Category: Scent Adventures
The first time I came to India was in 1999. It was my second major trip abroad and after spending a year in South America I naively thought I was a sufficiently experienced traveller to navigate my way through the country alone. Outside Arrivals at Delhi’s international airport, India did to me what India often does to young travellers. It turned me upside down, swallowed me whole and spat me out. Despite the Lonely Planet warnings, a rogue taxi driver scammed me and in the small hours of the morning I spent my first night barricaded in a hotel room of the taxi driver’s choosing. These were the days before smart phones and Google Earth so once the sun came up, my first task was to find out where the taxi driver had offloaded me and I steered myself back on course. My travels took me north of Delhi; I visited Amritsar’s Golden Temple, spent nights in a houseboat on Kashmir’s picturesque Dal Lake and by pure chance I had an audience with the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj, where the Tibetan leader and his countrymen and women were living in exile. It was a trip that gave me unforgettable … Read More »
How did 2013 disappear so quickly? This was the realization I had whilst retracing my New York steps from pages of scribbled notes in my travel diary. June’s trip seems like it happened yesterday and MiN’s latest Facebook photo, showing the boutique’s street front covered in snow is a reminder that the New York summer I experienced has well and truly past. Because of the high concentration of things to smell in Lower Manhattan, I’ve written this post in two parts (Part One – published in September). This long overdue second post covers the remaining addresses I visited in Soho, Nolita, Noho and the East Village.
Lower Manhattan is my favourite area of New York because it hosts some of the island’s most interesting sights, sounds, tastes and smells. Built over layers of history, Lower Manhattan is a mélange of cultures and the city streets tell some of America’s greatest immigration stories. Walking down the Bowery I was conscious that under my feet lay an old dirt track, which Dutch settlers used to import produce from farms on the circumference of the city. As the city expanded The Bowery became one of 18th century Manhattan’s most fashionable and affluent streets. Then … Read More »
Soho and Greenwich Village are some of my favourite areas of New York City. Unlike Upper Manhattan where life takes place behind doors, dutifully guarded by doormen and concierges, downtown life is much more visible on the street. Down in Soho, life pulsates to the vibrant rhythm of clacking high heels on pavement as women of all ages and nationalities shop their way from one designer boutique to the next. Soho is the perfect place to perch in a café window and watch as life unfolds around you. North west of Soho, Greenwich Village works at a slower pace. At the turn of the 20th century the Village was a bohemian enclave and provided affordable accommodation to the city’s great writers and artists. Then came the beatniks and later, musicians and songwriters inhabited the area’s tenement buildings. The Village’s bohemian past still lingers, even if Bleeker Street has been gentrified and today’s real estate prices prevent anyone without a sizable income from calling the Village home. Sprinkled between Bleeker Street’s international designer residents you can still find the odd record store selling second hand vinyl and vintage clothing boutiques.
I started this Scent Adventure at the Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street. … Read More »
“Did you know there are hipsters in Brooklyn?” says Refinery 29, one of New York’s most frequented style and fashion websites. If my Firefox browser could speak, the writer’s sarcastic tone would come streaming out of my laptop speakers. There are hipsters in Brooklyn; in fact there are many of them. Over the past 10 years the hipster subculture has been responsible for turning Brooklyn into a byword for cool and TV shows like HBO’s Girls, have promoted Brooklyn’s bohemian reputation to a young and culture-hungry global audience. But Brooklyn isn’t all about wayfarer sunglasses, plaid shirting, chia seeds and kale; in my two-week visit I explored the hipster borough and found that like any part of New York, Brooklyn’s inhabitants are diverse. A great place to start exploring Brooklyn is under the Brooklyn Bridge. There I found one of the best vantage points of Manhattan, providing landmark views of the Statue of Liberty all the way up to the Chrysler Building in Midtown. It was the perfect place to watch the sun go down over the glowing Manhattan skyline.
Brooklyn offers travellers a number of advantages, the main ones being low cost accommodation and a peaceful retreat, whist still being … Read More »
Last month I spent two weeks in New York. It was my first visit since I began writing my blog, What Men Should Smell Like and I wanted to retrace my steps to a number of perfumeries I had previously experienced. I also came armed with a long list of new addresses I planned on visiting.
My New York story began on the iconic Fifth Avenue. It was a surreal feeling to come with a sense of familiarity towards a place I knew almost entirely through television, movies and the Internet. The New York subway has an unforgettable odour, which is redolent of concrete, rubber and hot metal. From the bowels of the subway I exited onto Fifth Avenue joining thousands of other tourists shuffling along the pavement at a shoppers pace. Blended into this crowd was the odd local. You could tell he was a New Yorker, an Upper East Sider to be more precise. His uniform was a pair of beige chinos, a light blue button down shirt and a sports coat in navy, preferably with golden buttons. Neck or bow tie was optional. I wondered if this was the man Patricia de Nicolai had in mind when she … Read More »
I did have one more Scent Adventure to publish after I returned from Europe last summer but the story was put on hold after some other priorities took over. I recently came back to my half-finished story and this is the posthumous recount of my scented tale from October 2012.
By the time I finished traveling along the Cote d’Azur, summer was already showing signs of its annual retirement and Paris offered me a cool hand in reception when I arrived from Nice. After two weeks of study at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, it was time to make the gradual journey back to Australia. My route would take me to Paris and on to London before boarding a 24 hour flight to Sydney.
In Paris, I stayed with a close friend from New Zealand who is now living in London. We used Airbnb to find a cozy apartment in Le Marais, at the heart of Paris’ 3rd arrondissement. Airbnb is a great source of accommodation, allowing you to feel like you are living in a foreign city instead of living out of a suitcase in a hotel. Our apartment was typically Parisian with a large centre courtyard and a resident gargoyle, … Read More »
My adventure in the south of France began in Nice, one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Whilst the old town emits a sense of antiquity, the new town that spreads back inland from the Promenade des Anglais is a compact modern city. There is still a tranquil mood in the streets as feet shuffle along the pavement at a provincial pace and the locals are generally warm and friendly people. As I had to make my way to Grasse my stop in Nice was brief. From Nice to Grasse I had two options; I could take a bus for 1 euro or a taxi would cost 110 euro (Sunday fares attract an additional tariff). Reason told me I should save my money for perfume shopping and before I boarded the Sunday morning bus to Grasse I had all of Saturday to explore the Riviera town for scented treasure.
After a croissant and espresso in the old town, I walked through the weekend market stalls. Stalls were filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and every conceivable product made from olives. One stall I passed glowed with the purple hue of lavender sprigs, a symbol of Provence. Earlier in the … Read More »
Nothing can prepare you for the assault on the senses that is Marrakech but it is the intrepid journey of peeling back the layers of this ancient city, which makes travelling in Morocco such a joy.
Last week I stayed in the city, experiencing Medina life and searching for olfactory stories to add to my collection of Scent Adventures. Marrakech may not be every one’s cup of tea and at times, the city is hard work. But if you have a taste for the exotic, it easily delivers. I was initially drawn to the city by the stories Serge Lutens told through his perfumes. His creations such as Ambre Sultan and Cuir Mauresque had played on my imagination since June of last year when I visited his boutique in the Palais Royale gardens of Paris.
My adventure began when I arrived at the riad with whom I had arranged my accommodation. Traditionally a riad was a home of Moroccan aristocracy. The opulent interior could not be detected from the exterior and many examples show, even the entrances were hidden. Buildings in Marrakech are usually painted a uniform terracotta colour unless the building is a mosque. Islamic architecture in Morocco displays a modest … Read More »
Earlier this year I visited Auckland and I wrote about my search for beach cast ambergris along the shores of Auckland’s west coast. During last month’s trip, I was keen to gather some suggestions for perfume shopping in the city where I grew up. I spent 27 years living in Auckland so for me, it is a second home. Living in Sydney I am only a three-hour flight away and I usually travel back two or three times a year for work and to visit family. Each time I go, I see gradual change. Nightclubs I used to frequent are now basement discount stores. Cafes that were once places to go, to see and be seen have been converted into takeaway sushi bars. Even my old warehouse apartment on Hobson Street has been demolished and replaced with high-rises. Although evolution is inevitable and building facades change, I realized taking this scent adventure that if I looked hard enough, I could still find 27 years worth of memories scattered throughout the streets.
My scent adventure began in the city’s central business district. Walking down Queen Street, I headed to Britomart, a shopping district created from old warehouses above the city’s small underground … Read More »
For Australians, Thailand is a popular holiday destination boasting great food and beachside resorts. This trip wasn’t a holiday, I was in Bangkok for work meetings but I was fortunate enough to have a day set aside to explore the city before taking a flight home to Sydney. If you haven’t been before, there is a difference between Bangkok city and the island resorts splashed across the pages of travel agency brochures. Far from the tranquil beauty of these tropical vacations, Bangkok is a bustling paradox of congested traffic, modern glass towers and unkept cement buildings that show their age – no white sand or a palm tree in sight. My day began with an exploration of the shopping district around the city’s central Siam Station. Siam Paragon is one of a handful of western-style shopping malls that contain a variety of international brands. Hermes and Chanel both offer their exclusive line of fragrances in their Paragon boutiques and Paragon department store has a cosmetics floor dedicated to the expected names in perfume. At the entrance of the mall Shiseido was celebrating 40 years in Bangkok with a large display of their rose scented Eudemine Essence, a limited edition product … Read More »