Wednesday, May 14, 2008

20 things to do before you do the other 20 things you were thinking of doing

JOURNEY: Route 66, United States

It’s not easy to stay on the heavenly highway any more. It stops and starts and ends abruptly, but a drive along what is left of Route 66 is a must. Do as much as you can and watch the US pass by in all its flawed and magnificent grandeur.

EXPERIENCE: Visit the Grand Canyon, United States
It’s not called 'Grand' for nothing. Stand at its edge and gaze across, down and up. If it doesn’t inspire you to get out there and help make the world a better place, you’ve had a soul bypass.

ART: Naoshima
It’s a bit of a mission to get to; a train or plane, then a local train or rental, a ferry – you get the picture. But the island of Naoshima has one of the greatest art experiences in the world. The Benesse Foundation has two museums with stand out Jasper Johns, Warhol and Basquiat works in abundance. In the village there are incredible art installations, including an incredible James Turrell piece that brings a whole new meaning to the word 'Mystery'.

VIEW: The Lake District, England
OK, I have a house in Grasmere as you all know, so I'm biased, but this is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Don’t even think of coming here without reading some Wordsworth beforehand. There’s wisdom there: “In human life there are moments worth ages”.

EXPERIENCE: The Khan el-Khalili bazaar in Cairo, Egypt
Mystery, Intimacy and Sensuality all distilled into a maze of alleys, courtyards, staircases and doorways. The Khan el-Khalili is unforgettable for the sounds of pots being cobbled, the smell of spices in the air and the intensity of shoppers deep in the complex process of getting the best price. It’s impossible not to get lost in this total confusion of color and sound, but when you eventually stumble on one of the huge entrance gates, grab a taxi and head off to the other great wonder of this wondrous city, the Pyramids. The only wonder left standing of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World.

EXPERIENCE: Visit Disneyland, Anaheim, Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore
People will tell you it has had its day, but don’t believe them. The Magic Kingdom is still magic and the Disney dream is still alive.

CITY: Dubai
They’re changing the shape of the world in the middle of a desert. Is it going to cost the planet an arm and a leg? Not anymore. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has decreed that Dubai will be the first sustainable city. And then there is the Burj Al Arab hotel, still one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in the world. When you’re there, don’t miss out on my favorite, the One&Only Royal Mirage resort and, if you’re in the neighborhood, don’t forget, 24 September is the big opening of the Atlantis.

JOURNEY: Machu Picchu, Lima
High in the Andes is the Lost City of the Incas. It was never lost to the locals, but it wasn’t until 1911 that Yale’s Hiram Bingham rediscovered it for the rest of us. It’s a long hike, a breathless experience (in all senses of the word) and one of the greatest sites (and sights) you will ever see.

EXPERIENCE: Buy a work of art
Every life needs something in it beyond explanation. For me, it is art. There is nothing to match the enjoyment of something that lives with you everyday and exudes mystery, challenge and beauty – all at the same time.

CITY: Paris
The windows of the office of Maurice Lévy, the CEO of Publicis, the company that owns Saatchi & Saatchi, looks out onto the Arc de Triomphe. That view always gives me a rush of the past, present and future all together. I’m not suggesting (indeed Maurice would positively forbid it) that you all go up to his office, but a walk up the Champs-Elysée with a thoughtful pause beneath the weighty presence of the Arc de Triomphe is unforgettable.

PEOPLE: New Zealand
I call New Zealand home. There’s nothing better than stepping off the plane in Auckland, taking a deep breath and putting on my sunglasses because the light is so bright. We are talking about one of the most beautiful places in the world, but what I love most are the New Zealanders themselves. They are an intriguing mix of passion, easy-going comradeship and intense loyalty, spiced with guts and creative eccentricity. Look them up.

EXPERIENCE: Las Vegas, Nevada
Love it or hate it (and I hate it), Las Vegas is an unforgettable experience. Forget the gambling, just walk down the Strip and immerse yourself in more free entertainment than you’ll be able to absorb. Guaranteed.

ART: Jeff Koons’s Puppy at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
Sitting outside one of the most spectacular museum buildings in the world is Jeff Koons’s largest sculpture, Puppy, made entirely of flowers. You’ll also want to check out the museum and don’t miss Richard Serra’s extraordinary sculptural installations. When you’re been through the galleries, stroll along the river, gaze back at Frank Gehry’s masterpiece framed by the narrow winding streets of the old city, and salute the people of Bilbao who had the vision, conviction and guts to make this happen.

VIEW: Rio from the air, Brazil
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, to match the thrill of flying into Rio. Well, maybe only the huge fun and pleasure of being on the ground in Rio. You don’t have to hit town during Carnival (although it’s never a bad idea!), but whenever you do make it, stroll along the beach at Copacabana, take a few steps of the Samba, and be touched by the extraordinary statue of Christ the Redeemer who seems to protect the city from the top of Corcovado mountain.

JOURNEY: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge towards the Manhattan skyline, New York
The graph-like skyline of New York is the shape of the twentieth century. Seeing it framed by the stanchions of the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the world’s great emotional journeys across time and place.

MUSEUM: The great Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London
Even without the art, this would have to be one of the most inspiring spatial experiences in the world. Put it together with Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Bruce Nauman or Louise Bourgeois, and you’re talking about a sensational experience that plays brilliantly with scale, metaphor, material and light.

EXPERIENCE: The Souk Marrakech, Morocco
Two Middle Eastern bazaars in one list? I could easily throw in another half dozen. There is nothing to match the local, and nothing in the local that is such fun, or such a visual and sensual experience, as a great bazaar, local fair or densely populated shopping precinct.

WORK OF ART: The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Some wonders of the world are just that. Wonderful. See it by moonlight or during the day, the magic is always there. A friend saw it lit by lightning recently. You and I should be so lucky.

BUILDING: The Colosseum in Rome, Italy
I was going to put Rome as a city by itself but I figure that if you go to the Colosseum, you won’t be able to stay away from the rest of the place. Walking through the Forum is one of the most compelling history lessons I have ever had. I must admit as I walked around the mighty arena of the Colosseum, I‘m sure I saw Russell Crowe as Maximus, decked out in sandals and sword, for just a fleeting second.

EXPERIENCE: Watching the All Blacks play a test match
There is nothing, I repeat nothing - even flying into Rio - to match the thrill, excitement and passion of being with a crowd of New Zealanders watching an All Black test match. See one in their home country if you have the chance, but anywhere will do.