What I love about travelling is escaping from work, life and everything really. I'm late to the travelling game. Apart from a summer spent in the US when I was 21, I was a home bird with clipped wings, because I couldn't afford to visit anywhere. But I have made up for it over the last 10 years. It's always exciting to experience life in places that I'd only ever seen on my small dented tin globe.
When I was a kid every summer was spent in Blacksod, Co Mayo where my Mum comes from. All of us packed into an old yellow Opel Ascona that one of my friends named the "Murray-go-round". It took three-and-a-half hours to get there. Packed lunches, fizzy drinks and flasks of tea were a must; this was the 80s before Paninis and lattes. Blacksod is beautiful and isolated. But the most important thing to us was that it was by the sea and my brother Shaun and I refused to be budged from the beach. At the end of our holiday we would fill two refuse sacks with sand and take them home to Athlone so Shaun and I could maintain our tropical lifestyle well into the autumn.
My best travel experience hasn't happened yet, I like to think. But I do have great memories of 10 days I spent alone on the Greek island of Sifnos. I had just been made full-time in RTÉ and I had a couple of weeks to kill before I took up my position. I hurtled around the island on my scooter without a care in the world. It was a time of great optimism for me and that, combined with the beauty of Sifnos, great weather, food, drink and lots of swimming and reading, made for a great holiday.
My worst travel experience was coming home from Sifnos.
The world's best city is probably New York; it's hard to beat. But aside from there I love Budapest. I can't quite put my finger on why I like it so much. Obviously, it's stunning and has some beautiful gothic architecture, but aside from that just being there fills me with great energy. Your money goes a lot further than in most of the big-hitting cities, which always helps. If you're like me and enjoy floating, the Gellert and Széchenyi baths are amazing.
The strangest thing I have experienced while away was with my pal Cillian Murphy while we were in the US.
It was four years ago and he was filming Inception at the time in LA. From there we were flown up to Calgary in Canada as he had to learn how to ski. (How lucky was I?) We stayed in a gigantic, empty, isolated mountain top hotel - the type you could imagine Jack Nicolson's character in The Shining having a gay auld time in.
We were given skiing lessons at an empty resort where the set of a gigantic fortress was being built for the film. I asked Cill what it was for and he said he couldn't tell me as he was contractually sworn to secrecy and all that malarkey. All he could say was that it was set in the fifth level of his character's mind and if you've seen the film you'll know what I'm talking about.
Inception was released nine months later and I burst out laughing in the cinema when I saw the fortress scene. The other cinemagoers must have thought that I was a few sandwiches short of a roadside picnic.
If I won the Lotto I'd get a yacht the size of a large yacht and see out my days on the high seas.
The best hotel I ever stayed in is Kinnitty Castle, Co Offaly. My girlfriend Eva and I were driving around the midlands last Christmas and we called in on spec and got an amazing suite at a great price. We enjoyed a beautiful meal followed by nightcaps in the Library Bar which oozes atmosphere. Plus it's haunted; what more could you ask for? When it comes to hotels I go for creaky character over steely luxury.
My favourite place in Ireland is Blacksod, Co Mayo
My favourite travel book is The Magus by John Fowles. It tells the story of a young teacher on a small Greek island who becomes embroiled in the psychological illusions of a master trickster. I read it on Sifnos.
My next holiday will be heading back to Budapest again for a few days. I can't wait. All being well, next summer I'd like to go to Portugal.
I always bring back a few extra pounds! It's the baskets of bread, you see.
The craziest thing I have done on holiday, well, what happens on tour stays on tour and all that. But last August Eva and I were dragged along for what seemed like an eternity by a speed boat while clinging for dear life to an inflatable couch on the island of Bol in Croatia. It was exhilarating but also terrifying. I've a feeling that in years to come I'll be recounting that event to a psychiatrist; I will of course be lying on an inflatable couch.
I never go travelling without Eva, sun cream and an open mind.
Tune in to RTÉ Radio 1 for The Weekend on One with Cathal Murray, Saturday and Sunday mornings between 6am and 8am.