Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Title/bio: Freelance writer and travel blogger
Twitter/website: @501places | www.501places.com
Born in: Nottingham, United Kingdom
Currently living in: St Albans, United Kingdom
1. Where would you rather be right now?
northern Canada, wearing my trusted down jacket and looking up at the aurora
borealis on a clear cold night. Please pass me a hot drink too.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or
fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
da Gama -- I think I’d take him on a world cruise. I suspect he’d be one of the
few people who would find it harder to bear than I would. He’d probably be a
real pain to the crew, always wanting to go onto the bridge and bother the
captain. Going onshore with him and checking out the local towns would be an
3. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of
places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
I’ve seen photos of the stunning Islamic architecture and would love to see it
up close. Persepolis also fascinates me; I’ve wanted to wander through the
ruins of the ancient city ever since I read Travels with Herodotus by Richard Kapuscinski.
Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been to Iran tells me about the fantastic
hospitality they’ve received. At the moment though, the government is not best
friends with the British, so I might leave it for a while.
4 . You’d be mortified if people knew you
did what when you travelled?
carry a luxury toilet roll from home in my backpack. Sometimes I bring it home
almost untouched; other times it’s the most valuable item I pack. There are
times when certain home comforts are very important; enough said.
5. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had
to sit next to while travelling:
in the days of Yugoslavia, I shared a compartment on a night train with six men
who must have been returning victorious from the Yugoslav Smelly Feet contest.
The stench was unbearable, but I was wedged in by the window (which they kept
closing every time I gasped for air). Given the choice of standing in a packed
corridor or putting up with the Stinky Six, I chose the latter.
6. Strangest meal abroad:
bat in the Seychelles. I saw it on the menu and figured I’d probably never get
the chance to try it again. It’s a chewy meat that is packed with small bones.
I would never order it again even if I could.
7. Travel-related invention you wish
high-speed rail. Going by train is so much more pleasant than flying, and if we
could get to anywhere in Europe in four hours or to China in a day, I’d never
need to fly again.
8. Your most embarrassing travel faux pas:
with a taxi driver over the cost of a fare in Istanbul. He had over-charged me,
and we were both shouting at each other. I offered him a note and he seemed far
angrier than I expected. We kept on gesturing, pointing and cursing in our own
languages before I suddenly noticed that the 10 lira note I thought I had in my
hand was actually a one lira note. I was mortified, quickly gave him a 10 and
disappeared. He had demanded 20 for a seven lira journey so I didn’t feel too
9. Most unique souvenir:
polar bear warning road sign from Churchill, Manitoba. It hangs with pride in
our downstairs loo.
10. Best celebrity encounter while
upgraded on a flight from London to Sri Lanka and we were surprised to find the
rest of business class empty. Just as the doors were closing, we heard a round
of applause from the back of the plane as the entire Sri Lankan cricket team
came up and sat in the seats around us. Over the next 13 hours I made small
talk with several of the guys I’d paid money to watch only a few days earlier.
11. The place you don’t want anyone to know
about but are willing to divulge here:
Barra in the Scottish Outer Hebrides.
It’s a gorgeous little island with stunning sandy beaches that are perfect for hiking
or cycling in complete isolation. It’s also the only place in the world where
scheduled flights land on the beach; perfect for a plane geek like me.
12. The travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
out of money in Geneva when I was 16 and not having a ticket home. I met a guy
with a guitar and sang Beatles songs with him, making enough for some dinner
before hitch-hiking my way back home. From that moment on, I was hooked on
travelling whenever I could and I knew that lack of money was not a barrier.
13. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel
advice or wisdom:
away from technology for the best travel experience. If you sit on a bus with
your iPod blasting out your favourite tunes, you’ll miss out on the sounds of
the place you’re visiting. Why spend time updating your Facebook page when you
could be exploring your temporary surroundings. We’re too keen to share our
travel moments instantly with others and as a result, run the danger of
diluting our experiences.
Marco Polo didn’t need wi-fi to see the world, neither do you.