Loyd Grossman: My Life In Travel

'I love it when the plane door opens and the tropical warmth hits you'
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The Independent Travel

I grew up in Boston and we would visit New York at least twice a year from the time I was about two months old. We would always go for Thanksgiving, because New York has a huge parade, which is a fabulous thing for little kids to do. I vividly remember flying first class on a DC3 and being given hot chocolate and cookies.

Best holiday?

It's usually my most recent one - I really enjoy my holidays. I don't make that great a distinction between holidays and real life, because I'm always working to an extent. However, even though I've lived in England for 30 years it can still feel like a holiday because I'm always discovering new things.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Liverpool. I'm chairman of National Museums Liverpool and deputy chairman of European Capital of Culture 2008 so I'm there on a weekly basis. It's a beautiful place that's going through an incredible transformation. It's getting a whole new lease of life, which is so exciting.

What have you learnt from your travels?

It used to be to always carry a Swiss Army knife, but you can't do that anymore. Otherwise, I have learnt to have an open mind and be prepared, because anything can happen.

Ideal travelling companion?

I love travelling with my daughters, because I see things from a totally different point of view. They are brilliant travellers. My youngest daughter is 12 and her first trip was to Thailand when she was six months old, so they are real globetrotters and great fun to travel with.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A mix of all three.

Greatest travel luxury?

If you are able to, you should always travel with a navy blue cashmere sweater. They are smart enough to get you through most things and are ideal for plane journeys.

Holiday reading?

While I was in Jamaica (above) over Christmas I took the entire set of A Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell, and read all 12 volumes. I like reading big books and try to make a point of re-reading a blockbuster like War and Peace or Hard Times.

Where has seduced you?

I'm immensely looking forward to my next trip to Mumbai. It is such an exciting city and the food is fantastic. The architecture is incredible and the whole city is changing so rapidly.

Better to travel or arrive?

I like flying, because it enables me to watch lots of crummy movies. The greatest sensation, however, is when the plane door opens and you step onto the tarmac and the tropical warmth hits you. It's the most fabulous feeling, no matter how many times you experience it.

Worst travel experience?

Sleeping on the floor of Marseilles airport for two nights. There were freak blizzards in the south of France and all the flights were cancelled. Because the weather was so bad I thought that the only airline that would be able to get in and out of the airport would be Swiss Air, so I camped in front of its desk. I told them I would take the first flight anywhere, which thankfully happened to be Geneva.

Worst holiday?

I haven't had any disasters because I try to be open-minded. The first time I went to Barbados I remember being disappointed because the weather was beautiful but the food was terrible. Similarly, St Petersburg - an extraordinary city with beautiful scenery - had terrible food. I went during the dying days of Communism and I remember having a breakfast that consisted of a tin of caviar, an apple and can of Carlsberg, because the bottled water tasted of metal and the only alternatives were vodka or beer.

Worst hotel?

On my first visit to Rome I was told about this charming pensione near the Pantheon. I had to walk up four flights of very narrow stairs and on the way up I passed a couple of people on their way down carrying a dead body! When I got to reception I found the police cleaning it up, so I ran straight back down.

Best hotel?

I was really impressed by the Bulgari in Milan. It has extremely comfortable beds and endless amounts of fluffy towels. It also has a beautiful garden in the midst of the frenetic city. The attention to detail is incredible. Another favourite is the Anassa in Cyprus. It's very straightforward and simple, but the service is great and they get everything right.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite dive is in Grand Turk. There's an incredible thrill about going over the top of the wall and down about 2,000m to the bottom. The water is so clear. Grand Turk is surprisingly unspoilt, it is very old Caribbean.

Best meal abroad?

That's hard. It's usually the most recent one I've had. I'm always happy when I'm sitting outside in a place like Naples with a huge plate of spaghetti vongole. Italian food has tremendous regional variation and there are incredibly beautiful places to sit and eat.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I try to go to a food market and have a look around. I love going to the markets as you can watch what people are buying and taste different things. You can experience the culture of a place through its food. A market, a museum and lunch is my trinity.

Dream trip?

To Antarctica, or to Canada to see polar bears.

Favourite city?

Venice. No matter how many times you go, there is something that you haven't seen before and something pleasing to look at. I love art and architecture so I find Rome increasingly fascinating. I probably go on three trips a year to Venice and Rome.

Where next?

One of my favourite places, Boston. It's a very intriguing city, is great to look at and is one of the few US cities that you can walk around. It has a powerful mix of fabulous museums, really good restaurants and great shopping.

Loyd Grossman has a new range of Italian creamy sauces (www.loydgrossmansauces.com), which will be available in shops soon

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