewhat grimier than glossy Milan or overrun Rome.

Forget the glossiness of Milan or the vibrancy of Rome –Naples is an unapologetic Italian city with attitude. Situated on the west coast and boasting the country’s best pizza, Naples is an incredibly underrated destination.

Naples’ coastal location means the city is full of the freshest seafood for the perfect spaghetti alle vongole.

The city is also an incredible launching pad to visit Mount Vesuvius, the still active volcano that destroyed nearby Roman town Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast, a hidden luxury destination for the stars. Or stay local and discover the incredibly significant art and architecture of Naples, including a 13thcentury castle and a fresco-lined cathedral.

The streets of Naples hold centuries of history and a real Italian edge to them.

Cruise to glamourous nearby island Capri located in the Bay of Naples, famous for designer fashion, sour Italian liquor limoncello and handmade leather sandals. A sight not to be missed is the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the ocean glows an electric blue, thanks to sunlight passing through the cave.

The light that shines in makes the Blue Grotto seem eerily electrified

Monte Carlo Interestingly, the citizens of Monaco are forbidden to enter the gaming rooms of the casino. The rule banning all Monegasques from gambling or working at the casino was an initiative of Princess Caroline, de facto regent of Monaco, who amended the rules on moral grounds.

Feeling lucky? Head to Monte Carlo in Monaco, one of the four traditional quarterssituated on a prominent escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps on the French Riviera. Try your hand at poker in the world-famous Place du Casinoinwestern end that has turned the quarter’s name into a world-famousphrase for fameand extravagant wealth.

Head to the east of the quarter into the community of Larvotto to enjoy Monaco’s only public beach, where the sand is thick and grainy and the ocean is a deep turquoise colour. Keep an eye out for celebrities and royalty –Monaco has long been a European playground for the stars.

It’s a place fit for a queen – royalty from all over the world often holiday in Monte Carlo.

Time your trip to one of the many sporting events Monaco is famed for hosting, includingCircuit de Monaco, on which the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix takes place, world championship boxing bouts, the European Poker Tour Grand Final and the World Backgammon Championship as well as the Monaco International Auto Show (Salon International de l’Automobile de Monaco).

Granada Moorish architecture of the Court of the Lions, the Alhambra, Granada.

Largely revered for being the culinary geniuses behind tapas, or small share plates typically served with drinks, Granada is an incredibly vibrant inland city in Spain’sAndalusia region.The city is best discovered on foot though the winding narrow streets are largely run by the throng of scooters zipping in and out of traffic with silken ease.

Tapas, or small share plates, usually come free with your drink.

The Granadinos have the signature Spanish charm but actually speak a language known asandaluz due to the strong Arabic history in the city.

The Cathedral of Granada is the second-largest cathedral in Spain.

The seesaw of Catholic and Muslim reigns has created a rich tapestry in Spain’s history and it’s written all over the city of Granada –theCathedral of Granada is a 16thcentury structure noted for the bright Renaissance interior. Head south of the cathedral and find yourself inAlcaiceria,a set of winding alleyways that held the Moorish silk market under Granada’s Muslim rule.

The alleyways of Alcaiceria are positively overflowing with leather goods, silks and handmade treasures.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

We live in a non-binary world and sport is unprepared for it

Feel the earth rumble? Those are the footsteps of the 100kg, 190cm footballer Hannah Mouncey coming up from behind, not to ransack an opposition player but as part of a stampede set to trample some of the once-fundamental conventions and outdated certainties of the sporting world.

Mouncey is the transgender woman whose eligibility for the AFLW draft was denied by the AFL this week, despite the fact that she meets one of the International Olympic Committee’s technical criteria for being a woman and despite having played, and continuing to play, in the Canberra women’s Australian football competition. Mouncey is far from the first trans-woman athlete to seek inclusion in female competition, but she belongs to a gathering movement that will keep exposing the unreadiness of sporting organisations until satisfactory definitions of eligibility are reached, understood and accepted.

Sport is uniquely unprepared for situations that escape binary division. The goodwill is present, against a societal backdrop where the remnants of bigotry, needing no extra oxygen, do everyone else the great favour of public auto-erotic asphyxiation with claims such as that athletes like Mouncey “decide” to switch gender so that they can be stars. Er, yeah, what man has not considered becoming a woman so he could enjoy the riches and superstardom of playing women’s sport?

A more tolerant future is coming; you only need to listen to a wide enough sample of children and teens to believe in that promise. While most sporting authorities are keen to position themselves on the right side of history, the Mouncey case demonstrates that sport’s own definitions – its segregation into two gender categories, and its inherently competitive basis – remain intractably either/or, win/lose and yes/no amid a real world that is shaking itself free from the binary. Because of this inbuilt two-sidedness, sport may take longer than other parts of society to catch up.

Mouncey is a former champion handballer. As Cullen Mouncey, she represented Australia in that sport before beginning to transition in 2015 and 2016. Handball has granted her eligibility to play as a woman, but Mouncey wishes to play Australian rules, and has competed for the Ainslie club in the ACT. Her coach, Chris Rourke, has reported no complaints from fellow women competitors; rather, it is sideline observers, mainly men, who have commented on Mouncey’s size and questioned the fairness and safety of her being on the field with other women.

In applying for the AFLW draft, Mouncey presented a blood testosterone level that is legal by IOC standards but had yet to meet a second IOC criterion, which is that the person identify as female for four years before being allowed to compete. The AFL did not, however, rely on that. In an opaque decision, the AFL has reportedly cited Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, deciding that Mouncey’s “strength, stamina and physique” are so superior to other players’ that it is legal to discriminate against her. Doubtless, the league is also concerned about safety for smaller footballers.

Although the natural inclination is to admonish the AFL – how can Mouncey be safe to play in one women’s competition and not another? How can the IOC’s clear definition be ignored when it is the only measurable standard that exists? – you can see where the league is coming from. Its problem is that Mouncey might, at this stage of her transition, be a little too powerful on the football field.

This is why competitive sport cannot easily handle athletes of transitioning or indeterminate gender: in plain English, because if they are too strong, their presence is unfair to other women athletes. My friend Cate McGregor was welcomed into women’s cricket, up to a point, because Cate (who will I hope forgive me for this) was not threatening to be the next Meg Lanning or Ellyse Perry. But if David Warner or Patrick Cummins became women, different story.

The pro-inclusion body Athlete Ally has argued that this judgment is a form of prejudice that is applied to transgender athletes and not others. Nobody else is rubbed out of sport because they might be too strong. It’s impossible to dispute: this is a very particular targeted prejudice. But does that make it necessarily wrong? How can any form of gender-based exclusion ever not be wrong?

Gender ambiguity: South Africa’s Caster Semenya escaped easy definitions. Photo: AP

Athletics has battled with this for Caster Semenya’s entire career. Semenya’s gender ambiguity is different, but the upshot has also been sport’s struggle to balance two types of fairness. Sports are artificially divided into men’s and women’s categories, when a better definition would be open and women’s. That is, those who are women are in the restricted category, and the rest are in the open group. This would not however solve the Semenya issue, as she identifies as a woman and meets the testosterone criterion. It would be unfair to her to make her run against men. Yet it is also arguably unfair to other women to compete against her, because she creates a problem by running so fast.

If Semenya were to finish honourably midfield in her races, everyone could pat themselves on the back for their inclusiveness, as they did when Oscar Pistorius was allowed to run in non-Paralympic competition. The problem is when the athlete who escapes simple definitions comes out and beats everyone, which Semenya has repeatedly done. Then the complaint of injustice arises, and understandably so. Women who have missed out on Olympic medals or finals places due of Semenya are within their rights to be disappointed, even if you do not agree with them. They also have given their lives to their sport.

It seems that the AFL is hoping to welcome Hannah Mouncey as her transition progresses and she becomes smaller. Just how much smaller, the league does not say. It just wants to feel a bit better and to welcome Mouncey as one of the pack, not as a dominator. There’s a certain common sense in that, but such an instinctive approach is too subjective to stand up to a future in which more and more transitioning footballers will be following Mouncey.

Many have an opinion on the Mouncey case, but few offer a solution beyond the IOC’s definition, which attempts to offer clarity but is itself arbitrary and a work in progress. Why five years? Why testosterone levels of 10 nanomoles per litre? Fixing a number gives a certain kind of clarity but, like a scoreboard, does not necessarily reflect justice.

I can’t condemn the AFL for applying subjective judgment to the Mouncey case. Everybody wants a simple definition and greater transparency, but isn’t the demand for simplicity the obstacle in the first place? Sport exists on a foundation of binaries: win/lose, legal/illegal, in/out, man/woman. Yet binaries too often impede fairness. I have great sympathy with Mouncey, even more after her dignified acceptance of the ruling. My gut says she should have been allowed to play. But I understand that the AFL has been forced to choose one item from a menu comprising only different types of unfairness, and the people there know that they have much work to do in the coming years to get this right. But, like their current premiers, they’re going to have to fail their way to success.

Yes, this has been a carefully-constructed fence I sit on, but I refuse to get off it. Either side is a plunge into right/wrong, yes/no and good/bad, and as sport is being forced to discover, that simplicity belongs to the past. Fairness to all parties may eventually be found, but it’s going to be mistake by mistake until sporting bodies get there. There’s no backing away from it, though, because Hannah Mouncey is only the first. We all live in a world in transition.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Leaders in their fields kick goals

THINKING ABROAD: McLanahan’s product offering and strategy for export to China focused on increasing their presence in the agricultural equipment market.Excellence In InnovationWINNER: Design Anthology – Alpha Surf SkiWhat the judges said:Design Anthology’s submission was one of the best applications ever submitted for the innovation category.

A very well thought out application showing how innovation can provide a competitive advantage for both manufacturing processes and consumer benefit

Highly Commended:Cobond for theirfire retardant and anti-static (fras) conveyor belt repair kit.

ExportWINNER: The McLanahanWhat the judges said:McLanahan’s product offering and strategy for export to China focused on increasing their presence in the agricultural equipment market. This resulted in increasing export sales in the agricultural and non-agricultural markets.

They have clearly highlighted their key objectives and goals, utilising many activities around customising the message for the China market, China website development, implementing a social media strategy, attending exhibitions and conferences, obtaining market research intelligence, and seeking external advice.

They have a clear goal of having staff in-market and will be opening their Shanghai office later this year.

Connections with Austrade, Australia China Business Council, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce are also smart connections.

Highly Commended: Steber International

TechnologyWINNER: Airpak SheetmetalWhat the judges said:Airpak Sheetmetal has invested in advanced machinery to improve their productivity in a declining sheetmetal fabrication industry. Instead of scaling down, Airpak decided to upscale production.

Their technology acquisition allowed Airpak sheetmetal to bid on much larger projects and resulted in annualised growth of 16% over the period of 2012-2017. The company has also more than doubled its workforce.

Highly Commended: Custom Fluidpower

Storm brewing over AFL push for Black Diamond changes

Cardiff playing against Nelson Bay in this year’s Black Diamond preliminary final.The AFL is pushing for a new entity to run the game in the Hunter and Central Coast, but the Black Diamond AFL boardsaysit“doesn’t need saving”.

Officials from the AFL’s NSW/ACT branch met with senior and junior clubs this month to present them with a draft proposal for a new governance model which would merge the Hunter Coast junior league with the Black Diamond seniors.

The AFL model, which the league is rolling out nationally,would involve setting up a new seven-member board on which up to four directors would have to be approvedby the AFL.

Hunter Coast juniors chairman Ross Hughes said his organisation backed the AFL’s model, but the BDAFL boardis concerned the region will lose its independence under the changes.

“It’s not a model I think is best suited to the region, and hopefully we’ll be able to negotiate a model which will appease all parties,” BDAFL president WalBembic said.

“I don’t know if I’m dreaming, but that would be the ideal scenario.

“When we look at football in the region, I think by any measure the BDAFL is a pretty respected, well run organisation.

“I guess from our point of view we don’t need saving. We believe that one body should administer junior and senior football in the region. I guess the question is who’s the best body to do that.”

The AFL asked junior and senior clubs to submit feedback on its proposed model by today before they vote on afinal plan in November.

Hughes said the Hunter Coast board urged its clubs to vote for the proposal.

“We see it as the best way for AFL in our region to move forward in terms of getting that closer linkage between the juniors and the seniors, increase our pathways for juniors to flow through to the seniors,” he said.

“And the AFL are offering further funding in the region which will provide more professionalism and administration support, which will also reduce the burden on our volunteers.

“It’s a little unfortunate that the senior competition doesn’t have a similar view.”

The spectre of the Black Diamond losing its affiliation with the AFL hangs over the process, but Bembic said the BDAFL was largely self-sufficient anyway.

The BDAFL funds its operations manager and marketingand has investigated sourcing its own insurance and online registration system.

“I don’t think there’s anything that would stop the ball being bounced on the first of April next year if we were unaffiliated,” Bembic said.

“Don’t get me wrong: we want to be affiliated with the AFL. We want to be part of the family.”

A Black Diamond club source said the AFL was “coming in with a bit of a sledgehammer”.

“It’s basically,‘Fit in or we’re going to make life really difficult for you.’

“I think the feedback from the clubs is that we’re happy for the AFL to come in, but they’ve got to set the competition up to fit the local environment.

“It may not work. I just don’t think there’s a great deal of faith their system will work in Newcastle.”

All parties agree on the need to merge seniors and juniors, but a major point of contention is the AFL’s plans for a player-points system.

The BDAFL this season introduced strict limits on player recruitment for dominant clubs Newcastle City and Terrigal-Avoca which the AFL opposes.

The BDAFL has since moved towards a player-points system and two-tier competition for next season, but these may be at odds with AFL policy.

The club source said the Black Diamond and the AFL appeared to have different “business plans”, one geared towards improving the competitiveness of the league and the AFL’s focusedon growing participation.

Bembicsaid“weaker” leagues would be“happy to take whatever they can get” to help them run their competitions.

“We’re probably not in that situation. There’s many leagues who have taken the offer to be saved by the AFL [only]to find later on they’ve been sold a pup.

“We feel like we’ve been undermined a bit this year by the AFL to try and display that we’re incompetent where we’re certainly not.

“I think most of the clubs who are aware of football inthe region understand what’s going on.

“I’m hopeful that we can work together [with the AFL], but when I look at other regions, there’s no need for us to jump at a cheap offer, anoffer we don’t think is going to be better for football in the region.”

Nevertheless, Bembic said his board would follow the wishes of the Black Diamond clubs if they agreed with the AFL.

The AFL said the BDAFL catchmentwas the last remaining area in the state where junior and senior leagueswere not aligned.

“AFL NSW/ACT is eager to provide greater support to the local competitions and clubs in the Hunter-Central Coast to ensure the growth and future sustainability of Australian football in the region,” a spokesman said.

“Webelieve that there is an opportunity to improve governance structures and provide greater support to competitions in the region.

“The region has the equal lowest club participation to population ratio in NSW, and relatively low player retention and transition from junior to senior competitions.

“Under an AFL-approved single-governance model, we will fund increased resourcing to support junior and senior competitions and clubsand decrease the costs to the leagues and clubs.

“Whilst we are still working through the elements of the proposed new model with stakeholders, the league would be a merger of the existing leagues – with clubs as members, local staff and a local board comprised of club-elected and AFL-approved board members – to ensure local ownership and strategic alignment regionally and with the AFL.

“We are confident that such a model with greater AFL investment will help drive future growth of competitions and clubs in the Hunter Central Coast.”

Time ticks down but no Brexit divorce agreement in sight

London: Europe’s leaders are expected to deliver a polite but firm “must try harder” rebuff to British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, after she made a personal plea over dinner on Thursday for Brexit talks to move to the next stage.

More than six months after Brexit was officially triggered – a quarter of the way to the final deadline – there is still no agreement on the “divorce bill” that Europe has demanded Britain must settle before discussions about their future relationship can begin.

Fears of a no-deal scenario, where the UK leaves the EU without any trade, customs or regulatory framework to take its place – a scenario most economists view with horror – are growing.

On Thursday evening MrsMay was due to stand up in front of Europe’s leaders in Brussels and plead the UK case, after a week in which – depending on whom you ask – talks ground to a halt or continued to move at “lightning speed”.

According to Whitehall insiders, Mrs May’s message (to be delivered in about 10 minutes, over dinner), was that it was time to cut the UK some slack.

She believes she took a huge political risk with her speech in Florence in late September, and went as far as she could, defying damn-the-torpedoes Brexiteeers in her own party by promising to pay Britain’s debts to the EU and anticipating a two-year transition period in which nothing much would change after Brexit technically took place in March 2019.

The insiders say she has gone as far as she can, publicly, given the resistance within her own party and the fact she leads a minority government – and that the EU must recognise this reality.

The view from Downing St, and the government’s Department for Exiting the EU, is that many of the deadlocks in Brussels over the so-called divorce bill that is the first stage of Brexit are due to EU inflexibility, because they could only be pinned down once they could move on to discuss Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

Privately, officials claim to be smashing through negotiations with a hidebound Brussels bureaucracy. But working groups on many of the issues are now coming back with the message that they have hit a roadblock.

But the consensus from Europe’s leaders, in a meeting on Friday morning after Mrs May has left Brussels, is almost certainly to be that not enough progress has been made to move on to talk about the future.

At the start of Brexit talks, the EU asserted that before any talk about a future relationship could begin, Britain must agree on how much it will pay to settle its obligations to the EU, what it will do to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and whether the Irish border will stay open enough to avoid a return to the Troubles.

They are not willing to bargain these away against a future trade deal, but want them locked down as the baseline for the next step.

But behind the scenes, EU negotiators concede that they can’t quarantine all these issues, and some of them can only be signed off and settled once it’s clear what will follow Brexit.

On the record, the UK government is relentlessly positive on Brexit. Brexit secretary David Davis said on Wednesday that talks were moving at “lightning speed”.

But observers are worried.

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think we are all doomed,” says Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College, London, when asked his prognostication. “I think, surely this is so f***ing stupid, we can’t possibly let our politics push us into a [no-deal scenario].

“I try to be rational, the forces of economics and rationality are strong enough for us not to do something so obviously against our interests and the interests of the [other] EU 27. But the politics are pretty unpleasant.”

Professor Portes says he still believes the most likely scenario is that the UK and EU will reach a deal – first a “mini-Brexit” deal for March 2019, which will continue the status quo as much as possible, then a “maxi-Brexit” some years later once there is a trade deal to take its place.

However he says the major problem with reaching that point is Mrs May’s lack of political capital – squandered in this year’s ill-fought election.

At some point, before she has a trade deal, she has to go to the British public and her own party and say how much Brexit is going to cost.

“It may be that May is not strong enough politically to make an offer [to the EU] that she can deliver to London,” Professor Portes says. “Then you have a problem. If someone says ‘I’d like ideally to give you 10 pounds but I can’t put that in writing because my wife will kill me’ then what am I supposed to do? I’m not going to start bargaining about whether it should be 10 or 15 pounds, I’m going to say ‘come back when you and your wife have sorted out a negotiating position’.”

“If I’m the EU, why on Earth would I make concessions when you’ve just told me you will not be able to make an offer even in the right ballpark because you’re not strong enough at home?”

This week the OECD issued a new report, essentially renewing its analysis that Brexit has already put the brakes on the UK economy, now one of the slower movers in Europe. The OECD pointed out that real wages in the UK are still below those of a decade ago, and Brexit is not likely to fix this – indeed it’s likely to make it worse.

On migration, the OECD pointed out that immigration in to Britain – for many, a problem that spurred the referendum result – had in fact helped lift living standards, productivity and GDP in the UK.

Anti-Brexit forces are talking about a parliamentary vote or even a second referendum to halt the process, if it becomes clear it has jumped the rails.

But Mrs May – who opposed Brexit – will now not countenance a U-turn. As far as the government is concerned, insiders insist, Britain will leave the EU no matter what.

Meanwhile, Australia is patiently waiting in the wings, doing what it can to lay the groundwork for a trade deal with the UK once the exit happens.

The reality is, both sides privately concede, that such a deal would be more symbolic than game-changing. Australia’s economy is already pretty open, and much more focused on Asia than the UK. Existing barriers to UK trade would more likely be finessed than eliminated in any deal.

But the limited scope may mean a deal can be quick and simple, providing a much-needed political win for both sides, and fringe benefits for business.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.