2013 Summer Blockbusters: Best Movie Destinations to Visit
Summer: A time for long days lazing outdoors – or long afternoons dodging the rain with a bucket of popcorn and the latest movie release. Some of the biggest films of summer 2013 are set in locations that just might give you some inspiration when it comes to organising your next car rental adventure.
Miami: Iron Man 3
It’s easy to see why much of the action in Iron Man 3 takes place in Miami. For the third installment of the wildly popular superhero franchise, Tony Stark goes to one of the most visually dynamic cities in the United States, giving viewers plenty of ideas for their next trip of a lifetime.
Miami is an exciting patchwork of Latin, Caribbean, and Jewish influences, with a buzzing gay party scene and a higher concentration of celebrities than most premiere red carpets. Miami is certainly different, but it’s also undeniably beautiful.
If you want sun, sea, and partying, Miami is for you, but you might not know about its less famous but equally impressive vintage shopping scene.When you get tired of lounging on the beach and spotting celebrities, take a day trip to the even wilder sides of Florida. West of Miami is the Everglades, one of North America’s most unique ecosystems, a flooded wetland where you can watch alligators rise from the water, anhingas diving, and great blue herons gliding over this stunning oasis of tranquility.
If you take your hire car and drive a good three hours south of Miami, you’ll discover an even stranger world. Here, among the sandbars and mangrove islands of the Florida Keys, you’ll find a doggedly independent, eccentric, and downright alluring way of life among the exiles who have made their home on these 45 sun-baked islands.
Greek Peloponnese: Before Midnight
Drenched in sun, history, and beauty, the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece was made for romance – which is why it was a natural choice as the setting for the cult movie Before Midnight
The sequel to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight is set in the spectacular surroundings of Kalamitsi Bay, just south of the beautiful village of Kardamyli in the south of the Peninsula.
Pick up your hire car in either Patra Airport or Kalamata and soak up the history of classical temples, the birthplace of the Olympics (Olympia), Mycenaean royal palaces, Byzantine settlements, and Frankish and Venetian fortifications. Mycenae once represented the centre of a mighty civilisation, Mystras is where the Byzantine civilisation expired in the 14th century, and the captivating city of Nafplio was Greece’s first capital.
The area’s natural attractions are equally impressive: a canvas of citrus groves, vineyards, and cypress trees set against a backdrop of soaring mountains and sun-soaked beaches. Indeed, some of Greece’s most magnificent beaches can be found at Messinia. And if you’re not a beach bum, hike among the wildflower-bedecked mountains of Arkadia or in the spectacular Mani, dotted with fortified tower houses.
With this bounty of attractions, you could understand if the locals wanted to keep it to themselves, but you will find them the most welcoming of hosts.
Bangkok: Only God Forgives
Nicolas Winding Refn’s immensely dark and stunningly stylish Only God Forgives is set among American criminal expatriates living in Bangkok. The Bangkok the characters inhabit is rather different to the one you will visit, however. Collect your rental car from Bangkok Airport and discover a city of many exotic flavours. You’ll find a world of air-conditioned mega-malls, global brand names, and sophisticated cocktails set among gold-spired Buddhist temples, neon strips, gliding long-tail boats, and streets crammed with food carts.
While on the subject of food, the full-on dining experience offered on Bangkok’s streets is unlike any you will experience elsewhere. The flavours are a mouth-tingling explosion of sweet and salty, spicy and sour, with the sultry heat and noise of the streets creating an intoxicating mix.
Bangkok is a city where life is lived on the street, so exploration brings great rewards. Take a boat trip down the Chao Phraya and stop off at a hidden market. Wander off the beaten track of Banglamphu, and get lost in the winding lanes of Chinatown. At night, take the BTS (Skytrain) to Th Sukhumvit for sophisticated local nightlife.
New York: Great Gatsby
With Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby out this summer, the spotlight turns to F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s era-defining novel and 1920s-era New York City and Long Island. New York is anything you want it to be – a city of cutting-edge design, high finance, and sophisticated modern culture or a place of historic brownstones and cobbled lanes dotted with cafes, so you won’t have to look far to discover Fitzgerald’s city.
Channel 1920s Art Deco NYC with a trip to The Empire Room, a lounge on the ground floor of the Empire State Building’s ground floor, which capitalised on the movie launch with cocktails named after Great Gatsby characters. Pop into the modest St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where F. Scott Fitzgerald married his wife, Zelda. (In contrast with the debauched parties depicted in the movie, theirs was a small affair, with only eight guests). If you want to drink where Scott drank, head to Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village. It has changed somewhat since the likes of Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were regulars, but you can still enjoy the old-world atmosphere.
The Great Gatsby’s other New York setting – Long Island – remains home to the rich and fabulous set of the area and it’s well worth driving out in your rental car to uncover its Gatsby heritage. The Fitzgeralds lived at 6 Gateway Drive in Great Neck, New York, and this is where his masterpiece began to take shape. Once a modest dwelling, it remains a private house, but it has been substantially upgraded by its current inhabitants. Quite apart from its Gatsby connections, Long Island is worth visiting for its extensive ocean and bay beaches, significant historic sites, acclaimed vineyards, rural idylls, and -of course – the ridiculously opulent Hamptons.