August 1, 2014 12:32 pm

My perfect summer

Sir Martin Sorrell, Margaret Hodge, Donald Trump, Junot Díaz, Nick D’Aloisio and more share their holiday plans

Sir Martin Sorrell
Chief executive
WPP Group

Where are you going on holiday this year? Holiday? How do you spell that? The Greek islands.

How do you like to get there? Scheduled plane and boat.

Who is going with you? My wife and three couples and their children.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? Unpack, eat with a glass of good wine and sleep.

What is top of your summer reading list? Tim Geithner’s book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises and Jung Chang’s Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Kindle.

What will you be listening to? My wife’s favourites and, very occasionally, I’m allowed mine.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? An iPhone (stills and video) and BlackBerry. My wife posts on Instagram.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Sleep and finding hidden-destination jewels that I won’t describe, as I want them to stay hidden.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? All the time, continuously. No such thing as a holiday – at least clients don’t schedule opportunities or issues out of holidays and the southern hemisphere holidays at different times.

What do you do on the last day of the break? Pack and think about all I will have to do when I return.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? Getting there and airport security. And leaving early on the last morning is a bad idea, as you end up needing another holiday.

. . .

Junot Díaz
Writer

Where are you going on holiday this year? I’ll be crashing Martha’s Vineyard, which I’ve been visiting since I was 20. Back then I didn’t know nothing about it, was just your typical college kid working his way through school when my friend Michiyuki invited me up there and that was it – I was hooked. I guess it just spoke to my island soul. And of course I’ll be going back to the Dominican Republic, where I was born. Back to the beautiful madness.

How do you like to get there? I don’t have a personal dirigible or anything. For the Vineyard I just drive on to the ferry. For Santo Domingo I drive down to NYC, visit with friends and family and then fly direct to Santo Domingo. Those flights are something of a party.

Splash photography

From the series “Summer on a solitary beach” by Escapista

“Summer is what we’re all waiting for. Always,” says the Italian photographer Escapista, whose series “Summer on a solitary beach” (the title is taken from a 1981 pop song by Franco Battiato) depicts children swimming at Bagni Ausonia, near Trieste in northeastern Italy. The pictures were taken six years ago but, he says, nothing has changed at Ausonia in the past 30 years.

Trieste is a peculiar coastal town because it lacks a sandy beach. Instead there is a pool by the sea. People of all ages use the “beach”, particularly children who love jumping from the two springboards into the Adriatic.

“Few things give me such peace of mind as seeing kids jumping in the water,” says Escapista.

escapista.net

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? For the Vineyard, I’ll go to my favourite bookstore, A Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven – the bookstore Obama hits when he’s on the island. (It’s an amazing place with an almost perfect balance of fiction and non-fiction.) Then I’ll check out the wind and the waves along State Beach. In the DR I spend that first day running around the Zona Colonial, catching up with my friends under the shadows of our Spanish ruins, walking up and down the Conde, seeing what’s changed and what hasn’t.

What is top of your summer reading list? I have R Zamora Linmark’s novel Leche. I’ve always liked his poetry so now it’s time for his fiction. And then there’s Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. I’m a sucker for first novels. And on the brainiac side I plan to tuck into Peter Bacon Hale’s Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now.

What will you be listening to? A lot of hip-hop and bachata. But I’m a podcast junkie so I’ve always got a few chapters of my zombie-epic favourite, We’re Alive, lined up.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? I used to have a real camera and was starting to learn how to use it but then the damn iPhone colluded with my laziness and that was the end of that experiment.

What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you on holiday? Once on a beach Jamaica, right before an October storm swept in, I fell in love. She had hair like all your best things combined. It lasted eight years.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I don’t do any social media. I used to be on Facebook but that turned me into the worst kind of click addict imaginable so I had to cut it.

What do you do on the last day of the break? If it’s the DR, almost always on the ride back to the airport we’ll stop at this small beach that nobody really knows about and I’ll have my last swim of the trip. Sometimes there will be young men fishing and, depending on the season, the air above us will be filled with swifts. They build little pebble-and-spit nests all along the sea cliffs and to be out in the surging Caribbean with the swifts gliding about overhead is as close as I come to grace.

. . .

Joyce DiDonato
Opera singer

Where are you going on holiday this year? I spent two weeks in January on safari in Kenya, Tanzania and hiking to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda. But, for the summer, I’m opting for some beach time in Ibiza!

How do you like to get there? The gorilla trip involved hiking through the thick jungle behind a guide with a machete, but I’m flying British Airways to Ibiza.

Who is going with you? Ibiza is with my boyfriend.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? A glass of champagne on our balcony overlooking the sea.

What is top of your summer reading list? Limitless Sky: Life Lessons from the Himalayas by David Manners.

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Do you read on paper or ebook? On an iPad.

What will you be listening to? The ocean.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? My Canon D5 camera.

What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you on holiday? Having a Silverback gorilla called “Sir Charles” climb up and perch just over a metre away from me, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I plan to stay off of it, but in reality, I’ll likely cheat. But just a little!

. . .

Nick D’Aloisio
Tech entrepreneur

Where are you going on holiday this year? This summer, I decided to InterRail around Europe with four of my best friends for three weeks. We started off in western Europe and made our way across to Croatia. We also went to Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague and Budapest.

What is top of your summer reading list? Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980). The book deals with the prevalence of analogy in everyday language and is a fascinating example of how concepts in the brain are stored and ground out in physical objects. This is strongly linked to AI (artificial intelligence), so I am very interested in it.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Both but I actually prefer paper for longform reading.

What will you be listening to? Electronic music on SoundCloud. I have specifically been listening to techno since I knew we were travelling to Berlin, which is now the “techno capital” of the world.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? My phone doubling up as a camera – iPhone to Facebook!

What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you on holiday? Getting into the Berghain club in Berlin! It is notorious for being one of the world’s hardest to get into so I was very lucky! It was amazing.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I used email once a day and tried to stay off my phone as much as possible.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? I love the mental relaxation, especially just coming out of my A-levels and my busy schedule with tech work. My least favourite part is it ending!

. . .

Ramachandra Guha
Historian

Where are you going on holiday this year? I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in England – a few days in Cambridge (the loveliest university town in the world, made lovelier this time by my daughter’s graduation), and then a week in London, watching cricket at Lord’s, visiting bookstores, meeting friends, all the while steeling myself to keep away from the libraries and archives that normally draw me to the city.

How do you like to get there? There is a direct daily flight from my home town, Bangalore, to Heathrow.

Who is going with you? This, like my other holidays, was with my wife and children.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? Visit John Sandoe, that splendid ‘independent’ bookstore off the King’s Road in Chelsea.

What is top of your summer reading list? An old novel by Alberto Moravia, Two Women (1957), gifted to me by my son.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Always on paper.

What will you be listening to? Hindustani classical music, especially Nikhil Bannerjee on the sitar and Ali Akbar Khan on the sarod.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? None of the above.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Found a used bookstore I hadn’t previously known of.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? Check email morning and evening, otherwise stay away.

What do you do on the last day of the break? Begin packing early to check how many books will fit in.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? I most enjoy the uninterrupted company of my wife and children. I least enjoy eating in restaurants (the subtle and beauties of South Indian vegetarian cuisine can never be reproduced outside the home).

. . .

Lord Browne
Businessman, author

Where are you going on holiday this year? My newly renovated apartment in Venice, which has the most breathtaking view of the most beautiful city in the world.

How do you like to get there? I fly – but the final leg of the journey is, of course, by boat. The boat completely relaxes me.

Who is going with you? My partner, but we also welcomed many friends over the Redentore festival weekend in July.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? We take in the view from the altana (rooftop terrace), which is spectacular.

What is top of your summer reading list? Two books: Ben Judah’s Fragile Empire about President Putin; I am also reading Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy, about the moral limits of markets. It makes the important point that markets are an economic mechanism, not a social phenomenon.

What will you be listening to? My collection of 600 CDs, all digitised of course. We will be enjoying opera on the terrace. In Venice, I am reverting to Mozart’s Magic Flute.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? Absolutely. I usually work in the mornings, and relax in the afternoons and evenings. Since I started Twitter accounts for myself (@LordJohnBrowne) and for my book and website (@GlassCloset Org), I check those regularly. Everybody tells me that I am not yet ready for Facebook.

What do you do on the last day of the break? Have dinner at our favourite restaurant, Da Ivo, where the fresh figs with small shrimp are outstanding.

. . .

Margaret Hodge

Politician and chair of the UK’s Public Accounts Committee

Where are you going on holiday this year? I’ve got a very large family so we are taking over a place half an hour up in the hills outside Barcelona.

How do you like to get there? By plane and then hire a car but if I had the time, I would go by train.

Who is going with you? I’ve got an absolute troop coming with me – my four children, 10 grandchildren, nieces and nephews, my sister, and a couple of friends to keep me safe from being bossed about by my children. It’s peer support.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? I take in the view and celebrate the sun, I’m a great sun worshipper.

What is top of your summer reading list? It’s a very big list because I spend too much time reading endless National Audit Office reports so, on this holiday, if I get any time away from entertaining my grandchildren, I will continue reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and will read Robert Harris’s An Officer and a Spy, and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Both but I don’t have an Amazon Kindle – that’s part of my boycott. I have a Kobo.

What will you be listening to? Recently I’ve seen a lot of Richard Strauss so I would like to get to know his pieces better. I’m pretty obsessed with Daniel Barenboim playing the Beethoven piano concertos, and Cecilia Bartoli, with her lovely rich strong beautiful voice – a real diva. So, if the kids let me that’s what I’ll put on.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? Real camera, although I love iPad photos and increasingly use that.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Some of the things I’ve seen on adventure holidays with my husband when he was alive have been fantastic. Getting up Machu Picchu – that moment you wake up at dawn and you’ve done that three-day climb – was a fantastic moment.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? Absolutely 100 per cent, no. I’m really happy when I can’t do that.

. . .

Donald Trump
Chairman and president, the Trump Organisation

Where are you going on holiday this year? I don’t take holidays. I travel to my different properties and my golf courses, which is like a holiday as I love my work. This August I will be returning to my courses in Ireland and Scotland which are very beautiful, and I will check up on them and golf too. A perfect vacation.

How do you like to get there? I have a private jet, a 757.

Who is going with you? My wife, Melania, and youngest son, Barron.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? I greet the staff.

What is top of your summer reading list? Briefs and documents, most likely. That never stops and we have a lot of projects worldwide so I have to keep up on that daily.

What will you be listening to? The sound of the wind and sea.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? I leave that to Melania.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? Probably. I have a lot of Twitter followers and I like staying in touch with them.

What do you enjoy most and least about travelling? Having private jets and helicopters makes it much easier. I don’t like delays.

. . .

Sandy Nairne
Director, National Portrait Gallery

Where are you going on holiday this year? Greece, Peloponnese

How do you like to get there? Flying quickly

Who is going with you? My wife, [art historian] Lisa Tickner.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? Check out the view.

What is top of your summer reading list? Donna Tartt (I am way behind on my reading).

Do you read on paper or ebook? Bit of both.

What will you be listening to? Bach, Stan Getz and Keith Jarrett.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? Sketch book.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Watching the sun set into the sea.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? No.

What do you do on the last day of the break? Stay calm and try to drink in as much as I can of the place and the view.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? Going somewhere where we can watch the sun going down (achieved for the past seven years); and I would love not to go near an airport.

. . .

Mary Katrantzou
Fashion designer

Where are you going on holiday this year? My partner and I are flying into Croatia and driving down the coast to meet our close friends Nasiba and her husband Thomas on their boat in Montenegro. We then plan to travel up the coast and then fly on to Spetses, Greece, to spend some time with our family.

What is top of your summer reading list? The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Paper! For all the technological advancement for which I’m incredibly grateful, especially in my field, nothing quite compares to flicking through the pages of a book.

What will you be listening to? My iPod is a real mixed bag – it completely depends on what mood I’m in. This season it’s the Jesus and Mary Chain and Cocteau Twins.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? I have a Polaroid camera which I tend to take when I’m away on holiday but my iPhone I use daily when travelling. I love Instagram, I’m not bored of it yet – it’s a great way to document and share your travels.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I always check my emails whilst I’m away – it’s important for me to be in touch with my team, particularly at this stage in the calendar [with shows coming up in September].

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? I love to travel – for me it’s the best way to seek and find inspiration. I forever have my eyes peeled for something new to inspire me but it can be exhausting at the same time. I’m always happy to be back to London, to concentrate on the new season and think about all the new possibilities.

. . .

Tyler Cowen
Economist, author

Where are you going on holiday this year? Holiday, what’s that? I consider working at home to be my relaxation. Nonetheless, there are two trips. The first was to Chengdu in May, to learn what real Sichuan food tastes like and to witness Chinese overbuilding first hand. The second will be to Cochabamba in late August to give a talk on economic development. Bolivia is one of the most exotic countries and most underrated travel destinations.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? Look for a restaurant where no one speaks English and they have lots of spicy green sauce for the Silpancho (a steak dish).

What is top of your summer reading list? I am in the middle of a sustained reading programme to better understand how the western countries won their battles against air pollution in the 1960s and 1970s. I’m also rereading Moby-Dick and Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy (1964), planning a reread of [Alexis] de Tocqueville, short stories by [Julio] Cortázar . . .

Do you read on paper or ebook? I prefer paper, but for extended trips a Kindle is necessary. Kindle works best when you know you wish to read every page of a classic book, but it is poor for sampling and scanning.

What will you be listening to? I am always listening to Bach. In my hotel room at night I like to search YouTube for classic performances from rock, jazz, and blues – short and bite-sized. Try James Brown doing “Bewildered”.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? I don’t take photos at all, as it breaks up my experience and distracts me from seeing and absorbing.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Finding the right asam laksa soup.

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I don’t like taking photos, yet I walk around with an iPad so I don’t fall too far behind on my email and Twitter feed. Call me crazy.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? Travelling is an intense form of learning and discovery which puts even books to shame. Going home is always both a wonder and a heartbreak.

. . .

Matthieu Pigasse
Chief executive, Lazard Frères, France

Where are you going on holiday this year? Alaska. To be in the wild. Far from everything, at one of the last frontiers . . . Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild (1996) and Sean Penn’s movie version of it – captivating and moving – have contributed to drive me there.

How do you like to get there? It’s quite a challenge to get there from Europe . . . We’ll fly and connect to Anchorage via Minneapolis. Then, a combination of planes, boats, cars and feet . . . There’s nothing like driving and walking to feel the space.

Who is going with you? My family, with kids, nephews and nieces . . . A big group, with one common goal: be cool and have fun!

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? Take a shower! And then go out immediately, walk through the city to feel it, be in the mood and get rid of jet lag . . . 

What is top of your summer reading list? A combination of non-fiction (History of the French Revolution by Jules Michelet, 1847, is so inspired that it leaves you breathless), novel (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 1844, is so moving that I re-read it every three or four years) and poetry (Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine, so inspiring that I never stop reading them).

Do you read on paper or on ebook? On paper . . . I need to feel, to touch, to take notes.

What will you be listening to? I will honour the “French touch”! Listening to Kavinsky, Gesaffelstein, La Femme, Justice, Daft Punk . . .

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? Pictures on iPhone, easy and good, and GoPro to capture the action! No Instagram – I’m not that exhibitionist . . .

Do you go online or use social media when you’re away? I don’t go to Alaska to go social (media) . . . Online yes, however, for work, because the action never stops.

What do you enjoy the most and the least about travelling? The most is discovering people, cultures, civilisations, wilderness. There is no least: having taken a plane for the first time in my life at the age of 25, I know how unique a privilege travelling is.

. . .

Michelle Rhee
US schools reformer

Where are you going on holiday this year? We’re going to Lake Tahoe, which is along the border between California and Nevada. It should be a great trip – there is beautiful scenery, hiking, water sports, and a lot of great restaurants.

How do you like to get there? We’re going to drive. It’s only a couple of hours away from my home in Sacramento, California.

Who is going with you? A lot of people! Each year, we do a reunion trip with about 40 friends and family, and this year we decided to go to Tahoe. It’s always a great time.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? I can’t really relax until I get myself organised and settled, so I always unpack first.Then to the important stuff, like picking where to eat!

What is top of your summer reading list? I have two books I’m particularly excited to read: Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m looking forward to finally having some time to read for pleasure.

Do you read on paper or ebook? Oh, only paper. I’m a fan of technology in general, but no ebooks for me.

What will you be listening to? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to music. I have a great playlist that I listen to over and over again. It has all kinds of stuff, from Jay-Z, to Peter Gabriel to Journey.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? Definitely iPhone. I don’t know even know what Instagram is to be honest . . . 

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? My husband took me to Vermont on a mini-vacation. It was cold and snowy – perfect for a cosy day inside our cabin. Believe it or not, at that point I had never seen the Godfather, so we binge-watched all three films. Perfect.

. . .

Cory Doctorow
Blogger, author, activist

Where are you going on holiday this year? Our major holiday this year is a family holiday to the place where my wife and I honeymooned. We’re going to the island of Roatán in Honduras, which has a beautiful reef. My wife and I are both scuba divers and we’re bringing our six-year-old daughter, who’s never been snorkelling before.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? We’ll strip off, jump into our bathing cossies and jump straight into the sea.

What is top of your summer reading list? A book by Scott Westerfeld, who is a great writer and a friend of mine. He’s written a new young adult book that’s called Afterworlds. I also have a copy of Kathe Koja’s The Mercury Waltz, the sequel to her amazing book, Under The Poppy.

Do you read on paper or ebook? I mostly read on paper, especially when I go on holiday where I don’t want to worry about bringing devices to the beach and then getting them ruined. I also don’t want to worry about my battery running out, especially now that America has adopted the insane policy of if you turn up [for a US-bound flight] with a device that has a flat battery [that can’t be charged], they’ll take it away or sell it on or destroy it and mine its storage for your contacts and hand them over to the NSA, in all likelihood.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? I have a Nexus 5, which is an Android phone, and I take pictures with it and then I put them on my hard drive and share them on Flickr and Tumblr.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? The best thing that happens is nothing. For it to turn from a very hectic life into one where the days pass without any particular urgency where time just rolls out ahead of you.

. . .

Harriet Green
Chief executive, Thomas Cook Group

Where are you going on holiday this year? Istanbul on a city break and also Thailand.

How do you like to get there? Flying is really the only option – don’t have time to do it overland unfortunately!

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive? I get the WiFi working and connect all my devices!

What is top of your summer reading list? I’m rereading Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), also Natchez Burning by Greg Iles and Exile by Richard North Patterson.

What will you be listening to? Kodaline, Led Zeppelin (my husband’s favourite), Shostakovich.

Real camera, smartphone, or straight to Instagram? An iPhone but I’m not a great photographer, except for social media . . . things never quite turn out the way I planned.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on holiday? Met my husband . . . he was on holiday in the city where I lived!

What do you do on the last day of the break? Enjoy doing our favourite things and, of course, recheck all of our departure details.

What do you enjoy most, and least, about travelling? Most is just the excitement of taking off, looking out at the sky and the adventure to come. The worst is easy – the actual travelling and getting from “A to B’” never happens fast enough for me . . . bring back supersonic travel!

Compiled by Kasia Delgado

Photographs: Escapista; Paul Broadrick Photography; Charlie Bibby; AFP; Reuters; Getty; AP, Bloomberg; NBC

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