No place like the world

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iol travel april 16 cw gys square SUPPLIED New York, New York: Gys de Villiers in Times Square.

Gys de Villiers is an actor, singer, dancer, director, voice artist and sculptor best known for his role as Zieg Combrink in the M-Net soapie Binnelanders. He plays the role of Dodge in Doodsnikke. He loves to travel and here are some of his travel tales…

How widely have you travelled?

I have been fortunate to travel a fair amount. My favourite destination was definitely New York which I visited last year with my wife Jaci. I have also been to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome, Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, Yorkshire, Brighton and London. On the home front, I have travelled all over SA and Namibia and Malawi.

With the production of Doodsnikke, it feels as if I am travelling about 40 000km an hour emotionally in this play – it is exciting and dynamic.

Where was your favourite holiday or time spent abroad?

New York. Jaci and I would love to live in the ‘‘city that never sleeps’’. The pulse, the beat and the vibe of New York is just palpable and vibrant. Because my wife and I work in the theatre and arts environment, it is most fulfilling to visit a city where there’s an honest respect and appreciation for what we do. To sit in a theatre that has been around since 1830 and knowing that it is full every night is heart-warming. It feels as if artists are honoured and respected there.

iol travel april 16 cw gys at rockerfell At Rockefeller Center SUPPLIED

Your worst experience on a holiday?

I have not really had terrible experiences while on holiday but when I was in Malawi for a travel show some years ago, I had to taste the local home-made mampoer. How difficult could this be, right, coming from SA? Well the pot was buzzing with flies and it was dirty, but still I thought I would be brave and try it. Big mistake! When I wet my lips to try it out, it tasted like jet fuel. It klapped me and felt like I had thorns in my mouth. I must say SA’s mampoer can certainly learn a thing or two from the Malawians – that’s if you want a kick.

Your funniest experience?

While visiting Rome with my wife, my sister and brother-in-law we relied considerably on Jaci’s research to get around. We jumped on a train at the tube station but the doors closed before Jaci could enter. There we were leaving her stranded on the platform and we were off to wherever.

We duly travelled to the next tube station and took the next train back and found her waiting there for us. Thank God! She said that we looked like three real plaas jaapies – all she could see were three panicked faces, eyes popping out of their heads. We had such a good laugh about this afterwards.

What do you avoid during a holiday?

I avoid bull****ters; it is not difficult to spot them. I also avoid the summer season and crowds in some places. I went to Venice in winter and it was the best way to see the place. I also avoid the middle seats in any row on a plane. I don’t drink the water.

Your favourite restaurant and food during your travels?

Since I love cooking and good food it is important to experience restaurants or cafes that offer something different. Pete’s Tavern in Manhattan is one such place. After not eating meat for two days, we had a steak there and it was fantastic. This pub has been going since the early 1800s – Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford also go there.

Anywhere in Spain is also good. I love Spanish food – the tapas and white bait are delicious. In Sepulveda, I had a baby brinjal stuffed with feta. It was undoubtedly the best I have had. And then there’s the best hot chocolate in the world in Rome. Apparently the recipe dates back to the early 1800s.

Your favourite place to drink a glass of wine or to have sundowners on your travels?

Town squares are my thing – to just sit and watch people. Then there’s my stoep at home in Knysna where from I can watch the loeries squabbling over food on my doorstep. I don’t drink alcohol but I have a soft drink.

As a seasoned traveller and flyer can you share some tips?

Research the areas you are visiting, see as much as you can, miss nothing. - Weekend Argus

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