Trend Watcher: Autumn’s Top Books and Trips
This month we put our finger on the planet’s cultural pulse and bring you the best reads on the road and the top city trips, to tag onto your Amsterdam visit!
BOOK - 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
1Q84 isn’t just one book but rather three, spanning a whopping 1318 pages - but don’t let that put you off. This is the tale of Aomame and Tenko, united in childhood by parents who dragged them door-to-door selling religion and TV respectively. Both fight for independence at a young age and progress to a somewhat successful state of adulthood before a schism splits the year 1984 in two, pushing events out of order and opening the door to The Little People! It sounds fantastical and it is, with targeted assassination against criminal men and an air chrysalis that separates the soul from the body. All of these elements combine to make 1Q84 one or Murakimi’s most impressive books ever and a top investment for long journeys around the world.
TRIP - Vienna
The suburbs of this beautiful Austrian city date back to the second century, the centre boasts cutting edge art installations in the Museum Quarter (including a giant naked man climbing frame) and the Belvedere Museum serves up Gustav Klimt galore. Beyond that the Opera is abundant and accessible for just €1 a ticket at the Volksoper theatre, with the last minute lottery. For food, everything here is hearty to say the leastwith some top snack stops to be found at the year round weekend markets at Naschmarkt, which are also brimming with kitsch second hand bargains, ranging from Mad men style glass decanters to glorious gramophones. Stay at Hostel Ruthensteiner, in a great location between the City Center and the stunning Palace Schoenbrunn.
BOOK -The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
It’s her first foray into the world of adult literature after the phenomenon of the Harry Potter series and it’s had a mixed reception. Some say Rowling used it as an opportunity to pour out every swear word she couldn’t use in Harry Potter and others deem it to be a welcome departure, showcasing her abilities to write for all ages. Given the number of adults who read Harry Potter its seems the latter point was already proven, but that aside, The Casual Vacancy is a very interesting read with Rowling’s trade mark, moreish chapter endings. It’s a tale of a Parish Council election in a small English town - brought about by the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother. This vacancy opens the door to applications from the most frustrated of small-minded village folk and leads to a thoroughly enjoyable exposé of the neurosis that they cart around.
TRIP – Nice
The French Riviera is not only a stunning summer spot for water sports and parades along the promenade, it’s also a prime base for winter skiing on the cheap in the nearby hills. What’s more there’s culture galore with a top Picasso Museum in town and more galleries than you can shake a stick at, just along the coast in film-festival-famous Cannes. Villa St. Exupery Gardens is a top hostel for any trip to Nice – found in an old monastery, perched in the hills overlooking the city. Breakfast is served in the stained glass glow of the old chapel and a free shuttle bus runs residents to the tram stop, all day long.
Music Reviews From The Flying Pig
This E-zine's Top Album Suggestions
This month Lara Bradley from the Flying Pig reviews the album Life in Babalou from the band Birth of Joy and 2:54, from 2:54. If you like a little musical influence from the likes of The Doors, stylishly cool sisters and home grown Holland sounds, you’ll love what Lara’s serving up in this edition.
Band: Birth of Joy
Album: Life in Babalou
Let's kickstart with a bang! Straight out of our much loved land Holland I present to you - Birth of Joy! This psychedelic rock band, who describe their music as: "sixties on steroids" explode with strong, supercharged and energetic performances. Cop a load of this!
WARNING: This is not for the faint hearted! The Dutch trio is made up of pumping drums, bass guitar and a turbo organ with lots of rifts and melodies, which make for a big sound if you can handle it? Energetic lead singer Kevin Stunnenberg delivers lyrics with feeling and zest. Even listening makes you want to adopt an air of cocky rock star!
Think Wolfmother and The Doors with a blues influence (if you can) and you're pretty much there. I came to hear about this band through a friend who suggested we go see them here in Amsterdam, so I thought I'd brush up on them. After a quick YouTube session I was immediately transported to London in the 1970s - in an underground venue, head banging to Jim Morrison.
Check out their album Life in Babalou, which was released on March 2, 2012. Their tracks punch into your stomach and radiate adrenaline all over your body until you find yourself intoxicated with the rhythm and bouncing around to their sound. They have it all - energy (tick) dark rock (tick) passion (tick) and wild uninhibited performance abilities (tick tick tick). These boys don't do things by halves, which is just how we like it!
I like how they mix it up a little on the album - on the one hand you have the track Make Things Happen (a Doors influence) and then there's the blues styled Motel Money Away. My personal favourite is Devil's Paradise. The guys have played at many festivals this year and are a pretty big deal over here. They toured across Europe and played more than 150 gigs in the past few years. The boys themselves; Kevin (lead and guitar), Bob (drums) and Gertjan (organ) are pretty cute, and clearly super cool. Girls wanna date them, and guys wanna be them.
Time to go back to my roots next with a beautifully bad-ass sister duo from the UK - 2:54. If you haven't heard of these girls yet then why not?! They have been touring all over the UK, Holland and Germany, and now they're off to conquer the states! Not only this, but they started out supporting none other than the delicate sounds of the XX!
Hannah, the older of the two, plays lead guitar whilst Colette's vocals meander over this sultry sound, all brought together by steady drum beats. The girls didn't form the band (then called the Vulgarians) until 2007, but have been making music together for years.
Upholding a tough, yet sexy (and I feel very genuine) image, the girls dress punk, sporting dark clothes, leather and striking red lippy. Originally from Ireland, they spent their childhood growing up in Bristol, which inspires their music videos. These feature wide-open fields, rocky hills and crashing waves, allvery apt for their music. There is something curious and endearing about these girls. I find myself drawn to their photographs, wanting to know more about them.
Their debut album 2:54 presents a smooth yet resilient collection of heart felt tracks that roll easily into the next. The girls' first experience of notoriety was after posting this song online and receiving a great media response. My personal fav? Scarlet. The video is set in a forest, with smoke and leaves rushing over the girls, carrying their voices around in the wind.
You can kind of hear that the girls had an early rock and roll influence which runs deep in the music, dominated with influences such as Portishead, Massive attack, Warpaint and the. For those of who aren't aware, the Melvins are a US grunge / alternative rock band from the 80s who the girls cite as a key influence in their musical upbringing. So much so, 2:54 is the time in a Melvins song which signifies the calm before the storm. Hannah cites this as when the bassline becomes doomy and dreamy.
These girls are pure, stylish and their effortlessly cool image is reflected in their music - perfect for a girls nights, for or listening to when you're getting into or over that guy!
Song to listen to when strutting down the high street: Sugar
Song to listen to when staring at the ceiling and dreaming: You're Earl
- Lara Bradley
News From the Beach: Free Pool and the Leiden International Film Festival
Free Pool every Wednesday at the Pig Bar!
If you come down to the bar today (and today happens to be a Wednesday) you lucky things can enjoy the pleasure of playing Pool – all for free. A tournament or two is a top treat and what’s more, it’s a great way to meet fellow backpackers, outside the confines of your dorm room. Pair this with the many amazing drink deals to be found in the bar and you’re all set for an amazing night, every Wednesday!
Leiden International Film Festival 2012 – October 23 to 28, 2012
Leiden is a nice little city, mere moments away from the Flying Pig Beach Hostel in Noordwijk. Better yet it also hosts an amazing film festival every year, showcasing the best new international flicks – mainstream and independent – just for you! 2012 marks the seventh year of the Leiden International Film Festival and boasts an itinerary filled to the brim with 150 productions. You’ll find the films on show at eight locations across the city and on October 23, it will all be kicked off with the Dutch premiere of Argo.
On top of this amazing variety of international treats, the festival will also play host to a special thirtieth anniversary screening of ET, topped off by a Q&A session with Dutch astronaut, André Kuipers!
Europe's Famous Hostels - Ten Places To Explore in Marseilles
1. The Notre Dame de la Garde
Probably the most renowned landmark in Marseille, it’s hard to miss given its immense presence over the city. Aside from its architectural splendour, the views from the church’s 148ft tower are staggeringly impressive. As Marseille’s biggest tourist attraction it gets understandably busy but it’s certainly worth it.
2. Cours Julien
One of Marseille’s hippest areas, the graffiti daubed Cours Julien square hosts various morning markets: fresh flowers on Wednesday and Saturday, antique books on alternate Saturdays, and stamps or antique books on Sunday. A laid back area that’ll give you a feel for the real Marseille.
3. Petit Train de Marseille
Like a tiny theme park train this is a rather cute but nevertheless efficient way of getting around and seeing the sights of Marseille. Increasingly popular, these blue and white motor driven train-and-trailers travel several designated routes around the city taking in a little bit of everything that Marseille has to offer.
4. Centre de la Vieille Charité
For those looking for more than a suntan you may want to indulge in some museum exploration. Conveniently many of the town’s museums reside in the Centre de la Vielle Charite. You’ll find you can wile away plenty of time in the Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne (Museum of Mediterranean Archeology) or the Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens & Amérindiens (Museum of African, Oceanic & American Indian Art).
Just outside Marseille is the small fishing village of Cassis. Small it may be but it’s busy, bustling and buses from Marseille make it easy to reach. The reason for its increasing popularity lies with wine. Not, as many assume, the home to Crème-de-Cassis but expert producers of rosé and white. Come the end of the day there’s nothing better than grabbing a bottle, sitting yourself on the dock and watching the fishing boats come in.
6. The Calanques
When it comes to natural wonders one of the finest in Marseille is the Calanques. Running 20km in length between Marseille and Cassis these are steep-sided valleys formed after many, many years of water erosion. Amateur rock-formation lessons aside, the Calanques are also perfect for hiking and mountain climbing, and with that come some beautiful ocean views. Make a day out of this and tie it in with a trip to Cassis.
7. Palais de Longchamp
Built in 1869 to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille the Palais de Longchamp remains one Marseille’s most majestic historic sites. Given the reason behind its construction, water is a large part of the palace makeup. That doesn’t mean it’s got problems with damp but it does mean it houses several grand ponds and a manmade waterfall. The Palais de Longchamp is also where you’ll find the city’s Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History Museum. On top of that it’s surrounded by the Parc Longchamp, a lush parkland listed as one of the Notable Gardens of France.
8. The Santon
OK, to some they will just look like dolls but Santons are a huge part of Marseille heritage. Depending on when you visit you’ll quickly appreciate their importance. The Santon Fair, which runs from November to December 31st, is one of Marseille’s favourite events and marks the start of the Christmas holiday period. These traditional Native Provencal figurines, and specially made Santon cribs, are displayed at the fair, which also aims at uniting the ancient Santon-makers’ families. Alternatively, should you arrive outside the winter months, you can always pop into the tiny Musee du Santon which holds many of them throughout the year.
9. Take to the seas
While there’s plenty of fun to be had on the beaches of Marseille why not kick the sand off and explore the waters? Being a coastal city you’ll find flotillas of boats that can take you out for coastal tours, fishing trips or even a spot of deep-sea diving.
We’ve skirted around it enough, one of the biggest ‘To Dos’ in Marseille is to make the most out of one, some, or all of its beaches. There are plenty to pick from, admittedly of varying qualities, but whether you want a place to chill out, catch some surf or just enjoy a beer at a beachside bar you’ll find something to suit you. Plage du Roucas Blanc, Plage Borély and Plage Bonneveine are held in particularly high regard.
More info and free booking at www.famoushostels.com