My Life In Travel: Armando Iannucci
'I really enjoyed doing a bit of scuba diving in Turkey'
Saturday 29 August 2009
First holiday memory?
My mother used to take my sister and me to Blackpool. We grew up in Glasgow and we'd go for a week to see the big summer shows like Freddie Starr and Les Dawson – it was hilarious. I have a memory of another boy who used to run around where we stayed and one day he ran through a glass door. I did the same thing decades later in Cape Cod taking the suitcases into our room.
My wife once won a really great holiday competition, which was travelling all around south-east Asia – we made it our honeymoon. We also did a really special family holiday a few years ago in Chile. We went out to visit friends in Santiago and travelled around places like the Atacama Desert and San Rafael Glacier in Patagonia, which was just fantastic. We were on a little dinghy and an enormous wall of ice fell into the water. I really felt I was on the other side of the world; there was nothing familiar about it.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
We used to go to Newport in Pembrokeshire quite a bit. It has lovely flat beaches with rock pools and beautiful countryside. It's one of those places you can go to in the summer and it doesn't matter if the weather is appalling because there's always somewhere to explore.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Getting into the rhythm of doing nothing. I've always been hyperactive so I grew up thinking that going on holiday was about doing lots of different things. I remember being on holiday about three years ago and it dawning on me that I hadn't done anything by midday and that was good. I now really like allowing time to pass and doing nothing. We once went to New England and just spent day after day looking at the colour of the leaves.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife introduced me to the notion of travel; she'd been to lots of interesting places when I met her. She's great at organising and we have fantastic times together.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I think I've learnt to become a beach bum; it's rather nice.
Greatest travel luxury?
I always take books. I don't take trash – I take meaty history books or big classic novels.
Where has seduced you?
There was a place called Ubud in central Bali that we visited on our honeymoon. It's away from the beaches and I thought it was really magical. It's a very arty place.
Better to travel or arrive?
I always enjoy the travelling experience because nobody can get hold of you and for that reason I look forward to long plane journeys. I don't bring my Blackberry or laptop on holiday and I've learnt to stop looking for English newspapers.
Worst travel experience?
A notorious holiday in Saunton Sands, Devon, when we thought we'd go British for once. It was terrible. It had been a really good summer but we hit it during two weeks of the foulest weather imaginable and there was literally nothing to do. There was a desperate drive to an aquarium in Ilfracombe, which was four rooms cluttered with people. On reflection we really should have just gone home.
A family resort in Spain. Being stuck there if it had been nice would have been fine, but it was more like being stuck in prison. It was the sort of place where ordering a coke was the equivalent of £5 each.
In Ubud we stayed at the Amandari, which really spoilt us. Whenever we go to another hotel we find that subsequently elements aren't quite right. We compare everywhere to it.
I really enjoyed swimming and doing a bit of scuba diving in Turkey. It was my first experience of diving and the water was lovely and clear and warm.
Best meal abroad?
During our honeymoon we were in Singapore for a day
and somebody recommended a place that was a training centre for chefs, where you are essentially their guinea pigs. We were waited on hand and foot by five or six people; someone would just be in charge of bread. It was fantastic food and service.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I unpack completely to get it out of the way so that the suitcase doesn't stare at me.
I'd love to see a bit more of America and to take my kids to see places like the Kennedy Space Center.
It has to be Rome, I just find it absolutely magical – the food, the sights, the old and new, the culture, churches and ruins... I like the fact you can walk around and it still feels busy and bustling.
I'm about to go to St Lucia for the third time, which I think proves I have become a beach bum. It's really nice and relaxing there and the kids love it.
'In the Loop' is available on DVD and Blu-ray. 'The Audacity of Hype' by Armando Iannucci is published by Little, Brown on 3 September
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