My life In Travel: Stephen Tompkinson, actor

'Hot-air ballooning over Africa was spectacular'

First holiday memory?

Going to Largs in Ayrshire with my family. It was a very good place to tour from – we'd go on boat trips to Oban and Rothesay and drive to places such as Stirling and Glasgow. We went for three years running around 1976 and stayed at the Castle Hotel, which is sadly no longer there. They seemed like endless summers.

Best holiday?

For the past two years I've done hot-air balloon trips across parts of Africa and Australia, which have been spectacular. The panoramic view you're afforded from up there is pretty special, especially over parts of Africa where there can be no sign of man for miles around. However, there was one landing at 40mph that was a bit hair-raising.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The Highlands of Scotland and the Lake District are two places that I love, for the landscapes.

What have you learnt from your travels?

To have a positive attitude and let things come to you. You shouldn't strive too much to achieve things and then the trip becomes yours.

Ideal travelling companion?

I'm a huge fan of Stephen Fry and I'd like to have travelled around the US with him; he could have done with another Stephen to spar with! That would have been lovely.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I can spend a couple of days on a beach then I get a bit bored. I like a city-by-the-sea where I can go off and explore. I like to walk rather than go on organised cultural trips. Saying that I will always take the city bus tour because you get to see all the highlights; I thought the free bus and tram tours in Melbourne were particularly impressive.

Greatest travel luxury?

Being 6ft 2in, I'm not very good in economy. If I can, I'll treat myself to a business-class seat because a flat bed can make the world of difference.

Holiday reading?

I love reading when I'm on holiday. At the moment it's a bit of a busman's holiday – we're going make a TV series of Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks this year so I'm reading those. There are 19 novels to be made and we've only done one so far.

Where has seduced you?

The place I like going back to is San Francisco, because it's such a story city. You start at the ocean and then a few blocks later you're in Little Italy at the church where Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. Some of the cafés there have jukeboxes that only play opera. A couple of more blocks later, you're in the biggest Chinatown outside Asia, then a few more and you're in Haight-Ashbury with all its history – plus so many films have been shot there. I like the attitude of the people, too.

Better to travel or arrive?

I quite enjoy travelling, it can be a good chance to catch up on films you've missed or books that you haven't got round to reading. It's escapism and I still get a buzz out of flying – it's quite miraculous.

Worst travel experience?

A few places that we stayed in Africa during the balloon trip – one particular place in Tanzania had a room that looked like it was out of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof with stains on the floors, walls and ceiling that CSI would have had a field day with.

Worst holiday?

Everyone has met rude Parisians; people's attitude can spoil holidays. I've had a few experiences in the UK like that.

Worst hotel?

One in Brighton that was trying to run before it could walk, but was still charging running prices.

Best hotel?

The Ritz-Carlton in New York, which has direct views over Central Park. It is done to such a beautiful standard. They advertised the thread count of the bedlinen and I thought it didn't make much difference until I got into bed, at which point I would have quite happily stayed there for the duration of the holiday; it was phenomenal.

Favourite ride?

I would recommend hot-air ballooning over anywhere. The views and the serenity when the burner is off is unbeatable. You're being gently pushed by the wind rather than fighting against anything, so you barely feel yourself moving, even at 20 or 30 miles per hour. It was the closest thing imaginable to a magic carpet ride.

Best meal abroad?

I had a lovely sushi meal at Le Touessrok hotel in Mauritius that was presented on a miniature boat, which was pretty impressive. It felt very healthy, too.

Dream trip?

I try to go to a new place every year and one thing I've always fancied is going to see the aurora borealis, particularly having seen Joanna Lumley's documentary, which was really beautiful.

Favourite city?

San Francisco.

Where next?

Las Vegas. Perhaps because I grew up in Blackpool I can see beyond the tacky. I'm so impressed by the architecture – it's ridiculous. The Luxor hotel is a 400-foot-high black glass pyramid with a light beam that is claimed can be seen from Space. I don't gamble, so we're going to go on a helicopter ride over the Boulder Dam and the Grand Canyon and back over the Strip at sunset as the lights are going on.

Stephen Tompkinson stars in 'Wild at Heart', starting tomorrow at 8.30pm on ITV1

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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen