I was thrilled to be nominated recently for two honors, the Liebster Award and membership in the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers.
These are not awards in the usual sense of the word. They’re more like chain letters among bloggers, but with a message of appreciation. It’s a way for bloggers to support and encourage each other’s efforts, and to bring new readers to all the nominated blogs. And it makes me feel good that these particular two bloggers nominated me.
I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Shobha George, who blogs about traveling with children at Just Go Places. I love her blog posts because she writes with a humorous, loving voice about her travels with her children. I would have loved to read her posts especially when my kids were younger. (Thank you, Shobha!)
Shobha and I met at the TBEX conference in Lloret de Mar in April, and hit it off right away. We had an incredible amount in common, and started calling ourselves twins from different moms.
As a nominee for the Liebster Award, I’m required to post answers to 11 questions that Shobha poses for me. Then, I have to nominate three other bloggers and set questions for them.
Shobha’s questions and my answers
1. Where is your next big trip? My next big trip? I’m not sure. It looks like my next small trip will be to Spain, to the little house in the village of Parcent that we’ve inherited from my in-laws. It’s a quiet place in a pretty, mountainous area, so it’s a good place to decompress. (It’s for sale, if you’re interested.)
2. Why did you choose this destination (from question number 1)? It was my husband’s choice. It’ll be a chance for my husband and me to spend some time together, since we didn’t take our usual vacation together this summer.
3. You are all living in different countries. What’s the best thing about the town that you live in? I like Groningen because it’s not too big and it’s not too small. I want all of the things a big city has—the culture, the events, the convenience of the shopping, etc.—but I don’t really like the noise and grime of a big city for too long. Groningen is a small city of 200,000, completely surrounded by pretty countryside. It’s the best of both worlds.
4. What do you find the best thing about travel? I think it’s the food! I love to try new dishes, and you can learn so much about a different culture through its habits and rituals around food. And I love not having to cook!
5. What has been your favourite destination so far and why? That’s a hard one. I loved Guadeloupe on my recent trip: the perfect combination of France and the Caribbean. I’ve been to Israel many times and it’s never lost its fascination. And Australia was wonderful: so friendly! Nope, I can’t choose!
6. What has been the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling? I’ve never been a big risk-taker, so no bungee-jumping or skydiving. I suppose some of the things I did in my 20’s, especially when I was in Malawi, were pretty crazy, if what you mean by crazy is risky. I did quite a bit of hitchhiking then. It never really occurred to me at the time that it was dangerous. Except the time I rode in the back of a pickup truck on a winding road between Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay. The driver was insane, but I didn’t realize it till I was holding on for dear life. And I’ve been in other crazy situations, like when the “ferry” I was taking to Zanzibar caught fire.
7. What has been your favourite restaurant? There are three very special pizza places on Wooster Street in New Haven, Connecticut that serve what’s called “apizza” and it’s unlike the pizza you’ll get anywhere else, including Italy. They’re called Sally’s, Pepe’s and Frank Pepe’s The Spot. I know everyone thinks their favorite pizza place serves the best pizza, but try one of these next time you’re passing through Connecticut and you’ll see!
8. Have you been anywhere that really surprised you (for better or for worse)? Hong Kong. I first went there as a stopover on my way home from a vacation in China with my family. I thought a day and a half would be enough. But I also thought it was just another big city. I was wrong: Hong Kong has lots of beautiful, green spaces as well. That’s why I went back there last month, so I could explore outside of the city.
9. What inspired you to start a blog? One day I was amazed and angry and frustrated, not for the first time, by how the cashiers and customers behaved at my local grocery store. I felt this intense need to vent, so I sat down, set up a free blog using a standard template, and wrote out my frustrations. It grew from there.
10. Is there anywhere that you would never want to visit? Some places I wouldn’t want to visit now, like Afghanistan or the Sudan. And some places I’d never want to visit again, like Hancheng (grim and polluted) or Orlando (grim, outside of Disneyworld).
11. What destination is on the top of your bucket list? Again, that’s a hard question. A region is what comes to mind first: the South Pacific. I haven’t been there yet, and I’d like to visit someplace like Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands.
Betsy Wuebker of PassingThru.com nominated me for this one. I met her at TBEX too, and I’m tremendously impressed by the high quality of her travel writing. It’s consistently well-researched, well-written and thoughtful. (Thank you, Betsy, for nominating me!)
In this case, I was given ten questions to answer and then I have to nominate more bloggers (officially 10, but I won’t manage that). Here are Betsy’s questions:
1. What are the reasons you began blogging? See question 9 above.
2. Have you always had the same blogging niche? No. I started back in 2007 as a general getting-stuff-off-my-chest blogger, writing about family, life as an expatriate, teaching, popular culture, and whatever else was on my mind. I still do that now and then, but mostly focus on travel.
3. How did you acquire the love of travel? My parents, particularly my mom. I’ll never forget when we went to Europe when I was about 11. It was my first time in Europe and also my parents’ first time. My mother remarked something like “You kids don’t appreciate how special it is to be able to travel here like this.” I remember thinking “Yes, I do!” I still do.
4. What is/are your favorite place(s) you’ve been to so far? See question 5 above.
5. What bucket list destination is your pie-in-the-sky, it’ll-be-so-worth-it place? See question 11 above.
6. What’s the item you’d miss the most if your carry-on went missing? Oh, that would be a nightmare! Obviously, my wallet and passport, but especially this tablet I do my writing on, and which has all my photos as well. It’s not about the tablet itself. It’s about what’s on it.
7. Big-girl camera or smartphone? Why? I use a compact camera because the pictures come out better than on my smartphone. It has far more flexibility as well in terms of different settings for different circumstances. Now and then I snap a picture with my smartphone if I want to be able to share it on social media quickly.
8. What languages do you speak and how has this helped or hindered you in your travels? English and Dutch fluently, some French and a bit of Spanish. I am so incredibly fortunate to have English as my first language. It makes independent travel pretty much anywhere in the world possible because people learn at least a bit of English as a second language everywhere.
9. Are you comfortable traveling solo, or do you prefer a companion or group? I’m fine traveling solo, but the trip I’m taking now has taught me that I don’t really enjoy it for more than a week or two. Or, rather, I enjoy it, but I’d enjoy it more with people I love.
10. What’s the strangest item you’ve ever purchased on the road? At a previous job, I was often away for conferences and workshops. It became a running joke to bring back a gift for my boss. The challenge we set was to find the absolutely cheapest and tackiest thing possible. It was a lot of fun to look for a tacky thing rather than what I would normally do, which is avoid tacky souvenirs as much as possible. It was a triumph, for example to find a camel inside a snow dome in Dubai (!?). And my boss had the funniest collection of junk on her windowsill!
I’m nominating the following bloggers for both awards. Feel free to choose which one you want to accept, or go ahead and accept both, as I have. Here are my nominations:
- Candi Canncel of Candiland.com: Candi’s journey has taken her everywhere, even Antarctica! She blogs about entertaining, food and lifestyle.
- Jacomijn Heupink of Safe and Healthy Travel blogs in Dutch and English about how to keep safe and healthy on your travels. As a world traveler and a police officer, her site is a great place to go for advice.
- I met Nancie M of Budget Traveler’s Sandbox on-line first, and then recently in person in Seoul. I especially admire her photographs. She has a real eye for taking a photo that’s real (not photoshopped beyond all proportion), yet shows the subject in a different way than the usual tourist snapshot.
- Stannous Flouride of Stannous Flouride’s Book of Truthiness: Yes, Stan is male, so officially he can’t be in the Sisterhood. But that’s discrimination based on gender, and Stan is such a divergent thinker that I think an exception should be made for him. An institution in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, Stan is an artist, among many other things.
Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to answer the following questions:
- What’s one thing you wish you had known when you started blogging?
- If you could sit and chat for one hour with one person alive today, who would it be and why?
- If you could sit and chat for one hour with one person who has passed away, who would it be and why?
- Who is your hero?
- What’s your best/favorite blog post that you’ve published so far? Please add the link.
- What’s your guilty pleasure?
- Tell us about an experience that was in some way transformative for you.
- What is your happiest memory?
- If you could magically change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- If you could magically change one thing about someone else, who would it be, and what would you change?
I’m looking forward to reading your answers!