My life in travel: Rick Edwards

'Costa Rica was like being in Jurassic Park'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

The south of France with my parents. I have a fleeting memory of staying in a Novotel hotel, somewhere in Brittany, and thinking it was the most exciting thing in the world. We arrived off the ferry and I thought I'd have to go straight to bed. But instead I was allowed to go for a swim with my Dad and then had fish stew beside the pool. It wasn't even a nice hotel, but when you're that age, all hotels are great.

Best holiday?

Mexico with my girlfriend. We travelled around for five weeks on lots of rickety colectivos (shared taxis) that took 18 hours to get anywhere. We went to Mexico City and Tulúm, but Playa Escondida was a highlight: a totally secluded cove, which you trek through jungle to reach.

Favourite swim?

A swim near Tulúm, Mexico. My girlfriend and I hired bikes and cycled to this little beach, where you can swim in perfect blue sea looking up at spectacular Mayan ruins above. The place is deserted if you get there early enough. We felt quite smug as we came out because about 18 bus loads of American tourists were just arriving.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

North Cornwall. I go camping and surfing down there. It's really idyllic and a totally different pace of life. Everyone seems to be focused on leisure time, which is how it should be.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Learn the language. Even if it's just to say: "I'm sorry, I don't speak the language." Acquiring the bare minimum makes things run much more smoothly. It ingratiates you with the people. When I've been to places where I haven't been able to get by, I've just felt like an idiot.

Ideal travelling companion?

My girlfriend. We both like South America and she's a fluent in Spanish, which is handy. We've been to Argentina and Uruguay, and next on our list is Peru.

Best meal abroad?

Steak in Argentina – huge slabs of beef, drunk with red wine. My gut still hasn't forgiven me for it – but I've never been happier.

Beach bum,culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

An uneasy mix of the first two. I like lazing around on the beach, but get bored easily, too. Costa Rica was a perfect balance. I stayed in an amazing eco lodge where, in theory, you could have just holed up for the entire time. But when I got bored I went out into the local towns or hiked along nature trails that felt like walking through the set of Jurassic Park.

Greatest travel luxury?

I'm very tall so I don't really fit in economy seats. If a flight's over four hours, I'll treat myself to an upgrade. It costs a fortune and I always feel slightly sick, but it's worth it because I arrive feeling less like I've been jammed in a coffin.

Holiday reading?

I recently read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which I found it on a hotel bookshelf. I'm a bit of a snob about those kinds of books, but I read it, and loved it so much, that I bought the next one at the airport on the way back.

Where has seduced you?

Croatia. I went a couple of years ago and didn't know what to expect. I stayed in Hvar, and then visited some of the other islands, too. Because I had no preconceptions, I just had an amazing time, relaxing on beautiful beaches and eating really nice food, surrounded by beautiful turquoise waters.

Better to travelor arrive?

Arrive. I get increasingly vexed about the fact that it takes so long to get anywhere, even though it doesn't really, relative to if I was travelling 100 years ago, when I'd be going by boat and it would've taken me three weeks. It always seems to take a chunk out of your trip.

Worst travel experience?

Morocco. I think I planned it the wrong way around: I went to Essaouira first, and then to Marrakech, which I found really hectic and not at all relaxing. I'd be interested to go back because a lot of my friends love it. I might just have been in the wrong frame of mind and didn't give it a fair chance.

Worst hotel?

A place in York where I stayed for work. I had to go to the doctor because I got head sores from bed bugs there, that then got infected. There was a plywood platform to sleep on and the room was suspiciously bare – as if someone had done a rapid deep clean after committing a murder.

Best hotel?

Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds. When I stayed, it snowed and they had a heated outdoor pool where you could swim surrounded by snow. I found that very exciting. Also, the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. I don't want to sound like I'm obsessed with swimming pools, but that's got a really nice one, too. I've stayed there with work a lot, and now have a specific routine, which essentially involves me lying by the pool, trying to avoid doing any work and eating Cobb salads.

Dream trip?

India. I'd never really been that bothered about going, but my girlfriend worked on a film recently that was set in Rajasthan. We went to the screening recently and it looks absolutely stunning, so I've been swayed.

Favourite city?

Barcelona. My Spanish is sort of tolerable and it's the only city I've visited, aside from New York, where I've thought I could very happily live there. It's got everything – great culture and nightlife, a beach with nice weather, fantastic people and the architecture is unlike anywhere else.

Where next?

A road trip with my friends around Germany. We did a brief one earlier this year and really liked it, so we're going back. We're starting in Cologne, going to the Black Forest to yomp up some mountains, then Hanover and Berlin.

Rick Edwards presents"Tool Academy", starting on Tuseday at 10pm on E4.

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