My Life In Travel: Joan Bakewell, journalist and broadcaster

'I'll always come back to India. It is bewitching'

First holiday memory?

Bournemouth. No one went abroad during the war, so we used to drive to the coast every summer for a family holiday. I remember being terribly excited. We would stay in a boarding house set back from the seafront and spend hours on the wild, sandy beach.

Best holiday?

India. I've been numerous times, but my trip through Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh was particularly memorable. I flew to Delhi before moving on to Agra, Varanasi and Jodhpur, which I though had as much beauty as you're ever likely to find in one place.

Indian people have extremely generous temperaments – perhaps something to do with the Hindu faith. And then, of course, there's the colour and the wonderful food, too. I also stayed at the Taj Lake Palace hotel in Udaipur, which is built in the middle of a lake. It was just completely ravishing.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Lake District. We had a very good family holiday near Cockermouth, where we walked and climbed a few hills with my children and their children. Some managed to get further than others; some walked higher; and some didn't walk at all.

We went to Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's former home near Grasmere, which is now a museum – I went all romantic and started discussing poetry. We also went on a boat trip one day and got soaked to the skin, but it was a very amiable family holiday.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That you can get by on very little. My children always make the "kitchen sink" joke whenever I leave for the airport, because my luggage is always too heavy to lift.

I forget that you can actually buy toothpaste in India or that the Maldives does indeed have sun lotion. The young do it so well: two T-shirts and a pair of jeans is all you really need.

Ideal travelling companion?

My grandchildren. They're terrific because they're a captive audience. I've taken several of them to Paris, which lets me rediscover places through their eyes. They do sometimes glaze over and say: "Yes Grandma, that's enough history." But I still get a thrill from showing something I love to someone I love.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

My ideal holiday would be staying in a nice villa outside an Italian hilltop town. Somewhere near Cortona, Lucca or Arezzo – where the surrounding countryside is lovely and you can drive into town for a nice meal each evening.

Greatest travel luxury?

A good book. Whenever we go away as a family, there's always a great bag full of them. We all pitch in with our selection. I haven't got a Kindle yet, but I suspect it's on the horizon.

Holiday reading?

A recent joint-family endeavour was the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. We were all passing the books round the pool. I always like to take a classic, too. My copy of Byron's Don Juan has got sand from Venice between the pages. I never get time to read it in London, but if I'm idling away an hour of two on holiday, it's very entertaining.

Where has seduced you?

I'll always come back to India. Its ways, its people and its culture have bewitched me. It's strange and exotic, yet is always very welcoming.

Before that, it was Italy, where I've travelled since I was a teenager. I know just enough Italian to say "I'm sorry, I can't answer your question." However, I adore being mistaken for a local. I'm very fond of Lucca in particular, and Perugia too.

Better to travel or to arrive?

Anticipation is one of the great pleasures of travelling. Scouring websites to find the right villa for the family holiday; exchanging suggestions; poring over the pictures. I even like the airport – it's full of promise.

Worst travel experience?

Corsica. I hadn't realised how popular it was and thought we could just busk it. We hired a car but actually never ended up in "just the place" because we hadn't made any preparations.

I was more worried than I should have been about where we were going to sleep that night. It was an unplanned route and didn't work out satisfactorily.

Worst hotel?

A place near Izmir in Turkey. The main hotel was full so they put us up in what was little more than a beach hut. During the night, dogs came and sniffed round outside. We heard people prowling around the car and had to chase off a burglar. It was a deeply unhappy night.

Best hotel?

Château de Feuilles in the Seychelles. It's in the middle of a hilly, very lovely island called Praslin. I loved the informality: the basic use of natural woods and that wonderful smell of flowers you get in a tropical country. It was simple but had everything I needed.

Favourite drive?

The coastal road between Dubrovnik in Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro. You drive along hairpin bends overlooking the lovely islands and the beautiful Adriatic waters.

Best meal abroad?

Any kind of street food in India. You risk terrible tummy trouble, but I always go for it. When your train stops at a station, local vendors arrive with baskets and walk along the platform. You hang out of the window and buy all sorts of amazingly sticky and juicy stuff – usually deep fried and terribly bad for you.

Dream trip?

South-east Asia. I've never been to that region, so a trip to Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam would be ideal.

Favourite city?

Rome. It's got traffic jams, but it's just a thrill to be there. If I had a day spare, I would just walk – call in on bars, churches, basilicas and restaurants. I'd probably go to see some paintings and I might even make the Vatican, though it's terribly tricky due to the crowds.

Where next?

I'm thinking of making a sudden dash with a friend for New Year, though I haven't decided where yet. I'm waiting to see what bargains crop up.

Joan Bakewell's new book She's Leaving Home is published by Virago, £17.99

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
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
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

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable