My life in travel: Alex Zane

'I had no idea there are more than 120 natural springs in Budapest'

Alex Zane is a TV and radio presenter. He has recently visited some of Europe's top cities, in his role as an Amex Travel Insider (youtube.com/ AmericanExpressUK).

Favourite place in the British isles?

I've always had a love affair with the West Coast of Scotland. From the Isle of Mull – where I once capsized a kayak at exactly the same time as my companion spotted a basking shark – to Arran and the wonderfully named Loch Awe, it's a truly beautiful part of the world.

Best holiday?

I travelled across Italy by train last year, starting in Venice then down to Rome before ending on the Amalfi Coast. Before I left, friends had been going on about the food, to the point where I'd started to think: "Well, it can't be that good!" But I took one mouthful from a plate of spaghetti alla vongole at the Antiche Carampane restaurant in Venice and fell in love.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To trust Becky with a stick. We were making a camp while trekking through Malaysia's Taman Negara National Park when I cleared the wrong piece of vegetation. I knew this because, as I turned around, my travelling companion Becky, said "don't move". She's not scared of anything, so the look on her face worried me. Apparently, I had a huge spider sitting right on top of my head, carrying its egg sac. Grabbing a stick, Becky gently knocked it off. I'll never forget how loud the thump was when it landed.

Ideal travelling companion?

While photographs are a wonderful reminder of your time away, nothing quite conveys the emotion you're feeling at that moment than putting pen to paper. I have great pictures from the summit of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu, but when I re-read my journal entry on that day, it takes me back.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Certainly not a beach bum. I went to Barbados for a beach holiday and while The Colony Club was lovely, and the beach amazing and quiet, I lasted only a couple of days before my mind demanded input.

Greatest travel luxury?

A leather-bound travel wallet. I get laughed at because it looks like an over-sized purse, but when others are scrabbling through pockets looking for their passport or boarding card, I just pop that baby open and it's all there.

Holiday reading?

I'm a huge fan of sci-fi novels. I remember when I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, it felt like I'd stepped into the pages of one of my books or on to the set of Blade Runner. The rain was lashing down, the Petronas Towers loomed over me, a monorail passed overhead, while vast glowing video billboards played out adverts I didn't understand.

Where has seduced you?

Budapest. I had no idea there are more than 120 natural springs there, which feed into loads of thermal baths. Bathing is a big part of everyday life there – it's a pretty good way to start or end your day. I went to some fantastic restaurants and bars too – one called Szimpla, had a bisected Mini Cooper as a booth. Other standouts were the roof terrace at Hotel President and the Café Kor, where, by complete chance, I ended up having dinner next to John Hurt.

Worst travel experience?

Eating a squid stir-fry at an outdoor market in Bangkok. I hadn't planned on ever seeing that squid again, but it had other ideas. I vowed never to eat squid again and I never have.

Best hotel?

I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco and stopped for a night at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. It's this kitsch motel where each of its 110 rooms has a different theme; I wanted the Yahoo room because your bed is a wagon. Instead, I got Vous. It's called that because it has the only circular kingsize bed in the motel, which is described as being "perfect for that special rendezvous". A little bit wasted on me, as I was travelling alone.

Favourite walk?

I was making a documentary about movies shot in San Francisco so needed to visit Alcatraz while there was no one there. We set sail before dawn and began shooting before the sun came up. Walking down cell block A, in the dark, with no one else around, was truly memorable.

Best meal abroad?

I was just outside of Port Of Spain in Trinidad, when I had my first roti. I love simple street food and this is one of my favourites. Curried chicken or goat in a paratha wrap, eaten while wandering around the city streets was delicious.

Favourite city?

Berlin. I went recently to check out the urban adventure scene. You can do things like base flying, where you jump off the side of a building and fall 100ft, which is brilliantly petrifying.

Where next?

New York for New Year. I've always loved the city but I think NYE in NY will be something special.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy