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Mountains make me feel alive, says Diana Hayden

Image courtesy: ©Diana Hayden

It was at a friend’s suggestion in 1997 that she had participated in the Femina Miss India contest. Not only did she win the crown, but also went on to bag the bigger, coveted title of Miss World. Having said adieu to the glam world after being a part of films and TV, Diana Hayden is enjoying a happily married life with husband Collin Dick, looking after her two year old daughter, Arya, and two month old twins Taylor and Rhys. Here’s a tête-à-tête with the former beauty queen and an inveterate traveller.

As the holder of the Miss World crown, you have travelled the world – Which among the places that you visited turned out to be your dream destination?

Amongst the places that I have been to, my favourite would have to be Rome. I must have visited it more than half a dozen times and still can’t have enough of it. Everything about the Eternal City is fascinating, especially its historical buildings and old streets. Often sitting at a piazza, I feel at any minute I’m going to hear the sounds of horses’ hooves trotting down those cobbled streets. Other than soaking in the magnificence of its grand architecture, I love its cuisine and yes, the people too.  The Italians are genuinely charming; they’re passionate about everything and friendly to boot. And even if you don’t speak their lingo, they are open to conversing with you in sign language, which is great!

The place that gave you the title of Miss World, Seychelles, must be holding a special place in your heart. Did you go back there as a tourist?

Yes, the beautiful archipelago of Seychelles does hold a special place in my heart. After winning the crown, I was lucky to have to go there about four more times as my contract required me to do charity work there for children and to promote the place as a tourist destination. People there, rightly so, are very particular about the conservation and preservation of the natural environment — after all, that is its USP.

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Image courtesy: ©Diana Hayden

What do you prefer – beaches or hills?

For me, beaches are good to look at (I can’t swim, but hey, nobody’s perfect) – but it’s the hills and mountains that make me feel alive. I love fresh and crispy mountain air, greenery, clouds rolling past. And the one place where the mountains and sea come together so perfectly is my second favourite place in the world, Cape Town. It’s just so beautiful, and the energy of the city is so positive, it’s almost tangible. I call it God’s City. 

Image courtesy: ©Diana Hayden

Who is your best travel companion?

Luckily it’s Collin, my husband. Both of us love travelling, especially to new places- our taste in food, architecture and music pretty much matches. I think we strike a perfect balance- and while he’s come to love old ruins because of me, I have started enjoying the waters more because of him. We go scuba diving too, and I’m completely enamoured by the exquisite beauty and tranquility in the gorgeous world that lies under water.

How do you make travel fun for your kids?

My two-year-old daughter is already an inveterate traveller. In her first year itself she’d been to over 15 countries and travelled to all the five major continents. As a parent, I ensure that she enjoys herself and interacts wherever she goes. I let her explore, ask a million questions (and trust me, at just 2 she already does!), get to know people and become a true global citizen.

Image courtesy: ©Diana Hayden

Tell us about the last place you visited…

It was the historic Dubrovnik town of Croatia, the same place where much of the ‘Game of Thrones’ was shot. Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine and gone back in time with its stunning late medieval architecture- the Gothic and Baroque churches, palaces, monasteries and fountains. Also surprisingly, one of their best kept secrets is their wine! As we explored the city, being the diehard Game of Thrones fans that we are, we just had to visit the major GoT sites, and of course the famous Iron Throne from the series- and, Arya took her rightful place on the throne!

Despite having travelled across the world, there must still be many places on your wish-list?

Oh, I still need to visit so many places. For starters, there’s Iceland, the magical world of the Northern Lights. Alaska is next on the list- I would love to see the bears salmon fishing. Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, I would also love to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef and go bungee jumping in New Zealand. In India I have yet to go to Ladakh, Rishikesh and Ranthambore. There are still so many places to see and so little time.

What does your travel kit generally carry?

Comfort is King; so my tracks, trainers, jeans and t-shirts- especially the white ones that are my favourite- are a must. Besides that essentials include my passport and credit cards (you have these two and you’re OK), and not to forget, my moisturiser, face-wash, toothpaste and my electric toothbrush. I like to travel light and keep it simple.

What’s your exercise and beauty regimen while travelling?

Wash your face, morning and night, moisturise it and get on with it- that’s the basic. I’m not into spas. I would rather explore, walk around, see the sights, eat the local food and soak in the atmosphere. Both Collin and I like to burn the candle at both ends, generally and on holiday. Travelling feeds our senses and not just burns those calories but also adds to our happiness quotient, and being happy is what keeps you looking and feeling good.