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The 11 Friendliest Cities In The World, According To Travelers

11. Salzburg, Austria

11. Salzburg, Austria

Score: 82.5 (tie)

It’s not difficult to see why Salzburg made the list. The beautiful city boasts “mountain vistas, mind-blowing architecture, and so much history,” and the people are “warm and friendly,” our readers gush.

It’s also very family friendly: “It’s like a living theme park, the perfect destination for young kids on their first trip to Europe,” one reader added. Plus, it’s home to the gorgeous Hotel Goldener Hirschone of Europe’s best hotels with the most helpful staff around.

11. Budapest, Hungary

11. Budapest, Hungary

Score: 82.5 (tie)

Budapest is “majestic, regal, and breathtaking,” with its “rich history and elegant buildings,” according to our readers. But it’s the “lovely, friendly people,” “courteous drivers,” and “youthfulness” that make the city special.

Our readers suggest heading to the Fisherman’s Bastion to get “a real feeling of local life.” In the summer, don’t miss the chance to mingle with the locals at one of Budapest’s now-famous “sparties,” which are held at the landmark Széchenyi Baths.

9. Seville, Spain

9. Seville, Spain

Score: 82.8 (tie)

“Quaint and amazing”—plus “charming, beautiful, and welcoming”—is how our readers describe the historic capital of Andalusia.

“The locals are warm, kind, and full of life,” one reader adds, while another raves that the city “dances to the rhythm of flamenco like no other Spanish city!” See for yourself—and while you’re there, have a meal at the classic and elegant Egaña Oriza, an editor favorite.

9. Savannah, Georgia, USA

9. Savannah, Georgia, USA

Score: 82.8 (tie)

Charm abounds in Georgia’s oldest city, as evidenced by the number of readers who raved about the “animated guides in seersucker suits” and “Spanish moss dripping from the trees.”

Visitors both new and returning also enthused that the “rich tapestry of our country’s history” here made them feel like they’d “stepped back in time.” For delicious Southern fare, “don’t miss The Pirate’s House Sunday Brunch.”

7. Siem Reap, Cambodia

7. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Score: 83.6

Though Siem Reap is full of “awe-inspiring beauty” and “incredible food and sights,” our readers say that its “people were the best.” One reader added: “It is the resiliency and kindness of the Cambodian people that I will remember.”

While you’re there, stay at the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (pictured), five miles from Angkor Wat, orAmansara Resort, famous for its wonderful staff, beautiful chalets, and location—just minutes from Angkor Archaeological Park.

5. Sydney, Australia

5. Sydney, Australia

Score: 83.8 (tie)

Not only is Sydney “the most beautiful large city in the world” with a “breathtaking” harbor and beaches, it’s also home to the “friendliest people,” our readers say.

“They’re always so helpful, and they love Americans!” another adds. As if you needed another reason to visit, Sydney is also home to the best food in the world. Don’t visit without stopping by at the spectacular Quay for Chef Peter Gilmore’s nature-inspired cuisine.

5. Dublin, Ireland

5. Dublin, Ireland

Score: 83.8 (tie)

According to our readers, Dublin is a “vibrant city” that’s a “bibliophile’s dream.”

Apart from being “green, lush, and very walkable,” it’s also “the kind of place you stop in for a drink in a local pub, only to end up chatting with the locals for the next five hours.” Even First Lady Michelle Obama is a fan.

4. Charleston, South Carolina, USA

4. Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Several visitors praised this “quaint and special little gem” for embodying Southern hospitality at every turn—so much so that they “would consider living there full time.”

The historic town earned accolades for its blend of “undervalued local culture,” history, and natural beauty, as well as the “incredible food” and Charleston City Market, with its boutiques and art galleries.

3. Victoria, BC, Canada

3. Victoria, BC, Canada

Score: 85.7

There’s just so much to do in Victoria, you need at least a week to see it. “Bike on the Galloping Goose, people-watch at Moka House Coffee, sip wine at Beacon Hill Park, go whale watching, and on and on,” one of our readers advises.

“The inner harbor is worth a day wandering around,” another adds. While you’re there, look for the stunning Fairmont Empress Hotel, which is well worth “a walk through, even if you don’t go for high tea.”

1. Melbourne, Australia (TIE)

1. Melbourne, Australia (TIE)

Score: 86.0 (tie)

It’s no surprise that our readers adore Melbourne: It’s “one of the classiest cities in the world” and boasts an “abundance of parks and fabulous public art.”

Plus, Melbournians are a “friendly bunch,” famous for their “wonderful sense of humor.” And don’t even start with Melbourne’s amazing nightlife, food, and hotels—we told you long ago it was Australia’s capital of cool.

1. Auckland, New Zealand (TIE)

1. Auckland, New Zealand (TIE)

Score: 86.0 (tie)

We must admit, we saw this one coming—and so did you. “The people are friendly, and their humor and view on life is something to aspire to attain,” said one reader. “Such a gorgeous city on the water” with “clear air,” “fresh food,” and “amazing culture,” others raved.

A trip to the Auckland Museum for its Maori collections and “terrific” cultural performances is highly recommended. If you’ve never been to New Zealand, this “clean, youthful, adventurous, beautiful” city is the “ideal starting place” for seeing the country.

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Australian teenager in hospital after sea bug attack

An Australian teenager is recovering in hospital after being bitten by multiple “mite-sized sea critters”.

Sam Kanizay, 16, found his feet and ankles covered in blood after soaking his legs in Melbourne’s Brighton Beach on Saturday evening.

Jarrod Kanizay said his son arrived home with what “looked like a war injury” and that his legs would not stop bleeding.

Continue reading Australian teenager in hospital after sea bug attack

10 beautiful Australian libraries

The Mortlock Chamber, State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia.
Mortlock Chamber, State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia. Photograph: State Library of South Australia
State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland.
State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland. Photograph: Jon Linkins/State Library of Queensland
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria. Photograph: State Library of Victoria
Surry Hills Library, Sydney, New South Wales.
Surry Hills library and community centre, Sydney, New South Wales. Photograph: City of Sydney
State Library of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales.
State Library of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales. Photograph: State Library of NSW
Murray Bridge Library, Murray Bridge, South Australia.
Murray Bridge library, Murray Bridge, South Australia. Photograph: Sam Noonan/Hassell
Library at The Dock, Melbourne, Victoria
Library at the Dock, Melbourne, Victoria. Photograph: City of Melbourne
Barr Smith library at the University of Adelaide
Barr Smith library at the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia. Photograph: University of Adelaide
Library at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Western Australia
Library at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Western Australia. Photograph: Edith Cowan University

Craigieburn library in Hume, Victoria has been named public library of the year following a cross-continent competition by the Danish Agency for Culture. Judges called it a “democratic meeting place, open to diversity and interaction”. From opulent state buildings to state-of-the-art university architecture, here are nine more amazing libraries across Australia – which would you add to the list?

These Are The World’s Safest Cities

Asian and European cities come out on top. At number 10, New York City is the safest in the United States.

In 1990, homicides in New York hit a record high of 2,245—an average of six per day. In 2013, the city recorded only 335 murders for the entire year, despite adding 1 million more residents.

In other words: “the safety of cities can ebb and flow,” as a new report puts it. Meanwhile, the type of threats change too. Twenty-five years ago, nobody was worried about climate change, and the term “cyber-security” had barely been invented. Now they’re more serious challenges than some traditional crimes.

For a snapshot of current risks to cities and a ranking of which are the safest, see the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Safe Cities Index 2015. Bringing together 40 data indicators, it offers a multifaceted view of 50 cities worldwide across four areas: digital security, health security, infrastructure safety, and personal safety.

It’s no surprise that, generally, richer cities are safer. Tokyo and Singapore top the list, while Jakarta, in Indonesia, comes out on the bottom. The top-10 is full of well-off comfortable cities like Stockholm (4th) and Zurich (7th). But the rich-safe link isn’t always there.

Some wealthy Middle Eastern places score low down, for instance. “Four of the five Middle Eastern cities in the Index are considered high income, but only one makes it into the top half of the Index: at 25 Abu Dhabi is 21 places above Riyadh at number 46,” the report says.

Tokyo, the world’s most populous city, scores well for digital security, personal safety, and infrastructure safety, despite the risk it faces from earthquakes.

Many European cities score relatively poorly for digital safety, but dominate the top-10 list for health security, with Zurich, Brussels, Barcelona and Frankfurt all appearing. Asia dominates the top-10 for personal safety with the very safe (and dull) Singapore coming out best of all.

Interestingly, the safety of cities isn’t necessarily reflected in how safe citizens feel. That’s particularly true of U.S. cities, where people often feel less safe than perhaps they should (Chicago has the widest divergence between safety perception and reality, according to the data).

That may be a hangover from the homicide highs of the ’70s and ’80s and perhaps a certain mythologizing of crime through TV and movies. Actually, many American cities are relatively safe these days, though New York is still only in 28th place for personal safety.

Community gardens in Melbourne: five of the best

Melbourne community gardens

As space in the city becomes more commercialised, gardeners all over Melbourne are claiming urban spaces to grow food and flowers. Here are some of the most inspiring plots

Food, flowers and fresh air: Melbourne’s five best community gardens.

Melbourne has experienced a steady population rise to well over four million people, and an accompanying demographic shift is occurring as space in inner-city areas are increasingly under commercial pressure. For a growing number of urbanites, community-based gardening projects are providing a much-needed connection to both local communities and the earth.

Veg Out gardens in Melbourne, Australia.

A community plot: Veg Out gardens in St Kilda, Melbourne. Photograph: Veg Out

Veg Out, St Kilda
A sign at the entrance to Veg Out reads: “Gardening is an act of faith in the future.” Apart from the ocean of artfully decorated garden beds, the first thing that hits you when you walk into this prospering St Kilda community garden is the smell of fresh compost mingling with the sweet and pungent whiff of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Yet it has taken more than just faith to ensure the survival of this former bowling club on the site on a $30m-plus piece of land right next to the famous Luna Park and just metres away from the St Kilda beach foreshore. Garden co-ordinator Rob Taylor says the garden initially encountered a lot of scepticism that it would be able to survive in such a prime commercial location, but he says the key has been hard work and always remaining open to the public.

“In the early days it was about locking the gate, but then we realised we needed to open it up. This is essentially public parkland and it’s now open every day of the year. If you lock these places up they wither and die and become elitist and exclusive. A community garden is not a fashion accessory – that’s not what community is about.”

Veg Out is financially independent (mostly through funds generated from a monthly farmers’ market) and hosts more than 150 garden plots on just under two acres, all set to the sounds of the Big Dipper rattling away in the background. It features affordable artists studios, a wood-fired stove, live music stage and children’s playground.

“We have over a thousand members and an actively engaged community here and we are always open to newcomers,” says Taylor. “The best way to get a plot is to come along to a working bee held on the first Sunday of each month and make yourself known to us. Everyone is welcome.”

The gardens on the roof of Federation Square, Melbourne.

‘Nothing here is permanent’: the gardens on the roof of Federation Square.

Pop Up Patch, Federation Square 

Fabian Capomolla, co-founder of the garden on the site of a disused concrete car park at Federation Square, describes his unique urban community garden model as being a bit like joining a gym – a user-pays system in which people get as much out as they put in to it. “Nothing is sustainable unless it makes money,” says Capomolla. “But we find that because people are paying they are more likely to remain engaged.”

Sitting between skyscrapers and train lines on one side and the Birrarung Marr park and Yarra river on the other, the site boasts 120 plots that consist of composted soil inside former fruit and vegetable crates. For about $3.50 a day, many of the crates are taken up by city restaurants such as the Taxi Dining roomLittle Creatures Brewery, andthe Press Club to grow fresh specialty garnishes and edible flowers such as borage, nasturtiums and violas.

“This is a trial for us to find out if this model is scalable – it’s a modern-day garden plot concept,” says Capomolla. “No doubt this piece of concrete could earn more money as a car park, but there is plenty of temporary unused land in every city. We are building a community here – but nothing here is permanent.”

Cultivating Community garden, Melbourne

At Cultivating Community, the biodiversity of the crops reflect the ethnic diversity of its gardeners. Photograph: Jon Osborne

Cultivating Community, various locations
In the shadows of Melbourne’s concrete, almost Soviet-style housing commission flats, around 800 mostly refugee and migrant gardeners share 19 inner-city community gardens through a project called Cultivating Community. Each garden hosts between 12 and 126 plots, depending on location. To apply for a plot, you need to be a public housing tenant.

At one of the larger gardens in Highett Street in Richmond, I meet Domingos Mac, an East Timorese mother who has gardened here for over 20 years. “I have more time now that the kids have grown up, but I’m not as fit as I used to be,” she says. She shows off her crops of taro, white cucumber, gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and aloa vera. “These ones are good for blood pressure, circulation and skin infections,” she says casting her hands across verdant, fecund garden beds.

According to Cultivating Community project manager Sharelle Polack, one of the extraordinary things about the public housing gardens is how the diverse backgrounds of the gardeners is reflected in the biodiversity of the crops.

“The gardens give public housing tenants access to land that they use to grow their own food and the ability to connect with their culture through the food they grow,” Polack says. “Although many don’t speak English, they can speak the language of food, cooking and gardening.”

Rushall Garden, North Fitzroy

In full bloom: Rushall Garden in North Fitzroy. Photograph: Rushall Garden

Rushall GardenNorth Fitzroy

Tucked behind a grassy knoll beside a curve in the railway track between Rushall and Merri railway stations, Rushall Garden was formed a decade ago by local residents after six years of negotiations with the Yarra council. It houses 62 garden beds and provides communal plots for people on the waiting list.

Despite sitting in the midst of one of Melbourne’s most gentrified areas of the middle-class inner-northern suburbs, Rushall gives priority to low-income residents with no garden of their own. The site features composting toilets and water tanks that gather run-off harvested from a nearby electrical substation roof – and has also recently become an official composting hub for local cafes and restaurants to bring their food scraps.

Garden secretary Kathy Chambers says the main incentive behind Rushall is the opportunity to have direct control and choice over the food we consume. “For many of the local families that have plots here, that extends to educating children to build an awareness of the effort that goes into producing delicious, organic produce. In my view, community gardens should be much more widespread so that people have a genuine choice about where their food comes from and have greater control over their food supply.”

Planting a cliff site extension on Edgars Creek, Melbourne

Planting a cliff site extension on Edgars Creek, Melbourne. Photograph: Friends of Edgars Creek

Guerrilla gardening along Melbourne’s creeks and tributaries

For those who don’t want to wait for a plot in an established community garden, a quiet revolution is taking place along Melbourne’s waterways. Here an active movement of local gardeners are taking matters into their own hands by revegetating eroded creeks with indigenous plants.

According to Patrick Belford, freelance landscape gardener by day and part-time guerrilla gardener, “the key philosophy behind the planting is the attitude of being custodians of the land”. The aim is to combat the erosion of creek banks and suppress weeds while providing a habitat for birds and other wildlife.

“There is a very strong underground community around revegetation. It’s restorative for both people and the environment. For example, planting days for the Friends of Edgars Creek in Melbourne’s northern suburbs occurs every month, and these events are always popular. The group and sense of community is re-enforced by the observation and care of the plantings already established,” says Belford.

“Our degraded urban spaces provide the best community garden there is. We just need to be audacious and brave enough to bring our neighbourhoods back to life. In a sense, revegitating our local areas is the most immediate and direct environmental action we can take.”

Florida mall shooting leaves 1 dead, 2 injured

Police-tape-flickr

One person is dead and two others injured, after a shooter opened fire inside the food court of the Melbourne Square mall in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday morning.

The shooting took place before the mall opened at 10 a.m., local time, with NBC News reporting that the first police calls occurred around 9:30 a.m..

Melbourne Square posted a message on its Facebook page, saying that it was closed until further notice, as police investigate.

Cmdr. Vince Pryce of the Melbourne Police Department said two injured people were taken to the hospital. He added that it wasn’t clear if the suspect was dead or one of the injured people.

By 10:40 a.m., Melbourne police tweeted that the “shooter is contained,” and that officers were clearing the mall store by store.

Starbucks employee Cathy Wright told NBC that she heard “about three or four gunshots” in “rapid succession.” Meanwhile, Rodizio Grill employee Jeff Gross told NBC that he heard five or six shots.

Gross also tweeted a photo of police officers outside the mall:

View image on Twitter

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

Australian ‘terror suspect’ killed in Melbourne

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott briefs media in Sydney, 19 Sept 2014

An 18-year-old man who had made threats against Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been shot dead in Melbourne, reports say.

The man had been under surveillance as a “person of interest”, and was being investigated over claims of terrorism, the ABC broadcaster said.

Two police officers were reportedly stabbed by the man before he was shot.

They have both been taken to hospital and one is reported to be in a critical but stable condition.

The incident happened when the man arrived at a police station in the Endeavour Hills suburb of Melbourne on Tuesday evening.

He had been asked to attend an interview there, ABC reports.

According to Sky News Australia, the man was brandishing a flag of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Terror suspect under arrest in Sydney (18 September 2014)
Last week’s raids are being called Australia’s biggest ever anti-terrorism operation

A police statement said that an Australian Federal Police officer and a Victoria state police officer – part of a joint counter-terrorism team – met the teenager outside the station. It was then that the violence erupted.

The Melbourne Age quoted onlookers as saying that the man had been shouting insults at Mr Abbott and the Australian government in general in the moments before he was shot.

Sources quoted by The Australian said that he was a “known extremist” who was intercepted by two teams of police. The paper said it is believed that he had recently had his passport cancelled.

The incident has occurred amid heightened tensions due to major counter-terrorism raids last week in Sydney and Brisbane.

The raids were aimed at disrupting alleged IS-linked plans to publicly behead a randomly-selected Australian.

Australian authorities believe at least 60 Australians are in the Middle East fighting with IS (also known as Isis or Isil) and other militant groups.