My life in travel: Jonathan Agnew
'My dream trip? Places where they don't play cricket!'
Saturday 22 November 2008
First holiday memory?
A family trip to Beg-Meil in Brittany. It was in the early days of package holidays and I was very young. I remember two things in particular: being force-fed artichokes, which I found quite disgusting at the time, and haven't eaten since then; and some old boy raking the gravel outside where we were staying every day at 6 o'clock in the morning.
Last month, my wife and I went to the US. I thought I ought to go to Las Vegas but I ended up rather enjoying it and I think I'll go back. Also I loved Oman, which I thought was very unspoilt. And I have had a great time at the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna, South Australia. It's very out of the way and is in one of my favourite locations. I have been flying a little plane for the last three years, so I do a bit of that when I can, too.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
I don't get around much here because I travel such a lot for work, but I do like visiting Hambleton Hall in Rutland. The restaurant is very good.
What have you learnt from your travels?
To be patient. You get to a stage in your life when travelling isn't as much fun as it used to be and I have reached that stage now. I seem to be travelling more now than ever before: in the last 12 months, I've been to South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, India, Dubai, Antigua and India – just for work. I don't set off with that spring in my step that I once did, so I think it's important to try to remember what it was like when I first started. I am, of course, very lucky to be able to travel as much as I do.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife. She often comes out to meet me when I'm away for work. She's brilliant and we travel a lot together. Earlier this year, we hired a car and did the South Island of New Zealand in eight days. It was a punishing schedule but a wonderful trip.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm a beach bum for a while, but then I get bored. When we were in California we did LA, then went down to Palm Springs and did a bit of flying, then went to Las Vegas. I like to keep busy.
I'm not much of a reader; I'm more of a laptop person. I would never consider travelling without it. If the hotel has an internet connection, I can download and listen to music or even watch TV.
Where has seduced you?
Oman. We go to Dubai quite a lot, so I've seen it being gradually ruined. However, you still feel the history in Oman. We stayed at the Al Bustan Palace, which is in Muscat, on a beautiful bay with stingrays and turtles. You can go out into the desert in a 4WD on wadi-bashing trips. I like the harsh scenery.
Better to travel or to arrive?
I like arriving; that's when you kick yourself out of your torpid state. For example, when you land in Mumbai you have to be on your toes. The new smells and temperature when you first step outside the airport jerk you back into reality.
Worst travel experience?
I had an interesting three-day trip last year in Chennai, where we were going to film the Indian Premier League. It started with an aborted landing in Dubai. The editor was relying on me going back to Dubai to film the chairman of the International Cricket Council. On the way back to Dubai, the flight was delayed by nine hours so my interview was cancelled, and I missed my connection back to Birmingham. They told me my bags were already in Birmingham and put me up in a hotel that turned out to be dry, and of course, when I arrived in Birmingham my luggage was nowhere to be seen.
The Shiza Inn in Multan, Pakistan, is somewhere to which I'd rather not return. There were cockroaches, rats and non-European style facilities. It lived up to its name! However grim places like that are, though, when you wake up after your first night, it does tend to get better. Even the Shiza grew on me by the end of my stay.
The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town is in a beautiful setting at the bottom of Table Mountain, and is old-fashioned elegant. I also love staying at the Oberoi Grand hotel in Calcutta, which is an incredible oasis in the middle of this crazy city. Also The Beverly Hills Hotel; it was expensive but we knew it was going to be and it was great. It lived up to the hype.
Favourite walk/ swim/ride/drive?
For me, it's a flight. Flying a Cessna over the Guyanese rainforest, above massively wide brown rivers and a vast green carpet. It was incredible, but I wouldn't like to think what might have happened if the engine had suddenly failed.
Best meal abroad?
I like going to Fraser's in Perth, Western Australia, which is on a hill overlooking the city. The food is really good, the views dramatic.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I go into real business mode: I check the power supply, the Wi-Fi and the facilities to get to grips with how the place is going to work. I am a terrible unpacker.
I'm desperate to go to Langkawi to stay at the Datai. Malaysia is always out of season when I get time off. I'd also love go visit the Maldives at the end of a Sri Lanka trip; and see more of South America. Basically, I want to go to places where they don't play cricket!
Adelaide is terribly underrated. There are lovely wide streets, beautiful parks, one of the most scenic cricket grounds, wonderful beaches, and vineyards nearby. The food and the people are lovely, and it's not too big and sprawling.
India, on a work trip with a rather dodgy itinerary. One hotel we're staying at boasts no stars at all!
Jonathan Agnew presents 'Test Match Special' with live coverage of England's tour of India on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and Radio 4 LW. Commentary of the fourth One Day International starts at 9am tomorrow
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