I have been very generously nominated for a Liebster Award!
A Liebster is one of those fun internet awards that seeks to help bloggers support each other in the spirit of community building, reinforcing the idea that blogging is all about community, not competition. The lovely blogger who nominated my blogs over at Just Go Places is a woman I met at my first travel conference in Spain last month. If you haven't checked out her site yet, you should. After you read my Liebster responses, that is!
I was asked 11 travel-related questions. Here are my answers!
1- Where is your next big trip?
Our next big trip is a 3 week road trip through much of Portugal in August. We are starting and ending in Porto, and hope to visit Coimbra, Evora, Moura, Beja, the Algarve, Lisbon, and Sintra. I'm excited about observing the night sky in the Starlight Tourism area of Moura, checking out the castles in Sintra, and sipping Porto in Porto!
2- Why did you choose this destination?
My husband and I decided on Portugal for several reasons. We have always been interested in visiting, but it was always too far off the beaten path to tack on to any other itinerary. Plus, there are so many areas we want to see that we wanted to dedicate a nice chunk of time to our visit. Finally, it has so much to offer. There are great beaches for relaxation and swimming, a wealth of historical and cultural sites, and incredible food.
3- What's the best thing about the town you live in?
We just moved to Paris in 2015, and we love it. Perhaps what I love the most is how beautiful it is and how much history it has. I also love that there is always something going on. It's impossible to get bored here. From a lifestyle standpoint, I adore the local markets, the emphasis on fresh, local food, and how much more active I am here. We rely on public transportation or our feet, and it's easy to get anywhere in the city. I also love being able to walk my son to school and still have time to sit at a cafe with my husband before we each go about our day!
4- What do you find is the best thing about travel?
For me it's always been about meeting new people and learning about the history of each place I visit. The world is such a big place, and I feel I am enriched by experiencing life from a different perspective. I love art, architecture, nature, food, history, culture, music- bring these things together in a destination I've never visited before and I'm in heaven! I also love watching the way travel is shaping my children's view of the world. They understand the importance of speaking more than one language and are interested in visiting different places.
5- What has been your favourite destination so far and why?
There are a few destinations that have left me with incredible memories, like entering the pyramid in Egypt or climbing the outside of one in the jungles of Guatemala. However, the most meaningful destination has bee visiting my dad's hometown of Caramanico, Italy. I first went many years ago, but this past fall I went with my husband and kids, and met my parents there. It was my father's first time back in over 60 years, and it was amazing to have 3 generations back there together and to watch my dad show my boys around.
6- What is the craziest thing you have ever done while traveling?
The craziest thing has probably been accepting a ride from a stranger to travel across the desert in Egypt. My husband and I traveled to Egypt 8 years ago, and were really interested in seeing an ancient monastery located pretty much in the desert. We read that there were buses that ran to it, but when we got to the bus station the bus from the station had been cancelled. The only other way to get there was by car. A man approached us at the station and offered to hire us a driver for a small fee. We were desperate and accepted, and were driven across the Egyptian desert by a man who didn't speak any English and who wasn't an official taxi driver. Halfway through the journey we realized he could just dump us in the desert and take off with all our stuff! Thankfully he didn't and we made it to our destination safely, but it's not something I would do again!
7- What has been your favourite restaurant?
This one is hard to answer because food is such a big part of travel for me. some of my favourite restaurants had more to do with the authenticity of the food and the ambiance than anything else. A few of my favourite restaurants: A rooftop meal at a small restaurant in Luxor that served simple vegetarian dishes. We got a bit of everything because no one spoke English, but it was cheap and the view was perfect. A fancy restaurant in my dad's hometown that served up incredible meals and even cooked up gluten free pasta for my son that my dad's cousin brought to the restaurant herself (she was diagnosed Celiac at age 73!). A seafood restaurant perched on a cliff in El Salvador that serves up some of the freshest seafood dishes with gorgeous views over the ocean.
8- Have you been anywhere that really surprised you for better or worse?
A few places, yes, but the most recent was Toulouse, France. We spent 6 weeks in the South of France in the fall, and my husband wanted to add Toulouse to the list. I wasn't that interested because it's a bit isolated and didn't have many sites that I was interested in seeing. However, it turned out to be an incredible destination! The buildings are built with a reddish/pink stone that gives the city a romantic feel, and there really is a lot to see and do. It's a smaller city than Paris, and is quite manageable with young kids. The people were open and friendly, the food is great, and there is such a vibrant culture that we had a great time. In fact, we had decided to move to Toulouse after that visit, but then my husband landed a job in Paris.
9- What inspired you to start a blog?
I started my first blog, Celiac Baby! when my son was taken off gluten as a toddler by his doctor. I was struggling to figure out how to handle his new food restrictions, and was looking to connect with others going through something similar. Over time it has grown into a place where I try and help others who are new to gluten free and feeling similar to what I felt so many years ago.
My inspiration for starting Gluten Free Family Travel stemmed from our decision to sell our house and move to France. I wanted to have a place to chronicle our new travel adventures as an expat family. I'm a huge believer in family travel, and I think that kids can benefit greatly from experiencing new places and cultures. I hope to encourage others to get out there and explore with their children while they're still young, rather than waiting until they're older. Both my children took their first plane rides before they were a year old, and we haven't looked back!
In addition, traveling with a child who has significant food restrictions can be intimidating, but that doesn't mean it's not possible! I believe that safe gluten free food can be found in every country in the world! I hope that by sharing my family's experiences I can help others realize that it is possible to travel gluten free and explore the world!
10- Is there a place you would never want to visit?
I don't think there's anywhere I would never want to visit, but there are definitely places that I wouldn't visit right now for a variety of reasons, from safety to political unrest. I also have an idea of which places I'm interesting in visiting before others make it on the list, so for some destinations I may or may not make it to them!
11- What destination is on the top of your bucket list?
I have a few destinations I can't wait to visit. Iceland is up there (my husband frequently mentions the stopover option), as well as Chile and Peru. Croatia and the Czech Republic are on the list too, and since they're closer to Paris, they will probably get visited first.
Who I Nominate!
There are so many great bloggers I admire whose answers I would love to hear, but I am giving love to those who are either family bloggers or gluten free ones. I nominate Gluten Free Globetrotter because she is one of the original gluten free bloggers and has a ton of knowledge. Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes is a great blog from a New Zealand woman living in England who travels the globe gluten free and with style. Finally, Gluten Free Mrs. D. is a London based blogger who is well both well traveled and super helpful with a blog that offers great info for the gluten free traveler.
Here are my questions for these fabulous bloggers:
1- Which travel destination do you find yourself returning to (or wanting to return to) again and again?
2- If you could give gluten free travelers just one piece of advice about finding safe gluten free food on the road, what would it be?
3- What's the most unique travel souvenir you've brought home?
4- Do you prefer to travel with others or alone? Why?
5- What travel item would you never leave home without?
6- Which travel destination have you visited that you feel is underrated and deserves more love from travelers?
7- What's your favourite thing about traveling?
8- Is there a food or dish you discovered on the road that you loved but haven't been able to find anywhere else? What made it so special?
9- Where are you off to next and why did you choose that destination?
10- What's your favourite type of travel accommodation and why?
11- What are three experiences you recommend to travelers to your hometown?