My Life In Travel: Katie Melua

'My guitar and songwriting book are my ideal travelling partners'

First holiday memory?

Going to my great-grandmother's house in Tuapse, Russia, aged about five. My parents didn't come because they were finishing university, so I spent the summer there. It's a gorgeous place with lots of forests.

Best holiday?

I went back to Georgia to ski in the Caucasus mountains quite recently. I had never skied before so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it. I stayed in a small village surrounded by stunning scenery.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Isle of Wight because they have a great music festival there and it's a really gorgeous place. I was surprised when I first went at how different the climate and landscape are to the rest of England. I remember being on the beach and thinking that it felt quite exotic.

What have you learnt from your travels?

How to pack. I travel a lot for work and I used to pack far too much. I also always take a first-aid kit.

Ideal travelling companion?

My guitar and song-writing book.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I like beaches but I'm more into adrenalin sports. I have fallen in love with jet-skiing - you go so fast! I tried scuba diving in the Bahamas recently, which was cool.

Greatest travel luxury?

My iPod is a must - I can carry my whole music collection with me.

Holiday reading?

I enjoy everything apart from autobiographies. I love Philip Pullman and Iris Murdoch, as well as classics and thrillers.

Where has seduced you?

Norway, it's so gorgeous and the air is so clean. The last time I was there it snowed and it looked really stunning. It's obviously well-known for its trees and when you fly into Oslo the forests beneath you look amazing.

Better to travel or arrive?

I love travelling but after a long while on the road I look forward to coming home.

Worst travel experience?

I was in New York recently when it snowed heavily. We had to cancel a gig because we couldn't get there. I still found stuff to do so it wasn't a big problem.

Worst hotel?

I'm not particularly fussy. In Georgia the standard of hotels isn't as high as in Europe, but they have a family feel, which is nice.

Best hotel?

I can't remember the name, but it was in Germany. I stayed only for about four hours, just to sleep. We had to catch a plane very early the next day and it had the best bed and pillows I think I've ever slept on, it was hard to tear myself away.

Favourite walk/swim/ ride/drive?

My favourite ride is in Norway. I toured there in autumn and we were meant to fly from Bergen to Oslo but there was a strike so our flight was cancelled. We ended up getting the train through the mountains - you travel through tunnels and emerge into daylight where you see frozen lakes, log cabins and stunning mountains. It felt like going back in time.

Best meal abroad?

I really enjoyed the food in Japan - I loved the bizarre textures. During one meal we ate very thinly sliced beef, which you cook in a pot of boiling water - it only took about 10 seconds because it was so thin.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Call home. I'm away quite a lot these days so I try to keep in contact with my family and boyfriend as much as possible.

Dream trip?

I'd love to go to the Arctic and stay in an ice hotel.

Favourite city?

I really love London even though it's home. Otherwise Brussels and in particular the main square - it's breathtaking.

Where next?

South Africa for the Fancourt 46664 Concert in Johannesburg, where I'll be performing with Queen. I feel so honoured to be part of a concert that will hopefully make a difference to the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Katie Melua will perform at the Fancourt 46664 Concert (00 27 83 915 8000; www.46664.com) on 19 March with Annie Lennox and Queen. Tickets cost from R250 (£22)

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