My life in travel: Ben Cohen, former professional rugby player
'Mauritius ticks all the boxes for me'
Friday 09 August 2013
First holiday memory?
A place called Jávea in Spain. My parents used to rent a villa there every year. It was really undeveloped at the time. There was a long stretch of beach which I always remember lying on with my family.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Devon and Cornwall are very nice, but I do like the glorious countryside too. I think that Northamptonshire, where I live, has some of the most gorgeous countryside. When the sun shines, there's no better place.
Mauritius. I've had fantastic times there with friends, family and now my children. I've been nine times, but I stayed at a new hotel called Long Beach on my last trip, which was a bit more modern. All the facilities were really up to date and the food was absolutely outstanding. I can be a fussy customer sometimes, but that ticked all the boxes.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Fly direct. It always helps if you can. Also, it's good to be well equipped on your travels. Things like having suncream is important, because getting caught short can be more trouble than it's worth. I completely ignored my own advice on a recent trip and ended up looking like a lobster for a photoshoot.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
When I was younger, I liked to be active on holiday. Then, as my career kicked in and I was playing rugby professionally, I actually liked to just sit around. Now I'm retired, it's reversed again, so I'm up keeping the kids entertained all the time. Holidays aren't about me these days – they're about letting them have a good time.
Greatest travel luxury?
An iPad. If you're sitting in the boot of a plane, there might not be entertainment, so having your own is a real luxury. Especially if it's a long flight, you want the time to go as quickly as possible.
I'm really into audiobooks. When I was playing rugby, I used to commute from Northampton to Manchester every day, which is about 140 miles, so I started listening to audiobooks. Particularly if you get one read by Stephen Fry, or a good narrator, they're brilliant.
Where has seduced you?
Turkey. I go back every year and stay at the Hilton in Dalaman. They've got a waterpark for the kids and the hospitality is amazing.
Worst travel experience?
My first holiday with my wife. We went away to Bodrum in Turkey. My wife was sick every day. The flight was awful and the transfer took about four hours.
I recently ran around the BeltLine in Atlanta. It's an old railway track that loops around Atlanta. It's really opened up and revolutionised the city. They've done a fantastic job with it.
Best meal abroad?
Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, which is owned by the great Art Smith, who was Oprah Winfrey's personal chef. It's all food from the American South. They do the best fried chicken and also this sweet potato with maple syrup that's unreal.
Los Angeles, especially Santa Monica and Malibu. You can live in sunshine all year round. It's nice to be able to say "I'm going to barbecue this time next month" and know what the weather will be like.
LA, Portland, Atlanta, New York, back to Atlanta, San Francisco and then home. I'm doing a lot of work in the States with my anti-bullying foundation. After that, Turkey with the family.
Ben Cohen is a former professional rugby player. His StandUp Foundation raises awareness about the damaging effects of bullying (standupfoundation.com).
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