My Life In Travel: James Purefoy

'I got mosquito bites so big I thought I'd caught the plague'

First holiday memory?

Camping, in wet places, in wet tents, in wet sleeping bags. But the fried-egg sandwiches were ace. We hired a narrow boat once on the Norfolk Broads, but my sister fell in a lock and nearly drowned. High drama indeed!

Best holiday?

I spent three weeks driving around the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico a couple of years ago, with my girlfriend and son. It was a great road trip; breathtakingly beautiful. My boy did himself proud by not asking "Are we there yet?" once. As for those Mayans and their cities, well, they knew a thing or two, didn't they?

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Apart from my bed it would have to be the Somerset Levels, because that's where I'm from, followed closely by the Western Isles of Scotland which have a wildness and majesty that I love.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To never dress an individual with your stereotype of a country. Take each person as they come and, more often than not, they will surprise and delight you.

Ideal travelling companion?

My son and girlfriend – we all get along just dandy.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I am all three; variety is the spice of life.

Greatest travel luxury?

An 18-year-old bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Holiday reading?

My better half would say that it would have to be something with a large font and lots of pictures. There may be some truth in that because I spend so much of my down time reading scripts that I need something even more mindless to get over it. This summer, however, I will be researching the Templar Knights, as I start a film in October playing one.

Where has seduced you?

I've just spent seven months filming in Cape Town, which was incredibly seductive – with the exception of the terrifying disparity between the lives of the rich and the poor that a lot of the wealthier people there do their best not to see. I spent a day with ActionAid meeting some women who worked on farms picking apples for Tesco. Their living conditions were truly appalling, which is hardly surprising as they are only paid about £20 for a full week's work. It's disgraceful when Tesco posted profits of £3bn this year. How can you face looking at yourself in the mirror, Sir Terry? Shame on you.

Better to travel or arrive?

That depends on the mode of travel. If it's easyJet, I want to get away from the experience as fast as I can. But generally speaking, we all spend way too much time thinking about the destination and not enough time experiencing the journey.

Worst travel experience?

The ironically named Venezia Express, which offered standing room only for 72 hours to Athens, with no food, no water and no air-con. When it went uphill, passengers would jump off at the front and get on again at the back to stretch their legs, it was that slow. The toilets overflowed down the corridor, so people were reduced to doing their number twos out of the window. And I got mosquito bites so big I thought they were buboes and I'd caught the plague. Never again.

Worst holiday?

Taking a girlfriend to a Greek island when any idiot (except this one) could have seen that the relationship was on its last legs. Torrential rain kept us in our room for six days out of the seven and glittering conversation was somewhat elusive. I don't expect she had much fun either.

Worst hotel?

We didn't choose well last year. We stayed in a truly dreadful hotel in Sardinia that was clearly not for us. "O Sole Mio" sung, or rather squawked, by the inept house band below our balcony was vaguely charming the first night, but like something from the Seventh Circle of Hell by the 10th.

Best hotel?

I loved the Riad el Fenn in Marrakech. It's an oasis of bohemian cool in the middle of a crazy city. You hardly ever see another guest or staff member, but find that breakfast has magically appeared outside your bedroom door, or tea and cakes have been left for you in one of the internal courtyards. Bird song mixes with the call to prayer and the sound of trickling fountains. That's not to mention the pools, the spa and the insanely sexy rooms with sunken baths, steam rooms and buckets of roses. Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains is pretty extraordinary too.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

My favourite walk would be anywhere on the Isle of Skye. My favourite swim – in the streams and rivers in Yosemite National Park. My favourite ride – on a well-trained film horse over Exmoor (they go on "action" and stop on "cut" and nothing will stop them in between). My favourite drive is either the Pacific Coast Highway from Big Sur to LA, or the Westway home.

Best meal abroad?

At the Hotel Punta Rossa in San Felice Circeo on the coast south of Rome, they do this sublime buffet by the pool. It practically makes me dribble just thinking about it. The mozzarella alone is the stuff of many a daydream.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

If it's a hotel then I'll tip the bell-boy and the concierge, swiftly followed by changing the room.

Dream trip?

To the moon and, with a bit of luck, back.

Favourite city?

By all means, Rome.

Where next?

Canoeing down the Wye Valley, then San Diego, Rome, Ibiza and – depending on the job – Rio, Morocco or Cardiff.

Actor James Purefoy is an ambassador for the international development charity ActionAid and is supporting its WhoPays? campaign to ensure British supermarkets play fair overseas (actionaid.org.uk/whopays)

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform