In the pilot episode of Sex and the City, Carrie immediately dispels the myth that New Yorkers don’t have breakfast at Tiffany’s and instead of affairs to remember, they have affairs they’d rather forget. As Carrie couldn’t help but wonder throughout the series, she discovers with perceptive wit why women can’t have sex like men, why no one should settle for anything less than butterflies and (one of my personal favourites), why “if we never veer off course we would never fall in love, have babies or be who we are”.
Then she struts down Perry Street in Patricia Field-styled couture to meet a furniture-making Adonis and you realise it’s a television series of stylistically indulgent fiction… Until, you visit New York City and walk in her Manolo footsteps to surprisingly discover the heart of every woman’s favourite TV show is a delightful reality of sorts.
If you love Sex and the City, take a walk with me as I show you the top ten sites that made me feel like I was walking on set.
My 30th was fast-approaching but I didn’t want a big bash. With my friends scattered across Australia it was all too hard and anyway I wanted to use it as an excuse to go on holiday.
So I decided to finally do two things I’d never done before:
Visit a South-East Asian country.
Stay in a resort, sit by the pool and drink cocktails.
I settled on Vietnam with some ridiculously cheap return airfares sealing the deal.
With only 10 days of leave up our sleeve, my boyfriend and I didn’t fancy spending the whole time rushing from one tourist destination to the next. Instead we chose to mix some city and beach experiences with stays in Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An.
This is how we managed our relaxing – and sometimes luxurious jaunt – to Vietnam.
In my neighbourhood the streets are lined with houses, churches and parklands. Pretty unremarkable, I suppose. By day the high streets compete for commercial attention in fashion stores, cocktail lounges and restaurants while squares are populated with workers, families, lovers, gym junkies and socialites. At night, dirty take-away pit stops are ready to serve the intoxicated masses and bars promise dalliances with the midnight underworld. This is life in London.
When I visited Italy, I walked through a neighbourhood where similar institutions were founded on motives equally as unremarkable. But instead of the pristine franchises I have become accustomed, these neighbourhood landmarks presented as the charred architectural skeletons of a 2000 plus-year-old history. This was life in Pompeii, and even in its hauntingly decimated state, it felt surprisingly familiar.
There are stereotypically two kinds of Bali holidays: a) Bogans, Beaches and Beer or b) the Eat, Pray, Love type. For my third visit to the ‘Island of Paradise’ I decided to tick something off my Bucket List and go for option ‘B’. It took the form of a four-day yoga retreat in the jungle just outside that hippy mecca of Ubud.
On an island that is being rapidly swallowed up by tourism development, the Bagus Jati Resort is a hidden oasis of green. Staff say it is built on land that has always been spiritual, a place where some of the best yogis and healers have practiced. I won’t pretend that it’s quiet (as I write a cacophony of insect, bird and monkey calls fills the air, competing with the sound of the running river below) but it is natural.
There’s an excited energy in the city of Leicester, the kind of buzz you experience when you know something big is about to happen. Real big. Like a new city hosting the Olympics. Like Kate Middleton preparing to do anything anywhere in the world. Like reburying the Last Plantagenet King whose remains were discovered in a car park.
The spectacle leading up to Richard III’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral next month is contagious and everyone, it seems, is on board. I was in Leicester last week to see for myself just what kind of impact 500-year-old history was having on the the city today and the Richard III effect was evident as soon as I walked into its centre. Signs directing tourists to King Richard III’s Visitor Centre feature as prominently as directions to the Highway, while plum flags bearing an image of Richard III’s statue flap proudly along the city’s main thoroughfares. The King of Tourism is drawing in the masses and the people are listening.
As I began moving into London life at the beginning of 2013 it wasn’t long before my fellow Aussie Londoners began moving out. Well, that says a lot about our friendship, doesn’t it? No, actually, it says a lot about The System. The system of immigration that grabbed my dear friends and their London lives by the scruff, leaving them kicking and screaming all the way home.
Meanwhile as the newbie Londoner, two years seemed like a long time and to me, my friends were just being ungrateful. Or lazy. Or were they? Many of my friends repeatedly told me the same thing, that they weren’t ready to go and that they hadn’t ticked enough boxes. Yet amongst it all they had found some contentment in accepting the inevitable and the excitement of coming home to family and Tim Tams was their consolation prize. I guess they had to embrace it, you can’t exactly fight immigration. My gosh I was smug, but not so much anymore.
Quite unremarkably at first the rain began to fall, varnishing the Fifth Avenue sidewalk and saturating the many American flags that flapped against the luxury flagships it’s famous for. Shoppers and tourists alike darted inside buildings like Tiffany and Co, Gucci and Rockerfeller to seek refuge from the downpour, while the rest of us drew our umbrellas as armour against the elements and continued our journeys. My walk was brisk, my eyes all but closed. New York City wasn’t supposed to be like this. Then something magical happened.
Subtly, the heavy rain of moments past began to soften and eventually it morphed into the first snowflakes of the city’s holiday season. I was on the corner of Fifth and West 59th – The Plaza to my left and Park Ave to my right – and what looked like a frosted Alpine village stood in front of me. I was about to experience Central Park for the first time, and all of a sudden I was no longer fighting the freeze, I was embracing it. My walk slowed, my eyes were most definitely open.
I know, I know, the tone became a little sombre in recent posts with a lot of reflection and reality. Necessary, of course, but I guess you could say it was my equivalent of an end of year travel cleanse where I revealed the darker challenges of adventure, as glorious as it is almost all of the time. So let’s lighten the mood now shall we?
2015, show me your magic! I’m ready to work with you on some great memories, but I’ve got something a little closer to home in store for the next 12 months…