Geoff Hill
Interview Words : The World According To ... | 04 February

How to find the good anywhere

Journalist and adventurer Geoff Hill on how a positive attitude can transform your travels

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?

Flying above all of them in a microlight, or riding through them on a motorbike.

First travel experience?

Inter-Railing around Europe as a student.

Favourite journey?

Route 66 on a Harley, Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff, Orient-Express on honeymoon.

Top five places worldwide?

Italy, Japan, Canada, Slovenia, the kitchen when my wife’s cooking.

Special place to stay?

Ardtara, the perfect country house hotel in Northern Ireland.

Three items you always pack?

Bike helmet, laptop, voice recorder for thoughts.

Passport stamp you're proudest of?

Iran or Azerbaijan.

Passport stamp you'd most like to have?

The next one.

Guilty travel pleasure?

Werther’s Originals. And travelling by train.

Window or aisle?

I’m 6ft 7ins and a pilot, so window by the emergency exit so I can admire take-offs and landings and get some legroom. Or any chance of an upgrade?

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

My wife, Cate.

Best meal on the road?

Dinner in Gundel, Budapest.

Worst?

Grasshoppers in Mexico or guinea pig in Ecuador, although the only time I was sick when riding from Chile to Alaska was fast food breakfast the first morning in the USA.

Most surprising place?

Iran.

Most disappointing?

Nowhere. Look for the good and you’ll find it anywhere.

Where do you NOT want to go?

Skiing in Aviemore at the end of the season, with one run open and a gale force wind that actually blew me back up the mountain. Once was enough.

Who/what inspired you to travel? Any travel heroes?

The desire to see what was over the horizon. Bruce Chatwin, Robert Byron, Redmond O’Hanlon, Bill Bryson.

What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

Just the voices in my head telling me that aliens killed Elvis.

What do you read?

Mostly travel books and biographies. Novels seem more and more irrelevant, even though I’ve written two.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?

Pretty much all of them. If you travel with the right attitude, you’ll generally get that back from people.

What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

For some reason I know the Finnish for “Excuse me, where is the toilet paper?” and the Romanian for “The engine is misfiring badly.” The latter impressed a truck driver from Bucharest I met on Route 66, mind you.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

Being obsessed with describing things with exquisite perfection.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

Strip Snap then nude Twister.

When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

In a little log cabin by the sea in Finland with an old friend, and on honeymoon on the Orient-Express.

What smell most says 'travel' to you?

Warm skin in sunlight.

Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

The 1930s.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

Vancouver, Kyoto and Florence.

Geoff Hill is a columnist for The Sunday Times and the author of Way to Go: Two of the World’s Great Motorcycle Journeys, The Road To Gobblers Knob: From Chile to Alaska on a Motorbike and Anyway, Where Was I?: Geoff Hill’s A to Z of the World. He has either won or been shortlisted for a UK Travel Writer of the Year award nine times. 

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