My Life In Travel: Alexei Sayle
'I learnt to say "don't lean out of the window" in four languages'
Saturday 27 December 2008
FIRST HOLIDAY MEMORY?
We mostly holidayed in the UK; we went to places such as the Lake District for day trips. My parents had a little stove that they used to heat food up, so I distinctly remember the smell of paraffin.
Going to Jordan was amazing. I first went in 1990 and have been back a few times, because I have friends there. I like being met by friends at airports; it makes me feel pretty superior to be met by some natives in a foreign country. Jordan is still undiscovered and the people are incredibly friendly.
FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE BRITISH ISLES?
I have been to Cornwall a couple of times this year; it wasn't somewhere I knew very well. We went to places like Newquay and Fowey and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. We stopped off in Devon on the way down there and it still felt fairly unspoilt with local shops – thankfully Starbucks hasn't really got down there yet. I think places such as Devon and Cornwall might be actively resisting the clone town feel, which is good.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR TRAVELS?
My dad used to work on the railways so we travelled all over Europe when I was a kid; I learnt to say "don't lean out of the window" in four languages.
IDEAL TRAVELLING COMPANION?
My wife, Linda.
BEACH BUM, CULTURE VULTURE OR ADRENALIN JUNKIE?
We have a house in the mountains in southern Spain, just south of Granada, so that's where I have my holidays. I like having another life somewhere different to home.
GREATEST TRAVEL LUXURY?
DVDs, which I watch on my computer.
I'm constantly reading when I'm abroad. I like to read fiction or history.
WHERE HAS SEDUCED YOU?
Northern Queensland. I particularly liked the area beyond Cairns around Port Douglas. I liked the tropical sea feeling and being by a reef. It was an extraordinary experience.
BETTER TO TRAVEL OR TO ARRIVE?
I used to love flying, but I get a bit fed up with it now. I don't travel as much internationally as I did, but I travel up and down to Liverpool a lot and back and forth to Spain.
I went to Marrakech years ago and I found the people constantly trying to sell me stuff quite stressful.
When I was touring as a comedian I stayed in some pretty grim provincial hotels around the UK. The Adelphi in Liverpool wasn't great. Saying that, there is some competition in the North West for the worst hotel in England
The Mandarin Oriental in Singapore is fancy. We went to the manager's cocktail party and the food they served was some of the best I've ever eaten.
Also there was a hotel in Spain that I really liked, unexpectedly. I was due to fly on a Monarch flight out of Málaga in February but the plane we were due to leave on had been snowed in at Gatwick. Monarch put us up in at the Guadalmar Hotel just outside of Málaga.
It was like a real adventure and they'd laid on a nice buffet for us; I was very impressed. I think those plain Spanish hotels can be really nice. I enjoy it when things happen by accident.
FAVOURITE WALK/ SWIM/RIDE/DRIVE?
I like the ring road around Granada, it reminds me of LA. It's exciting because when I'm on it, it means we're getting near to our house. There are mountains on one side and fields on the other and you drive past where the poet Federico García Lorca was born.
BEST MEAL ABROAD?
Going to the Darley Street Thai in Sydney in the early 1990s. That sort of cuisine only arrived in Britain years later, so to encounter that was very exciting.
FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU ARRIVE SOMEWHERE NEW?
I'd like to go to northern Canada, around Newfoundland. So far I've only been to Toronto so I'd like to get out into the wilds.
I liked LA for a while, but that has worn off now. I spent quite a bit of time over there. I liked that there's a mountain range in the middle of this super-urban place and that La Brea runs out into desert brush. There are people sipping cappuccinos and then you can be in the middle of coyote territory.
Liverpool. I haven't really had a chance to see all the improvements made for its year as Capital of Culture so I want to spend a few weeks visiting all the galleries and catch up on all the culture.
'Mister Roberts' by Alexei Sayle is published by Sceptre, £12.99
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