Why Did This Random Person Tag Me in a Post? (Or: The Liebster Award)

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I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award by my good Instagram friend and fellow blogger, Sam- catch her on Instagram @sam.daytripper or at SamThinkings! She is incredibly engaging and authentic, and her amazing pictures of Britain and Canada are always accompanied by witty captions. Her next upcoming trip in April is to Edinburgh, and I’m so excited to follow along with her!

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The Liebster Award

On to the award. I love the idea of something that links people who are passionate about travel and photography together, and one of my favourite things that has come out of being more active on Instagram has been the sense of community it can build. It truly is what you make it; I’ve found the more I engage with and speak to others, the more rewarding my experience on the platform is. It certainly beats mindlessly scrolling and double-tapping away, anyway. Not everyone is receptive, and Instagram isn’t without its flaws (see Sam’s humourous and not-untrue post about it), but being active on it in a meaningful way has been so satisfying to me. I’m trying to be better about blogging (which is sometimes a challenge when you also have a full-time job), but my hope is that this is my kick in the pants to do it!

What You Do With It

Per Sam: The Liebster Award works like chain mail. Once you’re nominated, you can accept the award and nominate other bloggers for it. To accept the award, write a blog post that includes:

  • A ‘thanks’/shout-out to the blogger who nominated you for the award, with a little blurb about their journey
  • Answers to the list of questions that blogger has asked you
  • A list of new bloggers who you’re nominating for the award, along with questions you have for them

There’s no obligation to accept the nomination, but it’s a great way to get involved in the blogging community and learn about other people’s travel experiences in greater detail!

10 Questions Assigned to Me

  • What is the funniest and/or weirdest experience you’ve had while traveling?Two years ago, on my first solo trip, I went to Wales for the first time. I was taking the train north and found myself sitting in a backward-facing seat, which I attempted to tolerate in the spirit of zest for travel. That didn’t last long, and I hurriedly switched seats as soon as I could. I dozed off for an hour or two, during which time the train apparently pulled into a station and then pulled back out in the same direction it had come in. This meant when I woke up I was once again backward-facing. Groggy, I thought perhaps I hadn’t switched seats to begin with. When the train pulled up at my stop, I went to the end of the train I THOUGHT my little piece of luggage was on. Of course, it was actually at the other end, but by this point I was so panicked about losing my luggage (my passport!) that it didn’t even occur to me. So there I was, panicking about my bag as other riders gave me sympathetic looks, but I couldn’t well get off the train without it. The train closed its doors, I missed my stop, and it rolled on. By that point the slow and terribly embarrassing realisation of what I’d done was beginning to dawn on me, and I sheepishly retrieved my bag from the other end of the train just as it pulled up at the next stop. I got off the train, assuming I would catch one going in the opposite direction. Another lady had disembarked at the same stop, and her husband was waiting outside his car to pick her up. She handed him her bag, then turned to look at me, still standing on the platform.

    “You’re the girl who lost her bag, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, that was me,” I said ruefully, “but I’ve found it now.”

    “Was this your stop?”

    “No, it was back in Conwy. I’ll catch the train back that way.” My casual tone must have alarmed her.

    “That train won’t come for hours!” She said. “Come with us, we’ve got to go back that way anyway.”

    I looked at her, then at her husband by the car, then back at her. I recalled learning something about not getting in cars with strangers as a small child, but the prospect of sitting at a train station without a phone or another human being as the sun went down was enough for me to disregard that. I got in.

    As it turns out, Cheryl and Jonathan were absolutely lovely people who happily chattered with me as they brought me back to Conwy. They were even kind enough to point out the best fish and chips place in town, and drop me off somewhere I could find accommodation. I thanked them profusely at the time, but Cheryl and Jonathan, if you ever see this now, THANK YOU! The hospitality of the Welsh people truly is legendary.

  • Do you prefer to explore big cities or smaller towns?I like to start out in big cities, then “escape” to small towns for the second half of the trip, if time allows. Cities pulse and beat like the heart of a country, but to really get to know it, I think you do have to venture out into the smaller parts. There is something enchanting about discovering places off the beaten path.

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  • Which place would you never tire of re-visiting?I’m biased, but Canada. It’s the second largest country geographically in the world, and its people and culture are as varied as its landscapes- deciduous forests, tundra, coastline, prairies, rainforests, mountains. I’ve only spent time in the east (Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes), but even among those regions, the land is so rich and varied I could never be bored. I’m dying to get out west one day and see the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia!
  • Of all the different views you’ve experienced while traveling, which left you the most in awe?The Gower peninsula in Wales. There are moments in life, experiences that are so fantastical, they quite literally catch your breath. Seeing the Great Orme at Rhossili Bay was one such moment for me.  Even now I’m trying to describe it, and failing miserably.

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  • What is one thing that you don’t like about traveling?Jetlag is an enemy of the people. Sometimes it works in your favour (and allows you to see places while everyone else is asleep), but mostly it is uncomfortable and occasionally nauseating.
  • What was the best meal/dish you’ve had while traveling?Lunch at Kitchen W8 in London was divine. The menu at this Michelin-starred restaurant is always changing, but if you eat there with another person you can essentially order one of everything (as each menu category has two options) and sample it all. Of note, the prices are also wildly reasonable. I recommend this place to anyone and everyone who goes to London.
  • Which souvenir from your travels do you treasure the most?In my case… the souvenir I never had: a handmade journal from a bookbinder in Hay-on-Wye. My first time in Hay, a charming Welsh town that regards itself as the secondhand book capital of the world, I stumbled on the bookbinder’s shop and was immediately taken with his work. The thought of pages lovingly laid and bound together was irresistible to me as a writer; each precious blank book was imbued with its maker’s devotion to his craft. The only problem was the bookbinder could only accept cash. I didn’t have any on me (and due to an overly zealous security department at my bank, my debit card had been locked), so I promised to come back. At the time, I didn’t think I’d ever be back, but my life took a funny turn after that. Fast-forward two years later and I found myself back in Hay, this time with plenty of cash in hand. I approached the shop with a kind of karmic catharsis, prepared to finally make good on my promise. Naturally this time, the bookbinder was working on making a new batch of journals and didn’t have any to sell yet! The memory of it still makes me laugh, but the most wonderful part about this (not) souvenir is that it reminds me of the circumstances that brought me back to Hay at all. (Spoiler alert: I fell in love).

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  • If you had to travel somewhere for only one day, where would you go?
    I think I could easily spend 24 hours in Vienna. I’ve never been, but it’s high on my list!
  • If you could live in any place [other than those you’ve lived in] for a year, which would it be?I’m convinced I could hole up in the Scottish Highlands for a year and finally finish the book I’m writing. Maybe it would be just the change of scenery I need. How could you not feel inspired in a setting as wild and otherworldly as this?

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  • Where do you want to go next?
    Sweden and Denmark are dream destinations for me. I’ve been to both Finland and Norway and feel it’s only right I complete the Scandinavian circuit. Preferably this would happen in summer time, though!

My Nominees

Questions for My Nominees

  • When did you first catch “the travel bug”?
  • Do you prefer to travel solo, with a partner, or in a group?
  • What’s the best travel tip you’ve ever heard?
  • What would your dream trip consist of?
  • What’s the most underrated place or best-kept secret you’ve ever visited?
  • Language barriers: fun or stressful? Do you (or would you) try to brush up on a foreign language before visiting its country?
  • How do you feel about tourist spots (The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, etc.)? Are they overrated, or worth visiting?
  • What food did you try to love on your travels, but just couldn’t bring yourself to?
  • What did you love most about the last place you visited?
  • What’s a good/funny story you have about an encounter with a local?
    …Again, no pressure to contribute or participate, just a fun thing to get to know one another better and share our love of travel!

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