I created the “Travellers’ Tales” section earlier this year to give my readers and other travellers an opportunity to talk about their travels. Today I would like to introduce you to Karen, a travel blogger based in Amsterdam. She blogs at WanderlustingK.
I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales” , fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.
Read about Karen’s travels here:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a native New Yorker who ended up in Amsterdam after my partner had received a job here. I really love budget travel, getting off the beaten path, learning about a place’s culture/history/food, and petting friendly cats. In terms of adventure, I love road tripping, rock climbing, and getting lost in small towns.
2. What is your earliest travel memory?
My earliest travel memory is spending the holidays eating pancakes made with orange juice from oranges grown at my grandparent’s house in Florida. I still love those pancakes and I’m excited to see my grandparents soon!
3. Where was your last holiday?
My last holiday was a road trip around Slovenia, where we climbed Slovenia’s third tallest mountain from the bottom. We also stopped off in little villages, swam in the Soca river, and drank Slovenian wine after lots of hiking and castle seeing.
4. What was the best thing you did there?
We were driving through a small town that was the most stunning town that I’ve seen in a long time—and I could see people swimming in the river below. I changed in the car into my bathing suit and we all waded into the freezing cold Soca River. I’m a planner, but it was so refreshing to do something so spontaneous.
5. What was your best holiday ever? Why?
In terms of pure sightseeing, exploration, and just natural beauty, I’d definitely say Iceland. It was so stunning and we drove the entire island in the middle of winter before celebrating New Years in Reykavik. We spent most nights in very sparse (and cheap) guest houses- including a little shack without heat with a broken door on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean- in between ice climbing, snorkeling in Silfra, and hiking thorough incredible snow-covered nature.
6. What is your favourite travel destination?
I really love Italy. My partner and I started dating in Italy and we go back every single year. I love the food, people, and the atmosphere. Our first trip, we were in Venice and Bologna. The next trip was spent seeing castles/lakes in the areas around Verona, watching opera in the old Roman Colosseum, and climbing in the Dolomites. We are planning a trip to Malta this year and I’m excited to see Palermo after learning Sicilian at a previous job.
7. What is the one thing one mustdo there?
In Italy, you must try the regional specialties and wine. Every region and even towns have their own food and it is important to always ask---and look for a restaurant with a non-English paper menu where you only hear Italian. I often like to be surprised.
8. Who is your favourite travel companion/s?
My partner and my parents. I recently went on a trip to Scotland with my parents (halfway from US/NL) and it was an incredible experience to spend time with them in such an incredible environment. We all enjoyed it so much and we’re all going to Morocco together next year. My partner and I have different travel styles (he hates planning) although he often pushes me to be more spontaneous and abandon my plan (besides the 1-2 must-sees). I’m starting to see the light!
9. Name one item you must have when travelling.
A fully charged camera or phone. I often go electronic-less when exploring new places, so I just need to be able to take photographs!
10. Your best travel advice?
Talk to locals and get lost. Even if you’re a planner like myself, it’s good to ask once you’re there and find out where the locals recommend. People are often so kind, even with language barriers (thank you to the girl who woke me after I slept the entire way from Fuji to Tokyo!). I even once got a ride to the beginning of the Via Ferrata that we were doing after asking someone what was the best way to get to a Via Ferrata trail. Also, your plan doesn’t need to be absolute and some of the best parts of a trip are the unexpected ones. Just plan your day around 1-2 things and see where it takes you.
11. The one place you want to visit before you die?
I want to visit Mongolia after hearing about the beauty and hospitality.
12. Your favourite place in South Africa?
I haven’t been to South Africa yet, but hope to visit after hearing wonderful things from a friend who’s from there! I hope to hike up Table Mountain and to practice speaking Afrikaans (since it’s quite similar to Dutch).
13. Any embarrassing travel moments?
So many. I think my worst is when my pants ripped open in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur Airport. I had been so careful to dress appropriately, but I had gained some weight that summer. Luckily, I had my bags and I was able to change, but it was so embarrassing and I ran out of the airport afraid to make eye contact with anyone.
14. Worst travel experience?
My experience in Prague, which turned into one of my best. I was staying alone at an Airbnb and the door was quite difficult. I struggled with it and then I saw these guys watching/talking about me from above. I had a really bad feeling, but my stuff was inside the apartment. A neighbor was able to help me (after we struggled for 20 minutes with the door) after finding me terrified and in tears. I got my stuff, found a cab unsure of where I’d even go, and got to a meet-up with women from the Girls Love Travel group in tears. Immediately, one of them offered me her couch and her dog cuddled me. We had an amazing night together seeing her neighborhood (Zizlov) and I hope to repay the favor in the near future.
15. Please include your blog/social media links.
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your fascinating travels with us!
I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to "Travellers’ Tales", fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.
In Africa and Beyond has been nominated for an SA Tourism Award. Vote and you can win a holiday worth R100 000. You will also receive a travel voucher worth R1000. To vote, click here.
Things you must do in South Africa
Join 50,000+ Fans