Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas
Name: Tom Hall
Title/bio: UK Travel Editor, Lonely Planet
Born in: London
living in: London
would you rather be right now?
Wandering the backstreets of Istanbul,
searching out remains and ruins of old Constantinople fuelled by baklava and
thick, strong coffee.
person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
You’d have a hard time beating the
adventures you’d have with 19th-century British explorer Richard
Burton, who explore the upper reaches of the Nile and was the first European for
four centuries to go on pilgrimage to Mecca.
3) Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places
you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
It would be the mountain biking trip to the island of New Ireland in
Papua New Guinea. Number one on the list is Jerusalem and number two comprises
a long list of mountains in the Highlands of Scotland.
be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
On solo trips to more unusual places I
tend to not wash much. After a while I don’t have to worry if I tell people or
5) Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel
I’ve never found anything bleaker than
being asked to leave a night train at the Czech/German border in the middle of
the night as my rail pass didn’t cover the journey, watching the train pull out
and there being not a soul left with me on a freezing cold platform.
someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
Highgate Men’s Pond, with a non-optional
dip in the waters of the lost River Fleet.
invention you wish existed:
I’m still waiting for the flying carpet.
thing you miss the most when away from home:
I have a Brompton folding bicycle which
would make an excellent travelling companion, but never gets to come along. I
have probably ten occasions each day I’m away when I think it’d be perfect to
hop onto it, but can’t. There’s a business opportunity – Brompton hire in
popular world cities!
They’re not mine, but my father and
brother came back from Jordan with a huge set of worry beads which you can
place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
Knoydart in Scotland, a remote
mountainous peninsula in the northwest Highlands is only accessible by a ferry
or a long, hard walk. Once there, you’re in a secret wonderland with fjord-like
sea lochs, golden eagles and an incredible sense of isolation. There are also
little mountain bothies, simple shelters, to sleep in.
11) The travel story you’ll never stop bragging
I’m not sure why I brag about it because
it’s quite a stupid thing to do, but in 2009 I rode some of the Tour d’Afrique
bike ride, which runs from Cairo to Cape Town. I took on the section from
Victoria Falls to Windhoek, Namibia and on one day rode (unintentionally)
straight past the camp for the night and ended up riding two days in one which
was a day ride in 45 C (113 F) heat of about 190 miles. Ten miles from home I
got my third puncture of the day and rode into town on a farm truck. As the van
with our gear was 100 miles behind me I couldn’t change my clothes and had to
stink the campsite out until it arrived the following day.
on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Don’t take very much stuff with you. Books, notepad and pen, a few
changes of clothes, a waterproof jacket and a camera is all you need.