Sometimes you visit somewhere and you love a place so much that you want to live there. Well today’s interviewee did just that after falling in love with Greece. Please meet Bex Hall of Life Beyond Borders.
What is your name?
Rebecca Hall (Bex)
Which country do you come from/call home?
The UK. But I now call Greece my home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’ve been all three! I’ve volunteered and worked abroad, I’ve travelled as a tourist, now I live and work in Athens, Greece.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Savings if it’s long haul. But now I live in Greece there are so many beautiful islands to choose from. Even though I’ve been here for 5 years, I still love feeling like a foreigner.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Three years old on a family holiday to the Channel Island of Jersey. We made a huge sandcastle on the beach, with a moat and everything! In fact, when I go back to the UK to visit my family, I dig out the pictures.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
My bag was stolen in an internet café in Copenhagen, Denmark. I had my passport & house keys inside. It was near Christmas and I had to persuade the British Embassy to help me with an emergency travel document as they wanted me to wait until after Christmas!
I then had stupidly left my spare house keys inside my flat, so I had to get a locksmith to break in on my return: only to find my water pipes had burst in the cold. I’d rather forget about that trip.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Being spat on by an old Greek woman! I was helping her pack her bags in a supermarket. She turned round and spat at me three times! It’s to ward off the evil eye…apparently if someone thinks you have a kind nature and you’re beautiful, you’ll get jealousy so it’s to protect you. I didn’t realise that at the time and was a little taken aback!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I was a little disappointed by Cambodia…but then again, I only stayed in the capital. Maybe if I had had the opportunity to travel to the countryside and beaches, I’d feel differently. And I wouldn’t use the expression ‘worst,’ it just wasn’t for me: too busy, hectic and no peace. And knowing what had happened back in the Pol Pot regime just made me feel really sad.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I live here at the moment: Greece! Despite what people say about it, economically, it has certain energy and if you allow yourself to let go, you’ll feel it too. I’ve found overall people incredibly friendly & of course, the food is amazing!
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Seattle for some reason. I know it rains a hell of a lot there and is probably not that dissimilar to the UK in weather…but I’d love to go.
I also want to visit Finland and the high Arctic at Christmas to see the Northern Lights, or Siberia. Hawaii for the beaches and Barcelona for the culture and Gaudi architecture. I love European architecture.
Can you imagine life without travel?
I lived a nine-to-five Monday to Friday existence for a long time and I was so unhappy. I was living the life I felt was expected of me. I’ve since discovered it doesn’t matter what society or others think: you need to make yourself happy, and for me that’s settling for a while and exploring, understanding foreign cultures. If I have to do nine-to-five, I’d rather it be in a different culture.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I’d seek out a job as a P.A. (the work I used to do) with someone who travels a lot and requires me to travel with them. That way I’d be able to work and travel.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Life Beyond Borders. www.lifebeyondbordersblog.com
When did you begin your website?
How did you end up in Greece and what do you like about Greece?
I came to Greece in September 2008 to undertake an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching assignment. I stayed for two years, left and then came back. Greece’s magic pulled me in.
What were you doing in Cairo?
I spent the summer of 2010 teaching English there.
Please tell us about your time working at London Heathrow? Did you meet anybody famous?
Yes! I loved my time working at LHR for various airlines. The longest time I spent was with British Midland (now BMI) but in the end, the long shifts became too much and I got too tired. It’s a great job for one who hates nine-to-five and hates the Sunday feelings, because your pattern is merely four days on, two days off. So days of the week become meaningless.
I worked a mixture of check-in and ticket desk. I was also sent to trouble shoot whenever one of our aircrafts was delayed and passengers missed their connecting flights. Being shouted at 5am takes some getting used to, but it taught me resilience, and to think on my feet. Also diplomacy: being firm, yet not rude.
Famous people: hmmm, yes—but it’d be unfair and undiplomatic to divulge names. Let’s just say that a fair few British actors, singers and the occasional motor racing driver would utilise our services.
Please tell us about The League of Expat Writers (LEW) and how you are involved?
I created the League of Expat Writers (LEW) to give expats a voice to share their experiences with others about life abroad. My aim was to reach out to others and help other expats realise they’re not alone and frustrations, etc can be the same, whichever country you’re an expat in.
I encourage contributors to keep their stories upbeat, even humorous. And through this creation other expats in Greece have reached out to me and we’ve met up for coffees. It’s been a great source.
Why did you travel on a container ship?
Ha! The amount of times I’ve been asked that! OK, I am always looking for alternative ways to travel, alternative adventures. My father is an ex-merchant seafarer and told me that they used to take passengers in his day. So I investigated it on the internet and found a company in the UK that books cruises and freighter passage for people.
I spent 37 days from Athens to Hong Kong (via Italy and Spain and back to Europe) and the crew couldn’t have been more courteous, gentlemanly and interesting. With no internet access (except when in port), it was a journey in more ways than one. A great personal journey as well, with a great team of people. They are like an extended family to me now.
Please tell us about your author interview series. Who do you feature on it and why?
I started off featuring authors who write fiction and non-fiction/memoir about Greece and their experiences about Greece. I then found some great authors who wrote about their lives in other countries, and decided to branch out and feature them too.
As a writer myself—and I am working on my first novel based in Greece—I am keen to showcase interesting travel writers, both fiction and non. And I love seeing what influenced them to write and share their stories with the world.
I’m now starting to branch out into film director interviews: people who use Greece as their location. I am interested in why they choose Greece.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
Well, it would be lovely to make (serious) money from my writing! But it’s not my prime motivation. It’s a good question actually. I’ve been told I have a unique way of looking at things and I like to share the unique side of a country, culture, etc with people. I think writing can bring people together (as in the case of my League of Expat Writers). There’s too much unhappiness out there and if in a small way, my writing can reach out to people and make them feel: 1) I can do that (travel on a container ship) 2) I am not alone (as an expat, others are experiencing what I am) then I feel I’ve done a good job.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
See above. I hope that people find the articles, author and expat features interesting and are encouraged to share their stories if they have one, and also feel that if they choose a ‘different’ route in life, that it’s OK to do so.
What has travel taught you?
Resilience, to respect other cultures, to not assume everything in your own country is better; that people—regardless of their nationality—all have the same fears and loves deep down.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Aegean – a Greek airline. Great food, service and comfortable.
Favourite country? Greece! Although I loved Sri Lanka when I was there too.
Favourite city? London and Athens.
Favourite beach? The quiet beaches found on Poros island, Greece.
Favourite food? I know I live in Greece for now, but I love Italian.
Favourite language? Greek (sorry this is so Greek centric). It just has such a better affect, shouting in Greek.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.lifebeyondbordersblog.com
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/LifeBeyondBordersBlog