Never go anywhere without a sink plug, a screwdriver, loo paper and a twist of wire
PASSPORT: DOROTHY DUNNETT
Sunday 16 November 1997
"I must have been about 15," she recalls. "A whole group of us girls fell head-over-heels in love with those handsome Nazi officers; they were ever so tall with their blond hair and swastikas on their armbands. At that age, we were quite oblivious to what was going on - the politics of it all. All we saw were some very good-looking officers."
Lady Dunnett's work over the years as a historical novelist - she has published 22 oeuvres, including the best-selling Lymond Chronicles and Niccolo series - has taken her all over the world.
One stamp from Malaga came from her first trip abroad alone in 1947. "The plane had to stop to be refuelled in Bordeaux. There was a delay, and the airline put on a spectacular lunch for the passengers right there on the runway. I remember sitting at this beautiful table all laid out with silver and glass, the best Bordeaux wines and the sun shining off the wet tarmac - it was quite wonderful. That's better than the treatment you get nowadays if there happens to be a delay, isn't it?"
Three years later, Lady Dunnett's portraits - now exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy - fuelled an interest in art abroad. One stamp is from an eventful trip to the Topkapi museum in Istanbul. "A security guard thought I was planning to steal something from the museum and it took me some time to reassure him I was just admiring the paintings. I thought I was going to be arrested at one point."
Lady Dunnett's most recent trip to research her latest novel took her to Ukraine. "The Ukrainians are the most wonderful, generous people - they own absolutely nothing, but they are determined to make something of their newfound freedom. There's no money to invest in culture, either. In Sudak, there are the remains of the most wonderful early fortified castles. But you walk around on these broken shards from the 15th century, they're lying there everywhere underfoot - there are just no resources to protect the Ukrainians' heritage."
Lady Dunnett, awarded an OBE for services to literature in 1992, has some hot travel tips for others going it alone. "I try to look as decrepit as possible when I travel; I wear scruffy clothes, and never any jewellery - just the bare necessities. However, I never, ever travel without a screwdriver, a bathplug, some loo paper and a twist of wire (that's for when there are no locks on the door). They're absolute essentials." To the more far-flung countries, she also takes a good stash of cigarettes and dollars as hard currency.
o Lady Dorothy Dunnett's 'Caprice and Rondo' is published this month (Michael Joseph, pounds 16.99).
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 2 Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
- 3 Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
- 4 Germanwings plane crash: Transcript reveals passengers 'screamed for over five minutes' before plane crashed into mountain
- 5 Germanwings crash: 'Andreas Lubitz planned to marry pregnant girlfriend', claims German report
Dreamland: Britain's oldest amusement park is set to reopen this summer in Margate
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
Germany's great outdoors: The Black Forest, wine country and Saxon Switzerland
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...