He Tāngata: Simone Scoppa
PR Manager: Bookabach
Growing up, our family holidays were all about trips to the beach, usually to our Nan's old cottage. She lived in a fishing village called Yamba, on the far east of New South Wales, an epic eight-hour drive from where we lived. We'd go there twice a year, once in summer and once in winter, and in summer we'd spend four weeks with 30+ cousins, either staying at Nan's or at the holiday house next door. We would literally do the same holiday every single year and I loved it. Yamba is known for prawn fishing and has recently become a hotspot where everyone wants to go but when we used to go, there was just a pub at the top of the hill, the bowling club for dinner and the fish-and-chip shop down the road. The people who bought Nan's place after she passed away list it as a holiday home and we've stayed in it since. But it doesn't have all her things, none of our pictures are on the walls, so it's like being in a vaguely familiar, stranger's home.
Every Easter we used to camp at Lake Conjola, on the south coast of New South Wales. We'd do it in rain, hail or shine. I have memories of my blow-up mattress floating away when the rain came in. I can see now why I don't go camping very often. To this day my brother is a bit of a firebug. He still loves collecting wood to make the ultimate campfire. We recently went on holiday to Kangaroo Valley, and he was the master of the fire pit that weekend. It rekindled all those old memories. We were still roasting marshmallows and singing songs, although now we play YouTube videos instead of singing from memory.
My first job in travel was with Tourism Australia. I started about the same time the movie Australia came out. We knew Australians loved taking overseas trips, but that they didn't always see their own backyard so we were encouraging people to watch the movie then see the country, to visit some of the places Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman went, like Kakadu and the Northern Territories.
I lived in New York for several years, working for the Mexico Tourism Board. It was great fun but also had its challenges. One time, I'd been at a wedding in Mexico and my roommate decided to visit me in Mexico City. She called from the airport to say she'd be there in 10 minutes. Ninety minutes go by and she's not there, so I message her, worried that she's taking so long. Eventually she arrives, two hours later, and she's completely shaking and says, "I think I was nearly kidnapped". She did what you should never do and had hopped in an unregistered taxi. In spite of being from New York, she wasn't very street smart. This driver drove her all round the back streets of Mexico City, he was trying to scare her and she was telling him that her boyfriend knew where she was, that he had GPS and would be following them. Luckily she spoke Spanish and eventually he dropped her at the hotel. Mexico City is amazing but you have to have your wits about you. That night we just locked ourselves in our room, ordered room service and watched a movie.
When people ask why I left New York, I explain that I went out every night, I ate amazing food and had the best cocktails in the world, and while I wouldn't trade it for anything, my bank balance said I should come home.
Working for Bookabach New Zealand is a dream job for me. I even got married in a holiday rental. I'd read about a wedding in US Vogue Bride where they'd stayed at this villa. I went online and there it was. It had amazing reviews, it wasn't too expensive and it was away from the hustle and bustle of Bellagio. Mandello del Lario is a quaint little village with the old town on one side of the train tracks and the new town on the other. It's where Motto Guzzi, the motorcycle company, originated. It's just one hour by train from downtown Milan, and the ferries connect you to all the towns on the lake. The owner of the villa was amazing, we had our own chef and afterwards we stayed in the villa for a week with our 20 guests and just partied and relaxed by the pool.
Yesterday I was in Raglan for a Bookabach shoot. An old cement silo down by the water has been turned into a holiday apartment. Inside it's very modern and beautiful, quite industrial, like a New York loft while the exterior is still a cement silo with beautiful views over Raglan harbour. Sometimes orca come up the harbour, which makes this one of the best spots in Raglan to whale watch.
Travel is a nice break from the every day, it gives you something to look forward to and memories to look back on, and when you're at your destination, you really get to see how people live and I think that gives you perspective.
Simone Scoppa is PR Manager for Bookabach. bookabach.co.nz