My Life In Travel: Katie Melua
'My guitar and songwriting book are my ideal travelling partners'
Saturday 26 February 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I'd love to go to the Arctic and stay in an ice hotel.
I really love London even though it's home. Otherwise Brussels and in particular the main square - it's breathtaking.
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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