Vacationing from… the couch

So you’re joining the 10.2 million unemployed Americans on their sofas and your mind is still twitching from all the work items left undone when you were escorted out of the building. This calls for a much needed vacation. But alas! You can’t afford to go on a splendid vacation when there is a mortgage to pay.

Well, thanks to much couch-surfing experience gained by your writer at My Travel Hats, I’ve compiled a list of movies taking place in foreign lands with a good vantage point of the city to add to your growing Netflix queue so you don’t even have to leave your pajamas to go on vacation. Happy travels!

Paris: Paris Je T’aime, in English and French (there are les subtitres). 18 short films, one for each arrondissement of Paris, featuring many recognizable actors and actresses. For those of us who spent extended time in Paris, we like to sit back with this movie and sigh happily. And of course, Amelie, completely in French, a quirky film about a precocious young lady who mission is to make everyone happy. Another happy sigh.

Beijing: For a 3-hour history lesson on the fate of China from the turn of the century to the 1980s, there’s Oscar-winning The Last Emperor. It shows the boy emperor, crowned at age 3, and the slow changes through the world wars into communism. The scenery and costumes are magnificent, the story line is excellent, but there are no happy sighs in this film.

Salzburg: Of course, The Sound of Music. Famous buildings and gardens reign through this Oscar winner. You can sing along, too, and pretend to have a fun twirly dress like Liesel’s. If you’d rather travel to Vienna, there’s Ethan Hawke’s very sappy Before Sunset, which does take you through a lovely tour of the city, but you’ll have to contend with a lot of annoying dialogue.

Tokyo: Lost in Translation, which I have to say is a good sampling of Tokyo’s sites. Not too heavy, not too sappy.

Rome: Naturally, Audrey Hepburn’s version in Roman Holiday. Don’t we all wish we could meet Gregory Peck on the Spanish Steps?

Tuscany: Okay, I admit I got sucked into Under the Tuscan Sun but ONLY because it is about a writer, from California (and I did spend five years in California) who travels to Italy on vacation and ends up buying a villa. The scenery in this movie is really enchanting, of the Tuscan vineyards and shots of Positano’s building dripping into the coast. Plus the whole concept of buying a villa and eating all that wonderful Italian food is also just a lovely idea, but the movie itself is blah.

Koh Phi Phi (Thailand): Another non-winner of a movie, The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as the Lord of the Flies is a terrible film. But the beach is beautiful and caused a surge in tourists after the movie came out. I’m not sure if tourists remembered that tourists got shot in cold blood in the movie. Oh no, did I just ruin the movie?

Barcelona: Barcelona  is a Whit Stillman film, one of my favorite movie writers/ directors because he is just so Whit-ty. I saw this movie a long time ago, however, but I believe there are plenty of shots of Barcelona surrounding a cute storyline of two Americans in Barcelona. He also directed Metropolitan which is a very funny movie from the ’80’s about the collegiate upper crust of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and The Last Days of Disco, which wasn’t as great but still enjoyable.

San Francisco: When I saw So I Married an Axe Murderer  with Mike Myers, the city looked so charming that I wanted to move there right away. However, it was around the height of dot-com, so there were absolutely no apartments available at the time.

New England: For some reason Me, Myself and Irene pops into my head because of all those pretty Rhode Island ocean scenes and the visit to Ben & Jerry’s farm in Vermont. You can just taste the salty lobsters and visualize the LL Bean tote bags eminating from the screen. I recall my friend commenting that her favorite place to summer, Newport, was going to get run over by tourists as a result of this movie.

There are plenty more, but I need to hold onto those as fodder for future blog entries. Enjoy these in the meantime.

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