It would be highly remiss of me to not include my hometown in my travel section at some point. Truth be told I tend to think of it as one of those places that doesn’t need a lot of promotion. In fact it’s rare that I met a European who isn’t filled with a mixture of envy, longing and bitterness when I divulge my origins. Certainly I’m still ever so happy when I make the pilgrimage home every second year for Christmas, despite the arduous daylong journey to get there. Possibly something to do with the fact I get to escape the harsh and frigid wasteland that is the European winter for a much more pleasant Australian summer.
Honestly, with an average of 200 days of sunshine a year, an easygoing beach vibe of a day and vibrant party energy of a night time, what’s not to love? It also doesn’t hurt that the locals are friendly, hot and wandering around half naked for a good nine months of the year. The beaches are beautiful and packed with stunning specimens of manhood – I heartily recommend Bronte Beach for the almost sickening eye-candy level.
The café scene is wonderful with the amazing weather meaning that terrace dining or al fresco sipping of lattes is almost a year round experience, although to be honest the winter is hardly that harsh at all. Indeed, I didn’t know what real cold was until I moved to gay Paris. To this day I scoff at my suffering Sydneysider friends when they start complaining about their ‘wintertime’ – usually meaning two weeks of rain and a few nippy days that would barely rate as coat weather over here.
While the ‘Golden Mile’ of Oxford Street is looking a lot more tarnished and generally soiled of late one can still find enough places to indulge one’s whims – no matter what may take your fancy. Personally I find you can’t go past the Beresford Hotel on a Sunday afternoon. A packed courtyard and happy hour beer and cider guarantees a very cordial crowd and a good time is had by all.
Then, of course, there is the most marvellous Mardi Gras – to my mind still one of the best gay pride parades on the planet. Held at night, which is much preferable compared to all the daytime ones – especially for drag queens one imagines. It is truly a spectacle to behold, with magnificent marching boys, wonderful sound and lighting, and an enthusiastic crowd of well wishers – with all the magic in the air don’t be surprised if you encounter a friendly fairy or two!
The one downside I have noticed in my subsequent trips back has been a noticeable rise in the cost of living there and a more heavy handed police presence. They seem to be everywhere and not in the charming Parisian way where you can just admire their fine physiques for hours on end. Serving as a means of intimidation rather than protection it does tend to make one slightly uncomfortable when you are painting the town pink.
That aside, it’s definitely worth the painfully long plane ride to get there. Just make sure you go for long enough to recover from the jetlag and then again from the partying.
Don’t forget your sunscreen!