Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

Blog, Online Goodies, Other, Photography, What I'm thinking

Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

4 Comments 27 August 2013

For anyone who has ever had a pen pal or random travel partner they met in foreign lands who became their best friend – this website is for you.

Those who have been reading my site from the start (LEGENDS!) will know that almost four years ago I was in the running for “The Best Backpacker Job in the World”. There was a YouTube video that involved me scuba diving in a hot tub, which I bothered loads of people to watch to help me win. Sadly – I did not, but weirdly – another girl named Bobbi did.

I went to Australia – where this “best” job took place and ended up “working” it anyway with the other Bobbi (her name is Bobbi-Jo by the way and you can check out her blog here). After surviving shark tanks, monstrous spiders and wild cow stampedes – we parted ways, but never lost touch. In fact, not only did we correspond through emails and Skype over the following years, but we also managed to live in the same countries (New Zealand and England) and even the same city (London) again.

Now that we have the big bad Atlantic between us – as we did when we were just strangers with the same name entering random YouTube contests long ago – we’ve decided to keep in touch as pen pals of the 21st century.

May I introduce – Dear Bobbi.

A tale of two Bobbis. To the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo's of the London skyline.

A tale of two Bobbi’s, to the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo’s of the London skyline.

The website is a transatlantic correspondence between me and my name twin. Twice a week we’ll post photos with the same theme, such as self, skyline and fruit. Follow along as we send photographic love letters across the pond.

Have you ever met a great friend on your travels that you still keep in touch with? Have you ever had a pen pal?

Share your stories below!

If you want more Bobbi: Follow Dear Bobbi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Campus London: a haven for digital nomads

Destinations, England, Online Goodies, Other

Campus London: a haven for digital nomads

2 Comments 11 April 2013

People don’t normally think of offices or company headquarters as travel destinations or sights on tour, but Googleplex is a different story.

I first heard tales about ball pits and bouncy balls in Google offices back in high school. I think Suddenly Susan was one of my favorite shows at the time and the boss there had a rock climbing wall in his office. I remember thinking that going to work isn’t that bad if places like this actually exist in real life and that one day I would go to Google, even if it was just for an interview, to see it for myself.

I never made it to a Google office and the thought slipped to the back of my head until recently when my friend Bobbi asked if I wanted to visit Campus London, an Eze Vidra creation partnered with Google, Seedcamp, TechHub and Central Working. Visions of sliding down to a work shop and playing a game of basketball while typing away on my computer came into my head.

Campus isn’t quite the fun zone I’d imagined, though there is a foosball table and beer, but it’s definitely an interesting and innovative center to meet with people, work remotely and maybe even find work.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Sign up as a member for free using Google Plus, Twitter or Linkedin and they give you a nifty little plastic entrance card to swipe whenever you arrive. Plus, they have a glass jar full of complimentary Google Maps Oyster Card holders.

I took five.

I swear only one was for me.

On the ground floor is a small sitting area with Eames-inspired furnishing and a wall of old computers, phones and a Darth Vader mask. There is also a small lecture hall on this floor. Campus offers free work shops and talks to its members and has several throughout the day. Campus stretches up five more levels with different offices, business residencies and event space above.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Basement level, Central Working Cafe, is the main hang out for every day freelancers working away on the computer. Walking into the warehouse-style area with brick walls and graffiti murals, I see at least 70 people spread out on wooden benches and chairs, all with a lap top in front of them.

I’m home.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I work every day just as everyone in this room. A nine to five, more like nine to nine, from the local library usually or a cafe if I’m lucky. At the former, there are screaming kids and not enough power outlets, the latter would cost a lot of money if I visited daily and often has a terrible internet connection. So to walk into a place that basically says, “Hey, take your coat off, sit down, use our power outlets, free internet (it’s fast) and stay a while. We won’t ask you to leave and you might meet a few people like you.”, was a good feeling to say the least.

On top of the essentials, this public area of Campus has a cafe, outdoor patio area, food and booze. It serves one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had in London and I didn’t even have to buy it to justify using their free internet. If you want to do more than just visit, you can apply to become a resident and receive digital work space for a fee.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Techies-in-residence.

Campus has educational programs, events and a message board to post jobs or offer services. The way business is going, people are telecommuting more and more. They’re working from home, they’re working from cafes and even though a pro to this is escaping the common work place, it’s really nice to have a place to go and join work mates or a work force of sorts.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Whether you just need really fast internet for the day, a coffee or you’re in London on business and don’t feel like working another day alone from your hotel room, Campus London is a great place to visit, meet people and be inspired. It’s free to join and you feel pretty cool to be apart of a Google club of sorts, so why not visit on your next trip to the city.

Campus London is located down a quiet alleyway at 4-5 Bonhill Street in Islington. It’s almost exactly in the middle of Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, Moorgate and Barbican tube stations, so easy to access on every line. Open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-6pm and 24/7 to residents, you can become a member, apply to be a resident and sign up for events on their website.

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Elephant Nature Park 10th Anniversary: My Bucket List

Destinations, Online Goodies, Other, Thailand

Elephant Nature Park 10th Anniversary: My Bucket List

3 Comments 04 April 2013

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is the sort place that stays with you way beyond your travels to Thailand. I visited the park last year and was amazed by it. The passion and dedication volunteers here have to animal welfare is incredible. Plus, visiting the park and interacting with rescued elephants is like no other animal encounter you’ve ever had before.

So I was very excited to read that the organization is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. To do so, they’re calling all bloggers to write a post listing their top ten bucket list items.

I’ve never been one for bucket lists. I kind of just decide what I want to do as I go. But if writing one is in celebration of a good cause, then why the hell not! I’ve already done the usual bucket list items like sky dive, bungy jump and play in a river with elephants (thanks ENP), so some of the items on my list might be a bit unusual or unexpected, but they’re all epic travel goals.

Trans-Siberian Railway

I think one of the first memories I have of world travel is of the Trans-Siberian Railway. There are a few different routes people can take. I would go for the train ride from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia, which is six nights and shows passengers the beauty of an area of the world most never see.

Overland from Laos to Spain

This trip would definitely be more about the journey than any destination, because to be honest I can’t even pronounce most of the places I would take on this route. It would be a struggle and I know I’d have to go through parts of the world where tourism isn’t even a thought, but that’s the fun of it.

Live in South America for one year

When I left the USA to travel over three years ago, I always thought I’d end up in some South American village either for life or at least a few years. Before it was just an assumption, but now I think it’s a dream. I see myself working as a divemaster, walking along the beach to my house for siesta and partying in a hut by night.

Learn a language

I think I’ll have to accomplish this item before the last one. It’s quite a common goal for people and I actually feel like I missed out on a lot of things not knowing another language by now. My biggest problem is picking a language to learn and sticking to it.

Open a cafe in Key West

This bucket list item only came about because I traveled. Prior to hitting the road in 2010, I had very little interest in being a restauranteur or anything in the hospitality industry for that matter. I only started working in the industry in Australia purely because it had the most opportunity for backpackers. Everything happens for a reason. I absolutely fell in love with everything to do with restaurants from waiting tables and meeting people to making coffees and learning about food. Plus, I met my partner working at a restaurant. Our shared love of the industry and experience in it is where this item comes from.

Why Key West? Ummm, because it’s warm and gorgeous.

Attempt to ice climb

I first found out this was an option when I visited Interlaken, Switzerland in 2007. I’m not sure why I became so fascinated with it then, but I spent all my money skydiving there and haven’t had another opportunity to do it. Next time I do, you can bet I’m taking it.

Festival Food Truck in the USA

The problem: my partner and I want to open our own cafe asap, but our feet are too itchy to stop and focus on it. The solution: a cafe on wheels or food truck. We want to open one and travel around the USA for a summer, maybe even a year, hitting the country’s best festivals and concerts.

Shaving my head and traveling India

I’ve been obsessed with visiting India for as long as I can remember. When I go, I want to stay for at least six months, making sure to join the hippy community in Goa, get to a wedding, celebrate Holi and live at an Ashram. The head shaving bit? I dono, I’m weird. I’ve always wanted to shave my head and I heard women receive a lot of unwanted attention in the country. I don’t think I’m going to be one of those people that looks hot with a shaved head (how did Natalie Portman do it?), so maybe it will help with that.

Road trip Western Australia

I don’t know if it’s a regret, because I love the places I visited and how everything turned out during my year in Australia, but I do wish I explored the country’s west coast. It was my original plan actually, so forces must have led me away for a reason. I know what the reason is, so I’m okay with that. It just means I need to visit again and not miss it this time.

Walk across the USA

Call me crazy, but I’m certain that I will accomplish this in my life. Do I need to give reasons why I want to do it? Witness the country’s beauty, challenge my body’s limits, accomplish something only tens of people have done… I could go on and on. This is number one on my life list.

Now it’s your turn! I nominate these ten people to participate in ENP’s blogger carnival. All you have to do is write about your top ten bucket list items and nominate ten more people to participate.

  1. Wonderful Wanderings
  2. Today I’m Bobbi 
  3. The Traveller
  4. Misadventures with Andi 
  5. That Backpacker 
  6. Hayley on Holiday
  7. Christine in Spain
  8. Our Oyster
  9. Bohemian Trails
  10. GlobeTrotterGirls

“My top 10 bucket list post is a part of Save Elephant Foundation’s blog carnival to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Elephant Nature Park.”

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Capture the Colour: Australia and New Zealand

Australia, Blog, Destinations, New Zealand, Online Goodies, Other

Capture the Colour: Australia and New Zealand

22 Comments 08 August 2012

Red and blue powder thrown at Holi in India, vibrant green forest of the Amazon in Brazil and even those purple mountain majesties in the USA; the colors of a land really stand out when traveling.

That’s why, I’m very excited to not be nominated once, but three times to enter Travel Supermarket’s Capture the Colour competition. Thanks to Pack Your Passport, A Pair of Boots and a Backpack and The World is Waiting for nominating me.

A contest started by fellow travel bloggers, to enter, bloggers must write a post including photos that show off the colours red, blue, yellow, green and white. The winner of each individual colour will receive a 32GB iPad and the overall winner will receive £2,000 towards their travels.

Though it kills my American self and spell check to have to spell “color” with a “u” for an entire post, here’s a look back on my colourful travels in Australia and New Zealand.

Red

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This is my most recent colourful shot. It was taken during a boat ride around Tauranga Harbour on the North Island in New Zealand. New Zealand is well-known for it’s interesting skies. After all, the Maoris named it Aotearoa, “land of the long white cloud”. I’ve seen a lot of colourful sunsets in this country, but the sky was especially on fire this night. The fact that we were in a boat reminded me of the old saying “Red sky at night; sailors delight, Red sky at morning; sailors take warning.”.

We were lucky it wasn’t morning.

Yellow

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

From taking photos of the sky, to taking photos while in the sky, my yellow submission was taken during a hot air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands in Australia. This was one of many many firsts for me on that trip. We arrived at the launch site at about 6 a.m. and were in the air for sunrise. This photo was taken looking up at our yellow balloon from inside the basket. I can still feel the fire from the torch warming my face and rising sun warming my back.

Blue

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I’m sure with this photo you’re thinking, “How is the water that colour?” A mixture of fine glacial rock flour, clear glacier water and sun’s reflection produces the baby blue colour that fills waterways in this region of New Zealand. This photo was taken on the way from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo at a road-side lookout point for Mt. Cook (centered), which is New Zealand’s tallest mountain, on Lake Pukaki. Blue just absorbs everything it this shot: the water, sky and mountains.

While the photo may give you chills, it was actually taken in Summer. The weather was warm. The water was not.

Green

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I had a slight obsession with fan palms in Australia. I had never seen them like they are in the rain forest of Cape Tribulation, massive green palms towering meters above. Something about the way they lit up as the sun shone through affected me deeply. These trees stand tall in an already large forest, almost protecting everything below from the outside world, which an ancient forest like this needs. By the end of the day, my neck was actually aching from looking up for so long. I tried so many times to capture this shot and this is my favorite attempt.

White

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Maybe it’s cliche to use snow for my white image, but this snow is somewhat special to me. We have snowy winters in New Jersey, but for the two years prior to arriving in New Zealand last July (Winter), I had been chasing Summer in Australia, SE Asia and the USA. So to see what is a common Christmas symbol for the first time in two years was meaningful for me.

Plus it was the first real snow for Queenstown that year and it happened the day after I arrived in the country for the very first time. We spent the day driving half the island, taking in its beauty. We even had to rent tire chains, just in case. It was also my first time photographing with a GoPro. I love the South Island in the Summer, but it’s really breathtaking to see the way the mountains light up in the Winter.

Now that you’ve read about my colourful adventures-it’s your turn. Here are my nominations for Capture the Colour:

Sweet Dea’s Adventures

The Mellyboo Project

Canuckiwi Kate

Jandal Road

Today, I’m Bobbi

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10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

Online Goodies, Other

10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

3 Comments 03 June 2012

Visit anywhere in the world and it’s almost a guarantee that the people there will know of Queen Elizabeth II. The  most recognizable face on earth, which has been used on 33 different foreign currencies, the Queen of England isn’t just known everywhere, she’s also visited just about everywhere.

As people around the world celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend-a 60-year reign-I’m more interested in her travels around the world. And boy has she traveled. Wikipedia has compiled a list of all Queen Elizabeth’s travels, which includes Australia, Canada, Thailand and more.

To celebrate 60 years of Queenship-Heels and Wheels is looking back on Queen Liz’s 60 years of travel. 

India (1961)

The Queen visited the sub continent of India to meet Indira Gandhi, visit the presidential palace and even ride an elephant. The Old Indian Photos has compiled several Life photos of her visit, including the one featured below.

OldIndianPhotos.in.

New Zealand (1958)

Visiting this tiny Commonwealth country more than once, on this trip the Queen visited Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine-producing region. Below you can see her giving a speech in Blenheim.

HistoryPin.com

Nigeria (1956)

Fulfilling military duties in white gloves?

Only Liz could pull that off. In this photo she inspects the Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment during a Commonwealth tour, which included the African country.

TrendCouncil.Wordpress.com

Australia (2011)

While the land down under may laugh at POME’s (prisoners of mother England), they always welcome the Queen who has visited the country several times during her reign. Here she meets one of the Australia’s most recognizable figures, a koala, in Brisbane.

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

South Africa (1947)

It was only a few weeks ago that people were celebrating the Queen’s 86th birthday. But how did she celebrate her 21st? In South Africa of course! She was still a princess then, but here she is at Natal National Park.

AZStarNet.com

Canada (2010)

Sporting red attire for Canada Day, Queen Elizabeth visited the country for eight days two years ago. Still standing out amongst a sea of red, she inspects the guards outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

TheStar.com

USA (2007)

While the US is not a part of the Commonwealth, it was originally an English settlement. The Queen visited the country in 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. At the end of her trip this photo was captured of her at Andrews Air Force Base boarding a plane back to England.

Time.com

China (1986)

While Queen Elizabeth travels a lot different than most people, she still visits major tourist attractions. Here she is at the Great Wall of China with Prince Phillip.

TNRCommunications.co.uk

Thailand (1996)

While 60 years may be a long monarchy, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has the British Queen beat by six years. The Queen visited Thailand to celebrate the king’s 50th anniversary in 1996.

TheTelegraph.co.uk

England (1960)

When home is Buckingham Palace, there really is no place like it. Here she is riding out of her palace.

MySanAntonio.com

And what about the cover photo?

Queen Elizabeth has been in motion since the first day of her reign. In this photo from Jaunted, she steps off her British Oversea Airways Corporation (now known as British Airways) plane from Kenya at London-Heathrow Airport. On February 7, 1952, a day after King George VI, Elizabeth’s father, died, the princess was proclaimed Queen.

Since her coronation ceremony, the official crowning, did not take place until June 2 of that year, the Jubilee is not celebrated until then.

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6 Etsy shops to buy passport covers

Online Goodies, Other

6 Etsy shops to buy passport covers

9 Comments 29 May 2012

After six years, over 40 border crossings and a lot of nights out in countries that don’t accept foreign divers license, my passport was starting to look pretty shabby. While I’ve always fought buying a cover for old blue, because I find it really annoying to have to take out when needed, I broke down and bought one last week.

I don’t do a lot of online shopping these days, but do tons of online “window shopping” on Etsy. So when I had to buy this passport cover, I took it as a chance to shop the online store which offers loads of handmade and vintage products by independent sellers and designers.

I was really surprised to see the number of passport covers that popped up on my Etsy search. It’s a good accessory to have on your foreign travels as your passport is the most important document you carry around therefore should be protected. If you have to protect it, why not do so in style? Here are some of Etsy shops offering unique passport covers.

Sugar Train 808

Is it vintage maps, travel posters and post cards you fancy? Then Sugar Train 808 is your place to shop for passport covers. The shop offers vinyl covers in a plethora of old time scenes.

Sugar Train 808’s vintage London atlas passport cover. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Destination Handmade

This shop offers the type of covers  you would expect to find at a craft market. Shop here for accessories made with cutesy fabrics as well as ones with travel quotes embroidered on.

Destination Handmade’s Blackbird Fly Beatles passport cover. Photo Courtesy of Etsy.

Gracie Designs

Another shop that is big on fabric. Covers found here are quite chic, but bubbly. This designer’s covers look pretty well-crafted and clean cut, plus the designer uses a different fabric inside, giving you something more every time it’s opened.

Gracie Designs’ Winter Blooms on Mustard Yellow & Folk Floral passport cover. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Two Polka Dots

This shop offers a mixture of the three shops mentioned above. Vinyl passport covers with chic as well as funky patterns. Designs on these covers are light-hearted and often colorful. Some are really corky.

Two Polka Dots’ Experiements in Flight passport covers. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Passport Cover Girl

As you might of guessed by the name, this shop is most dedicated to passport covers and travel themes. She offers vinyl covers in an array of travel themes. Some feature vintage maps or travel posters. Others look like scrap book pages. All will really get you amped for travel.

Passport Cover Girl’s Mexico Dos passport cover. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Now for the burning question. Where did I buy my passport cover?

Lola Jean’s

I’m a big fan of canvas accessories. It’s a durable material that brings to mind Jackie O walking arriving at the port of Capri, Italy. This shop offers white, canvas passport covers with quotes or prints on the cover. I went for one with “Oh the places you’ll go” stitched on the cover. It’s a quote that always gets me excited about travel. Not that I ever need a reason to.

Lola Jean’s Oh the Places You’ll Go passport cover. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

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My travel inspirations

Online Goodies, Other

My travel inspirations

6 Comments 11 April 2012

So many people, moments and places shape our travels. Travel is a huge part of my life, but a part that wouldn’t be possible if it hadn’t been for a few key travel inspirations over the years.

I love this meme by Easy Jet Holiday. It’s just a fun post that gave me a time to look back of the things that shaped who I am and where I am today. Thanks to Jade from Our Oyster for nominating me. I hope writing this post made you smile while dealing with Fijian floods. It made me smile from New Zealand!

Who 

To this day, my Uncle Paul and I are in a race to see who can visit every country in the world first. Unfortunately, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Really my dad’s best friend, I found out when my nephew was born that Uncle Paul had been encouraging my travels since I was born. This past summer I saw him with my nephew, only three days old, whispering, “First, go to Rome. Then how about Greece?” Just 25 years ago he was doing the same to me.

As I got older he always encouraged me to travel as much as possible. I remember hearing about his own son’s year in Germany as a foreign exchange student. Along with my dad, Paul hasn’t just inspired and encouraged my travel opportunities, he’s created a lot of them.

My dad, me and Uncle Paul, these guys are the two biggest reasons I ever started traveling.

What 

This may be the most absurd inspiration ever, but University of Dundee.

Not sure exactly how old I was, but I’m gonna go for 14. I remember messaging a friend on aim while researching universities abroad. I’m not sure why I was looking into uni at that age, but I was. My friend and I were dead set on Dundee.

For some reason I recall the university being in Australia, but I must be mistaken because the only one I can find now is in Scotland.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter which university or where it was, the idea just gave me a feeling of endless possibility. I realized I could go anywhere in the world. I could live in Australia one day. I was actually so excited at the idea of living in Australia one day, that I applied for a job at Outback Steakhouse.

Can I take your order mate? Photo from wikipedia.org

When

The first chance I had to travel abroad, I grabbed it. I was 15 years old when I learned about People to People. It’s a youth ambassador program. Basically 40 or so high school students travel abroad for a little over a month.

On my trip, we visited six countries in Europe. It was such an amazing experience. After that I just became obsessed with learning how the rest of the world lived. I vowed to travel as much and as often as I could from that trip on.

Where 

I was never nervous about traveling Europe or Australia, but I was nervous about a lot of other places in the world. Before arriving somewhere, you tend to build a perception of it that is never really completely true. One of my big worries is safety, especially when traveling as a solo female.

Australia broke that barrier for me. First of all, Australians are some of the best travelers I’ve ever met. I met loads in Europe and all of them had been to places I wouldn’t have dared to visit at the time. Second, a lot of travelers visit Australia.

Being surrounded by the two made me feel comfortable enough to travel anywhere. Before visiting Australia I was nervous about visiting SE Asia, but after hearing how amazing it was from people in Australia, I was eager to visit.

I guess Australia was my gateway drug. Now I can’t get enough of the world. I’ll try anywhere.

I would never have ended up doing this in Vang Vieng if I hadn’t visited Australia first.

Nominations

Since this post is all about inspiration, I’m nominating a few ladies who inspire me. 

D from D Travels Round for inspiring me to not just travel, but travel ethically.

Bobbi from Today I’m Bobbi for inspiring me to be strong and create something spectacular out of ideas.

Megan at Bohemian Trails for inspiring me to stop and take note of all of life’s beauty.

Christine from Christine in Spain for inspiring me to move to Spain, some day.

Heather from There’s No Place Like Oz for inspiring me to write about trips from before I started this blog.

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Heels and Wheels from A-Z

Online Goodies, Other

Heels and Wheels from A-Z

4 Comments 03 January 2012

As my two-year travel anniversary quickly approaches, this post was a great way to look back on my current journey and previous trips that led me here, all the moments and places from A-Z.

Thanks to Adventurous D for nominating me. I hope everyone enjoys reading about some of my experiences and that my nominees will have as much fun looking back as I did.

A: Age you made your first international trip.

I didn’t just cross a border to Canada or Mexico my first time. Nor did I go on holiday at some fancy resort in the Caribbean. No, my first trip abroad was a leap into travel. At age 16 I spent 40 days traveling across six countries in Europe as an ambassador for People to People.

To be honest, I can’t really remember whether or not I was scared, but I imagine I was. Not only was this my first trip abroad, but it was a trip I embarked on with strangers. Sure my group of over 30 high school students met a few times prior to leaving, but other than that, we all knew nothing about one another.

The trip was extremely eye-opening. I saw, not only how different the world is, but also how much fun it is to embark on a journey solo and how close a person can become with total strangers. I traveled to Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, England and Belgium. After that trip, I was hooked.

B: Best foreign beer you’ve ever had.

Though I must admit I’m partial to craft beers in Northeast America and not a huge beer drinker anyway, I do thoroughly enjoy Hoegaarden. I actually started drinking the Belgian beer in England. Someone ordered a shandy from the bar I was working at then. I had no idea what a shandy or a Hoegaarden was at that time. It was my first week. The managing bartender said I had to try the beer topped with a bit of lemonade. I did and I was hooked. I think that’s all I drank the rest of the year.

C: Cuisine (Favorite)

Sushi. Even I think it’s absurd how much sushi I eat and how often I actually crave it, but it’s the only type of cuisine I’ve never been sick of and constantly crave. I haven’t even eaten it in Japan, the holy land, yet.

I first tried sushi when I was 12. A new place opened in my hometown and my dad convinced me to go. After our first experience in which we ate an entire boat full of raw fish that was meant for 4-6 people, we pretty much went back 2-3 times a week. In fact, we’ve followed the chef from that first restaurant all around NJ and Philadelphia. He’s a good friend now. Weird.

I probably eat sushi at least four times a week. I’ve been to Tokyo twice just for layovers at the airport. Both times I couldn’t find sushi for sale anywhere, which was a huge let down. One day I’ll visit Japan and on that day I will probably gain 20lbs.

D: Destinations. Favorite. Least Favorite. Why.

Once upon a time I could easily answer this question, but now it’s really hard. I have a lot of favorite destinations around the world, so it’s really hard to pick just one. I’ll give three that come to mind and all of these are probably more for the experience I had there rather than the destination itself.

First is London, England. This is the first foreign destination I ever actually lived in. I fell in love with this city hardcore. Yea the people are grumpy and it’s extremely expensive, but it has a special English charm that keeps me coming back. My favorite part of the city is how you can spend months, even years, exploring it and still you’ll find something new.

Next has to be Port Douglas, Australia. I spent the most amazing summer there. It has everything; great town life, beach, sun, even rainforest. That was all amazing but what made this tropical getaway special for me was the people I met there, including my man!

Last I have to mention is Thailand in general. I just loved everything about this country. The people were so kind, there is so much to learn about the culture, the food is amazing and it’s beautiful.

Hammocks, one of the many reasons I love Thailand.

It’s really hard for me to name a least favorite destination. The only thing that comes to mind is Sofia, Bulgaria. I only spent one day there and was conned within the first five minutes. It was my first time being conned too. This was when I was 20 and very naive. I had that bad experience and for a while just said the city was terrible. Now that I’m a bit older and have traveled a lot more, I want to give the city and the country another chance.

E: Event you experienced that made you say ‘Wow’

I think every day of my travels I’ve said ‘wow’. That’s why I love the life so much and keep coming back for more. That said, I can think of two events that were especially loud ‘wow’s’. Funny enough, both of those events actually took place under water.

First is swimming with a whaleshark in Donsol, Philippines. It was an event that I’ve been looking forward to doing for years and years, but it was also the build up. I tried to see one of these amazing fish three days in a row.

Finally on my third attempt and last day in the area, spotters on my boat started seeing whaleshark shadows. Swimmers pretty much have to jump off bangka boats like Navy Seals if they want to catch a glimpse. I plunged in heart beating, but fearless. When I finally caught my first glimpse, I was absolutely stunned. They are such beautiful creatures.

My first whaleshark sighting in Donsol, Philippines.

Next involved seeing quite a few sharks under water and another one above water in Malapascua, Philippines. I had been diving on the island for about four weeks before this dive. It was a 5 a.m. dive and one that I got to go off on my own with friends rather than follow a group. During the dive, my buddies and I saw quite a few thresher sharks and one hammer head in the distance.

I came to the surface with a massive grin, looked off into the distance only to see yet another thresher shark jumping in the air. Someone on the boat actually commented on how amazed the look on my face was.

F: Favorite mode of transportation

Definitely by boat. The ride is an experience and it usually leads passengers to somewhere really unusual.

Not a bad way to travel, hey?

G: Greatest feeling while traveling

The arrival. Nothing beats that moment when you arrive at a destination with no plans and no idea what’s next. It’s scary, but it’s invigorating.

H: Hottest place I’ve traveled to

The volcano on Santorini,Greece. I’m not positive it is the absolute hottest place I’ve ever been (Cambodia was pretty damn hot). But I visited the volcano in July, which is a boiling month for Greece anyway (think 40c/110f), hungover. I literally felt like I was burning alive.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where

Thailand is known for its hospitality and friendly customer service. Match an already friendly culture with a high-end hotel and you get unheard of service. I visited the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok for a spa service. They were so kind. I’ve never received service that good.

J: Journey that took you the longest

I’ve done 30-hour bus rides, overnight ferry trips and days driving to a destination, but nothing compares to the hell I went through on my last trip from USA to New Zealand.

The journey, which started in Philadelphia, was already long, four flights over two days, with a night in Wellington then one more flight to Blenheim the following day. But because of a freak hail storm in August, the journey ended up being six flights and at least 20 hours worth of layovers and delays.

Altogether, the journey actually went on for a little over 50 hours. Not to mention I missed my original last flight and spent way more time in LAX and Philadelphia International Airport than I ever want to again.

One perk about the journey is that it forced me to splurge on one of those fancy private airport areas for the first time. Well I tried to. The people in the front actually let me in for free. I think they saw how defeated I looked and threw me a bone.

K: Keepsake from your travels

I’m not a big souvenir gal. In fact, I never buy anything that I don’t actually need on the road these days. However, there are two items I’ve been given on my travels that I really cherish and hope to keep forever.

Funny enough, both are from Italy. The first is a glass horse I was given by a glass smiths in Murano, Italy. I visited the island in Venice to see some of the most famous glass blowing operations in the world. They were such flirts. They gave me a small, blue, glass horse. I loved it because of what it was and where it came from.

But my favorite keepsake from Italy or the world for that matter, came from a toothless artist who didn’t speak a word of English that I ended up having a conversation with on my train from Rome to Naples. At first, I have to admit, I was nervous to speak to the guy. He was older, dusty and looked worn. He sat across from me and smiled with what few teeth he had left.

Somehow we started talking about where I was going. Pompeii came up. He demonstrated from his sketch book and stencils that he was an artist. Then he pulled out a drawing. It had two kids staring up at something and a shadow cast over them. At first I didn’t know what they were staring at, then he pointed to the shadow and exclaimed, “Arghhh”. It was a monster.

He gestured for me to keep it. We shook hands at the train station and went our separate ways. I still have the drawing and constantly think about that man. Just goes to show that sometimes you should talk to strangers.

L: Let down sight. Why and Where?

Le Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco. I just build up this fantasy of Monaco in my head that was impossible to fulfill on a backpacker’s budget. I could only afford a few games of black jack that lasted about 15-minutes and that was my night spent. So the place just didn’t impress me as much.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel

Everyone talks about the Eiffel Tower when it comes to Paris, France, but my true-love travel moment in the city of love occurred at Le Sacre-Coeur. I remember walking up the stairs and this grandeur structure appearing.

That was incredible, but what really captured me was what awaited me behind it; artists lined up around this classic French scene of cafes and creperies. It was such an idyllic scene and something I never expected to find until the moment it hit me. I fell in love with that moment and travel in general.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed at

Rydges in Port Douglas, Australia. I had been living in a hostel for two months, mainly in a full, six bedroom dorm. Anyone whose ever done this for more than a week, while working will know how wearing it is. I couldn’t take another night at the place, so I booked a last-minute room at the local hotel.

Rydges was my well-needed getaway from hostel life.

I arrived before check-in, lounged by the pool for ages, then went to my room and spent the entire night either in its massive tub with jets or on its feather-down bed amongst a dozen pillows. Flat screen, air-con, thick walls, heaven.

O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?

Flowers, docks, my feet, street lamps and food. I probably take about 100 photos of all these things combined on every destination I visit.

Enough said…

P: Passport stamps. How many and from where?

In my current passport I have a total of 66 stamps. Some places were stamped more than once for multiple entries, other places weren’t stamped at all. Some I can’t understand, but here are the stamps of the countries I can read; France, Netherlands, England, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Philippines, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Greece, USA, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Australia, Aruba, Belize, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, New Zealand, Italy and Hong Kong.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where.

Vic Hislop’s Shark Show in Hervey Bay, Australia. That’s all I have to say about that.

S: Splurge. Something you have no problem forking out for while traveling.

Attractions and extreme sports. I won’t eat for days just so I can afford to go bungy jumping or rent a motor bike to visit a desolate beach. That’s why I travel and I don’t mind paying lots of money for it, because I may never have the chance to be in that one place again.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

Times Square, solely based on statistics that it’s the most-visited tourist attraction in the world.

U: Unforgettable travel memory

Too many to mention. Paddle boating on the river in Prague, three days of diving on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring Angkor Wat, eating gelato at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, an endless night with strangers in Amsterdam, sneaking into a posh house party in London. They’re all unforgettable and pop into my head randomly all the time.

V: Visas. How many of them and for where.

Four: Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and Laos.

W: Wine, best glass while traveling and where.

I forget what kind of wine it was, but in Tuscany at a restaurant overlooking vineyards while eating spaghetti cabonara. Can’t imagine a better moment for a nice glass of wine.

X: eXcellent view and from where

Watching the sunset from on top of a white clay house in Oia on Santorini, Greece. Perfect.

This very sunset.

Y: Years spent traveling

Collectively, I’ve traveled abroad for almost three years of my life. On one trip, I traveled for a year and a half before returning back to NJ.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

No one beats the fans from Philadelphia. Born and raised in South Jersey, I’ve always supported Philadelphia sports teams. They’re known for being a$$holes, but I love them. I love their passion, their anger and their celebrations. Best night of my life was when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. We almost destroyed the city that night, but it was some party.

Now it’s your turn! I pass the A-Z torch onto:

Lauren from The Life that Broke

Jose and Natalia from Natalia and Jose Luis’ Travel Blog

Annie from Wayward Traveler

Lavanya and Pawel from Iced Chai

Chelsea and Kinsey from Travelin’ Chucks

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My 7 Links from almost 2 years of blogging

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My 7 Links from almost 2 years of blogging

4 Comments 30 November 2011

I realize that my 7 links is long overdue. Natalie and Luis nominated me back in August after I called out on Twitter for someone to help me become apart of the project and I’m only just writing the post now in November. Travel has consumed my life, but that’s an excuse I’m happy to give!

Thanks to them for the nomination and without further ado, after almost two years of travel blogging, here are my seven links.

Most beautiful post: Yoga in Daily Life, Dungog

I love everything about this post, the photography, the personal details, the way I wrote it and especially the feedback. My visit to Yoga in Daily Life in Dungog, NSW is one of the things I talk about most from my time in Australia. It was an experience I had never had before, living completely off the land and really taking time to think about spirituality.

I met the most wonderful people during this time. Even though we were only together for a short while, I stay in contact more with them than with people I’ve known for years. Altogether, I just loved my time there and was happy to share it. But what really made the post is how many people responded to it with positive feedback.

Most popular post: From solo to couples travel

I don’t know why this one received so many comments or views, but I’m happy it did. It was a huge and amazing change in my travels, going from a solo female traveler to being part of a pair of travelers. I got to hear from a lot of people who had traveled as a couple before and some who even found love on the road like me.

If this post weren’t my most popular than it would have been my most beautiful. The truth is, I NEVER thought something like this would happen to me. I was never looking for love on the road. In fact, I usually tried to avoid it. But it happened and it changed a lot more than my travel plans, it changed my life.

Most controversial post: Sex and the world

I’m not controversial by any means on my blog. But I got a surprising number of passionate comments on this post. I was fighting myself on the subject, so the different comments pretty much matched my feelings. It was written a few months after I met Ric. As most long term travelers know, love on the road is usually empty and short. I always tried to keep that in mind to prevent getting hurt.

At the time this was written I was really holding myself back from following my heart. A lot of people commented that it is possible to find a lasting love on the road. Well I became one of the people. In the end I went against my opinion in this post and followed love. You can see how it turned about by reading my most popular post.

Most helpful post: How to move to Australia: Five Steps

This was exactly what I needed to read when I started thinking about moving to Australia, mainly for the guidance, but also to calm me down. I was thinking all sorts before I arrived in the country: will they let me in, will I find a job, is my visa actually valid. The truth is that any move that far away from home is bound to make anyone a bit mad. I hope this post helped a few people. Look out for another one on New Zealand soon.

The success of this post surprised me: An Idiot Abroad, a good travel show?

This post has only been up for about a month, but a pretty good month on my site. In that month I posted photos from the All Blacks Champions parade in Wellington, a guide to the Melbourne Cup and even a really cute animal post, but Pilkington has managed to come out on top.

I’m glad I brought up the subject and I think I made some valid points. A lot of people won’t agree with those points, but I’m happy to people are reading it.

This post didn’t get enough attention: Kill Sharks, Kill the Planet

As I mentioned before, I’m not a very controversial blogger, but I was when I wrote this post. Shark finning is an issue that does not get enough attention, but it’s disputed by the people who do acknowledge it. I really wish more people had read or commented on this post. I’m very passionate about the subject. To go from swimming with these magnificent creatures to seeing bags of them in pieces only a week later was really upsetting to me. I wish more people would have acknowledged this post and the affect the issue has on everyone.

Post I’m most proud of: Last day is Oz

I did it! The whole reason I created this blog was to document my year in Australia. When I planned the trip I had doubts. When I created the blog I thought, what if something happens or it doesn’t work, not only will I have failed but people will read about it everywhere. But I accomplished a year in Australia and am actually still going.

I left my hometown of Mount Laurel, NJ on January 25, 2010. Almost two years later and I’m still on the road. I never knew this was possible and I wasn’t sure if I was capable of it. But fulfilling your travel dreams is a lot easier than it looks. I’m proud to be living my dreams and am proud to have created a platform that let’s me share with all of you.

Who’s next?

Now it’s time for my favorite part, continuing the movement. Here are my five nominations and something nice about them. To you five, look back on you blog and pick out your 7 links according to these rules.

Today, I’m Bobbi

Of course you’re nominated. Probably one of the most influential people to me over these past two years.

Bisou!

I love the beauty and the heart that goes into your site. I’m sure you have some great links to offer.

Bluenose Girl

I only met you last night through #TTOT, but you had me at Pinterest! I see you don’t have a 7 links post on your site. Hope you decide to join.

Sit Down Disco

I only recently got to know you and your site, but I want to know more. I can’t find your 7 links, would love to read about them.

Travelated

Another great gal I met through #TTOT recently. I’ve enjoyed just looking through your blog, would love to hear the highlights.

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Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

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Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

No Comments 12 November 2011

(This post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel series. All are welcome to join.)

This story is actually a little bit embarrassing.

While studying abroad in London in 2007, I gained about 20 lbs and a few more backpacking Europe for three months after.

Damn you Italy.

The UK is well-known for its sweets and in me, the country met its match. I ate just about everything this country had to offer; Tesco cookies, tiny triangular sandwiches at high tea, sausages from illegal vendors that only come out at night and of course Cadbury everything.

But on one fine day in London, all my dreams came true on a personal food tour of Harrods. My friend, who shall remain nameless because I’m not sure he wants to suffer the embarrassment, and I sampled just about everything the upscale department store had to offer; truffles, pralines, expensive deli meats, even a few Krispy Cream Donuts. To top it off we shared a massive banana split at the Ice Cream Parlour at Harrods.

Our eating frenzy continued for a few more stores after Harrods as we made our way home. But it came to a sad end at the lifts in our residency. We hopped on the lift with just a couple other people, the norm, but unlike usual, this time the lift didn’t budge.

We were over capacity.

So with our heads down in shame over how far our fat kid dreams had gone, we hopped off.

It was time to start using the stairs… 

Photo via www.skyscrapercity.com.

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