In this regular column, we chat to some of SA’s premier personalities about their travel experiences and favourite local pastimes and haunts.
This week we feature celebrated actor GIDEON LOMBARD, who is currently lighting up the stage at the Fugard Theatre in David Kramer’s ‘Orpheus In Africa’. Catch the return run of the critically lauded show until October 31.
What is your favourite travel destination, and why?
This is an unfair question. I’ve always said that my favourite three destinations are Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin, but I recently spent six weeks in Madrid and it completely stole my heart. But one of my favourite trips was last year, where I spent close to a month alone travelling on trains throughout Europe.
What was your first international trip, and what do you remember most vividly about the experience?
Both my parents are academics, so we moved to a new city, country or continent every few years. The first trip overseas was when I was three years old; to Poughkeepsie, New York. I remember more from that trip than I thought I would; I remember seeing snow for the first time, watching ‘Sesame Street’ on TV and apparently I said my first English word there. I stood on a jungle gym and proclaimed, “Ek moet nou jump!” I’ve been trying to implement it as my life motto ever since.
What is the first thing you usually do when you arrive at your destination and you’re trying to get acclimated?
I make sure I know the address of where I’m staying and then I immediately try to get lost and find my way back. Do this a couple of times and I guarantee you’ll see some things that aren’t in the Lonely Planet guides. Jogging is also a great way to see a new city.
What for you is usually the best way to soak up the culture you’re in?
I am mad about food and different culinary cultures, so I try and sample as wide a range of local things as possible. I’m also a musician, so I try and see some local music – especially jazz – in any given city. To study the street musicians throughout Europe would make an incredible travel documentary.
Flying – love it, or hate it?
I absolutely love flying. Even though it has now become possible to go online midair, I still treasure the solitude and reprieve from the outside world that you can find up there. It also limits your options to what you can do, and in a world where we are bombarded with different choices all the time, the choice between chicken or beef is slightly more manageable.
What has been your favourite cuisine that you have discovered on your travels?
I am quite an adventurous eater and enjoy trying different things – from pigeon in Doha to Mopane worms in Namibia. A recent favourite was a selection of fresh oysters in Bordeaux. A good selection of tapas, eaten over the course of an afternoon or evening outside, is probably my favourite way to enjoy a meal.
You’ve got exactly R48 in your wallet. Where do you go for lunch in Cape Town and in Joburg, and what do you have?
Cape Town: I’d go to Dinkel Bakery, at the top of Kloof Nek Road and have a strong black coffee with a freshly baked German pastry.
Joburg: I’d go to Nice Cafe on 4th Avenue in Parkhurst and have a strong black coffee and buy one of their second hand books and use my lunch hour to read.
What is your speciality in the kitchen?
I love cooking and have a curiosity about anything in the kitchen, but my speciality would probably be fish. I worked in a fish market for two years in Princeton, New Jersey, where I finished high school. I learnt a whole lot about food, fish and met the craziest combination of people in the kitchen, each with a different approach to various dishes.
Describe your ideal night in, and out.
My ideal night in would comprise of interesting and stimulating conversations with good people, good food and good music. That, or the enjoyment of a good book or film on your own must never be underestimated.
My ideal night out would start with drinks somewhere outdoors, to see the sunset, followed by dinner and then live music. To end the evening, perhaps a midnight drive and a dip in the ocean followed by a good coffee somewhere.
What makes life worth living?
To be able to do what I love and combine it with travel and meeting new people. The more I travel and work, the more I realise that I like living my life in small moments, rather than trying to picture where I want to be in five years or so. As much as you are trying to make life happen, you also have to let it happen to you.
* Tickets are available through the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554; or via Computicket.com.