My Life In Travel: Sam Neill, actor

'In Sardinia I met Harrison Ford on the beach, of all places'

First holiday memory?

Camping in New Zealand's Alps courtesy of our Bedford Dormobile in the mid-Fifties. My father, in spite of his considerable experience fighting the Wehrmacht, was terribly impractical, and most years we'd get flooded or blown away. But we loved it, and I learned to fly-fish, which I do to this day.

Best Holiday?

In 2000 we sailed for two weeks with friends and family in a gulet around the Turkish coast and the Greek islands, with some attention to archaeological sites and much more attention to fun. We liked the Turkish part the most.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Well, London, of course, for all the usual reasons, not least because there are so many people I love there. But for all the other reasons, the Outer Hebrides because they are bleak, empty and beautiful.

What have you learned from your travels?

You can't beat a flat bed. It's hardly a profound thought, but if you can sleep on a plane, you can function at the other end. And also, make sure your luggage comes with wheels – it can be a long walk between planes. I know I should be waxing lyrical about other cultures, but the bed takes precedence, I'm afraid.

Ideal travelling companion?

I always think I want to travel on my own, but when I actually do, I find it isolating and rather desolate. So companions are critical. What they need is a sense of enquiry and wonder. There is no substitute for enthusiasm – or a joke when it's all going pear-shaped.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I've always thought the beach the dullest place on earth, and a little mild skiing occasionally is quite enough adrenalin for me. So, if food and wine count as culture, then culture vulture it is.

Greatest travel luxury?

My iPod. At last count I had 12,500 songs on board, which is ridiculous, I know, but most of my life is stored in that little machine. This is a bit sad, now I come to think of it.

Holiday reading?

I try to find a novel or two set where I am, so Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, for instance, when in Jamaica. I've just had a holiday in Malaysia, so I picked up Somerset Maugham. I have to say it was creaking a bit, unfortunately. I wish I'd been in Leningrad when I read David Benioff's City of Thieves.

Where has seduced you?

In the Seventies I lived for three or four months in a village in Bali, which was the most overwhelming experience of my life. It's barely recognisable now, sadly, and an entirely different experience. Still, I can't stand nostalgia, so I'll shut up about that.

Better to travel or arrive?

We travel so fast now that we seem to have forgotten the journey itself. I'm very fond of trains, and on the right train (they still have steam trains in parts of Asia) I'm as happy as Larry, and twice as happy as Larry on arrival.

Worst travel experience?

Getting bumped off an overbooked British Airways flight after the Rugby World Cup and spending a grim 24 hours at Heathrow. The wretched airline reluctantly finally promised a free ticket in compensation, which proved impossible to redeem. BA: a formerly great airline. I remain, yours truly, embittered.

Worst holiday?

A very expensive and dull trip to Sardinia a few years ago. It was compensated to a large extent by a couple of funny and rather drunk nights with Harrison Ford, who we met on the beach, of all places.

Worst hotel?

I detest grand hotels, particularly in France – uncomfortable, patronising and with hideous furniture.

Best hotel?

I like the Soho Hotel in London, the Hotel du Vin chain and the Shangri-La in Sydney. A good concierge goes a long way.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I walk everywhere, but given a choice I'd take a horse any time; an agreeable horse, that is. A horse tried to roll on me once, which I thought a little excessive. A stuntman called Dinny Powell saved me from a wheelchair, bless him.

Best meal abroad?

Hands down, my last great dinner with my father, at Lucas Carton in Paris. But some of the most enjoyable meals I've had have been on the street, particularly in Asia.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I head for the cathedral if there is one. You can't beat a bit of Gothic, but I'll settle for Christopher Wren, if necessary. I don't pray, but I do gape in astonishment. I think it's sad that some – such as St Paul's – have to charge now.

Favourite city?

The trouble with favourite cities – Prague, Rome, Venice and New York – is that everybody else loves them too and are there in their legions unless you go there mid-winter, which I like. So if I had to choose, it'd be Prague, maybe in March.

Dream Trip?

Since you're offering, a month on a boat big enough for all my friends in the Caribbean, with unlimited Dom Perignon and Two Paddocks wine, entertainment by perhaps BB King, Lily Allen, Rufus Wainwright and Jools Holland, food by Peter Gordon, with maybe a stop or two for the cricket or a carnival. If I can't do that, I would just like to go home, please. I'm not there enough.

Where next?

Toronto. See what I mean?

Sam Neill stars in 'Skin', an ICA Films release, which opens 24 July

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home