Moving to LA may be a dream for many, yet for today’s guest it was a big disappointment. To find out why read on for this interview with travel blogger Anda Galffy of Travel Notes and Beyond.
What is your name?
My name is Anda Galffy
Which country do you come from/call home?
I am originally from Romania, but have been living in Southern California for the past 26 years.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I am a leisure traveler.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I work for my husband who has his own business, so I have a steady income and a pretty flexible schedule that allows me to travel often.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My parents took me on trips since I was barely two years old, but my memories don’t go back so far. I best remember our summer vacations at the Black Sea and that’s because I always had a fascination with the water.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different from what you imagined? If so, how?
Of course I have. I had my fair share of disappointments generated by my own imagination. We all have pre-conceived notions and ideas about different places. My biggest disappointment was Los Angeles. That was long before the Internet era, when tourist information was far from what it is today. When we first came to L.A. I thought we would be moving to a big metropolis with vibrant, walkable neighborhoods and modern public transportation, like the big European cities that I was accustomed to. But to my surprise we landed in an endless urban sprawl. As far as the eye could see, cheap small businesses were lining up the streets of old suburbs with little or no character. The downtown area seemed ghostly and unfriendly, with no bustle or charm, with no impressive skyline, no stylish shop fronts or cafés, and no urban public transportation. I was extremely disappointed and it took me a long time to come to terms with the idea that Los Angeles was going to be my new home.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
I remember quite vividly a trip that our family took when I was about 10 years old. It was a hiking trip to one of the highest peaks in the Carpathian Mountains, in Romania, called Iezer Papusa. The Carpathians are breathtakingly beautiful mountains, with pristine forests, alpine meadows and green pastures, but they are also very wild.
There were about eight of us in the group and we were supposed to reach the summit by sunset. We were planning to spend the night there, in the little cabin that served as a refuge for the travelers and shepherds, then start back the next day. But to our dismay, when we arrived at the top we found the cabin was completely burned down. Just a couple of walls remained standing, but nothing else: no roof, no beds, no doors, nothing. And to make things worse, we discovered that we were not the only ones in this predicament. Another group of backpackers who just arrived was to compete with us for the shelter of those two walls.
Summer nights are nice and warm in Romania, but not up in the mountains, where the temperature may easily drop below 50ºF. And then there was the issue of animals. Wild and dangerous animals, like bears, wolves, wild boars, lynxes… All these may sound like the recipe for disaster, but what started as a nightmare for all the living souls on Iezer Papusa that night, turned into the most exciting vacation day that I ever had. So what is a group of young people going to do on a cold night atop the mountain, with no roof above their heads? Make fun of the situation. It was laughter and jokes and games till dawn. What a night that was!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
There is no place I visited that I could call ‘bad.’ I had good and bad travel experiences, but they were rather related to people not to places.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I visited four continents so far and there are many places that I absolutely loved and could revisit on and on without getting bored. However, the continent that most attracts me is Europe. The reason is partly cultural: I was born and raised there. But it’s not only that. I love everything about Europe: people, cities, culture, food, nature, architecture, history, atmosphere, everything. In fact I like Europe so much that I have to force myself to go visit other places.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
There are a few places that I would like to see before I die. Peru would be one of them. I’d also love to see Antarctica. My dream is to join one of those National Geographic expeditions that take you on a private cruise, but they are so expensive!
Can you imagine life without travel?
I can’t. That would probably be the biggest punishment for me. If there is something that really I fear is not being able to travel till I die. When I lived in Romania I was not allowed to travel anywhere outside the country. The communist regime was arguing that strict limits on emigration were necessary to prevent a ‘brain drain.’ As such, very few young and educated people were allowed to travel outside the borders for fear they would never return.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
There are many things I love to do and traveling is not my only passion. In fact, traveling is a means for my greatest passion, which is landscape photography. Long before I became an avid traveler I was a passionate photographer. So if I couldn’t travel anymore, I guess I’d have to switch to portrait photography… ha, ha, ha!
What is the name of your travel blog and the URL?
Travel Notes & Beyond
When did you begin your website?
Travel Notes & Beyond was launched in 2013.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I strive to introduce my readers to unexpected and unique travel experiences that will provide itinerary ideas and inspiration for their future travel plans.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Travel Notes & Beyond is a collection of stories, travel impressions and photography inspired by my wanderings around the world. My posts focus on beautiful destinations, culture, arts and food, while expressing my personal feelings and opinions about the places I visit, the people I meet and their traditions. I hope my travel stories and photography will inspire others to create their own ventures, help them discover new places, or maybe give them a new perspective on the ones they have already visited.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most popular post was about Bastei Rocks , a beautiful rock formation located southeast of Dresden, around the Elbe Valley, in the Sandstone Mountains. The area is known as the Saxon Switzerland and is one of the most spectacular national parks of Germany.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I enjoyed visiting and writing about Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
What is your favourite mode of transport?(plane/train/boat/car)
It hasn’t been invented yet. But of all the means of transportation I prefer flying. It is still the shortest ordeal between two points, plus it proves very beneficial for my spiritual life. It keeps me in constant prayer.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Don’t wait until you’ll have enough money to travel. The most beautiful places on this planet can be enjoyed on a small budget.
What has travel taught you?
Travel taught me not to judge.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Lufthansa
Favourite country? Italy
Favourite city? Budapest
Favourite beach? Makalawena beach in Kona, Hawaii.
Favourite food? Bread
Favourite language? French (it oozes sophistication)
Please provide the following:-
Website URL? http://www.travelnotesandbeyond.com
Twitter handle? @travelnotes101
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/travelnotesandbeyond
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndaGalffy/posts