My Life In Travel: Judge Jules, DJ and music producer
'Glasgow has a great spirit and music scene'
Friday 10 February 2012
First holiday memory?
Cornwall. My parents dragged me down every holiday. My uncle is Rick Stein so we used to stay at his house in Padstow. Like all destinations you're forced to visit as a child, it's the last place you want to return to when you become a teenager. It was probably five years until I went back to Cornwall as an adult and realised it wasn't actually too bad.
As a DJ who visits 30 countries a year, the concept of having a non-working holiday doesn't really exist for me. But I do spend every summer at my house near Cala Salada in Ibiza. It's close enough to the clubs in and around San Antonio where I work, but sufficiently in the countryside to be tranquil.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Glasgow. It's got a fantastic music scene, amazing bars and great restaurants. The tourists flock to Edinburgh for the aesthetics, but I think Glasgow is the unofficial capital. It's got so much going on and the attitude of Glaswegians is irrepressible – they're crazy up there.
What have you learnt from your travels?
It's important to grasp something about the culture and history of a place. I often DJ in places on their national days, so you get a real insight through that.
I'm in a fairly unique position too, as everywhere I go I'm shown around by hosts. You bypass the tourist experience and get taken straight to the places where the locals hang out.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife, Amanda. I get about 200 flights a year and she basically cherry-picks the most glamorous destinations and leaves me to go everywhere else on my own. I'm very lucky to travel as much as I do, but it would be a very lonely job without my soulmate. We've just come back from India where we went to Delhi, Bangalore and the Coorg mountains, which was a first-rate trip.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
That depends on where I am. If I'm in the Mediterranean I could easily spend half a day on the beach. In St Petersburg, I would want to see the Winter Palace and a couple of cathedrals. In Los Angeles, I'd spend more time in restaurants, bars and the clubs. You have to tailor activities to your location.
Better to travel or to arrive?
I love the serenity of travel. It's a myth that Britain is a very rainy country: in fact, it's an overcast country. But with that you get that amazing sensation of breaking through the clouds, hitting blue sky and feeling your spirits lift. I also like landing somewhere new. The holiday kicks in the moment you go through passport control and step out into a foreign taxi. You're immediately taken into a different world.
Greatest travel luxury?
Business-class flights or, if I'm lucky, first. Because I go through lots of time zones, I've got to turn up relatively refreshed. I consider myself very lucky to have that privilege.
If I'm quite busy with work, I tend not to read. The layman's impression of what DJs do is that we turn up, get drunk, chat up girls and play a few tunes. In reality, there's a huge amount of background work involved. I don't get a lot of time off.
Where has seduced you?
Australia. Although the weather and geography are very different from the UK, our culture and humour are incredibly similar. Sydney and Melbourne are my favourite cities: Sydney for the laid-back harbourside setting; Melbourne for the café culture.
Also, I DJ in Thailand frequently and love the tranquillity and unbelievable food, mixed with the legendary Full Moon Parties.
Worst travel experience?
My wife left her passport in a taxi in Madrid a year ago. Since then, going through customs in America has been a nightmare. She has to go into a separate screening room and is treated like a criminal. For some reason, it flags her up as being suspect. My personal experience with US immigration is fairly good because I've got a special visa that allows me live and work in America if I need to. But as far as my wife is concerned, going through passport control has become a really shuddery moment.
Luckily, my work contract stipulates hotels of a certain standard. But perhaps the biggest frustration is that the star rating system isn't international. In Britain, you know what to expect of a five-star hotel, but in Spain, for example, I have no idea. You can go to a one-star place that is superb and a five-star that is laughable.
A corner suite at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona takes some beating. From it, you get views of the city and Mediterranean simultaneously. It's an iconic hotel with a brilliant restaurant and unusual sculptures.
The Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It's the slow way of seeing things and takes you past breathtaking scenery. It's one of those you have to tick off the list.
Best meal abroad?
Argentina. I'm not a big meat eater, but the steak there is superlative and incredibly cheap. If you're lucky enough to be invited to someone's house, they will commonly cook different kinds of meats and whole sides of beef on massive barbecues . They would think our steak portions here are for wimps.
I've been to Brazil before, but never played in Rio de Janeiro. Also I haven't been to Hawaii. When you have travelled a lot, it becomes a bit like being a child with football cards: you want to collect the whole set.
Singapore. Some people say it's too sanitised, but I really like the culinary heritage and the food there. It's very clean and pleasant, but still energetic and driven, in an organised way.
I tend to live my life two weeks at a time, but Las Vegas is my next long-haul trip, then I'm DJing in Belgrade and Madrid.
Judge Jules plays at the Big Snow Festival in Sauze d'Oulx, Italy (25 Mar-1 Apr); thebigsnowfestival.com
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