My Kind of Holiday: Bridget Hilton-Barber

08 January 2012 - 02:16 By Bridget Hilton-Barber

Where did you spend your last holiday?

Bilene in Mozambique, about two hours north of Maputo.

What was the best thing you did while there?

Sleep in a reed bungalow on the beach, without locked doors, burglar bars, alarms systems or even electricity. Walked and swam, bought fish and prawns from the local fishermen and cold beers from the nearby bar-lounge.

Your favourite city abroad, and why?

Barcelona, for its beauty and energy.

What must a first-time visitor see there?

Parc Güell, a cultural garden complex designed by Antoni Gaudi, which features fantasy temples and multi-coloured mosaic dragons.

What should they not bother with?

Resisting going twice.

What was your best holiday, ever?

A trip to Pushkar, a remote village in the Thar desert in Rajasthan. We visited on the holiest day of the Hindu calendar when a sacred Brahma temple was opened to devotees at the same time as the village held its annual camel mela (fair). Pushkar was transformed into a whacky and colourful spectacle of pilgrims, travellers, traders, merchants, religious devotees, holy men, hawkers, vaidyas (quack doctors), beggars and backpackers.

What was your worst holiday ever? What happened?

A bus trip as backpackers from Istanbul to Berlin in the pre-perestroika 1980s. My friend and I were thrown off the bus because the Yugoslavs refused to admit South Africans into their country. It was 4am and snowing, we had no money nor warm clothes and nowhere to stay ... it took us two days to get out of there.

Which is the worst hotel you have stayed in?

A dingy fleapit in a skanky border town between Malaysia and Thailand. It was hot and tropical and I got the Southeast-Asian equivalent of a Parktown prawn trapped in my hair in the middle of the night during a power failure. Eurgh.

Who would be your fantasy holiday companion and why?

The Buena Vista Social Club, they would play music and I would drink wine.

  • Hilton-Barber is author of the newly published travel guide Maputo and Southern Mozambique