Want to spend a night in Paris? Easy, according to the SMH review of the St James Chateau Hotel. Just cough up between $460 and $650 to stay for one night and you can reside in luxury. But who wants to spend only one night in Paris? Let's stay a week shall we? That'll be a cool $3000.
Okay, how about a place to stay in Tuscany for a week of wine and gluttony, sorry, I mean good food? You can't go past this description of Tuscan pleasure surely, 'Within its ancient walls lie an extraordinary winery, an award-winning regional restaurant, a unique spa, charming rustic accommodation and unspeakably beautiful hilltop views of olive groves, vineyards, cyprus trees' Sounds wonderful, and only costs $3710 for accommodation.
No wonder many people view these trips as a 'once in a lifetime' experience, if we're gullible enough to believe the glorified advertising features called travel magazines. The SMH 'traveller' enjoys selling aspirational excess, all the better for its advertising bottom line.
And don't you love the by-line on these travel-porn articles - 'the author was a guest of ... resorts'
It's easy to recommend a week in Paris, or Tuscany, when you don't have to pay for it. And good luck to the writer. A week at someone else's expense? Where do I sign up.
But like real porn, this travel-porn corrupts our world view. We are seduced by the unattainable fiction, rather than seeking that which is soul-nourishing, life-affirming and (relatively) easily attainable.
Who wants a week in Tuscany?
Then stop reading 'traveller.' It will blind you to what is available in Paris and Tuscany, and the rest of Europe, for a fraction of the price. Here's the proof.
A Paris self-catering studio apartment with your own garden? That'll be $805 a week. We stayed here in 2010 and walked everywhere.
A three-bedroom apartment with, to quote our journalist friend above, 'unspeakably beautiful hilltop views of olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees...'?
I'd suggest the ancient town of Volpaia, pictured above. Cost of the apartment? $600. I repeat, $600! The price of three nights in bloody rural Victoria, according to the SMH (31/3/2012).
In Volpaia, there are two restaurants, both offering cheap and authentic Italian food, one cafe, an olive oil and wine producer and... that's it. Apart from a clump of buildings dating from the sixteenth century and before.
We spent a week there and didn't see another tourist staying in the village. A few travellers arrived at lunch and dinner to the restaurants, but for most of the day, we had the whole village to ourselves. On one memorable evening, we had dinner at the sublime La Bottega restaurant in the courtyard overlooking the Tuscan hills and on our stroll back to the apartment couldn't resist going to the other restaurant, just for dessert.
Sorry, I'm indulging in travel-porn myself now. But, really, for $600 a week, Volpaia is what 'traveller' should be writing about. A destination within reach of us all.
My wife and I spend four months every two years in Europe, travelling by Citroen around the continent. Rarely, do we pay more than $100 a night for accommodation. We have stayed in french chateaus; in farmhouses; in huge old rooms above cafes in hilltop villages; in an ancient tower in Italy; in a small village closer to Gallipoli than any other accommodation; on a Portuguese kiwi-fruit farm where we were booked for three nights but ended up staying three weeks (and, unknown to us at the time, the owners refused to accept bookings for the other rooms because they knew I was writing a novel and thought I needed peace and solitude!).
|Budget hire car?|
And, ironically, I steer you to the internet... away from the pornography of the travel liftout!
I'm not going to recommend specific web-sites, although the links above certainly help. Search the web for your own specific needs, you'll find what you're after. Just don't buy into the Audi A5, Lancome, Burberry, 'our son goes to Grammar', aspirational lifestyle twaddle of the Herald.
Find your own way. Bon voyage.
please note: all accommodation, meals and the car mentioned above were paid for by me!!