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Welcome to today’s installment in my new travel blogger interview series! The goal of this weekly series is to help spread the blogging love and introduce you to some other awesome travel bloggers! Any travel blogger, whether new or experienced, can sign up to be featured in this new series. Today I’m happy to share that I’m featuring Cristina from Honest Travel Stories!
Cristina calls herself the one woman show behind Honest Travel Stories. She is a Romanian IT geek that moved to Switzerland two years ago and started writing because buying a domain name was cheaper than going to therapy. She is passionate about her job, loves dogs (has said “I love you!” to about 1037 dogs until now) and has an unhealthy relationship with coffee.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BLOGGING FOR? WHY’D YOU DECIDE TO START A TRAVEL BLOG?
Well, it’s complicated. I first decided to start a blog about two and a half years ago. But as any novice (hopefully) does, I made all the mistakes in the book. I started with another site builder and my pages looked awful. I was also writing long stories that ended up looking like a wall of text.
When I felt this is not going anywhere, I started reading all the resources I could find, so I changed everything. I have a new site now, a new layout, my writing is better (I hope) and I have improved in some other areas as well. The major chunk of my website has been created in the last six months I would say, so I’m pretty much new to this.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW TRAVEL BLOGGERS/ASPIRING TRAVEL BLOGGERS?
I’m not that experienced yet, but I can say what helped me. A new blogger should read as much as possible before starting anything, just to understand what they’ll need to do and to make an informed decision if they want to start.
I also suggest that after you decide to start and have the site designed, just start writing. I know I was shivering when I put my first post out there, thinking people would judge. They’re not judging, mostly because they have no idea who you are. So if you don’t get it right at first (and you won’t), don’t worry, most people won’t see that, and you can come back and improve it at any time.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE YOU STARTED TRAVELING?
How fun it is! I have only recently started traveling (the last five years) as I come from a not so wealthy family. I didn’t travel as a child and I couldn’t afford to until about five years ago. Maybe if I had known earlier that traveling is the best addiction I could ever have, I would have changed things in my life earlier just to be able to do so.
WHY DO YOU LOVE TO TRAVEL?
I am a passionate history and anthropology fan. I strongly believe that diversity is the best thing we have, and you can see this everywhere in the world. I would say the most delicious dishes have multiple influences, the best architectural styles are a combination of ideas from far away lands, and the most beautiful art pieces are the ones done following multiple genres (or passing from one to another).
And I love exploring this diversity! I have grown up in a society that’s not very diverse (communism FTW) and I was always amazed by how little I know. And after I started traveling I realized how different I am from other people. Not better, not worse, just different. How can anyone not fall in love with this feeling?
WHAT’S YOUR BEST AND WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE?
Wow, that’s a tough one! The best, for now, is when I saw a giant turtle while snorkeling in the Maldives. It may not sound that much, but I used to be afraid of deep waters, I’m still afraid to jump from a boat, but now I’m not that afraid to go where the water is deeper than my height, as I used to. For me, being able to snorkel and seeing everything below the surface is an awesome big win. It just makes me feel strong.
The worst one has to be in London when we were pretty close to the scene of a terrorist attack. We were just out with friends, having a beer in a pub when we heard multiple police cars coming closer and closer.
We initially said we shouldn’t panic and run away, as this is what’s always causing more victims than anything else, so we stayed put. Five minutes later a police officer came in and started shouting for everyone to leave. I don’t even remember when I took my husband by his hand and went out.
We just went into one of our friend’s car and he started driving aimlessly, just to get away from it all. We also had problems with our roaming plan, so we could just send a few messages to our families when we got to the hotel. We spent most of the next day answering calls and denying we were close-by.
Our friends asked us to as they don’t want to make their parents back home worry about them. Also, we were at Borough Market just the evening before; this is where most of the bad stuff happened. This feeling is awful, I had nightmares a few months after, and this made us decide to move to Switzerland instead of London, as we were thinking of.
DO YOU PREFER SOLO TRAVEL OR TRAVELING WITH OTHER PEOPLE? WHY?
I have never traveled solo, as I only started traveling after I met my (now) husband. I could do it at any time now, but I cannot find the urge to travel alone yet. Maybe it comes after more years of marriage :).
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO? WHY?
Oh, that has to be Japan! I always say Japan is not another country, it’s another planet! You can see such diversity here it’ll blow your mind. Want modernity? Go to Tokyo and you’ll have it. You’ll see high buildings, electronic stores, themed cafes, robot restaurants, and everything else you can imagine.
Want something traditional? Go to Kyoto then. Here you can enjoy a tea ceremony, you can buy a kimono and silk fans, you can enjoy the geisha culture or you can visit old castles and learn their history.
Want to have fun? Head to Osaka then. Most people come here to stuff their faces, but you can so much else here. You can spend your night in a karaoke bar, you can go to a club, you can see a highway that’s passing through a building (no joke!).
Want to learn some history? Go to Hiroshima. Learn about this old, historic city that used to be a strong point in Japan. And learn how it was destroyed and rebuilt from scratch not that many years ago. It will make you sad, but it will also make you aware. Aware of what can we cause if we allow it.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST TRAVEL TIP?
The best thing you could do when traveling is to be flexible if your situation allows for it. If you can be flexible, you can save hundreds of dollars just from flights alone. I used to use SkyScanner for this, as it gives you the option to search for flights for a whole month. So if you don’t have fixed dates, you can save big money by moving your trip date around.
IS THERE ONE SPECIFIC THING YOU LIKE TO DO, SEE, OR BUY IN EVERY PLACE THAT YOU VISIT?
My whole travel blog is a big souvenir display for me. I promised I will write a story about every place I have been to. Unfortunately, I have neglected my “Stories” area as I focused on guides for a while, but I have it somewhere on my to-do list to add the stories that I’m missing (Barcelona, Madrid, and Japan, if you’re curious).
IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR FOOD THAT YOU’VE TRIED WHILE TRAVELING THAT YOU LOVED? WHAT FOOD WAS IT AND WHY DO YOU LOVE IT SO MUCH?
I am pretty weird when it comes to food. I’m a picky eater, I don’t focus on food when I travel, but I’m a gourmand at the same time. I think I’m the only person who didn’t feel in love with Japanese food (don’t start throwing tomatoes please!).
My all-time favorite is something that I got blamed for: reindeer steak in Sweden, one of the very few places where one can eat this dish. I know, I’ll get some tomatoes thrown anyway!
Some other good meal was when I tried an Indian restaurant in Poland (remember what I was saying about diversity?). In our defense though, we had only just eaten food cooked by us for the last 3 months, so our standards might not have been that high at this point.
Plane or train? Plane! I work in aviation, I have to love them!
Hotel or hostel? Hotel. I’m too old for hostels already.
City or nature? Both. I try to alternate when choosing destinations.
Popular site or off the beaten path? Both. And on the same trip if possible.
Suitcase or backpack? Suitcase, as I have to look nice when flying.
Fast travel or slow travel? Fast travel, sadly, as I work full time and don’t have the time to slow travel.
Professional camera or iPhone photography? iPhone, as I suck at photo editing SO bad.
Warm or cold weather? Warm. Most East Europeans will tell you the same.
All photos used throughout this post are taken by Cristina from Honest Travel Stories.