AS I write this, all of my gay male friends, of which I am fortunate to possess quite the gaggle, are insanely jealous of me. Why is that, you ask? Well today I board a flight to Austria to cover their version of the Olympics. That’s right, I’m off on assignment to report on Eurovision. And if that’s not enough to ensure my name is scrapped from every gay wedding invitation for the next decade (who am I kidding, Australia doesn’t believe in gay marriage), I am following my time in Vienna with a trip down to Salzburg to cover the 50th anniversary of Sound of Music. Yes, the gay boys are so jealous, anyone would think I’m sleeping with Captain Von Trapp himself.
From my perspective, I suspect I’ll be spending the next two weeks explaining that I’m from Australia NOT Austria, to a group of baffled Europeans who can’t quite fathom why we remain a nation obsessed with ABBA. Now, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, aside from writing copious words for various media outlets about Eurovision and Sound of Music, I intend to spend the next two weeks finding myself a European husband. Aside from the fact I am prepared to offer the very attractive proposal of their very own Australian passport if they marry me, I have always had a hankering for an EU passport, which in my opinion, is travelling gold.
And I’m not looking for any old Euro trash to marry me, I’ve decided they must be royalty. And before you scoff at this suggestion, I have two words for you. Princess Mary. Yes, if it’s good enough for the former real estate agent from Tassie, it’s good enough for a travel writer from Brisbane. And while his Royal Hotness Prince Harry has been in Australia lately, for some inexplicable reason he left Brisbane off his itinerary.
But, the good news is my friends at Cheapflights.com.au have come up with the perfect selection of possible suitors for me. And so, let me present the following five prospects, and how you too, can meet them (once I’ve selected the one for me).
1. Denmark – Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark
This one is a bit tricky as apparently the youngest son of King Constantine of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie of Denmark has a double title, despite Greece being declared a republic since 1973. He may also be a bit hard to meet on this European trip, as not only is he media shy, but he’s based in New York where he works on Wall Street. I could live in New York. Not sure about the economy of Greece right now, however.
(To meet him, Cheapflights.com.au has return flights between New York and Sydney from less than $1200)
2. Liechtenstein – Prince Wenzeslaus
Despite his name being practically unpronounceable, this fella is looking good. Not only is he age appropriate at 41, he’s just down the road from Austria, to use Aussie parlance. For those who don’t know, Liechenstein is nestled between the mountain ranges of Switzerland and Austria (where I will be, remember). And get this…his family is considered the richest monarchy in Europe. Vince the Prince, or Vincent, as he prefers to be called, has never married, but has been known to date the odd Victoria Secret supermodel. I feel we are the perfect match and will be sending him a copy of this blog as soon as it’s published. Call me, Vince.
(To attend our wedding, Cheapflights.com.au has return flights from Australia to Switzerland for less than $1500)
3. Dubai – Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
If you like hot, dry countries, you could do a lot worse than this bloke. Sheikh Hamdan is apparently a poet, accomplished equestrian rider and amateur skydiver. He uses the pen-name Fazza and writes poems about romance, patriotism and family themes. He may only be 33 but we can probably overlook that minor detail. He’s also a graduate of Sandhurst military college and the London School of Economics. Someone call me a camel. If it doesn’t work out with Vince, I’ll be making a stopover on the way home in Dubai.
(Cheapflights.com.au has return flights to Dubai from Australia from less than $1200)
4. Luxembourg – Prince Sebastien Henri Marie Guillaume
And I thought Vince had a tricky name. This is a boy for the younger girls. At just 23, he loves to travel and is a keen sportsman and apparently adept at climbing, skiing, swimming and rugby union. I’m only really good at swimming, so there could be some long winters waiting by the fire on a bear skin rug for a man whose name is too long to pronounce. If you’re still keen, he’s fifth in line to the throne and is the youngest son of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria. Go for your life. I’ll attend the wedding…with Vince.
(Cheapflights.com.au has flights to Luxembourg from less than $1400)
5. Brunei – Prince Azim
Closer to home, Prince Azim is a bit of a party prince who is renowned for throwing lavish celebrity-studded soirees. At 33, he’s also third in line to the throne. The UK paparazzi likes him for obvious reasons, but he attempts to temper his wild child image with philanthropic work with charities benefitting women and children. But in a country which rejects homosexuality, Prince Azim holds little appeal to me. I mean, no point getting married if none of my gay boys can come. Again, go for your life if he appeals, just don’t expect Vince and me to attend your wedding.
(Cheapflights.com.au has flights to Brunei for less than $900)
For other great deals around the world, go to http://www.cheapflights.com.au; And if anyone is looking for me over the next two weeks, I’ll be in Austria with Austria Tourism http://www.austria.info/au I may or may not return…
THE hour hand is nudging midnight when I eventually arrive at my Stockholm hotel and for the first time in weeks since I touched down in Europe, I find myself in a less than sparkling mood. In terms of travel days, it hasn’t been the easiest, but you’re bound to strike one of these when you’ve been on the road for several weeks, tackling different countries, airports, time zones and languages.
It all starts while I’m still in London, where I mistake the British two pound coin for a fifty pence piece, and hence tip the driver the equivalent of $AUD8. He deposits me near Victoria Bus Station where I order a red wine and pizza before my trip to the airport. The colourful Italian feast arrives at the very moment a small child walking past suddenly violently vomits all over the footpath right alongside the outdoor café at which I am dining. Not only can my churning stomach not face the pizza, I fear I may never eat again. I watch in horror as other travellers drag their suitcases through the pavement Picasso.
At the airport, the budget carrier on which I am travelling is supremely strict about the two kilograms extra weight my luggage is carrying (if only they knew how much lighter I was before my schnitzel and beer tour of Germany), and I am forced to creatively repack in front of an angry queue, who it seems is bemused by my cache of colourful comfy undies. Finally at the other end, the instructions I’ve been given for the bus from Stockholm airport to my hotel are incorrect – as I’ve arrived at a different airport – and after I’ve paid the insanely high taxi fare and refuse to tip the driver I alight from his cab, both of us cranky. As the driver flings my luggage onto the pavement, comfy undies threatening to spill everywhere, a strange Swede appears in the dark from absolutely nowhere, offering to buy me a glass of wine. For a brief moment I think it’s Gerhard, the gregarious German who popped up out of the blue in a Bremen lift a few weeks earlier, and who I will write about in next week’s blog about European men. And if only I’d known at this late hour there would be no food or wine in the entire hotel when I do check in, I might have said yes to the sleazy Swede’s offer. Heck, at this point if he’d possessed a stale bread roll, I would have married him.
My pilgrimage to see the museum which pays homage to the best band to EVER strut the planet – ABBA – has not launched with quite the bang a boomerang I was expecting. I am feeling less Super Trouper and more Chiquitita. But after a dinner, which consists of the four chocolate marzipan love hearts my German friends have secretly hidden in my suitcase and a glass of tap water from the bathroom, I tell myself things will look better in the morning. And they do.
Stockholm has turned on a dazzling day, 20 degrees, warm and sunny and I elect to sit atop a hop-on, hop-off bus to familiarise myself with this city in which I have just 24 hours. And I know one of the stops is at ABBA The Museum. I impatiently sit through 13 other destinations which outline the historical buildings for which this city is famous, my mind on Stop 14 and the real reason I find myself taking a side-step to Sweden. There was nothing to do growing up in 1970s country Queensland except listen to ABBA and my three sisters and me were virtual Dancing Queens. Such ABBA tragics are we, that one of my sisters still has the collector bubble gum ABBA cards, including a list of the ones she is missing, in the unlikely event she should meet a like-minded person who happens to possess the others, and this strange quirk should come up randomly in conversation. I was more of an end-of-the-skipping-rope singer, fighting with my best friend over who got to be the “blonde one”. My darker-haired bestie looked more like Frida, so it all worked out in the end, at least as far as I was concerned.
And on this sunny Stockholm day I wish my best friend or sisters were here, as I discover ABBA The Museum is much more fun in a group, if the funky Frankfurters dressed as Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida are any indication. But I delight in watching them prancing and dancing and their European enthusiasm is infectious. I may only be a one-man band, but one of us is not lonely, and pretty soon I’m partaking in all of the interactive displays, including standing on stage and becoming the fifth member of the band. It’s not every day I fly to a country solely for the purpose of visiting a museum. The immigration officer at Stockholm Airport was incredulous when I told him my reason for visiting his country and demanded to see evidence of my return flight out of the Swedish capital. At one point I thought I might need to start singing Take A Chance On Me in order to enter the country, but he eventually understood my insanity. And the trip was worth every Kroner. I fly out to Berlin the next morning, the lyrics to The Winner Takes It All swirling around in my head, my Super Trouper ready to tackle the long flight back to Australia.
The Global Goddess paid for her own flights to Stockholm and stayed at the comfortable Ibis Styles Stockholm Jarva – which does indeed have lovely food and wine if you arrive at a decent hour – on a media rate – http://www.ibis.com. She visited ABBA The Museum courtesy of the museum – http://www.abbathemuseum.com
IT’S a wretched Wednesday of dastardly deadlines and tawdry tax returns. A day which begs to end with a bottle of red and in the foetal position, not a drive to the Gold Coast in unpredictable traffic. But life is a funny flirt and I find myself frocking up, fishnets and all, stopping to pick up an old friend on the way. We use the journey to catch up – on life and love, words and work, wealth, health and happiness. The drive passes in a fabulous flash, two garrulous girlfriends snatching a moment in our otherwise busy lives. We arrive on time, champagne and strawberry in hand, and plonk ourselves down in the theatre.
Opening night of Cabaret De Paris at Jupiters Hotel & Casino opens with a flurry of flame red feathers and big, bare breasts. Yes, those teases glitz and glamour have returned to this Gold Coast institution, channelling Paris in this new show reminiscent of the Moulin Rouge. And this performance has brought with it flaxen-haired Marissa Burgess, billed as the Longest Serving Star in the Moulin Rouge’s 120-year history.
It’s cheeky Cabaret as we know it, a dash of nice, a splash of naughty, some wizardy, magic, pole artistry and a touch of comedy. There’s more boobs and plenty of bums in this stage show and you’ll find yourself toe tapping to some of the upbeat numbers such as Parlez Vous Francais and Abba’s Voulez Vous. At the same time, it will make you wish you’d been to yoga class a little more lately, such is the flexibility and strength of some of the performers.
More than $250,000 has been spent on creating the bejewelled costumes which make this show visually spectacular and, harking back to the Moulin Rouge and a first for the new Jupiters Theatre, guests can also experience Cabaret De Paris in quintessential cabaret style with round-table VIP seating. All the better to see the boobs and bums, I say. But the real scene stealer lies surprisingly in the lone comedian on his bike. Acrobatic cyclist Justin Case is pole thin and a rodeo clown among the bedazzling bullfight before you, and packs a punch with his wit as much as his skill on his cycle. I won’t spoil the surprise but there’s a lovely moment which will have you on the edge of your seat from this charming comic.
The show ends with more furious feathers. On the drive home I ponder my original question of the day, about whether we should flirt with life, even on days when we don’t feel like it. The words of the show’s star Marissa Burgess, sung so beautifully in French, swirl around in my head – Non Regrette Rien – No Regrets. Should we fully participate in this thing called living? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Because we Can-Can.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Jupiters Hotel & Casino. Cabaret De Paris runs until October 11 with nightly performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7.30pm, Sundays at 4pm, Wednesday 1pm Matinees, and a Saturday Matinee starting at 3pm. Tickets are on sale through Ticketek at http://www.ticketek.com.au or by calling 132 849 or from the Jupiters Box Office.