A journey I’ve always wanted to take

One of my favourite films of all time begins with the redoubtable Jane Russell  and Marilyn Monroe sashaying up a gangplank past the admiring eyes of a mysteriously all-male Olympic Team to begin the adventurous journey of a life-time aboard a luxurious cruise liner crossing the Atlantic.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is an outstanding film. Entertaining, sexy, witty and iconic – it features Monroe singing ‘Diamonds are a Girls’s best Friend’ – it is a film I can watch any time and enjoy. It is also the film that sparked in me a desire to cross the Atlantic on a ship.

Arriving for departure in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

How to travel in style – with hats, wrap and men to carry the newly-purchased gifts.

Every traveller has a personal bucket list of destinations and trips they want to take. These vary hugely according to what sort of traveller you are and just how often you can get out to see the world. It also changes as you grow and learn a little more about the places you want to see. For example, I used to want to do the trans-Siberian railway; but after a few travelling friends have  reported that it was not that interesting, just snow, vodka and the smell of un-washed humanity, it has been replaced by wanting to do the Silk Road right up through Uzbekistan into Istanbul.

When I travel, I like to do my own thing, so the idea of tours or cruises is wholly unappealing. I do however, make an exception for the cross-Atlantic cruise.

The idea of crossing the Atlantic on a ship is so evocative to me of a bygone era when travel really was exciting and adventurous. London and New York weren’t hours but days apart. When I imagine this voyage, I picture gangplanks, trunks and streamers at send-off; passengers dressed for dinner, towering staircases and endless well-made cocktails, and the ship itself a mansion with a hull.

Farewell to passengers leaving on the Stratheden, Hamilton, Brisbane
Roald Dahl wrote in the opening page of ‘Going Solo’, on his journey from the UK to Africa that ‘(In the 1930s) A voyage from London to Mombasa would take two weeks. Nowadays you can fly to Mombasa in a few hours in a few hours and you stop nowhere and nothing is fabulous anymore.’ In my mind, the grandure of crossing the Atlantic is a return to ‘fabulous’. I almost don’t care that this one five-day journey would cost me the same as a couple of months of travel almost anywhere else in the world, because when I do this trip, I don’t want to be in cattle-class. I want a suite, with a balcony and luxury. When I do this trip, I want to spend five days feeling as gorgeous and glorious and Marilyn and Jane when they dressed for dinner in all their finery and dazzled handsome lads and dirty millionaires.
Evening couture in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Of all the great journeys I would like to do in my life – the Silk Road, Florence to Rome on a Vespa, road trip across the USA, tip to tip of South America – possibly the one I want to do the most is to cross the Atlantic as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell did. Perhaps with a little less man-trouble but just as much wiggle.

What great journeys do you what to take?

This post was partly inspired by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and partly by this Lonely Planet article: Seven cruise journeys that evoke a lost era.


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