Sasson Gabay was having the time of his life as one of the leads in the touring production of “The Band’s Visit,” the 10-time Tony Award-winning musical that had been scheduled to visit Citizens Bank Opera House later this month. “I’ve never been to most of these cities where we’re playing, so it’s very exciting,” said Gabay, 72, who had played Egyptian band leader Tewfiq since the tour kicked off in Providence last June. Prior to that, he not only portrayed the same character on Broadway, but he originated the role 13 years ago in the Israeli indie film on which the musical is based. Another special aspect of the tour for Gabay —a father of five and grandfather of five — is that his son Adam, 21, was in the cast. “He’s wonderful,” said the proud dad. “One of my best treats is to stay in the wings watching him do his solo.” Gabay, a well-known Israeli actor who also appears on TV and in movies, lives in Tel Aviv with his wife, Dafna, a children’s book author. We caught up with Gabay, who was born in Baghdad and raised in Haifa, Israel, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination?
Seychelles Islands. I went there with my wife, Dafna, many years ago. It was so magical and the nature was so beautiful: the sand, the sea, the rocks, the jungles . . . and the people. It was really an experience [that was] out of this world. I also had a wonderful visit doing a safari in Kenya with my daughter because it’s a really special, special experience to be with nature and the animals, the people.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
The Jewish-Iraqi food my mother used to make: tbit [a slow-cooked stew] and kubbeh [semolina balls stuffed with various ingredients]. When I’m traveling, I prefer Middle Eastern food, because I came from there. And I am mad about Italian ice cream – especially pistachio.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?
I haven’t been to the Far East and would like to go there . . . definitely to India. I would love to also travel to Brazil.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?
My Israeli coffee. It’s black coffee that’s ground and it’s mixed with cardamom. I travel with it all the time. When I [run out] I use Arab coffee that I find on the road and that is very similar to Israeli coffee.
Aisle or window?
I used to love the window, but nowadays I prefer the aisle because it’s more convenient. I’ve become spoiled.
Favorite childhood travel memory?
It would be when I was in the youth movement, called Hashomer Hatzair, which means “young guard.” We had summer camps and all of the youngsters would go hiking in the mountains by the Sea of Galilee or the mountains nearby. Then when I grew up, it was to go to the Sinai Desert and dive in the Red Sea. . . . It was wonderful.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
Ice cream. Pistachio and vanilla are my favorites.
Best travel tip?
Take with you something that is dear to you and that you are used to. I’m talking about food or an object that you like that makes you feel at home. For me, as I told you, it’s the coffee. Everywhere I go, I bring my coffee from back home. Wherever I am when I get up in the morning, it can be anywhere, I have this coffee and it helps [keep] me grounded.