Travelling the pinpoint way
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Johannesburg - Allan Foggitt, Director: Sales and Marketing at MSC Cruises South Africa, shares his travel stories.
First holiday memory
My first stand-out holiday memory would be breaking my leg skiing in St Anton in Austria when I was about 12. I can still remember lying in deep snow on the Black Run, where I definitely shouldn’t have been, with my ski lying flat on the ground but my knee pointing straight at the sky. Then being rushed down the mountain in a wheelbarrow-type sled to the hospital where a doctor quickly and very casually set it – unfortunately crooked – so it had to be re-broken a few years later in South Africa and reset correctly.
Favourite place in South Africa?
I have an amazing beach house in a quiet village on the Dolphin Coast (of KwaZulu-Natal) called Tinley Manor. It has awesome deserted beaches, great rock pools, excellent fishing and is home to Impulse by the Sea, which is a famous curry restaurant. It’s a little paradise and the perfect escape from the big city and the pressures of work.
I could say a cruise on the MSC Sinfonia to Mozambique, but that’s more of a fun break everyone should experience at least once a year.
For me a special holiday is touring the US. My late dad used to sit in front of a big map of the US, close his eyes and point to a spot on the map, which then became the starting point of our holiday. We would then fly there, hire a car and drive around for 10 days and fly out from whatever town we made it to in the time allowed. Sometimes we would drive 500km before finding an interesting place to overnight and sometimes only 80km before we found some attraction worth stopping at for a day or two. We never had a disappointing trip and it has made the US a favourite holiday destination for me ever since. It is such a huge country and so different from the Canadian border in the north to the Mexican border in the south or the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific in the west. I never tire of it and will run out of time before I ever get to experience it all.
What have you learnt from your travels?
That it’s a beautiful world filled with all kinds of wonder but there is no place like home. We are so fortunate to live in a country where the weather and lifestyle cannot be matched and it takes travel to make one appreciate it. What does strike me is just how similar people are regardless of where they are growing up. It seems our hopes, dreams and aspirations are very similar worldwide. Everyone is going through the same steps of education, love, courtship, marriage, children, then hard work to provide for their families.
The world is full of nice, decent people who are not very different from us.
Ideal travelling companion?
I love nothing better than travelling the world with my beautiful wife and family, who I have successfully managed to infect with the same desire to see the world.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Although I do enjoy history, museums, monuments and all the natural wonders of the world, love fishing, horses and the outdoors, I think beach bum probably fits me best.
Greatest travel luxury?
Business class if you can do it. It makes the world a very small place as time flies when you are in a lie-flat bed.
I never seem to get around to reading any more but I have found, if I wait long enough, all the best books make it to the big screen eventually
Where has seduced you?
The Far East – I lived in Hong Kong for a while and have also travelled extensively around Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore. I enjoy the people, love the food, the shops, markets and the vibrant atmosphere. They are all different but exciting, fascinating, and awesome to visit again and again.
Worst travel experience?
I was planning to meet my son in New York for a few days as he is studying in Atlanta. My bargain hunting for accommodation on the internet uncovered the “Carter Hotel”, only a block from Times Square and half the cost of any other hotel in that area.
I quickly secured two rooms and proudly bragged about my lucky find to my family, only to receive a call from my brother to say he had checked on Trip- Advisor and strongly recommended I cancel immediately. He had found there were pictures (on the website) of wildlife in the bedrooms (big rats!), pictures of people covered in bed-bug bites, complaints about cleanliness, safety issues, broken air cons etc, etc… I had already paid and because it was only my son and I travelling, I decided how bad could it be, so I stuck with the reservation.
Thank goodness, I wasn’t travelling with my wife or daughters as it turned out that Trip- Advisor wasn’t wrong. It was a dodgy spot where I wasn’t comfortable to walk barefoot on the threadbare carpets, had to put a towel in the bottom of the bath so I didn’t pick up a splinter from the rusting tub and had to use a plastic shopping bag as my plug.
I have been fortunate to stay in many beautiful hotels both locally and around the world but a recent stay at the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore resort in Las Vegas stands out as particularly impressive. Located right on the strip, my room overlooked a golf course on the one side and the lights of the strip on the other. The hotel incorporates a huge casino, nightclubs, half a dozen restaurants, two pool areas and my room was more like an apartment than a hotel.
Closer to home I would recommend one sneaks away to the Palazzo Hotel at Montecasino for a night or two every so often with the one you love. It is a beautiful property professionally managed, and once you have checked in it is hard to believe that it is just off the busy William Nicol. The atmosphere is such that you could be in some exotic faraway destination. I always check out reluctantly, feeling refreshed even though home is only 10km away.
Favourite walk, swim, ride or drive?
When in Cape Town I always try to include a drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive and, if time allows, a walk up or down Table Mountain. There is no doubt, on a good day when the weather is co-operating, Cape Town is just world-class. For an unforgettable swim, try the warm azure blue waters off Mnenba Island in Zanzibar, where dolphin sightings are common.
Best meal abroad?
I think anyone who has had the pleasure of eating in southern Italy, especially Naples and Sorrento, will agree that they have perfected the fine art of cooking. From the pannini display at the ferry terminal to the awesome fish, pastas and pizzas available in the many restaurants and sidewalk cafés, the food is just special. My favourite is the de buffalo mozzarella, which is a speciality of Naples and worth flying there just for the meal.
I love Cape Town, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, San Francisco and so many others but, if I have to pick just one, I will go out of my way to include New York in my travels at every opportunity.
Where to next?
We are booked for Zanzibar later this month and it could easily make my list of favourite places. Check out www.zivilla.co.za and you will see why.