Hell hath no fury like a Jimi scorned! I’d like to start my rant today with a very big FUCK YOU to Vueling Airlines, whom we would happily never fly with again apart from the fact we are booked to go home with them…may the gods have mercy on their souls if they screw us around again on Saturday, let me tell you.
What should have been a most lovely start to our summer holidays turned into one of the most frustrating travel experiences that I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. Granted, the plane didn’t crash and there was no loss of life – although it looked like some of the passengers were keen to hold a lynching near the end of our ordeal – but it was still enormously annoying nevertheless.
So, dear reader, it all started off simply enough with my beloved and I arriving at the airport an hour before our flight, as you do, only to be told that instead of the original departure time of 8.10pm it would now be 2am. This news was delivered with a goofy ‘what can you do’ kind of smile and not even a hint of an apology or vague attempt to explain why our flight was suddenly six hours behind schedule. This was a theme that continued through the evening with no real effort ever being made to justify the situation.
As our summer holidays draw to an end I thought it only fitting to reflect upon one of the staples of the Parisian summer scene – Paris-Plages. Growing up by the coast, and loving the beach the way I do, I never imagined that I’d end up moving so far away from one in a landlocked city. Don’t get me wrong, I do love living here but I do miss being able to sunbake on sandy shores and frolic in the water whenever the mood takes me – even though I can always pop over to Spain if the need becomes too overwhelming.
So you can well imagine my excitement when I found out about Paris Plages. Granted, it’s not really a proper substitute for the beach to anyone who’s ever been on an actual beach… except possibly those only familiar with English beaches, although they barely count. It takes more than land meeting water to make a beach dammit! But I digress.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, about thirteen years ago the then mayor of Paris took pity on those poor Parisians who were unable to escape the city for the – sometimes oppressively hot – month of August and set up a temporary beach by the Seine. Nowadays, there are multiple beaches along the river and the canal with more and more attractions each year – ice cream stands, paddle boats, ziplinig…
Well I’m freshly back from a week away on Ibiza and let me tell you dear reader, what an adventure it was. This delightful Spanish getaway is perfect for those wishing to indulge in a spot of sun, sand and substance abuse – or so they tell me.
The trip itself was in honour of a friend’s 40th birthday and invitees came from all corners of the globe to celebrate. There were quite a few of us but our luxurious villa, high up on the hill, ably catered to our needs. Honestly, it was so big I kept discovering new bedrooms and hidden alcoves all throughout the week….no, not like that you filthy, filthy people.
Foolishly, I had envisioned getting a good deal of writing done as I lazed by the pool, cocktail in hand, but it was not to be. Admittedly, I knew what sort of week it was going to be before I left, but even I was surprised by the stamina of some of my fellow villa dwellers. That being said, I did get inspiration for many posts and stories to come – the names will be changed to protect the guilty of course.
If I were to live anywhere else in my beloved Europe it would have to be in beautiful, balmy Barcelona. For me, it blends the best of European living – the culture and easy travel to nearby countries – with what I miss from my home town, Sydney – namely the great weather, beaches and party atmosphere. Indeed, I’ve spent many a daydream wondering how exactly I could possibly spend a summer sojourn there soaking up all the tropical goodness it has to offer.
There are so many great things about the place I barely know where to start. The heat, the beaches, the food, the wacky Gaudi architecture, the easy-going lifestyle, the ridiculously slutty hot men…honestly I could just go on and on. No doubt it helps that I mainly tend to visit during the summertime when nobody wears much of anything and the Circuit Festival is on – or as I like to call it ‘European Gayapalooza’.
Well I’ve been back from Barcelona almost a week and have wanted to go back pretty much since I landed. Don’t get me wrong, I still whole-heartedly adore Paris and will happily continue to live here for quite some time but there’s something that just keeps drawing me back to Spain.
It could be the heat, the beaches, the food, the easy-going lifestyle or the ridiculously slutty hot men…who can say? It actually reminds me a lot of Sydney but not so damn far away from the rest of the world. No doubt it helps that we only tend to go over during the summertime when nobody wears much of anything and the Circuit is on – or as I like to call it ‘European Gayapalooza’.
Usually I love to stay with friends in a foreign country, so that I can get the feel for life as a local and have a less ‘touristy’ experience. Failing that the five star hotel experience suits me just fine, which is exactly what we have enjoyed, several times now, at the lovely Dolce Sitges. Not a gay hotel, as such, it is located in one of the gayest towns I’ve ever visited – well during the summer at any rate.
The hotel is absolutely lovely, handily situated midway between vibrant downtown Sitges and two naturist beaches…everything is only a short jaunt away. All in all, our every need was catered to, from the buffet breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the extremely attentive staff – some would say overly so considering they were changing our towels and sundry sometimes twice daily. Honestly, I shudder to think of what they thought we were up to in there.
L’œuvre de toute ma vie étant d’améliorer les relations franco-australienne, à mon corps défendant, je me dois d’éduquer et d’informer mes concitoyens d’adoption – namely you my loyal readers – sur leurs lointains cousins vivant la tête en bas sur une terre baignée de rayons.
Certes, on a pu dire que l’Australie ressemblait à un « cultural wasteland » – enfin mon mari le rappelle à chaque occasion. Et je suis le premier à admettre que l’Europe domine définitivement l’expression traditionnelle de la culture, avec entre autres une enfilade apparemment sans fin de galeries et de musées au travers l’Hexagone. Mais je me dois de contrer cette assertion selon laquelle l’Australie n’a aucune culture. Celle-ci est plutôt riche et dynamique, plus proche des gens… en fait plus proche des Américains.
We all need to have that thought of a special spot, a place to escape to, away from the trauma of the daily grind – or so I’ve heard not having had to deal with such a grind, outside of a nightclub, for many a year now. So I thought I’d share with you some of my marvellous memories, to use as inspiration for your own personal mental release.
Personally, I can’t go past the beach on a beautiful summer’s day. A clear blue sky with the sun beating down on my bare skin. The sound of the waves as I lay face down in a wonderfully warm cocoon of golden curls about my head…the terrific tranquillity. Unless you have the misfortune to be on a ‘family friendly’ beach, where the ear-piercing squeals of children and the ever present threat of being trampled under tiny foot, greatly minimise one’s enjoyment.
Now that I’m back in the loving embrace of my husband and kitties it’s time to look back upon some of the highlights of my Australian sojourn. Not at all in some sort of futile effort to desperately hold onto the warm memories as my tan disappears and I become as white as the rest of these pasty faced Europeans… sorry I mean porcelain skinned paragons of Parisian chic.
As always, at end of my trip, I felt like I’d been stretched in far too many directions – just like that night at Lab.Oratory in Berlin – and as much as I try and share the love, there never seems to be enough Jimi to go around. I firmly believe that cloning may be my only alternative. I’d only need two… actually better make that three. Two would be needed to visit with my parents and ridiculously extended family, and one to faithfully accompany Antoine and the cats. Leaving me free to just stay in Sydney, beaching and partying for the entire duration. Of course, at the end we’d have to do some sort of mind meld squishy thing to put us all back together, allowing me to retain all the experiences. I’m sure I have enough geeky friends to deal with this problem, so get to it!!!
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.