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Pura Aventura Expert: Sarah

Written by Thomas Power | 12th January 2012 |


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Sarah's penchant for organising holidays started young when her parents had her research and select the family holidays from a pile of brochures. She even went so far as to produce rudimentary spreadsheets listing the pros and cons of each destination for both the perspective of parents and the children.

Sarah still displays this organisational talent for others but is rather more spontaneous with her own travels, hopping on a plane to go skiing in Chile or sail to Antarctica or drive around Andalucia with no notice needed.

Favourite place for people: Chile.

Very hard question as so many of my travel highlights are down to the people I met along the way. I am going to plump for Chile though. I first visited in 2002 and my lack of Spanish was not a barrier to getting to know the locals as they were so warm, open and genuinely hospitable and eager to help.

Fast forward a few years and my job now involves daily communication with our partners across Latin America and Spain. Our Chilean partners are as helpful and cheerful as it gets. In fact as I am writing this, I realise I don?t think I have ever encountered a grumpy Chilean ? in work or on holiday!

Favourite place for food and wine: Argentina, Spain.

Another difficult one as I can?t single out a country for its food. I am not a big lover of fancy restaurants and tend to seek out simpler places serving fresh local food.

This can be anything from a seafood kiosk on a beach to a scruffy-looking backstreet tapas bar. However, these spring to mind immediately:

1) Buenos Aires: the best steak I have ever eaten. Simply delicious. The chef said if I ever tasted steak better than that I was to call him and tell him as he would like to know where.

I have not had to call and I rarely eat steak in the UK as you have to pay a small fortune to get anything worthy of comparison. I think this cost about USD5 as well (it was the financial crisis though).

2) Cabo de Gata, Spain: Wonderful restaurant right on the beach in a tiny fishing village. Although my Spanish is improving it does not extend to obscure local fish.

I hardly understood a word on the menu so I went with the recommendation of the waiter. It was the freshest, most delicious fish I have ever eaten ? I just wish I could tell you what it was!

Favourite place for landscape: Antarctica.

Utterly beguiling, beautiful and unique.

Most memorable trip: Chile & Argentina, Patagonia

A road trip starting in Buenos Aires and going south down past Valdes Peninsula to Ushuaia. Then back up through Chile ending in Santiago.

Most recent trip: Andalucía, Spain

Where to next? Chile.

The southern Lake District and Chiloe.

After having been to Antarctica I feel compelled to visit the Arctic. I love true wildernesses.

That aside, visiting the Huaorani in the Ecuadorian Amazon sounds an amazing trip. I love Ecuador and the Galapagos islands to this would add to my experiences in that country.

I would like to explore northern Argentina (Salta). Our Cross the Andes ride would be a dream trip for me but I need to learn to ride properly first ? after 2 hours on horseback on a recent trip to Andalucía I could hardly walk so I think I?ve got a long way to go.

Top travel tip: Keep an open mind

Most people you encounter will be far more interested in helping you than robbing you blind. If you open yourself up to new encounters and embrace the country you are in, you will be warmly received and have a far more enriching experience.

I am a believer in ?Travellers Karma? ? those who are suspicious of everything and everyone are more likely to have bad experiences.

Interesting fact: Masterchef

By various twists of fate, I found myself in the first round of Masterchef being challenged to make a pesto sauce.

I did my best to avoid being filmed whilst preparing my pesto which perhaps explains the failed end product. When it came to the tasting, the presenter spat it out.

I was duly eliminated and thus ended my television career.

Career path

University of Hull (German and Business). Publishing. Pura Aventura

First holiday abroad: Spain

I think it was Benidorm or Salou.

Most visited place? Spain.

Whilst I have never felt the urge to return to Benidorm, I have explored quite a lot of the rest of Spain since then. I always enjoy my time there.

Where would you like to live? Spain

I just think they generally have a great approach to life and get the balance right.

Most overrated place: Hong Kong/Las Vegas

Hong Kong ,this is possibly a little unfair. As a lover of big open spaces it is not exactly a great destination choice for me.

I have included it here because it is one of very few places I have been where I could not wait to leave. I found it overcrowded, smelly, very stressful with little charm.

I should add there was very bad fog for the whole time I was there which added to the closed-in feeling and also meant I could not see any of the attractions such as the harbour. I should give it another go , but I am not in any great rush to return.

Las Vegas  a huge, camp shopping mall in the desert. Bonkers. But I found it about as interesting as a weekend in Bluewater.

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