SOME days you just have to let the world come to you. Last week, I was back in beautiful Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. I’ve been up there a lot lately, more by default than design, and what’s really cool is that every time I’m there, I discover a host of new things. On this trip, I stumbled across some cool international experiences in which you can indulge. Here’s five of my favourites.
New York, New York
If it’s graffiti grunge you’re seeking, look no further than Streets of Harlem Café, along Hastings Street. At first I thought this was a new entrant into the Hastings Street scene, but I am reliably informed this eclectic establishment has actually been there for about five years. Lord knows how I missed it. But I’m glad I found it this time. On an uncharacteristically wet and wild winter’s day, I slipped in here for breakfast. If you like a bit of edge with your eggs, this is the place. Oh, and if you want to know what the future holds, there’s even a clairvoyant upstairs.
(8 Hastings Street, Noosa)
Now this is a café I know has been along Hastings Street for forever and a day. And as kitsch and clichéd as it may appear, if you are looking for some of the finest people watching on the planet, pull up a perch at Aromas Noosa, order a smart latte, and do as the French do, and watch the world wander by. In fact, there’s plenty of French influence in Noosa, from the French Quarter to the acclaimed Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort. I’ve wanted to stay in the latter since it first opened as the big, pink Sheraton 26 years ago. Now, it’s more subtle but the service is still five-star and the views out over the ocean are divine. For a truly international experience, indulge in the Thalgo Indoceane Spa Ritual in the Aqua Day Spa here, a treatment, which combines Mediterranean, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese influences.
Around this time every year, when the temperature drops in Brisbane, I start dreaming of a return to Bali. If you don’t have the time, or the money, to visit Indonesia right now, here’s the second best thing. As soon as you walk through the heavy, carved timber doors at the Ikatan Balinese Day Spa, you feel like you are Indonesia. Surrounded by statues and set in a tropical environment, you can choose from a variety of sublime spa treatments. I had the two-hour Warmth of Bali treatment which, among other things, involved my spa therapist scrubbing my body with chai tea. Among a long list of treatments you can select the Bali Getaway; Noosa Dua; and Kuta Time. But above all, go. You won’t regret it. http://www.ikatanspa.com
Blink and you’d miss this little slice of Italy tucked away in a quiet corner along Hastings Street. Which would be a great shame as Locale was one of the best dinners I have ever eaten. Outside, you’ll find a zippy Vespa. Inside the moody black interior is a menu of gold. I am not even really a risotto fan, but I will often choose a menu (and a destination for that matter) because I am enamoured by its description. In this case, the Organic Acquerello Carnaroli risotto, Fraser Island spanner crab, lemon and sea urchin butter, was the winner. You had me at sea urchin. A few steps up the street, and also a little hidden, make sure you check out El Capitano Pizzeria and Bar which ferments its organic sourdough pizza bases for 72 hours. Here, I encountered for the first time in my life, burrata cheese. It looks like someone has plonked a scoop of vanilla ice cream on your pizza, but in fact it’s a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream which melts all over your topping. Died, I did, and went to heaven.
Having visited Sri Lanka for the first time about two years ago, I’ve since been fascinated by this distinctive cuisine. So it is such a delight to have celebrity Sri Lankan chef Peter Kuruvita call Noosa home for his namesake restaurant. Attached to the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, Noosa Beach House Peter Kuruvita combines a relaxed setting with innovative dining. For breakfast alone, you could order the Sri Lankan crab omelette, while you’ll find the Sri Lankan snapper curry on the dinner menu. Kuruvita combines his exotic recipes with local produce such as Mooloolaba prawns.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Tourism Noosa – http://www.visitnoosa.com
THOSE crazy funsters at STA Travel have released a new survey, which reveals some of the most popular pick-up lines among holidaymakers. A survey of more than 600 Aussies reveals we are not only well travelled, but we know a thing or two about romance while on the road. God, it’s the entire modus operandi of The Global Goddess, so you can imagine my delight when this literary gold landed in my inbox late last week. In no particular order, here’s the Top 10 travel pick-up lines (and my take on them).
The only part of Dubai I’ve ever seen was the airport, and to be more precise, the hole-in-the-ground airport toilet where I dashed from the plane nearly 30 years ago, on not only my first international fight, but my first flight ever. Suffering from motion sickness and culture shock, I dashed past the men with machine guns at the airport in my mission to be violently ill. Thus guaranteeing no one would use this pick-up line on me.
While I’ve never been to Jamaica, I certainly feel like I have, as does any Australian traveller who has spent more than their fair share of time in Bali. The Indonesians love Bob Marley as much as they love their Bintang brew, and it’s a dreadlock holiday every time you enter the country. No Woman, No Cry? Not an issue in Bali.
I have been fortunate to travel to Vietnam on a number of occasions. On my most recent trip, in which I found myself in Saigon, not only did a little girl become enamoured with me during my visit to the confronting War Remnants Museum, so did her aunty. Just my luck to have a middle-aged Vietnamese woman fall in love with me.
It pains me to say this, but I have been to Paris three times, and each time I have stood in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower just willing the love Gods to strike me down with that fabulous French magic by which other travellers swear. Has. Not. Happened. All I can see is a nation of chain smokers and some pretty nasty dog poo on the streets. I know, I know. Sacre bleu!
While I have been known to frequent the sunny shores of Thailand’s famed beach destination on numerous locations, I have yet to find love among the long tail boats. This could have more to do with the fact that for years I have been mixing up the Thai terminology for “the weather is hot” (because I’m such a witty conversationalist), and instead telling every poor Thai man and woman upon whom I stumble that “I am hot” (as in sexy) right down to fanning my body. In retrospect, this does explain all the strange looks.
Ah, Rome, sweet Rome. Home of all those gladiator types, you’d think I’d be able to pick up. Hell, I couldn’t even find the Spanish Steps. The fact I was sitting ON them, while looking for them, is somewhat concerning for a professional travel writer. I did, however, catch the eye of a young Roman girl on a public bus, who pointed at my then boyfriend at the time (yes, I ONCE had a boyfriend, miracles can happen), and asked in perfect English so that everyone could hear. “Is he your lover?” Had I known then that boyfriends would become such a rare commodity, I would have shouted “yes” from the rooftop, rather than pretending I was a German tourist who couldn’t understand this crass child.
Well, you’ve opened the floodgates with all this boyfriend talk and it was this very same European trip, with this very same boyfriend (did I mention I ONCE had a boyfriend?) that we travelled to Amsterdam. And being broke backpackers we decided to stay in some stranger’s home for a very reasonable fee, long before not only was Airbnb not invented, but the entire bloody internet. We wondered for years how we managed to get this room so cheaply until it dawned on us that some nefarious Netherlanders who knew the Internet was just a decade or so away from becoming a reality probably captured our nether regions on some hidden camera.
Despite being a massive, and rather tragic, child fan of the TV series MASH, Seoul has never been top of my travel list. But based on this pick-up line, perhaps it should? Move over Hotlips Hoolihan, The Global Goddess is in town. I wonder if Klinger would lend me a frock?
I’m flat out spelling this destination, let alone knowing where it sits on the US map. A quick check of Dr Google reveals it’s in Nashville where I believe Australia’s very own country singer Keith Urban lives. If things don’t work out with Nicole…
10. Customs and Immigration
It would be fair to say if I added up all of my travelling, I have spent several years simply standing in customs and immigration queues around the world. So it stands to reason that I should have found love somewhere along the line. Given Australia is so far from anywhere else, the chances of me looking even half decent by the time I arrive in a foreign land, and have to clear customs, is reasonably remote. The hilarious line I like to use on immigration officers “I look much better in real life than my passport photo” hasn’t jagged me a boyfriend yet either. But I had a boyfriend ONCE…did I mention that?
The Global Goddess is off to Fiji this week on assignment and is searching for some witty pick-up lines fearing “I’m feeling a bit Nadi, do you want to Fiji me?” may be lost in translation. All suggestions welcome…
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.
PAVAROTTI was in the Opera Suite, a Peugeot was parked in the lobby, there was a bottle of Moet behind every door, and if I didn’t know any better, I had stepped straight into a game of Cluedo. (Meet me on the Club Floor with the candelabra). If indeed this was Cluedo, it wasn’t a bad way to start, as normally, when it comes to the end of the working week, I’m pretty clueless. Sure, there’s always a cask of Chateau Cardboard (I’ll have a flagon of your finest red under $10, thanks) but no Italian operatic tenors hiding behind my bedroom door.
It’s a French Friday, but Paris this is not. Rather Brisbane, or the Sofitel Brisbane, to be exact. And thus begins my sultry Staycation, where I have precisely 17 hours to indulge in an affair to remember with my own city. And where better to begin than smack bang in the heart, above Central Station?
Don’t get me wrong. Normally I kick off a Friday night full of optimism. What’s not to love about the thought of no work for two whole days and the possibility of meeting a passionate paramour? I’m reminded of this by a piece of art in the Sofitel lobby art gallery. Yes, I too, start every Friday night feeling like a Foo Fighter.
I begin my journey with a short tour of the hotel which has undertaken a major refurbishment since last July. There are now six different room types, aimed at “infusing French elegance with local Brisbane culture”. The décor is fresh and sophisticated and is designed to provide a sense of coming home to your Parisian apartment. Even the colour of the carpet is a little ooh, la, la – it’s not just blue, it’s peacock blue, or was that green? I can’t really remember, as I said earlier, there was someone behind every door, with a bottle of something French and fizzy.
Up on the Club Floor (with the candelabra, remember?), the art-décor elegance continues, as do the unforgettable views of the city. If you want to feel a little French and smug, this is the place to sit and watch all the harangued office workers – of which you are normally one – rush to catch their trains home at the end of the working day.
Back on the ground floor, at the gracious Prive249 restaurant, the French flair continues with an Amuse Bouche of Poached Prawn with Herbed Aioli and Apple; Spanner Crab with Celeriac and Rhubarb Textures Entrée; Vanilla Confit Duck with Petit Pois a la Francasie Main; and Chocolate, Mint and Tonka Bean Cream Dessert.
After dinner my thoughts turn back to the Opera Suite, but not of the terrific tenor (I’m not sure about a man who returns from the dead), but of a photograph I took while I was there. Blame the bubbly if you must, but it looks like a couple enjoying the nocturnal activity for which the French are most famous.
I retreat to my room where I’d love to report that my affair to remember ended with a naughty nightcap, but the thought of curling up on my own in the Sofitel’s famed MyBed’s – all soft and squishy like you’ve been swallowed by a giant marshmallow – was enough for me. Frankly, that bed could have been packed with the North Queensland Cowboys, who I was reliably informed were staying on Floors 17, 25 and 26, and I wouldn’t have noticed.
And so, my sultry Staycation came to an end. This morning, predictably after so much Moet, I looked more like this creature I also found on the walls of the Sofitel’s lobby art gallery. Never let it be said that I don’t suffer for my art.
The Global Goddess was a guest of the Sofitel Brisbane. To create your own affair to remember go to http://www.sofitel.com/Brisbane