My life in travel: Anouska Hempel

‘India seduces me every time’

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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

Papua New Guinea. I remember going fishing with my father on a lake. I was in charge of passing him the bait. It was rather peculiar, at that age, to be tasked with a bucket of worms. I remember it fondly now, but at the time I thought it was ghastly.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Cornwall – especially Polperro and Looe. It’s the height of the cliffs and the depths of the water. The screaming seagulls and the rocks plunging into the sea. It’s the feeling of being at the very limit of the mainland. It’s just glorious.

Best holiday?

Walking the Great Wall of China. I was there  with Kate Moss and a group of others for her birthday. We couldn’t find each other for days!  It was a wonderful, wild and mad trip.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Everything I’ve ever done has been because of travel. Right from leaving Australia to where I am today – it’s all been about exchanging different points of view. The most important lesson I’ve learnt is to look and listen to what’s happening around you.

Holiday reading?

I’ve just come back from working at the Pera Palace hotel in Istanbul so I’ve been reading The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak. I always like to read something romantic about the place I’m visiting.

Where has seduced you?

India. From Goa to Kerala and Mumbai, it gets me every time. It’s the food, the people and the colours. The magical atmosphere and the accepting nature of the locals.

Better to travel or to arrive?

I love to get on the road, but I also think arriving is such a thrill. Turning up at the train station in Mumbai, for example, to see people hanging off all the wonderful old carriages. It’s extraordinary – everyone sitting with their chickens on their laps, moving forward, but not going anywhere fast.

Worst travel experience?

Getting sick in a remote part of India and having to go to hospital. They were sensational, but it was not a pleasant experience having to be stitched up with what felt like a crowbar and a bit of barbed wire.

Best hotel?

The Amanresorts are on a different level. I just stayed in the Bodrum one, Amanruya, which was done by a Turkish architect but follows the Thai design principles. Rather a funny mix, but it works. The Aman hotels very rarely let you down.

Worst hotel?

As long as your staff are friendly and jolly and happy – and make up for any other shortcomings – you can get away with blue murder. It all comes down to good service.

Favourite walk?

Angrove Woods in Wiltshire. You’re surrounded by bracken, pheasants and fields of glorious bluebells, depending on what season it is.

Best meal abroad?

Dar Yacout in Marrakech. They serve everything under the tagine lid. It’s owned by a French family and done with such style and panache. It has been around for ever, but it’s still a beauty.

Favourite city?

Florence. It’s the calmness of the city and the bustle at the same time. The juxtaposition of students, nuns, tourists and locals all rubbing shoulders.

Where next?

Home, finally. I’ve been on the road working for a while and I’m coming back to London and Wiltshire, before flying out again to Rabat.