Thank you so much to Elizabeth and Dale from E&D Abroad and Nicolette Orlemans of Culture With Travel for the Liebster Award nomination. I am truly honored by the gesture. I really enjoyed answering your thoughtful questions (below) and am excited to share them with you today. What a fun way to get to know someone!
As you may already know, I initially started my blog to address and write about various subjects related to my book, ranging from personal history, childhood stories and fun anecdotes to cultural observations and life as an expat in Amsterdam. It is a place not only to dig a little deeper but also to start a conversation, educate and learn along the way. But first – before I go any further – many of you may be wondering what a Liebster Award is exactly.
What is a Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is an opportunity for the blogging community to recognize up and coming bloggers and give some exposure to who they are and what their blog is about. The nominee is then able to pay it forward, giving further exposure to others within the blog community.
1. Someone nominates you for the award and asks you to answer 11 questions.
2. You answer the questions.
3. You create 11 new questions and nominate five or more other bloggers to answer them.
Questions From Nicolette Orlemans
Q: What and where was your most memorable travel experience? Why?
Traveling to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana for just over two weeks with my mom, aunt and cousin. From incredible safaris, seeing the “Big Five” and wild dogs, wine tasting in Stellenbosch and visiting the home of Nelson Mandela to the apartheid museum and experiencing the power and beauty of Victoria Falls, the tour was truly a trip of a lifetime. It was on this trip I learned about the horrors of the apartheid, educating myself on what really happened in that time period. I also witnessed an African sunset firsthand, reflecting on the day’s events as the sun dropped over the horizon and beautiful colors flooded the sky. Combined with the all-female family trip aspect, the memories we created will stay with us forever.
Q: Which destination would you revisit? Why?
There are several destinations I would like to revisit, however, South Africa, Croatia and Finland are three countries I’ve been to that I would like to return and spend some more time exploring. In Croatia and Finland, I’ve only visited Dubrovnik and Helsinki respectively and would like to immerse myself in the nature. When it comes to South Africa, while we participated in a wonderful trip and really covered some ground, the whole experience was a whirlwind. I would like to go back and take things a bit slower, perhaps going on a few more safaris and really acquainting myself with the local culture and traditions.
Q: Ever dealt with a language barrier and how did you cope?
Whenever I visit someplace I cannot speak the local language and the person I am communicating with is unable to speak English (for instance ordering breakfast in France or visiting a small grocery store in Czech Republic), hand gestures, body language and signals help convey your message. As an American expat living in the Netherlands, I started learning Dutch immediately.
Q: Solo travel or with friends/family?
I prefer traveling with my loved ones.
Q: Did you ever have a setback during travel? How did you recover?
This past December, just before going back to the United States to visit family and friends for the holidays, I realized my passport was about to expire. Forgetting the fact many countries require the passport to be valid a minimum of six months out from date of departure, I had to go to the local agency upon arrival in the U.S. and expedite the process. The only other type of setback I have experienced while traveling usually relates to weather, but fortunately for us we haven’t endured anything severe. We just pack accordingly (i.e. for snow or rain) and grin and bear it.
Q: Do you prefer to wander or do you have a set agenda with sites to see?
My travel style depends on how much time I have at a certain destination. I usually try to research specific sites, must-visit attractions and cuisine ahead of time to help map out my plan, but love wandering the streets, seeing what beautiful surprise lurks around the next corner.
Q: How do you document your travels (photo, writing, video, social media)? Why do you think it’s important to share?
Photography is my main outlet to document my travels. A selection of these photographs are uploaded to social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. Photographs – together with captions – help preserve the memories created, serving as a reminder of the experience.
Q: What’s one travel life lesson that sticks with you to this day?
Travel has opened my eyes to the world, introducing me to new cultures, local customs, delicious food, beautiful sights, and different perspectives. My parents especially have instilled in me the desire to not only explore what a place has to offer but dig deeper and learn every step of the way. I am so fortunate travel was, and is, a priority for them and that I still have the opportunity to travel, sometimes with them, to this day.
Q: If you could travel back in history, what time would you revisit and why?
That’s a tough one! If I had to choose, I think I would revisit the Age of Enlightenment – also known as the Age of Reason – in Europe during the 18th century to chat with famous scholars such as Francis Bacon, John Locke, Voltaire, Sir Isaac Newton, and Immanuel Kant. Ancient Rome is also of interest to me. Additionally, visiting Europe during these two time periods would be fascinating to witness how daily life functioned back then, see the exquisite architecture for myself and compare that society against today’s standards.
Q: How do you personally think immersion into the local culture ties into the overall travel experience?
Discovering and connecting with the local culture, namely through art, history, cuisine, festivals, and most importantly the people, deeply enriches and enhances the overall travel experience. Numerous lessons and valuable information can be learned through local interaction. Art, for instance, illustrates a country’s history and delves into the soul of the artist. That artist is part of the local culture. Participating in various traditions or festivals also provides insight into the culture, where Merriam-Webster defines tradition as “stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group for a long time.” Culture and the people living in that area are at the essence of travel, exposing us to new perspectives and something we cannot (nor should we want to) escape while on the road.
Elizabeth and Dale’s Questions
Q: What is the most embarrassing or funniest thing that happened to you while traveling?
As I was making my way through the Washington Dulles airport in Washington D.C. to catch a flight, my dress bunched up in the back and got stuck in my underwear. Unknowingly, I walked the entire length of the airport with my bottom exposed and didn’t find out until I went to sit down at my gate.
Q: Money aside and time constraints aside, what travel locale is at the very top of your list?
Seeing the penguins in Antarctica is at the very top of my list.
Q: When you are not traveling, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a variety of hobbies. In Amsterdam, I am part of a book club. Fitness is also important. Pilates and biking (although biking is part of everyday life here in the Netherlands) are two of my favorite activities. Spending time with friends and my Dutch family is also something I enjoy and of the utmost importance.
Q: Out of the places you’ve visited, which one did you experience in a negative light and why?
Roatán, an island about 30 miles north of Honduras, boasts beautiful scenery, perfect for relaxing among the sand and surf, yet the poverty and number of shacks shocked us.
Q: When traveling, what type of activities do you enjoy doing the most, i.e. adventure, shopping, spa day, beach, etc.?
Depends on the destination, but I love anything adventure related. Sampling local cuisine is also a must!
Q: What is your favorite meal you’ve eaten on a trip?
My partner, Matthijs, and I visited Malta in October 2012. We only had a couple of days, so our time was limited. One evening while strolling down a small street, we found this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. After looking at the menu, we thought the establishment looked nice enough and sat down outside on the terrace. Hearing earlier in the day how the fresh catch is the best pick, we ordered that. The waiter presented us with the fish that was destined to be our meal.
When it was ready, we were hungry and ready to eat. The preparation was simple, but absolutely divine. Paired with a fantastic bottle of red wine from Malta, we devoured our fishy friend. The entire evening was made complete by the romantic ambiance, surrounded by sparkling, blue water as we watched the colors fade over the horizon. The presentation, the flavors, the atmosphere, being young and in love: it all came together to create a memorable meal.
Q: Which place have you visited that you would go back to again and again and why?
Tuscany. First of all, I love Italian cuisine. It is such a rich and diverse kitchen, filled with many wonderful flavors. Every meal I’ve ever had in Italy has been fantastic. In the mornings, I can have a cup of coffee or espresso, and in the evening, choose from a wide selection of fine Italian wines. Tuscany is known for its stellar vineyards. Second, the rolling, lush green countryside is home to cute villas, an atmosphere eliciting a relaxing retreat. Little villages and towns in the surrounding area promise enough sightseeing and places to take a stroll. The people are warm and friendly and the weather is relatively pleasant year round.
Q: What is your favorite non-travel blog to read?
I follow Blogilates, a website and YouTube channel led by the enthusiastic Pilates instructor Cassey Ho. In addition to her workout videos, she writes a Blog featuring not only her latest routines but also tasty, healthy recipes, business updates and personal stories. She is an inspiration to women all around the world, leading by example and always radiating positive vibes. Her words push you to be the best you possibly can, both physically and mentally.
Q: What would you prefer to do for the rest of your life: the dream job you had growing up or travel blogging?
I am living my dream right now: writing a book.
The Next Questions
1. Why did you initially start your blog?
2. Who or what instilled the travel bug in you?
3. Do you have a song that you always listen to before setting out on the road? If so, what is the song and why is it special?
4. When you are traveling, what do you miss most from home?
5. What is the most exotic food you’ve ever eaten? Where did you try it? Would you eat it again?
6. What is the best beverage or drink you have tried abroad? For instance, a particular type of coffee, tea, liquor, cocktail, etc.
7. While you are home – not traveling – how do you keep your travel memories alive?
8. Share one of your favorite travel quotes and why it resonates with you.
9. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your parents?
10. What are you most proud of in your life so far?
11. Where in the world are you headed next?
Thank you again to Elizabeth, Dale and Nicolette for the nomination. Nominees, I’m excited to your answers and see who you nominate in return.