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



Tokyo not place for Peas and quiet

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sushi
I had to eat sushi whether I liked it or not!

IF only I’d bumped into The Black Eyed Peas in the hotel lobby on the way OUT for a night on the town in Tokyo instead of on the way IN.

Fabulous Fergie and hip-hop king Will.i.am could have been my saviours in one of the city’s hundreds of karaoke bars. I suppose there’s a chance the chart-topping Americans would never have agreed to join my warbling band as, funnily enough, I’ve Got A Feeling they were more interested in clubbing! 

As super cool Will.i.am told me in the lobby of the luxurious Peninsula Hotel at midnight when HE was on his way out: “We’ve just flown in from the UK and are checking out Tokyo as probably doing some concerts here. This city is fantastic. We’re going to chill out in one of their superb nightspots, wanna come?”
No more rockin’ for me Will after my stint at karaoke, which is a Japanese way of life.

People love it and hire private booths for 10 to 15 people where you are served drinks and food as you go through a playlist as thick as a phone book. For the capital of a country steeped in history, tradition, discipline and rules, the Japanese have some surprising pastimes. Along many Tokyo streets, you’ll find garish, neon-lit buildings that contain lines of slot machines.

Tokyo boasts skyscrapers of shimmering steel and glistening glass

Gambling is illegal so this is the alternative. Punters buy trays of small silver balls and sit for hours feeding them in, using a dial to try to get them into scoring slots. Win and even more balls spew out the bottom and are then swapped for prizes. It’s called pachinko because of the deafening noise.

The story is that the gifts are taken round the back of an alley somewhere and sold for yen (Japanese cash). I went on a tour of the colourful, yet slightly weird, district of Akihabara. Originally, it was just an electrical goods district and shops are crammed full of everything from the latest computers, cameras, TVs, mobile phones to second-hand goods and electronic junk.

But it has become a big kids’ playground where you can buy cartoon comic books and characters, video games and animation toys. Our guide Patrick Galbraith, who has written the book The Otaku Encyclopedia (Otaku is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests), took us into one of the “maid cafes” where young, cute waitresses in skimpy costumes play child-like games with customers. Don’t worry, it’s all good, clean fun, if a little bizarre!

And at manga kissaten (comics cafes), people can read about their favourite heroes, watch DVDs and surf the net. Tokyo can make you feel as if you’ve just been catapulted into the future by the Tardis because everything is more ultra-modern and sophisticated than anywhere else in the world. It’s a city of gadgets. Even the loos are something else — buttons open the door, warm the seat, lift the seat, wash whatever you want and dry it!

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