My holidays: Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson was spoiled for travel as a child, with a father who was a long-haul pilot.
Greg Johnson was spoiled for travel as a child, with a father who was a long-haul pilot.

What was your greatest holiday?

As a kid I was spoilt because my dad was a long-haul pilot, so we went off somewhere almost every year. I think Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore had a huge impression on me as a young lad from what was then a very mono-cultural New Zealand.

I'd never seen anything like the back streets of Hong Kong and I still love a good Chinese street market. I also loved going to Australia and the various Pacific Islands we went to.

Let's face it, going anywhere is better than sitting around home! These days we spend most holiday time going from LA to NZ, and LA to Memphis, where my wife's family is. Of course, I love those places but I would really love to go to Asia or Europe for a change.

And the worst?

A bad holiday is still interesting. I think we've been lucky mostly, fingers crossed.

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

Heading off to see something. I can never stay put by the pool for very long.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?

Queenstown or Arrowtown in winter, somewhere in the Far North in summer - Russell, perhaps?

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

I'd like to see the old, old parts of the Middle East, Muscat in Oman, Yemen, Mali. Unfortunately, I think the lack of ice-cold beer and the general mistrust of Westerners - especially my wife's people - will mean that one is unlikely any time soon. My sister Roslyn is the family's biggest traveller, and a travel agent with it, so she might go on my behalf.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?

Fell sleep on a phone call from a hotel in Italy. The bill was $150 but luckily I had no money, so eventually they let me go. I was young.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ...

Reading material.

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?

My folks taught me all kinds of useful things, from how to dry washing in a hotel room overnight to map-reading and where to eat cheap. My best tip is never travel with more than you can run down the street carrying. That said, I'm always lugging guitars and pianos around, and it sucks. Should've been a harmonica player.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?

Lots of great travelling food. I remember the simple brilliance of the food in Italy and being amazed that a bread roll and salami could be so good. There's a great little dump called New York Noodle Town that we used to visit late at night every time we played shows there. Obnoxious waiters would drag giant plastic buckets of broth through the restaurant and the hygiene looked borderline at best, but the food was just so good and incredibly cheap.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?

A very nice foreign lady.

Favourite airport to land at?

Any airport where it's warmer than the place we left.

What's the next trip you've got planned?

Hoping to get down to Mexico for a little R&R in the New Year, and would love to stop off in Rarotonga.

Greg Johnson is among 20 Kiwi artists who have recorded their favourite festive song on the Starship Christmas Album 2013, on sale now, and is performing in New Zealand on his Spring Lounge Tour.

- NZ Herald

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