My Life In Travel: Dave Berry, TV and radio presenter
'I still don't think there's anywhere like London'
Saturday 14 May 2011
First holiday memory?
Crammed in the back of a Ford Sierra with my little sister and my Nan – who was usually chain smoking – desperately trying to get somewhere like Cornwall. It was made even worse by my dad listening to the cricket. We would do all those things that families do and probably still do. But I don't think any child should be made to go to the "Gnome Village".
I took my girlfriend Heidi [Range, singer in the Sugababes] to New York, when we'd been together for about a month. It was winter – so the sky was beautifully crisp. We got a room in this amazing hotel called 60 Thompson in SoHo and did what couples in those early stages of dating do.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Edinburgh. I first went there for the MTV Music Awards. The glitterati of the music industry descended and it just lent itself to a wonderful working week away.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Never treat yourself to flying first class. It might seem like a good idea to spoil yourself, but it's a big mistake. Let the lovely stewardess close the curtain, while you sit uncomfortably upright, eating food from a tin-foil container and focus on what's ahead. Don't think about what's going on behind the curtain, because if you find out, you're going to hate yourself every holiday.
Ideal travelling companion?
It can't be Heidi – she brings too much luggage. So it's probably my best friend, Kenny. He travels light and aims straight for the pub as soon as he gets to the airport. It's like its own time zone, where you can drink as much as you like – even at 8am.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture. I enjoy reading guide books and taking advice from friends about the best places to visit. Finding out where to have a Cosmopolitan at the perfect time of day when the sun is just setting.
Greatest travel luxury?
The iPad. We went to St Lucia recently and stayed at an incredible hotel called Anse Chastanet. It was completely cut off, so I uploaded books and apps. It was a great way of spending two weeks – looking out over the Pitons, having a drink and reading.
At the moment I'm trying to read the classics. So recently I've read George Orwell's 1984, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Bram Stoker's Dracula and then I polished it off with Keith Richards' autobiography.
Where has seduced you?
India – we stayed at the Leela Kempinski in Goa. It was a wonderful hotel but – without going all "Bono" – it was the people who made the experience for me. Seeing the poverty and how people just crack on.
Better to travel or arrive?
In India, when we arrived, they marked our heads with red dye and put amazing flower garlands around our necks, gave us this gorgeous ice-cold mango lassi, swept our bags away and pointed to the beach.
Worst travel experience?
I had a short-lived modelling career and was doing a job for Burton menswear in Cornwall. We flew down from London during a storm and lightning struck the plane. My normal safety gauge is, if the stewardesses are still handing out peanuts, it's fine. When they start crossing themselves and clutching pictures of their children, you're in trouble.
A place in Tenby, Wales that I stayed at while I was working for Nickelodeon. When we first arrived, the receptionist decided to take off his prosthetic leg and put it on the counter in front of us. It went downhill from there. There was a certain camaraderie and fun to be had between the crew at the expense of this really awful hotel. If I'd been on my own, I would have just locked myself in with the cockroaches and rocked myself to sleep.
Jade Mountain in St Lucia, part of Anse Chastanet. We rolled out of a four-poster bed in the morning, ordered fresh fruit, walked about five foot straight into the huge mosaic pool which took up half the room, swam out to the edge, and looked out to the Pitons. You didn't even have to leave the room.
From Tower Bridge down towards where I'm from in south London. I walk a lot; I find it therapeutic. It's the same in any city – as long as you have the business card of your hotel and a bit of money in case you need to get a taxi, my advice is to lose yourself on a walk.
Best meal abroad?
A little place on the beach in Goa. We had a vegetable curry with roti bread on the side, accompanied by a really cold beer. I think it was genuinely the nicest thing I've ever eaten – and it probably cost about 80p.
Not very imaginative, but I'd love to drive along Route 66. I'm so far removed from being a petrol head, but I would have to do it in the right car: a cherry-red 1962 Ford Mustang convertible.
I've been fortunate enough to go to some amazing places, but I don't think there's anywhere like London. When it's hot, it's vibrant; when it's cold, I love the river and the places you can duck in out of the rain. I have an amazing view of the city from my house. I will literally stop on the way to the fridge, then come out of this trance and realise I've been stood staring out the window for 15 minutes.
Barcelona. I haven't been in a while, but last time I saw a painting there, of a battle scene, with all these horses running through it, which was about 50-foot long. I need to see it again.
Dave Berry hosts the Weekend Show on London's 95.8 Capital FM, Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-noon ( capitalfm.com).
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