Murissa Shalapata from The Wanderfull Traveler is a Canadian culinary adventurer that loves to travel and obviously also loves to try new food in each new destination. The travel bug bit her at a young age after her first visit to Italy.
She’s answering our questions and sharing with us her experiences and thoughts about traveling around the world.
1. You caught the travel bug when traveling to Italy for 4 weeks to study Art History. What’s the best memory of that month in Italy? The food, the art or something else?
There are a lot of great memories from that trip to Italy. The Italian food drastically changed from region to region and inspired a culinary awakening for me which led me to start TheWanderfullTraveler.com.
But when I think of that first trip to Italy I remember that experience of seeing Venice for the first time. I couldn’t get over the fact that this place existed – a city built upon the lagoon – where its inhabitants from the 17th and 18th centuries would be able to manoeuver their way around the city because it has largely stayed the same. It allowed me to imagine the unfolding of history much more intensely than any other city I’ve visited.
2. You’re now starting to get involved in charity projects, like the collaboration with Passports with Purpose. What is the most inspiring aspect of helping people for you?
This holiday season I have made giving back a main goal of mine for both local charities as well as Passports with Purpose with the help of GowithOh and the Restoration of the Pazzi Chapel Loggia at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. It is important to give back to your local community as well as places you’ve been and places you want to go.
With Passports with Purpose I decided to join as a blogger because not only does it help families learn and practice sustainable farming for 5 years (per family) it also helps the environment, a cause close to my heart. In Honduras they practice slash and burn farming which has destroyed much of the forest and eco-system. Passports with Purpose has joined forces with Sustainable Harvest International to help prevent the destruction of the forest and help educate and feed Honduran farming families ensuring a more secure future for those families we help.
In the end these acts of support and kindness do a lot of good around the world. And with the busy lives that we may lead it is inspiring to pause and donate because you’re able to influence the lives of so many from around the world with only the click of a button.
3. What did you like the most about the cliff jump at Negril, in Jamaica?
I remember being a kid and standing on the edge of a tall diving platform at the local aquatic center. I stood there for what felt like an hour and just couldn’t bring myself to jump. When I traveled to Jamaica it was with my family and my dad asked if any of us were willing to jump. We all declined.
But when we arrived and, again, I peered over the edge of the cliff seeing the clear blue water below, a feeling of urgency overcame me. Jumping off this cliff in Jamaica was just one of those things I didn’t want to regret not doing. So I did it. And it was exhilarating! It taught me that travel helps you overcome fears, worries, inabilities that you might not have the chance to overcome at home.
4. If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Why?
This is a tough question and I have been struggling with it because I am writing a novel about time travel. In the book I am focusing on 18th Century Venice because Venice would be a good starting point for a time traveler since it hasn’t changed too much. The character in my book will be using Venice as a place to help develop their time travel powers.
But there’s something I love about Victorian England. Especially during Christmas! But I imagine the manners, the subtle hints of love and hate and the costumes all meld together creating this regimented society that I feel took some wit and eloquence to live within. You couldn’t just say and do what you wanted like today. You’d have to really be skillful in the language you used or risk being scandalized or worse, boring. It would be tough but fun to try and function in that society for an evening.
5. Since you have a culinary travel blog, you surely tried many different foods during your tips. What was the most disgusting and the tastiest food you’ve tried so far?
There have been a couple of instances when I tried unappealing delicacies that have been unpleasant to say the least. The worst thing I tried was a poorly made black pudding with a side of even poorer coddle with cheap hot dogs rather than quality sausage. I barely touched it but luckily I had a delicious pint of rich Guinness to wash it down.
Otherwise I have a lot of regional favourites all over the world. In Bologna I had the best pumpkin tortellini with balsamic reduction at a small unassuming street side restaurant.
In Seattle I always head to the nearest oyster bar, usually Shuckers, during happy hour for delicious raw Kushi and or Kumamoto oysters. I still dream of those Jamaican jerk patties and jerk chicken from Jamaica.
In Oahu, Hawaii I flock to Roy’s for a pineapple martini and In my hometown of Kelowna it is nice to treat myself to Waterfront Wines’ local foie gras topped with ice wine gelée. So many good dishes!
6. Which one of you trips was the craziest one?
The craziest trip would have to be Paris this past Summer. I was the head planner for a total of 6 people: my parents, sister and her boyfriend as well as my boyfriend. To budget my sister and I with our partners stayed in one GowithOh apartment while my parents stayed in another.
It was a great time but what made it crazy was the attempt I made to try and please everyone. Travel really does bring out the best and worst in people and for the first time traveler it can be overwhelming. My sister’s boyfriend was that first time traveler who couldn’t let go of his need to be in control. Instead of letting go and learning about himself, he resisted. It turned out to be a hectic trip where I had more fun while avoiding his presence.
It was an important lesson for me in that I learned how lucky I am to have a family of travelers who are such great regular travel partners.
7. Imagine a person that has never traveled before in life. What would you suggest this person for the first trip?
I remember my first trip abroad. I learned a lot and figured out pretty quickly that you can’t fit everything you’ve ever wanted to do in one trip. So as you can imagine I am a big advocate for returning. So knowing that one day you will return you can relax a little and take in everything without rushing things.
I also recommend taking a journal. Write about your experiences. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. For example, using a journal I was able to slow down and take time to notice the nuances of the places I was traveling within. Looking back I notice that I enjoyed the pace of smaller cities in Italy than the fast paced Rome. This helps me plan my future trips knowing that I should include small towns and cities within my itinerary to give me a break from the hustle of city life.
In short, go with your gut and give yourself time to breathe.
8. Think of a single song that you could listen on repeat while travelling, which one would it be?
It would really depend on where I am. I love listening to Joe Dassin’s Les Champs-Elysées while dreaming of Paris. I set it as my alarm while visiting Paris and I always woke up with a smile.
But I am always in the mood for Into the Mystic by Van Morrison.
9. Favorite Instagram photo?
This is by far my favourite Instagram photo taken after I took a VIP tour of the Louvre with City Wonders. The area had a gorgeous sunset glow to it and the architecture turned to shades of gold. There were hardly any tourists around and as I walked around I could hear a masterful flutist playing in this archway – if you look closely to the left you can see his silhouette.
I really can’t wait to go back to Paris someday soon.
10. Pick one situation for each destination:
A. Live for one year
B. Travel for two weeks
C. One-day trip
Japan/ Brazil / Sweden
A. Live for one year: Sweden would be a great place to live for one year. As a Canadian we only have one neighbor, the USA. But I would choose to live in Sweden for one year because of its proximity to the various countries of Europe. I’d not only be exploring Sweden but all the countries nearby. I am also part Swedish and would like to dig into my family’s background as much as I could while exploring the food scene.
B. Travel for two weeks: Japan would be an adventure and I think two weeks would be a good amount of time to get your footing. The culture and streets are so vibrant while the countryside is picturesque so two weeks would not only allow a traveler to scratch the surface of city life but also get a feel for the rural parts of the country.
C. One-day trip: This would hardly do Brazil justice. It would be tough to choose a city to focus on for 24 hours: Sao Paolo, Rio, Salvador and so many other places to see. 24 hours in Brazil would be a foodie feast and I could only do it right if I had a local guide.
11. Since you’re based in Canada, could you tell us a secret and mention your favorite place for an offbeat getaway?
As I travel abroad a lot of people tell me they have always wanted to go to Canada, especially to Jasper National Park and Montréal, which are both good options but I try to encourage people to look to Western Canada. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada.
One of the lesser-known areas of BC for foreigners is my home, the Okanagan wine region. It is where Canadians come to vacation. It borders Canada’s only desert so it gets very hot during the Summer months. The wineries are worthy rivals of California’s Napa Valley and even Tuscany.
In the Winter months we have world famous Champagne powdered mountains for avid skiers/snowboarders. One of my favourite aspects of living here, other than the wine, is the food scene. Each year new restaurants pop up with innovative menus and hip atmospheres.