Movie Quest 2008
Move over Oscar! We have our own thoughts about which movies won our hearts in 2008. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 10 most travel-inspiring movies—and how you, too, can have cinematic moments on your next trip.
2. MAMMA MIA!
Based on the hit Broadway musical, Mamma Mia! tells the story of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who's on a quest to find out who her real dad is before she gets married. After narrowing the pool down to three men, she invites them all to her mom's hotel on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi. The result? Chaos, and a whole lot of Abba tunes.
Shipping out Sophie's prospective fathers meet for the first time when Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) miss the last ferry to Kalokairi and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) offers to take them on his boat. The scene was filmed on Skiathos, an island in the Aegean Sea about 85 miles north of Athens. You can buy ferry tickets to Skiathos through Alkyon Travel (011-30/210-383-2545, alkyontravel.gr, $95). The ferry anchors near Kabourelia Ouzeri, a restaurant known for its platters of fresh octopus with ouzo (011-30/242-702-1112, $4).
Boatloads of fun When the men learn that Sophie's mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), doesn't want them at her daughter's wedding, they make a hasty retreat back to the mainland on Bill's boat. Determined to stop them, Sophie swims out to her could-be dads, and the group sings a playful rendition of "Our Last Summer." A peninsula off Glysteri beach, on the island of Skopelos, served as the scene's backdrop. You can charter a boat from Thalpos Holidays to explore the peninsula, along with the isle's many beaches and coves (011-30/242-402-9036, holidayislands.com, from $87 per day for a four-person vessel, no license needed).
Going to the chapel The wedding takes place in a tiny church built on a steep rock formation overlooking the Aegean Sea. Before Donna climbs up to the chapel, she pours her heart out to Sam, singing "The Winner Takes It All." The scene was filmed at the rustic Agios Ioannis sto Kastri on Skopelos Island, where you can scale the 100-plus stairs to the top of the dramatic cliff.
Northern Territory and Western Australia
In director Baz Luhrmann's tribute to his native Australia, aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) takes an arduous journey across the country with a rough-and-tumble stockman named the Drover (Hugh Jackman) as World War II is about to break out.
Arriving in Oz Sarah disembarks from a ship in Darwin, Australia, with so much baggage that she has to enlist four porters to help her off the vessel. The scene was shot in Bowen, a beach town in northeastern Queensland with excellent snorkeling and diving; local outfitter Aussie Reef Dive offers half- and full-day trips to several nearby dive sites (aussiereefdive.com.au, from $37).
Beau of the ball Sarah is surprised to see a rather dapper-looking Drover, whom she hired to help her drive cattle across Australia, at a high-society party one evening. The scene was filmed at Strickland House, an 1850s Italianate villa in Sydney, built for the city's first elected mayor, John Hosking. You can only tour the home once a year (the 2009 date is April 13), but visitors can stroll through the villa's manicured grounds year-round and eat a picnic lunch on a hill that overlooks Sydney Harbour (011-61/2-9337-5999, house tour $3).
In love in the Outback Sparks fly between Sarah and the Drover as they traverse hundreds of miles across the Outback to a cattle station that Sarah has inherited in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. "The area has the most incredible sunsets and sunrises, and practically everything in the scene is authentic—the sunshine really burns, the dust is real," says James Fisher, one of the film's still photographers. You can explore this rugged countryside with Kununurra Scenic Bus Tours, which leads trips through the red-rock valley that surrounds the Ord River, with stops at an aboriginal art gallery and Ivanhoe Crossing, which has some of the best crocodile spotting in the region (011-61/437-058-673, ksbtours.net, from $70).