My Life In Travel: Mike Oldfield
'Being an ardent Trekkie, I can't wait until space travel gets luxurious'
Saturday 09 February 2008
First holiday memory?
When I was small we used to go to the Isle of Wight for our family holidays. We drove from our house in Reading down to Southampton or Portsmouth to get the ferry; to see the sea at that age was very exciting. I didn't notice that the sea was cold because back then I didn't know anything about the Caribbean. We stayed in a small cottage and the best thing for me was that the TV had ITV as well as BBC – I think it was there that I saw my very first advert.
It's a toss-up between Barbados a few years ago and Switzerland. Barbados has got a bit crowded now, but in the late Eighties when places like the Sandy Lane Hotel were quiet and not full of celebrities, it was great. The coral reefs were in a much better condition, too. It was quite a quaint place.
The first time I skied was in Villars-sur-Ollon, in Switzerland. I went there to make an album, but ended up staying for six months. It was just fantastic – going up into the mountains and eating fondue, torch-lit descents at night, sleigh rides and skiing off-piste...
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Brighton. It was the first place I went to on a day out with my parents in their Morris Minor 1000. It probably took about five hours to drive there from Reading on the A-roads back then. I remember seeing the sea and the two piers and eating candy floss. There's still something magical about Brighton.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Be organised. I once dropped my boarding card in the departure lounge of the airport and then had to spend the night in Barcelona because a cleaner had swept it up. I'm fanatical about getting prepared these days.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I like everything – lying on the beach, going waterskiing or visiting museums; that's the whole point of a holiday. Towards the end of the holiday I'm happy to become a lounge lizard after having seen a bit of culture.
Greatest travel luxury?
To be able to feel the warm air on your skin and the sand under your feet.
I always bury myself in something, from a National Geographic to a good novel.
Where has seduced you?
Bali was a magical place. We went there to film a video and we had a guide who would take us to see local dances. It was a very interesting place and I hope it hasn't changed too much since I was there.
Better to travel or arrive?
I find travel exciting, but arriving at an airport after a long-haul flight is misery because you have to go through immigration and other formalities.
Worst travel experience?
On tour once, we flew on a 10-seater plane through a thunderstorm over the Pyrenees. Having survived that, I find turbulence quite exciting now.
What is now the Kahala Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii – I think it used to be a Hilton. I stayed there on a stopover on a world tour. It was absolutely gorgeous; there was even a pair of dolphins in the grounds. However, I didn't know you have to tip the staff in the States;when aman delivered my breakfast and I didn't tip him, I thought he was going to kill me!
I once walked up and down Table Mountain in South Africa. The mistake I made was at the top thinking, "Hurray, I've only got to get down now", but it's harder to do than getting up it. I was so stiff when I got to the bottom.
Best meal abroad?
A meal I had recently in Corsica, in a little fishing village called St-Florent. It was at a restaurant in the marina and was the best meal of my life; much better than at any Michelin-starred restaurant. I ate great French food on a veranda under the stars.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Give the place a good sniff. There's a lot you can tell from the smell of somewhere. Then I check out where I can go and eat that evening.
Being an ardent Trekkie, I'd love to go to outer space, but not on Virgin Galactic – I want to wait until space travel gets a bit more luxurious and you can have Jacuzzis and go out for dinner there.
Venice is unbeatable because it's so unique. It's full of atmosphere and history; you feel as if you can almost touch the ghosts of the people who used to lived there.
To Monaco. I love the fact that it's such a tiny state; it's also the only place I travel round on the bus because it's so easy and efficient.
Mike Oldfield's new album, 'Music of the Spheres', is released on 17 March
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