We’re delighted to interview Sofie and her Wonderful Wanderings!
Sofie is a young, full of energy, Belgian girl who decided to leave her comfort zone and start discovering the world! Her bucket list is full of wishes. She wants to take dance classes in at least 10 countries, sing karaoke in Japan and walk through a giant lavender field!
1. Travelling around the world has many pros but also some cons! Could you select three countries and list the hardest challenges you have faced in those?
I think I’ve been pretty spoiled in this as I’ve mostly traveled around Western Europe and Northern America so far, not exactly the most challenging countries. The challenges I faced were more of the personal kind, like fear of opening up to strangers and feeling awkward when eating alone at a restaurant for the first time. I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry for not having experienced tough times in at least three countries :-)
2. Tell us your best meal in terms of new experience, food, people and atmosphere in one of the country you have visited? We want to know an unforgettable story about that!
The best meal I’ve ever had was at Rui Paula’s Restaurante DOP in Porto, Portugal. I’m a big food lover, but that evening I was simply blown away. Every course was so refined and I tried combinations I’d never think I’d taste together, like chili ice cream. That’s not really an exciting story though, so I’ll give you another one.
I spent two weeks in Los Angeles with a friend and about a week or so in the trip I still hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom. You know, when you travel that sometimes happens. I felt completely bloated and was sure I was carrying several kilos of extra weight. I tried drinking tea and lots of water, eating prunes, taking laxatives… Nothing worked. Then one afternoon we stopped at In-N-Out Burger, an American Burger chain that someone had recommended us. I had a delicious burger with friends and just a couple of minutes later things started to move.
I was saved.
It might seem like a silly thing, but believe me, this can kind of spoil a trip and I’ll always remember In-N-Out as the burger chain that relieved me.
3. We saw that you want to go to Australia and New Zealand one day! What are your expectations of those continents in comparison to Europe?
Yes I do! I expect them to be much wider, much more open and much greener than – especially Western – Europe. Somehow I think they’re also a lot less multicultural than Europe in terms of the people living there and the different cuisines. I can be wrong of course, and the only way to find out is by actually traveling there :-)
4. If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Why?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I think I’d travel all the way back to the time of the Incas. It’s a culture we still know so little about and it fascinates me tremendously how much knowledge they had about natural phenomena and construction.
5. Think of a single song that you could listen on repeat while traveling, which one would it be?
The Footloose theme song. It makes me happy and gives me energy. I’d probably still be sick of it after a few hours though :-)
6. What would you suggest to a young girl who wants to follow your example? Which country do you think would be the best to start traveling?
Of course, it depends on where she’s from, but I think Western Europe is very accessible. Countries like Belgium and the Netherlands are very easy to get around in and most people there speak English. If she’s looking for a warmer destination I would recommend Spain. It has great public transportation, is cheaper than Belgium and the Netherlands and the weather in the south is usually great.
7. While traveling the world the whole time, is there anything that you are missing from the routine life?
Well, I do travel a lot but I’m not constantly on the road; I share an apartment with my boyfriend in my home country Belgium and do a lot of day trips here as well. I’ve actually just quit my full-time job in February and so far I’m not missing anything of that routine life. I enjoy the freedom I have now to plan my work as I want and to base my trips here on the weather, instead of having to plan everything well in advance.
8. Favorite Instagram photo?
When I visited Sri Lanka we spent a morning at Sigiriya (Lion Rock) and the afternoon of that day at Polonnaruwa, an ancient city. We had seen this monk at Sigiriya and bumped into him again that afternoon, walking around and listening to his iPod. He seemed very happy to pose for the photo.
9. We have read your weekly articles about Belgians who decided to move abroad. How much do you see yourself in them?
That’s a good question. I’ve often asked myself whether I’d be able to really move abroad and I still don’t have the answer. I’d definitely like to spend longer periods of time traveling and maybe even basing myself in another country for a while to really get to know it, but so far I haven’t found a place yet that I really want to move to for, let’s say, at least three years.
What I do really recognize is the remarks they make about Belgium – both the positive and the negative. The food here is great, we all agree, but there’s a lot of negativity among people and not a lot of taking action. Also, it rains way too often.
10. Pick one situation for each destination:
A. Live for one year
B. Travel for two weeks
C. One-day trip
India / New Zealand/ Ireland
A. Live for one year in New Zealand: Ireland is pretty easy for me to get to and possibly even rainier than Belgium, two reasons why I wouldn’t move there for a year. Between New Zealand and India, New Zealand appeals much more to me because of the beautiful nature and also because I think it would be easier for me to adapt there. My boyfriend also loves the snow and the mountains, so if I could take him with me I’m sure he’d be thrilled as I’ve heard snowboarding in New Zealand is amazing. I’m also a big fan of the travel blog Young Adventuress and Liz, who runs the blog, is based in New Zealand. Her photos and stories on the country always make me want to pack up and go.
B. Travel for two weeks through Ireland: I know India would be a more logical option, but somehow that country doesn’t really speak to me and I’ve heard such great things about Ireland that I’d love to do a road trip there and learn about the country’s history and – especially – folklore. I’m very interested in local traditions and fairytale like stories and Ireland seems to have quite a few of those.
C. Travel for one day in India: Of course, it wouldn’t be very practical to travel just one day to India, but it’s the only country out of the three that isn’t really on my list of places I really want to go to at the moment, while New Zealand and Ireland are. I’ve only ever been to Asia once (I spent a week in Sri Lanka), so it’s not that I’ve had bad experiences there, but I’d rather visit other places there first before going to India. Thailand, for example, is high on my list and I’ll probably travel there in fall.