My life in travel: Sally Boazman

'Amsterdam has gorgeous architecture, endless canals and friendly local folk'

Sally Boazman is a radio traffic reporter, best-known for her broadcasts on BBC Radio 2

First holiday memory?

Eskdale in the Lake District. There were boat trips on lakes and long, beautiful walks across hills, past wildflowers, hedgerows and hundreds of sheep.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I discovered the Isles of Scilly in the 1970s. The islands sit quietly in the ocean, just far enough from England's mainland to make them feel magical. They are usually warm, big enough for solitude and possess some of the most beautiful beaches in the universe.

Best holiday?

When I was 23, I travelled alone to Lot in France. I had a friend whose dad had a gîte near Saint-Céré, so I caught a train from London with my backpack and arrived at Brives station a day later. I remember the sun, the beauty of the countryside, and a sense of freedom. I drove a scooter in the rain, danced myself silly at les discotheques and discovered good wine. More importantly, a life-long love of France was born.

Ideal travelling companion?

I like my own company, so travelling by myself isn't a dread. There are always surprises, chance meetings and joys to behold. Taking the other half is fine too – a bit of romance goes a long way.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Give me a good book, a beautiful view and a comfy chair and I'm happy. But not for long. After a time, I have to explore – that includes local culture, markets and people. You can leave the adrenalin stuff to braver souls.

Greatest travel luxury?

My camping days are well behind me, so in my later years I've learnt there's a lot to be said for a good mattress. In fact, it's essential.

Holiday reading?

I devour the history and really try to get under the skin of the place. I want to taste the flavour of a place. When I was in the Oman, a gem of a country, I spent the whole time reading Sultan in Oman by Jan Morris – a gripping tale of a trek across that glorious place in the 1950s. It was a great way to understand my surroundings.

Where has seduced you?

Arabia. The souks, the hospitable people, the smells, the wadis, the beauty of the mountains and the seas. In another life, I think I was T E Lawrence.

Better to travel or arrive?

To arrive is discovery, excitement and anticipation. To travel is stressful. I have become slightly airport-phobic, wondering if I've got the wrong things in my hand luggage, or whether I'll say the wrong thing at security. Roll on, time travel!

Worst travel experience?

A strange week in Budapest. It felt sad and oddly charmless from the start. There was no sense of a welcome, the buildings were littered with bullet holes, and when my bag got stolen in a bar, there was no help from the local police. My plane tickets were in the bag, too – not to mention credit cards – which meant endless fights with airline staff to get home. When I finally did, the car park at Heathrow wouldn't release my car because I didn't have the ticket.

Best hotel?

The St Regis Abu Dhabi. This is a little bit of luxury on Saadiyat Island. It sits on a beach and has everything you would expect of a posh hotel: beautiful rooms, great service and nice restaurants. A cheap taxi ride will take you to the nearby shops and markets, or to the desert, right on the doorstep.

Worst hotel?

A place in Kenya. Admittedly, I was doing a charity cycle-run across the Rift Valley, so money was tight. Hotels were hard to come by in that sparse, but beautiful, part of the world. However, nothing prepared me for the one with the bath full of brown, dirty water and the massive flying things which penetrated the damaged mosquito net.

Favourite swim?

I lived in Bermuda for three years and the water around the island was the clearest, bluest and warmest I have ever swum in. About a week after I returned to the UK with my five-year-old son, we were walking across a bridge in Hampton Court and he looked down at the grey river and said: "What's that?!"

Favourite city?

I had a lovely time in Amsterdam recently. My son took me as a special Mother's Day treat. The architecture is gorgeous, the canals endless, the museums a treat and the local folk are friendly.

Where next?

William Blake said: "We become what we see." I want to see everything.

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