The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel
DAVID SOUL MY LIFE IN TRAVEL
The ‘Starsky & Hutch’ star and musician on his Cuban love affair, getting ‘whacked’ with Princess Margaret, and a camel bite
I GREW UP IN BERLIN, where I lived between the ages of six and 12. My father worked with refugees springing out of communistdominated Eastern Europe into Berlin. In my opinion, it was the actual Casablanca where people came to get their exit visas to the West.
CUBA IS MY FAVOURITE PLACE on the planet. As an American, travel there was forbidden for me. But I came to the UK in 1995, nine years later I got my British citizenship, and the first place I wanted to go with my new passport was Havana. It more than lived up to my expectations.
I BECAME FRIENDS with Eliades Ochoa from the Buena Vista Social Club, and we travelled together. He was the leader with the white cowboy hat, the Willie Nelson of Cuba. We explored the north, west, down to Bariay Cove where supposedly Christopher Columbus landed, and I eventually ended up restoring Ernest Hemingway’s car.
HOLIDAYS ARE ABOUT QUIET, and the ultimate quiet for me is the Greek island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea. I love all the little beaches and the wonderful people. I asked my wife Helen to marry me there, and we returned for our honeymoon. We’ve been back seven times and we’re going again this summer. My wife is the best travel companion a man could have.
I GOT BITTEN BY A CAMEL in Tunisia. I had to have 21 shots in the stomach for rabies. They had to chase me around with a bottle of Scotch whisky just to get me to settle down.
I’M NOT MUCH IMPRESSED by five-star hotels. I’m not interested in room service and all that. I’ve stayed in the Moroccan desert, and it’s not like that there. You go with the flow – that’s the way it is. I just liked the sunshine, a couple of drinks on the side – and then I went horseback riding for about 10 days over the Atlas Mountains with a guy who wrangled 200 Arabian horses for a film shoot. It was wonderful.
ELTON JOHN ASKED FOR MY AUTOGRAPH in Los Angeles. I’ve got this incredible photograph of us, before he lost his hair. I went backstage, I loved his music, and he wanted an autograph because he was just a normal kid. He was lovely, so kind.
I ONCE ATE DRUNKEN SHRIMP in Hong Kong. They had run out of shrimp and somebody went out and got a bag of fresh shrimp, poured a bottle of vodka into the pot and called it Drunken Shrimp. I haven’t eaten monkey brains or anything like that but I’m always happy to go with the flow.
I FELL FOR AN EMERALD SCAM in Colombia. Guys with all these “highquality emeralds” would come around the pool and of course they were s--- and I fell for it. My wife and I had been apart for a long time so I thought the emeralds might be a nice gift. She was sceptical and sent them to be appraised. They came back with the verdict: “These things are worthless.”
I GOT ABSOLUTELY WHACKED WITH PRINCESS MARGARET during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977. I’d flown back from Devon to London to perform at one of the events even though I had pneumonia. It turned out Princess Margaret was a huge fan. She came down to the set and we took her for a long lunch. She was the most wonderful, wonderful woman.
BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE when you travel and you will get along a lot better with people. I know everybody’s got their expectations about what they want to happen, but there are always going to be things that aren’t exactly the way you imagine them to be.
I MET A SUMO WRESTLER who played the ukulele, during a trip to
I love to have music on holiday. With these Bose portable wireless speakers you don’t have to take your home system with you, and the sound is great too.
Japan when Starsky & Hutch was at its peak. It was wacko. I got invited to this sumo school by this Hawaiian guy who was the world champion at that point and also played the ukulele – and no, I’m not making this up. He was 450lb and a huge star over there so we invited him on stage with us and the crowd just went completely nuts.
This Hawaiian guy was world sumo champion and played the ukulele. I’m not making this up