Famous Flyer

‘Locals give you insider tips – places to eat, hidden gems’: Damien Leith. Photo: Louisa Kirby Luxurious: The pool at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Nanjing Night Net

WHICH WAS YOUR BEST HOLIDAY?

A birthday celebration in Stockholm, Sweden in 2002. It was winter so the whole place was covered in silky white snow and we stayed in a boat hotel on a lake that had turned to ice so you could walk and ice skate on it. We discovered these great little vodka bars, trendy cafes and restaurants and partied all night on a sleek nightclub boat. It’s so special sitting by an open fire drinking warm glogg (mulled wine) and eating pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies).

AND THE BEST HOTEL YOU’VE STAYED IN?

My wife and I backpacked for months around India in 2003 and one night decided to splurge at the luxurious Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai (pictured above). We met an Indian fashion designer and had a very indulgent night drinking cocktails and swimming in the grand pool until the early hours of the morning. I even sang with the jazz band.

WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE WITH YOU?

A pen and notepad and my guitar. You never know when you’ll get inspired to write a song or have a good jam session.

WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF TRAVEL ADVICE?

Locals give you the best insider tips, places to eat and off-the-beaten track hidden gems. On a holiday to Italy in 2001 a local told us to go to Caorle, near Venice. No one spoke English, it had a beautiful beach and a gorgeous old town with colourful restaurants, bars and gelaterias. Magic.

AND YOUR WORST EXPERIENCE ON HOLIDAY?

Getting conjunctivitis in India was gross. I’d sit in the restaurants at night with my sunglasses on to cover my weeping, swollen eyes – people must have thought, “Who does he think he is?”

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT?

South America. I’d love to go to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Peru to visit Machu Picchu and the Incas, and of course Rio for Carnival.

Damien Leith’s new album, Chapter Seven, came out on November 1. He is touring main cities and regional centres, finishing December 14 in Sydney.

Interview by Nina Karnikowski

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