Holidaying with Leo

Leo Varadkar offers some handy holiday tips for the hard-pressed. By Michael Taft.

According to the CSO, there are a growing number of people experiencing deprivation (read here and here for a full discussion of this on Progressive-Economy). In fact, nearly one-in-four of the population suffer two or more instances of deprivation. But that doesn’t stop our man, Minister Leo Varadkar, from assuring all those folk that, hey, the budget is going to be easy and everyone will have enough money for a holiday next year. Indeed, Leo has come up with some holiday tips for the really hard-pressed.

For the 20% of the population that can’t afford to replace worn-out furniture.

Leo advises: “It’s hard to get a good deal in Ireland on furniture. I recommend you go antiquing in Barcelona. Passeig de Gracia in the Eixample area is a good spot to start. You can find some great bargains – I picked up a sweet 19th century miniature mahogany fall front bureau there recently.  And at €800 it was a steal.”

For the 19% of the population that couldn’t afford a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight.

Leo advises: ‘I’m not surprised.  Even with all this deflation prices are still high (though my colleague Minister Bruton is trying to slash hospitality wages, so things could improve). In the meantime, I can’t think of a better place to go for coffee than this little place in Montmarte next to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica I came across once in my bohemian days. They have a wide range of coffee beans that they actually grind at your table! My favourite is a rich dark Sumatra (but I like to pump the caffeine – ha, ha). I won’t recommend any of the dinner places because...well…you’re poor and know.”

For the 15% of the population that can’t afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month:

Leo advises: “You know me, I’m a straight talking guy. If you can’t afford to have family or friends over you probably live in a dive and your friends (my friends, anyway) wouldn’t want to come over. But they’ll be beating down the door of your crib if you rent a lovely villa. After a hard week at work I like to retire to the Borgo Sette Tigli near Montepulciano in Tuscany. These villas have a swimming pool, tennis, satellite TV, a laundry and it’s even wheelchair accessible! I have a permanent account there. You rent that and your friends (and even mine) will be queuing up to come over for some mussels and authentic gnocchi.”

For the 11% who can’t afford heating all year around.

Leo advises: “For god’s sake, man – don’t sit around the gaff freezing your tushy off. Head over to Lisbon. You can crash in the Costa da Prata north of Lisbon. Warm swimming and tasty barbequed sardines. The great thing about this spot is that tourists haven’t copped on to the place – and there’s nothing worse than going to a place only to find it over-run with foreigners. Just mention me to Guilherme over at the São Gabriel and he’ll rustle you up a great seafood medley. Whenever I drop in, Guilherme and I stay up all hours drinking new Alentejo wines and talking about the horses.  And warm? Get outta here.”

Yes, our Leo has a holiday destination tailored just for your deprivation experience. Unable to afford new clothes? You’ll find some real bargains in the markets in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the German Alps. Unable to afford a roast once a week? Not to worry, you can order Jamón Iberico de Montanera over the counter in San Sebastian (that’s free-range, acorn-fed ham – no need to scrimp on holidays). Unable to afford two pairs of strong shoes? Hand-crafted leather sandals are all the rage in Genoa.

So don't be shy.  Leo is waiting for you to get in touch. Just contact him at Fine Gael’s branch office in Saint-Tropez between the hours of 10:30 and 12:30.  Otherwise, wander down to the pier where you’re sure to find him. {jathumbnailoff}


 Image top: Real Hotels Group.