Olympics a Memorable Date with Chris Hoy

It was late in the evening and a group of weary cyclists stood at a bar winding down at the end of the Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Holland, last year. Among the posse of Australians and Brits chewing the fat was fourtimes Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy.

Into the bar came several members of the British press looking for a restorative drink of their own. Hoy saw them straightaway. By his standards, it had not been the best of events. True, he had a silver medal and two bronzes to show for his efforts, but for someone associated almost entirely with gold the championships had been a disappointment. Hoy had just lost a major keirin race – the oddball Japanese creation where a moped winds up the pace – for the first time in his career.

Yet instead of sulking or hiding, he strolled over to say hello and introduce his wife Sarra Kemp, a lawyer from Edinburgh whom he married in 2010 at the city’s St Giles’ Cathedral. “Hello, have you met Sarra?” he said. “Thanks for making the effort to come over for this event.

Cycling has really grown on the back of the coverage you’re giving the sport…”

This is not the sort of conversation journalists usually have with sports stars, most of whom tend to view their interviewers with suspicion, disdain – or worse. But it perfectly encapsulates the decency of Britain’s knight rider.

Night At The Museums

BUDAPEST

More than 100 museums and galleries will keep their doors open till around 2am for this annual event. A single ticket allows you entrance to all the participating venues, which range from the established (Hungarian National Museum), to more specialist options (Underground Railway Museum), to the ultra-quirky (Hospital In The Rock Museum). The entrance fee for the night also includes a Museum Bus, which ferries punters around, plus public transport to take you home at dawn.

Expatriate Games

GRAN CANARIA

British journalist Matty Brown went to Gran Canaria on holiday eight years ago – and stayed on to create a home, marry a local girl, have children and become an insider. His new book, Going Local In Gran Canaria (£11.99, out now), is a humorous look at island life, so who better to give JetAway readers the lowdown? So when did Gran Can start attracting tourists? It was Christmas 1957 when the first package tourists arrived. A fully booked Scandinavian flight, departing from Stockholm, landed at Las Palmas Airport, establishing it as a charter-flight destination. And, er, where exactly is it? Nearly 100km off the African coast and just over 1,000km from Cadiz, the nearest Spanish port. Doesn’t Gran makes it sound like your Nanna’s holiday home?

It’s Gran as in “grand”, not “granny”. While it’s true that the island attracts mature tourists, and is a popular place to retire, the majority of the population are aged between 15 and 45, making it the youngest region of Spain. So it suits a wide spectrum of visitors. Will I need tons of suncream? There are 82 beaches on Gran Canaria. Work your way through them. Such as Playa del Inglés? You’ve done your homework. As much a resort as a beach, it’s part of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, the most visited region in all of Spain. How about Maspalamos? Ah, the jewel in the crown of Gran Canaria’s beaches.

Its distinctive dunes were created way back in 1755 when a tidal wave hailing from Lisbon became a tsunami. Now 2,710-metres long, its golden-brown shoreline is topped up with imported sand from the Sahara. Any more unmissable ones? Away from the resorts in the south, Las Canteras in the capital, Las Palmas, is one of the world’s great urban beaches.

Agatha Christie was one of the first tourists to visit here. Where should I head to if I’m travelling with kids? The artificial southwest beaches of Amadores (pictured above), Anfi del Mar and Mogán are particularly family-friendly, as they’re wave-free, unlike the rest of the island. Speaking of which… anything else to do? Why not learn to surf? Gran Canaria is Europe’s answer to Hawaii.

What about beyond the bucket and spade? The island’s surprisingly verdant interior offers excellent hiking terrain with lots of well-signposted paths. As in the Camino de Santiago? Yes indeed. Last year, the local tourist board renovated a centuries-old walking route between two of the island’s holiest churches – located at Tunte in the centre and Gáldar in the northwest – adding a further day hike from Maspalomas to transform it into a full coast-to-coast walk. It’s a great way to see the island.