It is with sad regret that my good friend Paula passed in 2019. She is missed.
Interview Series: A Rendezvous of Rovers!
If we can’t get together face to face…let’s do it virtually!
This week we’re featuring Paula who blogs at Contented Traveller. Sit back with your beverage of choice and enjoy!
Where do you live now? Tell us a little about where you are from.
We live in Wollongong, NSW. We live on the beach and the escarpment runs along the spine of our city. Wollongong means between the mountains and the sea, which is exactly correct. It is a city with great character and a very multicultural place, which is always a good thing. Another bonus is that we are only an hour from Sydney, a city that we love.
What inspires you to travel? What types of places call to you? How often do you get to travel?
My inspiration initially came from reading Somerset Maugham’s stories of his travels. My first overseas trip was to Samoa because of him. Gordon was born in far North Queensland and lived in many places growing up. He has lived and worked in some remote locations like Mt Isa and other outback mining areas. We are pretty eclectic in where we go and what we do and see. Sometimes it is a really random thing that makes us select a destination. Gordon decided he wanted to see a total eclipse of the sun and that is how we ended up in Turkey. I wanted to see a fire festival and that to our Japanese affair. We get to have at least two 6 week trips a year, a 2 week one and a couple of one week ones. Gordon still works 4 days a week but has different forms of leave that can be taken.
Describe your travel philosophy. What is your style? Are you more of a luxury traveler or is backpacking more your style? Do you like to be in control and do all your own planning, or do you like to let go and go on tours or go to a travel agent to help out? Do you like to pack a lot into a day or take it easy and follow your whims?
We are total bespoke travellers. We organize everything and always have. As our twitter handle and bio says ‘Houseboats, tatami mats, cave houses, over water bungalows’ we mix it up. We have a bit of a routine when we travel. Where possible we stay centrally so we can walk to places to see local day to day life. We are early risers so get moving very early. Because we stay mostly in a central location we can come back for a break after lunch. Then we go out later for further exploration.
In saying that if something takes our fancy we will go with the flow. We also decided long ago to stay in the one place for at least a week where possible rather than see every single place. Despite the distance for us from Australia, we would rather go back than try and cover everything. When we get somewhere we ask one another what we really want to see and do. Then we do those as opposed to say, visiting every museum and art gallery in Florence for example.
What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling? Is it adventure/adrenalin or history/culture? Do you want to relax on the beach or hike around ruins?
I guess we are again fairly hard to pin down on this, much like our accommodation selections. We do ski a lot, one of us better than the other (not me) but the selection of ski destinations is based on the fact that it must have a cultural side to it. This is how we found Nozawa Onsen in Japan because of a fire festival that is held there each year. We found a very traditional little village where the villagers own and run the ski fields. The snow is brilliant, the people amazing and it has become a home away from home, which is lovely. Gordon is much gamer than me. While he will dive I will snorkel. While he will climb a mountain I will yell out encouragement. We don’t do lying on the beach holidays, though we are not immune to having a foot massage under the trees in Chiang Mai. We love history and art and would never miss something iconic.
Everyone always asks the impossible question of what is your favorite, but just tell us a couple of places that you just love or surprised you, or a place you find yourself going back to, and maybe a place that was a little disappointing and didn’t live up to its reputation.
Japan for sure, but I fell head over heels in love with Amsterdam. Whether it was because we had a shabby chic cheap little houseboat on the Prinsengracht in the Jordaan district or the liberalism here, but I would have moved there like a shot. Thailand is again a place that we go to regularly and have explored a lot of. Disappointing? There are some places that we have been to that we enjoyed but wouldn’t return to. See how diplomatic that was.
What is one funny, embarrassing, cute, or even frustrating anecdote from your travels?
Which one of so many? I attract trouble. Can’t help it. I pick up unusual characters wherever I go and bring them back to Gordon. We were up a mountain in Kitzbuhel in Austria and a behemoth of a man decided to chat to me. I took him into the lodge café to meet Gordon. He proceeded to tell us he was not Austrian but Tyrolean, and that he had been to Australia. He kept asking me my age. Apparently he had had his first experience in Sydney and Gordon is sure that he thought that it was me. He then proceeded to bang the bell for shots of schnapps trying to get Gordy drunk. Gordon is quieter than me and spends much of his time shaking his head at me.
Other than travel blogging, what do you do to remember your travels? Do you buy souvenirs?
We don’t buy things we just talk about different things. We are pretty aware that we are very fortunate in our experiences and that we are quite different types of travellers. We try to be sensitive when talking about our experiences.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
London for a week, and then France for 4 weeks in August and September. I want to see a red bus, a red phone box and hopefully the Tardis. I want to see the horses doing their thing for the Queen. We are then going on Brave Bart, a barge near the Strasbourg region of France and then we will make our way to Paris. Left bank, artists, food, Moulin Rouge (cheesy but iconic).
Finally, if you could inspire someone to start traveling, which place would you recommend to him or her as a good starting destination and why? Are there any places that you wouldn’t travel to your first time out and why?
Read Contented Traveller for inspiration. Depends on who they are, where they live, how confident they are and what their interests are. Too many variables to give a good answer. Maybe something totally different to their norm. No half hearted destination. Sink or swim and definitely not where other Aussies accumulate if you want to actually travel. Then again some people do like to sit beside a pool in a Bali resort and never leave the grounds and that is their prerogative. I guess.
Read our first Rendezvous of Rovers interview here with Jade from We Travel and Blog!
If you would like to be a guest on our Rendezvous of Rovers interview series, just send me an email. We’d love to get to know you, too!