Wander Shots: Simon Williamson

2012-08-10 08:32
Been wondering where to go for your next adventure? We chat to Freelance writer Simon Williamson, who has wracked up a number of popular and off-beat destinations. We chat to him about his adventures, so read on and be inspired...

Tell us about your most recent holiday?

Simon Williamson: "I travelled from the US to Prague, Hamburg and Berlin.

Flights into Berlin were cheaper than the rest of Europe and the top-notch train services in the country took us everywhere else we wanted to go.  We did note a rather large discrepancy between Czech trains, however, and the Deutsche Bahn.

We knew nothing about Prague so were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it is - one of the cities that far east in Europe that wasn't blown to pieces during WW2, so most of it is old.  Czech folks also the most patient I have come across in Europe when it comes to a pretty severe language barrier - sounding out Czech words properly are near impossible. We did a lot of walking around, drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of Czech food - pretty much meat and potatoes so we're much fatter now.

Berlin and Hamburg were also great to visit. Hamburg's red light district very ably competes with Amsterdam and Berlin is one of the most magnificent cities in the world. Hamburg is beautiful and the second largest city in Germany, which I wasn't aware of. Also Europe's second biggest port after Rotterdam.

Berlin is... just amazing. One of my favourite cities I have ever been to."

What’s your top five 5 travel bucket list? How close are you to realizing any of them?

1. India - nowhere near. One can't spend four or five days there. I want to go for at least a month which is harder than it seems.
2. Brazil - I love much closer to it now.
3. Colombia - This is supposed to be the next big city in South America to begin rivaling Buenos Aires and the Brazilian powerhouses. As an African, who grew up in a country that began growing and growing and growing and more significant, it is rather alluring.
4.Myanmar - one of the world's most beautiful countries which has finally had the curtain in front of it removed
5.Eritrea - Read Michela Wrong's I Didn't Do It For You and see if you can escape wanting to visit what must be one of the world's most interesting countries.
Who is your favourite travel companion and why?

I am getting married in December so that's an easy question to answer. But I have had many crap travel companions before. Choose people wisely. Good travel companions are not necessarily your best friends.
What’s been the most useful travel innovation for you?

Opaque fares, particularly for hotel rooms. This last trip while in Germany we were getting 100-euro rooms for under thirty by booking on the day through some online travel agencies. And if that tactic fails there's always a hostel to rest your head.  
Do you prefer to stay connected or switch off when on a break?

Bit of both. I don't like dealing with work but I want my friends to be jealous.
What’s your absolute worst travel nightmare?

London Heathrow or New York JFK airports. Consistently.
What is your greatest travel extravagance or indulgence?

I am a cheap Philistine from Durban, so anything that comes with free beer is an indulgence. One of the best beers I had, however, was at the top of the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, which looks at the city skyline from around 120-stories up from across the bay.
Who would you most like to sit next to on a plane?

As I said earlier, I am getting married in December. Failing that, no one.  
Who would you least like to sit next to on a plane

The cast of Lost.
Do you have pets? If so, what happens to them when you travel and how do they react when they know you’re on your way?

Yup a 7-month old border-collie mix puppy. My finance's parents live a state over from New York in Pennsylvania, so she stays with them when we're away and doesn't get too upset at their house. However, she starts behaving terribly whenever a suitcase is taken out of the cupboard.  
Complete the following…

Waking ...up with a winning lotto ticket... this weekend would be awesome because… we'd be escaping winter FOREVER
The one place I’d really … suggest you visit locally is the Northern Cape. Most underrated travel experience in South Africa.
Are you adding a Mayan spin to your end-of-year break?

Yes, will be married precisely one week before it.

About Simon: South African newsie in US. Write US politics for News24, City Press. First Thing. Vice Jesus. Model C accent. Co-father to very photographed dog.
Read more on:    travel south africa  |  travel international

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