Howard Marks: My Life In Travel

'I like to travel alone, it means I'm more open to random things'


First holiday memory?

Going to Stratford-upon-Avon, where my godmother lived, with my parents when I was about nine. We went to see The Merchant of Venice, which was great.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

It was Berwick-upon-Tweed until I visited it. I used to pass Berwick on the train en route to Scotland and was determined to get off and explore what appeared to be a beautiful part of Britain. When I eventually did I discovered it was a complete shack!

Best holiday?

A holiday in Taiwan several years ago, and I have wanted to go back ever since. It's the only country that has Taoism as a prevailing religion, which I have never come across before. I love culture shock and certainly experienced it there.

Holiday reading?

If I'm travelling for pleasure then I'll spend all day reading, usually something that my girlfriend has recommended like non-fiction or travel books. Otherwise I tend to read things for research.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I'm continually learning. These days I'm trying not to forget things like adaptors.

Ideal travelling companion?

No one. I travel quite a lot on my own - it means I am more open to random things.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like staying in luxurious hotels that have smoking facilities.

Greatest travel luxury?

I tend to get irritated when there aren't any washcloths in the bathroom so I take one I've pilfered from somewhere else.

Where has seduced you?

Jamaica, for all the obvious reasons. Argentina was probably the most exciting country I've visited. I spent a few weeks with the Welsh community in Patagonia, then saw the glaciers and the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

Best hotel?

The Masseria Torre Coccaro in Puglia, Italy. It was so over the top. That's also where I've had my best meal abroad. We ate oysters with parmesan followed by pasta with octopus in its ink. I haven't ever had anything quite like it.

Worst hotel?

What's meant to be a very good hotel, quite near Glasgow. It's a stately home, but the food was terrible and the service was awful.

Worst holiday?

I would never go back to Zagreb. I had a terrible time there last Christmas. I went for a few days, largely because I had never been to Croatia, but it was terribly boring.

Better to travel or arrive?

Definitely to arrive. It's not exciting covering myself in nicotine patches and trying to sleep for 10 hours.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

The Philosopher's Walk in Heidelberg, Germany, where philosophers mused.

Dream trip?

There are whole chunks of the world I have never visited like Australia and New Zealand that I'd love to go to, but so far I haven't been able to get a visa because of my past.

Favourite city?

Buenos Aires. There seems to be more preservation of European culture than anywhere else I have been outside Europe, without any of the divides that plague Europe.

Where next?

Latin America around Christmas, because I'm working until November.

Howard Marks' tour, 'An Audience with Señor Nice' continues around the UK and Ireland until 17 November. His book 'Señor Nice' (Harvill Secker, £17.99) is in bookshops now

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