Welcome to our newest installment of our traveler interview series, A Rendezvous with Rovers on Weekend Travel Inspiration. This installment of our traveler interview series is with the woman behind the website Travel Notes and Beyond.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live now? Tell us a little about where you are from.
I am a Romanian-born travel writer and passionate photographer living in Southern California. Growing up in a socialist country didn’t seem to make much difference until I wanted to travel abroad and realized that it would be impossible. At that time, Eastern Block governments were arguing that strict limits on emigration were necessary to prevent a brain drain. As such, very few young or well-educated people were allowed to travel outside the country for fear they would never return.
What inspires you to travel? What types of places call to you? How often do you get to travel?
Living behind the Iron Curtain for my first 30 years, my dream was to see the world (or at least some of the places was only able to read about while I lived in Romania.) For the past 26 years I’ve been traveling a lot, mainly in North and South America and Europe.
While I am a nature lover and enjoy a lot the ocean and the mountains, I feel that my heart is actually sold on big cities. I was born in a big city and I feel that’s where I belong. Having access to music, art and cultural events is essential to me. I am particularly attracted to the European culture, perhaps because I was born there. I’ve been trying very hard to stay away from this continent so that I could visit other places, but I find it impossible.
Describe your travel philosophy. What is your style? Are you more of a luxury traveller 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?
I love luxury travel, although I could not always afford it. I stayed in tents, cabins and cheap motels for many, many years and I was happy. But I was young then. Now that I am older and I can afford it, I can’t go back to that level anymore. I may sound snooty, but if I can’t afford a nice hotel I’d rather stay home.
As for the planning, I am a control freak. I like to travel my own way and yes, I pack a lot into a day but always accomplish what I planned. I am not a desirable travel companion because very few people can keep up with me, except for my husband who also likes to walk for 10-12 hours a day.
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 am not an adventurous traveler. In fact I hate adventure, but I am a very active traveler. No matter where I go I have to do some sort of physical activity. If I am on a tropical island or in the mountains I’ll go hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, or snorkeling. If I am in a city I’ll visit museums, parks, walk on the streets, attend concerts, etc. For me the time to “relax” is at home. When I travel I’m on a mission, I always have an agenda.
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.
I love Banff National Park in Canada. It is one of the most surreal places I have ever visited. I could go there on and on. I also loved Buenos Aires with its mix of elegance and European atmosphere. It is one of those seductive places that remain in your heart long after you depart from it.
Other than travel blogging, what do you do to remember your travels? Do you buy souvenirs?
I like to see the world through my camera lens. I spend about 75% of my travel time taking photos. These are my memories. On an average day I take about 400-500 pictures and after I return I spend days and days organizing them. In fact, my passion for photography was the main reason why I started my travel blog. I had over 40,000 beautiful pictures that nobody but my family ever saw and I wanted to share them with others. It is my hope and desire that people who see my photos and read about these beautiful destinations will feel inspired to travel there too.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
I will go to Lake Tahoe, California, for our yearly ski trip. My husband and I love skiing and we try to keep it up for as long as we can. I hope I’ll be able to do it for as long as I live.
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?
Travel destinations are a matter of preference. Some people travel because they need to relax and forget about their stressful daily lives. They just want to lie down on a beach or next to a swimming pool. Others want to discover the world and like to be very active. But no matter what the reason for traveling is we all want a good experience.
My only advice for someone with no experience in traveling would be to start somewhere close to home. There are so many beautiful places within a short distance from our homes, but for some reason we believe that the far away ones are more exciting. When you don’t know much about traveling it is a good idea to expose yourself to it in your own culture. The world is a fascinating place but the cultural diversity may be very confusing for someone with no travel experience. I think running across the world from the beginning when you don’t know your own backyard will only confuse you even more.