My Life In Travel: Christine Ohuruogu, athelete
'I'd love to see more of South America'
Saturday 14 August 2010
First holiday memory?
My dad works as a marine engineer so we used to travel around to visit him. He'd go all over the place, mostly to Europe and Africa, and I remember that he had a pot of coins that came from everywhere and that my brother and I would try and work out how many different countries he had been to.
Bizarrely, though, the earliest memory I have of travelling to see him is going to Liverpool. We were so excited about getting the train up. It wasn't anywhere exotic, but it's the first time I remember us packing bags and going on a trip. It's a nice memory.
As an athlete I see lots of places, but I don't think they could be considered holidays. However, I went on holiday to Egypt last year, which was fantastic. Experiencing the culture and seeing the pyramids – which showed how human creativity can produce grand results – pretty much took my breath away. It was really inspiring.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I love being in London. I've travelled a lot in the UK but I always love coming home. However, I'd love to get a caravan and go to the South-west for a week and also to go to the Peak and Lake Districts.
What have you learnt from your travels?
To appreciate different cultures. I think it's really important to see other ways of life and respect them. It's good to change your perspective.
Ideal travelling companion?
I went to Cairo on my own, which was strange but I enjoyed it. I'd had a really rough year and I just thought: I'm going. It was a very refreshing moment. Otherwise, it would be my little sister. She's 17 and lots of fun; we get on really well and she comes nearly everywhere with me.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm not a beach bum, because I feel like I'm wasting time. I have to do something, so I'm probably a culture vulture.
Greatest travel luxury?
I can't travel without a book and a notebook.
Where has seduced you?
I've travelled around Europe a lot for racing and I've been fortunate to see a lot of places, but I think Switzerland is gorgeous. I'd like to go back and spend some more time there.
Whatever country I'm in I always try to read the local newspaper to see what's going on. I also pick up a book from the airport – I alternate between non-fiction and light-hearted fiction.
Better to travel or arrive?
Sometimes towards the end of the season I get a bit bored of having to re-pack, go to an airport and then unpack. But I love travelling; I enjoy sitting there, doing nothing.
Worst travel experience?
I've had a few, which have all been track-related. Once I left my passport at a hotel reception when I checked in and they forgot to give it back – I only realised once I'd arrived at the airport which was about 50 minutes away. I was already quite tight for time and had to get the flight to get to another race. I eventually managed to get hold of somebody to bring it back, but waiting for something you can't control is a horrible feeling.
I can't complain too much because the meets I've competed in have been quite high-end, so I get put up in really good hotels. But the smaller meets often fall into the pit of bad hotels. I don't mind where I sleep as long as it's clean and safe.
I stayed at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi for an awards ceremony and I had never seen anything like it; I didn't want to go home. My suite was unbelievable – it looked like a palace. For athletics, the best hotel was the Westin in Macau where the British athletes stayed during the Beijing Olympics. It was lovely and everyone still talks about it to this day.
Driving in California was nice because the roads are so big and smooth; it's like you're floating along the road.
Best meal abroad?
I really enjoyed the food in Abu Dhabi and I love eating pretty much anywhere in New York.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Put my bags down and then take off my shoes, jump in the shower and put some clean clothes on. I have to get rid of that travel stench.
I spent a month trekking in Bolivia and I'd love to see more of South America and also Africa. I'd like to spend a few months with just a backpack and a tent travelling round with no itinerary.
London, with New York a close second, because it's like London.
Nowhere for now because I'm injured. It was a real shame that I missed Barcelona because I love the look of it, but hopefully I can go another time.
Christine Ohuruogu is an ambassador for Aviva, sponsor of the GB & NI team since 1999. See more about how Aviva is helping Christine and her fellow athletes at aviva.co.uk/athletics.
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