Here’s another one of our new monthly series of interviews with travel writers. This time, I questioned Jennifer Cox, author of the amazingly real “Around The World in 80 Dates,” published by Arrow at £7.99 for the UK edition. I’m reading it now and it’s a fascinating account of her round-the-world quest to find her Soul Mate.
Below are her answers to our set of questions. To win a copy of this book, see below!
From the liner notes: As with dates everywhere, there are good (hot Swedish guy with a floating sauna), bad (hungover kid fresh from a Metallica concert), hysterically embarrassing (a shared pedicure turning into a poorly translated wart removal ordeal) and amazing (Mr. Soul Mate, Date No. 55).
Almost every man goes out of his way to create sort of an ideal date — mostly involving Champagne and boats — and Cox’s smirky humor and sincere desire to meet the man of her dreams combine for a sweetly honest — and honestly sweet — exploration of romance.
1. What was the subject of your first travel article/book?
I can’t remember the first article I ever wrote but I do remember the first travel feature I did for radio. The BBC sent me solo to Marrakech, Morocco to do a piece on how aggressive street touts were towards tourists. My producer was very pleased with the results: I was hassled morning, noon and night. They knocked on my hotel door in the middle of the night, followed me down the street, came up to my table in the middle of dinner… I was hassled so much, I thought it had to be some kind of government employment scheme for young men. It was relentless. I had a good time though and it didn’t put me off going back.
2. What is your favorite place to visit?
Wherever I’ve just been: I’m just back from travelling through France and Spain by train, so I’ll say Seville, Spain. Home of tapas, it’s an astonishingly beautiful city, made up of narrow, winding streets which spit you unexpectedly into picturesque squares, lined with fountains and bursting with orange blossom.
3. What was the worst place you ever visited with a date?
I loved the Nobel Peace Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden but having a date there with a loud, Australian heavy metal fan who — on meeting me — boomed “Oh are you that chick going round the world banging all those guys?” spoiled the experience for me somewhat.
4. What’s on your must-visit list?
You know savvy travellers often turn their noses up at the ‘big sites’, as too obvious. Sometimes things are popular for a reason though – they’re amazing! Watching the sunrise over Ayres Rock (Uluru) in Australia and set behind the Taj Mahal in India, both humbled and thrilled me. I have to say, I get very excited catching the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island too though – it’s so pretty.
5. What is your philosophy for traveling?
That which doesn’t kill you … wasn’t trying hard enough.
6. Who’s your favorite travel author or story?
Working at Lonely Planet guidebooks for ten years, I was lucky to meet many inspirational writers both famous and not so famous. Eric Newby is one of the classic British travel writers and his work still vibrates with passion and adventure. I had a huge soft spot for Spalding Gray too and was tremendously saddened by his death.
7. What is one piece of travel advice you never told anyone?
Wear fabulous lipstick and no one will notice how mad your hair looks or how tired your eyes.
8. How has publishing this book changed your life?
It’s made me realise that as extraordinary as it is to travel, writing about it is even more challenging and satisfying.
NOTE: The first 3 North American Vagablond readers who submit their best answer to one of this article’s questions will be eligible to win a copy of this amusing travel book. Sorry, no Contributors are eligible. Once I select the three winners, I will contact you separately for your street addresses.