My Life In Travel: Beverley Knight

'I love Brazil. It's how I imagine Jamaica'


First holiday memory?

First holiday memory?

When I was 10 my mum took me to New York to be a bridesmaid for her best friend. I think I was more excited about being on the plane than anything else. The crew took me to meet the pilot and ever since then New York has been one of my favourite places on earth.

Best holiday?

I get caught up in work a lot so I tend not to take as many holidays as I'd like. I really learnt to relax when I went to Dubai about three years ago. Initially it was a work trip but I had a week to myself afterwards. It was great to be able to sit on a beautiful beach and do nothing. I studied theology as a degree so it was a fascinating place for me, being a Muslim country. Sunday was a trading day and Friday was the religious day and it was interesting to watch the interaction between men and women. The gaudiness was quite amusing too.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Wolverhampton, because that's where I'm from. There's nothing to do apart from visit the Black Country Museum, but people are remarkably friendly there so I've attached a huge amount of sentiment to it. Outside Wolverhampton I really like Newcastle. It's vibrant and buzzy with an interesting mix of folk - a good place for people-watching.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That there is so much more than what you see in your everyday life. It's an education, which has taught me to be tolerant.

Ideal travelling companion?

Someone with immense wisdom such as Dr Martin Luther King because he probably needed a bit more time for relaxing than he had. I also think he'd be very interested in his surroundings and have lots of stories to tell.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I can't keep still. Dubai was the one time I did because there wasn't much else to do other than lie on a beach. I like to get out and study the place that I'm in but I have to set aside some time for shopping, too!

Greatest travel luxury?

A good moisturiser. Flights and extreme temperatures can dry your skin out, especially black skin, which can look really ashen.

Holiday reading?

Sometimes - it depends how long the journey is. If it's short-haul I might read a magazine or a newspaper, otherwise I like books that I can devour very quickly. The last book that I read was Donya Al-Nahi's Heroine of the Desert, which was fascinating.

Where has seduced you?

I have a love affair with Brazil. I was fortunate enough to go to Salvador in Bahia with Christian Aid to find out how Brazilians are dealing with HIV and Aids. I felt at home there because it it's how I imagine Jamaica to be, which is where my family is from. We also went to Rio, which is something else.

Better to travel or arrive?

Travelling can be really tedious unless somebody else is splashing out on business class for you. When I'm touring or promoting a single or album I'm on the road a lot.

Worst holiday?

A very short break to Seaford in Sussex when I was young. The weather was appalling. We had to sit in our chalets watching TV because we couldn't go outside.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in Rome, it was like Fawlty Towers. The staff were completely inept, the bedrooms were as small as shoeboxes and the air conditioning didn't work. The bar closed at about 9pm so when we wanted to sit down and have a drink and a chat after the shows, we couldn't - it was completely dead. Everything that could have been wrong was wrong.

Best hotel?

I've been to a few, but one of my favourites was the Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. The rooms were really comfortable and homely without being over the top. They provided fresh fruit every day and the meals and service were second to none. I could relax because I didn't want for anything. Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

We drove from Switzerland into Italy on the tour bus and it was breathtaking, the scenery was so beautiful. I also love driving in my car from Newcastle up into Scotland - it's glorious.

Best meal abroad?

In Salvador, Brazil. For breakfast we had cassava pancakes with fried fish, vegetables and chilli sauce, which was delicious. For dinner we ate things like curried mutton and rice. The cooking was very familiar, yet so new.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Flop down on the bed. Then I'll open the window and look out.

Dream trip?

I'm doing it this summer. I'm going to Jamaica for the first time to visit my grandma. I'm going to try and unearth some of my family history - it's a bit of a spiritual homeland.

Favourite city?

New York. From the minute I fly in, the blood pumps around my veins. No other city has a buzz quite like it; there's a real feeling of life there. I like the fact you can walk everywhere but you must remember to look up, because there's so much going on above you.

Where next?

I'll be promoting my new single around the UK, then going on tour in April.

Beverley Knight's new single 'Keep This Fire Burning' is out on 14 March

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