Blog

Travelling Alone For Fun and Definitely No Profit

After my last post I did a shout-out to see whether people would be interested in some of the practical aspects of travelling overseas as a woman alone, and the response was a pretty resounding yes. Ideally, I would really like to inspire people to take the opportunity when it’s available to them, but to be super-realistic as well. Some of the advice will be totally gender-neutral, but nonetheless, being a woman is my lived experience and my perspective.

It’s Expensive. Say goodbye to your money.

giphy (1).gif

Context is important. Firstly, it was Europe at the end of peak season, and because I literally was going to escape Melbourne Winter I was hardly going to at any other point (apart from maybe….more peak season). Dreaming of less expensive parts of the world? You might be able to do it on a tighter budget.

The second part of context is that I won’t even pretend what I did was ‘budget’ travel. The $5,000 tax return I got last year because I was out of work for a while formed the basis of my travel budget, but certainly didn’t cover it. I’m now working full-time and earning something around the average wage for a woman in this country, so I knew I could pay off the few indulgences on my credit card when I came back.

Budget-wise, as a solo traveller you cop it hardest really in a couple of places: accommodation, and private transport (taxis and Ubers). Travelling with someone else won’t really bring down your costs for flights, food, trains, experiences, etc.  Accommodation doesn’t need to be the end of the world…unless you’re a kind of fussy arsehole like me. Obviously, there’s backpackers’ and similar budget accommodation options. That’s fine if you’re in your 20s or are an ‘I can sleep anywhere’ type, but I’m in my 30s and I can barely sleep anywhere. I mostly stuck with 3-star hotels, and I tried to adhere to a budget of about $AUD150 a night. Plenty of hotels also have ‘single rooms’ for a lower tariff. These rooms are generally shoeboxes and have single beds. I made the decision that I do not sleep in a single bed at home, so I certainly wasn’t going to when I was on holiday. In the end, I paid for accommodation what any couple/duo travelling together and staying in hotels would have…but they can split it in two.

If you’re a woman travelling alone, you really need to invest some time here. I spent….many weeks organising my accommodation. Partly that was because I was trying to keep my itinerary loose to factor in meeting up with my bestie, but I locked that down about ten weeks out from my trip. If you know which cities you want to visit and when, it’s time to start getting down to the nitty-gritty of neighbourhoods. In Paris, for example, there’s twenty different arrondissements (neighbourhoods), all with their own character, all with their own problem spots. Allow some time to ask your friends and networks (who might need to be asked three times before they let you know) the areas they stayed in and what they liked and disliked. Read online articles. When you’ve narrowed down areas where you’d like to stay, now you need to devote some time to reviews. Prioritise the opinions of solo female travellers. They will understand your safety concerns. I mostly stayed in hotels because I had a lot of trouble actually securing Airbnb bookings thanks to flaky hosts. The one Airbnb I ended up in (in Berlin), only had reviews up until April or May, when it wouldn’t have warmed up in the city yet. Turns out in summer when the weather’s warm, people like to drink outside the convenience store downstairs until 2 or 3am. You better believe I left a reviewing warning women they may need to elbow their way through half-pissed men who have literally set up a table and chairs in front of the door to the apartment in the evening. Because we live in a world where women have to be constantly vigilant, and if I could have avoided that experience, I would have copped the price.

So, you may end up paying a little more to stay somewhere that other women travelling alone felt comfortable, felt like they were in a good neighbourhood where they can come and go at night, and that there weren’t staff who made them feel less safe (which reminds me I need to go leave a review for the Munich hotel where the guy on the front desk assigned the guy who checked in after me the same room so he could just wander in…).

You will need to learn to be truly shameless with selfies

giphy (2)

Look, we have to thank the Instagram age for something –  it’s really not all that weird to whip out your phone and take a picture of yourself, particularly in tourist areas. I always thought maybe a selfie stick was a bridge too far, but I did end up buying one and used it a few times until I forgot to put it in my day bag and it never went back in. You’ll find if you want some scope beyond the length of your arm, most people are willing to take a photo of you if you ask politely. It’s good traveller karma. But all in all, be prepared to ditch the shame. Your Mum won’t forgive you if there’s not photos of you in amazing spots.

IMG_20180907_141912.jpg

Hi Mum! Just in Versailles, thinking about how I’ll never even be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment

Preparation prevents piss poor performance

tenor

It’s generally acknowledged that the Paris Metro is not exactly the safest place in the world, and if you don’t have anyone to keep an eye on you then you’re gonna feel that more. Now the truth is, I actually felt less safe on the Berlin U-Bahn travelling to and from Neukölln, but it would be naive to think that people don’t get robbed in big cities. My aim before I left was to try and look as much as a local as possible, so I ended up grabbing this bag – one I could convert to a backpack, a crossbody, or a shoulder bag depending on the situation, which also wouldn’t be too large for me to need to ditch at museums (I believe the Neues Museum in Berlin was the only spot where I had to cloak it, and I went to a lot of museums, galleries and attractions). A small backpack is great, but harder to keep an eye on in crowds, and some places make you wear backpacks at the front which turned out to be a horrific safety hazard on the tight, crowded stairs of Neuschwanstein Castle where I couldn’t actually see my feet. So the converting aspect was great, but I will note after a while the ‘handle’ type bit would slip through and the backpack was uneven and it would get annoying.

But then again, nothing was more annoying than this suitcase. It was never the right time to convert it and carry 15kg on my back, and the motherfucker would go off balance, flip over and twist my wrist at the slightest provocation. I missed my 4-wheeled suitcase, even on cobblestones. I ended up taking more Ubers because of it.

I will note, the plan to look like a local was a total bust. Europe is a wonderful place for walking. But if you’re walking 10km a day, day-in day-out, you need to be wearing something like Skechers. Sorry. On the plus side, people only need to see your shoes to start speaking English to you?

The bit where you eat alone

full

I wrote about this in my last post, how I sometimes found myself (particularly in Paris), shoved away in corners like my existence as a woman eating alone was something terrible and shameful. And hey, if you’re not used to going out to eat alone, you might find it a little uncomfortable at first. Even I did not go out to eat every night. Often I’d fill up on lunch (Florence does an excellent Fucking Huge Sandwich) and then have something light from the supermarket for dinner, or just grab some street food. If your budget (or complete lack of need for real fresh nutrients) extends to the ability to eat at restaurants every night, good for you! My one spot of advice: take your book or Kindle. It’s the key to eating alone and not feeling like a people-watching odd bod, and you won’t feel the need to rush because you’ll be enjoying your time and your food. Not a big reader? I dunno, maybe follow some more people on Twitter.

Now, here’s the secret advantage to eating alone: as long as you’re not mortally offended about ending up in some pokey little corner, it’s way easier to get in to popular restaurants quickly than if you’re with a group. I rolled up to Cafe Constant slightly before the dinner rush, got set up at a little round table by the door for some bistro-style food, and got to watch group after group turned away to wait for the upstairs section to open. It is my opinion that wine tastes even better when people are looking at you enviously and slightly hungrily.

Which leads me to:

Doing whatever the fuck you want

3addec4f4478ae4a45fce3d28b245400f9267b77c3f9b3c1e56fce232e734258_large.gif

Apart from when I was travelling between spots, I rarely started my day before 11am. I didn’t set alarms. I am well aware that this would send….a reasonable part of the population crazy, but I don’t wake up early on weekends, I’m not waking up early on my three weeks off work. Summer days are long and offer you plenty of time to see the sights. It also meant if I wanted to subsist solely on pastry eaten on walks between places until dinner, no-one was there to beg me to sit down for a meal. Excessive researching as well as mining recs from friends and communities meant I had handy-dandy maps of attractions to check out, places to shop, and most importantly, food I wanted to eat (by genre, even):

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 3.14.34 pm

It meant that the night before as I was going to bed, or even on the go, I could pull out the map and make a vague itinerary. Always, preferably, with some time to wander and discover.

And I don’t think I need  to extol the virtues of going on holidays and only doing the things that interest you. No more wandering the Museum of Sports and Borts for four hours. Feel like the attraction you’re at is overrated? Just leave!

If you’re in a relationship and haven’t experienced the No-Compromise Life in a long time….it’s probably time.

Craving human company? Need to go further afield? Go on a tour

tumblr_oos30rchic1qm9k25o2_r1_400.gif

I’m never going to be a Contiki-style girl. I’m an introvert, and one obnoxious person could ruin my entire trip. But there may come a point where you’d just like to have a sustained conversation in English, or there’s something you’d have trouble getting to on your own. It’s not always the cheapest option, but it breaks things up. My entire trip was kind of inspired by Under The Tuscan Sun (yeah that’s okay I’m farewelling the last shred of respect you had for me) so from my base in Florence I chose to do a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano (particularly difficult places to get to without a car) with lunch at a winery in the Chianti region. In Florence city, I did an evening food tour of Oltrarno, which is the less heaving area of Florence across the Arno from the Duomo, the Uffizi etc. Both of these tours were run by Walks of Italy (with the same guide, which was a little awkward) and were English-speaking, small-group experiences which gave me an opportunity to chat to people over meals and generally enjoying breaking bread and hearing other people’s tales. Another one I went on was my tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein Palace and Linderhof Castle. This was a small-ish group (~30) and I certainly paid a premium for it, but I had spent enough time dodging large groups in museums at that stage to know a big tour wasn’t for me. This tour had a great mix of informed hosts, free time for wandering around, and guided portions. I never thought I’d be a tour person at all, given how enthusiastic I am about research, but they definitely have a place on a solo trip.

My wish list

please

It’s pretty short. It has one item. I wish Google Maps had a Woman Walking Alone At Night In An Unfamiliar City feature. I don’t care if it takes me a little longer to get back to my hotel. When you’re hopping from city to city, you rarely ever spend enough time anywhere to get to know a neighbourhood so well that you know where the dodgy spots to avoid are, like you would at home. Just a feature, that sends you down populated, well-lit streets, rather than quiet back-streets like I experienced in Paris. Surely machine learning is far enough along for that, right?

It’s okay if it’s not for you

lc_shrug-400x225

It’s okay to want to share your experiences with people. I was overjoyed that I still got to spend some time with friends on this trip. But even if a long trip isn’t for you, I hope this prepares you for a business trip or a small break, because time spent on your own and exploring is incredibly valuable.

If you’ve got any specific questions, let me know!

 

In other news, Victorian Values is back at PAX Aus this year, playing more bad dating sims and hopefully drinking on stage if I have my way. If you’re around on the evening of Saturday October 27, come check us out!

Alone in the City of Love

In my last post I mentioned my impetus for downloading The Bad App again was that I was off overseas to Europe. I didn’t actually end up swiping a lot – turns out the No Bio Epidemic is international, and weirdly enough most people wrote in their local language… three languages I do not speak, despite my awful, awful attempts (my hot tip? Learn your yes, no, please, thank you, and ‘I do not speak this language’).

I wanted to talk about the rather odd experience of travelling alone in deeply romantic places. I was not by myself for my whole three-week trip. During my time in Germany I was able to stay with friends, and I met up with my bestie in Berlin. But I took myself solo to Florence and…Paris. The City of Love. I was not at all phased about travelling alone – I live alone and I’m highly independent, so I’m used to my own company and making decisions about where I’ll be, when. My only concern was really not being lonely, but not having anyone to talk me down from my anxiety if something went wrong (fortunately, I only had one issue – when I missed my train connection from Italy to Germany. Four hours in Bologna station and a rather difficult conversation through Google Translate later, and I was on my way).

I’ve dreamed of Paris since I was a kid. What a cliche. But I didn’t realise until I was there how seriously they take the whole ‘City of Love’ thing. That city is PDA central. A quiet break from the sun in a park attached to a church delivered me two teenagers making out for a good twenty minutes straight. I never realised what prudes Aussies are until  I witnessed the amount of physical affection people are willing to share when some random broad is sitting right there. Then there was the moment I had to jump out of two separate sets of wedding photos as I took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, while I had another couple waiting for me to take their picture (I believe in Good Travel Karma so I always take people’s photos….but I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I do not know their angles). I was shoved away in some pretty odd corners when I turned up in restaurants alone, like they didn’t really want me to be seen committing the repulsive act of eating with only a Kindle for company.

It’s a bit odd to be wandering by yourself in all that. The closest I came to romance is when a strange man called me over to his car when I was crossing the road and yelled at me in French, eventually communicating ‘You are very beautiful’. I’ll never know how close I came to getting robbed that day.

But just because you’re all alone in the most romantic place on earth, doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love. Because I fell in love with Paris. Not the one in my head, the actual Paris. With centuries of history and culture, dizzyingly intricate and ornate architecture, just the best afternoon light, and some of the most delicious cheese around. Also that pain au chocolat the size of my head. And people there know how to fucking live. Drinking a wine at a cafe on the boulevard before midday? No biggie. Picnics as soon as the sun shines? I’ll bring the baguette. Salsa dancing by the Seine? Welcome to Sunday evening. You can even find the occasional Aussie making a half-decent coffee. It’s kinda hard not to have a boner for it all.

Walking ’til your feet yell back, snacking ’til you nearly burst, feeling like your eyes will fall out of your head with SHEER BEAUTY EXHAUSTION, admiring the perpetual tans on almost universally attractive people. You can still do it with your eyes open. The people there smoke too bloody much, everywhere, and the hustle is seriously in your face at attractions. You can queue for eons to see the good shit. People will not fucking move for you on the sidewalk, probably because you’re Skecher-clad tourist scum or maybe just because they don’t feel like it.

But it just can’t kill that high. And I think that’s probably love.

 

 

 

 

Oh god….I’m going to end up on Tinder again, aren’t I?

giphy

A funny thing happens when you approach 30. You’re kind of forced to take stock of your life. However, I’m not someone who worries about goalposts. I don’t really believe in marriage, although I’m a big fan of weddings (people are forced to give you presents and tell you that you’re pretty? HELLO). I’m a very happy aunty who’s never wanted kids. I’ll buy a house either when I’m partnered up or I can afford one on a deeply average income… while somehow still affording rent because hell knows I’m not moving back to the South Coast of NSW to live with my parents.

So I don’t believe in goalposts, but I do have hopes. And as we’ve previously established, I am a romantic. I may not want tradition, but I do want a companion to go through this dumb thing called life with – and not just so I can afford a house. I found myself approaching 30, living in a small coastal town, surrounded by my friends, who are the greatest people on planet earth, but also apart from my friends in some ways. Because every person in my group was in a committed relationship, and I realised I was beginning to live their settled lives, when I myself did not have any desire to settle in to the life I had. I was living in an area I had almost no chance of meeting someone I had things in common with. So, I had a choice. I could move to Sydney, where I’d worked for 8 years, and which I hated, or I could just call time and move to Melbourne, which I loved, and where a beautiful nephew was himself about to be born. It was a tough choice (see aforementioned greatest people on planet earth), but one where I saw a lot of opportunity. I’d connected with so many people in Melbourne before in my life. This is where it’s going to happen to for me, I thought.

So, what’s happened since then? Well, I was on Tinder for a while last year. Both half-seriously, and then continuing my Tinder Trends series while I was unemployed. Then I got a job and got exhausted by Tinder. Ugggggh it’s so awful on there guys. The trends are never good. I dipped my toe in Bumble and mostly found more of the same. But here’s the thing: I have met a whole bunch of awesome – generally straight – women in Melbourne. Outside of work, I have met no men who are not boyfriends of said women. I’m not a big believer in office romances, partly because I’ve seen things go wrong and also because my mother met both her husbands at work (yep) and both of those were hellllla ill-advised. Also I am a big weirdo at work and pull a lot of faces at my desk while swearing at my computer. I don’t think it’s charming. ANYWAY. What I’m saying is I am not organically meeting people who I would date here in Melbourne, the land of opportunity.

Last night as I was standing in the shower, where I do my best thinking, I was pondering that clearly I am going to need to download Tinder in a couple of months when I go to Europe (goodbye, probably about a fifth of a non-existent housing deposit for the mortgage I could never service and would never get). Not because I am planning to casually fuck my way across the Continent, but because of my natural human curiosity about the people I will in no way be talking to in public spaces, because I actually care about my safety. I just…want to know what my options would be, if I were local.

But then, of course, you know where this is going. Because in the next breath, I realised I wasn’t even finding out what my options are now. Where I live. Nothing makes me wildly keen on the idea of dating (shaving my legs? Trying not to swear as much as I actually do? Praying I don’t get murdered?), and I really don’t mind waiting, but at some point I’m probably going to have to realise that the right person for me is not going to appear in my lounge room while I’m watching Younger.

If Silicon Valley could get on with *that* app, though…

Netflix, you did it. I’m so proud of you.

Netflix has proved to be really good at some things. Shows about lady wrestlers. Shows about The Upside-Down. Making you cry about makeovers. Making you cry in a different way over terrible cakes.

They’ve not really nailed the rom-com before.

I watch basically every Netflix Original rom-com that goes on there, but I’ve only seen fit to write about A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance because they were really cheesy and ’twas the season etc. And yes I did actually enjoy Christmas Inheritance but that is because the standard for holiday romances is so, so low. However, I’m not going to pretend I’m not counting down the months until The Princess Switch with Vanessa Hudgens.

barney

 

I watch the rest of the nonsense they add. I watched Ibiza, which I felt vastly overestimated the appeal of watching people who are drug-fucked and vastly underused Richard Madden’s natural Scottish accent. Happy Anniversary made me want to never be in a relationship lest I have to talk that much. They do okay with teen rom coms….sometimes? Candy Jar was charming. The Kissing Booth was one of the most problematic things I’ve seen in a long time, GIRL RUN AWAY. I did not watch When We First Met because I hate Adam Devine with the fire of a thousand suns.

So I am extremely pleased to say, they’ve done it. They’ve made a good rom-com. Meet Set It Up: 

The basic structure is barely even trying. Two over-worked and under-appreciated assistants who work in the same building set up their bosses to get some free time: “When they’re boning, we’re free, right?”. In the meantime they hardly realise that they themselves are being drawn closer together. So no, you’re not here for the plot. You’re here for the charm.

This whole movie is like some sort of twisted charisma factory. We start with the most important role, the heroine. I haven’t seen Zoey Deutch in a lot, but I knew something very important going in: she made the dire, horrific mess that is the Vampire Academy movie legitimately enjoyable, purely through charm and excellent line deliveries. There was a moment there where even pashing her PE teacher seemed like a good idea. So yes, I was more than happy to be carried along by Harper’s crazy schemes in Set It Up, even if she made fun of Charlie for being horrifically old. At age 28.

tumblr_m8xcv020ht1rocxzqo4_500

I’ve mostly seen Glen Powell be kind of blandly handsome and pleasant, as Juliet’s poor old American Not-Michiel-Huisman fiancé in Guernsey, and pleasingly not-racist John Glenn in Hidden Figures. He gets to lean in to his asshole (so to speak) a bit more as Charlie. He gets some amusing and cutting lines, although we’re probably meant to think his deeply terrible boss Taye Diggs has rubbed off on him bit. Look, even Mr Darcy has to learn how to soften up a bit before he’s a worthy romantic hero.

I was pleased to see Lucy Liu given credit as the goddess she is in the movie:

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.53.39 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.54.05 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.54.48 pm

She’s a badass sports writer with her own publication, and while she has a touch of the Miranda Priestlys to her, you never question Harper’s admiration for her.

There’s a great support cast, a brilliantly old-school soundtrack (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking that cue from Nora Ephron)… I’ll stop talking. Go watch it. The world is fucking awful, go escape for an hour and 45 minutes.

I’m absolutely delighted that Netflix has managed to produce a movie that balances rom and com so adeptly. I’d love to see writer Katie Silberman do more, but I have some bad news. Her next movie. Such a promising concept:

A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

It stars Adam Devine.

noooo-gif-4

 

‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’: The Victorian Values Review

It’s a mouthful. I’ve been shortening it to Guernsey – because a lot of this film is about Guernsey, and its experiences during WWII – but I was delighted when the girl at the box office told me that some people have been asking for tickets to ‘The Potato Movie’. Come on guys, Peter Dutton’s a long way off getting a biopic.

First up, as always, a trailer:

This particular film is a difficult one to talk about without spoilers, but golly there’s a few of them in the trailer, anyway. Part of the issue, of course, on basing your movie on a bestselling book (in this case, the 2008 novel of the same name) is that you want book fans to know that the key scenes and lines they love are in there. Nonetheless, the trailer could have dropped a little of the content and still been effective.

The movie starts thusly: Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is a successful writer in London, shortly after the end of WWII. She’s starting to become slightly disillusioned with the explosion of partying that has taken over London society, but is having a damn good time with her American diplomat beau, Mark. Her publisher Sidney (my boyfriend Matthew Goode) would be pretty darn happy if she’d just start her next book. Unexpectedly she received a letter from a pig farmer from the island of Guernsey named Dawsey Adams, asking for a book hookup for a group he’s part of – the titular Society. The story of the group’s origin (and let me reassure you – the name’s a gag) draws Juliet in to a correspondence, with her eventual decision to travel to Guernsey to meet this infamous group. Once she arrives, she becomes drawn in to their lives and the tales of what happened when Guernsey was under German occupation during the war.

I was lucky enough to be recommended the book by a friend many years ago, and was very excited when rumours broke in 2013 (yes, five years ago) that Michelle Dockery had been offered the lead, as I thought she would be perfect. To make it clear how long this movie has been in development hell – it was apparently initially intended to be a vehicle for Kate Winslet, and in 2013, Simon Curtis was attached to direct. Although Mike Newell ended up tapped to direct, the movie ended up maintaining the Downton Abbey connection from Dockery and Curtis (who is married to Elizabeth McGovern who played Cora), with a star turn for James (Rose), and support from Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley), Jessica-Brown Findlay (Sybil) and Goode (Henry Talbot). Taken together you’ve got a whole lotta people who are incredibly comfortable in period costume. Part of me can’t help but mourn for the idea of Dockery in the lead role, however – in the book, Juliet is 32 years old, and James, who has just turned 29, reads a bit young for a successful writer. She is bloody lovely to look at, though, and is less ‘mannered’ than I’ve seen her in other roles, allowing Juliet a bit of goofiness. The cast is mostly rounded out by people you’ve seen on the telly – like Katherine Parkinson from The IT crowd – and a man I shall henceforth know as The Extremely Handsome Michiel Huisman. Look, I’ve seen The Age of Adaline, I’ve seen Game of Thrones, and he has NEVER done it for me more than in his pig farmer get-up. I don’t understand it and I don’t particularly care to. He is extremely swoon-worthy – noble and caring and just a smidge sarcastic – in this movie.

guernsey

Sexy men aside, there are so many factors at play that will determine whether you like this movie. I enjoy it, as I did the book, because I’m intrigued by the lives of ordinary people during WWII. I gobble up books and movies set in the period, even though I know they make me cry every fucking time (this one wasn’t too bad). However, if that bores you….this movie will probably bore you too. I will say that the period details are absolutely stunning, from Juliet’s fancy London get-ups, the phones, the recycled and repaired clothes from the folks on Guernsey, to the old-school ships and planes. There is a lot of attention to detail at work here, and I always want to give props to the people behind the scenes that hunt these pieces down and create props. While the story itself could easily be told in a TV movie, the budget that comes along with a studio feature has allowed some gorgeous work to be given a starring role. Also, a word of warning for the ladies: you will want to buy hats after this. Juliet wears an abundance of wonderful 1940s hats, and it’s no bloody coincidence that I saw this movie yesterday and went and bought a knit beret today.

james

Not as nice as this one though.

It’s also a love letter to Guernsey, with lush scenery (although it was predominantly filmed in Devon, unfortunately, due to the logistical issues of filming on the island). And what an extraordinary tale the locals had – the book was well-researched, but the movie also does an excellent job of showing just the kind of difficult position they were put in, forced to live alongside their enemy in such a small space for five years. Whilst the Blitz was a horrifying experience for any Londoner, Juliet quickly learns how different the Guernsey experience was to her own. The Society itself grew from an act of resistance, and she learns the complex interrelation between this small group and the occupying forces, and the legacy it has left behind.

The cast bring a lot of warmth, wit, and heart, to what is at its essence a drama. This is a movie that is hugely at risk of being being trod on by genre pics, coming out right in between A Quiet Place (which I also saw yesterday, and really should have seen first to give my heart an opportunity to recover) and Avengers: Infinity War, and as always, I try to review movies that are at risk of being ignored. However, I think just from the trailer, most people know if they want to see this movie or not. If you’re not interested because you don’t like romance…I’m not sure why you’re reading a Victorian Values review, but sure, skip it. If you’re interested but on the fence, I can assure you that the movie is unlikely to disappoint. It’s not a thrill-ride, but it’s stunning to look at, the leads are charming, and the ending is happy.  And Michiel Huisman is very, very handsome.

Bachelor in Paradise Australia Episode 11: Farewell, Paradise

I think it’s been very clear over my series of recaps – my longest recaps yet, I would say I’ve clocked about 30,000 words so far this series with all the characters to cover and the ridiculous length of the episodes – that I have been frustrated with this show. Filling the cast with garbage men (including a guy convicted of assault), poor editing, the weird hyper-focus on ‘dramatic’ storylines over actual relationships. Nonetheless, I’ve devoted late nights and lunch hours to my writing.

But at some point, I must acknowledge that while writing about a popular show drives eyeballs to my blog (which I make no money out of whatsoever), it also serves as a promotional tool for the show. I become part of the hype that they reap advertising dollars from. And I no longer feel comfortable with that after last night’s show, so I’m going to cease recapping it.

I can’t get on board with the queerbaiting that came to light this episode. There was never any Megan/Elora story as heavily implied by the promos. They spliced in a shot of Megan and Thomas kissing amongst other shots of Megan and Elora to make it appear that way. It’s dirty and low to communities who are just looking for a bit of positive representation. And while I already felt it was a bit salacious to have at least three consecutive shots of them when the rest of the trailer was really random, I figured when you have a storyline so different to what this franchise normally tells, you want to make sure people know about it (obviously it doesn’t hurt that Megan and Elora are beautiful women).

To be clear, this is not a comment on Megan. She is obliged to represent no-one but herself, and if the only people she wants to be in relationships with on this show are men, then that’s chill. Bisexual people’s sexuality doesn’t  depend on whoever they’re with at any given moment.

This is purely about the manipulation on Channel Ten’s part. I don’t want to be part of the hype machine that told such a specific lie to bait people who wanted to see a representation of a queer relationship, finally, on one of these overwhelmingly hereto dating shows.

If you want to read some excellent recaps on the rest of the season, I can highly recommend Jodi McAlister at BookThingo for smart stuff and like 90% the same sense of humour as me with less swearing, and Tahlia Pritchard at Buzzfeed for the lols.

Thank you for reading. I’m yet to decide if I will continue livetweeting (I do really want to see what happens with Apollo….) but you can find me at Twitter here.

Keep an eye out for my next film review to hopefully wash this dirty taste out of my mouth. The worst part is, as misleading as it was, that trailer probably had the best editing of the whole season.

tumblr_noxiftVNcl1ut9qnno1_500

Bachelor in Paradise Australia: Episode 10

So you all remember how I cancelled Eden two whole episodes for finding it impossible to respect someone’s boundaries, right? Golly was it exciting to finally see Twitter catch up with me on Monday night.

While Apollo is just chilling out is his hammock like a handsome god, Michael is telling Megan that he has changed his mind about letting Lisa come to him. Megan is an excellent get-a-grip friend as always, laying it down on him like:

giphy (2)

And with the girls having the Power of the Roses this week, he’s probably not going to get Lisa’s.

My notes here say ‘some man-bunned idiot turns up’ and it turns out it’s Thomas, from the Canadian Bachelorette, and I have no idea how infamous he may be, but he designates himself as a international fashion model, immediately reminding me of the insufferable David Witko from Georgia Love’s season (who Leah went on to date! I bet she’ll be steering clear of this one).

Keira and Megan both think Tommy Hilfiger here is their type, which, sure, okay. They both go on about how they like rugged, manly guys, and then this fella turns up with a topknot.  When he announces that he’s Canadian, Tara responds with ‘we just got rid of one of you!’, which is delightful. He has a date card and takes Megan off for a chat, and he rambles about enjoying guitar and drawing portraits while Megan is sitting there like ‘Wow, you really don’t need a lot of personality to tempt me away from Jake, do you? Just some dark hair I guess. Wow, this is confronting’.

He takes Leah for a chat and she is essentially, again, ‘best of luck with your future endeavours’, a grand position to be with when you’ve got rose power but no romantic prospects.

While Sam and Luke romantically walk down the beach holding hands, Tara asks Lisa if she feels like she will be in a relationship at the end of the show (seems like a valid moment for the question). While they have not had ‘the chat’, Lisa’s feeling pretty firm about it. Meanwhile, Keira is urging Michael to look to any other girls that come in, instead of pursuing Lisa. Aww guys, you tried. Although Jarrod appropriate cops shit for his ‘Yeah, look at us!’. No-one wants to look at you Jarrod. Get some SPF 50+ immediately, you human tomato.

200

But Michael needs answers with Lisa! He knows love ‘is sometimes not served up on a plate…I feel like in this situation you really need to fight for it’. Okay mate but really if someone has clearly made an alternative choice maybe you could just move on with your life instead. She hasn’t spoken to him in like three days, and has gone and spent all of her time with Luke. Anyway, he says that if he doesn’t get a positive result he’s prepared to walk away. He doesn’t get one, although Lisa is kind, but it turns out it’s not ‘walk away from this delusional fantasy where Lisa and I get married’, it’s ‘walk away from the entire show’. Here’s some footage of Michael’s exit:

arrested-development-sad-charlie-brown-gif-2

(this is never brought up again in the entire episode, like everyone on the island simply didn’t notice).

Back to Lisa and Luke. He’s yammering to camera about how he likes to take things slow, but Lisa is still feeling a little insecure. He seems to be a bit bad at words, but the grand gesture that is desperately needed doesn’t seem to be on the cards either. They’re cuddled up in a cabana and as always this is super unclear, but it appears she has decided to leave…and is asking him to come with her. Why she wants to leave her free holiday is completely unclear, although we have seen a LOT of rain so maybe Fiji in the wet season (which is indeed when this was filmed) just sucks. She ‘doesn’t want to waste any more time’, and accuses of him of just wanting more holiday time. This is….not exactly a crime, but when he confirms this, she just gets really upset. He feels pushed, although he’s terrible at expressing it because Australian Masculinity.

Eventually she comes back to the conversation and apologises for making him feel pressured, but it turns out he’s relented. She’s the one he came here looking for, so they will leave together.

giphy (3)

(Turns out Luke probably cheated on her – they’re being vague about the ‘broken trust’ thing, but they broke up – after they were home so nice work dude)

Elora gets a date card and finally has an opportunity for some time alone with Apollo, and you can basically see her dangling the keys to her sex dungeon. Simone is going in to a tiny rage spiral, being rude to Thomas when he tries to talk to her. She’s determined to have her day ruined. Apollo and Elora go an extremely short distance (rain! again!) to have high tea where they bond over such things as both being carnies (sorry, ‘travelling entertainers’). Elora tries to take the Keenest Bean title from Jarrod at one point by encouraging Apollo to ‘deepen his throat’. But while Apollo thinks Elora is an amazing person (very kind assessment from a kind man), he’s thinking about Simone because he doesn’t want her to be hurt. He tells Elora that he’s looking for someone to travel with, with a lust for life, and that he doesn’t like drama, or people who complain about things. Sounds like Tara to me but okay!

tumblr_inline_ok90xnJKwF1uc2qro_500

Whilst everyone is very happy when they come back that Elora finally got her date (and can now shut up about it), Sam observes that Apollo essentially makes a beeline for Simone. They have some cute little lines about how they missed each other, while Elora looks on with an expression that could probably melt steel beams. While it’s ‘a dagger to [her] heart’, she still plans on giving him her rose:  ‘I’m not someone who gives up’. Because that went so well for Michael, y’see.

The next day, Megan is yammering to Keira about her confused Jake/Thomas feelings, while he tells us he’s going to to ask her on a date:  ‘We had a connection, good eye contact…everything you want’. Yep, that’s what we want.

Vq87

He asks her and she rebuffs him on account of the Jake-ness of it all, showing him she loyal (only fair considering that’s what he did with Elora, I guess, although Megan would have taken that Elora date in a heartbeat). Thomas tells us ‘I didn’t get this date card not to go on a date…I’m getting a rose tonight, and many more roses’. So he asks Leah. And she shoots him down. So he asks Simone. And she shoots him down.

source

In the end, a very odd cheer-up plan is concocted. Jarrod has ‘planned a date’ for he, Thomas, Apollo and Sam to go on. Long story short, they all end up shirtless in a milk bath together, while Apollo is rubbed in lotions and they drink cocktails. It’s very odd but it definitely seems to do the job of taking Thomas’s mind off the fact that no women on the island want him. Also…

tenor

We’re finally up to…. wait I think…. is the final drama for the day. Elora tells Ali in the lead up to the cocktail party that she received a little love note from American Jared. Ali, having no chill, spills this to Jared at said party, telling him how sweet she thinks it is. Yeah, Jared hasn’t been writing any letter. Actually, he can’t even read! (no, jokes). Their suspicions immediately turn to Sooky Old Simone, and Jared shows much greater faith in her that me by exclaiming ‘Nobody’s that stupid!’.

Tell you who is that stupid though? Eden, who thought he was pulling a hilarious prank. Eden tells Jared ‘You should be thanking me’ when confronted (why???), meanwhile Megan has the shitty task of breaking it to Elora, who is appropriately hurt that she was messed with, for no other reason than apparently Eden is a fucking child. Eden asks Elora for a chat and when she tells him she needs a minute, he responds with ‘it has to do with me, so…’  and basically pulls her away, once again fucking refusing to respect someone’s boundaries.

giphy (4)

He tells her it didn’t come from a place of jealousy or malice, so good luck with your comedy career mate because your sense of humour is fucking terrible.

All the usual suspects pick each other at the rose ceremony (Leah chooses Jared), and the decision at the end is left for Elora to pick between Eden and Thomas. I’m not sure why this a choice, except that Elora wanted her chance for an Oscar acceptance speech after all the boys got to do one the other week. She announces: ‘I’m very hurt, by what have you done. But in no way will will I let anybody change who I am. And Eden…I did want you to find love. So I choose you’

giphy (5)

Thomas is out, and we really, truly, barely knew ye. Barely got to know how garbage you could become. Megan thinks this has all cleared some stuff up for her, that she is looking for something deeper and meaningful. Too bad Jake is a puddle.