My life in travel: Gordon Strachan

'Loch Lomond is like a different country'

Gordon Strachan is the new manager of the Scotland national football team and an ambassador for La Manga Club resort in Murcia, Spain (lamangaclub.com).

First holiday memory?

Being in the pool in Dunbar, along the coast from Edinburgh. It was about all we could afford at the time. I remember going down the slide and being pulled from the water by a couple of lads because I couldn't swim.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Loch Lomond, especially in the winter when it snows. The scenery is stunning. You go from the madness of Glasgow to an incredibly tranquil world in about 40 minutes. It's like a different country. The people are more relaxed and, if you add a great game of golf, you've got the perfect day.

Best holiday?

California. It's different every time. You can see the desert, go up to San Francisco, along the Pacific Coast Highway, stop in Monterey and play golf at Pebble Beach.

What have you learnt from your travels?

When you're younger you just want to have fun. As a footballer, I went all around the world, but never really noticed it. As you get older, you start to take things in that wouldn't have meant anything to you 20 years ago. Now, if I go to a castle, I want to know everything about it: when it was built, how it was built, where every brick came from.

Ideal travelling companion?

My wife, Lesley. We've been together since we were 17, so we can't be without each other. The only problem is, there must be thousands of pictures of her, taken all around the world, but none of me because there's never anyone around to take photos of us together.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Definitely not beach bum. I was on a beach in Malibu recently, fully clothed, surrounded by all these bronzed bodies. Lesley told me to take my shirt off, because it was so hot. Within about 10 seconds of me taking it off, some guy from Glasgow walked up and said: "Oi, wee man, put your shirt back on for God's sake. You look pure white. You'll get burnt."

Holiday reading?

Something by Jo Nesbo or Ian Rankin and then a historical book too. I've got one on Lenin at the moment, which I'm about to start. I've read bits and bobs about him, but again, as you get older, you want to learn more.

Where has seduced you?

You can go to South Africa and be 10 feet away from a lion. Or drive the coast of Queensland and see the Great Barrier Reef. But the place that really blew me away was Roundstone in Connemara, Ireland. It's just the most beautiful place with a small harbour, clear water and fishing boats.

Better to travel or arrive?

It depends how you travel. I love trains. I've taken them in Austria and Switzerland which was lovely, but I'd like to go on a really big adventure one day, perhaps through the Rocky Mountains.

Worst travel experience?

Bulgaria in the Eighties when I was playing football and one of my teammates broke his leg during a match. He had to get it sorted in an old shed. He was in agony and I had to change his bandage in the middle of the night, because his foot was going black. We had to get it reset when we got back home and have a decent plaster put on, but he was fine in the end.

Best hotel?

Gleneagles in Perthshire. The last time I was there I remember watching a bit of television in the room and hearing the bagpipes start up outside. It takes you back.

Best meal abroad?

Eating calamari in Darling Harbour on the last morning before we left Sydney to fly home. It was something about the seasoning and the way it was done. I've had it all over the world since, but it was unusual to me then.

Favourite city?

San Francisco. You recognise all these sights you've seen in films, like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, which we cycled over. There are lots of neighbourhoods to explore and you can walk everywhere easily.

Where next?

A whale-watching trip, possibly off Vancouver Island, combined with that train journey through the Rockies.

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