What’s up, 2011?
Sooooo I had a whole other blog post I was going to kick off this Year of the Rabbit with, but I have been stricken with some sort of infuriating writer’s block and it isn’t coming together. Maybe because my football team just lost their bowl game, I don’t know. Then I realized I have been hoarding a particularly hilarious and insightful guest article since LAST MAY, thinking I would use it to launch my site’s re-design (the article is THAT good), which is likewise taking longer than the next Ice Age to come about….so what else am I waiting for?
If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you already know today’s author, Bob, as one of the Jet-Setters. Besides being one of my favorite people on the planet and my very best friend’s adoring husband, he’s also an adventurer at heart and a journalist by nature, so it was more than fitting for him to be my first guest author here on CGTravels with a fun write-up on how to live out your favorite movies in locations around the globe. I asked him to write something – anything - and he penned this work of genius in like, a day. ITS SO UNFAIR. Anyway, if you like what you read here, check out his awesome blog, Path of the Polymath, for more – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
FINDING INSPIRATION ON FILM by Robert Perkins
There’s nothing like sitting around and watching a good movie to make you want to stop sitting around and start seeing the world. Pack your bags: here’s how to make 10 classic celluloid dreams your reality.
1). Casablanca: Casablanca, Morocco
- The movie: The 1942 black-and-white classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as former lovers unexpectedly reunited against a backdrop of intrigue and espionage in a bar in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II.
- Live it: How else? Down a glass of gin at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca. Kathy Kriger, an American expat who worked with a U.S. Embassy in Morocco, left her government job to found the real-life bar/restaurant based on the movie in 2004. Along with alcoholic beverages (which can be difficult to come by in a Muslim country), Rick’s features a muted-but-subtitled screening of the movie Casablanca on loop in its upstairs lounge. Most nights, Krieger can be found making her rounds of the tables and keeping an eye on things at the bar. Nazis goons, fortunately, are nowhere to be found.
2). Roman Holiday: Rome, Italy
- The movie: A bored princess on a European tour sneaks away from her entourage and goes on an adventure through Rome with an American newsman.
- Live it: Rome may be the last place on Earth where it is still cool to ride a Vespa, so rent one and own that look like a pro. Next, cut loose and tour like a princess on a jailbreak: enjoy a gelato on the Spanish Steps, fling some coins into the Trevi Fountain, and have a coffee at one of the little cafes near the Coliseum. Then go get a short haircut and break a journalist’s heart. This one practically writes itself.
3). The Year of Living Dangerously: Jakarta, Indonesia
- The movie: Mel Gibson stars as a rookie foreign correspondent caught up in political and romantic turmoil during the 1965 Indonesian civil war.
- Live it: Though Jakarta has calmed down somewhat since the 1960s, recent terrorist attacks on hotels and the Australian embassy have shown that a trip to Indonesia isn’t just a walk in the park. Depending on how committed you are to following in Mel Gibson’s footsteps, you can schlep along a camera and laptop and try to convince a news agency back home to publish your scribblings, or you can just hang out in the sort of dive bars frequented by expat journos. Admittedly, I’ve never been to Indonesia, but I hear that Block M in South Jakarta is a decent place to get a drink with some fellow Americans before getting knifed.
4). Raiders of the Lost Ark: Cairo, Egypt
- The movie: If you haven’t seen this movie, then hello and welcome to the 21st Century. I hope you enjoyed your 30-year stay in that bomb shelter underneath your dad’s house. Seriously? You won’t be getting any summaries from me.
- Live it: This is a hard one. After all, I’ve spent the past two decades of my life attempting (unsuccessfully) to live out this movie, from using a stick to dig a giant hole in my parents’ front yard at the age of 5 to graduating college with a degree in archaeology at the age of 23. That being said, I haven’t tried a trip to Cairo, so maybe there’s still hope. Paid archaeological gigs can be tough to nab, particularly if you have no experience and want to work in an exciting corner of the world, so try volunteering on a dig while you’re out there. Volunteer archaeology resource http://www.ubarchaeologist.com/ has a whole section devoted to connecting wannabe Indys with digs throughout Egypt. Just don’t forget to bring your whip and fedora.
5). Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Las Vegas, Nevada
- The movie: Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s most famous book translated onto film, starring a pre-Pirates Johnny Depp as gonzo journalist Raoul Duke on a drug- and alcohol-fueled search for the American Dream in the desert black hole of Las Vegas.
- Live it: No, you don’t want to live this movie. Not actually. There was a time I thought I did, and I wound up riding five deep in a clapped-out old sedan, sandwiched between a handle of Captain and my friend’s disastrously skanky roommate, on the five-hour pilgrimage from LA to Las Vegas. Twelve (or so) hours later, I woke up wearing someone else’s clothes in “Slots of Fun,” the budget casino that lurks in the parking lot of Circus Circus. Things went downhill from there.
6). African Queen: Ulanga River, central Africa
- The movie: Based on C.S. Forester’s classic WWI novel, the movie depicts the unlikely romance that blossoms between a cockney boat captain and a sheltered missionary woman as they travel up the Ulanga River in central Africa.
- Live it: Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn may have done the trip over a long stretch in a little coal-powered riverboat, but you don’t have that kind of time. Grab a paddle and river raft, and shoot some rapids! The African continent features some of the best whitewater rivers in the world. Try the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, where Class V rapids will blast you near the gorgeous Victoria Falls, or the Ono River in Ethiopia, which winds you through a hippo-filled canyon. Need to cram some romance in there, too? Lean over and give the rafter next to you a big smooch.
7). Cliffhanger: Rocky Mountains, USA
- The movie: A muscle-bound mountain rescue worker with emotional baggage but no shirt sleeves must track a team of foul-mouthed thieves through the gloriously vertical landscape of the Rocky Mountains to rescue his friend and save the day.
- Live it: This movie is glorified mountain porn. Even my friends who are hardcore rock climbers and feel the need to point out every technical inaccuracy in the movie’s climbing (WTF, a bolt gun?) will watch it just to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscapes. Though many of the sweeping vistas were actually shot in the Dolomites of Italy, the Rockies offer amazing views and rock climbing that is every bit as fun as it looks on film. Hit Colorado and check out Longs Peak, the tallest 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park, featuring 1,000 feet of granite trad-climbing routes.
8). Australia: Northern Territory, Australia
- The movie: The Never-Ending Story. This three hour-long action/drama/historical fiction/romance/war movie/epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman’s shirtless torso tells the tale of an aristocratic woman whose husband is murdered, leaving her in charge of a large cattle ranch in Australia. Some stuff happens, and then we all learn a valuable lesson about the evils of colonialism.
- Live it: Walking out of the theater after this movie, I immediately began talking with an Australian accent and decided to move to the Northern Territory. That was 2008. A year and a half later, I’m still faking the accent and still living in LA. To live this one, I think we should all go on a walkabout in Australia. We’ll start in Darwin and work our way south along the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs and then jaunt over to Uluru with nothing but a knife and floppy hat. Crikey!
9). The Motorcycle Diaries: Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela
- The movie: The Oscar-winning movie about revolutionary Che Guevara’s motorcycle trip across South America with his best friend.
- Live it: There are really two ways to do this trip. If you have the money, buy an expensive, buffed-up BMW motorcycle, ship it south of the Equator, and sign up for any one of the guided tours. If you don’t, just buy whatever motorcycle you can afford, point it south, and aim for the horizon. This route involves a bit more adventure (and by “adventure” I mean breakdowns, run-ins with guerillas, and occasional starvation) and a lot more faith. Either way, keep a blog about it. It seems that this is becoming quite the thing: http://www.knitteldude.com/South%20America.htm
10). LA Confidential: Los Angeles, California
- The movie: Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush: this star-studded 1990s film noir explores the seamy world of cops and crime in 1950s Hollywood.
- Live it: This one’s easy. Los Angeles is populated largely by transplants whose dreams are so commonplace they’re practically plagiarizing one other with their very existence. While on break from trying to make it big by “accidentally” leaving a draft screenplay on the table at their local Coffee Bean for some big producer to discover, they love to pretend that LA really is the city they fell in love with in the movies. So when you want to drown yourself in nostalgia, do what they do, and head downtown. Sure, downtown is sketchy and only a pale imitation of the grand East Cost metropolises, but hidden in the rough are some bars where the past comes alive. Swill a cocktail at The Edison, an industrial art deco bar housed in the area’s first private power plant; or duck into the dark underworld of the Golden Gopher; or even have a “Black Dahlia” martini at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel’s Gallery Bar, where the drink’s namesake was last seen alive.