What was your greatest holiday?
It was part of a larger trip, but I spent a month backpacking around Spain — travelling with ride shares, sleeping on couches, getting passed around friend groups of people I'd just met. So many great moments — sleeping up in the hills above Granada where there are these amazing cave houses, doing two days volunteer work in a women's refuge center outside of Cadiz, being out on the streets in Barcelona when the Catalan referendum was happening. Some of the warmest, most welcoming moments I've experienced with strangers were on that trip.
And the worst?
When I went to Malaysia on my way back to NZ after a year and a half away with my partner at the time. We just fought the entire trip! And made a decision to go to a 'non-tourist' island which turned out to be not at all what we were hoping for, and definitely explained why it was not a recommended place to visit!
If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?
Spending the whole day walking around a new city. The first thing I like to do when I arrive somewhere new is just follow my nose and go exploring. This was way trickier before smart phones were common use, as I have a terrible sense of direction and suck at map reading. I once spent about two hours walking around the same six streets in Florence trying to find my hostel. It's definitely the best way to find good places to eat and drink, and spots where you might like to come back to later on for some company (I often travel solo).
If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?
I've never really travelled at all in the South Island, the most was a fleeting trip to Queenstown in 2011. I would love to do some hiking — maybe The Milford Track or the Diamond Lake Track.
How about for a dream holiday internationally?
When I was about six, I found out that my name is originally a Greek name, so I've always wanted to go there. My parents also have great stories of back packing around various unknown Greek isles in the late 70s, so I guess I have a slightly romanticised idea of recreating some of those moments but for myself.
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?
I made friends with some English guys in a hostel in Florence, and left my luggage in their car while we went exploring after we'd checked out. It was the day I was getting keys to my apartment, and I had to meet the landlord at 2pm. In Florence, some of the streets have two names and two sets of numbers, and we looked at the name that wasn't listed on the map, and ended up losing the car. This was in 2012 when there was a crazy heat wave, I'd just arrived from the middle on NZ winter and was struggling with the 40C days already. When we eventually found the car, I had missed the landlord and had to sit in the piazza for a further four hours under the sun till he could come back, and got a sweet sunburn and heat stroke from that.
Aisle seat or window seat?
Definitely a window seat. I have no problem sleeping on long flights, and I don't mind asking people to move if I need to get up. I also don't want to fall asleep and dribble on anyone's shoulder.
Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ... a notebook and pencil.
What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?
Try to look like you've got nothing worth stealing.
What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?
When I was couchsurfing in Madrid, my host took me to his parent's house in Toledo, and his dad had been out mushrooming (it was November). He had kilos and kilos of these wild mushrooms that the mum made into a risotto, and it was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, as well as his family being quite like mine — numerous, loud, and very welcoming. It felt like home for a night.
What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?
When I was living in Venice while interning at the Guggenheim we had a temporary exhibition open, and all these famous important art world people were invited, so we had to dress nice. I only had a pair of vans and these beat up sandals, so I treated myself to a pair of chunky, bright yellow leather heels with these ridiculous gold buckles. They are the most comfortable heels I own, and are so outrageous they go with everything by clashing with everything!
Favourite airport to land at?
Zurich. The shuttle train from the gate to the baggage hall has a hilarious sound track of cow bells, alphorns and yodelling which just makes you smile.
What's the next trip you've got planned?
My partner and I are off to Italy for a wedding in September, so we'll travel around for a month there, and then spend some time in South East Asia.
Stef Fink is the director of the latest Massive Nui Ensemble work 'Like A River', playing July 23-29 at Basement Theatre.