Postcard from Sydney

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IT’S a sultry Sydney summer afternoon and I am ambling along Oxford Street. It’s been years since I’ve trotted around this part of town, one of Australia’s most well-known streets, which in two weeks will burst into bloom with its annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. But on this languid Thursday afternoon in which I have just a couple of hours to spare, all is quiet, rainbow flags and a few saucy signs the only hint of what’s to come. Past the National School of Art bathed in warm sunlight I walk, glancing at the glorious Catholic Church before the typical terrace homes and some sassy street art catches my eye. Here’s a snapshot of Sydney I took while wandering around late last week…
The cafes were cute…
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Rainbows were awaiting their pot of gold…
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The buildings basked in the warm sunshine…
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There were signs of summer everywhere…
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Those typical terrace homes…
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And some gorgeous graffiti art…
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The Global Goddess travelled to Sydney as a guest of Travmedia – http://www.travmedia.com and stayed at the Travelodge Sydney – http://www.TFEhotels.com – within easy walking distance of Oxford Street. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras runs until March 6.

For more photos on all the destinations to which The Global Goddess travels, please follow me on Instragram @aglobalgoddess

I had a gay old time at Eurovision

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IT’S a Friday morning in Vienna and I am standing in an inner urban garden watching a man pleasure a snail. Yes, somehow I have stumbled across a mollusc masturbator in Europe. Allow me to explain. I am in the Austrian capital as one of 1700 global journalists covering Eurovision, but before we receive our tickets, Vienna Tourism has sent us on a Race Around The World style treasure hunt of this pretty city. My team consists of myself, a fellow Aussie journalist, an enthusiastic Londoner called Sophie and a mysterious Russian named Vera, who appears not to speak a word of English.

The garden where the "incident" took place

The garden where the “incident” took place


We complete our first task with pleasure and ease…drinking wine and learning to yodel with a bloke called Butter. Butter is dressed in a purple dinner suit and sparks my first suspicion that the entire Austrian capital may be gay. But more on that later. Our second stop is at the inner urban garden where we are met by a gregarious gardener who asks us each to select a snail, places them in a circle to race, and explains that one of the losers will be required to rub the snail slime on themselves. My fellow Aussie wins the race with her snail called Guy, but mine, whom I’ve dubbed Conchita, just turns around in circles occasionally bumping into the snails of Sophie and Vera, and thus one of us has to be slimed. I watch, with a mix of horror and fascination, as the gardener “tickles” the underbelly of the snail and empties its trail into a glass and then before anyone can say anything, I push the Russian towards the mollusc masturbator to be slimed. I figure she can’t understand English anyway, and probably thinks it’s a quaint Austrian ritual.
A bloke called Butter

A bloke called Butter


We stumble around this charming cobbled city for hours, pausing to delight in its street art and café culture, while I yet again daydream of moving to Europe, falling in love with a well-dressed European man who may or may not be gay, and imagine a life where I spend half my year in Europe and the other in suburban Brisbane. Because I am a woman for all seasons. My daydreaming is interrupted when we arrive at our next challenge, where I have to sit in a barber’s chair, hold a balloon painted with Conchita’s beard, and the Russian has to shave Conchita with a sharp blade. At first I was afraid, yes, I was petrified, until I realised that Vera was scarily nifty with the knife, and we completed the challenge in record time. I made a mental note to say sorry for the snail slime incident.
The barbershop where the Russian was nifty with the knife

The barbershop where the Russian was nifty with the knife


Despite our best efforts, we didn’t win the challenge (in fact I think we may have lost) but we had a gay old time. Which is essentially the theme for my week in Europe. In typical Goddess style I jumped into this assignment feet first, thinking I may find several stories and a husband, but what I didn’t consider was that it was Eurovision, making Vienna possibly the gayest place on the planet last week. I lusted after Lars from Stockholm for several days before I finally realised he was gay, but he was kind enough to let me snatch a snap of his banana.
The lovely Lars and his banana

The lovely Lars and his banana


On several occasions Australia’s entry into Eurovision, Guy Sebastian, stalked me at a number of events which may or may not actually have been in his honour. I did fantasise about making Guy my Guy, but apart from the fact he has a lovely wife, I do not think I can ever hear his song Tonight Again, again, after last week. Yes, he was brilliant, and also a nice guy, and the Aussies were thrilled when he came in fifth, but there’s only so much of a good thing you can have. I did sneak into the Eurovision dressing room before the show and considered nicking Russia’s costume (below) and wearing it as my outfit, and had I known how dangerously close little miss fake cry baby was going to come to winning, I may have done just that. But thankfully Mans from Sweden brought it home. And yes, I am a hero of my time, and I am dancing with the demons in my mind.
Russia's Eurovision outfit in the dressing room before the finale

Russia’s Eurovision outfit in the dressing room before the finale


Full of song, and resigned to the fact that I’d now turned Europe gay, I pushed on to Salzburg to celebrate 50 years since the Sound of Music was filmed. It was here, I hoped, I would meet my Captain von Trapp. Given the blokes of Brisbane still think it’s perfectly all right to wolf whistle at me from construction sites, I figure living with the Captain and his whistle would be a cinch. I even got to sleep in the real von Trapp family home, Villa Trapp, where I sunk into delicious dreams about the Captain and me climbing every mountain. Yes, Captain, my hills were alive. There’s even a love lock bridge in Salzburg and for a brief moment I considered setting up my own bridge, for sad singles, where you hang a lock with your phone number. Yes, call me.
The love lock bridge in Salzburg

The love lock bridge in Salzburg


But there was no time to be lonely on this trip, my straight woman’s gay tour of Europe, and I gobbled with gusto these two cities. It was a schnitzel, schnapps and sausage fest and while I left Austria as single as when I arrived, in the words of the lovely Conchita, I am going to Rise Like a Phoenix, and continue on with my search for love.
The incredible Conchita Wurst

The incredible Conchita Wurst


The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Austria Tourism http://www.austria.info/au
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Finding Prince Charming

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)
Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark
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)
Liechtenstein ­ Prince Wenzeslaus[1]
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)
Dubai - Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
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)
Prince Sebastien Henri Marie Guillaume
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)
Brunei - Prince Azim
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…
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Finding Passion in Hawaii

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I’M running late for a date with Passion. I arrive in Hawaii early morning after an overnight night flight from Brisbane, clutching all the usual clichés: a suitcase, welcome lei, and the remnants of the previous evening’s airline meal attached to my dress. My travelling companion dives straight into Oahu, literally, and is off for a learn-to-surf lesson. Me, I prefer to let Hawaii wash gently over my jetlagged self, and wander down to Waikiki for a cold beer, a meal of mahi mahi and a feast of people watching. Sated, I sleep like the dead in readiness for my full island tour the next day, and my much-anticipated date with Passion.
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It’s been 22 years since I’ve been to Hawaii, and my only memory is of Waikiki and the fact my ex-husband punctured the li-lo on which I intended to laze in its warm waters on a tree before we even got to the beach. So I’m desperate to see what’s around the next corner. I join a tour which will spend all day weaving from Waikiki through a snapshot of suburbia, to sugar cane fields, past beaches, through valleys, onto ancient Hawaiian grounds and around waterfalls.
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Incredibly, every tour on which I’ve ever been anywhere in the world serves up the same cluster of characters. The gregarious gay couple; the comfortably chubby married pair; the Russians in their Cold War swim wear range; the loud Americans and softly-spoken Canadians; the Bintang bogan with his attractive Asian wife in grossly inappropriate high heels; and the single Australian woman…who happens to be me.
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While I self-indulgently imagine the rest of the tour tries to unravel my mystery – I do like to apply a Mona Lisa smile along with my sunscreen – I watch Oahu unfurl before me and secretly count down the hours until I can meet Passion. At this stage I should reveal I don’t know whether Passion is a man, a woman or a concept. In the meantime Maurice, our tour guide who grew up in Hawaii in the late 60s, shares Oahu’s secrets. We pass the Baskin Robbins ice-cream shop where Barack Obama worked his first job and learn that Elizabeth Taylor once lived over near the North Shore. There’s also a smorgasbord of film and television locations, including the house from the opening scene of Fantasy Island where the pint-sized Tattoo famously shouts “The plane, the plane!” as well as the giant green hills of the mythical Jurassic Park.
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But what piques my interest most is the tale of a particular house, high on the hills, one that Elvis Presley wanted to buy. Despite repeated and insanely high offers, the owner refused to sell to the King of Rock, instead inviting Elvis to holiday there whenever he wanted. Elvis took him up on the offer and the pair became firm friends. I spend the rest of the tour fantasising about Elvis turning up on the doorstep of my quaint tin and timber Queenslander cottage back home in Brisbane, which is similar to a Hawaiian beach shack, and daydreaming about that hunka hunka burning love. And several other nice Hawaiian boys I find along the way. Yes, while the rest of the tour is on the beach collecting shells, I’m starting my own collection…
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I’m snapped out of my lustful thoughts when I arrive back at the hotel, late for my date with Passion. I rapidly shower, and rush downstairs to the bar where I learn that Passion is yet to arrive, the irony of which is not lost on me as I drink a Longboard Lager. It’s not till dinner is almost finished that I finally meet Passion, a beautiful woman who rushes up to our table and enthusiastically orders dessert while chatting with gusto about her day. It turns out Passion is the Marketing and Communications Manager of The Modern Honolulu in which I am staying and says her grandmother picked her name from an old Troy Donahue movie. “It wasn’t the easiest name growing up, but I grew into it,” she laughs.
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And it gets even better. Just before we depart, we also meet another staffer, Patience, who also carries all the characteristics of her lovely moniker. At this stage I ask Passion whether she will bestow on me a Hawaiian name, one which will carry me through the rest of my journey through this incredible land. She knows nothing about me, apart from the fact I’m an Australian journalist, but looks at me knowingly, and says: “My intuition tells me that you are Healani, which means heavenly haze.” I laugh out loud. Yes, The Global Goddess has well and truly arrived in Hawaii. And Elvis is definitely not dead.
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The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Hawaii Tourism. To book your own escape go to http://www.gohawaii.com/au; stay at The Modern Honolulu http://www.themodernhonolulu; and to see more of Oahu take a Discover Hawaii Tour http://www.discoverhawaiitours.com
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I Can’t Smile Without You

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I HAVE long suspected that I am a gay man trapped in a straight woman’s body. What I have never imagined is that I am a world-class gymnast. And so last night when I found myself at Glasgow’s Hydro Stadium, purpose-built for this year’s Commonwealth Games gymnastic events, it was not a half pike with a double twist which drew me there, but Brookyln crooner Barry Manilow. Yes, Baz was in town and faster than you can say Copacabana, I was there, canastas and all. (For the record if you need any more evidence I am actually a gay man – apart from the gaggle of gay men and utterly fantastic females who seem to be drawn to me and the fact most straight blokes find me utterly repulsive – I actually selected Copacabana for my “wedding waltz” ten years ago. Which probably proves that at least one, and potentially both of us in that now-defunct union, were actually gay men).
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But I digress. Let me start by saying The Hydro, which was opened last August by Rod Stewart (who is definitely not gay if the parade of blondes he’s had on his arms over the years is any indication), was originally called the Scottish Hydro Arena Glasgow but when Glaswegians shortened that, the acronym spelt SHAG and even the sassy Scots baulked at that. But for the purpose of this tale let’s just say I “shagged” Barry Manilow last night and he was simply superb – suspected botox and all.
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Don’t get me wrong, the Scots are sassy and sexy, all soupy accents as thick as a glorious Glaswegian winter itself. And there’s plenty of evidence of their cheeky good humour spattered around this pretty city. At Glasgow’s Cathedral, there’s a stained-glass window depicting Adam and Eve before they committed the dreaded sin of eating the apples, and as such they are without their fig leaves. Tennents Brewery is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1556, with one of its most famous customers Mary Queen of Scots.Nearby, St Andrews is no longer a church but a place of worship for Scottish culture…namely drinking and eating locally-sourced produce. In the Botanic Gardens you’ll find Kibble House with its nude statues, again depicting the likes of Eve. For a real taste of Scottish sass, head to the old church Oran Mor at which you can partake in a lovely lunchtime ritual of a Play, a Pie and a Pint.
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And then there’s Barry. The giant stage curtains were emblazoned with a giant red love heart and about 10,000 green lights flickered in the audience like glow worms. Then, to the tunes of “It’s A Miracle”, Barry partly bounced (and partly hobbled) on to stage in a blue sequined jacket. Yes, Barry, it’s a miracle… that you’re still alive. (He’s now 70). He then played “Here I Am” describing it as an “oldie, but a goodie, just like me”. And just like your audience, Barry. I don’t want to cast any aspersions but let’s just say, if you want to feel young and sexy, get along to a Barry Manilow concert sometime soon.
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At one point during his performance, Barry jumped on to the piano but despite his lean physique it’s pretty clear he won’t be back for the gymnastics in a few months time. (Nor, shall I add, will I, having been given the grand total of 0.5 out of 5 for at least attempting a cartwheel in Grade 8 before I retired from my gymnastics career). During his second clothing change (he’s no Lady Gaga), he flashed open the trench coat he was wearing to reveal a red suit jacket before he threatened to “whip it out”. Thankfully by “it” he meant the musical instrument, whose name eludes me (I will also never be a musician).
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To accompany his dad jokes there was also plenty of dad dancing, and he captivated the mostly greying audience with his rendition of Mandy, leaving many of them wondering who the lucky girl was. Some (myself included) even attempted to dance to Copacabana, there were plenty of wolf whistles from some concert goers who may or may not have lost their teeth in the process, and every time I turned around in the crowd a grandmotherly type kept winking at me, making me wonder whether I reminded her of her gay grandson.
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At some point during the performance Barry sang a song about the Brooklyn building in which he grew up, The Mayflower. He spoke of how he used to look up at the windows and wonder who was living next door. “You never know, you could have a doctor, a lawyer or a sex God living next to you.” I pondered his words as I drifted to sleep back in Room 415 at Glasgow’s Hotel Indigo last night after the concert. What if he was in the room next door? One thing is for certain: Glasgow, you were an absolute delight. And Barry, I just can’t smile without you.
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The Global Goddess travelled to Glasgow as a guest of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau. For further information on visiting Glasgow please visit http://www.peoplemakeglasgow.com.au
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