My Life In Travel: Anne-Marie Duff

'I love the whole process of travelling - I suppose I'm a bit of a gypsy'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

I have a vivid memory of pebbles hurting my feet on the beach in Devon when I was small. My first proper holiday memory is going to Bognor Regis with my family and some friends for a weekend when I was about five. I had a crush on one of the friends' sons, and we went to buy ice creams together but he disappeared and the lady wouldn't serve me because I was so young. I was mortified.

Best holiday?

New Zealand, a couple of years ago. I went all over the South Island in a camper-van. I also did a Sky Jump (with jet lag) from the top of Sky Tower in Auckland, which was hilarious.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I love going to the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland - it's like a tiny jewel. The food is fantastic and there are great places to go walking. It's magical.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To make sure I pack antihistamine cream because I always get bitten - I'm obviously delicious! I always take a guidebook, too, because it's great to be spontaneous, but I like having back-up.

Ideal travelling companion?

Phileas Fogg would be good, otherwise it would be someone I love and who makes me laugh - and who'll be at the bottom of the Auckland Sky Tower when I jump off.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm a pinch of all three. I love camping and hiking but I always feel more healthy when I've spent time by the sea. I travel a lot with work, and I like to engage with where I am, so I do explore the cultural aspects of a country too.

Greatest travel luxury?

Shampoo and conditioner. I'm obsessed with having clean hair, even if I'm halfway up a mountain.

Holiday reading?

If I'm camping, I like ghost stories; if it's a chichi hotel, I take something more serious. If I'm doing a long stint of filming, I find reading Jane Austen very comforting.

Where has seduced you?

Florence and, more broadly, Tuscany. It's such an astonishing place, it made me think, "Remind me again why I live in north London ...".

Better to travel or arrive?

I love points of departure such as airports and train stations because they have an egalitarian atmosphere, with everyone heading off and getting excited. I love the whole process of travelling - I suppose I'm a bit of a gypsy.

Worst travel experience?

A ferry ride in New York. I wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty but it was when you couldn't stop there or at Ellis Island. So we took the Staten Island ferry, and when we got off it was freezing cold and there was nothing to see. It was miserable.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Usually sleep, or, if there's a pool or the sea, I get straight in.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite walk is the Routeburn Track in New Zealand, which is astonishing. It's a three- or four-day hike and you camp in the mountains along the way. The scenery is breathtaking.

Best hotel?

I like quirky places, such as the Argyll Hotel on Iona, which is unglamorous and simple and very cosy. There's a really funky hotel in New York called the Chelsea Inn, which is a bit shabby-chic but I really like it.

Worst hotel?

I've stayed in some bummers, but I don't want to reveal the names. I hate hotels that have windows that don't open. I feel like I'm trapped in a box.

Best meal abroad?

I had the most amazing meal of my life in a restaurant called The Boathouse in Sydney. The person I was with had never eaten oysters before, and they have about 10 different varieties there. I had a snapper pie, which was so fantastic you could write an ode to it.

Dream trip?

I'd love to walk the Great Wall of China.

Favourite city?

London. There's no place like home and I get a lovely warm feeling when I'm coming back after being away.

Where next?

I'm thinking about going to South America in the New Year.

Anne-Marie Duff stars in 'Born Equal', on BBC1 at 9pm tomorrow

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