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Interview with Elizabeth R.

Tell us something about your background and how your interest in travel developed.
Elizabeth’s family is very international, and from a young age, traveling to visit relatives or visitors from faraway places was all part of the fun at home.  For Mark, going to the airport to say goodbye to family and friends traveling overseas aroused a curiosity from a young age.  When we met we both traveled extensively around the world for work so it was a natural part of our relationship.
How do you feel that your nationality has affected the way you see the world? How to people react when you tell them where you are from?
Whatever nationality you are, and wherever you live definitely affects the way you view the world.  We have been fortunate to live and work in multiple countries and I think that helps you with empathy for others.  We are constantly amazed by how much people have in common no matter where they live.
 
We live in Australia so we are amazed how many people associate it with “kangaroos” and “Crocodile Dundee.”  And in many a bar, the band treats us to a rendition of “Land Downunder.”   All of which are not necessarily things we associate with Australia but it always makes us laugh.
Tell us a couple of travel stories that have really made an impact on you.
One of the most remarkable people we have met on our travels was our guide on a cruise in the Amazon.  From a small remote village, three days by canoe from the nearest town, he has gone on to achieve remarkable things.  Watching him with the local villagers in the Amazon and his abilities as a naturalist all made our trip so much more enjoyable. 
 
Mother nature also constantly amazes us.  Regardless of what politicians think, weather patterns are changing and becoming more extreme.  I am not sure the cause is all that important, but fighting about if it is natural or manmade means we do nothing to address it while people all of the world struggle to deal with the consequences.
 
Globalisation is another one.  We have yet to find anyone other than big corporates that have “won” out of globalization.  We meet people that spend long hours working for little pay in unsafe factories so we can all buy cheap stuff we don’t really need. 

You have your own website...in what way do you feel this is unique compared to other sites?

When we traveled for work, we saw things from a business perspective.  When we took vacations around the world with our kids we were often on a very limited time constraint.  Now the kids are grown we have more time to slow down and really explore a place.  Shop at local markets, meet local people and try and experience a destination in a way we never had the time to before.  And we love food.  Everyone eats.  It is one of the many things we all have in common.  Exploring the food of a country is a great way to learn more about the culture.  We try to share that with our readers.​
What are some of the challenges of maintaining a website when you are travelling? And what do you get 'back' from it that makes you feel proud of it?
Having the discipline to work is one of the challenges.  You have to balance exploring with work.  Luckily when we stay somewhere for 30 days or more we have time to do both.  We love when readers comment telling us what they learned or our content is helpful for their own travel plans.  We encourage people to explore the foods of new cultures and share it with their family and friends even if they aren’t traveling.  Our dinner party menus, featuring a 3 or 4 course menu for a party from a country, are some of our most popular posts. 
You have travelled to quite a number of countries. Which countries surprised you, positively or negatively, compared to what you had expected before you went there?
We were amazed by Bhutan.  They have something quite unique there.  It is a great example of balancing economic development while preserving traditions.  Their travel model is unique in the world and it seems to work for both tourists and locals. 
 
We also are amazed how busy some places have become as destinations.  We always try to travel off peak season.  Some of these popular destinations are at their absolute worst during peak season.  But it also amazes how many destinations don’t do more to extend the tourist season.  Instead they cling to June and July as the only time many things are open.  The number of tourists is too high.  Their infrastructure, which they have built for peak season sits unused most of the year.  Even when there are people happy to visit.  We just find the doors closed.
Which places are high up on your bucket list and why?
Many of the places remaining on our bucket list are natural attractions or a developing culture which we would like to visit before tourism impacts them negatively.  The steppes of Mongolia, hiking in Nepal, and some pristine wilderness areas in Canada, Alaska and Australia top our current list.  We also have several places we want to go to eat- Morocco and Portugal.
So where is 'home' nowadays? And how have your travels shaped how you see the idea of home itself?
Melbourne is home.  Luckily for us Melbourne is a very multi-cultural city, so even when we aren’t traveling we can explore new cultures and cuisines.  There is always something going on and finding a new restaurant or cuisine is all part of the fun. 
 
Melbourne has the best coffee culture we have ever found- just an amazing coffee scene.  When we travel we are always searching for a good cup of coffee.  Something that reminds us of home. 
 
If you could go back in time and travel to anywhere - when and where would you travel?
To Egypt when they were building the pyramids.  The whole thing is just fascinating and I would love to see it firsthand.
Finally the question we always ask - if you could invite four people to dinner from any time in human history, who would you invite and why?
  • Nelson Mandela because I find what he accomplished in his lifetime truly amazing.
  • Captain James Cook- everywhere we go this man seems to have discovered it! 
  • Margaret Thatcher- amazing what she achieved as a women in Britain at the time she was Prime Minister.
  • Mick Jagger- it will add some fun to the party and I think he would have some great stories to tell. Plus we just love the music of the Rolling Stones.
The photos in this interview are from Elizabeth and Mark's personal collection and show a number of their favourite destinations.
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