Broadcaster and writer Michael Portillo talks about his ‘personal’ new Spain travel series – his father fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s – and the benefits of a double passport
Broadcaster Michael Portillo (above) answers our Travel Questions and Answers
This week, broadcaster and author Michael Portillo joins our travel Q&A.
He talks about a country that is close to his heart: Spain.
Her new series The Pyrenees is a journey of discovery…
Yes, it’s probably the most personal television work I’ve ever done. In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, my father left Spain on foot across the Pyrenees to France.
He left his job and his family behind. I tried to imagine what his feelings of depression and despair might have been.
Did you often go to Spain as a child?
Touchingly, I could walk, but my father couldn’t. When I left, Franco was still in power. My mother was able to walk as she was British. She had five boys and was determined that we would understand and appreciate our Spanish heritage.
They have two passports – Spanish and British. How do you choose what to use?
I am leaving the UK on my British passport and arriving in the European Union on my Spanish passport. So I don’t get credit for days.
Are you fluent in Spanish?
I wish it was much better. I find it awkward talking about big issues in it, but it’s ok.
In the series you move part of the Camino Way that you walked in 1999…
That was about a year and a half after I lost my seat in Parliament. Margaret Thatcher called me and said: ‘The fight begins now.’ Those were my years in the wilderness, literally and metaphorically.
After walking part of the Camino Way in the late 1990s, Michael reveals he revisited the route in his new series The Pyrenees (stock image).
Madrid. I’m staying at the Me By Melia Hotel, which used to be the meeting place for bullfighters. The way of life there is good, the cafés, restaurants, the spirit of the people.
It has incredible amounts of art; the Prado Museum and its classic paintings; the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, an incredibly extensive private collection that we should have had in London. It was on sale when I was in government, we should have grabbed it.
Michael notes that his favorite Spanish city is Madrid (pictured). “The way of life there is good,” he says
You are known for your bright clothes. where do you get them from
Most come from Volpe, a tailor in Pimlico, where I live.
More railway series?
Two are in the pipeline.
- The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo begins Tuesday 23 August at 9pm on Channel 5.