My Life In Travel: Rebecca Adlington, British freestyle swimmer - News & Advice - Travel - The Independent

My Life In Travel: Rebecca Adlington, British freestyle swimmer

First holiday memory?

Florida. We used go as a massive family, with all my aunties, uncles and friends. We would rent an apartment near Orlando and go to Walt Disney World. We spent the entire time either on rides or in the pool. I went back when I was 16 and still loved it. You're never too old for Disney.

Best holiday?

Australia. I went last year to train for five weeks. Sydney was incredible; I did the Harbour Bridge climb and went to the Opera House. We also visited Brisbane Zoo and the Gold Coast theme parks. Even though I was training, I had time for mini-breaks in between.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Lake District, especially Windermere. It's so relaxed and beautiful, especially if the weather is good. We used to go for a week when I was younger and spent time canoeing or on a friend's boat.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Make your own mind up about places. I've heard friends say somewhere is awful; then I've gone and loved it. You should go with an open mind and be willing to try and do everything. Even if it's a bad experience, you can usually laugh about it.

Ideal travelling companion?

My boyfriend. He doesn't moan, he just gets on with things and makes the best of every situation.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I don't get many chances to go away and do nothing; so when I'm not swimming, I like to relax on the beach, with a good book and listen to my iPod. Ideally, I'd sit there for two weeks and not move.

Greatest travel luxury?

Food. I'm not strict about my diet, but when I'm on holiday it's a luxury to be able to eat what I want. I don't know what they put in the ice cream in Italy, but it's amazing.

Holiday reading?

I love easy reading when I'm away, so any of Jill Mansell's books are great.

Where has seduced you?

Australia. The culture is similar to the UK, except everyone seems much happier. When I was waking up at 5am to go training in Brisbane, people were already up running along the river, walking their dogs or cycling. Back home, it sometimes feels like I'm the only one awake at that time, especially in winter.

Better to travel or arrive?

Arrive. The flight drags and I always feel tired after travelling. I'm usually so excited I want to be there straight away.

Worst travel experience?

A timeshare holiday in Spain when I was younger. Compared with what was advertised, everything was completely wrong. Nothing stood up to the picture. You could see stains on the mattress and the pool was tiny. We managed to have a good time anyway, but it definitely wasn't the nicest holiday I've ever been on.

Best hotel?

The Orange Lake Resort in Orlando was amazing. I normally share with my two sisters, but we got a huge villa, where every room had an ensuite and a TV.

Favourite swim?

I don't normally swim outdoors because I'm afraid of the sea but I did in Australia off Bondi Beach. One of the lifeguards tried to teach me how to surf as well, so I was quite pleased with myself.

Best meal abroad?

In Dénia, Spain. I was only there for a few days, but I had so many incredible meals. My mum knows all the best spots. We rented a car and hopped around the restaurants. One night we would be tucking into tapas, another I was eating the best steak of my life.

Dream trip?

New Zealand. I'd like to go after I've finished swimming and spend a couple of months there and maybe visit Fiji and Bali afterwards; I'd like to really take the time to enjoy it.

Favourite city?

Venice. I've only been once, but I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful buildings and the food. I also love Rome. There's so much to see, from the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, to just walking around with an ice cream in your hand enjoying the sunshine. It's impossible to get bored.

Where next?

Shanghai for the World Championships. I'm competing, so I won't have much time to go sightseeing; but our hotel is a skyscraper so we'll get views over the city. Even though sometimes I only see the pool and the hotel, you still get a feel for a place and whether you'd like to return.

Rebecca Adlington is a Speedo ambassador ( speedo.co.uk)

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