My life in travel: Andrew Maxwell

'There's a lot going on in Cape Town'

Comedian Andrew Maxwell is an ambassador for The Gathering Ireland, a year-long series of festivals, events and celebrations across the country (

First holiday memory?

Messing around on a farm on the Isle of Man. I remember the trip involved a lot of caravanning. Being working class and Irish in the Eighties, holidays meant leaving your own house and moving into a smaller temporary one.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Edinburgh. It's compact, cultured and sophisticated, but also quite rugged. There's a mountain in the middle of the city for goodness sake!

Best holiday?

Touring Australia in my twenties with a Belfast comic called Michael Smiley, a Dublin comedian called Ed Bryne and another guy – I don't know what happened to him – called Simon Pegg. It seemed incredible that someone had brought us halfway across the world to tell jokes.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Manners maketh the man. Be polite and you will get away with a lot. If you can say "hello, please and thank you" in another man's language, he's going to be more lenient.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

My ideal trip would either be to Southern California or the South of France: where you can snowboard in mountains, surf on the beach and soak up a city. These are the great places.

Greatest travel luxury?

A toothbrush. It seems a prosaic thing, but if you forget it, you have a whole mouthful of horrible.

Holiday reading?

I took Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck on a driving holiday around California a couple of years ago, which was a perfect read.

Where has seduced you?

The Alps. I like them so much I started my own comedy festival there, Altitude, with Marcus Brigstocke. The first three years were in Meribel and then we moved to Mayrhofen.

Better to travel or arrive?

I can understand how travelling could be exciting if you didn't do so much for work. But airports, train stations and car hire offices don't hold any allure for me. Getting into the hotel is the most glorious moment.

Worst travel experience?

I made a series called Conspiracy Road Trip for BBC3 where I trekked around America meeting conspiracy theorists. We toured together in a little bus, mainly through the deserts of the south-west. When we were filming, we would have to turn off the air conditioning because it was too loud for the microphones, so there were times when we were literally being cooked alive. Because everyone was so passionate, the interviews would drag on for hours.

Best hotel?

I used to interview movie stars for a show called RI:SE on Channel 4. I was only 20, it was my first time in America and they put me up in the Chateau Marmont. I called all my mates back home and said: "Da-Dah! I'm in Hollywood, suckers!"

Favourite swim?

Hampstead Ponds. I've been going there for a long time. All the lifeguards are mates of mine and I know all the old boys who are regulars. It's right in the middle of London, surrounded by forest and, at different times of the year, you have different bird life.

Best meal abroad?

Eating seafood on the West Coast of Ireland. One of my favourite places is Moran's Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan, County Galway. It's a pub on The Weir that serves incredible lobster and oysters straight from the water in front you, alongside a creamy pint of Guinness.

Favourite city?

Cape Town is pretty amazing. It's a city with two oceans! End of. It has vineyards, surfing, seafood and a spectacular mountain that defies the imagination. They've got everything going on.

Where next?

I've always wanted to go Beirut. You've got incredible Eastern Mediterranean food, mixed with cosmopolitan people and beach life. You can get in your car and be up in the ski resorts around Mount Lebanon in an hour. Before the civil war, Lebanon was known as the "Switzerland of the East". It was looking good for a while, but now the situation seems to have changed.

Realistically, I'll be in Edinburgh this summer for the Fringe and probably Portugal in the autumn.