My Life In Travel: Karl Pilkington
'I've done some luxury flying - it was brilliant'
Saturday 30 October 2010
Karl Pilkington is a radio producer and TV presenter
First holiday memory?
Somewhere in Cornwall with a caravan, mum, dad, brother, sister and some cousins who I don't think I've seen since. It was a battered old caravan that we couldn't all sit in at one end at once, because it would tip up. It was like the end of The Italian Job. It was good, because some evenings you'd be at the front end, and others you'd be at the back playing cards with someone else.
For me, a good holiday is about value for money rather than things to see. Therefore my best holiday was either on Mallorca or Menorca – I can't remember which one. We got a four-bedroom villa with a pool for a week for £250. It was in the middle of nowhere, near some shops selling dinghies and postcards and an annoying family from Scotland next door who were really loud.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Wales, where I went a lot as a kid, probably three or four times a year. We went to a holiday camp called Greenacres in Porthmadog and I loved it – messing about on the beach and in arcades with some mates that I made down there. I went back fairly recently and it wasn't as good as I remembered.
Ideal travelling companion?
I've gone away with mates, but they can get on your nerves. And it's nice to go away with my mum and dad, but I end up staying up late and drinking more. So I'd probably say my girlfriend Suzanne, because she knows what I'm like and I can do exactly what I want. People tend to like doing things. On the Mallorca/Menorca holiday, a woman came up to me and asked if I wanted to go on a sausage factory tour, which I definitely didn't. I prefer to sit and do nothing or just people-watch.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Out of that lot, probably the beach one. It's not about being lazy or getting a nice tan, because I like to be in the shade. But I like just watching life going by. I like listening to people – overhearing families arguing – or reading people's tattoos.
Greatest travel luxury?
I've done some luxury flying, which is brilliant. It has only happened once or twice, but it was nice because flying is the worst part of the holiday. But then again, if the plane crashes you're still dead. For that much money I'd want a little capsule that whizzed me off to safety if it was going to crash.
Most of the time I take a book just in case I have to avoid a sausage factory tour. If I'm desperate I'll pick it up, but most of the time I don't bother. I'd rather listen to my iPod or read a magazine. Reading gives you a bad neck and I don't like that thing where people look at what you're reading; it would have to be a book you can take the sleeve off of.
Where has seduced you?
Making the An Idiot Abroad series I was really dreading going to India; I thought I'd hate it. It was a nightmare and I was really ill – just like everyone says. But there was one point when I wasn't being ill and everything came together at the right time. I was just across from the Taj Mahal on a bit of land that is usually off-limits. It was away from the madness of India, just as the sun was going down, and I knew I was going home the next day. I was relaxed and could actually enjoy the moment. I don't think I'll ever forget it. At the same time, I don't ever want to go back.
Best meal abroad?
I look forward to a pudding more than anything, but they're never that good abroad. Generally I find it a bit of a chore, because if you're somewhere really touristy the restaurants have menus like the Domesday Book with everything listed in about 10 languages; or if not, the waiters tend not to understand you. I had steak and chips twice in Madrid because of a misunderstanding.
Better to travel or arrive?
It's got to be arriving. Does anybody say travelling?
Worst travel experience?
Lanzarote. Horrible. It's like Planet of the Apes. We drove around looking at volcanoes, because there was nothing else to do. Once you've seen one you've seen them all – we saw about 30.
Nobody believes me when I tell them this, but it was a hotel in Tunisia that seemed to be run by dwarves. I wondered if it was to make the place look bigger. They were really cheeky; one of them kept pinching Suzanne's arse, but it's awkward to shout at small fellas. It was really weird.
The Windsor Hotel in Cairo. Even though it looked pretty bad, the people were really friendly, there weren't many guests, and it felt nice and homely.
I think it's a problem when something's a dream because it'll never live up to your expectations. It's better to go somewhere thinking it'll be horrible, and then be pleasantly surprised.
Rome. You can have a wander about looking at interesting things like the Colosseum without spending money. Plus I like pasta, so it ticks a lot of boxes.
Suzanne's a bit jealous of all my travelling, and she's talking about seeing a giraffe. So it'll either be a safari or the zoo.
Karl Pilkington presents 'An Idiot Abroad' 9pm Thursdays on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1. 'An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington' is published by Canongate Books, £16.99
The My Life in Travel column is produced in association with Andalucia Tourism. See www.andalucia.org
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