Love is . . . a life on the open road

I've been to many places around the world so thought I'd share things I love about travelling...

France, especially Lanquedoc Rousillon
Eurostar, premier seats though
Virgin Atlantic’s choice of movies
BA’s Business class movie screens
Premium Outlets for shopping madness
Grimsby fish and chips
Massage on a Thai beach
Lobster and prawns at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort
Silk trousers from Bangkok
Noodles from a Hong Kong vendor
Animals on safari in Kenya
Rio Carnival for being the best in the world
Tobago for being so chilled out
Friendly faces at Jakes in Jamaica
Pink sand in the Bahamas
People-watching in Las Vegas
Disney World, Orlando, can't get enough of Mickey
Ireland because my dad was born there
Edinburgh on New Year's Eve
Venice because you have to love it
Wine-tasting in Stellenbosch, only white!
Swimming in the forever warm Caribbean Sea
Biking over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco
Gazing at the awesome Taj Mahal
Helping build a nursery in a Cape Town township
Screaming on Universal's The Hulk
Seeing the Pope at the Vatican
Drinking champagne at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Christmas in New York
Coffee from Jamaica's Blue Mountains
Crabbing in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Necker Island, who wouldn't?
Pashminas from India
America and even Americans
Walking in the Lake District
Driving across the US, even with a two-year-old
Handbags from Buenos Aires
Eurocamp for great family holidays
No-hassle souks in Damascus
Bon Sol hotel in Majorca
My Antler Duolite case and my Apple iPad2, love them
...and all the people in all the world who I have had the pleasure of meeting

Chicago star finds town Untouchable

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Star of Chicago...Claire Sweeney

THE sound of bullets ricocheted round the bus and actress Claire Sweeney dived for cover.

She flashed her unmistakeable smile and then giggled along with the rest of us who had joined in the play-acting on the Untouchable Tour of Chicago.

As we drove around Al Capone’s haunts, Claire — who starred as Roxie Hart in the West End musical Chicago — was thrilled to be seeing gangster-land for real.
She said: “I loved playing Roxie and it’s brilliant being here and seeing the streets and bars that are mentioned in the show.” 

When the two “gangsters” running the tour weren’t blasting your eardrums with sound effects of the St Valentine’s Day massacre, they were relating the stories of Prohibition in the 1920s and exactly where the blood-letting made one hell of a mess.

Sadly, the gun-toting duo could both do with a few acting lessons from Claire! She said generously: “Well, at least you get to see historical areas of the city although I would have liked to have hopped off the bus and get closer to the bullet holes.” Obviously, a true moll at heart!

Claire travelled to Chicago with Virgin Atlantic to help celebrate the relaunch of their daily flights from Heathrow, which were suspended after 9/11. And once she set eyes on the shops, she was soon singing “this is my kind of town”. With two dollars to the pound, shopping in the States has never been better and Claire proved to be a master of the art.

Clothes, make-up, bags, shoes…you name it, she shopped for it. “The shops are superb, all the designer labels are here but there are lots of bargains,” said Claire, who’d just found a shimmering sequinned T-shirt for $30 and snapped it up in every colour. 

Chicago is a clean, spacious New York without theatreland

Michigan Avenue is London’s Oxford Street and Bond Street rolled into one…with high couture and department stores, including the delightful Bloomingdale’s.

Bargain-hunters should head for Filene’s Basement which has rows and rows of designer clothes and cabinets of jewellery at knock-down prices. It may resemble a large charity shop, but persevere and you could need an extra suitcase to travel home.

Chicago rivals New York, not just for shopping but for its architecture, attractions and restaurants. Claire described it as “a clean, spacious New York without theatreland”.

She added: “It’s fabulous and has everything you could want apart from a Broadway or West End. But there are compensations such as being wonderfully placed on the edge of Lake Michigan. The restaurants, bars and clubs are good too.”

Chicago is nicknamed Windy City and not because of the cooling breeze from the 321-mile lake. It was coined by a newspaper editor referring to local politicians.

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