My Life In Travel: June Sarpong, TV presenter
'We didn't find any good food in Cuba'
Saturday 06 June 2009
First holiday memory?
Going to Southend-on-Sea with my mum, siblings and cousins. Every summer we'd pack up and drive down there to stay in a B&B. My mother and aunts would cook a big batch of jollof rice (a Ghanaian dish that's like a spicy risotto), which we'd eat on the beach. All my cousins and I wanted was fish and chips.
Going to Martha's Vineyard with an old boyfriend. We rode mopeds around and had the most amazing time.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Definitely the Cotswolds. It's one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I was there this year for Valentine's Day and there was still snow on the ground. It completely took my breath away.
Ideal travelling companion?
My best friend Gerry DeVeaux. We were recently in the Bahamas together and had so much fun. We stuffed our faces and just sat in the sun all day.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm a beach bum and culture vulture. I wish I was more of an adrenalin junkie but I'm just not.
Greatest travel luxury?
I always take a face wash and toothpaste with me so that I can have a clean face and fresh breath wherever I am in the world.
What have you learnt from your travels?
That humans are ultimately the same across the world. We may have different cultures and customs, look and speak differently, but at our core we are all looking for the same things – health, love and happiness.
I'm reading a book called Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. It's about how aid to Africa isn't working and how the West needs to look at more trade options.
Where has seduced you?
The Seychelles – they have some of the nicest beaches I've seen in the world. I also love Harbour Island in the Bahamas; I'd like a house there one day.
Better to travel or arrive?
It's much better to arrive. I'm a typical "Are we there yet?" person.
Worst travel experience?
Being stuck on a small, rickety plane in northern Ghana. There was terrible turbulence. The return journey was a 10-hour drive back instead.
Cuba. I loved the country and the people are amazing, but we didn't find any good food on the mainland. Cuban food I've had outside the country has been great, so I thought it'd be even better there. However, it wasn't the case.
A place called The New Yorker near Times Square. I stayed there about 10 years ago and had an awful experience – there was pubic hair in the bathroom.
I live in LA at the moment and don't have a house in London, so I stay at the May Fair Hotel when I'm home. The rooms are decorated very similarly to my house – in browns and beiges – so I feel at home there. It's also so central and easy to get everywhere; it's quite nice not having a house in London for that reason. My other favourite is Ocean View Club on Harbour Island. It's a beautiful place run by a lady called Pip, who's really cool.
I like walking – or hiking as Americans call it – in Fryman Canyon, LA. It is in the Santa Monica Mountains and is really pretty and green; some parts of it remind me of Ghana, where my family is from. I do it a lot, because no one walks in LA and it's usually very quiet.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I like to unpack then go and check the place out.
Best meal abroad?
Anything in Genoa or anything on the menu at Paper Moon in Milan. La Dolce Vita in Rome also makes the best chocolate pudding.
It'll be my honeymoon. Last time I went to the Seychelles I was single and I bumped into Kate Garraway on her honeymoon. It was full of couples, so maybe I'll go there for mine.
I want to visit all four "BRIC" countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. So far I've only been to Brazil.
London. I've been lucky enough to travel a lot for my job, but nowhere compares to London. It is so beautiful and has a real earthiness and vibe you don't get anywhere else. I love the diversity and the fact that extremes of wealth and poverty can live side by side in the city. Things are much more divided in the States.
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