My Life In Travel: Michael Wood

'I adore taking the slow train from Tanjore during monsoon season'
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

I was born and brought up in Manchester, and remember going to Llandudno with my parents. The water was freezing, and there's a photo of us sheltering behind a windbreak.

Best holiday?

I've travelled all over the world for work over the last 25 years, but in terms of personal experience it would have to be the Greek islands or southern India. When the kids were small we took them to places like Lyme Regis and Axminster, which I also have very fond memories of.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I love Dorset and Devon for their landscape.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Shakespeare has a wonderful phrase in As You Like It, which is "travellers must be content". Wherever you are, you are, and I try to remember that whenever I'm away from home and feeling fed up. The world is a wonderful place and the variety is what makes it so fantastic. My biggest fear is that it's all being eroded by globalisation.

Ideal travelling companion?

My wife - we've had wonderful trips together.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

It's always lovely to go to a beach, but I'm more of a culture person, and I also like walking. I prefer staying in simple places.

Holiday reading? I like books about culture. I'm always looking in stalls at Indian railway stations for books about the temples of south India or the history of Madras.

Where has seduced you?

The Kaveri river in southern India. I adore taking the slow train from Tanjore during the monsoon season - it winds through temple towns, rice paddies and palm forests along the river. I've also had a long involvement with Iraq, since making human-rights films about the destruction of the Marsh Arabs in the 1980s. I find the deserts in the south particularly haunting.

Worst hotel?

I had a hysterical experience staying at the suitably named Hotel Wonderland in the Punjab one December. The temperature was sub-zero, there was nobody staying there and there was no glass in the windows. We ended up crouching around an electric fire in the manager's room.

Best hotel?

The Hotel Finaro in Allahabad in the north of India. It's run by a wonderful man called Mr Gandhi and it's a real home from home. It has a lovely garden and is completely unpretentious. Mr Gandhi will organise absolutely anything that you want or need.

Favourite walk/ride?

My favourite ride is the railway journey from Madras down to the tip of southern India; favourite walk is in the mountains in Amorgos, Greece.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere?

Dump my bags and go for a walk. I get the feel of a place by just hanging out.

Dream trip?

I have never been to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, and I'd really like to go. My real dream trip is to go back to Iraq with Iraqi friends who are in exile and find peace and stability there.

Michael Wood's book of the BBC series 'In Search of Myths and Heroes' (£18.99) is out now

Comments