My Life In Travel: Annie Nightingale, DJ
'I've been mugged in Cuba and drugged in Baghdad'
Saturday 21 March 2009
First holiday memory?
Going to the Blue Pool and Durdle Door in Dorset. It still sounds very Enid Blyton to me. I don't think I've ever been back but it felt very exciting at the time because of those rock formations.
A good holiday very much depends on who you're with and my best was my introduction to Los Angeles. I was with the musician Ian McLagan and his wife Kim, who had previously been married to Keith Moon, and was one of my dearest friends. They were living in Malibu, next door to Steve McQueen's old house; their place was on stilts on the beach and you could hear the sea coming in and out below the house. There were hummingbirds as well as sandpipers, which Kim used to say looked like they're on wheels. Kim was killed in a car crash so that holiday is a really important memory for me.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Cape Cornwall, near Penzance. It's National Trust property, on a peninsula, so you can see the sea on three sides. It's a peculiar bit of land covered in very long grass which makes you feel like you're on an island, very high up. It's really rather dramatic and wonderful.
What have you learnt from your travels?
I've travelled a lot so you do come a cropper at some point. I've been mugged in Cuba, drugged in Baghdad and bugged in Russia. The most important thing is not to skimp on travel insurance. I got ill in Los Angeles last year and I was terrified that I'd get a half-a-million-dollar bill from the medical centre I was treated at.
Ideal travelling companion?
Someone who doesn't mind difficult weather conditions; is patient and doesn't moan about delays; is cheerful and friendly; is open to new experiences; is adaptable; and has a great sense of humour.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm a bit of a beach bum. DJing takes me all over the world, so holidays nearly always involve work and I grab a day on a beach when I can. It has been a long time since I've had a proper beach holiday, but Montserrat stands out. I really liked the black beaches and tiny crabs who would stare at me endearingly. Two more wonderful beaches are Cefalu in Sicily and La Garoupe near Cap d'Antibes.
Greatest travel luxury?
A private jet is the ultimate luxury, but it isn't very green. So it has to be being able to take extra luggage on a plane. I've just broken a set of headphones trying to cram them into a small bag.
Reading helps immensely, especially if you're having a bad journey. During a long flight to Shanghai in economy, with two very large gentlemen either side of me, I read Bob Dylan's book, Chronicles, which was really absorbing. Right now I'm reading Kill your Friends by John Niven which is all about the music business and is spot on. The other one is Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, which I'm also mad about.
Where has seduced you?
Ibiza, Sicily, Monterey and Big Sur, the Grenadines, Santiago de Chile, India, St Petersburg, Venice and I still love the innocence of the Isle of Wight. Also, I think Shanghai is the most exciting city in the world at the moment.
Better to travel or arrive?
There is so much security to go through now, it does test your patience.
Worst travel experience?
Getting mugged in Cuba, when my leg got broken. I was going through Old Havana at night with a Cuban guy so I felt comparatively safe, but someone came up from behind and hit me hard in the legs and took my bag. Looking back it made me a much stronger person – I am irritatingly optimistic. I don't have any bitter feelings about it because the Cuban people were wonderful to me.
Portugal, because of insects. They kept appearing from the walls where I was staying and I even found some in my bag. There were also loads of huge mosquitoes because we were by a pool. I spent the whole time paranoid and covered in spray.
A hotel in Great Yarmouth, which I stayed at in the winter after a gig. I had been paid in cash and was on my own so I was convinced this money was going to get stolen, because there was no lock on the bedroom door. There was another good one in Constanta in Romania. My bedroom door locked itself and I couldn't get out. Fortunately there was a hotel brochure in the room so I could call reception to tell them I was stuck.
The Mandarin Oriental on Biscayne Bay in Miami. It's just awesome. The building is very modern and it changes colour at night; you look out over all the bridges which are lit up. I heard Michael Jackson stayed there for a month and didn't leave – I can understand why.
My favourite walk is at my mate's bed and breakfast, the Huerta Las Terrazas, near Tarifa in Spain. It's a lovely part of southern Spain and the gardens are wonderful to walk in – you can see Gibraltar and Morocco and it's fabulous and chilled. My best drive was out of Los Angeles on the way to the Joshua Tree National Park, listening to Nirvana.
Best meal abroad?
Fish soup at a restaurant called Los Caracoles in Barcelona. Whenever I eat there I have fish soup for the first and main course – they must think I'm mad!
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Check the pool.
I would like to go to Antarctica and Madagascar. I would also love to visit China to see the total solar eclipse later this year. I saw a solar eclipse in Chile and it was the most fabulous natural experience.
In terms of culture and music, the centre of the universe right now is Berlin. The attitude of the people is breathtaking and they leave everyone else way behind.
I'm playing at the Snowbombing festival in Austria. I've been before – it's very pretty, friendly and great fun. There's even an igloo where they put events on. After that it's six months of festivals, ending with Bestival on the Isle of Wight in September.
Annie Nightingale plays at Snowbombing's 10th birthday celebrations in Mayrhofen Austria on 3 April (snowbombing.com). She is also on BBC Radio 1, Saturdays 5-7am.
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