My Life In Travel: Stephen Frears

'I thought Calcutta was the most exciting place in the world'

First holiday memory?

When I was young, my family used to go and stay in hotels on the south coast in places like Devon. I loved those holidays because they were with my brothers, who were away at school; I really looked forward to them.

Best holiday?

We tend not to go abroad that much because we have a house in the countryside in Dorset. I like it there – it means I can watch my wife doing the gardening.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I used to go walking in the Lake District with my dad, which I loved mostly because I liked being with him but also because of the mountains and scenery. I went back there recently but it seemed suddenly much more ordered and tidy, which was disappointing.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Alan Bennett once said that travel doesn't broaden the mind, the mind broadens the mind, which is rather how I feel. However, I just spent the weekend in Moscow and I suppose I know a little bit more about it than I did before.

Ideal travelling companion?

You mean would I like to have gone on holiday with Samuel Beckett? I haven't a clue!

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I can't deal with 90 degree-heat anymore, so I now take holidays in winter; last Christmas we were in Pondicherry in India, which was very nice. It was warm but not too hot.

Holiday reading?

I usually take books I've failed to read during the year. At the moment I'm reading Geoff Dyer's Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, which is very funny indeed.

Where has seduced you?

I went to St Petersburg 18 months ago and I thought it was very romantic. Similarly, I liked Vienna, particularly for the cinematic and literary history.

Better to travel or arrive?

I have to travel for my work, so the idea of getting on planes depresses me. They give me frequent-flyer points and I think, I don't want them because I'm sick of flying!

Worst travel experience?

I've had rows with people, but I haven't fallen from the sky in a plane or anything like that.

Worst hotel?

I'm not a fan of modern hotels. I spend so much of my life in those golden prisons that I prefer to be at home.

Best hotel?

The Lancaster in Paris is very nice. I think it's rather homely, but on the other hand it's very grand too.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I like driving a lot. I used to enjoy driving in the south west of the US in places like New Mexico and Arizona. I've driven across America from the north to the south; it's an absolutely fantastic country to drive in. Anthony Hopkins used to say that was the best part of making a film was working out how to get there by car.

Best meal abroad?

I had a fantastic meal at a restaurant called Le Duc in Paris two or three weeks ago. I can't remember anything about it other than it was wonderful. I also like places in Italy where they do things like pasta with truffles. I live quite a simple life, so sometimes it's nice to indulge.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I usually find out where I can sleep during the day.

Dream trip?

I have never been to Australia because the flight terrifies me, but I think I would like to go there one day.

Favourite city?

It was fashionable to go to Rome in the 1960s and I started going there again in the 1990s; it is still an incredibly beautiful city. I also once spent the day in Calcutta about 30 years ago and thought it was the most exciting place in the world; the people seemed to be incredibly interesting and sophisticated.

Where next?

I am going to Switzerland to teach this weekend. I'll be at the far end of Lake Geneva at the foot of the mountains.

Stephen Frears is director of 'Chéri', on general release

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss