Who I am.
Curious traveler. Culture lover. Driven. Detail freak. Relentless researcher. Recommender. Experience seeker. Immersion fan.
Who are you?
It never occurs to some of us to sort out our inner selves before we decide where to go next. I've asked some of my most intrepid travelers for their insights.
This Month's Featured Traveler:
Where have you just come back from?
I was in England. Just close to a place called Stoke-on-Trent, a little town called Keele, which is a big university city. Our UK office is based there where we do all of our manufacturing for global distribution.
Where in the world have you felt happiest?
Probably it's a toss-up between Rio de Janiero, Cartagena (Colombia) or a placed called Panorama in Canada, which is a ski resort near Calgary, Alberta. Cartagena is incredibly historic with beautiful buildings. It's a fascinating place, great vibe, lovely atmosphere (pulls out phone and asks, Do you want a picture of that?) I just don't know; it was just a great place. Very friendly people, great food and lovely vibe.
Name a place that most lived up to the hype.
Igaussu Falls. It is a spectacular series of waterfalls where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay actually meet, the Argentinian side is breathtaking. The sheer power of the waterfall is incredible. I went on a little boat into it and you felt quite insigificant, you felt like a little piece of flotsam. You got soaked, but everybody was having a blast.
And a place that least lived up to the hype.
There is actually no hype about San Juan, Puerto Rico, but let me still say – San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Which is your favorite city (so far) and why?
Probably London. Why? Um, the humor, the culture, the history and the excitement. It's the whole ball of wax. It's quite a complete city. The least part I like about it is the expense – it's phenomenally expensive these days. But it's a great place to visit.
Which is the smartest hotel you've ever stayed in?
Probably in Mexico City, the Marquis Reforma Hotel and Spa. It's so upmarket. It's ridiculously expensive. And everything's extremely luxurious. It has everything. In the suite I had there was a jacuzzi tub, there was a whole sort of eating area loaded with fruit and wine and things, a bed that you laid down and sort of disappeared into the bedding. Impeccable service. Great selection of cuisine.
Which is your road most traveled?
It's to the UK. From Wilmington to Carlisle (Northern England), which is where my UK relatives live.
Describe your favorite view.
The top of the CNN Tower in Toronto at dusk when all the surrounding blocks start to light up and you're so high up there you can watch little aircraft take off, and it takes them forever to get up to the height you're actually at.
Describe a memory from a childhood holiday.
Probably building sandcastles at a place called Worthing on the south coast of England.
Where did you go on your first holiday without your parents?
Greece. Greek Islands. No, it goes way way back. I was still at school and I went on a school cruise, does that count? The SS Navassa, and we sailed from Southampton and we went to Cueta North Africa, Malta, Beirut which you wouldn't do these days, Rhodes and Venice, and flew back from Venice. I was about 14 at the time.
What do you pack first?
My swimming trunks. Always.
'I lost my heart in …'
Which time? It's so tricky, isn't it.
Tell us about a great little place you know.
In the southwest of England there are two tiny hotels in a little fishing bay called Porlock Weir.
Which foreign phrase do you use most often?
'Cuanto tiempo se demora manejar al aeropuerto?' , 'How long does it take to drive to the airport?'
What's your guilty pleasure?
How guilty do you want to get? It's all talk, like most guys. Guilty pleasure … probably chocolate. Cadbury's chocolate and wine.
How do you relax?
Exercise – swim. Read. Music (The Who, The Rolling Stones). Glass of wine, red or white. Mainly red.
Vernon Watkins grew up in London and spent his formative professional years learning the art of pharma and international health care. Lured by the beach, he wound up in Wilmington NC, helped set up Biocomposites Inc., and currently lives in the jetstream between business and pleasure trips.