My Life In Travel: Jenson Button

'The only thing missing in Brunei was alcohol - it's a dry state'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

First holiday memory?

Mallorca with my family when I was little - it was our regular summer holiday. My most vivid memory is of my dad's wallet being stolen.

Best holiday?

This year I travelled to Brunei with my fiancée Louise, her best friend and my physio/trainer Phil in between the Australian and Malaysian Grand Prix. I needed to acclimatise for Malaysia and it seemed like the perfect place to do it and train at the same time. The hotel we stayed in - the Empire Hotel and Country Club - was amazing. It has two cinemas, a bowling alley, a theatre, spa, two golf courses and plenty more. The only thing missing was alcohol since Brunei is a dry state! It was probably a blessing in disguise, though, because I was training.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I am very fond of Somerset. I grew up there and go whenever I get the chance to see my best mates and some of my family, who still live there. The countryside is beautiful and it's very relaxing. I also love London; it's one of my favourite cities. It has great restaurants and I love the parks, particularly Hyde Park.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That I don't really enjoy travelling. I travel at least two or three times a week - it's relentless. Unfortunately, almost all of it is for work and there is no time to rest after the journey.

Ideal travelling companion?

My fiancée Louise. She always makes the journey more enjoyable.

Are you a beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I'm definitely not a culture vulture. I'm part-beach bum and part-adrenalin junkie. Ideally, I like to do physical activities, be it water sports, quad biking or hiking in the morning and then relax by the pool or on the beach in the afternoon. I get bored quite easily, so I don't enjoy lying around doing nothing for long.

Greatest travel luxury?

A private plane. You show up 15 minutes before take off, with no check-in queues to worry about. Once you arrive at your destination your bags are taken off the plane - so there's no lost luggage. It's the easiest way to travel and it is undoubtedly a luxury, since I don't travel privately very often.

Holiday reading?

I read while I'm on the plane, but once I'm on holiday I only really flick through magazines.

Where has seduced you?

St-Tropez is an amazing place and I always enjoy my time there. My friends and I head down there during the summer when I get a few fleeting days off from work.

It is better to travel or to arrive?

To arrive, of course.

What is your worst travel experience?

When I travelled to Brunei earlier this year. Louise and I were flying from Sydney, but after the plane taxied from the stand we were told it had engine failure. We sat stationary on the plane for an hour and a half before we were asked to get off. We then had a 10-hour wait at Sydney airport for another flight, which was via Singapore. At Singapore we waited for another five hours for our flight to Brunei, so we arrived about 20 hours later than planned. It was a pretty awful journey.

Worst holiday?

I've never really had a bad holiday. I've had holidays where things have gone wrong, but I normally see the funny side of it.

Worst hotel?

I went skiing in Le Monet in 2003. It was at the start of the skiing season and there weren't many hotels open so we ended up staying in a two-star hotel. It was just disgusting. I could just about squeeze into the bath to sit down; the wallpaper was mouldy and peeling and the walls were so thin that we could hear everything that was going on in the rooms on either side of us.

Best hotel?

The Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

My favourite hike is around Monaco, where there are some beautiful hills. We do a lot of training up there - hiking up a hill for about 45 minutes - and the scenery is great. Monaco is also my favourite place to swim. The sea is a good temperature and we encounter some huge fish there, some are a foot long. There are some very good places to cycle around Barcelona.

Best meal abroad?

I love fresh Italian food. I also like Japanese food, in particular sushi, and dishes that are slightly westernised - the more traditional Japanese food is a little hard to eat.

What the first thing you do when you arrive somewhere?

Phone down for a glass of bubbly!

Dream trip?

I haven't been to the Maldives yet, so I would love to go there. I really want to jump into the sea off the balcony of an ocean villa - that would be amazing.

Favourite city?

London is a great city, and I also love New York. There are some great restaurants there and the shops are good, too. I also enjoyed Prague.

Where next?

After the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy, I'm travelling to Florence for a couple of days with Louise before heading to Mugello, testing with the BAR Honda team. Then I travel to London for some training sessions and to see Kylie in concert before heading to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Jenson will be leading the parade in Trafalgar Square on 14 May to launch the Gumball 3000 Rally from London to Monaco. The Gumball 3000 DVD '6 Days in May' (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) is on sale from 9 May. For more information visit www.gumball3000.com.

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