“My Holiday” Profile – Irish Times 9th June 2012

My holidays

Travel writer Paul Martin


Holiday at Home, Paul and his wife, Barbara, at the Cliffs of Moher

Holiday at Home, Paul and his wife, Barbara, at the Cliffs of Moher


What was your best holiday? Besides Australia (of course) and my honeymoon in Kenya, it would be my first trip to South America. Arriving into Cusco, Peru was exhilarating. The high altitude in the Andes and the striking mix of Inca and Conquistador architecture gave it a very special atmosphere.

I also had the powerful sensation of standing at the centre of the almost mythical Inca empire which had been toppled over apparently so easily by Pizarro.

What was your worst holiday? It was the first fortnight of another South American trip (even though the next four months were wonderful). It started off in Quito, Ecuador where I was robbed in my hostel as the security guard had been bribed. Then after eating some dodgy chicken in Latacunga, I was as sick as a dog and forced to hole up alone in a crummy hotel. When I emerged from the room 24 hours later I was only half the man I’d been when I’d entered it!

If budget or work were not a restriction, what would be your dream holiday? My dream holiday would be to return with the family to Australia. I’d like to do it in about five years when my three boys might be old enough to appreciate it. After visiting friends in Sydney we’d rent a campervan for three months and travel from Karijini National Park to the Kimberleys in Western Australia and through much of northern Queensland.

If you had your pick, who would you bring on holiday with you? It would have to be my wife Barbara and the boys. Being Italian, she makes sure we eat well and always has an interesting “take” on new places. As for the boys – twins and another one 20 months older – they’re effectively triplets and are mostly 24/7 entertainment.

What’s your favourite place in Ireland? The Wicklow Mountains are just on my doorstep and the view from the top of Djouce Mountain on a clear day would inspire even the dullest of souls.

Your recommended holiday reading? My desert island reading would definitely be Montaigne’s Essays. On leisure holidays, I tend to read fiction and travel writing. Paul Theroux can be cantankerous but he does seem to hit the nail on the head about the shifting moods and odd happenings while travelling. The novel The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig mesmerised me on a recent holiday.

Where will you go to next? About eight years ago I went on an unforgettable holiday to France with my friend Eoin (whom I met in Australia) and his brother. We always swore we’d go back there together in later years. This summer with our respective families we’ll spend a fortnight in Brittany together.

Travel writer Paul Martin’s new book is Travels With Bertha: Two years exploring Australia in a 1978 Ford station wagon (Liberties Press, €15.99)

Genevieve Carbery

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