My life in travel: Greg Davies, actor and comedian
'I have an obsession with going to New York'
Saturday 09 April 2011
First holiday memory?
A camping holiday in France when I was four. I remember it because my parents decided to do a runner from the campsite (they're going to be horrified I'm putting this in the paper). Let's just say, they were "leaving early" because they were really skint. They took the tent down while I was still sleeping. I remember waking up in a camp bed in the middle of a field with a dummy in my mouth. They got caught and had to pay anyway.
When I was 17, my dad was teaching in the States. He hired an A-Team-style van and we drove all over. My resounding memory of it was that we saw all these wonderful places, but that my sister and I were being horrible, sulky teenagers.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Shropshire, my home county. It's a really unspoilt, beautiful place. I also love the Lake District – more for the looking out of the car window than actually walking. I love the idea of walking, but if someone would hurry up and invent the hover-skateboard, I'd be really happy.
What have you learnt from your travels?
I'm an incredibly disorganised human being. Every time I travel, I'm in a rage until I reach my destination. I find myself shouting at suitcases, as if it's their fault that I'm an inefficient packer. I've also learnt that whenever you despair of humanity and start thinking that you hate people – as I frequently do – you only have to travel to realise that people are basically all right.
Ideal travelling companion?
Anybody with a parental yearning to organise me.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I have no desire to work my adrenal glands any harder than necessary. I like lazing around; it's pretty important to my well-being. But I also get bored, so that's when my culture-vulturing kicks in.
Greatest travel luxury?
My humiliating recent purchase is a very small man-bag, except it's more effeminate. It only fits my keys, wallet and loose change in. It's basically a purse.
I tend to pick things that are a bit lighter – because I'm incapable of reading a book without becoming totally engrossed. I went on this amazing tour of Thailand with Rhod Gilbert and read The Great Gatsby for the first time and it actually ruined part of my holiday. I totally existed in that world for a while. When I reached the tragic conclusion, I wanted to wake Rhod up, because I felt really lonely.
Where has seduced you?
Andalucia. I went a couple of years ago and it was the first time I'd been to Spain as a thinking adult, instead of a teenage drinking machine. It's quite rugged and pretty barren – Sergio Leone filmed a lot of his Westerns out there.
Better to travel or arrive?
So much better to arrive. I am intolerable. I'm 6ft 8in, so I feel like I've got full body thrombosis about five hours in, if I'm flying in economy.
Worst travel experience?
A friend and I took a camper van right across France and Spain. Then we realised we had £50 to get home. All we had to eat for three days was noodles and eggs. You can imagine what sort of atmosphere that created with two men in a small van.
I had a really exciting first holiday abroad with my friend Will in Ibiza when I was 19. The next year, we tried to repeat it by going to Lloret de Mar in southern Spain. It was kind of like a prison camp. We didn't have a lot of fun.
We stayed in this repulsive hotel in Monaco in my early days of being a comedian. I should have just slept on the street. There were cockroaches; also the wallpaper had this velour effect that when you ran your fingers down it, it came away like sand.
I went to Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives a couple of years ago. It's the only place I've been where you think it can't be as amazing as you imagined, but it was. I'm surprised you have to walk yourself, because pretty much everything else is done for you.
Best meal abroad?
On a beach last summer in Andalucia. They have these little shacks that all pretty much do the same thing: fresh fish, caught locally and cooked on a charcoal fire. It was probably the time of day I was there – the sun was just going down – but I can't remember tasting anything nicer.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Tragically, I go to sleep. I need to reset myself from travelling – I wake up a much nicer person.
I've got this obsession with going to New York at the moment, because I've never been. The trouble is, everyone else has. One day, I'll find a friend who is excited about the prospect too.
I went to Melbourne, which is a really lovely, well-ordered, clean city. And I was walking down the street and saw a family with a beautiful baby walk past, just as this majestic white horse trotted by.
When I flew back into London, after a month away, I looked down at the Thames and the sprawling mess that is the city where I live – and I felt really excited to be back. I've been saying what a hole it is for 20 years, but London has sneakily got me to fall in love with it.
Probably the worst question for me to answer at the moment, because I'm constantly on the road. So the honest answer is: my own house.
Greg Davies' nationwide UK stand-up tour 'Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog' runs until 9 July (gregdavies.co.uk)
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