Interviews

Tom Chesshyre, a Tourist in the Arab Spring


There are some people in the world that you are just supposed to meet. It needs to happen. In July last year, I attended a travel event in London and randomly met this nice-looking guy named Tom. We were introduced and somehow the conversation turned into books. I mentioned I had (co) written a business book in Portugal (in 2011, which was an incredible and successful experience) and Tom happened to mentioned “he was about to start his 4th book”. I said.. “so what do you write about? Travel, I am assuming?”.

Then Tom mentioned “How Low Can You Go? Round Europe for 1p Return“. I read that book years ago! And I remembered it – so much so, that I have lent the book to over 10 friends. Regardless of the transportation mode (and my personal choices), this book opened my travel aspirations. I read it just before I moved to the UK in 2009 and I vividly remember saying to Mr. O “have you realised that every weekend we can go to a different country?” Being based in the UK was certainly different from Portugal, and its more limited air connections.

Tom Chesshyre by the pyramids at Giza, Egypt

Tom Chesshyre by the pyramids at Giza, Egypt

From this book, I also remember a sentence I must quote every month, which went along the lines of “on average a woman says 21,000 words a day, a man uses only 7,000. In Tampere (Finland), the figure is 3,000 and 2,000 respectively. A place where conversations don’t come naturally”. This was not what Tom wrote exactly, but it is what I remember.

After this, Tom went away for a while and we kept in touch. At the same time, I read his other two books – it was quite interesting to have an email conversation going with the author at the same time. Tom said it was interesting to have real-time feedback. Over the last 9 months, we have developed a nice friendship – we have many things in common, especially our shared appreciation for a glass or three of Sauvignon Blanc.

And during this time, Tom has worked on his incredible fourth book – A Tourist in the Arab Spring. When I first heard about the project, I was completely amazed. Why would a guy want to visit Tunisia, Libya and Egypt so soon after the recent uprises? I would be absolutely scared. But not Tom (although he confesses some times were “slightly uncomfortable”)!

I wanted to know more (and share it with my readers). Here is what Tom had to say!

 

1.       “A Tourist in the Arab Spring” is quite a unique book and very different from your previous 3 books. What made you decide to do something so different?

I was inspired by what I saw on television, with the revolutions sweeping across North Africa. The idea came to me when Gaddafi fell. I’d always been interested in Libya, and before I knew it I was booking a £69 BA flight to Tunis and beginning the long journey, starting at Sidi Bouzid, where the fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against unfair treatment at the hands of the authorities.

 

2.       Had you ever visited Tunisia, Libya and Egypt before? If so, how different was your experience this time around?

I’d been to Egypt but only briefly to Tunisia and not to Libya. Being so soon after the uprisings it was exciting feeling the energy of people. There was an electricity that came from the possibilities that democracy could bring. Many were also worried about extreme Islamists filling the power void. Libya, which was run by local brigades run by young men with guns, was particularly eye-opening. Almost everyone I met, though, shared the positivity of the revolutions.

 

Roman amphitheatre in El Jem

Roman amphitheatre in El Jem

 

3.       Did you ever feel unsafe or even scared during the trip? I seriously think you are a very brave man!

Ha ha! I don’t think so: I was very careful. Libya was the trickiest part of the journey and I did get into a little trouble on the outskirts of Benghazi, where my driver was held for not having correct paperwork. I was driven away by a smirking soldier who did not speak English – and for about 20 minutes I thought I might be being abducted.

 

4.       What were the best surprises of the trip?

The generosity of the people I met. People had much more time to sit and talk and open up. It was not the same as sitting on the Tube in London.

 

Ruins at Leptis Magna

Ruins at Leptis Magna

 

5.       If you could pick 5 places to go back to (from those on the trip – you went to some really remote places!!), which ones would you go back to? Or recommend others to?

I enjoyed the intrigue of Kairouan in Tunisia – the fourth most holy city in Islam (stay at the cheap but cool Kasbah Hotel). Houmt Souk on the pretty island of Djerba is a lovely little town (try out its great fresh orange juice cafes). Leptis Magna in Libya is a wonderful Roman ruin. Cyrene in the east of Libya has superb ancient Greek remains on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. And I loved wandering around Cairo’s Old Town for its sheer sense of energy and its tucked away cafes near Tahrir Square.

 

6.       How long did it take you to write the book? Did it take place in other countries? How different were they?

It took five weeks in all. I popped into Israel and Jordan during the Sinai Peninsula part of the final section in Egypt.

 

Tom Chesshyre by the grave of Mohammed Bouazizi

Tom Chesshyre by the grave of Mohammed Bouazizi

 

7.       How different is Tom Chesshyre the book writer and Tom Chesshyre the travel writer?

Ha ha again! I guess I stay in less expensive hotels for the books than I might on a travel assignment for a newspaper. I write a hotel column for the Times – the Cool Hotel Guide – and stay in some pretty nice places. I enjoyed going off the beaten track at little hotels… which were often run by amusing characters.

 

Tom in Sabratha

Tom in Sabratha

 

8.       You go to amazing places as part of your job – where have you been recently and loved?

I went on a ski trip to Utah recently, staying at Canyons Resort in Park City. Go skiing at Park City… it’s one of the best places in the world. To the south of Utah there are also fabulous canyons that may not rival the Grand Canyon in scale but certainly do in beauty. Lots of eerie hoodoos (red-stone columns) in Bryce Canyon.

 

9.       What is next?

Taking it easy for a while. I’ve got a trip to Venice lined up for a piece staying at the amazing-looking Gritti Palace Hotel – rather grand compared to some of my abodes in the likes of Suez and Sidi Bouzid!

A Tourist in the Arab Spring is out now

A Tourist in the Arab Spring is out now

I have 5 copies of “A Tourist in the Arab Spring” to give away and each will be signed by Tom. To take part, simply do 2 things:

– Answer the question “What was your favourite country for an adventure holiday and why?”, by commenting on this blog post below.

– Share this post though your preferred social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, etc), using the sharing buttons on your left or below.

 

Winners have been selected by Tom and have been contacted by email.

 

Tom Chesshyre was born in London in 1971. He has a degree in politics from Bristol University, where he was news editor of the university paper, Epigram. He completed a newspaper journalism diploma at City University, after which he had short stints at the Cambridge Evening News, Sporting Life and Sky Sports. He freelanced for The Daily Telegraph and The Independent before joining the travel desk of The Times in 1997, where he still works.

He has helped with the research on two non-fiction books: W. G. by Robert Low, a biography of W. G. Grace, and Carlos: Portrait of a Terrorist by Colin Smith, a biography of “Carlos the Jackal”.

He is the author of three travel books: How Low Can You Go? Round Europe for 1p Each Way (Plus Tax), published in 2007; To Hull and Back: On Holiday in Unsung Britain, published in 2010 and shortlisted in the 2011 British Travel Press Awards; and Tales from the Fast Trains: Europe at 186mph, published in 2011 and shortlisted in the 2012 British Travel Press Awards. A Tourist in the Arab Spring is out now.

His travel writing has taken him to almost 100 countries. He lives in south-west London.


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147 Comments

  1. Charlie Mansfield

    January 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Could you put us in contact with Tom Chesshyre, please? We would like him to speak at Plymouth University in Devon to our Research Masters students.

    Very many thanks
    Charlie Mansfield
    Plymouth University
    ResM Travel Writing Programme Manager

  2. Hello TUNISIA team

    April 22, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for sharing ! It will be interesting to read about what’s happening in our country from a different point view. Tom seems like a very open guy and we do need more people like him in this world.
    Thanks again Mrs O !

    Cheers,
    Hello TUNISIA team
    Hello TUNISIA team recently posted..Sfax – Tunis à pieds Day 7My Profile

  3. cabins in branson

    April 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    wow, Tom is such a courageous personality. I must check out the book too! Thanks Mrs O.

    Rose

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Hope you enjoy the book!

  4. BrowsingRome

    April 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Interesting to learn more about Tom and yes, he was courageous! It sounded fascinating and definitely an experience of a lifetime. My most adventurous trip has to be traveling into the jungles of Borneo and staying in the remote villages for a few days before exploring the Mulus caves. My husband was just talking about that trip yesterday and how he would do it again. For myself, I have never stepped foot in the Middle East and would love to explore Jordan.
    BrowsingRome recently posted..Walking the Appian Way in RomeMy Profile

  5. Margalit Francus

    April 8, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Thank you for sharing.The book sounds like a fascinating read-hope it will be accessible on kindle.My ideal adventure vacation is pretty much anywhere I haven’t been yet which would be either Tibet or the Galapagos.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

      It is available on Kindle indeed, Margalit! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  6. Terry Divyak

    April 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    One of my favorite and most memorable trips was to Cambodia. When we arrived at the airport, there were many cab drivers trying to gain our attention at the Siem Reap airport with wild hand gestures and yelling. One cab driver, in his mid thirties caught my eye, he simply waved and had a sincere smile and I knew he would be our driver. Kehn had a older Toyota, which he kept clean and at this time in 2002 his daily rate including gas was only $10. For a couple of days we did the normal tourist excursions, going to Angkor Wat, seeing the Tonle Sap Lake and general excursions. One day I said, Kehn, take me into a small village where I can meet people who are not not looking for tourists and going about their daily lives. Soon we were driving along Tonle Sap Lake for about 45 minutes and we pulled across an old bridge and got out. In the village, kids were running around and playing with each other, laughing as they interacted. The houses were mostly thatched huts on stilts, some of the larger ones had hammocks hanging underneath for sleeping and respites from the sun. Soon a man on a bicycled pulled up with a cooler attached to the front of his bike. He was obviously the ice cream man, but no one was buying. My travel companion and I then thought it would be great to buy some ice cream for the kids, numbering maybe 6-7. But soon the word got out that foreigners were In the village handing out ice cream. Eventually we purchased everything the vendor had in his cooler and were surrounded by about 30 happy kids with melted ice cream on their face. We then had fun shooting digital photos of them and sharing the LCD. This was before digital SLR’s were popular, so it was a novelty for most everyone in the village.

    This experience reinforced to me how important it is to get away from the tourist side of a travel agenda.

    • @tchesshyre

      April 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

      What a great story about the ice-cream and the kids!

  7. The World Wanderer

    April 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Great post! I will have to read his book. I actually can’t believe that I headed to Egypt right after, and then before, the uprisings. I found it to be quite peaceful and felt extremely safe while I was there. Media tends to make things worse than they really are – at least here in the US anyway!
    The World Wanderer recently posted..Dog Sledding on Mirror Lake.My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      That’s so good to hear 🙂 and yes, don’t always believe the media. I think you will real enjoy the book 🙂

    • @tchesshyre

      April 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      I found it safe but there have been worrying reports recently about sex attacks on women. For some reason I can’t paste on to this link, but Google sex attacks cairo BBC and a report by Aleem Maqbool should come up… worth a read. Overall though, I found Egypt to be totally safe, even in the remote Bedoiun lands of the Sinai Peninsula… Thanks about the book.

  8. Leah

    April 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I love that of all the places Tom’s been that he cites Utah as one of his recent favorites. It’s such a beautiful and underrated part of the US. I need to get his book and skip to the Jordan part for his insight before I depart in a few weeks. I’m curious to get his impressions first.
    Leah recently posted..Living the High Life in Cadaqués, SpainMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Leah! The book only covers 3 countries – Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, where the Arab Spring started. On the same trip, Tom actually visited other countries, and surely he can offer some insight. You will love the book – and the Europe by train one (given your love affair with our side of the pond!)

    • @tchesshyre

      April 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      There is a small section on Jordan… I do a day trip from Egypt across Eilat in Israel and into Aqaba in Jordan, and back: three countries in one day. My impressions weren’t good I’m afraid. Billboards showing King Abdullah glared down from almost every corner, and it felt like going backwards to a dictator’s state (even though he has introduced limited democracy) after being in Egypt. Thanks about the book… hope you have a good trip!

  9. @OnTheRoadToYou

    April 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Nice one Tom! You’re definitely very brave in visiting these locations. Rest of us would either gone to a another country or stayed home.
    I bet Libya must have been scary! I for sure would not feel safe.
    But the end result was that you got to see a lot of Roman ruins 🙂 and met great people in those countries.
    Am surprised that you got into Israel after visiting those locations. Usually, they will ask a lot of questions and may not even let you in.

    Very good questions asked Ana 🙂

    • @tchesshyre

      April 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      I was held at the Israeli border and taken to a backroom where a female immigration official with long pink nails and a tattoo that read “Free to be whatever” stared at me and asked endless questions and mde me sit in a corridor. They particularly didn’t like the Libyan stamp, I think! Thanks about the interview… they were good questions.

  10. Suzanne Seyghal

    April 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Impossible to select just one country when everywhere has the potential for an amazing adventure. That said, the only adventure holiday we’ve done in recent years that was so memorable we went back the following summer for more was kayaking and camping in Sweden’s St Anna archipelago with the lovely folk at Do The North. You set off with all your food, water, booze and camping equipment for the next few days, armed with a map and compass. Then it’s down to you to choose how the adventure will play out amongst the thousands of islands. Stunning sunsets, clear brackish water for bathing, the right to Cano wherever you like and the opportunity to pretend to be Bear Grylls. Come to think of it, we may go again this summer for our honeymoon..

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      That sounds like an adventure and a half to me, Suzanne! Thank you 🙂

      • Suzanne Seyghal

        April 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

        Damn – that was meant to say the right to camp wherever you like, not canoe! That too, of course… 😉

        • @mrsoaroundworld

          April 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

          no worries 😉 got the message! thanks suzanne!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Does sound like an amazing trip… will have to look up that place… Thanks for the tip-off.

  11. Iain Mallory

    April 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Nice interview on a great topic. since starting the site I’ve not been in a position to do anything similar, would love to do so however.

    I was in Morocco when Tunisia and Egypt were going through the worst of their troubles. It was only talk in Morocco however but a couple of months later there was the bombing in Cafe Argana in Djemaa el Fna.

    Interesting to hear the perspective of somebody who actually experienced it and was in the heart of the matter. Thanks for sharing.
    Iain Mallory recently posted..Postcards from Catalonia; Favourite Destinations Photo SeriesMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      My pleasure Ian – you were close enough, though!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Interesting about your experience in Morocco. I’d wait a bit before going to Libya… I went when there was a lull in trouble there. A few months after I left the American ambassador Christ Stevens was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Thanks for your interest.

  12. Pointsandtravel

    April 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    What an interesting read Ana, I must now read the book! For me it is Indonesia… that would be a great place for an adventure.
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      You must, it is great! Haven’t been to Indonesia yet!

      • @tchesshyre

        April 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

        I’m surprised Ana… would have thought you’d have checked out Bali!

        • @mrsoaroundworld

          April 8, 2013 at 8:27 am

          One day, one day, promise!

  13. jenny@atasteoftravel

    April 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    What an interesting inteview Ana.I must read the book now! Having returned from Jordan four months go, I would love to explore more Middle East countries. I’ve had some adventurous trips in India where catching a train and crossing the road are adventures in themselves.
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Pickle Heaven in Istanbul!My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you, Jenny! The Middle East is calling me.. and quite soon 😉 exciting times!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      Thanks about the book… Maybe, after Jordan, a trip to Israel? Jerusalem is perhaps the most intriguing city in the world…

  14. Hakima

    April 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Interesting interview! For me, i enjoyed my trip to Turkey the most. Istanbul is a great live city. one week trip wasn’t enough to see the whole fabulous architecture of mosques and palaces. The bazaar and the Egyptian market are amazing places to see. I lived the Arab Spring in Egypt during my visit to my in-laws. From the balcony of my in-laws, i saw the young people who kept awake the whole night to protect the nighburhood from “Baltagia”, those who escaped from prison and attack people in their home. That was the most scary part to expect being attacked. That time in Egypy was a history for me. When i left Egypt, revelution started in Libya. I visited Tunisia last summer on my way to visit my home country Libya. I went to Sidi Bou Saed, one of the most beautiful places in Tunisia. The whole city colored with white buildings and blue doors and windows. Tunisia was quite safe place during my visit on contrary to Libya. In Libya, I had to be at home before it darks otherwise, it would be unsafe and anything could happened. I heard shooting couple of times. I also missed my flight back to US when the airport was attached the night before my flight. It was unpleasant time apart from seeing family after few years away. On the other hand, Libya is a beautiful place to visit. Cyrene in the east and Leptis Magna on the coast are fabulous places. The old city in Tripoli and some places in the south like Gadames also worth visiting. Desert in the south is a magical place not to be missed. I hope when I visit my home country Libya next time, it will be totally safe!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Hakima, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us – you were right there, wow! I do also hope that your next visit to Libya is safer – I heard that the beaches are wonderful. I went to Tunisia once, with my husband and a fellow MBA colleague who was a local – it was an experience and a half. Sidi bou Said was definitely quite something!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      Hi Hakima, it must have been terrifying with the baltagiyya thugs about when you visited your in-laws. I went when the dust had settled, for the time being. Nothing like as dangerous. I kept the very same policy as you in Libya though: I didn’t go out after dark, too risky. In Tripoli, each night I was there, I heard gunshots… people I talked to called it ‘happy shooting’. I very much hope stability comes to Libya soon.

      • Hakima

        April 5, 2013 at 6:40 am

        That is right. That was the most scary time in my entire life. What made things worse was the disappearance of the police for several days for some reasons…even though Heliopolis where my in-laws lived was probably a bit safer than other areas in Cairo, danger still existed.. thanks god for our safety…

        The topic is very rich. I have a lot of stories to tell, photos and videos taken at Tahrir Square. It was a different experience I shall say.

        It would be interesting to read your book.

        • @tchesshyre

          April 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

          I bet you have a lot of stories. What an amazing time it has been for Egypt. I hope you enjoy the book – there is a lot about Egypt and i particularly enjoyed travelling across to Suez, where I stayed at a hotel overlooking the canal, and then on to Sharm and Taba. All the best…

  15. Anita Mac

    April 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Wow – what a fabulous adventure! I couldn’t imagine going to some of those places in the times that you went. The uprising would certainly have frightened me…yet it seems almost non-chalent for Tom. I love that sense of adventure…I bet it is an amazing read! So inspiring. I would love to read his book – just reading your interview makes me think “here is a pretty interesting guy!”
    As for my favourite country for adventure….I believe you could find adventure anywhere if you go looking for it! (And sometimes even when you don’t 🙂 ) Recently, I walked across the north of Spain for an 800km adventure….but my dream remains one big adventurous bike ride right around Australia – Sydney to Sydney! Maybe someday it will become reality!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Vegas Bucket List: Beyond the CasinosMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      That is some bike ride, Anita!! But the Spanish camino is supposed to be amazing!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Hi Anita, Sydney to Sydney cycling would be a slightly amazing adventure – one what blow a little journey across North Africa out of the water! Thanks for your comments and good luck …

  16. Charu

    April 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    What a great interview! My favorite adventure destination was Jordan, for sure. I went during the spring last year while six months pregnant, and even camped in the desert and loved it!
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Oh my, that is an adventure and a half! Good girl!

  17. Vanessa

    April 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Wow! So inspiring! It’s so heartwarming to see how Tom focuses on the beauty and goodness in the world. Like him, I love the National and State parks of southern Utah (ESP Bryce!) My best adventure was tubing down the Virgin River outside Zion National Park.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      It is clear that Utah needs to be on Mrs. O’s list. I can take a hint 🙂

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

      That’s very nice of you to say! Southern Utah is a great place. I went in winter and snow ‘dusted’ the hoodoos…

  18. Tristan

    April 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    21000 words a day ! are you sure you didnt mean per hour 🙂
    I need to find this book – now the 20p in my jeans doesnt feel so limiting

    Tristan

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      That was the first book, really cool concept! It was a day indeed, I remember that!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

      For 20 pence, a bargain

  19. Anita

    April 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting book. I’ve been to Egypt twice but this was before the arab spring and I would love to go back to see the famous pyramids. However, my favourite country for adventure holidays so far was Costa Rica as I love all the canopee tours, beach adventures…. 🙂
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      It is indeed 🙂 promise! And I think I need to head to South and Central America a “little” bit more!

  20. El Boquerón Viajero

    April 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Wow! It sounds like an incredible book. To be able to live the “Arab Spring” by yourself had to be amazing!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      I can only imagine!

  21. lola

    April 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    oooo i want a signed copy! what an interesting fellow this Tom is.

    my favorite country for an adventure trip so far was Cambodia. going there was a big deal for me as i had never been to Asia, a third world country or flown on a plane for that long. i also went largely to do a Habitat for Humanity build and this was also a first for me. talk about an incredible adventure. i got so much more out of this trip than the entire week i dedicated to building houses. it inspired me beyond my expectations and changed my life.
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      I would love to do something like that – and I mean it! Especially with the Orient Express hotel stay afterwards like you did! Very clever!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Cambodia for a Habitat for Humanity trip sounds life changing indeed. I always rather liked Jimmy Carter, who got involved in HfH. Thanks about the book.

  22. IsabellesTravel

    April 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Best country for an adventure holiday? Tough question, as in my humble opinion every country offers adventures. I guess New Zealand offered most adventurous activities all bundled. But also Jordan was a country with lots of adventures: hot air balloon, sleeping in the desert,…
    IsabellesTravel recently posted..My first train journey in AustraliaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Those are 2 countries on my ever expanding list.. who knows!

  23. Lynne Nieman

    April 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I saw this post on twitter and it caught my eye. Tom sounds like such an interesting person and I must look up all his books! I can’t wait to read this latest.

    To answer your question I would say the western part of the USA is the best place I have traveled for adventure travel. I lived near Denver, Colorado and hiked in the mountains of Colorado (I hiked 12 of the 54 14,000′ mountains), went canyoneering in some of the canyons of southern Utah Tom mentions in the interview. Pretty cool being the only ones in some canyon…not a soul around! And the skiing and snowboarding in Colorado are great too, not to mention the rock climbing…done that too!

    I do think EVERY country is great for adventure travel. You can always find something adventurous to do!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Lynne, thank you for your kind words! I am heading to Colorado shortly and can’t wait to see its immense beauty 🙂

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:19 am

      I think Mrs O should match your hiking exploits on her visit! Thanks about the book

  24. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    April 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Wow sounds like an incredible read! My favorite place for an adventure is Brasil. There is always a new adventure around every corner!!!
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Gotta love Brazil – and the caipirinhas 😉

  25. Jeff Titelius

    April 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    What a fantastic journey through fascinating places, however Libya would have scared me to death. Indeed, Tom is a very brave man! Looking forward to his book to really get inside his head during his travels. Great interview Ana!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..ArtSmart Roundtable: The Funny Faces of Manneken Pis in Brussels, BelgiumMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you, Jeff!

  26. Arjan Tupan

    April 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Great interview, Mrs O. Very nice to read about the wonderful places Tom visited. For me, my two favorite countries for adventures were Jordan and Cuba. Driving around, visiting wonderful sites, meeting locals. But, admittedly, less adventurous than Mr Chesshyre.
    Arjan Tupan recently posted..Spring heraldsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      A teeny tiny bit less adventurous, I would say 😉 everyone keeps mentioning Jordan, I need to check it out! Cuba, a place I visited 5 times and loved it more and more each time.. may be time to go back again!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:26 am

      All adventures are adventurous… Love Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana…

  27. Raf Kiss

    April 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Inspiring story… sounds like a book I would like to read. When is Tom coming to Brazil? 🙂
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    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Don’t ask him twice 😉

    • @tchesshyre

      April 5, 2013 at 12:22 am

      Brazil… when I get a commission to go! I hear that some sorts of sports events are happening there soon

  28. Lachlan Swan

    April 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

    What an inspiring story and what an incredible bloke! I came so close to visiting Tunisia just this year, but it fell through. It’s been added back onto my list, along with Libya. Such a shame an amazing, culturally rich nation has been tarnished by bad leadership over the years. One of Libya’s great treasures is it’s people – they deserve business, prosperity and pride… tourism can deliver it.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Amen! Hope you make it there 🙂

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks and totally agree about Libya… if you have not read already, try Hisham Matar’s brilliant novel Country of Men about life under Gaddafi… it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize a few years back

  29. Emyr Thomas

    April 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Sounds like an amazing adventure – I’m more of a relax on a beach traveller, I must admit!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Me too 🙂 but really enjoyed reading about this!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Some great beaches in Sharm el Sheikh… recommend the one at the Four Seasons. Tony Blair and Mubarak apparently dined at the hotel… if that doesn’t put you off.

  30. Hallie Robinson

    April 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Great Post – sounds fascinating. Looking forward to the book!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Thank you, Hallie! I think you’ll love it!

  31. Audrey

    April 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Great interview! We were in Jordan and Egypt during times of protest and although we were not as adventurous as Tom as to where we went, we found people to be incredibly hospitable and very thankful that we were there (as most tourists stayed away).

    Now, I could answer your question 2 ways: 1) Best country for an adventure holiday = New Zealand. Just returned from there and every day was adrenaline packed.

    2) Best country for an adventure = Georgia (Republic of). Every day was filled with spontaneous invitations from locals to go to their house, go hiking, drink, eat and just talk. Iran was also quite an adventure 🙂
    Audrey recently posted..Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand: A Perfect Beach for a Picnic [360-Degree Panorama]My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

      You were there? Wow, how incredible! And so good to see great feedback! I need to get to NZ stat, I mean it!!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Haven’t been to either New Zealand or Georgia… or Iran, which I’ve been hoping to visit but it’s a little dangerous for foreigners right now. Tourists could, apparently, be regarded as spies and held by police – not the best of ideas. I’d recommend Libya for you next, once the FCO gives it the all clear.

  32. TravMonkey

    April 4, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Wow, not sure I’m quite as adventurous as this! Should be a very interesting read. I’ve been in my fair share of worrying situations when travelling but I guess going to these places increases such as risk!
    TravMonkey recently posted..Can the younger traveller get on board with cruising?My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Indeed 🙂 but now Tom has an incredible story to tell!

  33. Francesca B

    April 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Brilliant post, thank you Tom and Ana. Keen to read the book now.
    For me it has to be Utah, USA: I agree with Tom, the canyons and the otherworldly hoodoos are something to see. When I was 15 my family went on an ambitious road trip around California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. My brother and I irreverently nicknamed it ‘the rock holiday’ since the purpose of the trip was mostly to gape at and explore amazing rock formations (my Dad loves geology). Highlights? We withstood the astonishing heat of Death Valley (love that name) long enough to marvel at the Artist’s Palette and my first glimpse of Half-Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite was fantastic. But the best bit was climbing Angels Landing in Zion National Park, southern Utah. What a view!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Well well well, it seems unanimous! Mrs O needs to go to Utah!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Brilliant that you climbed Angels Landing… I went to Zion National Park and didn’t quite find the time. Stayed in a brilliant lodge in the centre of the park – zionlodge.com

  34. Andrea

    April 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Sounds like an incredible experience. I was planning to travel around North Africa and the Middle East just before the Arab Spring but decided it was best to cancel. I’d still love to go though.
    Andrea recently posted..Sarah Wiener’s Hamburger Bahnhof in BerlinMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Hopefully this will help with a bit of inspiration! You and your amazing travels, Andrea!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Libya’s not safe yet, but Tunisia and Egypt are both possible for a fly-drive (round the Sinai for Egypt). Hit the roads and you discover much more about the countries…

  35. Karine

    April 4, 2013 at 10:08 am

    How inspiring ! If Tom wants to do it again, I come with him 🙂

    I have been to some of the places he visited to and can only agree with him… People are incredible there, so warm and they take the time to talk to you,…

    I would go back to Egypt and Jordania, so many historic places to visit, different cultures. For me, the best places for adventures!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 10:10 am

      That sounds like a challenge!! I have only been to Tunisia from the 3 places and would happily go back!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Ha ha.. not sure I’m planning another trip for a while. But thanks for the offer! I think Cairo is great for a long weekend break, by the way — lots to see and do beyond the pyramids.

  36. Carolyn Pearson

    April 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Loved reading about the diversity of Tom’s work, that is what separates him as a pro! I think I would have been very nervous, I like my adventure travel to not be reliant on the volatility of other human beings.

    In answer to your question, my biggest adventure was a one month 4WD trip to to Cape York, the northern most tip of Australia. We passed through some harsh driving terrain, swam with fresh water crocodiles, visited Aboriginal reserves and saw lots of snakes, spiders and other more attractive species. Of course there was no five-star luxury, just the tent and occasionally the back of the 4WD, being woken each morning early by the sound of Gallahs.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Fresh water crocodiles? Tell me you weren’t wearing heels during this adventure! I think Tom is fab! You met him at the last Travel Massive didn’t you?

      • carolyn pearson

        April 5, 2013 at 9:45 pm

        No I left the heels (and the Wolford bondage tights) back in the city 🙂 Yes I remember you were kind enough to intro me to the lovely Tom

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Thank you Caroyln! Wow, swimming with fresh water crocs… I wouldn’t have done that!

      • carolyn pearson

        April 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        Well having being bitten by a dog, a penguin, a chicken a giant tortoise and ‘damaged by a dolphin’ on various adventures, I guess I was taking a bit of a risk but according to wikipedia it is considered safe to swim with Freshies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freshwater_crocodile

        • @tchesshyre

          April 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

          If Wikipedia says so, I guess it’s ok! You seem to have had bad luck with animals… !

  37. AlexBerger

    April 4, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Great concept. Talk about a fascinating way and time to see the region.
    AlexBerger recently posted..Life Abroad and the Loss of InnocenceMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

      I know, an incredible idea 🙂

  38. Miret

    April 4, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Interesting read for someone like myself who is half-Egyptian and grew up in the Middle East (Kuwait).

    I miss like Cairo like crazy. I used to go back every year until the “Arab Spring” started. I know from relatives and friends that things are only getting worse and insecurity is a HUGE problem. It saddens me and I can only pray for things to get better sooner rather than later.
    Miret recently posted..Bar à Chocolat, Hôtel Du CadranMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

      I can understand, I do hope things get better – the potential is there!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      I found that the centre of Cairo was safe to walk around, though I can imagine it might be more intimidating to women. Some of the reports of what has gone on are shocking. But I think that if people stick to taxis or travel in twos, then it should be fine. Tahrir Sq was full of Salafist protesters when I visited… but I think they’ve gone now. I do love Cairo and say so in the book.

  39. Jayne Powell

    April 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

    What a wonderful contradiction in terms – and therefore what a balanced approach to love, life and travel. From 5 star luxury indulgence to navigating a war zone – sounds like Tom embraces every opportunity to broaden his horizons. My favourite spot for an adventure would be a safari in Africa to witness the majesty of the landscapes and the wildlife. Cheers to Tom!
    Jayne Powell recently posted..Brisbane’s Royal High Tea w/ Champagne Moet & ChandonMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 9:39 am

      I know, amazing, isn’t it?

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you Jayne. I try my best… broadening horizons! Tunisia and Egypt are all clear for travel now (most parts) so maybe a trip there to you: a fly-drive in Tunisia is fantastic, soon heading out of Tunis into the desert.

  40. Becky Padmore

    April 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Very inspring person, great post!
    Becky Padmore recently posted..10 of the most beautiful places to visit in PortugalMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Thank you, Becky! Totally agree!

  41. Rodrigues Pereira

    April 4, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Dear Mrs. O,
    Though I’m no longer at the age of rejoicing with such adventurous a travel, I would love to get a grab on the gentleman’s books. Could you give me a hint (site) from where I could buy them?
    Obrigado!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Dear Rodrigues,
      I’m sure there’s an adventure or two to go yet! If you click on the cover of the book, it goes through to the publisher’s page. Or else all the books are on Amazon. Hapy travels in Tripoli…. if you make it there!
      Tom

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Hi! I have added links at the end for all books, amazon is the simplest way, I would say. And you always share incredible tails with us!

  42. Nikos

    April 4, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Hmmm adventure, does searching for the perfect beach count?? 😀
    Nikos recently posted..Pick and choose your airBaltic inflight meals!My Profile

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Perhaps: where was your most adventurous beach? Libya has some great beaches that I can recommend…

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

      In my book? It is the *best* adventure 😉

  43. Ryan @Treksplorer

    April 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    I can’t say I’m much of an adrenaline junkie so my own experience of adventure may be a little weak for the hardcore! In any case, I would personally recommend Montenegro for adventure tourism. Adventure tourists can find pretty much anything there: skiing, whitewater rafting, hiking, water sports and (from what I’ve heard) even skydiving. When I visited several years back, I stayed in Budva, a beautiful town on the Adriatic with a spectacular mountainous backdrop and a great base to explore the rest of the coast including Kotor and Sveti Stefan. For a tiny country, Montenegro sure packs in a ton of awesomeness!
    Ryan @Treksplorer recently posted..The Perfect Pint For a Perfect View At the Guinness Storehouse Dublin, IrelandMy Profile

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Interesting answer… I agree about Montenegro and have been to Budva and Sveti Stefan (in its new Aman reincarnation, admittedly). One great thing to do is to drive into Albania for the day in a loop from Podgorica down to the coast – to get a taste of Albanian life (stop for a coffee at the main square in Shkodra). It’s amazing how other-wordly the country is in those parts; still recovering from communist era…

      • @mrsoaroundworld

        April 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

        That never crossed my mind!! 🙂 again, brave man, Tom!

      • Ryan @Treksplorer

        April 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Tom. I was thinking about heading to Shkodra when I was there but I was enjoying swimming, boating and relaxing in Budva so much, I didn’t want to leave! I’d like to fit in a week or so in Albania though the next time I’m in the Balkans. I’m particularly interested in Kruja, Berat, and Gjirokastra (admittedly, even Tirana intrigues me); have you been to any of these?
        Ryan @Treksplorer recently posted..The Perfect Pint For a Perfect View At the Guinness Storehouse Dublin, IrelandMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Hi Ryan! A place on my list to visit as well! 🙂

  44. Therese

    April 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    What a great adventure. Thank you Mrs. O and Tom!

    I am not very adventurous, I am afraid – the scariest thing I have done was go on a safari to Kruger. Loved it! But it was a one off – prefer my beaches!

    Will check out the book – and also the train one. How interesting!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      My pleasure! Haven’t done a safari yet (bet you Tom has!) – I will try it one day, but not in a great rush! The train book is outstanding too – some nice little places you can get to from the UK (which never crossed my mind). Luxembourg is actually on my Top 20 list now!

      • @tchesshyre

        April 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

        Luxembourg is great for a sneaky weekend away by train. Even though the train tickets can be pricey, the hotels at weekends are cheap as they mostly cater for businessmen during the week. It also has a beautiful old town on a hill above a dramatic gorge. Kruger National Park can be adventurous… that was where I went on first mini safari; have since been to Kenya and Tanzania.

  45. John M

    April 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    How brave was Tom to go to these places! Wow! I read his column every saturday – yes, I can see that you two have something in common besides the sauvignon blanc! Nice hotels!!

    I loved visiting Senegal – scary some times, but so humbling. But usually prefer my 5 star hotels, thank you very much.

    Will check out the book as going on holiday and seems very interesting!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Ha ha, indeed! Tom does go to some fab hotels – he makes me a little bit jealous every week!
      Senegal, wow – heard quite some different things, good, bad – depends on your mood – but 5 star hotels anytime!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 7:59 am

      Thanks about the column John. Yes, amusing about the sauvignon blanc…

      Any stories from Senegal — have always wanted to go there…

      And thanks about the book… hope you enjoy.

  46. Joanna

    April 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I love this – never heard of Tom and he is so inspiring! Thank you Mrs. O for bringing Mr Chesshyre to our attention!

    I also had a similar experience in Morocco.. with Royal Air Maroc.. connection from Marrakesh to Casablanca, they sent us on a bus and the plane didn’t wait. Did you have to stay at airport hotel? Maybe we were there on the same occasion.. or this happens often enough. Was grateful I had some male friends with me.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Are you serious? That is exactly what happened to me! Maybe it does happen often enough, sadly. On my following trip (unbelievable, both work related, but unconnected), I had to do the same thing but alone – but thankfully I did fly and nothing happened!

  47. Richard

    April 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I’m a big fan of Tom’s books too – Lausanne and Port Talbot have been on my travel wish-list for too long now. To answer your question, I’d have to go for Slovenia. Great for walking, cycling, white water rafting, beaches, beautiful towns and cities, great cakes and booze and all in one of Europe’s smallest countries.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Those are on mine too! And cognac 🙂 never made it to Slovenia, who knows what the future will bring? Thank you, Richard!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 4, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Thanks Richard. Ljubljana is one of the prettiest capitals in Europe… and there are so many cheap flight options. Lake Bled, just to the north, is stunning beautiful. It’s perfect weekend break material. (Though watch out for the local penchant for horse burgers).

      • Richard

        April 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

        Bled is my favourite place in the world! I’ve managed two weekend breaks there, and if I could I’d go every weekend. I proposed to my girlfriend on the lakeshore (had to abandon plans to do it on a rowing boat going towards the island, as it was such hard work!)
        Richard recently posted..You’ve got to hand it to AntwerpMy Profile

  48. Maralyn D Hill

    April 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Great post Ana, I really enjoyed the the profile and story,
    Maralyn D Hill recently posted..Key West Part III by Skip MaysMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Thank you, Marilyn! Very kind of you 🙂

  49. Stanislava Ivanova

    April 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    The most adventurous thing I have done was a recent trip to India. I am not a fan of extremes but I got to travel in a minibus that looked more like prison transport along roads that were so bad that 200 km took 4-5 hours. I spent a night on a river boat which though fairly comfortable used river water. I have never been so careful while taking a shower, I kept thinking of Charlotte’s experience in Sex and the City movie 😉 But the people are warm and great and it was all an unforgettable experience.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      That counts as very adventurous on my book!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Don’t know what “Charlotte’s experience in Sex in the City” was like… but sounds like a great adventure. I recommend William Sutcliffe’s excellent backpacker novel about India, “Are You Experienced?” Very funny indeed.

      • Stanislava Ivanova

        April 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        Well, she was in Mexico I think, and determined to avoid Montezuma’s revenge – even had brought loads of canned goods rather than risk the food. And then she was in the shower, forgot about it, opened her mouth and swallowed. The revenge was swift … and unforgettably hilarious

        • @mrsoaroundworld

          April 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          I remember that! Not good 🙂

  50. Mrs D

    April 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I forgot to say, I’m going to look for the book How low can you go – you know me and my love for travelling around, I definitely would like to do it more and for less!
    Mrs D recently posted..Madchester part 2My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      It’s very difficult to find on Amazon, good luck!! (maybe e-book?)

      • Mrs D

        April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

        I found it on Ebay!
        Mrs D recently posted..Madchester part 2My Profile

        • @tchesshyre

          April 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

          I particularly recommend Ljubljana (Slovenia) from How Low Can You Go? And Haugesund in Norway is cool, close to the fjords…

  51. Mrs D

    April 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve never been to any remote places or too far away from western civilization but I have to say that Florida USA has been my favourite adventure ground so far. Getting in the car with my other half and taking road trips around, stumbling on aligators and other exotic creatures has been my favourite thing to do so far!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      April 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      I love Florida, as you know! And totally understand the appeal of American road trips. My favourites, if you must know!

    • @tchesshyre

      April 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Florida may not perhaps be considered the most exotic of all destinations… but there are bits with alligators (and boa constrictors that have been let loose by pet owners) that certainly are. Maybe Libya next for you?

      • Mrs D

        April 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm

        who knows? Looking forward to reading about it on your book. Maybe you can convince me 😀
        Mrs D recently posted..Madchester part 2My Profile

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