Travelling with Hamish Blake and Andy Lee

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Whether they’re paying almost $200 for a $20 cab ride or taking a punt on a Melbourne-to-Daintree road trip, the radio hosts know how to up the ante.

When you walk into a hotel room, what’s the first thing you look for?

Hamish Blake: We’re used to going to places where wi-fi is a big deal. For us, it’s been years of one person in the crew running back to the group, yelling excitedly, “Oh my god, they’ve got the internet!” And then we all party like it’s 1997.
Andy Lee: When you’re travelling with a partner, or even if you’re single, look at the toilet situation in your hotel room: whether it’s separated from the bathroom or if it’s a long distance away.

What do you like to find in the minibar? 

HB: Free water excites me. Non-$9 water is always a huge win. And you do rate those hotels that have Panadol and Berocca, that have thought creatively about what you might need.
AL: I checked in to a hotel where the guy at reception goes, “The minibar is completely complimentary so enjoy yourself!” I’m thinking, “This will be great!” Then I get up there and find one water and one beer.
HB: Did you take the fridge? “I was under the impression the minibar was free...” 

Do you wander around or use maps?

HB: Wander around or hire a bike in Europe. Having a kid, we need to wander. [Blake has a son, Sonny, with his wife, beauty entrepreneur Zoë Foster Blake.] Our whole life is, “Where’s the park? Find a park!” Or somewhere to wear out a two-year-old.

Where would you like to take Sonny?

HB: Now that Sonny’s getting a bit older, I’m seeing the benefit of basic, incredible beach and resort holidays. It comes down to what’s good stimulus for him. Yesterday, I spent all day collecting sticks in an alley near our house – so if Qantas has any alley deals, I’ll happily go.

Resort or rustic?

AL: I’m not huge on resorts; I’m more about finding a spot in the city and exploring.

Your favourite dining experience?

HB: In Sicily, I rode my bike up to the volcano, Mount Etna. I was starving by the time I got to the top and I had the best bowl of pasta in my life: pasta alla Norma with ricotta and eggplant. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was really in need of some quick carbohydrates but there was this log cabin at the top and a little nonna cooking pasta – for scenery, effort and reward, that stood out.
AL: I’m not a foodie whatsoever so a London pub would probably be the best for me. 

Have you ever been fleeced?

AL: Yeah, in Sweden recently. There’s a certain type of cab you shouldn’t take in Gothenburg; it’s not an official cab and all my Swedish mates warned me about it. But I was in a rush and jumped in. So a trip that should have cost me about $20 was $190.
HB: When we lived in New York and were doing our TV show [Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year], I got done by a couple of guys selling their mixtapes. They were saying, “Yeah, man, listen to our CDs.” I was new to the city and I was like, “I might be friends with these guys!” One guy said, “You’ve got to help me out a little bit.” I gave him 20 bucks and as I was saying, “This is for both of you,” he just turned and walked away like we’d never spoken. The other guy said, “You’ve got to give me some money, man!” I said, “That was for both of you” and he goes, “I don’t know that guy!” I went home and thought, “The joke’s going to be on these guys because I’m going to listen to the CDs nonstop and they’re going to be my new favourite albums.” And they were blank! 

Where did you go on your last trip?

AL: Brussels, Antwerp, Gothenburg and Copenhagen. I don’t know why I thought Antwerp would be newer than any other European city; it had lots of 16th- and 17th-century architecture and history.
HB: We were in Sicily and Florence as a family. I didn’t understand granitas before then – this bowl of sugar and cream that’s whipped up, with a bit of almond or lemon on it. You get that with brioche and it’s a legitimate breakfast! Eating ice-cream for breakfast then playing in rock pools all day in the Mediterranean with your son and your wife – it doesn’t get better than that. 

What destination has surprised you?

AL: We loved Sarajevo. It was horrific what they went through in the early ’90s but they’ve rebuilt it from the middle out. There are little laneways and bars; it’s really cool. And the people are just so happy – they’re beautiful. It’s probably not on many people’s radars but it’s special.

And what place didn’t really excite you?

HB: Without wanting to start a showdown, a few of the backwater provinces in Russia. Pretty fine if I never go to Vyazma again.
AL: It was like a military equipment graveyard, essentially.
HB: I didn’t see any Contiki buses around. If Qantas is looking at adding flights to Vyazma, give us a buzz first. 

What was a memorable childhood holiday?

HB: When I was almost seven, we hit the Gold Coast and the World Expo 88 in Brissie. It was our first big family holiday and the vibe was like, “Guys, we’ve done the best holiday of all time. We never need to holiday again.” God, we nailed it.

And the greatest road trip you’ve taken?

HB: The first one we did, from Melbourne to the Daintree, as a bet. It was quite prophetic about what our careers would end up being. We were 20 and I was trying to sell a car that was a lemon. I put an ad in the Trading Post that said it could drive to the top of Australia – that’s what backpackers want.
AL: And I said, “You can’t put that in!”
HB: Andy came down like he was the Advertising Standards Bureau [saying the ad was false] so we drove it to see if it really could. We got to Brisbane in two days...
AL: ...and then to the Daintree in four and a half. On the way back, the car caught fire in Brisbane so we had to fly home! 

If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would you be?

AL: Here in Melbourne. There’s so much going on: amazing cafés, pubs, small bars and lots of sport, which tickles my fancy.
HB: Last night, my wife and I were saying the holidays have been great fun but we’ve missed home a bit. Melbourne is a jam-packed city and travelling highlights that. 

SEE ALSO: Travelling with Elle Macpherson

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