Travel Tales: Lyndon Barnett
Occupation: Travel Writer
Favourite travel destination?: The Middle East. I’m a history buff, so the opportunity to explore a region that is at the very heart of our culture was amazing. You can’t beat the Roman ruins of Jerash, the artistry on the walls of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the extremely beautiful Mediterranean coast of Turkey. On top of this, it’s fascinating to investigate the places connected with the three monotheistic religions – be sure to experience the atmosphere at the Western Wall on a Saturday night, admire the architecture of the mosques in Cairo or head to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water.
Worst travel experience?: Not so much a bad travel experience, but an experience which didn’t quite go to plan. I booked a hop on, hop off bus ticket from Saigon to Hanoi, travelling south to north. Every guide book says it, but occasionally the bus operators don’t complete the final overnight leg of the journey. At about 1am, my bus pulled into a service station in the middle of nowhere and just stopped. I went back to sleep until the following morning as it immediately became apparent that we weren’t going anywhere. As the sun rose, I bought breakfast snacks from the service station, grabbed my bag from under the bus and hailed down a collectivo. So rather than arriving in Hanoi for breakfast, I was there for lunch. No biggy, but nonetheless not ideal.
Best tips for beating jetlag?: Beating is jetlag is easy – all you have to do is sleep for the entire flight. My logic is that can’t function in your new location if you haven’t slept but you can certainly function if you’re well rested.
What is the one thing you don’t leave home without?: I always travel with a bike chain – the perfect deterrent for would-be thieves when travelling on trains and when staying in backpackers.
Do you stay in touch with people while you’re travelling?: I’m still in contact with people I met travelling 12 years ago. Back then, facebook didn’t exist, so we exchanged email addresses. When facebook kicked in – we added each other.
Best meal you’ve ever had while travelling?: I had just crossed the border from Romania into Bulgaria. I dumped my stuff in the hotel and was ravenous. I stumbled upon this quaint restaurant who prepared this astonishing chicken dish which arrived on my table in flames. The theatricality was great and tasted incredible.
Best kiss?: Can I pass on this one?
Best/scariest/funniest drive?: After skiing in Sierra Nevada, I took the bus back to Granada in Spain. The road was so narrow and so slippery that I wouldn’t dare look down. The skiing was amazing and Granada is such a beautiful city but seriously I could have done without the journey in between.
What has been the big WOW moment of your travelling life?: For New Year ’s Eve 2011/2012, I signed up for a yachting cruise through the Whitsunday Islands. I went to sleep on board the yacht in 2011 and the first thing I saw in 2012 was the incredible natural beauty of the region. That moment will stay with me for many years to come. The Whitsundays are so beautiful but in my mind, they’re best appreciated from the water.
What is your number one travel tip?: Don’t fear the unknown – just hop on board and go with whatever challenges you’re faced with while on the road. There’s always a solution, so revel in the experience.