A fellow female explorer, Maddy has lots of stories to share. Visiting Amsterdam, Venice, Gibraltar, Kiev and many more...you are sure to get from inspiration.
1. What’s your best travel experience?
Venice Carnival is definitely up there with my favourite travel memories. The atmosphere, the colours and the costumes were just incredible. I spent 4 days at the carnival and can honestly say I loved every minute of it. Venice is such a beautiful place on an ordinary day, but during Carnival it really comes alive. On our last night there we ended up bumping into some local guys and we spent the evening drinking limoncello shots and trading stories with them. It was the perfect end to a wonderful few day in Italy!
2. What’s your worst travel experience?
I went to Kiev in October and got robbed by a taxi driver. I arrived at the airport by myself at 1am and jumped in a taxi outside the arrivals hall. I thought it would be fine, I had Googled the route to the hostel and asked him roughly how much the journey would cost me. I wasn’t worried at all when I got in the car, he was parked alongside other reputable taxi drivers and even had his license in the window (hindsight is a wonderful thing, I wish I’d taken a photo of this!) However, he took me on a 30 minute detour before he pulled over on a dark street and demanded all the money in my purse. I had taken out roughly £65 for my weekend trip in Ukraine and gave him the lot without a fight. At the time I just wanted to get out of there and couldn’t care less about the money if it meant I came out of the situation unscathed. I’ve learnt from my experience though so if anything this terrifying situation has made me a stronger, more confident traveller.
3. What’s the most unusual food you have tasted?
I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to trying new food – I know what I like and I stick to it! However, when I was in Sweden I did have Reindeer bolognaise (controversial I know…) and it was very yummy.
4. Where should we visit next?
I recommend you visit Lithuania. I visited in January, and although it was bitterly cold (-17 degrees!) I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It wasn’t like other places in Europe I’ve been to, I felt that it was an authentic place that was untouched by traditional tourism. If you do visit make sure you check out Trakai Castle – it’s worth the visit!
5. Where is the best place you’ve visited?
I loved exploring Slovenia. Lake Bled has to be one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. When I went we hired a car and drove to places you couldn’t reach on a guided tour. Everywhere you looked there were beautiful, breath taking views and unspoilt landscapes. It wasn’t an expensive trip, with a glass of wine in Ljubljana costing just €1.30 in one bar! I feel like Slovenia is a hidden gem in Europe that is definitely worth a visit.
6. Where do you want to visit next?
My bucket list is ridiculously large and is constantly growing. I could list hundreds of places I want to visit from Malta to India and from Brazil to Japan. However, if I have to pick just one then I would say New Zealand. Every photograph I see of it makes me fall in love a little bit more and I would love to have the chance to explore there.
7. How did you start to travel?
I was at a point in my life where I desperately needed a change of scene. I was a recent University graduate, I hadn’t been on holiday in over 5 years, I’d broken up with a boyfriend and I was unsure of the career path I wanted to take. So, after meticulous planning and saving every penny I had, I packed my bags and went to America for four months. I thought this would get it all out of my system and give me the break I so desperately craved. In reality, it was the start of my love of travelling. Two and a half years (and 36 newly explored countries) later, I’m so glad I began my love affair with the world.
8. Where would you not revisit?
The only place that comes to mind is Bratislava, Slovakia and I feel terrible for even saying it! Unfortunately, I found it slightly boring. I went with a friend on a day trip from Vienna and we ran out of things to do there. I think the way you experience a place has a lot to do with the company you’re with and I was lucky to have someone with me who was happy to sit in a bar and grab a beer when we had nothing more we wanted to see or do there. Despite the good company, I’m in no rush to go back there I’m afraid.
9. What’s you most embarrassing travel story?
Sometimes it feels like I’m living my life in a long-running comedy series, and yet now I’m asked to name something embarrassing I cannot think of anything truly mortifying! One mildly embarrassing incident occurred at Oktoberfest. I booked myself into a shared dorm and ended up spending the duration of my trip in a room with 3 elderly Chinese women. They clearly weren’t in Munich for the festivities, and over the 5 nights I was there I tried (and failed) to quietly stumble back into the room whilst they slept, after heavily drinking for 12 hour stints (don’t judge, that’s what happens at Oktoberfest!)... On the very last night I was so exhausted and partied-out that when I went to bed I didn’t even had the energy to get into my PJs, I instead slept fully clothed in my dirndl. I was woken up a few hours later by one of the women shoving a camera in my face. She said they had seen me wearing my traditional clothes for the last few days and wanted to have a photograph with me to commemorate their time in Germany. It would be impossible to describe to you just how hungover I felt and looked, but imagine yourself after 5 days drinking in a row and I’m sure you can conjure up something in your mind. So there I was, at 8 o’clock in the morning, having a photoshoot in my bedroom with these ladies in a dress I had worn for the last 5 days. I had beer stains down me, backcombed, knotty hair and I was in desperate need of a shower. The ladies each had a photo with me individually, before getting me to strike various poses so they could show their family and friends. I dread to think where the photos ended up, but I like to think they will never ever resurface!
10. Which place took you by surprise?
Gibraltar was such a pleasant surprise. I had heard mixed reviews about it, with the majority of people saying there really wasn’t a lot to do there and I shouldn’t waste my time visiting. Apprehending a lack of activity, I took my book and my camera and spent an entire chilled day reading and photographing the place. I absolutely loved the monkeys up on the rock & because I respected the rules about no touching or feeding them, I had no trouble with them at all. The weather was hot, the people were friendly and the shops were cheap – what more can you ask for on a weekend away?
11. Do you have any travel regrets?
I try not to have any regrets in life but I suppose I regret not travelling sooner. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and I’m glad I went to university, but I wish I had looked into doing a semester abroad. However, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I think 21 is still a pretty good age to get the travel bug!
12. Have you made a travel lifelong friend?
I have! I met my friend Shelley on my first solo adventure in Amsterdam. Through her I made friends with her cousin Ashley and together the three of us have been on numerous amazing trips. Travelling alone is liberating and exciting, but travelling with these two is always a hilarious adventure!
13. Have you fallen in love on your travels?
I have fallen in love with the world in general, but not with an individual. I’ve met wonderful people from all walks of life, some of which I was sad to part with. The funny thing about travelling is that I know my path will cross with these individuals again as long as I keep embracing life as one big adventure.
14. What is your favourite travel photograph?
This is my favourite photo to date
15. What was your longest flight?
Flying back from San Diego to London after spending four months exploring the states. The flight was in two parts and took 13 hours. Thank goodness for free inflight wine and movies!
16. Where do you think you will settle?
Dust settles, I don’t! Who knows where I will eventually end up … I’m excited at the unknown right now.
17. Do you think you will ever stop travelling?
Absolutely not! I might travel less frequently (after all, twice a month isn’t sustainable for the entirety of my life) but I will never stop travelling completely.
18. What is your favourite travel quote?
I can’t pick a favourite but the one I relate to the most is by Michael Palin “once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
19. What piece of advice would you give to a new traveller?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Travelling is all about embracing the differences in culture, talking to new people and seeing the world through new eyes. If you start an adventure expecting everything to be just like it is at home you will not only be bitterly disappointed but you’ll be missing out on opportunity to really grow and learn as a person.
When I first started travelling the word “hostel” made me break out in a cold sweat. I’d heard so many horror stories and was adamant hostels would be dirty, smelly & full of thieves. Thank goodness I stepped out of my comfort zone because I couldn’t have been more wrong and I now choose to stay in hostels on 90% of my trips.
So, my words of wisdom would be that you need to be prepared to take a leap into the unknown and you may just be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Name: Maddy Morgan
Blog or Occupation: Tales of Elsewhere
Location: Oxford, England