Liebster Blog Award 2014

I am thrilled and honored to have been nominated by Cristina Luisa from @TravelChronicle to receive the

Liebster Blog Award, Award, blog award, LBA

Last year I received a double nomination for the same award by Sarah from Wake Up Mona and Sonja from The Happy Travel Bug . It was such a great yet unexpected surprise but I welcomed it with open arms :)

There is no better reward than seeing their readership increase and being recognized by fellow bloggers from the community! I am really grateful that my work is appreciated and shared! It sure motivates me to continue writing.

Without further ado, here are the rules of this award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to his or her blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions by the nominee before you.
  • Nominate 5 of your favorite blogs and notify them of their nomination.
  • Come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Liebster Award Acceptance: “Pay It Forward”

Thank you so much Cristina Luisa for this awesome nomination! Trust me when I say that I am truly surprised and it sure made me *blush*

Being nominated means that everything I do (the time and effort invested), as well as all the stories I share, were well worth it.

Cristina is a world traveler, lover of arts and she has that adventurous soul that I can identify with! Moreover we sure did connect even more when she went abroad to teach and It made me very happy to read all about her life-changing experiences on her blog!

Oh did I tell you she is a kick ass writer? She sure can tell a story! She inspires me to be bold and fearless. If there is something I want to do or achieve I just have to go out and make it happen ;)

As the one & only (and fabulous) Bruce Lee once said: “To hell with circumstances, I create my own opportunities” and that is something I know to be absolutely true!

P.S: BTW Cris, my next goal is that Master of Arts in Linguistics that has been on my mind for years. I won’t stop until I get it #sisepuede

 

Here are my answers to her 10 Questions

Please share a photo of yourself at one of your favorite destinations.

Lake Superior, Laurentians, Quebec, Kay, TravellerSoul

This was just a bit difficult as there are so many places that mean the world to me and narrowing it down to one was not easy. However I always follow my heart and there is this photo taken at one of my absolute favorite places on earth and it is called Lac Supérieur or Superior Lake which is located in the Laurentians, a stunningly beautiful region north of my city.

I simply cannot begin to tell you how happy and free I feel whenever I go there regardless of the time of the year! It sure is breathtaking.

Honestly, if you asked me where I would love to settle down and if I had to pick a place to live anywhere on earth, it would definitely be there :)

Do you consider yourself a writer or a blogger?

I would say both. I have been writing for quite some time now but I have not written or published my best work yet. I’m constantly a work in process!

As for being a blogger, well the past 3 years have helped me to become more disciplined, focused and much more passionate.

I’m quite humbled by the fact that my musings are read by quite a few people in many country around the world and I can’t help but being very grateful!

Everything I do, I do it for the fun of it and I’m not chasing numbers or anything like that. I am not afraid to tell you what I think or feel but I am also there to help or give advice or guide those who request or ask for it.

As that famous line from the movie Field of Dreams goes: “Build it and they will come” Well, I can say that it is definitely true and I’m a proof!

Do you have any pet peeves about other travelers/tourists?

There are quite a few things that irk me when I travel or see mistakes some travelers/tourists make that can and should be avoided.

For instance leave your ego and superiority attitude at home! We, as well as the locals, know that if you are the foreign traveler you have means to buy things that others can’t. Hence there is no need to flash a wad of money in front of everyone to see who’s got acquisition power. It only makes you the right target for others to take it away.

Next, before traveling, learn some basic words in the local language; “Hello” “Thank You” will be appreciated while expecting people to know your language will not make them treat you better!

When abroad, blend in with the locals. Don’t go to the same restaurants you go to at home, how about going on a culinary adventure? Have a chat with the locals and ask them to tell you what they love about their city or town, get recommendations.

Be humble and learn! Travel is transformative, makes you a better person and you return home with a new set of eyes and makes you appreciate what you have.

I could go on and on but those are my main suggestions that I could benefit anyone!

Is there anywhere in the world you are afraid to visit and why?

Frankly, there are a lot of places in the world that are unsafe due to the situation in the country or history.

However I have always wanted to visit the Middle East: Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt but because of the turbulent past and unrest of the area, I didn’t consider it as possibility.

Being a woman and traveling solo would not be safe either, so I would need to go with a group or with a partner to feel safe and enjoy it even more!

Are there any regrets you have about past travels?

Who does not have any regrets? I sure do and if you want, you can find out what my top 3 travel regrets are!

Do you have pets? If so, who takes care of them while you’re away?

A few years ago I had two baby kittens, Bella and Storm (brother and sister); they were super cute, grey with beautiful blue eyes! Unfortunately I became allergic to cat fur, hence I had to give them away and I was so sad to let them go. I never knew what it was partying ways with family members and cried hard when I left them with their new owners. They will always be in my heart and thank them for making me happy and for teaching me how to be responsible for other beings, even if it was for a short while.

Do you prefer to travel alone or with someone else? Why?

I had been traveling alone since my very first trip at 15 and loved it! It allowed me to truly enjoy my freedom, see and do everything that I’ve always wanted to do at anytime.

Even though I always traveled solo, was never lonely. I made friends quite easily everywhere thanks to my foreign language skills ;) I met my best friends on the road and abroad. I would not change a thing!

However, as I’ve gotten older, I find it more difficult to travel to a beautiful location and not have someone dear or special to share it with.

Nowadays I don’t see myself spending hours on a plane, bus, train or car on my own. I rather be with someone. Time makes things happen and we change!

What is your earliest memory of wanting to travel?

Well, I moved from El Salvador to Canada when I was 7 years old and that was the very first time I had ever flown on an airplane and as you know it was love at first flight.

Then upon arrival, my adventurous parents took us to different cities in Canada such as Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières etc. That helped us open our minds, love and appreciate our new country.

Now as far as I can possibly remember, I watched those now classy yet cheesy movies with Chevy Chase from the 80’s that some of you might remember, National Lampoon’s European Vacation with the Griswolds. Most of the scenes were filmed in London, Paris, South Germany, Rome and more. I promised myself at that young age that one day I would visit those places too. Fast forward 15 years and that dream/promise came true :)

Name your favorite book and your favorite movie.

My absolute favorite book has to be The Alchemist by the one and only (and fabulous) Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist, Book, Paulo Coelho

It is one that I can never get tired of reading time and time again and yes, I read the actual book! One of the best quotes is found between its pages and I use it in my email signature:

“When you want something with all your heart, the universe conspires to make it happen”

 

As for my favorite movie it has to be “The Motorcycle Diaries”.

Motorcycle Diaries, Diario de motocicleta

 

It is the story of the young Che Guevara as he travels around South America with his best friend Alberto Granada.  The cinematography is simply spectacular, breathtaking!  We then understand the transformation the Che goes through and the injustice he witnesses that makes him fight for his ideals later in life.

I invite you to watch it at least once! Not only fuels your wanderlust, it really helps you see things differently.

Who or what inspires you?

There are so many persons who inspire me on so many levels and on a daily basis.

I have learned quite a few valuable and priceless lessons thanks to my travels in all four corners of our planet.

I give gratitude from the moment I wake up until the moment I close my eyes at night.

The people around me never cease to amaze me at how they show their strength, resolve, determination and the attitude they have in spite of what comes at them.

I also read positive, helpful and empowerment sites as well as TV shows. One of them is OWN TV, a special channel created by the amazing Oprah Winfrey who offers great programming and interviews some of the best and most inspiring persons, teachers and human beings alive. I love Super Soul Sunday, which is like vitamins for the soul! Check it out and watch the live broadcast on Facebook when you can ;)

So there you have the answers to the questions Cristina asked. Now it’s my turn to ask the following nominees!

1- Marian @TravelShopGirl

2- Sonja @happyhoyt

3- Aaron @elatlboy

4- Tom @waegook_tom

5- @2wisemonkeys

 

Here are my questions:

1- When was your first trip? Where did you go? (You can include a photo)

2- Is there a special place on earth you are drawn to like a magnet?

3- Do you have a fun story that happened during your travels?

4- What is the first thing you do once you arrive at a destination?

5- Are you adventurous with food? If so show us a photo of your favorite meal!

6- What advice would you give to young travelers?

7- What has been one of the best souvenirs you’ve ever bought? 

8- Are you loyal to an airline company?

9- What do you do if you miss a flight?

10- Who do you look for inspiration?

 

I really can’t wait to read what you will come up with.

Thank you everyone for your time, trust and I hope I keep you entertained!

Til next time.

All the best,

Kay :)

Posted in adventures, Around the world, Awards, North America, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Summer 2014 Travel Wish List plus Best Western Gift Cards Giveaway

Best Western, I Dream of Summer, I Dream Of Summer Campaign, Lake Moore, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, travel, photography

How about you?

This past winter was one of the longest, coldest and most unpredictable we’ve experienced in recent history. Honestly, Polar Vortex’s visit was brutal!

We have just begun to enjoy the first days of spring but the wind and snow that fell a couple of days ago made us want to fast forward to the most beautiful and most awaited season of the year: SUMMER!

I don’t know about you but for me it means that I need to prepare my vehicle for the upcoming road trips I will be going on (and I also intend of enjoying every minute of it!).

As you know driving is one of my passions in life, so a little bit of planning and preparation way ahead of time makes my heart skip a beat and I simply can’t wait to hit the road!

That’s why it is such an honor and a great pleasure to announce that I’ve teamed up with Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain, for the I Dream of Summer campaign!

Best Western, I Dream Of Summer, Travel Wish List, summer 2014, travel, destinations,

Are you curious to know where I would like to go? *Hint, it has a common theme: water* ;)

Without further ado, let me present you my Summer 2014 Travel Wish List. I hope this inspires and encourages you to go out there, explore and enjoy the beautiful season!

1-    Saguenay Fjord in Saguenay-Lac St-Jean

Saguenay Fjord, Fjord du Saguenay, Quebec, Canada, travel, photography, water

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

As you know, some people say that first you truly need to appreciate what you have in your own backyard and I find that to be true.

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Helsinki, Finland and on my flight back home, I saw the Fjords in Norway from the air. It was stunning!

I remembered that we do have our own, and the only one in North America, right here in my province of Quebec. So I said to myself “hey, why not go there when it’s so close to where I live”? No one close to me has ever gone, so this would make an awesome family trip.

I am sure it will leave me speechless and I will take photos to my heart’s content!

2-    Eastern Canada: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

For as long as I can possibly remember, I have always wanted to go to Eastern Canada but since my travels have taken me to the four corners of the world, I have never able to go there :(

Almost everyone I know has been and I’ve heard nothing but great things about the beauties and attractions found in that part of the country!

Those who know me know that I just LOVE being near the water.

I would like to go to sea kayaking in New Brunswick (yes that lesson learned in SW Florida was well worth it!)

kayak, kayaking, outdoors, outdoor sports, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Nouveau Brunswick, Canada, travel, sports, photography

Kayaking at Bay of Fundy. Photo credit: tourismnewbrunswick.ca

And drive along the Cabot Trail

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, NS, Nova Scotia, Nouvelle-Écosse, travel, photography, Canada, Maritimes, Eastern Canada

Photo credit: awesomeislands.com

a coastal highway which offers spectacular scenery surrounding Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

It will certainly open my eyes and allow me to live new experiences and appreciate more what we have at right here at home!

3-    Maine

Why haven’t I been to this beautiful green state that is so close to where I live? That is the question I have asked myself over and over again.

I would love to visit a national park such as:

Acadia National Park, Maine, Park, Nature, outdoors, travel, photography

Acadia National Park, Maine. Photo Credit: tpsdave

Swim in pristine lakes, visit small yet charming towns and stroll along beaches on the Atlantic coast (again notice how much I love the ocean!)

4-    Georgian Bay, Ontario

I fell in love with this area a few years ago when I lived and worked in Toronto. Did you know that Wasaga Beach is the longest (14 km/8.7 miles) sweet water beach in North America? Oh did I even mention that it is a sugary white sand and turquoise water beach? Don’t believe me? then look at the photo below.

Aerial View, Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, travel, beach, water, photography

Photo credit: wasagainfo.com

It’s kind of hard to believe that you are in Canada but you sure are!

Discover Ontario like you never have before :)

5-    Canadian Rockies, Alberta

The Canadian Rockies, especially the snow-capped mountains, emerald colored and magnificent lakes, such as Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta,

Moraine Lake, Banff NP, Alberta, Canada, travel, photography, scenery, outdoors, nature, view

Photo credit: Tobias Alt

look spectacular, amazing, out of this world and simply phenomenal. It’s a postcard perfect location that my family and I have always dreamed of.

I am sure the Rockies will blow me away and make me fall in love!

 

So there you have my summer 2014 travel wish list!

Only time will tell what I manage to see and do. Notice that these destinations are in North America and I’ve not even mentioned any of my international trips that I have planned. It gets even more exciting :)

Now it’s your turn! You too can create your own I Dream of Summer Travel Wish list by heading over to Facebook and like the Best Western page.

You will be able to create and share your list with family, friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts by using #IdreamofSummer and you will be eligible to win a “Dream Summer Vacation” which includes free hotel nights, gas cards and Best Western rewards points!

Do you need help or would you like to ask a question? No problem! Simply compose a tweet along with the above-mentioned hashtag and a Best Western expert might reply! Don’t waste another minute! Go and do it NOW :)

Simply can’t wait until the warm, sunny and glorious summer days? Then you’re in luck! Best Western is currently offering the Jump Start to Summer promotion.

From now until May 18th, Best Western Rewards members who stay two separate times at any of the brand’s more than 4,000 hotels worldwide will earn a $50 USD Best Western Travel Card® to use for their summer stays. More details can be found here.

 

Special Giveaway!

Would you like to stay at one of their establishments anywhere in North America? I am very happy to offer two $100 USD Best Western Gift cards to 2 lucky winners! Want to participate in the draw?

Here is what you need to do:

1-    Go to like my Facebook Page

2-    Tell me which destination you would like to visit most by using #idreamofsummer in the comments below the post.

3-    Contest ends on May 9, 2014

4-    Winners will be drawn at random and will be notified via email or private message.

Good luck everyone!

 

I invite you to follow Best Western® on the following social media channels:

Website: http://bestwestern.com

Rewards: http://bestwesternrewards.com

Blog: http://youmustbetrippin.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/BestWestern

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thebestwestern

Instagram: http://instagram.com/bestwestern

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/thebestwestern

 

I can’t wait to read your I Dream of Summer Travel Wish lists!

Until then, I wish you many safe and happy travels!

Kay :)

 

Posted in adventures, Canada, Contest, Discover USA, Inspiration, Nature, North America, Photography, Road Trip, Tourism, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Satisfy your sweet tooth at the sugar shack

For most people in Eastern Canada (as well as in the Northeastern USA), there is no better way to chase away the winter blues and welcome spring than by following a long-standing tradition: visiting a sugar shack (a large wood cabin) to eat, drink and be merry. It’s Maple season and time to sweeten our palates!

The arrival of this time of the year is like a breath of fresh air! The world seems to come back to life! Excitement can be seen and felt everywhere. Days are getting longer, brighter and slightly warmer. Snow is melting, birds are chirping, buds break open! Life is good :)

To celebrate the beginning of the new season, my family and I decided to visit a Cabane à Sucre (sugar house) called Constantin Grégoire, which is located about 1 ½ hour north of my hometown, Montreal.

Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Getting there is quite an adventure and who doesn’t love a good road trip? I sure do and driving is certainly one of my passions in life ;)

At first we noticed this rustic house built in the middle of the woods.

Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Then we made it to the main entrance.

Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

We were among the first guests on the list but the large dining rooms were being set up. Hence we had to wait for a few minutes.

As everyone knows, I am quite restless! So instead of sitting and waiting (and do nothing), I went to explore the premises (and find photo ops of course).

Around the corner I found a counter with a great variety of home-made maple syrup products for sale like syrup, pies, maple flavored chocolates, candies, taffy and more. Oh I found liquid gold!

Maple products, produits à l'érable, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Maple products, produits à l'érable, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Maple products, produits à l'érable, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Maple products, produits à l'érable, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

I had to hold myself back from over spending, so I decided to come back later. I went into another room and stood in awe before the beautiful stone fireplace.

fire place, cheminée, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

It sure brought me back in time and could only imagine how people kept themselves warm during the winters a very long time ago!

fire place, cheminée, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Now I was starving so I headed back to the entrance and we were now ready to begin to feast!

Families, friends or groups come together under one roof and around long tables to enjoy traditional food. This is what is found on the table first: homemade tomato sauce (or ketchup), marinated vegetables such as pickles, beets and onions.

légumes marinés, marinated vegetables, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

The entrée is classic pea soup served in a large silver bowl for all to share and pass around.

soupe aux pois, pea soup, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

A light touch of maple syrup can be added and I did. Trust me it is so good! It definitely warms your heart and prepares you for what follows :)

soupe aux pois, pea soup, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Next, maple infused baked beans & range free egg omelets are brought in! You better be really hungry.

baked beans, omelet, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

More and more food keeps coming faster than you can say fast!

We needed make some room on the table for maple glazed ham, roasted potatoes, crusty bread, cretons, sausages.

maple glazed ham, boiled potatoes, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

As if it wasn’t enough to whet your appetite boiled potatoes and pork cracklings are added.

maple glazed ham, boiled potatoes, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

This is what my plate looked like and mind you it was only round 1. I forgot to tell you that here it the “all you can eat” formula prevails!

typical plate at Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

So we all helped ourselves to second servings of course. However we needed to leave a bit of room for the best part of the meal.

Donuts drizzled with syrup or maple sugar pie anyone?

maple glazed donuts, sugar pie, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

A close up for all of you who have a sweet tooth or sugar cravings was necessary :)

maple glazed donuts, sugar pie, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Oh did I even mention that unlimited servings of pancakes (with syrup bien sûr) tea, coffee, hot chocolate and milk just flow? Just saying!

That entire sugar intake is enough to make you bounce of the walls or go into a food coma. Luckily after everyone’s through eating, live traditional folk music is played and people start dancing like no one is watching. It is truly funny but the collective laughter is totally a great cure! It creates a great ambiance and everyone is happy.

We needed some fresh air so we went outside for a walk. We sure needed to burn off some calories after all!

I couldn’t believe what I found along the way. Remember this? :)

swing, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Wee! It made me feel like a kid all over again! It’s surprisingly strong and sturdy ;)

Now you may or may not know this but I am very curious by nature. So I asked if we could go see how sap (liquid that comes down from the maple tree) is transformed into syrup. Therefore we went on a small tour.

We started by learning the basics and that is observing an actual maple tree.

Maple tree, érablier, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

A hole is drilled into the trunk, then a metal tap is inserted and the sap slowly drips through the spile which is then collected in the bucket.

Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

The amount depends on many factors such as the weather, condition and health of the tree among many others.

Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Once filled, the buckets are emptied and brought to the boiling room where the sap will be processed.

boiler room, Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

Once inside, you can see that it is pretty hot!

boiler room, Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

It makes you truly appreciate the final product :)

After that much appreciated lesson and history, it is time to continue with the tour!

There are two options offered to visitors: a ride on a horse-drawn wooden cart which goes around the sugar bush at a very slow pace

traditional cart, Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

or a visit to the small farm which is located at the rear.

boiler room, fermette, small farm sign, Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

We opted for the latter.

Within a short distance and a few minutes later, I felt a pair of eyes staring directly at me :)

farm animal, Maple tree, érablier, tap hole, bucket, collecting sap, Cabane à sucre, Constantin Grégoire, sugar shack, St-Esprit, Québec

You looking at me?

After a short tour we went back inside for one last drink and slowly made our way back home to rest and prepare for the week ahead. No need to tell you that huge brunch lasted the entire afternoon and evening ;)

We were very happy to have spent quality time together and had lots of fun! It’s those unforgettable and precious moments that stay in your memory for a long time.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Sugar Shack, one of the traditions we follow here on my side of the planet that I wanted to share it with you!

Now it’s your turn…tell me,

 

How do you celebrate or welcome the arrival of spring?

Is there a special celebration or

tradition you follow where you live?

 

I want to know all about it and if you have links or evidence (a.k.a photos) please include them.

Until next time!

All the best

Kay :)

Posted in adventures, Canada, Culture, Food, galleries, North America, Photography, Quebec, Road Trip, Tradition, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blogger Spotlight On Noel Morata

Welcome to a new edition of Spotlight On!

We are very happy to introduce you to Noel Morata also known as @emorata a photographer, writer, artist and traveler.

According to his bio, he is obsessed with travel, food, wine, culture and lifestyle.

Let’s learn more about him!

Please tell us more about your background.

I’m currently living in East Hawaii on Hawaii Island and part-time in San Francisco. I am a freelance photographer, writer, and artist. I also maintain two web sites Travel Photo Discovery and A Big Island life.

sunrise, Mauna Kea, Volcano, Hawaii, Big Island, travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

Sunrise over Mauna Kea Volcano

Do you remember your first trip? Where was it?

Well yes, my first trip was gasp – almost 35 years ago travel with my high school French class visiting Paris, the Loire and Normandy areas. We had to speak French during most of the trip which was crazy fun.

Who inspired you while growing up?

My art teachers and creative people in general. I wanted more of these fun people in my life but there were not too many in my neighborhood so I resorted to reading books on art and travel, history and culture and enjoying reading about foreign places, foods and people.

What destinations did you dream of and which ones did visit?

I dreamed of traveling all over Europe and then Asia, most of the States in the USA and Canada.

Cornerstone Gardens, Sonoma, California, travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California

Eastern Europe when it most of the countries became democratic and Turkey/Greece. There are still many things to see in do in many countries if not continents that are on my bucket list.

You traveled to numerous countries, do you have any favorites and why?

Ah well that is always a difficult thing to say, but my de-facto reply is always the place I visited last is my favorite and that was Turkey and Croatia

Split, Croatia, view, travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

Panoramic view of Split, Croatia

View, Adriatic Sea, Split, Croatia, travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

View of the Adriatic in Split

which was so different in landscape, food and people to where I live now. I love extreme opposite types of environments and lifestyle.

Your photographs are simply amazing! When did you start taking them? Did you take a class or it just came naturally?

I’ve started taking photography in High School and college but then put it aside to work a more mainstream business life when I lived in Silicon Valley and became a cog in the IT world.

I rediscovered Photography and art when I officially moved to Hawaii seven years ago to pursue my creative dreams.

It has been a wonderful thing to tap into that side of my past and connect again with the creative aspects of my life and bring them out through my writing and photography.

swans, Burano, Italy, italia, nature, outdoors, view, travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

2 swans in Burano, Italy

Tell us a funny event that happened during your travels.

I always have funny moments with taking pictures especially when we cannot communicate in a foreign language so for me it’s a matter of making contact, smiling and body language, let the eyes and smiles work for you.

Great opportunities always happen you try to engage or make your subject smile in the process :)         

What has been the best travel advice you were ever given?  

Go out and travel where you have never been and take the time to enjoy the place instead of rushing from one place to another. That’s why I am more of a slow traveler and can stay in an area for weeks at a time.

Golden Temple, Kyoto, Japan,  travel, photography, Noel Morata, Noel Morata Photography

Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Do you have any travel plans for 2014?  

I am planning on doing some traveling back in the US mostly the West Coast and hopefully the Southwest and later in the year will be traveling to Puglia in Italy and Greece and perhaps spend some time in England. End of the year, I hope to travel to the Philippines

What is your favorite travel quote?  

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

Confucius

 

How can we contact or follow you online?

You can follow me through the following social media accounts:

Blog:  http://travelphotodiscovery.com/

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/emorata

Instagram:  http://instagram.com/nmorata

Pinterest:    http://www.pinterest.com/nmorata/

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Thank you so much Noel for taking the time to talk to us at Traveller Soul.

We wish you all the best and many more Happy Travels :)

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The Cultural Eccentricities That Should Put Belfast on Your Bucket List

The new Northern Ireland tourism ad has Liam Neeson saying that a place is made memorable by the people in it, and the stories they tell.

It is really true that the life stories of people make up the character of a place?  What are the stories of Belfast? Is it worth a spot in your bucket list?

The following experiences make up the unique Belfast culture that can only be had at Northern Ireland:

 

Voyage the Titanic

Titanic, Belfast, Northern Ireland, travel, attractions

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

No matter what your stand is about the movie of the same name, the Titanic is arguably the most famous ships in history.

The biggest and grandest in its time, the Titanic was first imagined and realised in the docks of Belfast. The maritime culture of the people of Belfast, as well as the story of how the Titanic and her sister ships were built is worth two ears. You can re-live this story today thru a tour of one of the Titanic’s sister ships –the SS Nomadic or by visiting the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast.

 

Escape from entrapment

6 mates. 60 minutes. A locked room. Escape.

Use these words together in one sentence and you have Escap3d, an experience unique that can only take place in the capital. With a couple of mates, figure your way out of a locked room using puzzles and clues. It’s like being zapped into a computer game, except that it is real.

 

Sleep in a castle

Be awestruck by the grand dwellings of royalties past. Take a tour of castle ruins from the 14th century.

Visit the Dunluce Castle, said to have inspired C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

Dunluce Castle, castle, Northern Ireland, travel, view,

Photo Credit: Osioni

Learn about the Earls of Antrim at the Glenarm Castle.

Glenarm Castle, castle, Northern Ireland, travel, photography

Photo credit: Man vyi

Eighteenth century Castle Ward in County Down, one of the locations for the shoot of the show ‘Game of Thrones’.

Castle Ward, Castle, Travel, Photography, Northern Ireland, view

Photo credit: Ardfern

Sleep in any number of hotel castles and be a prince or princess for a day. If it doesn’t appeal to you, let’s face it, it might be spooky at night, then try somewhere more conventional like the 4 star La Mon near Belfast city centre.

 

Pour a pint

What craic to be had in traditional Irish pubs definitely gets a spot on any list. Pour yourself a pint of Guinness and immerse in Irish music, food and drink.

Guinness, beer, draft beer, dark beer, beer, Belfast, Northern Ireland, drink

Photo credit: Sami Keinänen

 

In Belfast, not to be missed are the Crown Liquor Saloon Bar and the John Hewit.

If clubbing is more your thing, crawl thru the hippest bars and clubs in the UK club scene. Be sure to check out Lush in Portrush and Box in Belfast.

 

Take a walk

Not to be missed is a trip up Divis near Hannahstown. The Divis Ridge Trail offers smashing views over Belfast. Various walking tours are organised regularly by local walking clubs that welcome visitors.

 

Now that you know a bit more about Northern Ireland tell us...

 

Would YOU consider visiting it if you had a chance?

What activities would you go for?

Do you agree that people make a place extraordinary?

Let’s hear all about it in the comments :)

Posted in adventures, Around the world, Europe, European Capitals, Nature, Photography, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments