My Life In Travel: John Suchet, broadcast journalist

'I enjoy following in Beethoven's footsteps'

First holiday memory?

My father was born in South Africa. When I was three, he took my brother and I back to Cape Town on the Union-Castle shipping line. I remember treading on a lit cigarette end and howling my head off on the boat; my wind-up toy car sailing through the railings; and people dressing up in silly clothes as we crossed the equator, which used to be a tradition when the line was still running.

Best holiday?

A belated honeymoon with my wife Bonnie to Skopelos in 1986. It was the first year that this Greek couple, Theo and Eleni, had opened their hotel, the Agnanti. It's still operating today. Back then, there was no airport, which meant it was really unspoilt. We hired bicycles and bombed around on a moped to lovely beaches. It was an idyllic two weeks.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

London. I live in Docklands now, right in the heart of the city. The thought of grassy fields and birds in the trees actually sends me bonkers. I can't wait to get back to the concrete pavements again.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Working as an ITN reporter cured me of my wanderlust for airports. They used to be romantic places, where you jet off to far-flung destinations; now they're simply a nightmare. For the rest of my life, I have no desire to step outside of Europe. You can go on an amazing holiday to Thailand, but the 12-hour flight home leaves you feeling wrecked.

Ideal travelling companion?

My mobile phone. I cannot conceive being out of touch even for a minute. I'm a journalist, born and bred. I used to go on holiday and tell the news desk not to hesitate to get in touch. But they never did. I want people to call me at the drop of a hat.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I travel a great deal in Europe for research because of my love of Beethoven. I'm halfway through writing my sixth book. I've been to Vienna, Bonn, Prague and Bohemia, where there are still so many places that he knew. But if I set out for a beach break, I'll happily sit with a load of books in a deck chair and do nothing.

Holiday reading?

I've got a stack of books to get through on my next trip. A new biography of Bismarck by Jonathan Steinberg; Forgotten Land by Max Egremont; Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski. All very light-hearted stuff. The older I get, the heavier my reading becomes.

Where has seduced you?

France. As a young correspondent for Reuters, my first post was in Paris. I've since become an unreconstructed Francophile. My wife and I bought a house in Gascony in 1989 and it introduced us to a whole new way of life. The locals take no prisoners; they don't speak of word of English and their accent is difficult for even the French to understand. But I love everything about them; their food, wine, culture and character.

Worst hotel?

A parador outside Seville – one of those old castles that have been turned into beautiful hotels. Bonnie and I were both desperate for the holiday. Except it was cold, unfriendly and we sat on the balcony with blankets over our knees looking like a couple of pensioners.

Best hotel?

The Hotel Sacher in Vienna. It's on the site of a theatre where Beethoven premiered many of his works. It's also famous for inventing sachertorte; a delicious Viennese chocolate cake with whipped cream.

Favourite walk?

There's nothing quite like strolling along the River Thames. The embankments on either side of London have absolutely come alive since the Millennium. When I was growing up, it was all rat-infested warehouses.

Best meal abroad?

In Gascony, the local delicacy is duck. What they do with the meat there is beautiful; they treasure it and not a single thing gets wasted. We were taught to enjoy it with sweet white wine.

Dream trip?

My youngest son is a news anchor with Russia Today television. I'm visiting him at Christmas and I want to take the express train journey between Moscow and St Petersburg, which apparently now only takes a few hours.

Favourite city?

Vienna, which was the first place I went abroad without my parents and where Beethoven lived all his adult life. My love for the composer came later on though. On that early school trip I went to the Vienna State Opera and saw Fidelio; it meant absolutely nothing to me.

Where next?

I'm visiting Bayreuth and the venue that Wagner built in Bavaria; he said his operas should only be performed in his own theatre. I've got a ticket to see Tannhäuser. I'm promised they are like gold dust; apparently one is being delivered to my hotel room. I've yet to get my hot little hands on it, so it's possible I'll get there and get turned away.

John Suchet presents the morning show on Classic FM ( classicfm.com).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence