Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things You Didn't Know About Romania

Some countries, like Romania, are just ridden with misconceptions. In fact, once I told my colleagues and friends that I would be spending a week in this Eastern European country, I was hard pressed to find many positive comments.

More typically, I heard: "Why are you going there?" and "You better be careful of those gypsies." But, like so many of my travels, I was determined to do some myth busting. And this included looking for the Romania beyond the signature sights of fortified churches, painted monasteries, and anything to do with Dracula.

My article for the Huffington Post focuses in on Romania's hidden treasures.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Volunteering in Spain + Why T-Shirts are Conversation Starters

With all the exotic places in the world, why would I return almost every after year to a tiny hamlet in Spain that's more than four hours north of Madrid? Many reasons: I can stay for free in a medieval environment;  wander car-free stone lanes that wind from your two-story dwelling; live among a group of Spaniards (mostly business men and women) where we spend our days learning about each other while I'm volunteer teaching them the intricacies of the English language (and without being stuck in a classroom); and engage in hours of role playing, group games, fun brainstorming sessions, and theater rehearsals. These are some of the many reasons I return to this hamlet named Valdelavilla.

Since the native English speakers have to chat one-on-one with the Spaniards for hour upon hour over the course of a week, that's where my JCreatures™ t-shirts come in. (I've blogged about the origins of the JCreatures™ several months ago.) These images are curious enough that wearing any of the seven t-shirt images almost guaranteed a lively conversation.
 I recently guest blogged for about Valdelavilla and how my t-shirts serve a couple of functions. Find out about my adventure here.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Montenegro 4 Ways: Hike, Walk, Ferry + Float

When I signed up for a trip to Montenegro with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays based out of the U.K., I didn't know what to expect. But I did know that the company specialized in hiking and walking tours and I decided that would be the best way to see Montenegro, a country that doesn't get the kind of tourist traffic yet that its neighbor, Croatia, sees.

 When I met my group -- they all hailed from the UK making me the lone American -- I found out that none of us were thrill seekers. Many hoped there wouldn't be any knife-edge precipices. Others preferred to stay away from long, steep climbs. But we all adored nature. And basing out of scenic Kotor Bay, we found plenty of landscapes to admire. This is my piece for the Huffington Post describing my week of hiking, walking, ferrying and floating through Montenegro.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Some of My Fave Destinations + More Travel Tips

Whenever someone finds out I'm a travel writer, invariably they'll ask, "What's your favorite place?" My response is that I love every place I visit, for different reasons. I hate to single out one destination because every country, state or city has something to offer. I'm also often asked what's my favorite destination for great food. Again, I find culinary delights all over the world, even in places not known for their cuisine. But Shane at National RV Parks interviewed me recently and wanted to pin me down with regard to these and other questions, including why I decided to start this blog, did I always want to travel the world, and what tips would I give a newbie traveler.

Aside from doing tons of research beforehand, I always recommend everyone carry a well-stocked first-aid kit. (All manner of maladies can occur on the road, even when you're not far from home.) It's also interesting that he asked me why I started JtheTravelAuthority considering the third-year anniversary is rapidly approaching. (I wrote my first post on December 13, 2008.) And, in case you're wondering about my favorite destination that I would revisit over and over again, that would be Spain. (I just returned from Madrid where I bicycled their brand-new landscaped promenade that parallels the Manzanares River.) As far as the place that puts me in foodie heaven, it's Malaysia. (I get easily bored but there's no way to become tired of the seemingly endless spices, herbs and ingredients found in Malaysian cuisine.)

 Check out my interview at National RV Parks here.
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