Celeb travels

My favourite things: Brittany Smith on her best (and worst) travel times

'The Sound of Music' singer on her love of London, eating frogs' legs, and a crazy silly question an American once asked

16 January 2024 - 09:20 By Elizabeth Sleith
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Brittany Smith stars as Maria in 'The Sound of Music'.
Brittany Smith stars as Maria in 'The Sound of Music'.
Image: Supplied

The thing I remember most about my childhood holidays is building mudcakes with my sister and creating our own little tent out of my mother's winter blankets.

My first trip abroad was to Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava. I remember seeing snow for the first time and walking around Prague at 1am looking for a McDonald’s. A fond memory of Vienna is when our girls choir (Rhenish Girls’ High) performed in Schönbrunn Palace.

The most difficult, remote or adventurous destination I’ve been to was Akkerendam Nature Reserve in Calvinia, Northern Cape. My mother comes from that town and we love it there. The reserve is so quiet you can hear the blood coursing through your veins; and perhaps also the most difficult to go to too — the people who live in the area are poor and it breaks my heart to see how they struggle. But, even with that, they are always friendly, warm and welcoming. 

My favourite international city is London for the buzz of people and the quirkiness. Everyone is their own main character in their own minds. It makes me feel at home. My perfect day there would start with a really good cup of coffee, a hot shower and then a spa day being pampered left, right and centre (and, of course, not having to pay for anything).

Passengers on a London Underground platform.
Passengers on a London Underground platform.
Image: madrabothair / 123rf.com

Here's a bizarre thing that’s happened on my holidays: while visiting New York I had to go to an A&E [hospital casualty section] because I fell ill due to humidity. An old lady saw my passport and asked where I was from and I said South Africa. A few minutes later, while I was waiting for the doctor, the lady and I struck up a conversation. She asked me: “How is it that you’re South African and you speak English so well?” I just stared at her, giggled and turned away. 

I was sitting in a restaurant in Germany and two German ladies were arguing about whether my hair was my own in its curly state. I said, “Oh it’s my own. You may feel it if you want”. But I said it in German. The look of surprise on their faces was priceless.

I’m from Brackenfell in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. If I were hosting tourists I would take them to some of the wine farms in the Stellenbosch and Paarl area. I’d also take them to Polkadraai Farm for strawberry picking and to the Franschhoek Motor Museum (I’m a bit of a petrolhead).

My worst travel experience was Israel. I was detained on suspicion of being a Palestinian spy. Not a word of a lie. 

Frogs' legs fried with garlic, lemon and herbs. Stock photo.
Frogs' legs fried with garlic, lemon and herbs. Stock photo.
Image: nelik / 123rf.com

I am an adventurous eater when I travel. The weirdest thing I’ve tried was frogs' legs in Nice a few years ago. 

My best place in the world for a night out is Paris in summer. The city is beautiful at night.

The one thing I always make sure I do on holiday is take a shower after checking in, getting something to nibble on, coffee and then a walk to get the circulation going.

When travelling, I am a sucker for buying a new book to read from the bookshop at the airport. It’s a tradition. 

South Africa has the most welcoming/friendly locals.

I do collect souvenirs when I travel: magnets. 

Solo travel is great but I love having a companion. I went to New York alone for work and play. I wouldn’t do it without a companion again.

My ultimate bucket-list destination is the Okavango Delta.

My perfect holiday involves being near a beach that is secluded and not touristy.

My best holiday ever was Zambia and the Victoria Falls.

My most relaxing destination is Mauritius.

When I meet/see South African travellers overseas I think, “Nou kan ek lekker saam met my mense skinner! [Now I can have a good gossip with my people!] 

Brittany Smith stars as Maria in The Sound of Music at The Teatro, Montecasino, from January 27. Tickets cost between R200-R550. Book here

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