My Life In Travel: Lyse Doucet, BBC presenter and correspondent

'I love the Nile, and was awed by Petra'

First holiday memory?

Driving from my home in New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada with my parents and siblings. We went to see the home of Anne of Green Gables, the fictional heroine in the novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It's a large white wooden farmhouse set in rolling orchards, with picnic tables on the lawns – it was a delight to explore.

Best holiday?

Ubud in Bali. I went after a demanding work assignment. I stayed in a small, traditional hotel, where everything was simple and serene: from the turquoise infinity pool and exquisite food, to the flowers and its kind people.

Another favourite was a trip to Sancerre in France with my sister. We spent two weeks in a quaint yellow cottage, attending a French language school.

We loved the winding cobbled streets and traditional Gallic architecture; the shops that sold regional goat's cheese and wine. It felt we'd gone back in time.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Galway in Ireland. I immediately took to it when I visited during a summer arts festival. It felt like home and reminded me of eastern Canada, where Irish and Scottish influences still remain from earlier waves of immigration.

I also have to say London. I never tire of exploring the streets and discovering new shops and galleries. It's a city of superb parks and splendid culture, with a history that never ceases to amaze and inspire.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To believe that good things can come out of bad situations. Sometimes a flight cancellation can lead to great experiences; a wrong turn can take you to new places. On a trip to Badakhshan in north-east Afghanistan, our BBC team coped with three flat tyres before our vehicle broke down. We were in a completely remote mountainous region where there are hardly any roads, let alone any electricity or running water.

We then had to flee from our camp in the early hours when a gas canister exploded. Then there was a minor earthquake. But the Afghan people were unstintingly optimistic, hospitable and resourceful.

Ideal travelling companion?

A close friend, with whom silence isn't uncomfortable and discoveries are a shared delight. For work, I like a friend who speaks the language, knows the culture and can get us out of tight spots.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I feel at home alongside any body of water, having grown up next to the Atlantic. But I also enjoy immersing myself in other cultures. One of my greatest pleasures, from the moment I became a traveller, is to wander through the streets, without a map or a plan, and drop in at local art galleries or grocery stores.

Greatest travel luxury?

I always pack soya milk, tea bags, coffee and a kettle in my suitcase – which has resulted in a few accidents.

Holiday reading?

Novels set in the place I'm visiting. I recently went to a wedding in Lahore, Pakistan, so I read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. His book had been on my list for a while. On another trip to Kabul, I also re-read chapters from Nancy Hatch Dupree's An Historical Guide to Afghanistan, which I've taken on so many journeys, it's now falling apart.

Where has seduced you?

Luxor. I love being anywhere along the Nile and it was just extraordinary to see the ancient Egyptian temples rising from modern city streets. I was also awed by Petra in Jordan, when I walked through the ancient rose-red city cut from stone and saw its most iconic image, the Treasury Building, for the first time.

Better to travel or arrive?

I like the sensation of being suspended in a private space between the place you left behind and a destination that lies ahead. I remember travelling on a train from the Ivory Coast to Burkina Faso, on my first trip abroad, and the exhilaration of sitting next to the open door, letting my thoughts fly with the wind.

Worst travel experience?

Coming under aerial bombing in Afghanistan on a winter's night in 1990 while travelling with mujahedin fighters in a convoy of vehicles that then broke down. It was terrifying. We ended up walking for hours through the snow in the crisp night air under a stunning full moon. I learned a lot about how fighters manage to survive in these conditions.

Worst hotel?

A guest house in a convent in Damascus, Syria. The lovely nuns were doing commendable charity work but the ceiling fans weren't working in the blazing heat of summer.

Favourite walk?

Roaming barefoot along the beach where I grew up in eastern Canada. It always reminds me of the Bruce Springsteen lyric: "All the diamonds in this world/ that mean anything to me/ are conjured up by wind and sunlight/ sparking on the sea."

Best meal abroad?

Pepper crab at an open-air restaurant in Kuala Lumpur – it was simply mouth-watering. Also, grilled fish in a market in Multan, Pakistan, delicately spiced and cooked on a special grill. We ate with our hands in a small stall which looked out on the street.

Dream trip?

Cape Verde, an archipelago off the coast of West Africa. I was so taken by its uniqueness when I visited in the Eighties: the stark lunar landscape; the cities with pastel-coloured wooden houses; the parks with gazebos where bands play in summer; the delicious Portuguese-style cuisine.

Favourite city?

Kabul has come to feel like home, though I never stop admiring Cairo's architecture. Also, Quebec City. I like immersing myself in French culture and language if I get the chance.

Where next?

I'd love to go back to Iran. On my last visit, in 2009, we went to the lovely city of Isfahan. Its square is outstanding, surrounded by magnificent Islamic and Persian architecture.

Lyse Doucet speaks at the "Destinations: Holiday & Travel Show" at Earl's Court, 2-5 Feb:

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions