Stephen Mangan: My Life In Travel

'I was so hungry, I finished the tin and licked my fingers. It was cat food'


First holiday memory?

Taking the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin as a kid. It's a nine-hour overnight crossing and I remember a mixture of excitement and seasickness.

Best holiday?

When I left school I spent a year travelling from New York to San Francisco; that was a bit of an epic trip.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I think the west coast of Ireland is spectacular, particularly County Mayo. The landscape is quite barren and melancholic. I can't understand why more people don't go there.

What have you learnt from your travels?

That you don't need a large tube of toothpaste. Also that the world is fantastically varied but people are fundamentally the same.

Ideal travelling companion?

A 1955 Mercedes Gullwing.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I don't tend to do beach holidays. I like to move around. I've been to watch cricket in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, Pakistan and India. I like the fact they usually play in beautiful places and it's always summer.

Greatest travel luxury?

I'm a big fan of the travel pillow.

Holiday reading?

In February I was in India for a month and read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

Where has seduced you?

I loved Sri Lanka; I don't think I've ever felt more welcomed by any other nation.

Better to travel or arrive?

I went to Kenya once and my partner and I decided to visit a game reserve by 4WD on our own. We rapidly ran out of road signs and didn't have a clue where we were going - the adrenalin and terror made it a perfect travelling experience.

Worst travel experience?

We also drove to Lake Naivasha in Kenya and got our 4WD stuck in about four feet of flamingo shit. We were up to our waists in the stuff and darkness was falling, but thankfully we managed to get out.

Worst hotel?

I stayed at a place outside Lisbon during an InterRail trip that cost about 15p per night. It was basically a corrugated iron shack and I went to sleep and woke up covered from head to toe in ants.

Best hotel?

The Nilaya Hermitage, which is in Goa.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/ drive?

There's a walk I love along a little beach called Cross Beach in County Mayo. You start at the cemetery and walk along the beach beside the roaring ocean - it's pretty spectacular.

Best meal abroad?

In El Salvador, we were staying in an unmanned hut in the cloud forest and had been out shopping for supplies. We were so hungry we tucked into a tin of stuff but afterwards found out it was cat food. That was after I had finished the whole tin and licked my fingers.

Dream trip?

I want to travel from Cairo to Cape Town and from one end of South America to the other. I've also got a trip to the North Pole planned, although I'm not quite sure why - I imagine it's quite white and cold up there. I want to get there before there's a Starbucks or a McDonald's.

Favourite city?

New York; there's just something about it. You step out onto the streets and there's a tangible excitement and a buzz. I also enjoyed Shanghai for its combination of old and ultra-new.

Where next?

Ireland, because I like to go there as often as I can. It's difficult to plan holidays as an actor - I've just had to cancel a trip to France because some work came up.

Stephen Mangan stars in 'Jane Hall' on ITV1, which starts on Wednesday at 9pm

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