Holy shit, is that Michael Douglas?

‘Holy shit, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are sitting next to us,’ I whispered with excited tones to my friends and we sat down at Kocadon Restaurant in Bodrum, Turkey.

There they were, two real life celebrities sitting at a table no more than three metres away, shooting the breeze and casually enjoying dinner and wine with their friends, just like we were. They are, after all, just people aren’t they, Happies?

Apparently not. The way the restaurant (my table included) murmured words like facebook, twitter, and pass the camera, made me realise that the power of celebrity extends to even the most unsuspecting non-celebrity-loving type. Sure, I love celebrity spotting, but my usually complacent boyfriend was moved to posing for funny photos in front of MD while his friends paraded their best party tricks to try and impress CZJ. It was, in a word, stupendous.

Here’s the money shot…

Celia Waldon (wife of Piers Morgan) recently wrote an article in UK ELLE about the reasons we ‘fawn over the famous’. She spills stories of women pressing their numbers into Piers’ hand right in front of her, and how the entire room stops when Jessica Alba enters it.

The fact of the matter is, as Walden explains, seeing a celebrity in person crosses the boundaries of fact and fiction. For many of us (me included), celebrities are creatures of fairy tales, they don’t exist in real life, only movies, so when you see them at the same restaurant as you, your brain has trouble believing they’re actually there. In real life.

But that’s the beauty of it, really. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s pretty damn exciting being taken out of your ‘real’ world and transported to a place where the rich and famous live. Eat. Play. Sure, they’re people who are entitled to their privacy and all that, but excitement is the most gut-bubble inducing emotion and I like to feel it as much as possible. Especially on holidays.

So, if that means acting like a fool to get that perfect shot of Michael Douglas, or admiring CZJ’s perfect nude lip gloss, then hey, bring it on. We’re not hurting anyone, are we?

 

Tell me Happies…

Have you ever spotted a celebrity?

Was it exciting?

Who would you most like to meet?

 

 

Switch off your laptop and switch on your ‘real’ life

It shouldn’t have been that much a surprise to find out there wasn’t any internet connection in the small coastal beach village of Altinoluk on Turkey’s west coast. In fact, there wasn’t much of anything there, save for the odd market stall, a beach, and a cluster of restaurants all overly eager to serve the aliens in town. And by aliens, I mean foreigners, because in Altinoluk, they don’t get too many non-Turkish people popping in for a sightsee.

But hey, two nights without internet I could absolutely do. Sure, I have a need to update my status, check my emails, tweet, and generally see what’s happening on the interweb just as much as the next person, but two days was never going to be a problem for me. Until that two days became seven.

You see, Happies, that pleasant two days in Altinoluk then became one night in Ölüdeniz and four nights on a gulet cruising from Fethiye to Marmaris, all of which failed to have internet connection. Hence, the tumbleweeds and crickets you’ve been hearing on The Happiness Cocktail for quite some time.

For many of us internet obsessed online bloggers/writers/readers, the idea of being cut off from the webisphere is a terrifying one. It’s literally the umbilical cord that feeds us all our must-have information – everything from bank balances to emails, communicating with family and friends are all fed through this one giant beast that’s almost impossible to forget.

Until the universe intercepts and you’re literally forced to switch off. And forget. Forget about your emails, your blog, your updates, your tweets. Forget about what it’s like to live in a world where social interaction and communication revolve around typing to your best friend rather than talking to her on the phone. Sure, it’s easier to get in touch with people now, but is the quality of communication taking a step backwards? Who knows…

But here’s what I do know, Happies. Being offline is a GLORIOUS invention. It has allowed me to truly remain in the moment, enjoy what’s happening this second right where I am. Not with my emails, or my laptop, or my ipad. But here, wherever that may be. Which, for the record, is here with my sister, brother-in-law, and BF…

So, if you too are finding that your laptop is ruling your life, why wait for the universe to force you into turning it off like I did? Take some time to exit from the webisphere, enjoy what’s happening in your ‘real’ life and simply, switch off. You’ll be amazed at what you find. I sure was.

Tell me Happies…

How often do you switch off?

How long do you switch off for?

Do you find it hard?

How do you feel when you’re away from your laptop?

When in Rome…

I have arrived in the epicentre of ancient civilisation, working my way from one insanely old monument to another. Of course, I am talking about Rome, the city that, apparently, all roads lead to, and a city that I never want to leave.

Rome is, for the most part, a well-preserved museum of worlds gone by, but never forgotten. It’s so refreshing to visit a place that hasn’t been overrun by sky-scrapers, high-rise apartment buildings, and modern eyesores designed by egotistical architects wanting to put their stamp on a city. It is old, ancient even, and utterly fabulous.

Clearly, this is my first visit to Rome. Although I hazard a guess that this place never loses its sparkle, no matter how often you frequent it. I had heard stories about turning down simple, nondescript streets and being greeted by an army of ruins, tumbling down but still sharing their story of a once unbreakable time. This is true, Happies. Everywhere you look, turn, stumble across will have you seeing yet another marble column, archway, fountain, underground treasure trove.

It’s no wonder then, that this city is overrun with tourists. I have never seen so many tourists, wandering the streets with their maps and Rick Stein guidebooks and backpacks. And like all cities rammed with tourists, there are the obvious must-sees (Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps) and the hidden treasures that you stumble across simply by accident, or thanks to a kind local wanting to help you out.

One of these treasures is the 115 bus. Stopping at Trastevere (a suburb I highly recommend staying in) the 115 bus takes you up into the area of Garibaldi. A suburb that sits high atop a hill, with the most amazing views of Rome. Named after Guiseppe Garibaldi, an Italian military and political hero who rocked a mad moustache and has statues of himself all over the world, including one in Washington Square Park in New York, this area is definitely worth a visit. From here, you can simply walk down the hill to the Vatican, or onto any of the zillion other monuments you so wish.

Food, however, I am finding a little harder to conquer. The sights, no problemo, but the food in Italy, as far as I have found, appears to be a let down. Of epic proportions. Shocking, I know!

For any of you Happies who have followed this blog for a while, you will know that healthy food is something I live for. Sprouted bread, roast chicken, mind-blowing lettuce cup treats of all forms are a daily occurrence in my life, and now, they’re all but a distant memory.

The Italians know everything there is to know about food. Don’t get me wrong. I could never suggest that they haven’t played an instrumental part in forming some of the best and most popular dishes of today, but find me a vegetable in this country that isn’t smothered in cheese, or floating across a wheat-heavy base, and I will be your friend for life.

That said, the prosecco is pretty damn good – so I can’t complain too much. Can I?

Tell me Happies…

Have you been to Rome?

Do you love it?

Did you find the food all pizza and pasta and most definitely not healthy?

Or, am I missing something?

The Italian lust for life is truly alive and kicking

I couldn’t understand a single word he was saying, all I know is that he was angry. Very angry. And why shouldn’t he be? He was a bus driver, a local, a man with knowledge of this area far greater than anyone else, and the small, somewhat insignificant cars sharing the road up into the small Italian hillside town of Ravello clearly had no idea.

He abruptly opened his window, stuck his oversized, bald head out of it and screamed – using the tones of his voice, his hands, his entire torso, to punctuate his point – which was, as far as my intuition tells me, ‘get out of my fucking way. NOW, YOU IDIOTS!!!

It was pouring rain outside and the road was jammed. It appears that the second a single drop of rain starts here on the Amalfi Coast, the unsuspecting system turns into chaos. Men were screaming; women were eye rolling. The Italian lust for life was on full display in this single moment. It’s amazing how the most profound cultural lessons are sometimes observed in the simplest of tasks. We were on a SITA bus as it carried a small group of tourists up into the hills, and swiftly back down again. You don’t get much more simple than that, do you?

If you’re yet to experience the Amalfi Coast, or more specifically, the roads of the Amalfi Coast, you’re in for a real treat, Happies. They are tight. And by tight I mean a scooter has trouble navigating around the bends, let alone a bus. I have no idea how they do it, all I care about is that they do, because it’s a long, cascading drop to the cliffs below if they don’t. But they do. They always do. And that’s what you have to tell yourself every time you step inside one of these beasts.

Here’s a visual…

The Italian way of life is truly a beautiful one. Especially when you step away from the crammed tourist Mecca of Amalfi and Capri and Positano and enjoy their culture by simply watching it. Observing it. Admiring it. The love they put into their fruit stands, their hand motions, the way they throw witty banter among friends – sharing smiles, laughs, food and wine with the people they love. Or, sharing loud screams of frustration to their fellow road sharers, it’s not pretty pictures all the time, I guess.

Here on the coast you can see that without tourists, life would be hard. There’s nothing around, the sheer fact that someone was crazy enough to actually build townships in this location says a lot about the Italians. Either they’re completely mad, or ingenious, but either way, the beauty and splendour of this part of the world is uncompromising. Virtually impossible to navigate by road, yes, but amazing nonetheless.

But the beauty comes only partly from the land, Happies. If you ask me, the people generate much of the beauty here too, spreading their Italian idiosyncrasies of happiness and madness and Joie de Vivre onto the unsuspecting tourists that flock to these parts only for the beaches. Or the shopping. Or to say that they’ve visited this world-renowned place so they look well travelled.

It’s easy to see why happiness abounds here; the Italians have all of life’s most precious gifts well understood. Food, wine, family, friends and passion. And they show this in every small situation. Even the tiny ones, like traffic jams.

Tell me Happies…

Have you been to the Amalfi Coast?

Did you like it?

Do you know these roads I talk of?

If you haven’t been, do you want to go?