With her dominance of Hollywood in the 1980s and unmistakable auburn hair, it’s no surprise that Molly Ringwald gets recognized all over the world—including, recently, with a bow and arrow in hand in Oman. “My husband and I were taking an archery class in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere,” she says. “And [the teacher] asked if I was Archie’s mother on Riverdale.”
Next up, Ringwald will play Truman Capote’s best friend Joanne in Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, the second season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, airing this week on FX and streaming on Hulu. She chatted with Condé Nast Traveler about the perks of marrying into a Greek family, her ideal vacation, and why she’s careful about hotel sheets.
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Her old-fashioned view of travel etiquette:
This was a bit before my time, but I miss the days when people dressed up for traveling—because they were representing their culture and were on their best behavior. I wish that would come back. It’s just manners, regular manners! I think you should always behave better in another country than you do your own. It’s like you’re going to somebody’s living room.
On her annual trips to Greece:
My married family is Greek. My husband is 100% Greek, and if you talk to my kids, they would say that they are 100% Greek, even though I was involved in it somehow. They're very identified with their Greek culture, which I really think is lovely. Greeks, of course, are so welcoming and so full of tradition. [My kids] were all christened in Greece, even though we're not a religious family, but it was really culturally important to my mother-in-law, and I found that really moving. Our eldest, Mathilda, was christened near Athens, and the [twins] were christened in my mother-in-law's little village. The entire village showed up and brought them presents. It was so lovely!
We go every year, usually to my [in-laws’] house on the coast. I started this tradition when Mathilda was a baby: we went to the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. It's a really beautiful place where people go to watch the sunset, and I started taking pictures of us there. Usually I make everyone wear white until they protested last year and said that we looked like cult members. “Can we just wear normal clothes?” But it was nice to be consistent! I have all these pictures, watching them grow up, and it's been really nice.
Her priorities when planning a vacation:
For me, it is culture and food. I'm a museum person, but I am definitely the minority in my family. My kids are all about leisure, so there's a bit of push and pull there. They like to go to Greece and see their cousins and hang out on the beach. I like to go and just walk. I love Paris because I get up in the morning and I walk and walk and walk and I don't think about where I'm going. My devices think I've gone crazy. I never ever stop walking, but that's how I like to spend my time. I like looking at buildings. I like finding little courtyards and walking into museums and discovering things. Even though I lived [in Paris] for years, every day is like a discovery for me. I love walking cities. I mean, I grew up in California, where everybody had to have a car, so to me, a city that's set up for walking is a perfect city.
Her coolest filming location:
Actually, my first movie was in Greece. It was with John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. We stayed in Gythium [or Gytheio] and filmed on this little beach called Alypa, which looks like an island. It was really close to where my mother-in-law grew up, so it's funny, I do a sort of pilgrimage to that little tiny place every year, to where I spent so much time when I was 13.
The hotel amenities she cares a lot about:
The sheets are really important, and the tub. I always ask for a tub because I'm one of those people that I can take multiple baths a day. It's how I calm down. It's always been a place where I can just be by myself and relax. A shower cap is really surprisingly important, or a toothbrush or razor, because there’s always something I forget when packing, so it’s nice when a hotel has that stuff. Usually you can call the front desk, and even if they don’t have it in the room, they’ll help you out. But for me, the most important thing is the sheets, because I have really sensitive skin and a lot of hotels use whatever chemicals to make sure they’re clean, and it irritates my skin. If I’m in a really good hotel and the sheets don’t bother my skin, I’m happy.
Her most memorable recent trip:
Recently, my husband and I went to Oman. I think it was the first vacation that we've done, on our own, since we had kids. Which is a really long time! We stayed at this mountain resort and it was so quiet. Coming from New York, you realize just how quiet everything can be, and it was just very restful and peaceful. We got to go where they actually distill the roses; we went on this long hike and were welcomed into houses, where they showed us how they distill the roses and invited us in to have dates and tea and coffee. It felt really special. And I mean, I love perfume and fragrance, so getting to see how they make that was really exciting.
A tourist site she believes more people should see:
On the way back [from Oman], we went to Abu Dhabi. I really wanted to see the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, and it was even more incredible than I thought. [We saw] the Abrahamic House, this beautiful structure—it’s a Catholic church and a Jewish temple and a Muslim mosque, all part of one complex. It was really moving; obviously, for the idea that these religions can all exist together, but also because it was just architecturally really beautiful. I was stunned by it.
Where she wants to go next:
We have a running list of places, because now my kids—my younger kids are 14, and my eldest is already living out of the house, in Brooklyn—so there’s not that many true family vacations I think we're going to be able to take together. On the list is: I really, really want to see the turtles in the Galápagos. I've always wanted to go to the Galápagos. Japan is also a really big one. I've been to Tokyo, but I've never been to the countryside, and my kids are huge fans of Japanese culture. And then I would really love to go to Venice with my husband, because I've never been and I want to see that before it's not there anymore.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler