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‘Travel teaches cultural intelligence’

Travel Tips

Johannesburg - Michelle Constant is the chief executive of Business and Arts South Africa (Basa). Here she chats about her most memorable travel experiences.

 

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Michelle Constant

First holiday memory?

Hiking in the Drakensberg at a very young age, and camping in caves overnight.

 

Favourite place in South Africa?

Oh, there are so many beautiful places! Everyone should go on their first Sho’t Left experience in our country - the West Coast, the Mapungubwe National Park, Bongani Mountain Lodge in Mpumalanga, iSimangaliso in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the exquisite biospheres like the Kogelberg.

 

Best holiday?

This December I spent a great week with friends in the Western Cape’s Sedgefield - the “slow town” - over December swimming, hiking, water skiing, cycling, trail running, eating oysters. Relaxing and fun.

 

What have you learnt from your travels?

Without doubt, travel teaches cultural intelligence. The opportunity to learn about different cultures, people, identities and heritage really does expand your life and world experience.

 

Ideal travelling companion?

Someone who is curious, energetic, has a sense of humour and LOVES to travel.

 

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

All three.

 

Greatest travel luxury?

When, by some surprising chance, the air steward tells you to turn left and not right on the plane as you enter!

 

Holiday reading?

A book which is easy to stop and even quicker to start again. I also like reading about the particular city or country I am in at the time.

 

Which place has seduced you?

Barcelona.

 

Worst travel experience?

A no-star hotel in Cairo, when I was in my twenties. I woke up to the sound of a cockroach, the size of a rat, chewing on a peach on the table, which it then promptly “vomited” up on. Yes, it really happened.

 

Best hotel?

One that makes it easy to have fun in whatever city you are in. I recently stayed at the Taj in Cape Town, when I was MC at the Design Indaba (what a gift!) and I found that incredibly easy and relaxing to be in. But I’m actually really not that fussy.

 

Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?

I enjoy hiking in our mountains and taking early morning game drives. Trail running in this amazing country is also loads of fun. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to do this.

 

Best meal abroad?

A pile of grilled calamari covered with coarse sea salt with a Spanish beer in the Mercado de la Boqueria - the Market in Barcelona.

 

Favourite city?

Ah, New York, Amsterdam, Dar es Salaam, Buenos Aires, Joburg, Paris, Jaipur. You can’t ask me a question like that!

 

Where next?

Istanbul and Berlin, and I’m planning a hike of the Camino de Santiago. I would also like to go to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. I hear it’s incredible.

 

Michelle Constant is the chief executive of Business and Arts South Africa (Basa).

She is a non-executive board member of SA Tourism, and presents a Lifestyle radio show on SAfm on Saturdays from 9am to noon.

Saturday Star

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