‘Music colours every journey’
Name: Chris Dingli
My best holiday ever…
Probably my honeymoon in 2007. We drove along the entire west coast of the US from Seattle to San Diego, and then drove on to Las Vegas before flying to Boston and finishing in New York.
I would never return to…
Nowhere in particular. I suppose if I absolutely had to choose, I’d rather give Wolverhampton a miss, but I never say never.
The most dangerous place I’ve visited…
Probably Los Angeles, not because of the city itself, but because of what I did there. I had gone to see Aerosmith and Kiss in concert.
Being Maltese (and a bit daft) I thought I could catch a bus to the venue. However, I soon found out that the concert was about two hours drive away from my hostel in Hollywood.
I couldn’t afford a taxi as I had spent all my money on the ticket to the concert and the flight to LA.
Just as I was about to give up, some random guy called Ed offered to drive me there, wait for me and drive me back, all for less than half of what the taxi companies wanted. I didn’t know this guy from Adam, but I accepted.
Ed turned out to be a musician and an artist who specialised in being depressed. This guy was so depressing he made Radiohead sound like The B-52s.
I knew I was doing something stupid, getting into a car with a random depressed dude and driving two hours out into the desert, but I really wanted to see Aerosmith and Kiss.
We eventually arrived at the concert and I had a wonderful time. After the show, I found him, got in the car and immediately fell asleep.
It was quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Thankfully, Ed was a nice guy, even though he was annoyed at me for sleeping the whole way back. I think it made him depressed.
My favourite city…
London, my home town. I always knew I wanted to live here. I never get tired of walking around. Just stepping out of the tube station in central London brings a huge smile to my face.
My most memorable experience on an aircraft…
I will never forget one of the first times I flew. I was very young and it was with my parents and my sister who was still a baby. For some reason we had the aircraft to ourselves. Good fun and plenty of space to run around.
My most treasured holiday souvenir…
I’m not one for souvenirs, so I would have to say my poster of The Producers signed by Martin Short and Jason Alexander. Jason Alexander signed it after I elbowed my way through his entourage. Martin Short I accosted alone in the car park. He seemed to be very surprised that someone wanted his signature.
My biggest gaffe abroad…
We were driving from Malta to London one December and on our first morning driving through Italy, we found our car covered in ice. We didn’t have an ice-scraper, so we waited ages waiting for the ice to melt in the sun.
Deciding that we needed to acquire an ice-scraper, we then stopped at every service station on the motorway to ask for one. We drove the entire length of Italy and not a single service station attendant said yes. It was only when we got to Switzerland that I finally realised that I had been asking for a ‘spada per il ghiaccio’, which actually means ‘an ice sword’, not an ice-scraper. No wonder those Italians looked at me so strangely.
The friendliest people…
The French. No, actually it was in America. It’s hard to beat the friendliness of most Americans. It almost borders on the inappropriate. I mean you can’t share a lift (sorry, an elevator) with them without them inviting you to visit their home in Pawnee Indiana or wherever.
Having said that, I love them for it. I think the world would be a much better place if everyone was that friendly.
I never travel without...
Music. Every trip has its soundtrack, whether it’s something I find on location or that I stumble upon in my ipod. Music colours every journey and I would feel rather lost without it.
Taxi ride I’ll never forget…
We had just taken the red-eye from Vegas to Boston and arrived tired, sleepy and badly in need of a shower and a bed. We climbed into a taxi and gave the driver the name and address of our hotel.
It quickly became clear that the guy’s knowledge of the city’s geography was hazy to say the least. I’d hazard a guess that the driver wasn’t even sure which city we were in, or that he’d ever been to the city before.
He kept asking us for directions and got so hopelessly lost it took forever to find the hotel. Even then he dropped us off in the wrong place.
My all-time favourite holiday photo...
A photo of my two best friends and me with Martin, a drug dealer on our last night in Prague (see the answer to the next question for details). We’ve got our arms around him and are grinning idiotically. He, on the other hand, towers above us, glaring at the camera, the expression on his face bringing to mind someone close to committing triple homicide.
On the other hand, maybe when he saw the camera he instinctively put on his mug-shot face. Who knows?
An unforgettable hotel...
It’s a tie between two hotels, each completely different, each brilliant in their own way.
The first is the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It’s proper old school Hollywood, right on Hollywood Boulevard, the hotel is steeped in Hollywood history which (if you’re an actor like me) is pretty cool.
The other place is a hostel in Prague called the Clown and Bard. I went there with my two best friends in 1999 for a week. It was full of weird and wonderful people such as the old man on the second floor who would come out of his room and yell at us in Czech every time we walked past, and our room-mate Martin (Marty to us) a seven-foot tall American drug dealer built like a bastion who terrified us.
The bar of the hostel was a great place to hang out. It was more of a commune actually. I remember waking up one evening to find some women playing guitar in my room and I didn’t find that strange at all.
I’ve also stayed in a couple of hotels while on tour which were pretty dire – one had a toilet in the room (not a separate bathroom).
Having said that, I’ve also stayed in some beautiful ones while working overseas, especially a place called Puente Romano in Marbella.
I return most often to...
Malta. When you live overseas, every holiday ends up being in Malta.
Ideal travel companion...
My wife Erika. Other than her, I’d say myself. Sounds lonely and all, but I like my own company. I find myself very agreeable, funny and I never argue about where to eat.
The best cuisine...
Italy for sure. Does anywhere come even close? We got lost once driving around in Mafia-country one night and eventually wound up in this village in the middle of nowhere.
The main piazza was full of people and everyone stopped and stared as we drove in. We were starving so we stopped and ordered a pizza from this dodgy pizzeria place. It was delicious.
My next holiday plans…
Somewhere far away. I haven’t been south of the equator yet. I think it’s about time I discovered for myself if the water in the toilet flushes in a different direction in the southern hemisphere. I do actually think about these things when I travel.
My dream trip…
Same as everyone really – travel the world, see stuff, eat things, do exciting activities.
I’d like to live in different countries, not just visit. I’d also (this is a childhood dream) love to see earth from space.
I partied hardest in…
Ppppffff! Uh… probably Prague, London, Frankfurt and maybe Brussels. Prague was a free trip won on a local TV quiz show (I just remembered that – what a random event!).
Beer at the hostel was about 18 cents a pint. We partied so hard most nights it was too much of a bother to climb into the top bed of the bunks in our room so I just slept on the floor.
London is where I had my bachelor party. We did Pub Monopoly, in which you drink a pint in a pub in every street and station mentioned on the Monopoly board. That got rather messy.
Frankfurt was another free trip, this time sponsored by a beer company to go and see the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Finally, Brussels when I was much younger. It was actually a study trip, but at night we’d have toga parties in our hotel and things got pretty foolish and loud.
I suppose I should also mention touring here – that counts as travelling doesn’t it? Edinburgh Festival, Latitude Festival, York, Glasgow and (rather unexpectedly) Aberdeen spring to mind as places I’ve partied at while on tour.
My travel tip…
Take wet wipes.