Talking Travel With Southall Travel – When my old friends at Southall Travel and their friends at Away Holidays, asked me to answer a bunch of questions about my very favourite topic on the planet, which is of course travel, I didn’t hesitate to take them up on their challenge.
Talking Travel With Southall Travel
Now I’ll tell you all about the destination I love the most (I doubt you’ll be surprised), make a confession about a city I found to be entirely underwhelming, dole out some travel advice, and more!
1) You’ve been to numerous cities across the globe, is there any city where you’d like to stay forever? Do you miss your home city when you’re travelling?
Then there’s a city like Budapest. It’s my favourite city in the world, and I think at this point, I’ve been there more than ten times. As much as I love all of these cities, I’d never want to actually live in any of them.
For me, it’s all about Berlin! About four years ago, I moved to Berlin, never having visited, not knowing a word of German, alone, and without a job. I then lived there for 18 months before moving back home to Toronto for two years.
Those 18 months were life changing, and I fell in love with Berlin. Leaving was really hard, but at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. At home in Toronto, it didn’t take me long to realize how much I missed Berlin. I remember once when a friend of mine sent a photo of him having a drink at my favourite bar. He told me how much he missed me, it brought tears to my eyes, and I spent the better part of an evening weeping.
Even though I came back to Berlin for a summer holiday each year, it was never enough. Berlin’s pull was magnetic and I knew that I had to come back, and in November 2014, I happily moved back to Berlin.
Now that Berlin is my home again, I never intend to leave.
2) What place was on top of your bucket list when you decided to travel around the world? Were there any must-see sites that you had to experience?
Well, I haven’t exactly travelled around the world … yet. It’s my ongoing mission to see as much of the planet as possible, even if it takes me the rest of my life.
I’m pretty happy with my travel accomplishments to date after having visited 31 countries, spreading across four continents!
Iceland was the country at the top of my travel bucket list and more specifically, my travel-bucket-list dream was to soak in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. Back in December 2013, I finally got there, and of course the very first thing I did after I got off the plane was go to the Blue Lagoon.
3) Is there any destination you have found to be overrated? If any, why?
I know some people will hate me for saying this, but I found Barcelona to be very disappointing. I spent the better part of a week there, and I didn’t find myself captivated by the city as I’d been with cities like Prague or Budapest. As much as I loved all of the tapas restaurants and Gaudi architecture, I found it filled with too many tourists and didn’t felt safe after getting pickpocketed in a metro station.
I much prefer some of the smaller towns in Costa Brava, like Besalu and Cadaques, where I overdosed on Spanish food and wine.
After years of travelling, I’ve found that traditionally popular destinations like London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. aren’t really appealing to me. It’s not that they’re not beautiful cities, but I’d much rather spend time in Eastern Europe, exploring Poland, Bulgaria or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
4) Which destinations top your travel plans for the future?
I recently won a trip to visit Mostar and spend a couple of days rafting along the Neretva River. I’ve also been invited to visit a surfing camp in the Canary Islands. So those trips are coming up later this year at some point.
Other than that, I plan to spend a lot of time getting to know Germany better. I just visited the lovely town of Schwerin yesterday and have plans to visit Görlitz (where they filmed Inglorious Bastards and Grand Budapest Hotel) and Leipzig (a city that’s rather been inaccurately labelled as being cooler than Berlin).
5) What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking of travelling around the world?
I’ve never been one of those people who’ve set off on a long-term round-the-world journey, as I like to have a base and then travel whenever and wherever I can. I think it’s possible to have both a full-time job and still have time to travel frequently.
If you want to travel (either full-time or part-time), just make it a priority, which could mean making some sacrifices. For example, I purposely lead a minimalist life and don’t own a lot of possessions. Actually, everything I own can fit into about 5 boxes! As I don’t have many expenses and don’t spend money on things like a mortgage or car insurance, I have more funds available to travel.
Bottom line, you should do what works for you. Set a goal and do what you can to attain it by whatever means.
6) And finally, what’s the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever received?
It’s going to sound funny, but the best piece of travel advice I’ve ever received was to pack toilet paper (and lots of it) when I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru. Oh, plus hand sanitizer and baby wipes. Considering that the washrooms along the trail did not have toilet paper or soap, and that there was no chance to shower over three days, these items came in especially handy!
Now, let’s hear from you! What are your favourite or least favourite destinations? Do you have any travel advice you’d like to share with others?
* Disclosure – This post was done in partnership with Southall Travel and Away Holidays.